Like the best Enid Blyton novels I decided to take advantage of the lady manor working nights all last weekend and go on a little adventure with the children. We loaded up the car on Friday afternoon and headed for Wales and the Wye valley for 3 nights of glamping. e love being outdoors and normally I’d have taken them camping if it wasn’t for the minor issue that I can’t put our tent up on my own. Plus the thought of trying to work out the logistics of taking 3 children across a campsite to toilets didn’t really appeal. Glamping seemed the logical conclusion with the added bonus of having a double bed for me to sleep in.
Camp for the weekend
I think with any adventure you have to not think too much about the reality of what it’ll be like otherwise you’d never go on them. But I’ll be honest as we got close to leaving the thought of managing 3 kids on my own for 3 days plus sleeping in a tent was making me just a little nervous. However just like the stars of Enid Blyton’s books I think the best childhoods feature lots of adventures, particularly ones outdoors and whatever happened it was going to be a lot better than sitting around at home.
The choice of glamping location was relatively easy as while I discovered via Google that there are a lot of glamping sites out there, there appears to be equally lots of people interested in going glamping, so finding one available was the first criteria. Thankfully Wye Glamping ticked all the boxes; not too far away, beautiful location, proper showers on site and a reasonable price. What we didn’t know when booking was that there would also be a couple of other families in the other tents on site with children the same age as mine. Perfect!
This is the first time I’ve logged into my blog in almost 2 months let alone written anything, the first time I’ve had both the time and the head space to be able to get some thoughts down in a remotely articulate way. It’s been a busy time; work has been tough, a busy time of the year and I’ve been trying to secure a job change that I’ve been working towards for a while, family life with 3 children and the daily school run routine is always hectic and I’ve been trying to build up my running before my first race of 2016. Combine all that with the festive season and everything that it entails it’s probably no surprise blogging hasn’t been on my radar.
But I do want to take a moment to mark the passing from one year into the next, New Years day is such an arbitrary moment in time, not really different to any other day yet still feeling like a great big reinforced oak door has shut on the prior year consigning to history everything that happened. I don’t do resolutions but I do like to take the time to reflect and remember rather than just hurry into the next year on the conveyor belt of life.
Things that are fast; Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes, Concorde, the bullet train (which apparently now levitates), Usain Bolt, Bracken chasing a squirrel, a toddler when your back is turned, the school holidays when you’re a child and your lunch break as an adult. I’d also add to that extensive list your children growing up. Rupert is now a month old. A MONTH! Holy crap did that fly by. The past month has been a blur of broken sleep, demanding preschoolers and at times paddling furiously just to stay still. It’s been hard work of course but on the whole we’ve kept smiling and positive, 3rd time around I think you’re much better placed to keep things in perspective and not let them get on top of you.
I have a colleague who is expecting his first this week, it’s been fascinating talking to him and reliving that nervous expectation of your first child being born. All the questions he has and all the things he’s yet to experience. In a way I’m actually jealous of him, having your first is such a special experience isn’t it? The first time you become a family rather than just a couple, it’s a huge change and your life really won’t be the same again will it? I’ve been very conscious not to come into work and just complain about being tired or not having time to do anything, both very true but it’s very easy to get obsessed with the negatives of being a new parent and forget how great it is also. I want him to see that his paternity leave is going to be awesome and possibly both the hardest and best time off work he’ll ever have.
We’ve had a tough last week with Rupert who has inevitable caught not 1 but 2 colds from his ever affectionate siblings; Matilda and Henry were both spring babies so we never experienced them getting colds at such a young age. It’s really not fun seeing him so little and struggling to breathe properly and then coughing when clearly his throat is sore. It’s meant that we’ve spent probably 75% of the past week with one of us carrying him around as he wouldn’t settle to sleep lying down (who can blame him) which is quite honestly knackering. We’ve made good use of our Babasling but it’s still tiring standing up for most of that time and rocking back and forth, I did so much of it on Saturday I felt like I’d been on a boat.
But yesterday we enjoyed one of my favourite ‘firsts’ as a parent – the first bath. An amazing 20 minutes as a family that wiped the tiredness from the past few days clean away. Amazing how those parenting moments can do that isn’t it? Rupert’s first bath was a little bit more chaotic than Matilda’s with 2 siblings desperate to be part of the event and I may have had to roll out the parenting discipline big guns (you’ll go to bed with no story AND no milk) to stop them drowning him as they fought to get the closest, but it was still awesome.
The bathroom has always been a place where he’s chilled out for some reason, most nights I lie him on the bath mat while Matilda and Henry are in the shower and he seems to enjoy just taking in the noises around him. It turns out that he’s just as chilled in the bath itself, we laid him down on the bath and he happily splashed away while Matilda and Henry ‘helped’. It was one of those moments as a family that you dream of, where everyone is happy and playing together in one place. I think Matilda and Henry are enjoying him slowly becoming more interactive and accessible which is lovely to watch. With Rupert looking like he’s going to be another water baby I think we may be heading swimming quite soon!
