A Day off with Dad

a day off with dad

For the little guy, Wednesdays are A Day off with Dad each week. It works out well as Ollie goes to daycare Tuesdays and Thursdays, and while Mrs. Down Under is still working until Bub #2 comes along (see When 3 become 4), Dad and the little guy get to spend the day together.

Breakfast with Dad

Whether its a  normal working day, or a Day off with Dad, breakfast it always the first port of call. Literally as soon as we are out of bed Ollie has to drag me to the kitchen to get it started.

Given we have been going through Winter and our house is often cold in the morning we have been having porridge, for breakfast, every day. Although since Down Under Dad has gone back to working days, there have been some mornings where Mrs. Down Under has had to organise breakfast.

That meant today when I tried to make porridge, our 2 year old was adamant that he was having cereal instead. The box of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut that had been left unopened was in his sights, and while he did finish most of a bowl, the rest did end up scattered around him.

Getting Set for a Day off with Dad

One thing about Wednesday mornings is that they can go very quickly. Our first adventure has a deadline of 9:30am, which may not seem early, but anyone with toddlers will tell you that you can never leave enough time to get ready.

With Mrs. Down Under heading off to work early, if the rest of the household isn’t awake by the time she leaves, then its safe to say we will be rushing to get there on time.

The other thing about Wednesday mornings is that, that is when our Bins get collected. This means that our first adventure on a day off with dad is putting the bins away. While this may not seem like an adventure for most people, it is when you have a 2 year old who has to help with everything.

a day off with dad

Swimming Lessons

Longtime followers of Down Under Dad and the adventures on a Day off with Dad, would know that swimming lessons are a weekly occurrence. We have been taking the little guy for lessons for around 12 months now. You might ask how we managed this in Winter? thankfully we decided to take him to Balance at Wests Mayfield where not only are the pools indoors, but the one used for lessons is heated too.

If you want to read some of our previous experiences with swimming lessons you can check out Swimming Lessons Part 1 and Swimming Lessons Part 2, not only do they document our experiences, but also provide some helpful advice for new Dads (or any parents really) who are planning on taking their toddlers swimming.

a day off with dad

As I’ve been lacking in my posts lately, you might not be aware that the last few weeks Ollie hasn’t really been enjoying his swimming, there have been tears on multiple occasions and he has been going backwards in his skills.

Well today I am happy to report that we made some progress!

  • He showed progress in some of the skills they are taught
  • He only argued during some of the activities
  • and the tears didn’t come out until right at the end.

While it may not seem like much, you have to take the wins where you can.

Note, the tears probably could have been avoided, but given he was finally showing some progress both Dad and the instructor pushed* him a little too hard at the end.

*I don’t mean literally pushed, just let him swim freely for too long.

Coffee Break

Any parent would know that spending the day with a toddler without your other half can wear you out. While this is all part of being a parent, a Day off with Dad often requires multiple caffiene hits throughout the day.

What started as a reward for following instruction during swimming has quickly turned into a weekly routine. After the lesson is over we sit in the sun while Dad has a Coffee and Ollie has a Chocolate Milkshake.

There is always some confusion when I go to order them though as Ollie can’t quite pronounce the word Milkshake yet, and as you can see in Vocabulary of an almost 2 year old, when I say the word Coffee, he proceeds to refer to it as a Hot Tea.

After finishing our drinks and snacking on a cookie, or as he refers to them ‘bickkies’ it was time to keep moving.

Dad’s Visit to the Doctor

Now before you start worrying, Dad’s visit to the Doctor was nothing serious. With Bubba #2 not far off, Down Under Dad needed to get his Whooping Cough vaccination updated. Don’t worry, I’m as happy as you are that it wasn’t serious, after being Hit for 6 and Out earlier in the year, the last thing I want to deal with is another Week with a Sick Toddler

Every parent would remember when they had to take their newborn babies along to the doctor for their first set of immunisations. You know walking into the room that it isn’t going to be pleasant for anyone involved, and when your baby starts screaming afterwards, it can bring a tear to your eye.

Just to clarify, today’s appointment was for Dad, not for the little guy. However when they Doctor came into the room to give Dad his injection, Ollie burst into tears, despite it having nothing to do with him. The Doctor was even nice enough to give him a lolly afterwards to help settle him down.

Dad can we stop for Ice-Cream

Located beside the Chemist where we saw the Doctor is a Baskin Robbins Ice-Cream Parlour, which depending on which way you look at it can be a good or a bad thing.

One method often used by parents to calm their kids is bribery. Given I’ve said I will always be honest on this Blog, Yes, Yes I did resort to bribery, but to be fair, I also wanted the Ice-Cream.

While he still hasn’t mastered some of the skills he needs to swim safely in the pool, he does a pretty good job of not making a mess when eating an ice-cream.

a day off with dad

The Remainder of the Day

Heading home after ice-cream it was time to wind down. While according to the clock we were only halfway through the day, again anyone with a toddler will tell you sometimes that’s enough for them.

Without even making lunch, the little guy promptly told me it was time for a ‘bot bot’, which roughly translates to “I’m ready for a nap”. I say roughly because despite him telling me he was ready, the 35 minutes we lied there before he fell asleep says differently.

By the time he woke up, Mrs. Down Under had returned home from work, which meant a day off with dad had come to an end.

 

Swimming Lessons Part 2

Swimming Lessons should be a fun experience for your child. While they might stress out at first, this is part of the learning and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You want your child to not only be able to enjoy the water, but also understand its dangers.

