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So the said Phoenix has returned. A major digital detox was clearly in order, and thus I have spent the last 2 weeks ‘offline’ and more in the real world with my wife and boys.

I have to admit that I had my head down and was going a hundred miles an hour without realising it. The result was an interesting and one, that I must say, I hope others may learn from before you fall I to the well of spiralling darkness.

Was it depression?

In a broader sense it was, yet it was more like a dozen things that decided to simultaneously merge at that particular time. No one thing on its own was too much to handle and that was the way I was viewing it. Little did I realise that the bigger picture was in play and that I had my blinkers on. If it wasn’t for my support team at the Multiple Dads Sanctuary, I may just have kept on going the way I was until….well…..I’m not sure exactly where it would have ended up, but all I can imagine now is it wouldn’t have been a nice place to dwell.

This is the ‘honest side’ of parenting, I’m not proud of where I was or how it was affecting me, my wife and the boys. When I say ‘honest’ here, I mean in it in the sense that I had to be honest with myself. Honest enough to feel guilty that other things in the world had ‘almost’ become more important than my family. Maybe I was looking for a mini escape from the stresses of everyday parenting? Maybe I was being selfish? Mini midlife crisis? Whatever it was, it was changing me and not for the better.

So, I found the ‘Off Switch’ and used it….

Two weeks later, the boys are more settled again, the wife is glad the house is a bit cleaner and I am once again engaged with my family life and loving it more than ever.

Sorry if this post sounds a little depressing, but I feel it is important to share these things about parenting. As the title suggests…it is the flip side after all. For you to sit there and read these words means you have, in some form or another, worn my shoes for at least a day or so and maybe…just maybe….have a slightly better perspective on parenting as a whole. It’s not all rainbow and cupcakes, smiles and milestones. It takes it’s toll and we all react differently.

After all has been said and done, what I am truly hoping for? Hmmmm…it is actually quite simple.

I hope that you…yes YOU…. can occasionally step back and really have a look at yourself to gauge where you are at.

Why? Well in my case there is one wife, who is equally as exhausted and stressed, as well as two very young men that I want to role model for and if I was going to roll out the dark side of me in front of them, I may as well have given up on all the hard work we have already put into them. For me, that was not an option I would have neither wanted or would have been proud of.

Rather than sweep it under the carpet and be done with it, I really thought about my interactions with my family and went about making real and lasting changes. This means the work phone gets turned off on Friday night until Monday rolls around again. It also means spending more quality time with the boys, not just time for the sake of it, but time where not only what we do, but how we do it counts.

Here, this is what I mean…..

In the picture below, we normally rebuild the Alphabet mat twice a day as a part of ‘Dad Time’. Yesterday I modified this from being just rebuilding the mat to having fun with it as well. All we did was simply finish the mat, then go on to find objects around the house that could sit on the mat that matched the first letter of the object. The results were hilarious as the boys came along with one item after the other to the mat trying to work out if they already had an object on that letter. The big sighs when they did and the equally excited squeals of delight when they didn’t brought a whole new meaning to such a simple game.

The ‘partially’ completed mat. At this stage the boys were devouring the sultanas faster than I could put them on number 5. 😉 lol

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With life back mostly back on track, I will leave you with this final thought….

My world is currently filled with two mini miracles that I am not taking for granted. Every second I spend, with my wife and boys, is enriching my life beyond what money can’t buy and what being family is all about.
It’s not a happy ending, but a new page of an unwritten book. May the chapters be many, the book be written with a guiding hand, fond memories, the richness of laughter, collated with innumerable hugs and bound together with love that endures….

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