New Adventures

This week started with a new adventure for me, something I have wanted to do for a while.  It may not have been presented to me in the format I was expecting, however, I trusted my instincts and went with it.  You are probably thinking “What is he on about?”  I’m afraid I can’t say any more on this at the moment, but you will be the first to know as I have been supported and inspired by so many of you.

One new adventure I can tell you about is my up and coming shared paternity leave, the forms have now been submitted!  I am looking at having anything between 2-3 months starting from April.  We have spoken to quite a few couples that have done this and they have all said its the best thing they ever did!  Of course, I know it will be a challenge, NK has already started preparing me with “What if” scenarios and as we know there will plenty of those with 3 kids to manage.  I am expecting the time to fly by as anyone who does a school drop off and pick up will know there are very few hours in between, which normally zoom by!  I will plan to make the most of the time that I do have and I am really looking forward to the challenge of being a full-time dad.  The options were not here four yrs ago when GK was born, more and more are taking the opportunity now, so why not??

This week also included attending a men’s only event hosted by Taraki

As a team, they are passionate about getting Punjabi/Sikh men to open up about anything ranging from everyday issues to mental health illnesses.  We all know that as a community we have been pretty bad at this over the years. Putting that to one side I am noticing a change that goes hand in hand with the rise of public awareness around mental health.  It was a really positive evening and I am sure we will see more of these pop up all over the country.  These guys are doing amazing work, I am honoured to be a part of this and urge you all to support them in any way that you can.

We all have a guvnor in our house, but now she officially has the title of school governor, yes NK has been successfully voted in as the new parent governor in the kid’s school.  I always knew she would get it, however, she was playing it down (I bet she hasn’t even told any of you yet?) well you all know now!  I am so proud of her and know she will be great, she has invested so much time in building a relationship with the school over the years that she deserves this opportunity, I know she will enjoy all the meetings as well!

Finally, those that would have seen my IG story from the other day will know about our boiler.  Our Sikh dad came to the rescue in the early hours of the morning It was my turn to ask dad “why do boilers always fail in the winter when you need them the most?” Dad replied “That is because in the winter they do the most work” I was reassured but cold, I thought about all those who literally sleep out in the cold night after night, it certainly makes you feel grateful for the things you normally take for granted.  Normal order has now been restored but its a hard financial hit during maternity leave, but o well, we all know things could be much worse!

I don’t have the time

Yes, that’s the title, as I am one of those guys that say it all the time!  In saying it, you begin to believe it and it becomes your mind-set, the comfortable excuse you tell yourself, “It’s ok you don’t have time for that”.  I am now trying to change that, it’s not easy and I don’t expect overnight results, I have to be realistic, take small steps and judge each scenario individually in order to make sure I make the right decision and not just fall back into that auto pilot excuse.

In changing that I am typing this blog piece out, something I wanted to do last year but kept putting off!  The time has not magically appeared (like I had previously hoped) I have had to make it and I intend to keep on doing that, making sacrifices for the things I want to achieve is definitely on my priority list.  So what’s been happening?  Well a lot as always, that is the reality with three children all at different stages of life.

Munsimar Kaur (MK) has started this year knowing she will be taking her 11 plus, she goes to tuition once a week, at the moment we are considering to up that to twice a week as well as studying at home.  She definitely is enjoying it but we always feel she has that little bit more and we don’t want her to have regrets, there comes that moment as a parent where you want to push them but need to strike the balance to make sure their well-being is the priority.  I will keep you posted on our progress, as this is new to us, those with more experience please do get in contact, support is always welcome.

Gurleen Kaur (GK) had a great week in reception and the highlight was being chosen as “star of the day”.  They find out in advance so she knew she would be the star for the following day, she was so excited.  We had a chat over dinner and she explained how it all happened.  She said, “Daddy I said in my mind that I was going to be the star of the day, then miss chose me”.  It was absolute magic listening to her, I told her it was because she believed in herself and wanted it to happen so much that it had to happen!  The next challenge she has set herself is to write her name fully without any mistakes, once she does that we get to take the class teddy called Cherry home for the weekend, that will be a lot of fun and I am so proud of her enthusiasm, she has progressed so much lately and we will keep on encouraging her.

Gobind Singh (GS) believe it or not is now seven months old, where the time has gone I don’t know!  He also has a tooth growing, very small at the moment but very sharp and jagged as his mum will tell you!  He is really enjoying his food at the moment, when I say that I mean all the sweet things of Ella’s kitchen range, other things are at the moment somewhat challenging, but we will keep trying!

In the world of Sikh Dads, we now have our first Whatsapp group, I was approached by a couple of dads a few months ago with the idea, I like most thought not another WhatsApp group!  However as the dads wanted it I was willing to give it a go,  I then thought as there was a need,  it was up to all of us to make it a purposeful group, I, therefore, invited all that I knew and had a great response.  I wasn’t in the best position to set it up straight away so thanks to all for being patient with me, I thought it was best to begin in the new year.  It is now one week old and we have over a 100 members worldwide, from Canada, India, USA, UK, Norway, Malaysia, Kenya (I hope I have named all the representations).  The chat is busy and has been very insightful, it’s amazing to see how many different skills and experiences we have collectively; I am passionate about connecting Sikh Dads from around the world who I will continue to serve, if you are a Sikh and passionate about parenting then do get in touch for the joining details, in the meantime keep up the good work dads you have been amazing so far!

