Parenting from Stephen’s perspective.
In a single parent family like mine, all the responsibilities, good and bad, fall to me. As Ayda, my eldest, and George, my youngest, have gotten older, they’ve naturally become more grown up and independent. Something I have had to learn as they’ve grown up is that everyone needs their space and that it’s important to balance quality family time whilst making sure, when needed, both the children and I, as their parent, have some time for ourselves.
We try to spend time together as a family when we can, but it becomes difficult when you have an 11-year-old daughter who likes to think she’s 18 and an 8-year-old son whose older sister thinks he’s a baby. It really is a juggling act of epic proportions! For the most part, they’d prefer to spend their spare time with their friends, especially Ayda, which I guess was to be expected! Spending time with dad just “isn’t cool” anymore and as much as I’d like to think I can still be cool, I get it. I want to be super close to them and would like to think I am, but I also have to appreciate they need their time and their own space as well. They’re getting older now and their social lives will just continue to grow.
It’s not easy being a parent. It can be testing and trying but also very rewarding. The biggest lesson I think I’ve learnt is that it’s vitally important to make time for yourself. I know this may feel against the grain but sometimes you just need to relax, recharge, and enjoy some of the things you maybe don’t get to do as much anymore. I think I’ve realised as the children have gotten older, if they are having a bit of “them” time whether in their rooms or at a sleepover, if possible, I need to take a bit of time for me. Even if it’s a sit down with a cuppa and maybe an episode of a series I’m watching, that time is important. Recently, I’ve even taken an occasional trip to the cinema either on my own or with my Mum or Dad. I love a good film and the cinema always feels like a proper escape and switch off, it’s important to slow down and take a break from the 24/7 ‘dadmin’.
With all that said, as much as our time spent independently is extremely important, I still always want them to know that I am here when they need me and always will be.