As a working father who is out of the house for at least 11 hours a day through the week it has been a real concern of mine to make sure that although I have to be out earning money to pay the bills that I am still a ‘present’ father and that we have lots of quality time together.
When my daughter was younger it was really tough, I would have to sneak out early – trying not to disturb them, possibly getting a goodbye kiss if I was lucky and then coming home at night for the last 30 minutes of the day before she was off to bed. Sometimes with late meetings I could go a few days without seeing her awake! I have friends who work close to home or even at home and I was always so happy for them that they got to see their children when they wanted, meet up for lunch and could be there when they were needed – but for me and I guess for most men that is not a reality – the reality is a long commute and long working hours.
For this reason I made a strong commitment that on the weekends and on my days off I was going to be there, have quality time and have adventures! There is a really good balance I think between how each parent interacts with their child – we all have different interests, passions and just general energies and it is a great thing (I think) if a child can really soak this up through play. The extra benefit to this is that it is really fun and gives you the precious time to do/share the things you love or are interested in but you wouldn’t normally do on your own or as a couple (coz life is just too busy!).
By the time my daughter was 16 months I would get her on the back of the bike and we would take a picnic and just go for a cycle around the place – I hadn’t been cycling for ages but now my daughter and I go out on adventures together, trying to spot different animals, finding creeks and playing Pooh-sticks, going down country lanes exploring – she loves it and I do too. We stop and have a picnic while we watch the cows and the cows watch us.
We also go down to the beach to the water and the waves. She just caught her first wave last weekend on a body board – cruising right in to the sand – she was so buzzed – ‘I surfed daddy – I surfed all on my own – I want to do it again!!’ And she loves doing tricks on an old skateboard deck in the house and jumping about on her trampoline – all good healthy fun we can share.
One thing with my job is that I work an extra hour every day to do a 9 day fortnight – this has been the saviour. Every second Monday we have a whole day to do stuff (and give mummy a bit of well deserved quiet time). Now that my daughter is 2 and really into exploring and finding new things I decided to take her to the local wildlife sanctuary. Well what a day! It was Monday so it was pretty quiet so me and my adventure buddy just took off, meeting the koalas, seeing the dingoes, feeding the kangaroos, watching the crocodiles…. There was just so much to see and do – we had an absolute blast – too exciting for a nap! So after a fully day exploring the park and a short walk on the beach it was home for dinner to tell mummy all about it and after a quick bath it was straight off to sleep.
It is quality days and quality time like that that make being a dad (and life) so much fun and I can’t wait for the next adventure with my own wee adventure buddy!
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