We may not be doing the most important job, but that doesn’t mean dads don’t need a break every now and again too. I’ve found that sneaking out of the house from time to time helps keep me sane, refreshed and even more motivated to be the best dad I can be when I get home.
Your baby may be the most important thing in your life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the only thing in your life…
Get a dog
Ok you may not want a dog, but I find this is a wonderful way to escape the chaos of home for the occasional hour and get some much-needed fresh air and thinking space. My little jack russell Mario is an energetic little chap who needs plenty of exercise, and we’ve done everything possible to make sure he still feels included in the family. The last thing we want is for him to feel left out and start to resent the baby, so as well as giving me some head space, our morning and evening strolls also keeps the dog healthy and happy. If you don’t have (or want) a dog, try just taking yourself out for a walk every now and again. A bit of green space like a local park, river or woodland will do wonders if your head is spinning from all that claustrophobic screaming at home!
Get a hobby
By hobby I don’t mean completing jigsaws or building model train sets, I’m talking about something that gets you out of the house regularly for short spells at a time. Maybe join a local 5-a-side league, get yourself a new bike or (in my case) a kayak canoe, and set aside at least an hour a week where you take a complete break from your home life. If you convince your partner to do the same, it means you won’t become sick of the sight of each other and will be able to regularly recharge your batteries separately.
Meet up with mates
Your mates will already feel like they’ve lost you forever, and it’s up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen. You probably won’t see them every week any more, but make sure you stay in touch and catch up with them for a pint every now and again. They’ll also probably be scared to ask if they can pop over to your house, so invite them over for a beer every now and again – but make sure you get mum’s permission first!
Get a second TV
Mum may content herself by slumping on the sofa with your baby and watching Love Island and the Kardashians for hours on end (sorry Gem!) but that doesn’t mean you have to. If there’s a big football match or Arnie film starting on another channel, head into another room, stretch yourself out and indulge yourself. That way you’re still in the house if needed, but can also chill out by yourself for a couple of hours.
Make the most of work
Remember when work was a horrible prison you were forced to go to every day? Now it may well feel like your sanctuary. There’s nothing quite like a screaming baby at home to make you crave adult contact, so instead of dreading going to the office, look at it as an 8-hour diversion where you can lose yourself in mundane tasks before the real work starts when you get home!
Organise a night or weekend away
I’m not talking about a stag do or 18-30s trip to Tenerife, just a bit of time when you get away from everything for a day or two and allow yourself to unwind. And of course the big bonus of a night away from home is that blissful, unbroken sleep. It’s not smart to do this in the first month of your baby’s life (you may never be forgiven!) but once things start to settle down and you both become a bit more comfortable with your responsibilities, I’d strongly recommend it. I spent four nights away from home in the first two months of Sonny’s life, but we made sure Gemma had plenty of support on each occasion. I either dropped her off at her mum’s first, or her parents came to stay at our house. I even managed two full weekends in the Lake District, drinking ales and walking up mountains with the dog, while Gemma had some quality time with her parents. I tell you what though, I couldn’t wait to get back home to see them both afterwards.