Compressed Parenting

So, today happens to be my birthday, something I tend to dread each year. I’m not a fan of attention, and as a DAD (Divorced Aussie Dad) I find I look forward to them even less than usual. I’ve never been into birthdays, I didn’t even have a proper 18th or 21st. My fiancé and many others in my life have always talked about how we should celebrating because it’s the day I was born, or allow others to celebrate it because they love me but I’ve always wanted the day to fly under the radar.

Being a DAD put me in the position of not having my kids for the day this year. My amazing fiancé fawned over me, made me breakfast and spent the day trying to make me happy. I love her for trying. For me, the DAD part of me kicks in and I just spend the bulk of the day taking care of business. School starts for 2017 tomorrow, so of course there are million things that need doing. Life doesn’t stop for your birthday.

So, the day gets spent cleaning, shopping, cooking, organising meals, clothes and organising all the other necessities of life. Also, I finally managed to reach an agreement with the kids mother finally giving me proper 50/50 custody of the kids in the form of one week on, one week off. Its been a long road to get here, but they are worth all the hard work and strife involved. This new arrangement means having to kick all the above into high gear even more.

One of the common questions or comments I get as a DAD is around how it must be nice having ‘time off’ the kids. People who have their kids 24×7 can’t appreciate the torture it is to not have your kids in your life every day. Of course there is some relief to having time without them – every parent will have that feeing from time to time. The difference for divorced parents (imho) is that we have to compress our parenting into a finite timeframe. This means having all the conversations, the care, the games, the general ‘time spending’- everything a parent does each week, in just the time you have with them.

When you compress your parenting into a small timeframe, it’s exhausting, and it means you need to sacrifice other things to ensure the kids get what they need from you while they are there. All those things you put aside still need to be taken care of, so in the time you don’t have the kids it’s not a case of “kick up your heels and party”, it’s getting all the neglected aspects of your life taken care of, and getting ready for round 2 when the kids come back. On top of that, you’re doing it all feeling heartbroken because they arent with you. Compressed parenting sucks, but it’s a necessary evil for well rounded children to have a good relationship with both parents.

So, happy birthday to me. My present to myself was hyper organisation 🙂 Thanks to my fiancé I had a birthday present from the kids (which we left to open until tonight when the kids finally arrived for their week with us), and I had someone who loves me making sure I felt special. Gotta love her for that, and for joining me in the craziness that is managing our household via compressed parenting (she also has a daughter whom we share custody of – more on this another time).