The big day arrived. Cards and presents were opened, candles blown out on the cake, but nothing happened. We had expected a transformation in the manner of Harry Enfield’s Kevin character becoming a teenager, albeit with our one year old becoming a ‘terrible two’. Of course it doesn’t work like that; we’ve been experiencing certain characteristics of those terrible twos for some time. Now, a few weeks into her third year, we’re beginning to get a taste of what two-year-old is all about and it’s a fascinating place…
Last Christmas was one of our least festive on record. We moved house on the last day for completions before Christmas and most of the holidays were spent trying to unpack while keeping our nearly one-year-old entertained. Decorations didn’t even get a thought, which actually was fine as Tilly was much too little to understand any of it but did enjoy the process of opening presents and examining her new toys. A year on and the house is in shape and we’re ready to deck the halls. Tilly is nearing her second birthday and although unaware of Christmas she’ll soon detect that something’s afoot as all of her toddler groups hold Christmas parties over the next couple of weeks. It will certainly be the last year before she goes headlong into Christmas overdrive, so we’ve been mulling over whether to go the full hog or enjoy perhaps enjoy a quieter and more sane holiday.
Toddlers are at the centre of their own universe but over time they do become more aware of others. Previously Tilly has shown a certain concern when one of us has been ill or when other children cry at playgroup but today her empathy took a leap in a completely unexpected direction.
Carrying your child around is a wonderful thing. You hold them aloft and point out the world around them. Yet soon enough they grow and quickly gain independence. Some little ones are sure-footed by a year old, while others like Tilly are content with the efficiency of bum-shuffling and only start to stand and take their first steps some months later. Movement has come gradually for Tilly and as parents we’re only now realising that the days of holding are now largely behind us.
It’s now two months since I hung up my office suits and gave up my London commutes for a new life as a stay-at-home dad in the countryside. Month two has seen the end of the school holidays, my wife return to work and me picking up the reins proper as full-time primary carer to our toddler. It’s been very much a period of finding my feet and working out how Tilly’s days are going to be filled. There’s a lot to think about – activities, meal planning, supporting her development and finally getting things done around the house. The new routine marks a really substantial change for all of us. Dropping an income is a major decision and one that we’re counting on improving the family’s quality of life. Here’s how month two has been going: