The Million-Dollar question!
My blogs, and this website, aim to encourage working dads to spend more time with their kids. They are only young once and you don't want to be lying on your deathbed wishing you had spent more time with your family. You don't get another chance.
But am I really practicing what I'm preaching?
Am I there for them?
I try to be as much as I can but I normally leave for work before they are awake and I get home shortly before bedtime. So our time together is very limited during the week apart from Wednesday afternoons when I get a few quality hours with them. At weekends I spend 99% of the time with them and when I am around, I try my best to be around mentally too. Mindfulness isn't always easy but I try! Score 5/10
Do I educate them?
Certainly not in any formal way. There's so little time. I have come up with all the usual justifications: "They are only young", "Just like walking, they will learn". However I'm very conscious of the fact that I should be doing more. The thought that I educate them in various other ways including by being present each evening for the bedtime story means I can give myself a pass on this one, just! Score 2/10
Am I calm and patient with my kids?
My mum, it has to be said, was on the more disciplinarian end of the parenting scale. I remember many many years ago looking up at her and telling her that "one day I'm going to be bigger than you". I was right, but being bigger doesn't mean I am any better equipped to deal with undesired behaviour. In fact, I've probably gone too far the other way and been a bit too relaxed with my kids, letting them get away with far too much. This has backfired. Whereas for some parents a simple "Please don't drag your sister along by her legs" calmly said or even a "Hey, I said please don't drag her around" said a little more impatiently will work, for me it ends up being shouting "Stop dragging your sister around!!" which is usually met with laughter and further mischief. Room for improvement! Score 5/10
Have we managed the childcare well?
We seem to have tried everything. Full-time nursery, live-out nannies, live-in nannies, as well of course as being at home ourselves. To look on the bright side, they have something to put down on their CV already: wide exposure to working with a variety of different people! Apart from a few dramas and mishaps with nannies and cars, I think it's been ok. Score 6/10
Are they happy kids?
Yes, I think they are very happy. Apart from the fact that they are sometimes a handful, they seem to be well adjusted and have a good life. Within reason they get to do most of the things that they want to do. Happiness has to be a good measure of parental success, right? Score 9/10
If I could work, or commute, less and see them more, would I? Yes, without a doubt.
However, until that time comes, a colleague's words of advice a few years ago still ring true: "All kids need is love". He was right. I often think of this statement and it's what gets me through the day. Give them that and everything will be ok, I think.
N.B. This blog first appeared here: http://www.cityparents.co.uk/Blog/Cityfathers/277.htm on 25 August 2015