Early tomorrow morning my wife and her best friend fly out of Sydney International Airport bound for a holiday in Singapore with another friend who moved there to live. Tonight my wife was attending a work function in the city before heading over to stay at her friend’s place as she is not too far from the airport. So, for the six nights it is just me and the boys. (“Only six nights?” I hear you ask. Look, I’m not the only one who thinks that if you’re going all that way you might as well go for longer, but for some unknown reason she just decided to go overseas for five nights.)
So I have decided that seeing that I am in charge for the next six nights, then all the rules will be thrown out the window and this is what we will be doing instead starting tonight.
1. The Dinner Routine
What normally happens is I cook the boys dinner and then start preparing the dinner for my wife and I. Occasionally if I am finishing off some work in my office or if I am stuck in traffic after seeing a customer late in the day my wife will get their dinner under way and I will look after our dinner once I am finished or once I arrive home.
What is going to happen while she is away is, well, pretty much the same thing except that I will have to make sure I can do their dinner at a reasonable time on both Thursday and Friday nights. That should be easy enough.
2. The Bath Routine
Generally, after dinner is finished I take the boys upstairs for a bath. We used to have a pretty even split between my wife and I where I would do four night one week and she’d do three nights that week and vice versa, but now I generally do the baths every night unless there is a reason why I can’t and then she takes over.
What is going to happen while she is away is, well, pretty much the same thing except that I will definitely have to do them every night.
3. The Bedtime Routine
What normally happens is that straight after the bath the boys get dressed in their pyjamas in the older boys room. Then after playing for a little while – we play this game called “The Running and Jumping Game” which involves, running towards Daddy at full speed and jumping on Daddy who tackles each boy as they do it and hurls them onto the bed. The danger level is very low unless they both make their run up at the same time where there’s the chance of fisticuffs rather than anything else that could cause harm during the game itself. Once this game is done, Mummy goes and gets the milk in the sippy cup, we both struggle to get the little one’s teeth brushed, and then it is time for me to put him to bed.
I wrote recently how he is a better sleeper than his brother once he finally gets to sleep, but he takes forever to get to sleep. Sometimes it takes me 90 minutes to get him to sleep which is fine for the most part as I can hang out on my phone catching up on Facebook, Words With Friends and reading my fellow Dad Bloggers blogs. But some nights I would prefer to have him over and done with quicker so that I can go back downstairs to play Lego with his older brother.
Depending on how long it takes to get the little one to sleep, if he falls fast asleep quickly and I can transfer him to his cot successfully then I head downstairs to play Lego. If this is the case as well, at not real set time, but not too late I then take the older one upstairs and get him to brush his teeth and then we go into his room to read a book, and if he has been a real good boy we watch stop motion YouTube videos that amateur Lego and video enthusiasts create and upload. As soon as the two to five minute video is over, it is lights out and straight to sleep. He rally is THAT good a sleeper now.
What is going to happen while she is away is, SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. If tonight is anything to go by, this task which I thought might be the hardest part without having my wife as the back up to put the big one to bed should the little one take forever was actually very simple and very quick. Straight from the bath to the master bedroom. Pyjamas were ready and waiting and seeing it is a very hot night they are in summer pyjamas which made dressing the little one a breeze.
I went downstairs and got the sippy cup of milk while the bigger one went to brush his teeth. The little one skipped brushing his tonight but I will make up for that tomorrow for sure. Then it was three episodes of Peppa Pig and then the television went off and it was “roll over and go to sleep time”for the both of them. Of course, the little one being the rough head that he is jostled for more room but once I separated the two of them by laying between them they both rolled over and were snoring before I could clear all the games I had backlogged on Words With Friends.
I carried the big one to his bed making sure that his night light was on. As her was falling asleep he said in a voice that sounded like he was on his deathbed “Daddy, please make sure my night light is on when you carry me to bed.”It was SOOOOO dramatic. The little one transferred without even opening his eyes for the first time in ages.
4. Packing the Dishwasher and Cleaning the Kitchen.
Normally, after I have put one of both boys to bed I come back downstairs and pack the dishwasher and then clean the kitchen.
Tonight the dishwasher was packed before they had their bath, and it has been set to go off at 10:30pm which means that we use off-peak electricity. The kitchen was also cleaned before the bath. And with no one else here but me to make it a mess again, that won’t happen until morning… for a change.
5. The Morning Routine.
On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays the boys go to preschool and day-care. The little one doesn’t go on Fridays any more but will be this week as I can’t have him here with me as I need to get work done. Normally I wake up first with the little one (he’s been sleeping with me in the spare bed nearly every night for the last two weeks while both he and my wife were getting over their colds). Even when he sleeps through the night in his own cot, I am the one who gets up with him at 6am and we go downstairs to make Daddy a coffee.
My wife is often the next to wake up sometime after 7am and then followed by the older boy who can wake up as late as 8am sometimes. This cannot happen this week.
Living the life of a single parent for the next six nights and five days means that I will have to run a very tight ship otherwise I won’t have them fed, washed, dressed, with lunches and bags packed ready to go and then driving them to preschool and day-care in time for me to make it to my appointment on time.
My wife and I work as a team with this. During the morning routine, my wife has the task of unpacking the dishwasher from the night before. Sometimes this happens. Sometimes this half happens. Sometimes things get too hectic and that job waits for later in the day. That is a task I will have to fit in or leave until my lunch break (a benefit of working from home).
6. Playing With the Boys and Keeping Them Entertained.
I have written on many occasions that every Saturday my wife works and that is Daddy and the boys days to hang out. There will be no changes to that routine.
On Sundays we normally do something as a whole family. This week, Sunday will be Saturday Part 2. So that will be two days of chores until 11am. Two days of going to the park or the shopping centre playground. Two days of morning tea or afternoon tea knocking back some coffee and babycinos as all the cool kids do.
So when it comes down to it, my routine for the week without my wife here won’t be that much different. I won’t have to step up and do things that I don’t normally do. I won’t have to call either sister-in-law and ask for parental advice. And I won’t have to check a list of jobs that my wife has left me.
It makes me wonder though, if a slacker like me can be so active with his kids. If someone who was such a lazy arse teenager like I was can pull this work – life balance off, why are there some many of those “mums are so great and dads are lazy shits or bumbling fools” memes going round the Internet or advertisements still hitting the airwaves?
I don’t get it.