I have had a few new(ish) dads recently say they enjoy reading my blog and ask what A and I actually do during the week. So I thought I would take this opportunity to go through our routine, such as it is, two weeks in.
I like to start the week strong. Monday for lots of people is a tricky day, their partner has gone back to work after the weekend and they are staring down the barrel of 5 days with their little bundle of joy. Of course you love your baby, of course you want to spend your time with them but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot nicer and a lot more fun with two adults rather than going it alone (to the single parents all I can say is that I take my hat off to you, if it wasn’t for weekends I’m fairly sure I would go mad).
So bearing in mind that things are more fun with other adults, I like to hit up a stay and play or two. All of Islington’s stay and plays can be found here (following this link will lead you to a list of activities available this coming Monday). Personally, I am a fan of the Willow children’s centre (though I haven’t been on a Monday). It is just off Holloway road, near the Odeon cinema, and close to Morrison’s and Waitrose (so very handy for a quick shop before or after). A and I try and go for the whole session, arriving at 10am and leaving at 11:30, though this can change depending on how naps have gone that day. In the afternoon, we often try to attend a second stay and play (what can I say I like them). The New River Children’s Centre is fantastic. It’s very modern (they even have a sensory room so I almost feel like I am back at work), the staff are welcoming and friendly and the mums (for it still is nearly all mums) are lovely.
Luckily on a Monday, as I am a domestic deity, we usually have leftovers for dinner from Sunday so I don’t have to try and cook something with a grumpy child in the high chair. I can feed A at a leisurely pace throughout the day (breakfast, snack, stay and play, lunch, stay and play, snack, dinner). I always keep an Ella’s fruit smoothie in A’s changing bag, her favourite is ‘The Red One’ but I try and mix it up a bit too. When I started off, I was taking bits of cut up fruit or a whole banana (I suppose trying to be the very DIY natural parent but nuts to that) but I found that it wasn’t as instantly filling as the pouches so she was often too hungry to get the nap that she was ready for and I ended up feeding her at home and immediately heading out again for a nap walk (A only naps in her buggy).
Ok, we have survived the first day and are now more into the swing of things. On Monday we have (as I am a domestic deity) gone to the supermarket and bought things to cook so first thing (or sometimes after the first nap walk) I put on a ‘cooking show’ for A. This mostly involves me providing a running commentary for what I am doing and A sitting in her highchair, playing with toys attached to said chair or munching on something crunchy (celery, cucumber, apple). I try and cook something big and easy like a stew or curry, anything I can cook low and slow that only requires checking occasionally and is something A can eat too.
On Tuesdays, there is a baby friendly film screening which my wife attended regularly while on maternity leave. During this time, she fed A to sleep and she was remained comatose through much of the film. A is now older and more active and I am unable to feed her to sleep so taking A to the cinema would likely end in either playing with A on the floor (not watching the film and also those floors are gross) or having a very grumpy A (not much fun and likely not really watching the film either).
We try to attend a stay and play in the afternoon (remembering to take the stew, curry etc off the hob). The Archway Children’s centre has an under 1’s session on a Tuesday afternoon 1pm to 3:30pm which A has really enjoyed. Again, the people are nice and all the toys and activities are tailored to her age range.
I should probably mention at this point the two different types of stay and play that I have been to so far. On the one hand, there are those for under 1s (some very small babies, not many mobile littles and lots of shiny instruments) and those for the under 5s (more toddlers and toddler things). A enjoys them both for different reasons. The under 1s sessions are full of children around her age, all the stuff is a hit and there isn’t much competition from other crawlers as many of the babies aren’t that mobile yet. The under 5s sessions give A the chance to see toddlers, something she really enjoys.
A brief overview of Tuesday: wake, feed from mum, play at home, snack, nap, lunch, stay and play, nap, heat through dinner we have been cooking since the morning, dinner.
Hump day. Middle of the week. But I have cooked for dinner already so no need to worry there. In the morning (religiously attended by my wife but yet to be attended by me, there is a good session at Central library called baby bounce. It’s on from 11 till 11:30 but it has never quite worked with our nap routine (its also on a Thursday and we haven’t been then either). In the afternoon, we enjoy the Conewood Street Children’s Centre stay and play (1pm till 3). We have only been to this once in our two weeks but it’s a great one I intend to go to frequently.
It’s nearly the weekend: you can almost smell it! It’s another cooking day, though often Thursday and Friday end up being easy foods I can do quickly in the evening rather than a big something.
A and I haven’t been to a soft play on our own before but we have heard good things about Active Angles soft play so we will be checking this out next week if we get ourselves sorted.
In the afternoon it’s one of our favourite stay and plays. Hungerford Children’s Centre (confusingly in the playground of Hungerford School so you end up walking through the playground, during lunch, with babies and buggies but oh well). The room isn’t huge, the people no nicer than the other lovely people at other children’s centres and the toys no better but there is something about it I love. It could be because it is a great distance, along some nice streets, from our flat, it could be that it is where we had our midwife anti-natal classes, I don’t know what it is but I really like it.
There is another baby cinema on at Screen on the Green (an altogether classier affair with coffee and cake included in the price. The price, however, is about twice that of the Odeon) but for the same reason I haven’t been to the Odeon alone, I haven’t been to this one without A’s mum.
It’s the last day of the week and we’ve nearly made it. So far, Friday has been a slow day for us. We go to the Supermarkets near Angel and, weather permitting, play on the swings and roundabouts in the park near by.
There are stay and plays on and we have been back to Hungerford before but often I find myself back at home on a Friday afternoon having a nice relax and playing with A.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have only been going it alone for two weeks. I have only really been to Stay and Plays and then only the council run ones in Children’s Centres. There are others in churches and other places that I will have a go at (starting with Little Emms at Emmanuel Church as their website suggests they offer good coffee and croissants for the adults and a free healthy snack for the children). There are also lots of private organisations who run things (I have avoided these as you have to pay for them and, well, I don’t want to).
The trick with all of the things I have been to is not to be scared of a room full of mums. Often, I am the only man in there (although I’ve never really been scared of talking to women) but if all else fails you have a baby to talk about, a certain conversation starter (just make sure to ask about their kid too!).
Special mention has to go to the Fathers’ stay and play on a Saturday. Held at various children’s centres around Islington it’s a great place to meet other dads. I have only been to one as my wife comes on our weekend adventures too.
Well that’s what our week looks like so far. I don’t really have any pictures for this one as you can’t take photos inside the stay and play for safeguarding reasons and because this week A’s teething has meant we haven’t been out as much as I would have liked.
As A gets older, we will attend galleries, museums and farms more frequently too. Presently, we try to have bigger adventures every fortnight or so with my wife in tow! A is still a little young to really enjoy these settings and gets frustrated if she is confined to her buggy or sling for extended periods. I cannot wait until she is toddling (this isn’t far off!).
I hope this information is useful. I’d love to hear what you get up to over the course of a week.