“Will you read me a story while I do a poo?
That seems to be the request of the moment in our house. To which the honest response is: “No, Dylan, absolutely not. I’d rather drink a cup of seawater.” But the answer I end up giving is: “Of course, darling. How nice it will be for us to spend some quality time together while you noisily empty your bowels inches from my face.”
It’s a pretty decent metaphor for parenthood. Not that being a parent is a big, steaming pile of shit (although sometimes it is) but that’s it’s all a question of balance. Weighing up when to say “no”. Which battles are worth fighting. What behaviour is normal for a ‘boyey boy’. The list goes on.
Sometimes it’s fairly menial stuff. Like last weekend when I had to decide how many times Nathan could bellow “man!” while pointing at the young, female swimming pool attendant before I needed to intervene. Although, in doing so I realised it’s very difficult for a 30-something year old male in swimwear to say “no, it’s a lady” in reference to a teenage girl without sounding seriously pervy.
It can also be much more important stuff. Like the many hours my wife Laura and I have spent trying to construct the best possible balance between work and home life. One that is good for us, our employers and, crucially, the boys. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it for our careers/sanity, Dylan and Nathan’s wellbeing, and our family dynamic as a whole.
The one thing that often seems to fall by the wayside in this juggling act, though, is exercise. No matter how firmly you promise yourself you’re going to go for a run or to the gym after the kids are in bed, it takes some major willpower to actually do it amidst everything else going on. More than I have, usually.
I’m convinced this lack of activity is the reason I suffer from more muscular aches and pains these days. Well, that plus age and sitting in front of a laptop four days a week. So, when a company called Furniture@Work got in touch with me the other day about Office Yoga, I put my initial scepticism aside and took a look. They’ve created a pretty useful little guide to keeping yourself active at your desk –without having to contort yourself into a possible HR violation. Check it out here.
For me, the idea of doing a bit of stretching and muscle exercise while I’m working sounds like a decent plan. One that will hopefully stop my neck aching every morning when I’m rudely awoken by a Lego torch in the face.
It’s also another example of that classic trick for any parent: balancing two seemingly conflicting activities at once. Like cooking dinner and building a train set. Changing a nappy while playing hide and seek (yes, really). Playing football while being wrestled in a ‘Transformer Fight’. Having a career and also being an attentive mum or dad.
Or indeed, reading a bedtime story in the lavatory. Only Yoga smells better.
Disclaimer: I was asked to write this blog by Furntiture@Work. They didn’t ask me to talk about my son’s toilet habits though.