As a stay-at-home dad, time to myself is at a premium. Having your kid clinging to your leg, using you as a trampoline or watching you on the toilet are everyday occurrences. I don’t intend to complain though – having the chance to be with Toddler L everyday is awesome…BUT, a bit more toddler-free time would be pretty sweet.
I’ve always been someone who is happy to be on his own. Don’t get me wrong, I like being sociable with mates, hanging out with the family or getting very rare alone time with the missus, but I also enjoy just being by myself. Trying to find a balance between all of these different elements can be pretty challenging. It may sound selfish and the most obvious thing ever, but you have far less time to yourself when you’re a parent.
You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Pre-Toddler L, my weekends used to consist of getting up late then spending the majority of the day on the settee watching various football matches. As a freelance football and betting writer, I called it work, but it was hardly taxing. The only stressful things were when the opposition scored – as a Villa fan, it happened a lot.
I’m home alone and it’s bloody fantastic – I wish the younger me appreciated his quiet times more as they’re few and far between these days!
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) October 9, 2016
That’s not to say that I don’t get alone time though. As I’m with Toddler L throughout the week, the missus has always done what she can to give me a bit of alone time on a weekend. Whether it’s taking the sprog to the shops, running errands or going for a walk, that short break just gives me enough time to enjoy the quiet. Plus, I get chance to recharge my batteries ready for the next toddler onslaught.
What’s more, our recent decision to send the sprog to nursery part-time has given me a guaranteed 15 hours of toddler-free time every week. That is huge. Well, it is in theory – last week she was ill and missed a big chunk of nursery. As a tight Northerner, the fact I had to pay for something we didn’t use was a mild irritant. I’ve just about got over that, plus I just took the money we wasted out of her savings account…
So, what do I do with my alone time when I do get it? I’d love to say that I let loose. That I go proper wild à la Silvio Berlusconi and his infamous ‘bunga bunga’ parties. I hate to break it to you, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, my alone time usually comprises of catching up on stuff and / or vegging out. There’s not an Italian ruler in sight.
Let’s start with the least fun one first. Whenever I’m alone, I’m usually stuck to my laptop trying to catch up on something blog-related. It’s obviously awesome that I’ve turned blogging into a job, but it does mean that I’m in essence trying to do two full time jobs at the same time – writing and Toddler L. So, any toddler-free time is usually spent replying to emails, on social media or attempting to pen my next post.
As I’ve written about previously, my growing workload was one of the factors behind sending Toddler L to nursery part-time. As such, when she’s away, I try to lock myself in our office and get through as much as possible in the alone time that I have. That doesn’t always work though (see below!).
I’ve always enjoyed playing with myself. I usually do it alone when no-one’s looking, but occasionally I invite a mate over and we play with each other. What?! I’m obviously talking about computer games. There’s just something I enjoy about sticking on the console and forgetting my worries – usually as I shoot at bad guys, explore strange worlds or attempt to score stunning long-range goals (the latter rarely happens).
I’ve recently had the chance to upgrade my games console to an Xbox One S. Before this, I had a PS3 but it stopped playing games properly, meaning that I’ve been without a console for the best part of a year. The fact that I now have a brand new one means that I can get back to spending some of my alone time immersed in games. I’ve only had it a short while, but I’m loving the fact that I can get in a few games of FIFA 17 whilst Toddler L naps.
The missus is going to have a bath to give me a bit of alone time to work. Pretty sure when she said “work” she meant play FIFA on @xboxuk.
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) November 14, 2016
Toddler-free time is my cue to quickly turn off CBeebies and stick on something I want to watch. I have a bad habit of always having the TV on in the background, which means I’m usually half-watching stuff like Homes Under The Hammer, This Morning and Loose Women. Please, don’t judge me. I already judge myself every time I look at myself in the mirror.
When I’m alone though, it’s usually my chance to catch up with some of the stuff that I actually want to watch (and the missus doesn’t). As we have Virgin Media, I’m never short of something that’s been recorded on TIVO, such as Impractical Jokers, The Flash or a sports documentary. Similarly, due to the aforementioned Xbox One S, I’m able to stream stuff via Amazon Prime and Netflix. My box set of choice is currently Preacher, and I recently watched Becoming Zlatan, which was an intriguing film about the Swedish star when he was at Malmo and Ajax.
Planned to watch a bit of TV as the toddler naps. She’s only bloody gone and hidden the TV remote though – fuming!
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) August 5, 2016
I’ve put this one last because, let’s be honest, the three points above are more important! There’s limited time in the day, so I can’t do everything – thankfully, the missus gets that. If I manage to get tea prepared for her coming home and a load of dirty clothes in the washing machine, then that’s successful househusbanding (if that’s even a word).
That being said, I know I need to try and do more chores when I have toddler-free time. A kid just slows everything down. If I tackle things with the gusto of Kim and Aggie, I’m sure to get more of those boring household tasks done. For example, we’re in the process of turning our garage into a home gym at the moment. In just a few hours without the sprog, I’ve managed to paint the walls and ceiling, clean throughout and put down interlocking mats for the floor. Maybe I should up Toddler L’s nursery hours…?
So those are the four main things I do when I have toddler-free time. How about yourself? What do you do when you find yourself alone in the house? Do you even manage to get time alone?! Let me know below!
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