This is a guest post by Dad, Simon Gamack from The Dad Zone Podcast
As a Dad, there’s nothing more coveted than Dad time. A moment that’s 100% just for you.
Like that one time you got home early from work, wife and kids were out, empty house… so many possibilities. It felt like walking into Wonka’s chocolate garden for the first time. A world of pure imagination.
That feeling of elation and wonder, which only lasted 4 minutes until everyone else got home, is why I’m writing this. I want to help you experience this amazing sensation. I’ve developed a list, nay a guide, nay a survival manual on how to capture the dad’s equivalent of Moby Dick. (We all know what Ahab really wanted. Why else would a man go off to sea, chasing a giant white whale unless he wanted some alone time. He probably had twins).
1. “I’ll do the dishes tonight babe”
Whether you have a dishwasher or you are the dishwasher (as is the case in my castle) this play is a win-win. Not only do you get a solid 35-40 mins of QDT (quality dad time) but you also get brownie points that can be redeemed at the concession stand for super bouncy balls and mini slinkies.
Difficulty Rating: Low
The set up: Very simple. Graciously offer to do the dishes and tidy up the kitchen, “Hey Babe, you’ve looked after the kids all day, let me do the dishes tonight…”
Payoff: Now if you happen to be all alone in the kitchen scrubbing last night’s lasagne off some Pyrex at the same time as your favourite sporting game or TV show is on, well, there’s no rule saying you can’t set up a tablet or phone to watch said content while you work.
Risk/Downside: Big downside here – you will actually have to clean the kitchen. And properly! If you do a bad job you won’t be able to milk this again. Speaking of milk…
2. “Damn, we are all out of milk”
Milk! What a delightful white liquid you are, you make my morning coffee better, you make my afternoon cookie better and when I can’t sleep you make that better too. Let’s just say “Milk: it makes everything better”. Now remember the feeling when you boil the kettle, go to the fridge, pull that big cold bastard open and, bam! No milk! Luckily for everyone it’s super dad to the rescue.
Difficulty Rating: Medium – High
The set up: Offer to make you and your perfect partner a lovely hot cuppa. Now go to the fridge. Uh oh there isn’t enough left in the bottle! Now, this next part I’m not proud of but if by chance there’s plenty of milk left, remember the hole in the bottom of the sink? It’s normally called a drain, but today let’s call it an ‘excess milk hole’. With the now empty bottle in hand loudly exclaim “Gah! Damn, no milk again! What’s a person gotta do to get a cuppa, just once?” Then heroically offer to go get some.
Payoff: This will give you a solid 15-20 mins of QDT. This dad time is perfect for audio based entertainment. Whatever your mode of transport may be, you get to choose your entertainment options (you lucky S.O.B). This may include listening to an audiobook, catching up on the latest episode of The Dad Zone Podcast or jamming out to your favourite new album.
Risk/Downside: If your significant other walks into the kitchen while you’re pouring 1.8 litres of milk down the drain things could get… awkward.
3. “Let’s Go to the Park/Playground”
Taking your kids out by yourself sounds like the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve here, but stay with me… The most important thing to remember is the park must be
caged fenced. The kids must be contained within a childproof barrier, otherwise this will quickly turn into a guide on “how to have an hour full of stress-filled cardio”.
Difficulty rating: Low – High depending on how ambitious you are.
The set up: First thing you need to do is research your parks and find one that’s fenced and has comfortable seating. Once you’ve found your destination it’s time to approach the mother of your children. “Hey, snuggle bug, I’m going to take the munchkin/s to the playground to give you a bit of rest.”
If you see her eyes narrow, your chosen co-pilot in life is trying to detect any subterfuge or ulterior motive. You need to address this before it gains momentum. “If you don’t want me to I don’t have to. I just thought you might enjoy a break.”
Now, she knows you’re not that thoughtful, she’s lived with you for years, but she also wants that Quality Mum time (QMT) so what happens now is a covert negotiation.
Wife: “The Park?” [translation “Bulls*#t!”]
You: “yup!” [translation “Are you going to call me out?”]
Wife: “By yourself?” [translation “What are you really up to?”]
You: “yup, just me and the little one/s!” [translation “Does it matter?”]
