You do realise that the Christmas break you have been looking forward to for so long is not really your holiday at all? It's theirs. The kids.
It's a sad reality I've slowly-but-surely come to find out about over the course of four years of being a dad.
Gone are the days of a leisurely breakfast, a round of golf (or a bike ride), and lunch time being beer o'clock. There is little chance of any of that happening when there are kids to entertain and run ragged (so as to ensure a long, uninterrupted nights sleep).
Perhaps it's my way of making myself feel better about losing my freedom, but I like to think of it as a chance to get back in touch with my youth - and, it seems, in some cases my tiny tot years when I find myself jumping like Peter Pan through a garden sprinkler.
And recently a minor miracle occurred. Going out riding with my four year old Mia has got me off my chuff and back riding my bike again - even if it is only a little doddle up to the park and back with her going hell for leather on her balance bike, pushing herself along, and then trundling down hill on the grass verge beside me. It's great fun.
Despite what it sounds like I am not action daddy. Far from it. If I do feel like a lie down during the day, while still amusing the kids, I take a picnic rug out into the back yard. I lie down, let Mia jump all over me while eight month old Katie rolls around happily, and eventually Mia gets bored and goes off and plays by herself leaving me to float off into a blissful half slumber. That is until Mia falls off the monkey bars, stubs her toe, or - god forbid - comes back for more.
But seriously, something else I've come to realise is that having extended periods of time with your kids is precious. Like most people I work five days a week - sometimes more - and while the weekends are great they are over in a flash. I hardly get to have quality fun time with my kids. Recently we went away on a week's holiday and by the end of it I felt like I got to know my girls better (even something as simple as recognising Katie's tired and hungry signs more easily) and the bond between us became stronger. You can tell they just love having you around.
I don't mind admitting though, one of my favourite times on holiday is when they are tucked up in bed. And here's a tip, make sure bed time on holiday is the same as bed time at home. Okay, so let them stay up late if there's fireworks on New Years Eve or some other special occasion. But really, there's nothing better than being able to take a load off and recharge with a glass vino in hand. That's also what having a holiday is all about.
- HERALD ONLINE