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First Second Pregnancy

At risk of taking on the mother mafia or mumsnet (which ever is the most powerful right now) I have decided to write about why I think the 3rd trimester of a second pregnancy is bloody hard for dads!

 I can hear the gasps… who the hell does he think is? Ooh small violin for you! Try making and carrying a small human for 9 months, not to mention the lack of sleep, the sickness, tiredness, overheating, ligament pain and so on. 

Not a competition. Just saying it how it is. 

Hand on heart; during our first pregnancy I didn’t have to do a lot (apart from the initial fun bit) beside the odd foot rub and the dash round to the supermarket for craving food, outside of what was ‘expected’ my role consisted of sitting and waiting. All the hard work came from my pregnant wife. 

 This time round we have a toddler, a new(ish) house and know what to expect when baby comes. 

 First pregnancy when my wife’s body told her she needed a cuppa and a box set so it was so, when that turned into a nap, that was fine. First pregnancy everything was, errr how to put this? Everything was non baby affected. Ligaments and muscles more taught and happy to oblige in holding up the bump. Going on maternity leave meant no work, just rest, the odd meet up with the antenatal girls eating cake etc, preparing for the marathon (and then some) of the last few weeks and labour! 

 This time round, teamwork is the order of the day. 

 And this part explains the bags under my eyes. Again I stress I am not asking for any sympathy from anyone, but just a shout out to the dads during their first second pregnancy – if that makes any sense?

I. Am. Tired.  cat

Trying to find a work:life balance that pleases everyone is hard during the 3rd trimester of the second pregnancy. Let me state now there is no pressure from either my wife nor my employer. However, I can see how tired my wife is. I know she has it tough carrying a child and caring for a child. So where best I can I try and take over the manual labour. Picking the toddler up, putting her in and getting her out of bed. Chasing her when the inevitable battle of getting dressed/undressed, being bad cop and using negotiation techniques to coerce her into doing one or the other. Mentally & physically draining.  

 Recently I have taken some mornings or afternoons off to help with the toddler wrangling. If I can tire her out in the am then when I am at work the hope is that she will be slightly more chilled for my wife come the afternoon. We’ve recently cut nap time down to an hour (we fear it is on the wane) so that arvo of chilled play time is key for mumma. Then I go to work, as a playworker I then do what I did in the morning but for 30+ kids… none of them mine. Playwork IS hard work, trust me on that. 

 Once home from work it is straight into the bath time and then bedtime routine with a book for the youngling. I look forward to reading the book as a) she doesn’t mock me for my accents of the different characters and I get to amdram it up b) I get to sit down. 

 Weekends are generally chasing after the toddler, see above for tiring her out,

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Park life

but also I find myself picking up all her crap up so my wife doesn’t trip on it: 

toy cars + pregnant belly + can’t see her feet = recipe for disaster. 

 I’m also picking up the stuff my wife drops: 

clumsy wife x pregnancy clumsiness = bits and bobs all over the gaff. 

 Dad pregnancy bad back exists people. It. Exists! dynamite

 Now we are fast approaching b-day and I don’t remember being this stressed the first time round? Different time of year I guess, less busy, also less to think about. Work wise I have been trying to cater for every eventuality operationally. If I’m here on this play space and Karen calls how do I get back to her in the quickest time!!? Who can cover my shift if I have to let them know last minute that I’m not coming in? Who can do what during my paternity leave, whenever that may be!? Seriously I need one of those super computers to run every variable to come up with multiple plans, I suspect even Hal

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I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

9000’s circuit boards would fry trying to estimate the date, time, whereabouts of every party involved and what actions to take. 

 I stress again. No one has asked me to do this. My wife is not cracking a whip, in fact she still does too much, but being pregnant with a toddler is like juggling with fire near a petrol station. Put one thing down and who knows what will happen!!? Potentially nothing. Perhaps A LOT. 

 At work; none of my colleagues have asked me to tinker with the rota as much as I have, they’d probably appreciate me stopping the stream of emails with changes and ‘what if’s’. They are adults with problem solving skills in the higher echelons of amazing, but I feel a duty, as the one leaving at the drop of a hat (aka dilation of a cervix) to give them every bit of help I can before this happens. 

 Another variable of the arrival of bubs2 is on the location of family members to take over care for bubs1. Who is where, when? If this happens then call this person? Do they come to us or us to them? 

 The in-laws have been amazing at taking on the role of chief toddler tirerers when I am at work unable to take mornings off. It is a real team effort this time round. 

 I’m not a control freak by any stretch, and usually I am pretty laid back about things. But knowing what is coming, could come quickly (having had a good friend deliver his 2nd baby in their front room) in the words of Aerosmith “I don’t wanna miss a thing” hence the work and the toddler care stress. 

 Baby number 2 is due any day now. I’m thinking it may get easier once s/he is here. 

Has anyone ever said things become easier with a new born!? 

“That’s great kid, don’t get cocky!”

So since my ‘flashblog’ on International Day of the Girl  I have been thinking of stories, reviews and little tit bits of information that may help other parents or at least make others think “oh good, it’s not just me that does that” to get the blog writing going again.

I am a big believer in the phrase/campaign “Dads don’t babysit, it’s called parenting!” Which took off when Al Ferguson of The Dad Network  posted a pic of himself wearing a t-shirt with the slogan on it. We’ve come a long way since the cave dwelling man be hunter gatherer, lady bear child and make home days (although comments from potential world leaders and his supporters would suggest some people still call the cave of sexism home). My dad did very little parenting so I have very little reference to go by when it comes to being a dad. I am flying by the seat of my pants with no ‘role model’ per se and making it up as I go along (like most first time parents I guess?).

When I had the chance to have a whole weekend with the mini human for the first time it was daunting for sure, but I was also full of ideas of how we could spend our time together, how I could be a parent NOT a babysitter. During my wife Karen’s maternity leave I was jealous of the coffee and cake dates, visits to play areas, swimming lessons and a host of other exciting things she would do with baby Bea. I am now acutely aware this time wasn’t all fun and giggles and the dirty nappies, sick, crying, all round tiredness, very little adult conversation etc was the buzzkill of this time.

So, a whole weekend, let’s make the most of our time together little one. Now this first solo parenting weekend was a while ago but I do recall deciding against the ‘substitute childcare’ of a Disney DVD and visiting a cafe for coffee and cake. This trip led to Bea being the centre of attention, she would wave at waitresses as they past us and she had a little milky moustache from her babycino which led to a number of laughs and plenty of cooing from all that witnessed her milky Poirot tash. The engagement with the waiting staff ultimately ended up in a free chocolate lolly for me, er I mean Bea (Don’t judge me, she was too small then to REALLY appreciate chocolate anyway)

We visited the local park, we watched a film together (ok so I gave in to Disney Daycare, she lasted 30 minutes before wanting to climb the bookcase), we did some arts and crafts, we even me PETER RABBIT!!! I loved it, she loved it.

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A pretty chuffed mini person meeting Big Pete!

Post bath time I was getting her ready for bed, we watched that insane programme In The Night Garden and as I reflected on our day I text Karen to say what a lovely day it had been and how well behaved Bea was.

Oh what a rookie mistake that was, I jinxed my evening with one simple (probably slightly cocky “this parenting lark is easy peasy lemon squeezey “) text.  It is not easy it is “difficult difficult lemony difficult” – we had full on baby rage 4 minutes after I put her to bed, standing up, throwing toys literally out of the cot, hitting the bars on the cot so much so that the house sounded like it was collapsing around us. On the 5th time of going upstairs to comfort her I was close to breaking point. I tried everything I had, new nappy, more milk, different bed covers. Placing her back down into the cot I had everything crossed (metaphorically and literally… They don’t tell you in ante natal class that going to the toilet is no longer a free choice when you have a kid, it is all about timing and distraction techniques) her head rested on the pillow, I crept out of the room and paused by the door…

What happened next is something that I have never done since and will never do again.

Our baby monitor has an intercom setting which we had never used before, as well as a camera that lets us check on little one whenever we feel the need (in those first few months this checking was almost every 30 seconds). Seconds passed and I could see she was standing again, screaming again, red and blotchy with rage face again. So pressing the intercom button, which gave me a live feed to her room I clearly and concisely said “Beatrix. Go. To. Sleep. Plllllease!”

Now imagine you’re in your bedroom, your place of sanctuary from the craziness of the world outside, you have just closed your book, or put down your phone ready to nod off and a voice, an omnipresent voice calls out to you. I know I would shit myself… Well yeah, turns out that a baby with no concept of intercoms, or what daddy’s voice will sound like coming from that blue light in the corner of the room will shit herself too. Not before a pause, one where she looked truly panicked, and me seeing this grief stricken face quick as a flash thinking “Oh bollocks! Now you’ve done it.”

I think I managed to have my wee and eat some food around 10.30pm having got in from a drive which was my last resort in getting the mini human to sleep, she nodded off about 5 minutes into this MUST GET BABY TO SLEEP mission (typical). I sent a text to my wife to explain the debacle and I nodded off ready for day two with slightly less enthusiasm to day one.

