Half term is a joy and a pain. I have my boys for six days, which is great but trying to get a balance between time together, time out doing special things and ordinary stuff can be frustrating…
As a child I experienced the ‘Father Christmas syndrome’, which is when a non-resident parent tries to compensate for not being there with gifts and activities. Which, as a child, is good but you end up longing for normal stuff, days of being bored or just watching TV (when I was a kid, TV wasn’t on all day and four channels was your lot).
So I write this walking the dog at 8am on a day the boys are having a ‘home’ day. As a dad it’s not much fun as they will be on their computers playing games, and I will feel low and guilty that I’m not really engaging but during the day there will be moments when we have a hug, a little conversation here or there started by them, and a home-made lunch cooked by me shared sat at the table, which will be of more value than a quick bite to eat caught on the run during a day out or ice skating.
This half term I have adopted a different approach: £150 saved for five days activities, not a lot but it led to a discussion about what they fancied doing, timings etc . So two films a day, ice skating (possibly swimming) and some money left over for paid activities. Add in a few free activities in the area… and it has all been planned by them.
So after a day of activity yesterday… ice skating all day and Shaun the Sheep last night, today is a home day and then four days of mixing home with a three-hour activity. The boys are happy and it means I can work things in to the schedule that I need to do like dog walks, shopping and even getting the boys to help hoover the front room.
As a dad, I have come to realise that half term for a non-resident parent is often about contact, but for a child it is about not being organised, relaxing and doing stuff that school gets in the way of. Important stuff like Minecraft, playing on the DS or just hanging out with friends. It’s important that we non-resident parents acknowledge that and support it if we want fruitful, rewarding contact with our children.
So far, this half term has been a bit of heaven… But there’s still a long way to go…
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