Homework has stopped, the artwork has started coming down off the walls and the teachers have begun packing up their worksheets ready to move to different classrooms. It won't be long before all pretence of education is abandoned in favour of getting the kids to sit quietly in front of a Disney DVD while the staff decide which pots of paint are worth keeping until after the summer.
Yep, the holidays are almost upon us and I suppose this is a good opportunity to look back on my first year with all the kids at school...
You know what the odd thing is? It feels like I've had less time to get stuff done than when Marie was only in nursery for two and half hours every day.
I suspect this isn't entirely what you want to hear, but it's true. Of course, it's not literally true - on paper, I have an extra fifteen hours of freedom a week during term-time now - but that's the way it feels.
There are plenty of obvious reasons for this. For a start, the kids are staying up later in the evening so I have less time to myself then. On top of that, the kerfuffle surrounding our kitchen refit has taken weeks of my attention. Not to mention, having three children at school means a greater chance of at least one being off sick and requiring a sympathetic slave to pander to their snotty whims...
All these things account for much of the discrepancy between what I think I should have achieved this year and what I've actually done. Thinking about it, the rest may be do to with multi-tasking. Last year, when I had lunch, I wasn't just having lunch - I was taking care of Marie as well. Now, I get to decadently sit down for a few minutes and watch Bargain Hunt. I can no longer count it as 'achieving' something. In the same way, there are all manner of tasks and chores that I used to be able to do while listening to a child tell me about their cuddly toys. These days, the hours when they're at home are crammed with homework, meals, baths and quality time. The tasks and chores still need done, however, filling up the time they're at school but giving me less sense of achievement because I'm not having to simultaneously ask relevant questions about a beanbag giraffe.
Somehow, the upshot is that I don't have much time to write to you any more. Quite how the absence of stuffed wildlife from my day makes this the case is a mystery but it's so.
More than that, times have changed. Take Father's Day as an example. Previous years I've been all but driven mad by advertising suggesting the ideal Father's Day experience would be some Homebase vouchers followed by an afternoon spent taking the kids to the zoo. As a housedad, the idea of spending even more time with the children didn't sound like a treat. This year, though, I turned into a dad stereotype and put up shelves. Lots and lots of shelves...
The only tell-tale sign of being a stay-at-home parent I exhibited was that I continued on with installing sliding doors despite having a stinking cold, rather than taking to my bed and claiming I had the flu. Just keeping going, no matter what, is perhaps the one essential skill of being a housedad. Still, it felt like nothing compared to some of the soldiering on I had to do when the kids were small.
Life is different.
We've come a long way together, Dave, but (barring some unexpected expecting), nappies, sleep deprivation, parent-and-toddler, buggies and nursery are all past me. They're almost past you, for goodness sake. You don't need my advice any longer and being a housedad doesn't mean quite the same thing it used to for either of us. It's time to move on.
We might have to start discussing football or something....
All the best to Liz, Sam and Daisy.
Take care of yourself.
Yours in a whole new world,
Dear other Daves and non-Daves,
When I started writing this blog, I gave myself a target of keeping going for eighteen months and 150 posts. As it turns out, I've more than doubled that on both counts. It's been a struggle sometimes but mostly it's been fun and cathartic. I think the time has come to stop now, though, before my energy and enthusiasm fade too much.
I'm tempted to say that I'll still post occasionally but that would be like suggesting, 'Let's do coffee,' without setting a date - the reality is that it'll never happen. Better to draw a line.
I hope you've found Dear Dave entertaining, encouraging and helpful over the years. Thanks for all the support you've given me and, most importantly, thank you for reading.
All the best,