Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Single Dad

This started as an idea that I have recently had, so thought that I would do the modern version of putting pen to paper.

My name is Paul. I am a 44 year old {At time of writing} single dad of a 4 year old boy. His mother & I separated quite some time ago. I will not go into the details of why we separated, that is not the aim of this blog. The whole idea of this blog is to share a few things that I do to live as a single dad with my boy. If you are wanting to have a cry about your separation, please go to a different blog or web site. I am doing this to help myself & others like me to move on & get over it. Not to dwell on the situation & have my own pity party. So settle back, make a coffee & have a read. I hope that I can at least make you smile.

I have figured out reasonably quickly that the old fashioned ways of dealing with kids seem to work much better than most of the newer {politically correct} methods. As a single parent, you really do need to be firm with the rules, and follow up with what you say. I have had a bit of experience with kids, as I also have 2 older boys {there should be a pic around here somewhere} to a previous marriage. No. I am probably not going to go for third time lucky.

Edward has recently had his 4th birthday. A lot of the things that I say here will be relative to a 3 / 4 year old, however it can be modified to suit most kids ages. The first thing that needs to be done is to sit down with them & explain that there will need to be some rules. The rules will need to be dependant on the age of the child. Obviously it is just not possible to explain some things to a 2 year old that a 12 year old would find simple to understand. So try to keep it simple & relevant. The rules will also be based around your daily routine. Routine is very important.

I can not stress enough on how important routine is for kids. Routine gives the child some form of stability. Think about this for a moment. Your child has just had his/her little world turned upside down. They do not understand why everything has changed, and in a lot of cases do not know how to find out or ask. It is very difficult for a young child to get the answers that they need, when they do not know what question needs to be asked! Give your child a routine so that something in their life is constant. They can then build on this.

Build your rules around the Routine that you develop for them. As an Example. When Ed & I get up in the morning we go to the kitchen to make the breakfast. Ed will go to the cupboard & get his cereal while I get the plates & put the kettle on. We eat our breakfast together. I have learnt that it so much more easy to get a child to eat, if they can see that you are eating the same as them & at the same time. I might also add that it is also a hell of a lot more easy to prepare a meal once & not prepare 2 seperate meals.

After we eat breakfast we then wash the dishes. Yes, thats correct, WE wash the dishes. I let him "help" me. We have a small stool that he stands on to reach the bench. I have learnt that if he thinks he is helping me, he likes it. As a bonus, he is learning something. We then go to the lounge room & watch Sesame Street, Playschool etc. This is great, as I check my emails at the same time. Try to participate in the things that are happening on the show on tv, because you can also mention the subjects later in the day. Hey, it doesn't hurt to try to educate the kid a little. Remember, while your child is watching this wonderful program, you now have the opportunity to have that cup of coffee that you have been soooo wanting!!

Ed has learnt that I can not spend all of my day playing. Because of this I get him to "help" me with the household tasks. WE do the clothes washing, we put them in the machine, hang them up, & take them in. He also help me to fold & put them away. If you need to go to the shop for anything, try walking rather than drive. It is amazing the things that kids find to amuse themselves with. Ed & I very rarely drive these days, we usually walk, or use public transport. The other upside to this is that you save a small fortune in the running costs of the car, & do good for the planet we live on at the same time.

I talk with my child, not at my child. There really is a big difference. You will need to learn the things that you kid likes, and then actually listen to what they have to say. Personally, I now know a lot about Ben 10, Pokemon, Dinosores, and the list goes on. While doing this I also teach him about the things that I like. Ed now knows a lot about cars & boats etc, & is a big fan of Top Gear. As a single dad, there are a few people that you need to become friendly with.

