Growing up I always had the perfect rose tinted vision of fatherhood. I imagined waking up on a warm summer’s morning, wandering downstairs with the kids whilst Michael Buble’s ‘It’s a beautiful day’ plays on the radio. Having a lovely cup of coffee whilst the children have breakfast, and then skipping hand in hand to school whilst we enjoy the sunshine gently warming our skin, as we wave to passers by with big grins on our faces, without a care in the world – and you know what? You know why I thought all this? Because I’ve seen it, with my own eyes, there are these perfect parents on the school run, with children who literally skip to school.
This is not my life.
I wake up exhausted and wondering why I am awake at 5am, because that is the time my son wakes up, and he is a bundle of energy raring to go… Raring to go anywhere, that is, except for school. My daughter on the other hand is asleep until the last possible minute and struggles to get out of bed. My son gets dressed and runs down the stairs and I pop some toast on for him whilst he delightfully turns to me and announces that he no longer likes toast. My daughter of course is still upstairs arguing that she doesn’t want to get into school uniform, I am unshaven and my hair is a mess and time is running out… My daughter has still not had breakfast. I slurp up some of my coffee underestimating how hot it is, burning my tongue, and in the action of pulling it away from my mouth spilling it down myself. My daughter is now downstairs, and wants toast for breakfast (even though I’ve just throw away the toast my son didn’t want. After eating breakfast my daughter decides she can’t ‘find’ a shoe… I don’t know how it is possible to lose a single shoe, but she has managed it, and my son is trying to climb the bannister of the stairs. Eventually we set off on our 10 minute walk to school to a chorus of “MY LEGS HURT”. I arrive at school looking like a complete wreck, to the familiar smiles of perfect parents who are wonderfully well groomed and have quite possibly had a Disney sing-along on the way to school with their children.
Except they have not. They are just as tired, exhausted and clueless at parenting as Me. They say things to me like:
“Oh your children must absolutely love having a Dad who is a magician.”
“Everything must be so much fun in your house.”
And it is, or at least I try to make it be. But to my kids I am Dad, and not Magic Frostie.
I’m not going to lie, I struggle with loads of parenting, I am never too sure if I am being to strict, or not strict enough, what is right, what is wrong, and I am a nervous wreck half the time just hoping that I am doing the right thing to make my children have the best possible life. I think that’s all we want as parents, Happy kids, right?
But can your kids be happy if you aren’t?
I don’t think so, I think our own mental health and the things we do and say rub off on our kids so much. I also struggle with my weight (You may find this difficult to believe, but I am incredibly good at hiding myself in the clothes I wear), it goes up and down like a yoyo, and I have found myself despairing and saying “Urgh I’m so fat.” I recently had a reality check when I heard my daughter saying the same thing… She’s not fat, she’s 4 years old, and because of my own complex about my weight she started to copy me.
The thing is positivity IS infectious (and so is negativity). If you are happy then your children will be happy too, and so each week Me and Amy (my wife) make a point of doing cool stuff. This year so far we have:-
Been to the circus,
The theatre a couple of times,
Had friends round for an evening when the kids are in bed,
Gone out for lunch,
I’ve written a book,
Recorded a song,
Had a massage,
Amy has been to see Hugh Jackman,
I’m off to see a magic hero David Blaine next week,
and I’ve just come back from Paradise Wildlife Park where I had an animal encounter with the lemurs (after spending so much time with a lemur who is a puppet, its lovely to actually meet them and feed them in reality.)
The thing is our children can’t live their best possible life, if we are not living ours. Their happiness depends on us. There are countless experiences we have shared with our children too, but it is important to be adults and not simply defined as a parent, but to be an individual.
Go out with your friends, feed a tiger at a wildlife park or zoo, eat out, go to the cinema, enjoy your other halves company, if you don’t have another half, enjoy your friends company.
Ask yourself, ‘When was the last time I did something for the first time?’ and set aside a bit of time for you, it doesn’t need to cost a fortune, but it does need to be a treat.
Because happiness spreads, and happy parents = happy children.