Khalsa Family Retreat 2018

I had not been to a Sikh camp for over six years, so to say I was looking forward to the Khalsa Family retreat was an understatement! It was held during the Xmas holidays, beginning on Thu 27th Dec and running until Sun 30th Dec and our first ever camp together as a family. The campsite was in Yarnfield, which is a village in Staffordshire, with stops and all it took us about four hours from London. Upon arriving, we received our room keys and transferred our luggage in time for the introduction speeches.

Looking around at the time it was great to see some familiar faces but also plenty of new faces; I was keen to make new friends as those that I was familiar with were already my friends. After the entertaining intro speech, we had a tour of the site and all of the facilities available to us. The breakfast and lunch area was all very open and spacious, with our accommodation only a short walk away. Once completed we were ready to go into the Darbar (court) where we would meet Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji (living Guru of the Sikhs), and the retreat would officially begin! I had spoken to the kids before arriving about the most important part of the camp, that was the Sangat (company) of Guru ji, being in their presence for a few days non-stop is an amazing experience full of positive energy and blessings that I wanted us to take full advantage of.

That positive energy that I was referring to was most definitely felt during the evening programme that night; the kids were given full reign with adult supervision to run the show, at times it was raw, pure and full of innocence. Fellow parents were looking at each other with smiles on their faces as they were experiencing something special, it was amazing to see the confidence of the young kids, they were trying new things, some were naturally making small mistakes but were not phased and carried on trying. After Langar (food) was served there was time for a small family activity before lights out, each family sat on their own table and asked each other set questions, it turned out to be vital for us as MK (our eldest daughter) was able to open up about some of her feelings.

Like any other camp, the morning was dedicated to Vaheguru meditation and the Prakash (installation) of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, there was also a compulsory kid’s meditation that took place between 7 am, and 8 am. After breakfast it was time for the workshops to begin, this was the first time that there were no lectures, just workshops. Our group attended the following workshops throughout the retreat: The power of Gurbani, Spiritual Health Parenting in the 21st Century, The Gift of Love, Family routine and Teamwork makes Dreamwork. The group’s numbers were designed to be small and personal, and I feel like we went on a journey with our group, from the first workshop we were all open with each other, we shared experiences, highs and lows, by the end of it all we had all become pretty close. In my opinion, the workshop system worked as it created such an open and relaxed environment where we all became familiar with each other, the formal lecture would not have had the same effect. While parents were busy in the workshops, their kids were being looked after in the crèche along with various other group splits leading all the way up to teenage years.

For us, it was nice to be able to focus and contribute as much as possible knowing that our children were safe and also learning. We would meet them after our sessions, and they would be so excited, bubbling with things to tell us. They learnt about the Chaar Sahibzahdey (4 Sons of the 10th Guru), Sikh virtues and built lego using the darbar sahib and Akaal Takht kits. They also rehearsed a play that was a total surprise to us, considering such little preparation time, the kids performed on the last day in front of us parents. The performance was based on the battle that Sikhs faced in India when the Mughals were in power. It was narrated so well, and with all ages from teenage to toddler level participating, at a time when most of our children are performing in their school nativity plays, it was nice for them to get this unique opportunity to perform in one based on Sikh history.

Activities included the traditional bouncy castle; a great gatka demo and a fantastic animal show that I managed to go live on Instagram with! There was also some time to refresh and relax, generally catch up with people, that you usually only get to say hi and bye too. The organisers arranged a family photo shoot which was indeed well received; I have put up a separate post on my IG relating to this experience.

Before attending the retreat, I had thought four days was a long time, but it went so fast, I am sure I am not the only one that felt that the old saying time flies when you’re having fun comes to mind. The kids loved it and didn’t want to leave! One common thing I have been asked by people who have not attended these kinds of events before is “Would I fit in?”. I got the feeling from those people that they did really want to come but something was holding them back, the fear of the unknown. The reality is there are no unknown concerns these days as I pretty much filmed the whole thing on my IG story so all could see what was going on (still available as a highlight on my IG profile page). Everyone is there for the same reason, the benefit of their family, that’s why they have taken the time out to attend. We are all on a journey, some are at different stages but what was clear to me was, if you are looking to improve and to be inspired you will find that company you are searching for in the Guru and the Sangat.

Lastly, I would like to thank the whole team at Khalsa Foundation, as parents we know how difficult it is to manage our own children let alone children from multiple families, I think there were approximately 270 campers who attended. We all felt comfortable and relaxed in knowing our families were well looked after! Here is a link to the official photos:
I hope to see you all there next year!