Wife: “…” [translation “…”]
You: “hmm?” [translation “Well?”]
Wife: “have fun!” [translation “bring the kid back alive…but not too soon”]
Me: “will do” [translation “#winning!”]
Some pubs and bars have enclosed play areas, so if you feel like a sneaky beer, then by all means try, but be warned: the difficulty rating will skyrocket the moment you lift the drink to your lips. If you think you’re clever enough to explain coming home in a taxi, then you sir are a braver man than I.
Payoff: One solid hour of you sitting on a comfy bench (or bar, see expert variant) while your child plays safely in a fully enclosed fun zone. While occasionally glancing up to make sure the little ones are behaving and having the time of their amazing little lives, you can safely chill out. Browse eBay, check in with Instagram or Facebook, play some candy crush or even watch some streaming videos.
Risk/Downside: If your better half thinks going to the park sounds like fun and decides to come with you then this once promising chillout sesh will become the dreaded family outing, where you’ll have to play, chat and interact, whilst quietly lamenting the loss of your lazy afternoon.
4. “Catch up with friends”
Schedule into the family calendar a catch up with a friend for coffee. Maintaining friendships when you’re married with kids is tough, you barely have time to shower and shave, let alone cultivate rewarding friendships. Luckily, you don’t need friends, you need QTD!
Difficulty rating: Medium
The set up: Find a free spot on the calendar and make an appointment to “Meet Steve for coffee.” DO NOT pick a real friend, this person needs to be completely make believe. A few days before, casually mention the catch up with ‘Steve’, an old friend you fell out of touch with who recently contacted you on Facebook.
When the big day comes around, tell your family you shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours and head straight to the movies to catch the latest ultra-violent action fest starring Sylvester Van Schwarzenegger. When you get home tell your wife that Steve’s a bit of a dweeb and you don’t think you’ll catch up again.
Payoff: Going to a movie. A real one. To watch something that’s not animated. With popcorn all to yourself!!!
Risk/Downside: The downside is that you can’t repeat this one more than every 3 – 4 months. If you repeat this too often, you’ll be in danger of your spouse thinking you’re having an affair, which is incredibly bad. Like, really f@#$ing bad. So avoid that.
5. “I have to Poop”
This is the easiest one to prepare, execute and most importantly repeat. Don’t even start to say you don’t know what I’m talking about!
The bathroom for us Dads is akin to what the fortress of solitude is to Superman. It’s the last bastion of respite, our final place of refuge. The bathroom door is quite often the last line of defence for both your sanity, your marriage & whether or not your eldest suddenly becomes an only child again.
Difficulty rating: Low – very easy to perform
The set up: Tell everyone within earshot you have some stomach pains. Five minutes later declare loudly that you simply must go to the bathroom and that you might “be a while” Make sure you have your phone or tablet, perhaps a delightful book or even your sudoku/crossword puzzle.
Payoff: 20 mins of solid, uninterrupted QTD. A little party where the guests are just you, your chosen activity, your throne and the locked door. I once had a “bad piece of calamari” and proceeded to watch the entire original Star Wars trilogy over 2 days in 12 glorious mini sessions.
This is also very handy if you need to escape an awkward social situation. Perhaps a BBQ where the missus is trying to set you up with her best friend’s husband because “you both like smooth peanut butter, so you must be best friends forever!” Simply rub your poor, disgruntled, tummy and excuse yourself for a 20-minute (30 if you groan loudly a few times) escape with your real BFF, the bathroom.
Risk/Downside: YOU MUST LOCK THE DOOR. If anyone walks in and discovers you fully clothed sitting on the floor, playing Jenga on the toilet lid, it will be game over forever! And you’ll be labelled the weirdo who plays boardgames alone on the toilet.
We all need to get away and reboot every now and then, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. So, if you ever feel like it’s all a bit too much, MAKE some time to try one of the 5 Devious ways to get Quality Dad Time. And if you are a Wife or Partner who has somehow circumvented the security protocols and read this, pretend you don’t know. Let him have a little QDT and I promise he’ll return the favour next time you say you have a “doctor’s appointment” or you’ve owned those shoes “for ages”.
Hey dads, just letting you know you’re not fooling anyone with that toilet charade. We know exactly what you’re doing in there. Lauren xx