This would definitely go down as one of the more unusual places that I’ve written a blog post. I am currently sat on a bench on the balcony-floor above a school swimming pool, laptop on lap, children whooping and screaming on the level below.
It’s not my children’s school, I should point out – though I wish it was. No, my children aren’t lucky enough to attend a school with a swimming pool, so I take them to a posh school in town for their weekly swimming lessons – lessons they are currently taking in the pool below me.
On the way here, I stopped by one of Robert’s friends houses to pick him up from a birthday party sleep-over, where he was apparently up until midnight playing Xbox 360 and eating ice cream (needless to say, he’s struggling a little with today’s lesson!).
The night before, we took Robert to his first session at the local ‘Beavers’ pack – a place we have been on the waiting list for for over 6 months.
I think it’s safe to say that, like the end of ‘The Avengers’ signalled for the Marvel Comic Universe, my life as a father is now entering PHASE 2. And just like a dust-up with the Incredible Hulk, it seems to involve an awful lot of stropping!
Rewind 6 months or so and you can see just how much life has changed. Back then, our weekends mostly involved recovering from a week of school/work/pre-school, a few trips out to the countryside or a local attraction and a couple of bottles of wine.
Week nights were a blur of collections from school/pre-school/childminder, dinner, stories and bed. Life only really got busy during the holidays, when the constrains of the school term free us up for a little more free-form living.
We’re not helicopter parents, and as we both work we’ve never push particularly hard for our kids to go on endless playdates or clubs. Don’t get me wrong – if either child got invited to a friend’s house, we’d jump at the chance – and would always try to return the favour. But we didn’t fill our evenings and weekends with endless entertainment – not least of all because I think kids need to learn how to be bored at a young age! So the past 5 or 6 years have been fairly straightforward, at least as far as parental time management goes.
But now, all that has been thrown out of the window. We’ve got two children at two different schools, neither near the other, both with all of the school/parent admin you’d expect – open evenings, parent visits, drop-offs, activities – not even holidays start and end on the same date.
We’ve also got two increasingly-sociable children, keen to see their friends (though much more in the case of the oldest, admittedly) and get involved in clubs and activities. Robert is now learning the piano, going to Beavers, learning to swim – and I expect there are going to be more of these sorts of things to come.
So weekends and evenings are taking a turn for the chaotic again – not that I don’t enjoy a bit of chaos, I hasten to add. It’s certainly anything but routine. But it makes life a little more challenging, and will probably mean I find myself writing blog posts in unusual places like this, or on my train to work, or waiting in a car – I’m sure you get the picture.
Still, I’m sure there are plenty of parents out there with WAY more chaotic lives than this, so I’ll make the most of the excitement and secretly dream of the many quiet evenings to come when they leave home… :D