The kids get the summers off and that’s amazing but us bloggers and dads do not get one. After a year of hard work, the children need a summer well spent to get ready for the upcoming school year. But is anybody else concerned about how much the ‘fun summer’ costs us parents. Yes, you can’t put a price on happiness and memories but we got to think about finances, don’t we? So here is what I am going to do to keep my kids occupied and save at the same time.

1. What’s in the garage?

The garage is where the hidden treasures are at. Fish out the bike that hasn’t been used. This saves you some money, physical exercise and fun is all part of the package. You can escape the traffic and enjoy some peace of mind with the kids. I did this with the kids last summer and we ended up racing in the empty bus park of a high school having a wonderful time.

2. Holidays for less

You probably guessed this one before you started reading but anyway here it is. Camping is a great way to get in touch with nature and have some quality family time. You could go with friends or just the family. Hire someone to do the cooking. This will be cheaper than dining out every night.

You could also swap homes for the summer vacations. This is exciting and cheap. Just check the house insurance beforehand.

3. Cheaper days out

Most events that your kids would love to attend over the summer have sky-high entry fees. But there are also events which charge you nothing for entrance and you will have a great time hanging out at one of these. One summer, we went to the Book Festival and they had a coloring in tent there. The children had such a great day. Find out about any events in your city now.

4. Get the kids helping out

We parents do not get the summer off and for all we know, the chores could be increasing in number. Since the kids are free, you can ask them to give you a hand with some chores like washing the car, painting the shed or gardening. At the same time, they will learn a couple of new things and you can save on time and money. If the kids need encouragement, tell them they can earn themselves some pocket money by helping out. Also, teach them about savings.

Doesn’t mean saving on money will end up with a boring summer. Have a great time making memories and do share any ideas you have. I’d love to hear them.

With summer vacations over, I have been doing some reflecting and self assessment and I guess I have become a little lazy as a parent.

But I’m not giving up or continuing what has lagged. I’m going to make and work on those things and the areas that need more attention.

Please feel free to share your experiences if you are familiar with these feelings. Maybe we could help each other.

Improve my children’s diet
this is every parent’s priority and it feels like this one just never ends. We will always be concerned about their diets, whether or not they are well hydrated and how much junk food they are consuming. My children for one start their day with fruit and consume the right amount of fruits and vegetable required per day. But my laziness interfered and I stopped experimenting and adding new foods to their diets. This needs work and attention on my behalf.

 

Do more sports activities with the kids
Kids learn from watching you and as I personally think my lifestyle is plenty healthy, they too find the encouragement to take it outside. They enjoy swimming, cycling and walking which I make a point to accommodate in my schedule. But the thing is we do not play many sports as a family. Let’s just say my wife and I cannot work a bat and a ball. I believe this we need to work on as a family.

 

Be more organized with homework
We try our level best to give our older child the time, attention, help and concentration she needs to do her homework and keep up pace with her studies. But the younger kids in the house are resourceful and will always find ways to disturb during homework time. Hence, standards have seen a downward slope and over the summer, we are thinking of getting a study desk for our older child which she could use in her room and away from the little ones reach.
Speak more French
I may not speak it or wear it, but I come from a French background and I like to keep in touch with my roots. I used to speak with the kids in French and make sure they learn the language through various means. The older one can find her way around in very basic French but the younger one hasn’t been progressing too well. I have no one but myself to blame since my efforts hit a low. This I need to put on top of the list.

Get those stabilizers off the bike
our area is rather hilly. Riding a bicycle is not the easiest task around here and my children have still not learnt how to ride a bike without stabilizers. We are planning to work on this over the summer so that they can catch up with their friends.

And that’s a wrap. Please do share with me what’s on your list!

Our world is rapidly changing and big issues of our time are becoming dinner time talk, talk show topics and casual exchanges at parties. Children too pick up random words and question them. Ben is 6 years old but she is quickly becoming interested in gender issues, particularly gender equality.

I was putting her to bed and reading her a story. The story involved something about a mum at the school gates and Sarah wasn’t too happy with the stereotype. The picture in the book had no men or dads and she was further offended by it.

This discussion came up before but I did not pay much attention to it. There was a retail store that contained the word “mother” in the title. She was not much too happy about it and said there should be “father” store too.

There have been more such moments but I think I won’t bore you with all the incidents. I for one am impressed to see Sarah is taking notice of such tiny things, questioning them and wants to communicate about them.

Well, I am impressed and surprised the way she picked up on this but I wonder why it didn’t come up sooner. I am a SAHD and I do the school runs. I just wonder why she never asked why she was the only one getting picked up by her dad when everyone else was picked up by their moms.

I have tried to talk to her about the house environment, how mommy goes to work and daddy is the primary care taker around the house but she never showed any interest as such.

But her recent curiosity tells me things are going to change. Her taking notice and questioning tells me she sees her house environment is a different from her friends and school mates. I for one am looking forward to have this discussion.

The issue is sensitive and needs to be handled with care. Since I am a blogger and everything, the concept of gender equality are not limited to just me. I do not believe in forcing my opinions on my kids, of course they are entitled to have one of their own and this is something I strongly encourage and believe in. Sooner or later, they have to know what the world is about. Not to be dramatic, but even I am not sure yet what the world is about.

