Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: siblings

Kid free time – everyone wins

There are certain numbers that every parent knows with a high degree of precision; the amount of hours they or their partner were in labour, the weight their child weighed at birth, when their child walked (although that one fades a little once they pass 5 years of age) and how long it’s been (to the nearest day) since they last had kid free time with their wife/husband/partner. Those heavenly moments where you skip out the house as a grandparent, willing or otherwise, volunteers to look after your little monsters angels. The skip may even be accompanied with a few whoops if it also means that you’re avoiding having to do bedtime with them. Rupert was 13 months when the lady of the manor and I had out first evening out, we went to see James Bond at the cinema, not much change to watching TV in the evening I guess but even so we felt FREE.

The last time we had a night away together without children was on 24th April 2014 and technically one was actually with us because we think that might have been the weekend Rupert was conceived. But at least at that point he wasn’t able to cry, scream or talk to us, or for that matter play with the bin, throw things in the toilet or try to break the telephone.

I of course love my children, I love being with them, playing with them, seeing them grow. But you realise how much you love them when you have a short time away from the intense, all consuming activity that is parenthood. As they say a break is as good as a holiday and those short breaks certainly feel like a treat. But here’s the best bit, it’s also pretty darn good for your kids, especially if you have more than one like we do. Let me give you an example.

kid free time

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The party is over

This is it, the party is over, 2 and a bit weeks of glorious paternity leave are finished and it’s back to reality tomorrow. I’ll be honest I bought a few Euromillions tickets last week in the hope that maybe I could extend my time off but alas no luck and the bills won’t get paid because I’m a good dad will they? Like when Henry was born one of the best things about being on paternity leave is actually having time with the older children. Matilda and I spent so much time together while the lady of the manor looked after Henry, we walked Bracken every day and did bath time together it was just great. What dad doesn’t love the thought of waking up and playing with his kids every day?

This time was similar, most days I’d get up with Matilda and Henry to do breakfast and then take food up to the lady of the manor so she could eat and feed. Having 2 weeks holiday is always great but I think being ok with living life as normal rather than trying to have a ‘holiday’ makes it better. You just do regular activities but do them together when normally things like taking Bracken out normally get fitted around everything else. You have time (not much with a baby in the house but some at least) to do all those things you want to do at a weekend but never get around to.

We did Halloween craft and I got to join all our NCT mum friends at a Halloween party, we walked the dog, we jumped in puddles and played in the forest, we baked bread and cooked, we had many many games of hide and seek, we snuggled on the sofa watching TV when it was cold, we did jobs in the garden with nanna and gramps, we went swimming played on the swings, we went to the kids first ever fireworks display and tried candy floss. The list goes on and actually despite all the sleepless nights and moments of chaos where we wanted to scream it’s fun and I think we’ve done an awful lot.

Don’t tell the kids but we may also have taken advantage of their preschool days to go out for coffee and cake and pretend that we only have 1 small baby for a while. No need to persuade 2 children to sit still and eat their food without knocking drinks over and most of all some peace without all the questions. We all need some of that down time as parents don’t we?

Rupert is in general a very chilled and happy baby and so strong! He’s 3 weeks old on Wednesday and already is holding his head up and moving onto his side when lying on the floor. He’s also packing on pounds, at 11 days old he weighed 10lb’s vs. his birth weight of 9lb 6oz so clearly mummies milk is gold top. Still weighting to see if he ends up a blondie like me and Matilda and Henry, the lady of the manor is hoping he’s going to be a red head like her but no signs of that yet.

I’m not sure how the kids are going to react to me not being around, there are already murmurings about not wanting me to go to work, but they’ll adjust again I’m sure. Certainly isn’t going to make sitting in an office again any easier, but I do at least have some great memories to take with me. I do hope also that Matilda and Henry have enjoyed it fully too, there has probably been a few too many shouty moments born out of tiredness and frustration on my part. I didn’t run much at the start, there was just no way to fit it in and that just makes me grumpy without the broken sleep also. We’ve tried to give them lots of attention and not just focus on Rupert but it’s not easy is it? Having a newborn can be quite intense and demanding and all consuming if you let it.

As I’m falling asleep writing this I’m going to hit publish and try to get some sleep before attempting to get out of the door for work tomorrow for the first time in 2.5 weeks. An attempt that also includes a preschool drop off for Matilda, wish me luck!

And then there were five

I have now been a dad to 3 for 4 whole days, in fact counting to 4 is about all my brain can cope with at the moment after 3 nights with a newborn. I did have 4 hours straight sleep last night though which felt like heaven, funny how quickly your perspectives change isn’t it? But after keeping us waiting for 6 days past his due date our baby boy finally arrived on Wednesday 22nd October weighing a mighty 9lb 6oz’s. I shan’t give you a blow by blow birth story other than to say the lady of the manor was awesome, she also enjoyed the full spa treatment at the birthing centre with a massage before a quick pedicure (removing nail polish from your wife’s toes while she’s in labour isn’t something they teach you on a NCT course) and then a dip in the jacuzzi.

But without further ado I give you the youngest heir to the Fool’s kingdom; Rupert

 Ben and Rupert first cuddle

He’s a bit of a cutey isn’t he? Such a chilled out little dude too, cries a little when hungry or wants his nappy change but other than that just sits quietly taking the world in. He doesn’t seem phased at all by the chaos around him as his noisy brother and sister play in the noisy way that only small children know how. Certainly doesn’t seem to stop him sleeping either, I think he’s going to be able to sleep through anything given how noisy it’s been from day 1.

It’s probably a bit of an understatement to say that Matilda and Henry love him; he’s certainly not been short of cuddles and kisses from them and do an excellent job of sitting ever so still on the sofa so that they can hold him. We got home after they’d gone to bed on the day he was born so the first time they met him was in our bed the next day, Henry just ran straight up and started giving him kisses, Matilda was a little more apprehensive though. We just gave her space during the day to decide when she was ready to meet him properly, no point in trying to force these things is there after all she got her stubbornness from her daddy. It took half the day before she asked if she could hold him and then she sat for 20 minutes without moving a muscle while he sat on her lap; there can be few moments as a parent that are as happy as that.

Henry and Rupert meeting

Matilda and Rupert cuddling

We’re slowing settling into our new routines and roles in the house, finding the new balance now there is an extra person house. A little bit of trial error to find what works and what doesn’t including learning that I don’t make the lunch boxes as well as the lady of the manor. But the children seem very excited about having me home which is of course fab and I have another 2 weeks of paternity leave left (I’ve taken holiday, who can really afford to take leave at statutory pay?).

We’ve been talking about all the things we can do over the next 2 weeks, saying things like ‘we could do that when I’m on paternity leave’, but the reality is that survival is the main objective at the start isn’t it? Hopefully we’ll get a couple of day trips in but I think the kids will be just as happy with playing hide and seek in the garden followed by snuggling up watching a movie. The one thing we will most definitely be doing is grabbing a coffee with just Rupert for company when Matilda and Henry are at preschool. Going to be a while before we get that chance again.

Let the fun begin.