It’s the first day of December and it’s that special month of the year of giving and sharing and here in Chat with Mums and Dads – I feel really honoured and excited to share with you guys one of my current favourite bloggers, Tim of Slouching towards Thatcham.
Tell us something about yourself and your little ones.
I’m Tim and I’m the proud father of three children: Isaac (who turns seven this month), Toby (nearly five) and Kara (two-and-a-half).
What were your little ones’ birth stories like?
Eventful! The boys were both planned home water births. Isaac was by the book, although he kept us waiting by arriving nearly two weeks late. Toby arrived in such a hurry that I ended up delivering him myself on our living room floor a good 15 minutes before our midwife arrived. I dined out on that one for a while!
Kara denied us the hat-trick of home births. She went way beyond fashionably late – 19 days late, in fact. My wife’s waters broke at the hospital while she was discussing a potential induction. I ended up driving to Reading at, ahem, slightly above the national speed limit and got there with just 15 minutes to spare. I’ve been chasing around after her ever since.
What do you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?
In many ways, I wish I’d known less. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by all the information and advice you receive from ante-natal classes, books, family and friends that it’s easy to ignore your own instincts.
I’d almost rather I’d just gone into it knowing that every dad’s experience is different, that making mistakes is part of the process and that as long as we try to do the right things and don’t drop them on their heads too often our kids will love us anyway.
How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?
It can be a challenge sometimes, but fortunately my job is office-based and allows me some flexibility so that I can catch up in the evenings if needed.
So most days I make a point of being home at least in time to put the kids to bed, and even do the occasional school pick-ups. On a busy weekday I may only see them for a few minutes at either end of the day, but that counts for a lot to me.
How do you manage child-free time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?
Not as many as we should! We’re lucky that our children have always been relatively early sleepers, so evenings are mostly are our own. Occasionally we’ll go out for dinner, mostly we’ll stay in together, but we also do stuff separately when we get the chance.
Vital as it is to have ‘we’ time together as husband and wife, ‘me’ time is also important for both of us.
Any favourite anecdotes of your little ones?
Not an anecdote as such, but I am constantly amused at the way our children absorb phrases and mannerisms both from their parents and each other.
As the oldest sibling, Isaac often takes charge and admonishes the others when they’re being naughty. He’ll do so using the same words and tone of voice that we do. (“I’m going to count to three, then …”).
And it’s hard not to laugh when Kara tells the boys off by placing her hands on her hips, raising her voice, saying, “Boys! Stop fighting! Right now!” in a way that sounds uncannily like my wife.
They really do grow up in our image, don’t they?
What is it about fatherhood you love?
I love seeing things through the innocence of a child’s eyes. (You can tell all our kids are still young, can’t you?) We so easily become jaded and cynical as adults, but to children something as simple as a bus ride is a magical experience, and to them everything is possible. Being there to guide them through this amazing world of ours is a privilege.
If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike, what would it be?
The early mornings! Even now, anything beyond 6am qualifies as a lie-in. Our lifestyle has changed a lot since the kids arrived, but as a night owl it’s the early starts that I struggle with the most.
If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?
Probably not. I’m under no illusions that stay-at-home parenting is a tough gig, and while I would definitely consider working a four-day week to free up more time to spend with the kids I’m not sure I’m cut out to do it full-time.
Best advice you’ve ever received about fatherhood?
That there is no one ‘right way’ to be a dad, which means not being afraid to do things my way, no matter how much advice I receive from well-meaning people.
And that includes my wife! I’ve learned a lot by copying her approaches to managing the kids, but last year I spent nine days on my own with just the boys and that experience gave me the freedom to experiment with new approaches. Not all of them worked but some did, and it gave me the confidence to keep doing things my way and incorporate the best of both of parenting styles.
If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?
To relax. It’s in my nature to over-think things, and I remember being worried about getting things wrong and trying to remember everything you’re taught in books and ante-natal classes.
The reality is that nothing really prepares you for the adventure that is fatherhood. Trust your instincts more and go with the flow, because no matter how well prepared you think you are (or aren’t), the reality is always different and full of surprises, most of them pleasant (except the ones that come at the nappy end of things …) Fatherhood is a journey: spend less time worrying and more time enjoying the ride.
Thank you so much Tim!
In case you’ve missed November’s Chat with a Mum, click here to read.
Have a lovely first week of December!
25 more sleeps to go before Christmas 🙂