Coping without mommy – A dads insight to taking over the kids and home
My husband is fairly hands-on, and does help around the home plus he is involved with it Ebi-kuns out-of-school activities, but unless you step into the shoes of somebody else sees role, you never really appreciate how much work the other person does. . What made it easier for me was face-timing the family every morning and evening, even if it was only a five-minute chat, checking in on them and making sure they were okay made a big difference.
So this is what happened for us, each city is different so they may have different rules and services but the first step is contacting city hall.
Right, over to the hub…
Once we have made the decision that I should fly back to the UK, what was the first thing you need to do?
First I made a Call to City Hall to the kids care department. ( 児童福祉課 )
I needed an application form to apply for the after-school class jido club (児童クラブ ) I downloaded the form from the Internet but had to fill in the form at the City Hall.
We were accepted because it was an emergency situation. The guy at the kids care department was really helpful and could tell me what I needed and what I had to do. Another option would have been the silver service, where a retired man or woman would have come to the house and been at home for when Ebi-Kun got home from school.
Usually the jido club takes a few days to enter, the guy at the town hall called the jido club and arranged the interview for that day so that Ebi-kun could join the next day. After school that day ebi-Kun and I went to the jido club for the interview.
The interview is to check whether ebi-Kun has any allergies or anything like that, the rules of the jido club, what to do and which rooms to use etc.
Jido club is actually in the school grounds so the kids make their own way there, many of ebi-kuns friends in his class also go to jido club so he wasn’t alone.
Were there any costs involved?
Jido club costs ¥7000 per month, we haven’t had the bill yet so we’re not sure how much we have been charged for it, plus there is a snack fee of ¥1500 for the month. The snacks by all accounts didn’t sound too healthy, the usual mix of sweets and senbei.
The rule is that the kids need to be picked up by 6:30 PM but there is actually somebody at the club until 7 PM, if the parent picking the child is going to be late, then they must call the jido club to tell them.
I work quite far from home so I needed to finish work one hour early every day so that I could get back in time to pick Ebi-Kun up from jido club.
What happens at the jido club?
At the jido club, the kids wait until all their classmates have arrived and then have to do their homework, once they have finished their homework, if it’s not raining they can go and play outside in the school yard. If it’s raining then they play inside or read a book. The club is well equipped with lots of board games, air hockey, a craft area so the children can do their own crafts and plenty of books.
Ebi-Kun quite enjoyed to going to jido club because he got to play with friends that normally he doesn’t play with outside of school. On the other hand he missed playing with his friends in the neighbourhood that he plays with during the week.
He didn’t end up going to bed a bit later than he usually does so by the end of the week he was really tired.
What was the most difficult thing over the two weeks?
The most difficult thing was concentrating on my work because I was always thinking about what to prepare for dinner and what we will have for breakfast, what I need to do for my son, what about the laundry etc. etc. My mind was constantly thinking about the home, so concentrating on work was difficult.
Do you have any tips for our readers if they get stuck in the same sort of situation?
It was really important to prepare my schedule so I knew exactly what to buy and what I was doing on each day. Writing it down in my diary helped me keep on top of everything. One thing that helped a great deal was to plan dinner ahead of time, if I hadn’t planned to do this then we would end up eating crap or convenience food every day.
Jo made me a meal plan for the first few days and we had all the food in that we needed. But for the second week I had to make my own plan, and do the shopping, we had a lot of the same meals for two consecutive days, just because it was easy. It was important to prepare meals that are quick, healthy and easy because I didn’t have much time to cook the meal when I got in from work.
Part of the difficulty was adjusting to the new routine, even though I woke up earlier than normal it was still hard to get everything done in the morning before we needed to leave for school or work. I felt like I never had time to sit and enjoy my coffee. Luckily Ebi-Kun and I leave at the same time in the morning, so that wasn’t a problem.
I also had to quit some of my perfectionist tendencies because I needed to get the job done and finished quickly, that in itself was quite a good thing, not everything needs to be perfect.
A couple of nights Ebi-Kun prepared the dinner (with my help), that was really nice and it was a good time for us to bond, spending quality time together. So over the two weeks I got to spend a lot more time with my son then I usually do, so that was the silver lining.
Was there anything that made life easier for you?
One thing that helped put my mind at rest and to make me feel at ease was the fact that our neighbour, whose grandson goes to the same jido club, offered to pick up Ebi-Kun if needed. I was worried that if the train was delayed or there was a problem at work I wouldn’t be able to get back in time to pick Ebi-Kun from the jido club. Having a support network like that in place made a huge difference. I was very grateful for the offer even though I didn’t need to take her up on it.
It was only two weeks that Jo was away, but by the time she got back I felt exhausted. It was a very hard job, doing everything as a single parent. I wonder how Jo’s mum coped when she was a single mother with three kids not just one, she’s a strong person, I think all single parents must be.
Thank you Hubster, you are a rock star dad!
When I arrived back in the house was still in one piece and the boys hadn’t wasted away so all was good. I didn’t expect my husband to do everything but if this had become a permanent situation he would have had to learn how to fit cleaning routines into the day as well.
Although this wasn’t the best circumstance to try it out I think it was a good experience for all of us, now I have the confidence to leave my husband in charge and I know he will cope and it has given me the confidence to be able to leave the home for a few days!
Life as an ex-pat can be great, but it’s also very difficult when you don’t have the support network around you, making decisions like hopping on a plane to the other side of the world is not something done lightly and I was grateful for all the messages and emails that I received from friends, family and readers, your words of support and offers of help much appreciated.