As a work-at-home dad with a five-year-old and a newborn, my "dad time" is lacking to say the least, and it doesn't appear that it will be getting better anytime soon. Getting our five-year-old up and ready for his half day of kindergarten. Walking him over to school and then hurrying back home with the litle one. Putting in a few hours work. Walking back over and picking him up from school. Making lunch. Ensuring that our son does some academic exercises and finds stuff to do while I work in the afternoon and care for the little one until my wife gets home and we can work on getting dinner ready. It's all part of a very busy day.
This tends to leave me with very little time of my own, yet I'm not left feeling completely devoid of privacy and some alone time. Here are a few things that I do to make my schedule more efficient and give me a little time to myself once in a while.
Utilizing Time Gaps
Throughout our first son's upbringing, I've learned that time gaps during the day can serve as valuable dad time. Whether they are when he's napping, times when he's occupied with a television program or playing with toys, and more recently, while he's away at school for half the day, these time gaps -- if used properly -- can be huge opportunities for some dad time.
Whether it's getting some work done while the baby sleeps, doing some house-related projects, getting some much-needed cleaning accomplished, or even just watching a television show for a break, these periods can be super helpful if put to efficient use.
Adjusting with Age
As our son gets older, he has different routines and different needs. Whether it's seasonal adjustments, starting school or educational and entertainment needs, as he grows and changes, so do his interests, skills, and abilities. I must therefore adjust with him, meaning that when and where I can find time to myself must adapt as well.
When our son was younger, nap times were great gaps in which I could squeeze in some time for myself. Now, as he enters kindergarten, I get a three-hour gap in which I have time to myself…as long as baby is cooperating. Next year, I might have had an entire day to myself but for the fact that I have our new little bundle of joy to start all over with; therefore, it looks like dad time will be back to naptimes again.
Mixing with More Children
It could be easy to look at having another child as a further drain on any dad time I might have. Throwing another child into the mix has indeed made my life harder, but I try to look at this aspect positively when it comes to my free time. With the over five year gap in age between children, I might actually find it easier to get time to myself than it was during my time spent raising our first son. A five year age gap means that our older child can provide more entertainment for the littler one, and vice versa, hopefully taking some of the pressure off me and the wife and giving dear old dad some occasional peace and quiet.
I had a five year head-start on my half-brother, and I found it wonderfully entertaining and fulfilling to show and teach him new things as his "big brother." It felt great being looked up to in that regard and I hope that our older son takes the same point of view, which might not only provide me with a little added relief occasionally, but possibly act as good training for him as a future father, uncle or whatever.
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