I suppose it was inevitable that once the initial excitement of finding out that I’m going to be a Dad had died down, my thoughts would turn to what kind of Dad I’m going to be and what my parenting style should be.
I’m sure that every parent starts out with an idealistic view of how they are going to raise their kids and with the best of intentions those ideals will quickly adapt to real life. In a nutshell, I imagine myself to be an outdoorsy dad that encourages creativity and experiential learning but I’m in no doubt that I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead and plenty of making it up as I go along.
I’m sure these points will come back to haunt me at some point and someone will be there with a friendly “told you so”, but, ignorance is bliss and for the time being, here are just a few things on my parenting manifesto.
There Will Be No iPads
Yes, this is going to sound like one of those “in my day” old people rants about the good old days when all you needed was a tin can and a stick to create hours of entertainment, but here goes anyway..
When I was five I am pretty sure that I spent most of my time gluing my fingers together or sticking crayons up my nose. I was definitely not capable of operating machinery. These days you could give the average five year old an iPad and they will be downloading games from the App Store within minutes, or even worse than that, they will be on YouTube watching someone else play games.
It’s all too common to see kids on iPads or phones, barely lifting their heads up to acknowledge the world around them and I hate it.
Sorry, unborn child of mine, there will be no iPads under the Christmas Tree in this house.
Play with lego, jump in puddles, paint pictures that I can proudly stick on the fridge, make a mud pie, have a tea party, build a box fort that’s big enough for dad to sit in, ride your bike, climb a tree or go on a treasure hunt… just don’t play Minecraft or Angry Birds.
Will the day come where I crack and hand over my phone or iPad in order to get 10 minutes of peace and tranquillity? Probably. Only time will tell though.
Sunday’s Are For Adventures, Not Dinner
The family that eats together, stays together. We’ve all heard that saying plenty of times and I love a family meal as much as the next person; but why is it traditionally Sunday?
To me, Sundays should be about family adventures. Day trips, road trips and getting out and about exploring. A Sunday afternoon spent eating roast potatoes is a Sunday wasted in my eyes.
I’m a fan of a family get-together, and I’m definitely a fan of a roast dinner, I even enjoy cooking a roast dinner, but I’d love to see the traditional roast moved to a week night. We all look forward to the weekend anyway so why not move this highlight of the week to our least favourite day, Wednesday.
Nobody really likes Wednesdays, they’re just far enough into the week to make you feel a little fatigued, but not close enough to the weekend to get you excited for your upcoming days off, so why not have something to look forward to on a Wednesday night?
Sunday’s are for family adventures, any other night of the week can be for family dinner.
When our little one is born, I hope that they learn to be excited by Sunday’s, I hope that they know that Sunday’s mean getting up early and loading up the car for a day of adventures, whether that means putting the bikes on the bike rack or a picnic bag full of sandwiches in the boot to keep us going while we go off exploring.
I Want Them To Travel The World
Recently, my Mum jokingly said to me “Don’t be surprised if your child goes backpacking around Asia when they are 18, you only have yourself to blame”. She was referencing how fondly I speak of travelling and how I am a massive advocate for making the most of opportunities to live abroad.
My parents have had mixed emotions on a couple of occasions when I’ve gone to live in New Zealand or Australia for extended periods of time. I understand, or at least I think I understand, that on the one hand my parents wanted me to have great opportunities to go and see new things and experience living in other countries, but on the other hand, they were extremely worried that I was so far away from home, and that they would feel so helpless being so far away if anything had gone wrong.
I know I would feel that way, but despite that, I will actively encourage my child(ren) to go and travel. It is without doubt the most beneficial experience of my life and I learned more about life, and myself, in a couple of years travelling than in all the other years combined.
Would I feel differently stood at the airport waving goodbye to one of my own kids? Maybe, but travel is the best thing I have ever done so of course I would want my kids to have the same experiences.
How many of these ideals will change over the years? I guess I’ll find out in due course, maybe 18 years from now I’ll be sat at the dinner table on a Sunday afternoon, trying to talk my first born out of booking flights to Bangkok on their iPad, but I definitely hope not.