Fans of my blog (hi, mum) will recall that the very first Father-Hood.co.uk Midweek List revolved around 17 things I do more since becoming a parent. Since that article did pretty well, and I’m inherently lazy, it was only a matter of time before I bit the bullet and worked up the yin to that post’s yang. Can you see where I am going with this? Of course you can. Judgement day has arrived, which means it’s time for you to sit back and enjoy a rundown of 13 things I do less since becoming a parent.
1. Tell the truth
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t turned into a pathological liar or anything. I simply find myself saying stuff like: “He’s 10 months,” when I discover that the soft play centre charges kids aged one or over; “They’re for me,” when I’m buying my son eye drops without a prescription; and “Yes, of course,” when my wife asks if I wiped down a teething toy before letting my son shove it in his gob.
2. Contribute to group Whatsapp conversations
It’s not that I don’t want to upload a side-splittingly hilarious meme of J-Lo’s bum, recommend a restaurant or slate my mate for an incident that happened 24 years ago. It’s just that my son is hitting me in the head with his toy hammer and by the time I’ve fended him off, confiscated the implement and laid down some no nonsense dad discipline (“10 seconds on the naughty step for you, young man. No, not that step. That one. Ah, forget it, let’s sing Twinkle, Twinkle.”), I’ve completely forgotten who I am and where my phone is.
3. Talk about myself
How do you make a 13-stone, ginger-haired male invisible to 99.9% of the population? Get him to have a child.
4. In depth financial research
I feel like I owe Martin Lewis an apology. Once upon a time I used to spend a lot of hours pouring over moneysavingexpert.com’s savvy saving tips in a bid to get the best rate on an ISA, the finest mobile phone contract or the cheapest deal on home insurance. Then the bubster came along and I turned into a seller’s wet dream – too busy to plan in advance; too tired to see through any truth massaging; too concerned about an infant preparing to swallow dive off the sofa to take in the terms and conditions; and too frugal to add insurance. Still, a 72-month contract on an iPad that hasn’t worked since my son stuck it in the dishwasher can’t be all bad, can it?
5. My teeth
When you’ve got a limited amount of time to give baby breakfast, get him showered and dressed (and re-dressed if it’s a vomit-y morning), pack his bag, prepare his food, say an emotional goodbye to Green D, do the nursery drop-off and then get to work, something has to give and for some reason it always seems to be my canines, molars, premolars and incisors. On the plus side, my brother-in-law is a dentist. On the minus side, he doesn’t have kids, so doesn’t understand.
6. Keep up to date with current affairs
I’ve no idea about the top story on the news, the hottest gadget on the planet or the latest Daily Mail article that’s getting people’s knickers in a twist. But I can tell you that Wilson loves racing with the trainees, even if he gets upset that Koko always wins; is brave and visits the repair shed even when he is scared; and is always ready to help by taking food from the farm to the fair. Yes, I do know my son’s favourite book off by heart. And agreed, I do need to get out more.
7. Worry about what other people think
For most of my life, I’ve disliked making a scene, been easily embarrassed and fretted about how other people view me. But it seems there comes a time in every parent’s life when they shrug their shoulders, cast aside their inhibitions and say, “Yes, that is my son screaming like a banshee and pouring cereal all over the supermarket floor. Judge me if you like, but he’s doing it because he wants to climb in the freezer and I won’t let him, as I’m actually a pretty good parent. P.S. Yes, it does smell like he’s pooped, but it’s just a fart. I know because I surreptitiously did a sideways check in the international food aisle.”
I’m not saying that going to the toilet is infinitely more difficult when you have a clingy dependent prized to your head, shoulders, knees or toes. Wait. That’s exactly what I’m saying (with crossed legs and a pained expression).
9. Lie on the sofa watching sport with my hand down my trousers
I don’t know why men automatically plunge their hands into their pants when they are watching sport on TV. All I know is it feels good and I don’t have the time to do it anywhere near as much as I’d like to.
10. Form complete sentences
Sitting sitting. Eating eating. Sliding sliding. Reading reading. Lying lying. Sleeping sleeping. Walking walking. Full disclosure: like a lot of dads, I spend a significant percentage of my life repeating words in the hope that the second airing will somehow make my son re-evaluate his behaviour and do what I’m asking him to do. Does it work? Not really. So why continue? Two reasons. I can’t stop myself and I like pretending that I’m singing the intro to this Black Eyed Peas song from 2004.
Want to know a secret? My nostril and nipple hairs just high-fived. #sorrynotsorrry #nippersbeforeclippers #dad
12. Catch up with friends
I’d love to blame this on a lack of time or my wife’s iron fist, but it’s my bad. When I arrange to meet my friends who have kids I get excited, choose a ‘fun’ venue and end up spending the whole time chasing after my son. And when I arrange to meet my single friends I get excited, invite too many people, order a bunch of Jägerbombs and end up stumbling home without having had a meaningful conversation with anyone. Three networking lessons we can all learn from this? Build some ‘pram and conversation’ time into play dates, keep numbers tight and stay off the Jägers.
13. Have sex
And any dad who tries to claim otherwise is a liar.