P.S. I also had a little look back to see what Matilda’s first bath was like, turns out it was a bit less glamorous (it was in the sink) but she enjoyed it just as much.
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
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.
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.
For someone who is quite happy on their own I really don’t do work trips very well. I very quickly end up melancholy and reflective, the downside of too much time to yourself to think? Travelling is always tiring which doesn’t help of course and I’m really not good at making polite conversation with people who I’m not really interested in. A life in sales definitely doesn’t await me.
This week I’m in Morocco for work, which while a very nice hotel (and most definitely not how the locals live) it’s not home. It’s not where my children are, it’s not where the lady of the manor is and unfortunately it’s also not the home of high speed broadband so no face time calls for me.
These trips remind me of the choice we as a family have made; I sell myself to capitalism and in return the lady of the manor can be at home with the children every day. Aside from winning the lottery so we can both be at home this is the perfect situation.
But sometimes being on this side of that deal doesn’t always feel so great. Sometimes the reality of that decision bites. Perhaps none more so than when visiting a country like this, the hour long transfer from the airport took us past run down buildings, people walking along busy roads and farmers herding hungry looking cows and sheep across fields. Whereas we drive into a nice resort hotel with pristine grass and as much food as you can eat. It’s here you realise the life choices you’ve made to get the lifestyle you want.
I feel very fortunate to have a job that allows us to live the way we do; sure we don’t have any real savings and the week before pay day can be tough but really we are ok. I also am proud of who I work for, while we may of course be about making profit we are also a very ethical company and one that does good things in the world with no profit motive like help educate teachers in the 3rd world.
So is this enough? Is it enough to offset the fact that capitalism has taken part of my soul? Right here and now it doesn’t feel like it. Getting home and seeing the smiling faces of my 2 monsters and giving the lady of the manor a hug it might feel a little better.
For now I will have to make do with a morning run along the beach. Perfect food for the soul.
Thanks for reading.
That moment of calm
It’s another time, another world
Cosy, content and almost still
The crying, shouting, laughing, craziness forgotten
Two faces entranced by the world that unfurls in front of them
Where shall we visit today?
The green meadow with the trip trap bridge perhaps?
Or the peace and quiet of the park with the hut in the corner?
Whatever the destination it’s always the same
Noises, smiles, cuddles
Karma restored, ready again for battle
Yes that’s right my lovely readers today is the 3rd birthday for this little old blog. 3 whole years of my rambles, rants and of course mutterings. Publishing that first post was a big deal for me, I’ve never been a writer and haven’t sat down to write anything since probably my English GCSE. Now I find myself thinking ‘I’m going to blog that’, posts starting off as a bunch of ideas whirring around my head and then slowly coming together to form something coherent.
I started off like many parent bloggers wanting to capture my children growing up, to have something to look back on and remember the good times and bad. Which I definitely do now, especially to compare how Henry’s development is similar or not to Matilda’s when memories blurred by a lack of sleep can’t be trusted.
But when looking back it’s also clear that what I write about and how I write has evolved. It’s inevitable that you write about what is important in your life at that time, when I started I was about to become a dad for the first time so I wrote a lot about what that was like and how it felt. When Henry came along I did less of that as the ‘firsts’ become fewer and less surprising the second time around. But with 2 the relationship between them and the challenge having 2 brings become much more important to you as a parent.
Now with 2 toddlers it’s more about doing things rather than simply coping with being a parent. We’ve never been ones to shy away from getting out and having adventures with them and I hope I’ve managed to capture that in my writing. Certainly that is something I want to spend more time writing about in the future.
I’ve also really enjoyed trying out new things on here with different styles of post, short ones with just a sentence or 2, posts with a poem or song, longer ones that tell a story or even simply a few words and a photo. I’ve even published my first fiction which is fascinating new challenge and I hope to share the next instalment with you soon. Plus of course expanding to be a 2 blog blogger with all my running related posts now published on Lycra and Lunchboxes. Running is a huge passion of mine and it felt like the right time to give those posts a place of their own.
Most of all though I love being a blogger for the community, the support from fellow parents when you are struggling or hit a low point and then celebrating with you when you have a new baby or pass a big milestone. I’ve made some great friends through being a blogger who turn out to be just as great in person. We met David when in Scotland last month and having chatted via our blogs and on Twitter over the past few years it felt like we were old friends. Some people may not get this element of being a blogger but once you experience the community you can’t help but be converted.
So I leave you with a thank you; thank you for reading my mutterings, thank you for all your comments and thank you for giving a guy the opportunity to write and welcoming me into your world.