I just celebrated my 39th birthday, my fifth as a dad with a four-year old daughter and a boy who’s almost two. Over the past couple of months, in between wrangling the two children at home while getting paid work done, I’ve used the pandemic to reflect on my parenting. It’s made me think about where I’m acing fatherhood, and where I’m stuffing up.
Here are my nails and fails of another year of fatherhood.
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1. Every parent knows that bone-weary, mentally shattering feeling of no sleep. Our little boy, Luke, was a nightmare sleeper. He’d only catnap during the day and get us up a dozen times each night. Desperate, we turned to a sleep coach. I was doubtful, but this person was a game-changer. She put me in charge of his sleeping and settling because he was too clingy for Mum. Our boy is now a brilliant snoozer and I’m all over his sleep routine. Huge thanks to our baby whisperer!
2. Bunkering down during the pandemic highlighted that Julia and I do pretty well at sharing the childcaring and domestics. I’m as responsible for the kids during the work week as Julia, and I don’t need to be told to clean, cook or do the laundry. We work hard to ensure neither of us carries a bigger mental load than the other. It’s especially helped us endure the past few months.
3. When we’re stuck at home due to rain or viruses, one thing I’m good at is bringing the light-hearted rough and tumble play. My kids and I make structurally unsound buildings with couch cushions, we chase each other around, play biting and tickle games, blow raspberries, do piggyback races or madly jump around. It’s a blast (plus it tires them out). Even the inevitable accident or bump helps teach us all about respecting each other’s physical limits (just like on Bluey).