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My daughter is about to start her last year in primary school. As a confident 10 year old it is amazing to see how she has developed over the years.

From a baby who was totally dependant on parents for her survival to a young lady who is blossoming with a wonderful spirit and attitude to life. She attends a local private school which I scrimp and save for to give her the best start I could give her in her education. Soon she will be taking exams to see if she get’s into Grammar School or not.

She has just been made headgirl for her last year and this in itself makes me burst with pride over what my little girl has achieved.

As I have always said to her, it’s not about the winning, but it is about WANTING to win. “Go out and give it the best you can” I always say to her.

So last Friday, it was my turn to feel this approach. It was the School Sports day and that can only mean one thing… The PARENTS RACE.

I was sat down watching the kids go through their races, knowing all too soon I would have to make that choice, will I enter the race or sit quietly and watch others do it. I had entered the previous year and had suffered for days after as my legs wondered what the heck had hit them. It had been 24 years since I had sprinted 100 meters and my legs showed their disapproval by refusing to work properly for 4 days after.

Since leaving school (and my last sprint)  I have been a regular gym goer, done kickboxing, achieved blackbelt in Karate, but nothing could have prepared me for the pain of SPRINTING 100 metres.

SO here I am wondering, DO I ENTER this year.

The announcement comes over the tannoy, “WOULD ALL PARENTS WHO WISH TO RACE PLEASE MAKE THEIR WAY TO THE START LINE.” I glance up in the direction of my daughter who is shouting and waving frantically, “GO ON DAD, GO ON DAD” (repeat over and over).

Remembering what I said to her, (it’s not winning but it is WANTING to win) I make my way to the start line.

My pulse is beginning to quicken as I get nervous. The whistle goes, and we’re off. or should I say, all the other dad’s are off. I am running but with little speed from my youth remaining (and I’m sure all the other dad’s are at least 10 years younger than me :)).

I actually did better than I thought, and finished 5th after making up ground in the later stages. My daughter is happy I took part and did the best I could and I am happy as I realise that my legs still work.

Since the race (5 days ago) I spent 4 of those days in agony as my legs keep cramping up and wonder what the heck I am doing at my age.  But was it worth it? YES. Because I wanted to show my daughter how important it is to always do your best and have a go even if you know you can’t win.

Next year is my daughters last sports day in primary school. I have a choice now. Do I enter next years race and feel the pain after or feign injury and allow my legs to live in peace?  Actually I have chosen a 3rd option.

I am going to prepare next year by changing my gym workout and doing some short sharp sprint in advance to prepare my legs. That way I get to make my daughter proud of me whilst ensuring I don’t kick myself in the process (if my legs worked that is).

So keep making the right choices for yourself and those around you in your life and remember to prepare as best you can for whatever is coming your way.

Thanks for reading and please do visit my website www.darrentoms.com for more inspiring and thought provoking stuff

Published this earlier today and then saw this in the Daily Mail Website… http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1292609/Take-easy-sports-day-physiotherapists-warn-parents-half-reveal-theyve-treated-injured-mums-dads.html

In a recent survey it found that parents spend 49 minutes a day with their children. See BBC link here

This number dramatically reduces the moment you get divorced. As a dad I only see my daughter every other weekend (Fri to Monday morning) and every Wednesday evening – Thursday morning.

When I first got divorced it was a real challenge to NOT see my daughter everyday. But actually it was a real wake up call as when I was living wither her full-time I never really appreciated the relationship. I loved her but never focused on quality time. Since moving out and then becoming a step dad I now see real value in spending QUALITY time with her.

There are so many things that stop you spending time with your kids. As the article suggests, things like money & time really get in the way. But do they have to?

During the time you are not with your kids today, notice how much of that you COULD be with your kids? Cooking, cleaning, tidying, watching TV (could you watch their TV instead of yours), gardening, washing the car, shopping and so many more.

Of course all these tasks seem like chores to kids, so you have to give them tasks to carry out so they feel like THEY want to do them. But often they’ll do it if they know they’ll get to spend time with you. They’ll also be learning some of life’s essential skills, as well as not treating the home like a hotel. Just don’t start them off on a task and then walk away and leave them too it.

Yesterday my step son (10) spent 2 hours in the kitchen cooking dinner ala ‘come dine with me’ style. He cooked  mushroom & cheese starter, fish and potato fry and a chocolate pudding. All cooked from raw ingredients.

My wife was supervising from a distance and just about EVERY pot and pan was used in what resembled a science lesson as much as it was cooking. BUT and this is the important bit, he took great value in his work and had great pride too. We didn’t score it like they do in the TV prog but it was a massive effort which was duly rewarded.

You may have less time than ever to be there for your kids but if you don’t invest quality time with them NOW you’ll be investing quantity of time in them later when they fail to have the life skills and right attitude for success in today’s society.

Oh and as a footnote, my stepson not only cooked, he also washed up. It’s an important part of cooking even if it is a little less glamorous. Tonight it is the turn of my step daughter to cook. I may seek out the paper plates to cut down on the washing up 🙂

Come dine with me