A quick introduction first, I’m a dad to 2 kids, a 6 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. Here are a few words on how having children changed me.
Time well spent
When I was younger, I have realised that I just wasted time. Weekends? We could easily lose half a day by just having a lie in. I once went out for a night out and didn’t function properly until the next evening… but hey, we were young and it didn’t feel like it mattered! An early morning was being out of the house for 10:00am.
These days, the kids wake up at 6:00am whatever happened the night before. Thankfully, they’re now at a point where they can entertain themselves but the positive part of them waking up so early is that if we need to be out of the house early, we usually are. We also make sure that we plan our day trips, so where we’re planning to have a picnic on a day trip, that will have been packed the night before.
When I was younger, I used to absolutely detest camping. Tried it as a teenager, hated it. Tried it as an adult, hated it more. Going for walks rain or shine? Why would I want to do that when I’ve got films and games at home? Lots of cheap holidays? Nah, I’d rather do an expensive fancy holiday in a hotel. We tried camping a few times and every time involved arguments and me vowing never to do it again.
So, it was obviously a big surprise to me the day I walked into an outdoors shop (mainly because it was next to Mothercare and had a good coffee shop) and fell in love with the idea of camping with our 9 month old son, who’d already shown how much he loved being outdoors. Going for walks rain or shine? Long walks really tire him out, sign me up! Lots of cheap holidays? Baby and hotel room didn’t mix well for us (we tried!) and anyway we can’t afford even a cheap hotel now – so anything that makes going away cheaper is a win!
These thoughts all happened on that fateful afternoon visit and ended with the impulsive purchase of a brand new tent and camping gear. The arrival of our daughter didn’t dull the enthusiasm and we even camped for a week when she was six months old – including sterilising her bottles using cold water tablets, which was a challenge with a now 3 year old boy in tow! We still enjoy camping now and are starting to think about post-lockdown adventures.
Being more mindful
This was the biggest surprise to me. Obviously I was aware that children tend to look up to their parents. What I hadn’t realised was how much I’d enjoy that role and how much it would affect the way I behaved and thought.
I’ve switched my diet since having kids; primarily this was to improve my health, so I can keep up with them but environmental concerns have also led to us reducing our meat intake. I plan our meals a lot more, partly over a desire to reduce food waste but also to ensure that all of our diets are more balanced – this is not to say that our kids don’t eat convenience food, far from it – but I want them to at least try different foods occasionally. The environmental thoughts have been driven by our now 6 year old telling us what “kills the earth”, including littering, wasting food and leaving lights on.
I’ve always been an over-thinker, so I’ve always worried about everything. Where having children has changed me is that I’ve now become less worried when things don’t go to plan – this is not to say that I don’t still worry about things, but I now focus on what I can control and always remember it’s all about the kids – so long as they’re happy, we’re happy!
The final difference they’ve made is to my relationship with my wife. We’ve been married for 10 years and have been together almost 20; we shared the burden from the moment we got home with our oldest. My wife would go to bed early, I’d stay up for the dream feed. My wife would then wake up for the middle of the night feed and I’d do the early morning feed before I went to work. Raising two babies into children has brought us closer and really shown us how well we work as a team.
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