More than a month into the rebonding time, and already the time has been very beneficial – at least for me. I feel considerably happier and healthier, and friends are saying nice things about my appearance. So far, both kids enjoy school and have settled in nicely to the daytime routine. My wife also has less pressure to rush home for school pickup. We are all still adjusting to our new roles, but the family certainly feels as harmonious as it has ever been.
The kids and I now stroll slowly to school, discussing the day ahead, and (citing one of their new favourite songs, You Sound Like Louis Burdette) where we would go on holiday. However, despite rousing them from bed at a later time, I have to report that actually exiting the bed, eating breakfast and getting dressed remains a daily drag.
The year has begun well at school. My eldest daughter being elected school captain was particularly exciting, as was witnessing my youngest win a race at the swimming carnival. Being able to attend all manner of school activities during the day is a new experience and one I would like to maintain. It is really nice to be able to commit to anything they need me to attend – from school captain speeches, to school assemblies and sporting carnivals.
This is not a luxury we have always had, and too often it fell to my wife to somehow juggle her part-time schedule so she could rush to such things. I know too that many parents simply cannot leave work during daytime hours. It increasingly feels like western society might have our priorities wrong. Watching older friends shunning retirement for fear of boredom makes me wonder if working less hours for longer, at least when our children are young, wouldn’t make more sense.
However, I recognise too that I can’t apply my priorities to everyone else. Lots of time together won’t work for all families, and financial pressure certainly does nothing for family harmony. We’re experimenting with something that while it may work for us, won’t make everyone happy.
The kids are trying new things, including drum lessons and playing AFL. These are adding new stops on the Dad taxi service after school, but it is particularly nice to be doing such tasks without constantly staring at a phone or laptop. The challenge will be how to maintain such mindful attention when the distractions of work return.
The kids and I have also spent some time in the recording studio, chatting about the stories they like. You can hear more on the Podcasts page. At their request, next month (April), we will discuss one of their favourites, ANZAC Day, before replaying the story read by Peter Heweston.
We’ve also enjoyed the countless events taking place in March in the capital, including the Enlighten festival.
Wednesdays are now special after-school mum-time, when the girls all get together for some special bonding time of their own, doing anything of the kids’ choice. So far this has included trips to IKEA and ‘craftanoon’ – hours of fun spent gluing, cutting and pasting after school (trademark pending). This also gives me a prolonged period to concentrate on the various activities that seem to fill my day. I am far from bored, and regularly feel like I blink and the time has elapsed between 9:15 and 2:45. How did I ever work!
Using this time, I am well underway on an adult writing project – a novel set partly in Cooma during the building of the grand Snowy Mountain hydro-electric scheme. I have also had some articles published about my new father-focus.
But enough blogging time – it is already 12:30, meaning I only have 2 hours to do a few chores before pumping out some more writing and then it is time to collect the kids so the adventure can continue!