A couple of weeks ago my wife hurt her back and I found myself looking after our 2 beautiful boys as well as an opportunity for me to become Super-Dad.
Not every day resembled the following list but the jumbled collection of activities made up the first day of life sans-mother in our house;
• Woke up with dog licking face, youngest son snoring next to me and oldest building a miniature house out of Mr. Men books.
• Breakfast of chocolate spread on toast.
• Watched ‘Room on The Broom’ with bananas.
• Played, sang, danced, watched ‘Trolls’.
• Provided acceptable explanation as to why Trolls should not be eaten by humans.
• 30-minute struggle in getting 2 boys dressed simultaneously.
• Put washing on.
• Put boys on trampoline with instructions to ‘play nice’.
• Folded yesterday’s washing away.
• Washed & dried up whilst fuelling up on 2 cups of coffee that I made at various points of the morning.
• Picked up dog poo from garden.
• Emptied recycling bin.
• Emptied household bin.
• Reminded oldest to ‘play nice’.
• Made lunch.
• Burnt lunch off by a game called Tennis-Football, which all children should be banned from playing.
• Knocked down coal-bunker.
• Made fruit salad.
• Hung washing out.
• Played with dog/physio exercises with bribes.
• Went to park.
• Came home from park with youngest in equal measures upset & proud of sore knees.
• Distracted with arts, craft and stories about wild animals and dinosaurs.
• Made dinner.
• Washed and dried up (again).
• Brought washing.
• Bath-time, in which I may as well have got in due to the amount of water thrown out.
• More stories and teeth cleaning wars.
• Eventually got both boys to sleep in their bunkbed by 19:30.
• 2 hours of studying for my degree.
• Watched 90’s indie bands on YouTube with Pizza and felt successful.
Not every day was quite so hectic as the above, and it would be wonderful but impractical to live without interaction from the rest of the world. However, what started out with a dream to be a Super-Dad, I realised I was in fact far more of a Clark Kent with the ability to do more than what people expected, including myself. By submersing myself into my children’s lives and letting them guide me into their world (and their mothers), I could see how I needed to start to create a tighter focus for my priorities. I had become too fractured, separating out my work life (or student life now) in the week and my family life for the weekends. After looking at the events that took place in one day, it really made me start to question why should I not be able to do more, show more of my diversity, have more to give each day; from playing with the boys, building a table, getting some studying in, along with all the ennui that goes along with being a grown-up but not necessarily a parent.
My aspiration to do this is very possible, and I recognise that at present I have the luxury of being a full-time student which won’t last forever. I am recognising the importance of a good Work/Life balance and I will be striving for flexible working in any future career paths I follow and will be urging my sons and other dads out there to do the same.
Of course, none of this is new and countries such as Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Norway have all activity implemented a strong Work-Life ethos into their cultures, which has significantly improved life satisfaction in those countries. I question; why not in the rest of the world? What else is in life is more important than having a good family connection with a career and happiness?