Ain’t no Cure for the Summertime Blues

Okay, I don’t have the blues, just a mild summer cold. But I think one reason that I caught this cold is that I’ve been so busy and stressed out on multiple fronts recently. And one reason, ironically, is that I’m trying very hard to be a good father and role model!

One of the things I’ve been busy with is trying to get the Father Lessons project off the ground over the last month. But I’m finding that this is a difficult time of year for a full-time dad – especially one who struggles with multitasking at the best of times – to be trying to get anything off the ground. Apart from Father Lessons and my regular work, which at least in my case is very flexible, I need to figure out to keep the kids occupied over the 6 weeks or so of summer holidays – a topic big enough for its own blog post, I think.

Then, at least for the fully engaged dad, there is the punishing schedule of end-of-year school events. My boys are in separate schools so the schedule consisted of an Open Day, two Sports Days, the Summer Fair, and last night’s School Play (a spectacular production of The Greatest Showman!) – all in the course of a couple of weeks during which we made multiple trips to the hospital for my son’s badly broken finger. Add in the PTA meetings planning the above events and, well, I need a holiday!

Yes, I’m a PTA dad.

Getting involved in the parents’ association at your child’s school can bring all sorts of benefits. You get to socialise more with other parents, you get to know the school and staff much more than you can at a one-off parent-teacher meeting, and you get to be a role model and set an example of the spirit of volunteering, one that your kids can see for themselves. For all these reasons, I have tried to get involved in the PTA at my kids’ schools, with varying degrees of success.

Some people seem to think that this can be a little harder for fathers because PTA’s tend to be populated by mothers and have a dynamic that can be tricky to navigate. My personal experience is this is true in terms of the ratio of mothers to fathers, but generally this has meant an even greater appreciation for paternal involvement.

But if my experience is anything to go by, while becoming a core member of an active PTA can be manageable during most of the year, it involves an all-consuming workload in summer as the school year comes to an end.

I am writing this the day after the last of those school events and just a couple of days away from the start of the holidays. Some kids have lots of friends living nearby and are happy to just hang out with the gang all summer (like we did when we were kids) but not everyone is in that situation. I can easily envisage my boys spending day after endless day online unles I can provide alternatives. We’ll do some fun stuff here and there, but 6 weeks?!

Does wishing we had a Summer Camp system like in the US where we could just ship the kids off for a month or more make me a bad father? If so, that’s what I am. And that gives me the blues…

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