In our Meet a Mykidstime Parent series, Mykidstime.ie talks to Kevin, who lives in Westmeath , about his views on parenting and being a Father of three kids.
Tell us about your family
Well, I would consider ourselves a fairly normal, average young family trying to make headway in this challenging world today. We’re both originally from Dublin, myself (40), Clodagh (41), Aoife (12), Oisin (9) and Caoimhe (1) but made a life choice just over 8years ago to move with our 2 young children from Dublin and are now happily living in the Midlands.
Since moving to the countryside we have adapted quite quickly and the kids love the open spaces with the various parks, lakes and other amenities close by, as well as having all the attractions of Dublin less than an hour away, and Galway 90mins away.
Clodagh is working nearby as a General Nurse in St.Mary’s Hospital which is focused on care of the elderly, and works relatively sociable hours during the week. I recently sold my interests in a business I co-founded, and I am now working on a few other start-up projects from home, which gives us the flexibility to look after our kids without the need of child minders (excluding the kid’s wonderful grandparents)
Describe a typical day in your house
Challenging, yet thoroughly enjoyable !
One of the downsides of living in the countryside is not being able to walk/cycle to school or even get an easily accessible bus, so it’s an early start. Aoife is first off the blocks, as she is now attending secondary school, in Wilsons Hospital which is about 18km away, and she has to be there for 8:30am approx., then having to get Oisin to All Saints primary school for 9:00am, which is luckily closer. Then it’s home and focus shifts to Caoimhe and tackling the hurricane that swept through our house some 90 minutes earlier.
After calm has been restored, it’s time for Caoimhe to have a nap, which usually lasts about 1.5-2hours, which means I can get some work done. This then brings us to lunchtime and a sandwich of some description for myself and Caoimhe. Then it’s usually time to get packed up and get back in for Oisin who finishes up @ 3:00pm, unless there’s some after school activity, which means we’ll be picking up and dropping off, giving an opportunity for a grocery shop.
Once Oisin has been picked up again then it’s time to collect Aoife and her classmate, who we car
pool with, and the daily battle with homework begins, whilst cooking a dinner and keeping a 13
month old calm and occupied.
This now brings us up to dinner and the endless struggle to find a single meal that satisfies everyone, but as we don’t live in a restaurant, there is no menu choice so it’s ‘dinner or nothing’. Then it’s usually some activity for either Oisin or Aoife such as Soccer, Scouts, Music etc… which then brings us to the home straight before bedtime.
On the days that Clodagh is working, she would usually get home around 8:45pm, just as the kids are winding down and getting prep’d for bed. During the school week it’s a strict enforcement of no TV before homework is completed and household jobs have been done, so it leaves about maybe an hour for Aoife & Oisin before it’s bedtime (9:00pm weekdays and 10:00pm(ish) weekend).
Then an air of calm descends on the house, when myself and Clodagh catch up on the day that was, enjoying the highlights (and lowlights) over a glass of wine or something stronger before Groundhog Day begins again…!
What aspect of parenting do you find most enjoyable?
Since I’ve ceased being involved actively in my own business and working from home now, it’s given me a whole new perspective on what really happens during 8:00am – 7:00pm in your own home. I’ve traditionally been the one that went to work, or commuted to an office everyday and came home, as my father and his father did etc.. You would typically come in and chat with the kids over dinner, homework already completed and you would usually see the kids only for those few hours before bedtime, but in a frame of mind still half immersed in the day or thinking about the following day to come. Now, it’s completely different and I see what actually gets done in a day, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for all the people that work in the home minding their own kids, caring for them, feeding them, encouraging them, nurturing them, so if I was to say what aspect I find most enjoyable, I would say all of it…
This past 13months, since Caoimhe was born, I, as well as probably most Dads, was somewhat oblivious to what really went on in the home, other than what Clodagh would’ve said/shouted/roared to me, and if I’m being completely honest and I know she will be reading this, it went in one ear and out another. I am now really enjoying this time with my kids and realizing how vital / precious these moments really are. These are incredibly challenging times, probably something nobody living has experienced, yet I feel that something is rising from the ashes, and it’s the fact that people realize now there is more to life than having the winter/summer holidays, having the latest fashion item etc.. It’s pressed the reset button on a lot of things in people’s lives and I honestly believe the biggest winner, if we were to look back in 10 years time, will be ‘family values’ and the idea of families spending time together, without the need to spend 000’s, because if you don’t have it, you can’t spend it….
What do you find most difficult as a parent?
Patience. Children are like precious gems and need to be minded, but as adults and as parents we need to make the tough decisions and teach them core lessons that are for their own benefit and future well being, such as respect and manners. As I’ve found over the past 12months, children will keep trying in a number of ways to get/do what they want and it’s having the patience of mind and body to keep on message and not stray, as children are very clever and will exploit a weakness instantly to get an upper hand and try to get their own way.
What is best piece of parenting advice you have ever received?
While sitting down and thinking about these questions, I started to try and remember the best advice I ever got, but found it hard to think about a single occasion when someone gave me advice, probably because I was the Dad, and all the advice was traditionally directed towards the expectatant mother.
However, that got me thinking about occasions when I was growing up, and sitting exams at various stages of my young life, I was always told by my own Dad to try my best, and if you can put your hand on your heart and say that you honestly tried your best then nothing more can be asked of you, and I suppose that has stuck with me in life, some 25years later, and I find myself repeating it now to my own kids, and not just in exams but in anything they do, whether it’s rugby, soccer, piano, hockey, if you honestly try your best that is surely all we can ask of them or indeed anyone.
And the worst parenting advice you received?
None. I believe that all advice is given with the best of intention, although some of that advice is more relevant and appropriate to today’s era, as compared to days gone by.
If you were Minister for Children what one change would you make?
I noted recently while driving through towns and villages across Ireland that some towns/villages have really nicely kept, newly installed central play areas for children and others don’t. I would hazard a guess that the areas that have nicely served children play areas, are in the constituency of serving TD’s !
Under the same theme of getting back to basics and making children the focal point, I would make it a priority to map the entire country and have these educational, outdoor areas installed in every town/village or metropolitan area. I feel this would bring together not only the community, but also help teach kids the basics of playing together through learning at an age before they enter the classroom.
I would also make it a priority of my office to develop sub-committee’s or expert focus group’s that would sit and discuss further ways that could help the children of our country, as opposed to leaving it to civil servants to discuss and discuss and discuss. These focus groups would be made up of real parents form the locale that would meet to come up with ways to shape their own area in ways that would matter and will bring a difference. These groups would then feed these ideas through to a central committee, similar in a lot of respects to to your everyday parent’s council, who do all this work for free, in order to ensure their children are not lacking in the basics.
What are your hopes for your children?
My biggest hope for my children is that they grow up happy and safe and that they live and lead their own life as happily and safely as they can. Growing up nowadays is a very complex and challenging one, and all we can do as parents is raise our children as best as we can, and provide for them, be there for them in the knowledge that they will take everything we say and use it as they make their own way in life. I firmly believe that if you have happiness in your heart, success and health is not far behind.
We are looking to talk to more Mykidstime.ie parents about everyday parenting. If you would be interested in chatting to us, please get in touch.