(Today’s Author is Lou from MWM Kingsteignton)
It’s that amazing time of year again when the change of the seasons becomes very evident. We’ve experienced our first autumn storms which for me has finally drawn a line under summertime. I’m looking forward now to what the end of the year brings.
Only last weekend I could still convince myself that summer was holding on – Saturday brought perfect blue skies and rather warm sunshine, hot enough to happily sit outdoors and enjoy a leisurely lunch, I even put sun-cream on the back of my neck!
A ‘leisurely lunch’ I hear you say? Why, yes! Thanks to the wonder that is Dads Fest! My two treasures were away for the whole weekend camping with Daddy at this marvellous Dad-centric festival in Beeson, South Devon. Organised by the Dangerous Dads group, which has gone from strength to strength since its beginnings in 2007, Dads Fest is a yearly camping festival for Dads and their children. It’s the venue for the annual Dad Dancing Competition amongst many other wonderful out-doors activities. Set in a tranquil country coastal setting with all the basic facilities necessary and a fully catered ticket option to take the strain off catering for those appetites enhanced by all that fresh air! The Dads Fest weekend is a rare opportunity in the year for me to enjoy some quality away-time, being an adult without also being Mummy and I treasure it!
So, I waved goodbye to my little family late Friday afternoon, after assisting in the planning and car packing and was able to enjoy some peaceful Mum time – for the whole weekend, amazing! Solitude, when you are a Mum to two under six, is a very rare commodity and I was determined to made the most of it. I braved my local CrossFit class on Friday evening for a free taster session (honestly, I won’t say I enjoyed this, but I did feel the benefits afterwards), watched the first half of a super film and had an early night.
Saturday morning was dedicated to a meditation class and yoga session, followed by helping a good friend in her charity shop before enjoying that leisurely lunch I mentioned above. On my drive home I took a very pleasant detour on to Dartmoor and strode up to the top of Honeybag Tor from Bonehill Rocks, at adult pace, enjoying the view and the quiet, the feeling of space and ability to breathe and most special of all the ability to please myself without having to satisfy the whims of any small person in my vicinity! On Sunday I read my book. All day. And had a nap in the afternoon. Popped out for milk. That was it. Total bliss!!!!
A very tired, grubby but happy little family returned to me late Sunday afternoon, with a huge bag of washing (including three dirty sleeping-bags) and tales of adventure, of sea swimming (without any swim gear) of random eating and silly dancing and above all tons and tons of fun. This year there were no Dads sitting up late drinking beer and chatting until the wee small hours – they went to bed with the kids as they were worn out too!
My husband also had some interesting reflections from the weekend. He told me he’d made a concerted effort this year to talk to more Dads (ones he didn’t know already, he goes with a small group of Dad friends). In his opinion, Dads don’t share their experiences enough with each other and there is much to be learnt from honest reflections about life, when things are tough and also when things are good. That openness and willingness to engage can be really useful and is something that many Dads seemed to struggle with. I suppose this has much to do with opportunity. Most Dads return to work after their two-week paternity leave and it’s the Mummies at home doing the primary caregiving that get to network with other Mums, sharing experiences and struggles whilst entertaining their little ones. I know the Mums at my Music with Mummy sessions certainly do this, and I positively encourage it. I know I did a fair amount myself, and I apologise to Carol if she occasionally had to remind us we were there to sing with our children, not just chat with the other Mums!
So this is where an organisation like Dangerous Dads can play such an important role. Not only does it get involved in organizing regular activities for Dads and their little ones to get involved in together, it allows opportunities for Dads to socialise, and build friendships with other Dads and an environment where experiences can be shared and strength gained from that exchange.
Bravo Dads Fest! And three-cheers to Dangerous Dads! I’m already looking forward to next year!
Lou x x x