I'm taking 6 months away from my day job to look after my son, Archie, who is 6 months old. I thought it might be interesting to share my experiences.
My first week in charge and I've set myself some targets.
This blog is part of #3, I should be able to manage #2 with a bit of will power but #1 could prove a challenge. I'm quite a social being, and have always had a job which involved working with others. The only times in my life that have ever got me down have been when I've not had regular social contact. Obviously, being at home full time is a risk, so I knew I had to do something.
The challenge was how to find a social circle when the obvious support groups for parents of babies are female-oriented. I'd already been to a health visiting clinic, where I felt a little bit uncomfortable as the only bloke and, despite the fact that I had gone through the ante-natal classes, I didn't feel as if I could meet up with my wife's ante natal-friends without changing the dynamic of their group.
Fortunately, if there's one thing the internet is great at is allowing people to find communities of people with the same interests and a quick Google lead me to a perfect solution - Dads and Little'uns, a playgroup for dads with babies and toddlers. They meet twice a week and the Wimbledon group is close to where I live so I was definitely in luck.
So, on Monday morning I got Archie ready and headed over to their meet-up and I couldn't have been more warmly welcomed. They're a mix of full and part-time dads (and a couple of mums) with pre-school kids. The meeting hall is large, and there's a good amount of toys for the kids to play with. There were around 20 dads at the meet up so I think that's a great foundation for my socializing in the next six months or more.
Later in the week, my planned cinema visit (the local cinema does a baby/toddler-friendly screening once a week) was curtailed by a poorly Archie. A stomach bug took him out of action for a day, unfortunately. He's only started weaning over the past few weeks so I imagine his immune system is having to cope with a lot more than it did.
Being a parent in the 21st century gives you access to all sorts of gadgets (very few of which I was aware of before becoming a dad). One of our most well used is a smart 3-in-1 thermometer which uses infra-red to take temperature from within the ear (or from the forehead as an alternative). Any sign of a sick baby and we can get a quick and accurate temperature measurement - a nicely designed, clever piece of kit. In this case there was no fever, just some sickness and Archie was back to his normal self within a few hours.
The end of the week brought some walks through the local area and another visit to the dads' group. I also spent a little bit of time playing about with comic book effects in Photoshop (one of my hobbies). At the weekend I was back to sharing the duties with my wife and we had a nice Sunday lunch with some friends.
So, one week down and I'm feeling very positive. It was great to meet some new people and get into the swing of things.