 

Flash forward many months and I am on a best friends hen do (gender equality runs deep with me and my friends), surrounded by good friends and new acquaintances we are chatting about pregnancy, babies and parenthood in general. A couple of the mums there had left their husbands in charge for the weekend like I was for ‘Intercom Night’. They were discussing how their husbands were “cheating” by helping each other out, arranging to have dinner together with the mini humans.

It was then I had a question pop into my head, one that if I asked I would be crossing a line, one that I may not be able to return from… One that could lead to an insight so shocking that it could turn day into night, dogs and cats would hug not fight, people would put cheese on their spuds before the beans. The response could be shocking!

I plucked up the courage, for all the dads out there I grasped this chance to ask the mums who were all sat around me “So when you leave the babies with us [Dads and partners], do you actually hope we fail a bit at parenting, do you hope we have a terrible time when you’re not around?”

BOOM!!! A deafening silence fell across the group… I feared I had pushed things too far, I’d taken advantage of my position at this time within the inner sanctum of motherhood. Then the reply, a reply that makes total sense, a reply that links both the special times and those buzzkill moments of parenthood.

“It’s not that we WANT you to fail, we just want you to have the tantrums, the food throwing, the leaky nappies that you sometimes miss out on. It is not all cake, coffee and play dates.” 

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Carnage… Toddler style carnage.

So there we have it, not that groundbreaking at all. Whether we are the stay at home mum/dad, the one juggling work and childcare, the one that feels like you are missing the good times, parenting takes on many different guises at many different times and you have to try and share the great with the gruesome. That is parenting for me and is what separates us from the babysitters, and the cavemen.

 

International Day of the Girl

Writing (and cut & pasting) a quick blog all thanks to a fellow Instagram Dad (Greg aka @London_Dad). A couple of weeks ago Greg posted a cryptic note about how in conjunction with UNICEF he was going to be posting, discussing, campaigning for the International Day of the Girl.

As a proud father to a little girl, and as a playworker that visits many communities across Gloucestershire where girls don’t feel empowered enough to join in games or activities, where girls are suffering more than boys (or at least showcasing more signs) from the mental health impacts of stress at school, society views, shit going on at home and everything and anything in between, I was keen to know more.

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Girl Power RRROOOOOOAAAAARRR

Yesterday Greg sent through the information below. More will be coming from me today in support of this campaign. My Mum dragged me up, with help from family and friends, but crucially my father didn’t want to stick around (his loss). So from a very early age I realised that women & girls have an equal footing in any walk of life. My sister played rugby for boys teams (there were no girls teams in our county at that stage), my grandmother was the ‘boss’ of the family (we weren’t the Mafia or anything, far from it, it was just the fact she was an ex matron so knew how to control a rowdy bunch of grandkids).

Since mum died, and I have had my own little bundle of joy (read; a vomiting, pooing, sleepless nights providing, food throwing, laughing, farting, running, jumping, using head as a brake bundle of joy) it has dawned on me how bloody hard mum worked on her own bringing me and my sister up. Hard because she faced a lot of stigma being a single Mum, stigma I haven’t seen or heard towards single Dads. Hard because she had to make a choice, career or kids.

I became a rugby coach for my local girls team after returning from my travels (PS in New Zealand women are part of the teams that dig the holes in the street, making sure houses have heating, water on tap, infrastructure is provided for all… bravo Kiwis) – it wasn’t long after my first season with the girls that i was in one of the local bars and a guy I played rugby with as a lad, a guy who was (at the time) playing for the first team, came up to me and told me I was

“… a disgrace to our club, why are you coaching girls? Is it because you can’t coach a proper team, a boys team?”

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Our team

This was not too long ago, this is why I am posting Greg’s message today about the International Day of the Girl. We shouldn’t need to do it, as a father I shouldn’t be concerned about when my little girl grows up and has to deal with awful predators like Tangerine Trump, shouldn’t have to deal with inequality in the work place, shouldn’t have to deal with drunk idiots who believe girls can’t compete… and all the other BS that seems to still be in place in the 21st Century!

Greg’s bit…

Around the world, girls between 5 and 14 years old spend 40 per cent more time, or 160 million more hours a day, on unpaid household chores and collecting water and firewood compared to boys their age.

What can we do? As parents sure we can send money to another text appeal or do a spot of fundraising but what we really need to do is help. Weather it’s fgm, getting girls educated, stopping child labour or just a one size fits all equality of the sexes, we have a platform and can use it for the power of good. You might have 50 followers or 50k followers, tweet snap or gram, none of that matters, the only thing that matters is that we unite as parents and spread the word.

