My wife and I are professional bloggers. It’s a fantastic job in that it allows us to work from home and the infinite flexibility that gives our family. The downside is that we work a lot more than you might imagine.
This becomes more of a problem at the weekends, because of the subject matter of our main blog, that’s when we’re most busy. So the dilemma for us is how do we give the children our attention while getting the work done?
Answer: divide and conquer. My wife stays at home and works on the site while I take the children for day trips and outings.
Some dads might feel like they’re getting a raw deal, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Take this weekend for instance – my wife just jetted off for a business trip to London for three days. Now, we’ll miss her and she’ll miss us, but we’ll get by without her!
I always have a pep talk with the kids whenever I’m going to be alone with them for any length of time. I let them know that I’m going to be on my own and I need them to help out when they’re asked and that they need to try their hardest to get along. Once we’ve got those basics covered, things usually run pretty smoothly. This morning, before we took our day trip, I asked everyone to pitch in with getting ready and even persuaded our eldest to help me pair socks in preparation for the next couple of days of school!
That done, we headed out to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. It’s somewhere I’ve been visiting since I was a child, and it’s become a big part of the kids’ lives as well. It’s their opportunity to see what Northern Ireland was like way back at the turn of the last century and how people lived. It’s essentially a replica rural village with old buildings that have been transported brick-by-wonderful-brick to a sprawling country estate outside Belfast. And as I hope the pictures in this post prove, it’s a gorgeous place to spend a chilly autumn afternoon!
What I’ve discovered over the last few months – since the summer holidays, actually – is that my children are fantastic friends. Sure, they bicker and argue like most kids, but they have an amazing camaraderie with each other. They’re always smiling and singing and dancing on these day trips – and they’re at a great age where you can let them wander around and explore without worrying about them damaging themselves or anyone else!
From the moment we set out this morning, they were joking and singing in the car. The eldest was flicking between radio stations or finding her favourite song by The Doors on the CD we had with us. I’d taken along a few snacks because it was going to be a long day out and I wanted to save money instead of eating expensive and unhealthy take-away food. They were given the choice to have their snacks immediately when we arrived or to wait and have them later – and they democratically made the decision themselves.
And when we got home…well, the two oldest helped me make a Paddy Pizza dinner (local recipe – I’ll share it with you someday!) and the youngest helped set the table.
What I’ve learned in taking the kids out on my own like this is that my children are a wonderful little gang. They’re great mates, and they love outdoor experiences. They’re not greedy like other kids we know – they love to eat in Burger King as much as the next kid, but they’ll never complain if we produce a packed lunch!
Sometimes parenting alone forces you to raise your game. It’s just you and the children – are you going to vegetate in the house all day, or are you going to go outside and bond with them and do something fun? It used to be easy and convenient to just watch TV and play console games. But really, there’s nothing like the smiles and hugs and fun of going out and having adventures. Last week it was the Giant’s Causeway, this week it was the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. What’ll it be next week? Who knows? It all depends on the weather. But we already know it’ll be fun!
Do any of you notice a difference when your other half goes away and you’re looking after the children alone?