The people that you need to become friendly with are wide & varied. Now I do not mean that you need to be best friends with them, just known to them & friendly with them. The people that own & opperate the local Nightowl Store are fantastic. I also always have a quick chat with the people at the local paper shop. The girls on the checkouts at the local Coles supermarket have also got to know Ed & I as well. You may think to yourself why do you need to be so friendly with these people. The answer is actually very simple. They all say hello to your child & call him by name. Sometimes they even say hello to me!! The good thing about this is that Ed does not have any bad things to say when I say we need to go to a shop. He knows that people are going to be nice to him & say hello. All kids love to be the centre of attention. As a bonus, I quite often get FREE stuff. Nothing big, only a icecream or similar, but hey, it is free! Seriously though, the kid ikes going to the shop & I have never had a screaming child in the shop, he enjoys it too much.

Another great idea is have a look on the local notice boards. You will usually find something along the lines of a local group of mums that have a coffee morning/afternoon. Now these groups are great. They are set up as a chance for all the kids get to play together in a supervised area, while you get to sit, have a coffee & a chat with other adults. As a real bonus you will usually be the only male there. You just never know, some of them might even have single friends!! Yeah, I am a really positive thinking person.

All of these suggestions do several things. They increase the "other things" to think about & do. Also they increase the number of people that you can talk with. Believe me, I know what it is like to only talk to a 3 year old all day every day. It sounds great at first, but after a while you really do need something resembling semi intelligent conversation. In this modern world that we live in, it is very easy to only chat with people online. We as humans need more than that. We need actual conversation.

Having said all of this, I would not change the fact that I get to spend so much time with my boy. There is nothing quite like the look on other peoples faces on a train when he decides that he wants to chat about bums. Especially when he decides that we all need a bum because we need it so that we can fart! Do not be concerned or embarassed when this happens. Just have a quick look around & notice that there are a hell of a lot of other people that are trying so hard not to laugh.

How about in the supermarket. There we were in the fresh fruit section. "What are those things Dad?" I explained to him that they were cherries & very tasty. "Mummy said that only girls have cherries" I thought the old dear looking at the grapes was going to choke! So, I learnt that a child will repeat everything that they hear, but usually when it is when you really do not want them to say it. Did I also mention that children have beautiful clear voices that carries so well, even in crowded & noisy areas.

I'm not going to give instructions on how to bath a child. There are plenty of other web sites that can tell you this. Nor am I going to going to tell how to do nappy changes. The way I figure it, You the reader probably know all that anyway, so I will not insult your intelligence. I'm just sharing a few things that I have learnt. I have figured out that it does not really matter if the house is a little untidy. There is going to be toys laying around the house. There is going to be some clothes laying around the kids room. Do not get upset about it. There really is a difference between untidy & dirty. My home is a little untidy, I'm the first person to admit that fact. However, it is clean. If something gets spilt, it gets cleaned up. Floors get mopped / vacuumed every week. Benches in kitchen get cleaned daily {at times, several times daily}. Bathroom / toilet get cleaned weekly. You get the idea I'm sure.

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I'm a lucky man, as I work from home online. I know that this is not possible for a lot of men, and I can really relate to how difficult life is when you have to juggle work and babysitters / child care etc, I have been in that situation. I do not have a lot of spare cash. I earn most of my cash online & a little from some wise investments that I made many years ago. The positive side to this is that I get to spend most of my time with my little boy. The negative side, I get to spend most of my time with my little boy ! I choose to think of it as a positive.

As I mentioned previously, I do have two older sons to a previous marriage. I keep in touch with them on a very regular basis. We send text messages, & emails. Now here is a real tip, join MySpace. Both of my boys have a MySpace profile, & they are both on my friend list. Now I admit that this may sound a little strange, but there really is a good reason for this. I learn more about the interests of my kids. I also learn more about the interests of their friends. The days that we do spend together, I know what they are talking about & do not need to have long explanations to bring me up to date. Most of their frinds also think that it is kinda cool to have their friends dad chatting with them as well. I have met some of these kids when I have met up with my boys, & they are all great kids. It might not be MySpace that your kid uses, it might be Facebook, or Friendster. There are so many of them. Find out what it is that your kid uses, & join up. If it is MySpace, please feel welcome to add me up while you are there. You will find me here. You might also be interested in the other blogs that I have here, and at Hubpages.

As a footnote to this blog, since it was originally written Ed now turns on the kettle in the morning & puts the bread in the toaster.....

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