I may have mentioned it a few times…but I’m now on Shared Parental Leave! And what a way to start, Mummy Hew fucked off on a 4 day cruise! I mean, I was pleased for her, but nothing like being thrown in at the deep end ey!
I went through a range of emotions, firstly, there was no doubt in my mind that Mummy Hew should treat herself to a few days away; and after all I get to bank those days for later in the year, right? I was excited. I was looking forward to spending 4 days alone with Gracie and Henry. I was anxious. I know it’s only four days. But 4 days alone felt daunting, especially as my medication has only just stabilised. I felt privileged. Some Dads don’t get to see their kids every day and I recognise how lucky I am to spend so much time with them. To have 4 days alone was amazing. We could do all the things that Mummy Hew wouldn’t normally let us.
Mummy Hew left at lunchtime on Friday. Henry and I didn’t do anything exciting other than pick Gracie up from school at 3. As soon as Gracie got home we set a few ground rules.
1: The upstairs bathroom was hers, the downstairs mine…I can’t tell you how amazing it felt not to have to put the toilet seat down!
2: We have to have fun. No matter how grumpy or frustrated we get with each other WE HAVE TO HAVE FUN!
3: There is no bedtime this weekend! I mean, as much as I love our 7pm bedtime routine, Gracie was excited to stay up late.
4: Gracie needed to help around the house. I explained that I couldn’t do everything on my own and needed her to be the Mummy.
We spent some time at home in the evening. We cooked dinner, spaghetti Bolognese obvs! The three of us sat at the table and ate dinner. Gracie was telling me how excited she was for Mummy to get home and what present she was going to get. We watched some TV and put Henry to bed at 6:30. Gracie was pretty tired and asked if she could watch a film in my bed…I had already agreed she could sleep on Mummy Hews side of the bed to keep her pillow warm. She watched Toy Story 3 and then fell straight to sleep.
Once the kids were in bed I cleaned the house…which took all of 10 minutes and then found myself looking for things to do. Mummy Hew and I tend to do most things together. I was a bit lost. It felt a bit lonely if I’m honest (yes sympathy required). I did what all good Dads do and poured myself a little drink and fell into the rabbit hole of Instagram. It wasn’t much different to a normal Friday night to be fair, other than the fact when I looked up to say ‘did you see such and such’s post’ I didn’t get a response.
Obviously I only had a few drinks….I’m a responsible parent! I took myself to bed….annoyed at the fact I couldn’t starfish across the bed and that Gracie had made herself comfortable RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE!
On Saturday we got up and Gracie had her Stage Coach class. Henry and I chilled at home until it was finished. I picked her up at 11 and took her to a soft play, I mean what else was I meant to do with them!
At the soft play Gracie played for hours….literally hours. Henry and I chilled and ignored Gracie as much as we could. I manage to get my self a puncture in the motor, which was quite fun to contend with whilst having 2 kids in tow.
We got home and Gracie and I made ourselves a curry for dinner…she was pretty disappointed that she didn’t have popadoms! Same routine as Friday, Henry went to bed and Gracie watched Toy Story 2 in my bed.
I was feeling pretty shitty Saturday night. Nothing particular just a bit crappy, probably a bit lonely, definitely bored and I was bloody tired…I’m still weaning myself off the afternoon naps!! I took myself to bed and watched the end of Toy Story with Gracie. We sat and talked about shit for an hour, she can talk for England if she wants to. We talked about the moon, when she’s going to get married, what heaven looks like, what we were having for breakfast. She eventually fell asleep in my arms…she has literally never done this so that was pretty special.
We had a pretty chilled out Sunday morning. Henry was pretty grumpy, full of cold. Gracie was getting bored in the house. It was a pretty warm day so made our lunch and had a little picnic in the garden.
Gracie wanted to go swimming, but as much as I wanted to take them I didn’t feel safe taking them both on my own. Gracie is quite confident in the water but Henry hates it.
We decided we would have a walk along the canal. We must have walked for about a mile or so. Gracie really enjoyed it, Henry didn’t care less. We watched the locks being opened and the barges sail past. We raced boats and ducks and generally had a great time.
We ate out for dinner. Henry was still in the biggest grump. He sat and cried most of the time Gracie and I ate, he didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want milk, he didn’t want to sleep, he just wanted to be grumpy.
We got home and I put Henry to bed. Although he didn’t sleep. He just cried, he had two bottle of milk and carried on crying. He eventually settled and I bathed Gracie, who sat crying. She told me she had an ear ache, but it kept changing from one side to the other. Then she had a sore throat. I put her to bed and she cried….loads. Then Henry cried…loads. I was between the two rooms with two kids who wouldn’t stop crying. Normally Mummy Hew and I would take it in turns…although to be fair we’ve never had a night where they were both being crap. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as soon as I left one room the other was beside themselves. I gave Henry some calpol and he eventually settled. Gracie insisted she needed calpol too, so I gave it to her. She wouldn’t settle. I was lost as to what to do. She then said ‘if I sleep in your bed my ear will be better’. I was pretty pissed off that she had played up just to go back into my bed…but she settled immediately. In for a penny in for a pound!
Henry had a pretty restless night. It’s been a good few months since he has woken in the night so that was a bit of a shock to the system.
Back to school. I was quite grateful for this actually. Henry napped really well in the morning which meant I could have a cheeky half hour sleep, as well as getting the house ready for Mummy Hews return!
Gracie was really excited to go to bed as she knew Mummy would be picking her up from school on Tuesday!
I needed to get on with some life admin. I needed to fill Henry’s passport application in! We’re are going on holiday in less than 3 weeks and left it too late to do a paper application. Henry and I needed to go to the passport office in Peterborough on the Tuesday before Mummy Hew got home.
We got up late….really fucking late! I wouldn’t normally mind as Gracie can be ready in 10 minutes. But I needed to get myself and Henry ready to drive 2 hours to Peterborough for his passport appointment.
We managed to get to school on time, god knows how! And Henry and I trundled up to Peterborough. We had a walk round the cathedral and had his appointment. Drive home and Mummy Hew was back!!! It was a welcome sight!
There is no doubt that parenting is hard. Whether as a couple or single parent. We all make our own routines. We all have chores that one person prefers to do than the other. I’m not shouting from the rooftops that I managed to look after my kids for 4 night alone (well maybe a little bit) but I guess I’m recognising that change in routine is difficult. For all of us, the kids definitely noticed it, I certainly did, Mummy Hew said she thought about us when she was sipping a Gin.
I had a number people comment about how I would cope or who were shocked that Mummy Hew would dare leave me alone with my own kids…god forbid. It was quite eye opening to see how many people still have the view that the kids place is with the mother and the fathers role is secondary. For me, we chose to have kids, we made them, we will bring them up. So for me, this wasn’t a case of Dad babysitting but very much a case me spending more quality time with my kids….now someone pour me a vodka and get me to the travel agent!
My wife went to Amsterdam….and all I got were these lousy slippers!!!