Shepparton News

CELEBRATIN­G FATHERS

BACK TO BACKYARD BASICS FOR DADS

- By John Lewis

IT’S REALLY ABOUT THE SIMPLE THINGS. BEING TOGETHER, BEING CREATIVE AND HAVING FUN... — JASON PARKER

Jason Parker doesn’t need much for a Father’s Day present.

‘‘I just want to go for a walk and a bike ride — simple stuff, really,’’ Jason says.

The Goulburn-Murray Water project manager, his wife Emily and their three boys — aged from 9 to 13 — have been in isolation since Notre Dame College and Bourchier St Primary School were declared COVID exposure sites two weeks ago.

Jason has been working from home since the pandemic arrived in March last year.

So he is used to the routine of breakfasts, school runs and exercise with his three energetic boys.

But the past two weeks have been something else.

‘‘There’s probably been more screen time than we would have liked. YouTube and games have taken a hammering,’’ Jason says.

‘‘But it’s also been about keeping the boys inspired. We’ve been lighting the fire pit every day at 10 am to encourage the boys to get outside.’’

To make matters worse, a house renovation was started before lockdowns struck.

‘‘So our backyard has become a building site — it’s basically halved our play space,’’ Jason says.

Neverthele­ss, there has been an upside to the enforced isolation: plenty of dad time.

‘‘We’re playing a lot of board games. And the boys cook three times a week. They get to choose the menu and use their planning and sharing and cooking skills,’’ Jason says.

‘‘You do get to spend more time with them.

‘‘The challenge is trying to keep everyone happy. They’re all different. So each day we say ‘what can we do different today?’ But there has been cabin fever — no doubt about that.’’

There have also been Zoom fitness classes in which everyone joins in and classic movie nights.

‘‘We pick a film they’ve never seen before — something like the Indiana Jones movies from the 70s and 80s — sometimes they say it’s boring, but mostly they enjoy it,’’ Jason says.

‘‘Birthdays have provided extra family fun.

‘‘We’ve filmed little 30-second movies and put them on social media,’’ Jason says.

‘‘I get the guitar out and we sing Happy Birthday and blow the candles out. There was one accident when we got candle wax on our faces, but it added to the fun.’’

The whole family was due for testing yesterday, so all were hoping to be set free today.

For Jason, the past year, particular­ly the past two weeks, have highlighte­d the challenges and joys of fatherhood.

‘‘It’s really about the simple things. Being together, being creative and having fun and looking outside the normal,’’ he says.

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 ?? Picture: Rodney Braithwait­e ?? Dad time: Shepparton’s Jason Parker and his three sons Cole, 11, Eli, 13, and Mack, 9, have been getting creative with their time in lockdown and isolation.
Picture: Rodney Braithwait­e Dad time: Shepparton’s Jason Parker and his three sons Cole, 11, Eli, 13, and Mack, 9, have been getting creative with their time in lockdown and isolation.

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