A subtle shift in my life, as today was my first day of juggling being a full-time Dad with being a full-time writer, hence the bottle and baby wipes by the laptop.
So far it has been…different. Not sure I can describe I any better than that, because I don’t want to say it’s better than when I was working full-time, and I certainly don’t want to say it’s worse, but it is very definitely different. Very.
The advantage of a full-time job (for someone like me) I that you have a definite routine, things that need to be done at a certain time, tasks that absolutely have to be completed on a certain day, it provides structure. Being a full-time Dad is a lot more fluid (and I’m not just talking about some of the nappies I have to deal with), there’s a lot less of y being needed to be done by x time, a lot more of “sooooo…what am I going to do today?”
To begin with the day does have some structure, as my eldest needs to be at school by 8.45, which means he needs to be dressed and out of the house by 8.35. Wait, dressed and breakfasted. And washed. And his teeth cleaned. Damn, those tasks are starting to mount up. None of them are big tasks, but have you tried getting a five year old to do what you want when you ask him to? Without getting distracted? By and large we make it, meaning the time between waking up and 8.45 has some semblance of order to it. But after that? When looking after a much, much younger infant?
I am discovering that you need to create your own structure, or else go insane. More insane. I’m also discovering that being a full-time parent involves embracing a level of insanity simply to stay sane. Sounds wrong, I know, but I also know that most parents out there reading this will agree. Hopefully, otherwise I’m doing it wrong.
Anyway, today my youngest and I had jobs to do. And I got lucky, as he fell asleep soon after the school run, allowing me to get the first job, Exciting Trip to Supermarket, fifty percent completed with him dozing in his pram. Result! And I found everything I was looking for in the shop without getting stressed and having to walk up and down each aisle three times (being a man I can’t ask for help, and would rather spend an extra forty minutes in a shop trying to find something myself).
So, so far so good. Jobs remaining, feed youngest, go to post office to send off a birthday present, do laundry back at house, cook dinner ready for the evening.
Feeding the youngest was something I had planned to do in some sort of coffee shop (probably rhyming with car-trucks) so that I could feel all twenty-first century parent cool. We didn’t make it, his screams echoing down the street and forcing me to cut the journey short and feed him on a bench in the sun. Which was more than pleasant, and saved me a couple of quid. Still feeling like I had a handle on this whole parenting thing.
Go to the post office. Did that. Computer failure meant that going there was pointless, but I did go. And it was there that I discovered that I wasn’t quite as on top of this whole thing as I had thought…I’d left the changing bag back at the house, and my child’s nappy was looking more and more full. Full to bursting point. To the point at which the Isle of Wight was at risk of being submerged in a great wave of infant urine…
New plan, go back to the house, change the nappy, do the laundry, go to an alternative post office. And getting back to the house needed to be done fairly swiftly…my problem with doing anything swiftly was that I was out and about in the middle of the morning on a weekday. So it was basically me (with my giant pram), other parents with their giant prams, eight thousand year old people with an assortment of zimmer frames, mobility scooters, and walking sticks and with an average speed of Sloth-like, and a host of the unemployed who vaguely resembled extras from The Walking Dead.
Speed of movement was almost impossible, but somehow I managed it, making that pram almost fly down the street. I made it, by the way, avoided the urine flood, saved the island. Yep, I’m a hero.
He was also happy to play on his playmat and coo quite happily at me while I did the laundry. In retrospect if I had known that that was the only four minutes and fifty two seconds he’d allow himself to not be physically attached to me all day I might have done something else. Like make myself a coffee. Or sit down. (He’s teething, hence the clinginess today. And probably tomorrow.) Anyway, laundry done. Tick!
He then fell asleep on my shoulder (and was very resistant to being moved), keeping me trapped on the sofa for half an hour (poor me), but I was some distance away from my laptop, but did manage to catch up on some tweeting. Yep, I tweet. And retweet, on occasion. And no longer think a hash tag is a label on a breakfast potato item.
When he awoke we just had time to dash to the alternative post office and queue for twenty minutes to get the birthday present posted, allowing a little time for an explosive nappy (won’t go into details) before the school run, and then it was back to having two of them. I’m a man, I can’t multi-task, s then next four hours before bedtime were basically a write off. Oh, and dinner did not get prepared during that time, eldest had leftover spaghetti Bolognese from yesterday, I had a biscuit.
And then it was bedtime, which went smoothly, and the full-time Dad bit was done for the day. I’d hoped that full-time writer might have made a few appearances during nap times and what have you, but for the moment I’m content that I didn’t screw up the Dad part too badly. I guess it will just mean some more midnight oil than usual being burned for a while.
Speaking of the writing, a 5* review appeared today for Silver Soldiers, very exciting! You can read it here.
And now it is late, I’m tired, and determined that tomorrow will include both awesome parenting and Chapter Ten of Realmborn 2. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. And I am aware that plans can be changed at any time without notice…
Hope everyone is well, and stays that way.
Stay Frosty, People.