That seemingly elusive work, family life balance is often difficult to strike.
And when you do finally snatch a pocket of time to spend with your little ones, their fluctuating behaviour or your failure to forget about work pressures, can mean it doesn’t always become that quality time you initially desired.
But in recent weeks little Betty and I have stumbled across an activity that has seen provided some much need and precious bonding time.
Our two-year-old appears to share my obsessive personality and for months she has been fascinated by horses. Betty is somewhat of a daredevil already - something she doesn’t get from me or her mum – and walking her play horse at home was no longer cutting it.
So when I was pointed in the direction of a stables in Lincoln, Calder Farm Stables to be exact, that offered short riding lessons for toddlers, I thought Betty and I would give it a crack.
Having recently turned two, you never quite know how it’s going to go. She may have thought nothing much of it, she may have hated it.
But make no mistake, it could not have gone any better – and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be in and around stables for the foreseeable future!
Betty was introduced to her horse, Star, and they promptly became the best of friends. She was then taught how to prepare her horse, rode for 15 minutes, and then walked her four-legged pal back to the stable. It is the perfect amount of time for a toddler with limited attention span and only costs £7.50.
But what has impressed me the most about the riding school has been the educational boost Betty has received. She has been four times now and it isn’t merely rising trots and riding crops. Jackie, the vastly experienced instructor, gets Betty to ride Star to random letters that are scattered around the edge of the ménage – often to spell out her name. Furthermore, she practices her counting and talking too while her proud daddy snaps away with his phone – a good arm’s length from the horse of course.
The toddler classes run on Mondays and Tuesdays and I can’t recommend them enough for parents who are looking for something to do with their younger children. If you have any annual leave left following the summer, get yourself booked in as soon as you can. There is nothing to stop you both taking lessons.
The experience has made Betty so very happy. Witnessing that smile when she catches first glimpse of “my Star” “big Frankie” or “naughty Jacob” is a special feeling and one I don’t get bored of. And if it teaches my daughter how to care for something, be responsible and gives her an early pre-school education too, all the better. Who knows, maybe daddy will be the next one in the saddle!
For further details, call the stables on 07989 116430.