I remember when I had no children and a paid job really looking forward to holidays. The chance to sleep beyond seven o'clock in the morning, read more than just the back page of a newspaper and generally do very little for a couple of days. What bliss. Those are all very distant memories now.
By the end of the recent four-day Easter Holiday weekend I was practically itching for Tuesday to come when we would all go back to work. The problem with weekends and especially Bank Holiday weekends - when the expectation to really enjoy yourself is heightened because, well, it's a holiday - is that routine goes out of the window. Routine, in my opinion, is not only the friend of the toddler, but also the really good friend of the stay-at-home dad.
I quickly realised after starting my role as a stay-at-home dad that E-Man and Bell didn't react well or quickly to new situations, or change. Some would say that I'm the same. And if E-Man and Bell are unhappy with anything it makes my job ten times as hard. Change means I have to do more thinking, such as how many buses I have to get on and off with the juggernaut-sized baby buggy I push about, how long it will take me to get home and how much extra running around I have to do.
My father had a 70th birthday party over the Easter weekend and the family met at a local golf club for a celebration lunch. Have you ever been in the situation when you walk into a crowded room with your toddler, everyone stares at you and your child goes wild? Well that's what happened. E-Man had fallen asleep in the car and woken to a world without routine. The same often happens when I drop E-Man and Bell off at nursery at 10am on a Wednesday (I find it physically impossible to get them into nursery any earlier) and they are naturally amongst the last to arrive for the day. All the other children stare at my pair as they walk in which even I find intimidating. (Tip: if you send your child to a nursery get them in as early as possible when it is calm and fewer children are there).
The rest of the long weekend was similarly punctured with stressful situations due to our ad hoc approach to planning. Lazy unplanned mornings used to be the ticket before I had children, but not any more. Finally getting out of the house at 11am for a morning walk sent E-Man and Bell, used to 10am appointments at a playgroup or library session, completely wild. The moral of the story here is planning. Leaving the day's planning until the morning is not the answer. Routine is king. Long live routine.