This is not a big deal really, I keep an eye on my two little kids without the wife around all the time, but I do admit my son has been known to call the evenings when it is just the three of us (and the mom is away) “silly nights.”
Yup, silly nights.
That is the dad I am in many ways. You could call me the “prop comic” of fathers, always coming up with new games and new ways to play with toys. I think I average about two to three a day, but don’t expect me to remember any. I usually forget them the minute after we have moved on to the next activity.
I’m not the kind of parent who feels comfortable with the television and movies for helping pass the time. I don’t want that crutch. I want the parental interaction, but after eight hours I can get… well, silly.
Pesonally, I don’t know how teachers and at-home parents do it. I would go a little stir crazy if I couldn’t find things to challenge myself mentally with during the day. I love being a dad, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about my super kids; this is all about me and it is true in most things I do. I always need my mind to be working to be happy. Anyway, I have three fallbacks I pull out if I need to keep my mind in the game.
The Pleasure of Forts
We build a lot of forts in my family. A lot of forts.
And I can usually tell what kind of a day I am having by how elaborate and expansive it is. Once I created a fort that actually covered two rooms, making the dinning room table the entrance tunnel. It was frankly awesome.
I could have won awards for that fort. We had lunch in it and even read books in it, there was that much room. I even considered putting a lamp in it, if it wasn’t for the possible fire hazard… Seriously, how would I explain that to the firemen:
“So how did this fire start?”
Well, we had this giant fort made out of sheets.”
“And the kids put the lamp in there?”
“No… that would have been me.”
The great thing about forts, especially with my son being four, is that the creation can be a team effort. He helps design them, and we decide together what we need for it. We name it together. What I like is how it makes us both think outside of the box in coming up with our options for it.
Also, I must admit if I need a breather for a second, kids seem happy alone in a fort… Which might give me five minutes to actually do the dishes or drink a soda or steal a cookie without having to share.
(Okay, that last one sounded bad, didn’t it?)
There is always music playing in my house: jazz, classical, rock, alternative… No country. (Eek. No.) But when it is me by myself, I find songs don’t help the clock move any faster. It’s just that most songs are only 3 to 4 minutes in length. That comes out to almost over 15 songs an hour!
Seriously, that doesn’t help when I am on solo dad duty.
But what does help a great deal is children audiobooks. I have everything on my iPod from celebrities reading Dr. Seuss to Judy Dench and Stephen Fry acting out Winnie-The-Pooh (which I highly recommend if you can find it. The actress doing Piglet is brilliant). those Disney audobooks where you have audio from the movies used with a narrator, the complete Curious George… I have them all. (I should seriously do a post sometime listing my favorite ones.)
And since the audiobooks can range in length from 9 minutes to over an hour, well, they work wonders. I’m so used to these stories I can many times plan around them. I don’t know why these work better for me than music, to be honest, they just do.
“Okay, it is one 101 Dalmations and a Jungle Book, and we are ready for lunch.”
Dogs, lions, superheroes, and even Star Wars characters, we are known to raid the Halloween wardrobe for options to shake a day up.
Right now, as I am writing this, I have a Princess Leia napping upstairs and Dash from The Incredibles playing in the living room.
The only thing I am missing is a costume for me. And don’t think I haven’t thought about that!
Dressing up and playing in the costumes seems to liven not just me up but the kids. And my kids like to pretend which, as a person who puts creativity on a pedestal, leaves me thrilled… Okay, I really need my own costume. Indiana Jones? Batman? I really need to think about this more. Would little ones understand a Mark Twain costume?
Nah, probably not.
We read a lot of books. A lot of books…
My son and I play Chutes and Ladders a lot, but I have to admit more than two games can feel a little much.
We go to parks, walk the dog (long walks can be awesome), we should clean up more often, and…
Just a second… Okay, I’ve got to go.
Princess Leia is up from her nap.
If you liked reading my article, why not check out some of my books? I had two novels published in the last few years, My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here. Thanks for reading!