I am writing this fresh from having a bad day at being a dad. I know we all must have these days. When you wake up and you just know something isn’t right. You aren’t wired or ready for the day that lies ahead and you cannot for the life of you explain why. I don’t know what it was with me today, but I know what it wasn’t. By the end of the day I have well and truly fallen out with myself.
I think it was a mixture of things. The 4:30am wake-up call, the pushing of every single boundary from a certain little monkey and the heat. No matter what I did I couldn’t relax. I feel like we are always on the go. Rarely stopping. And I think it’s just catching up with me. I am well and truly fried and have had zero time for self-care or any simple downtime.
I want to be the dad who has everything under control. Nothing is a hassle and everything can be done. Well... reality check- IT CAN’T! And I need to learn that it is okay not to have everything under control. But that is easier said than done for someone like me I guess. It always feels like there is something to prep for. This weekend just gone it was birthday parties, father’s day and a quick brunch with friends. Part of me thinks we should just stay at home all day sometimes as it could be a lot easier... but trying to keep a toddler indoors all day is like keeping a caged animal and they need to get out every day, regardless of the weather!
I didn't enjoy today. I lost my temper far too many times and I was unreasonable. I wasn’t as understanding as I usually am and I longed for bed time. These days are very rare, I’ve probably had two or three in the two years of being a dad, so I think when they hit me they hit me hard. I try to parent as peacefully as I can, and some days I am plain amazed at how far my patience goes. I should win a Nobel Peace Prize for it! But today, I just had none. And it’s no one’s fault (well a lie in might have helped tbh) but it’s all just a mess of different things culminating into a mini meltdown. Right now K is developing and growing at such a speed. His little mind must be in complete overdrive. His brain expanding every day with new information. And he can’t make sense of it and doesn’t know how to respond to it. And it can come in really testing ways (to an adult at least). I understand this and work so hard to supporting him. But, like any parent, I get to a point where I need a minute to breathe.
I think the first important step is realising you’re having this mini meltdown. To acknowledge your feelings and to ride it. I actually think it’s worse to ‘fake it’ and try and smooth it over. If you’re one of two parents then you offload to them. You need this time to step away and have a moment to yourself. Even if your toddler is constantly shouting “No daddy sit down there!!” You just have to take yourself away from that for a few short moments. I took myself into the garden for half an hour. It didn’t really do much if I am being honest. I was in such a deep funk of anger, tiredness and general annoyance. I was not a joy to be around whatsoever. I think I knew it was going to need to be bedtime and then I can truly switch off.
Bedtime came around, it went rather well as bed times go. My husband was out with a client from 7pm so it’s down to me to nail bedtime as calmly as I can. I don’t know if I can even remember doing it now, only thirty minutes later. I must have been on auto or something. I think we might have skipped a bedtime story too…
I am learning (and it’s only taken me two years…) that self-care is so important. And something we probably don’t get enough of as parents. Or maybe you do? I see a lot of parents on social media leaving the kids with the grandparents while they head off to the spa or a date night in the city. We just don’t do that. Well, not enough it seems. I think we’ve had a couple of date nights this year so far and I’ve had three or four dinners out with friends while Danny stays at home. It’s not enough though. I don’t think an evening is going to really help. Come evening time you’ve had the whole day with your family, you’ve done the bedtime routine, after that you just want to go to bed yourself most nights. Oh but you can’t because the washing needs putting away and dinner needs making...
When I think of self-care I am thinking of a whole day. A true break. From morning to evening. That to me, would be a huge treat. Maybe we aren’t there yet…. But we will be. Small steps. My son loves being baby sat or having time with his family. But when it comes to a whole day, we are yet to attempt it. And I think we might be getting to the point soon where we are all ready for it. (I know daddy certainly is!)
I love my son more than words will ever be able to describe. Becoming a father changed every part of me. Every single thing I do now, I do for him. And that is exactly why I need to look after myself. I can’t be a good dad if I am falling to bits. I need time out. I need space. I realised I don’t think I have been completely alone in years! I am either at the office surrounded by people or at home with my husband and toddler. Weekends we’re together and we're seeing family and friends. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was actually alone. Just me. And i really need to work on that… Did someone say 'spa day'??