Coming back on track, here is a share from one of my proud blogger moment. A friend of mine is an English teacher and he used my blog to talk to his students about language and gender equality. The discussion was a success. But there was one kid who called it “doss life”. Well, I am trying not to get offended by the ignorance of children. They’ll know better soon enough.

healthy_eating4132413This particular debate has been going on for quite some time and there are no chances of seeing the end of it any time soon. So, what do you choose?

The eldest girl, Jack is a six year old and gets free hot dinners which are provided to all children under the age of seven. Fun fact: they are now called hot dinners but back in our day, we called them school dinners (Interesting, eh?).

One of the parents from Jack’s school did some quick calculations and concluded that by allowing their child the free hot dinners, they saved £1,000 annually.

So let me quickly tell you the advantages that popped in my mind first time I heard of the numbers.

  1. We need the money.
  2. No preparing meals every morning.
  3. Call me stingey if you like, but after the huge sums taxes we pay each year, I think we have a right to take advantage of any opportunity available to us.

But even after the important financial factor, I am not convinced just yet.

When Sarah first started school, we had met with the catering team and they seemed nice. We opted for hot dinners when Sarah was in Reception and it seemed fine. But they because of her meal option, she could not sit with the group of children she was trying to befriend. Hence, we started packing her lunch for her.

At the time she was new to the whole school thing and her settling in well was the most important thing at the time. But it’s been two years and she has friends so the debate arises.

My child’s health comes first. When we make her lunch, we know the nutrient intake necessary and that is also out primary concern. We make sure she gets one portion of the fruit and vegetable intake as needed and her drinks are do not contain any artificial ingredients. I’m no expert at meal planning but I make it a point to meet standards.

If she does not eat some of her lunch then the school sends it back home. This gives us a perfect idea of how much she ate.

Is we opted for hot dinners, then we would be clueless of what our child was eating and how much she was eating. I’m not saying they would feed her chips and burgers but she could be filling up on white bread whereas we like to feed her brown bread.
Back in our day, school dinners were not very healthy but my parents insisted I had those. If they knew what I ate, they might not have insisted. But in this day and age, this is no longer a problem.

I, on the other hand, am keen to not let my children consumer that sort of food. And as a father, I am more than happy to prepare Sarah’s meals myself and be sure of the food she is eating.

Thinking about it from the corporate perspective, I spoke on the LoveAllDads podcast regarding the subject. As more and more kids will opt for hot dinners, rival companies will try their best to sell their dinners at the lowest possible price which means they will compromise on the quality. Schools will definitely look at this from a financial perspective and buy from the lowest priced vendor. Are we sure we want our kids to eat food that is compromised?

Again, I am not expert and this is merely an opinion. There have been rumors and it is probable. Hence, I have my concerns.

So to end this, I am choosing to pack lunch for my children and I think I will keep doing so for a while.

Kids are more prone to scars and ill-feelings. They need to be encouraged to express these since this is good to their self-esteem as well as helps maintain a communication channel between parents and kids.

My oldest son was upset the other day because she could not participate in an activity and had to pull out. But the way this little girl handled the situation, made me proud of being her dad.

She received an invitation for a swimming competition and she is keen on swimming. When I arrived at the pool, I was taken aback upon learning the participants had to swim 25 meters butterfly, breast, crawl and back strokes. Come on, it is a huge challenge for kids in grades one to three.

Sarah had only swum 10 meters but in the deeper end of the pool. If you’re wondering whether she has had formal swimming lessons, then yes. But even after the lesson, 25 meters was quite too much. Sarah was insistent and confident and I didn’t want to be the one to break it. In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical about the distance. There were lifeguards there on high alert so I wasn’t much scared for her safety.

Sarah successfully finished two lengths. But then they had to do back strokes and this isn’t her forte. She wasn’t particularly happy about it. I was watching from distance trying to keep the other daughter toddler from jumping the pool with fully clothed.

Since she wasn’t up for the back stroke, Sarah herself spoke to the instructor and explained why she didn’t want to do it. Meantime, I made my way down to talk to her.

They allowed her to omit the back stroke but she would still have to do the front crawl on one condition. She was forced to take the outside lane so that she could hold on the wall to rest it need be. When she was called to do it, she wasn’t up for it and I didn’t push it. We left.

Yes, there were tears. I mean she is just a little girl; I’d be worried if she didn’t cry it out. As a father, I repeated a couple of times how proud I was of her for completing two lengths and how she exceeded my expectations. When my wife got back home, she made the same comments and there were encouraging hugs. But most of all, I was proud of the fact that she spoke up and accepted it wasn’t for her. Most kids her age wouldn’t have done so. I don’t think if I was in her place and age, I wouldn’t have either.

But really, I am more proud than my words could possibly describe. If she had taken part in the length and failed miserably, that would have damaged her confidence and some things a little kid can just not bear. I really think she dealt with it really well.

So after the whole thing passed, I asked myself what my role was here. I wondered if I should have let her participate in this thing at all. I have to say, I shouldn’t have. As a parent, this was a lesson for me. I should have had all the information about this competition and talked to the instructor myself beforehand. Also, I need to be sure where my child and her abilities stand in the situation.

But on the brighter side, I am more prepared for my second daughter and these mistakes will probably not be made then. Parenting is hard. We need to cut ourselves some slack.

So, Sarah hasn’t given up her swimming and is still taking her lessons. Guess all’s well when it ends well. I on the other hand, still need to get over the incident.