This coming month I’ve found myself, rather surprisingly, with a few evening commitments in the calendar, a Saturday morning massage booked in (the first in over two years!) and a work trip to Germany coming up. I am usually present as much as I can be at home (basically all hours bar nine to five Monday to Friday). I work from home when I can and do the nursery drop off/pick up on the odd occasion too. So I feel being around for mornings, dinner time, bath time and weekends is really important. And I want to be around. I literally love nothing more than being around my son and my husband… as a family, just doing family stuff. (The 18 year old me winces at the thought of me ever saying that!)

So when the odd night out is arranged with friends or when a work event falls on a week night, I of course can’t wait and get excited, but then the dad guilt also sets in. To leave my husband with our son all day and all night genuinely makes me feel a bit bad. Why? I don’t know. I guess I know how  much hard work it can be. No… how much hard work it is!

“…we all know what they say, happy daddy = happy baby”.

I also miss not being with them. We’re two years into life as a family since we adopted our little boy at 14 months old. It was an incredible journey and I am not ashamed to say I am a pretty sensitive father. I used to be a real non-crier and hold all of my emotions in… now I cry when someone leaves EastEnders in the back of a black cab. It’s getting ridiculous. But the guilt from still trying to have a life and do what makes you happy definitely changes things. But we all know what they say, happy daddy = happy baby.

We have got in to SUCH a routine over the last two years and this was always going to happen. I am secretly really comfortable in a routine. There’s no surprises, we know what happens and we know what responsibilities we both have to make sure this magical machine of parenthood runs as smoothly as possible all the way up until bedtime. But taking time out for yourself as a parent is more important than ever. We become dads (and mums!) and it definitely takes over everything. Willingly so, but it is still all consuming and you can quite easily forget who you are and what you did before. I haven’t really spent out on myself in the two years since we became dads. Obviously financially things change but that’s not really the reason, I just know shopping with a toddler is never fun for any of us and I’d rather spend quality time with the family outdoors as often as I can making sure my son is entertained.

When it comes to us as parents though, we should definitely take the time out to do the things that make us happy… that allow us to remind ourselves of who we are… what we did before we were labelled as mums and dads. It could be a simple spa day/evening. Or a trip to the cinema followed by dinner or a drink. Maybe a daytime trip to London to immerse yourself in a little culture at a museum or gallery. Things you simply cannot do with your toddler. Maybe you could with a baby in a sling or pushchair… but my three year old needs to be free. Running around. Touching and investigating everything… so currently those things are restricted to adult time (if and when we get it). I am writing this at the end of March and we realised the other day the last time we had a ‘date night’ was in December to finish our Christmas shopping without child. Followed by a quick food shop at Sainsbury’s before popping into Ikea for meatballs. THAT’S NOT A DATE!! We are terrible. It is not good enough. We have lovely family who are always available to baby sit, and we simply don’t take up the offer often enough.

It’s really important, if you are a couple, to have that time together. And not to feel guilty about it. I won’t lie… I miss the days when we’d randomly decide to head into town at 7pm on a Tuesday for a Chinese. But we’re at a different place in life now… those times will come again once our boy is big and flown the nest.

So what do we do now? I think we need to really step up and make the time for ourselves and each other. Our son gets all of our time. I am sure a little percentage can be chipped off for myself to have a massage this month… and another little percentage to have a night out. I want a really big, dirty burger, and chips, and coke… followed by a Ben & Jerry’s at the cinema and to watch a really geeky sci-fi movie instead of Teletubbies and Bing.

That’s it. Pass me the diary…

Tom is an adoptive dad. A gay dad. But also just a dad? He is immensely proud of the journey he went on to become a parent and loves to share his experiences of toddler life on his popular blog ‘The Unlikely Dad‘. For Tom being a dad is the best role he’s ever had. In his other role he’s a digital brand manager and lover of Instagram.

Follow Tom on Twitter @unlikelydad and Instagram @thommcox