Four things you need to hurry up and learn as a flexibly working dad

If you’re going to take the plunge and throw yourself into childcare, you want to be prepared for every eventuality. Here are some top tips.

 

1. Discover your inner extrovert

In my experience, men are notoriously bad at making new friends after the age of, well, about 21. But baby groups, the park after school – it’s an important opportunity to build your social circle, especially if you’ve moved to a new area with the family.

When my kids were little, I was frequently the only dad in the café after swimming, swapping stories over a latte and slice of red velvet. It was noticeable that when other fathers occasionally showed up, they tended not to join the throng. In my opinion, they were missing out. Sure, you can’t chime in about epidurals, but I found genuine support and some really nice people during these chats whom we still see years later. It can take courage to put yourself out there, especially if you feel ‘outnumbered’, but I recommend it.

2. Do Pilates

Perhaps you’re the guy in the Lycra peddling round country lanes for six hours every Sunday, or you’ve signed up for the 2022 Great North Run. But if you aren’t – and let’s face it, that’s most of us – then I suggest some core training. Why? Well, I remember seeing an interview with the actor John Krasinski who used to play the slightly schlubby Jim in The Office U.S. before getting all ripped to play people like Jack Ryan. When an interviewer asked him the best thing about his new abs, he said it meant he could pick up his kids without his back hurting. And who doesn’t crave that feeling?

3. Sew a button

For this one I don’t (yet) practice what I preach. After all, they don’t mean to yank their dress, or their new jeans, resulting in buttons spraying all over the kitchen floor. But they do, they can’t help themselves. And I still can’t sew them back on. Every time it happens, I show the damaged garment to my wife but she’s too busy so I end up phoning my mum begging for help. And it’s pathetic – it’s playing into stereotypes, it’s lazy and it takes longer than if I just did it myself.

Improve packed lunches

As the cook in our house, it’s beholden to me to do the lunchboxes. I try to be varied within the confines of my daughters’ fairly limited tastes, but it’s infuriating when I’m reduced to yet another Marmite wrap. A while ago, I resolved to find some more interesting selections which is how we’ve ended up with smoked salmon (I know, I know), noodle salads and more. You shouldn’t feel inadequate if you don’t give them a spicy tuna poke bowl. But check out outlets like NHS Change4Life or books by Ella’s Kitchen and Emily Leary to try and improve their dietary intake. Salami sandwiches are easy, sure, but it’s worth mixing it up a bit.

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