No rest for the wee kid

This blog is called People and Politics. Today though it’s more about people – and one special thing I wanted to share with you, particularly those of you with young families.

Firstly, a big disclaimer: this centres on something my employer Zeno does, but forgive me that if you will. This is not an overt attempt at a plug, it’s an attempt to show the value that can come from PR agencies doing little things for their staff that can mean a lot.

Every year Zeno organises a Day of Play – on the first day of spring, everyone in every office around the world gets a day off to recharge. That’s a massive commitment, but one that pays big dividends with a strong culture and sense of unity.

The focus is really on rest. But for me, it wasn’t all rest. And there was no rest for the wee kid. Well, not much anyway.

I decided that the thing I really need to do today was recharge my relationship with my three-year-old son. Some context first: he has a mild form of autism, as a result of which he has only been attending school nursery in the afternoons. In the weekday mornings, he has mostly been looked after by childcarers or my wife while he waits to join nursery full-time after Easter. What he’d been lacking though was any time from me in those mornings, and I’d been feeling a little guilty for not being able to be there at a time in his life that will soon be behind him, and when all of his friends are at school.

So this morning, he got to tag along with me and do something special – a boat trip on the Thames, given he’s fascinated by boats yet had never done that before.

Of course, best laid plans were blown wide open when I had to go into our new office in Soho at 8.30am to manage a big delivery (everyone else being out Day of Playing). No matter, the wee kid jumped on the Tube with me, dodged the commuter throng and got down to some serious deskwork. Breakfast in front of a screen – welcome to the world of work.

Then it was down to Embankment Pier to board a boat – a wonderland for small boys, given the cars, trains, boats and planes all in one place.

I’d been a little unsure about how all this would go, but he didn’t stop beaming from ear to ear the whole time. Nor did I.

In fact, the only difficulty was getting him off to dry land after everything he’d been able to see along the riverbanks – and a moment when the captain decided to turn on the afterburners.

So there was little real rest for me, but it was a one-off experience that was enormously valuable amidst the normal hustle of agency life.

And there was definitely no rest for the wee kid.

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