If you have been following for awhile you will know why we chose to teach our child to swim and how it has created a bonding experience for both of us, if not see Swimming Lessons. If you have then welcome to Part 2 – current situation.

swimming lessons

Slowly Getting Better

It has been a slow process I feel like we are finally getting somewhere. Our son is starting to pick up on the actions and match them to the instructions we give him. He is learning something! If I’m honest for awhile there I thought he was never going to get any better.

Do we kick our legs every time we are asked? No, but we do kick them from time to time which means we are getting used to the action.

Do we hold our breath when we go under the water? Sometimes yes, others we forget and come up coughing and spluttering.

Can we lie still and float on our back? Yes, actually we do this every time we need to (take the little wins where you can).

While he won’t win any races anytime soon, it is nice to see progress. As a Dad you want your child to be the best and you try everything you can to get the most out of them. Weeks and Weeks of following the same routine did work out in the end! I think the main part of it boiled down to your child being comfortable in the water, which leads me to. . .

Gaining Confidence

No one told me this at the start but this needs to come before any real skill development. If your child is stressed out even just being near the water then there is no way they are going to focus enough to learn anything from you. The old ‘Sink or Swim’  (Dad Joke!) piece isn’t going to work here. As a toddler your child still looks towards you as a parent for comfort, especially when distraught. This is where you need to spend the time building that confidence in the water.

swimming lessons

Now no doubt some of you are going to argue that isn’t it better that your child is at least a little afraid of the pool, if they’re afraid then they won’t go near it which reduces the chance of drowning. While there is some logic to your response, one day your child is going to be curious enough to go near the pool, if something happens and they fall in, wouldn’t it be best if they have some sort of skills in the water?

Ultimately you need to think back to why are we trying to build this confidence, that’s right as part of swimming lessons. Its not like we are just going to get them interested in the water and then take it away without giving them the skills to survive.

Moving Forward

Are the lessons going to continue? absolutely! now that we are seeing progress we know he is learning in this environment so its not a complete waste. While we aren’t going to push him into becoming an elite swimmer (although we would be pretty damn proud), we do want his confidence to continue to build and his skills grow so not only can he survive in the water but can enjoy it as well.

What about outside the pool? we have enjoyed the beach on multiple occasions. The water is a lot colder then we are used to (that goes for both of us). Living Down Under means the beach is going to be in the majority of our lives so we will definitely return, but for now we are almost in winter so that’s a few months away.

Until then the lessons must go on

[wpvideo ke2w4snc]

 

 

Swimming Lessons

Just Dad and the little guy, time to teach him how to swim. What could go wrong? After almost 2 terms I can tell you a lot can go wrong, but both of us have come out the other side better then before.

Living on the coastline in a part of the world where summers are hot and dry learning to swim is a necessity. Not only is it a good skill to have, its great to keep active, and it also helps to cool off on a hot day. However to enjoy all the benefits, one must get through the trials of swimming lessons first.

Let me describe the situation, Wednesdays Dad has the day off to spend with the Son, Mum and Dad agree its time to start swimming lessons, and it would be a good opportunity for Dad and Son to Bond. Sounds good so far?

Trial #1: Preparation

As with any outing with a toddler, you can never pack too much. Always pack extra nappies/wipes/anything else required for a change, along with this make sure you have multiple sets of clothes. Towels are important, yes that’s plural. Snacks are also important (afterwards only, no one wants a sick toddler in the pool), swimming uses a lot of energy.

Also don’t forget about yourself, toddler swimming lessons means you are in the pool too, you need a towel, you need a change of clothes, and a snack is nice too. Always good to remember this is about them not you, so avoid the budgie smugglers, and if you’re rocking the dadbod, a rash shirt won’t go astray.

Trial #2: The Lessons

Now the fun begins, every lesson is a new adventure. Sometimes they will be happy and laughing, others they will be crying, or refusing to get back in the pool. A note for beginners, this is pretty normal, and you can guarantee every other parent in the pool has had the same experience. Don’t be ashamed by it or embarrassed, just do your best, there is always next week.

If your not sure of the songs and the activities don’t worry, they are exactly the same every week. apparently humans of all sizes learn through repetition, it only took me 2 weeks. Hot tip though, try to avoid swallowing pool water (that goes for Dad and Son), usually tears will follow and it can be hard to settle. On that note, focus on reassuring your toddler as one crying toddler can quickly multiply and the next thing you know every toddler is crying. I learnt that the hard way.

Trial #3: Afterwards

Just because your not cold doesn’t mean toddler isn’t. Focus on getting them dried and dressed first.  Then they can relax (did someone say snack?), while you attempt to get dressed – don’t forget to bring your change of clothes, its embarrassing to get halfway changed then realise you forgot them. I say attempt because take too long and whoops they fell over in a puddle – remember that extra change of clothes! Don’t worry if this takes awhile at first and your the last parent left, you will get quicker as time goes on (repetition?)

Current Situation:

Preparation – Check! This is second nature now, given our lessons are in the morning, our bag is always packed the night before when our head is clear and we are not rushing.

Lessons – Check! Yes the songs are stuck in my head but they are in my sons too, the familar sounds help reassure him and he is finally feeling comfortable in the pool.

Afterwards – Check! Well I am still the slowest, but have avoided having to get dried and dressed multiple times for a few weeks now.

 

While this may seem like I dread our weekly lesson, its quite the opposite. We both enjoy it now, I can see the benefits, and no matter how bad the lesson might go, I know everyone else has had the same and next week will be another lesson. Learn what you can from my experiences, but most of all enjoy them!

Update 25/5/18:

The tale of Swimming Lessons continues in Part 2 find it here

swimming 2