Sure you might be a father to daughters or a mother to sons but none of us would want our children to be disadvantaged because of their sex. Our girls still have a way to go before they are on a level footing but girls around the world are a long way behind. The real focus of this years international day of the girl aside from celebrating what it is to be a girl, is to actually gather data to see how disadvantaged girls really are. Currently there are huge data gaps that exist in knowing how many girls are without education etc so how can a charity like unicef help or fundraise without knowing what it is they are up against?

Isn’t it time you did something about it?

Doing something about it could be sharing this blurb to educate more people about the cause, it could be making a donation, sponsoring a girl or actually giving your time. Whichever way you choose, choose one. We wouldn’t want our children to be discriminated against and if you only have boys then it’s just a chromosome that separates them and the girls who suffer so much.

If you think you don’t have enough money to donate or sponsor a girl,? of course you do. #liberatewithlattes why not make your morning coffee at home once a week and donate £130 quid a year, give it weekly, monthly or yearly…. whatever just give it.

And I know that we all have a cause close to our hearts, we donate to GOSH but we are parents lucky enough to be able to live where we do and provide for our children, educate and feed them. This is a cause that you can make a change to right now.

If you really can’t do any of the above then the one thing you can do is share, share on instagram, twitter, facebook, on your blog or tumblr and even talk to your friends about it, yep in real life, person to person. The more people who are aware of the issues faced by girls and the charities trying to help them, the more girls will benefit in the future.

#Internationaldayofthegirl
#idotg
#parents4idotg

 

Kids in suits…

So this blog is a knee jerk reaction to something I saw this afternoon…

Before I start please let me point out I have no political allegiance to those in red, blue, yellow, green, purple or any other colour to be honest, even less so after today.

I work with kids, and have a kid, and as adults we hold a very important position as we help set the moral compass of those around us. So what happens when those that lead our country, the ones that make life changing decisions on our behalf act in a way that is neither appropriate or, frankly very nice?

Ignoring, for a moment the expenses scandal and all the sleaze – today’s Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) has kinda got me pissed.

“With great power comes great responsibility” the immortal words of Uncle Ben, not the rice guy, but the uncle of Peter Parker aka Spider-Man.

David Cameron could have used this advice today. The Prime Minister of Great Britain today during PMQs used the way Jeremy Corbyn was dressed as a way to gather cheers and jeers from his mates in the house of commons – much like a playground bully would to get high fives from his mates. Kids in suits the lot of them!

It is hard being a kid. Any idiosyncrasies (fashion or personality wise) are pounced on and are either embraced or picked apart by peers – jeez I remember friends at school that had to have a carrier bag from a clothes shop rather than a supermarket for fear of rejection. I work with loads of kids who put up a front because this is what is expected of them because of where they live or their group of friends.When these walls are dropped their creativity, their empathy , their personality comes to the fore. So when the Leader of our country uses a persons non-conforming appearance as a tool to belittle what hope do we have at promoting the confidence to ‘be yourself’ among our children?

The argument could be made that kids wont see the immature behaviour of our PM and it will make no difference to their day to day. I disagree, already at least three times it has appeared on my social media timeline from various different outlets, My wife caught a train home from London today and had GCSE students in the seats next to her discussing it – and LAUGHING about the comments made!

They were laughing, and this is the issue. When those in seats of power are dishing out the mum jokes and acting like HEAT magazines circle of shame during what should be a debate over our NHS we are witnessing point scoring and bullying at a level that will undoubtedly have an impact on the UK’s moral compass.

Politicians have done worse than Mr Cameron did today – WAAAAAAY worse in fact. But please Mr Cameron (and your commons colleagues) please heed the advice from a comic book character… because apparently a made up person can act in a way that we would all prefer our politicians to behave.

 

 

“Cat nip for kids.”

This is a bit of a niche read, more than so than my normal “I’m a dad let me tell you about it” but it is something that I think other parents may relate to.

This blog is all about my beef with Iggle Piggle, Dora, Peppa, The Tweenies and other high pitched kids TV characters.Image-1

I am well aware that I am not a Kids TV executives target audience, and just 5 minutes watching our small human stand in front of the TV and dance and sing along or sit transfixed with the shrill lead characters makes you realise they know what they are doing, as my wife puts it they have created “cat nip for kids”.

Now I do not hate ALL kids TV, and I have to admit I do love getting home from work in time to watch CBeebies with Bea. I don’t get the full bed time hour; getting back in time to be met by our little one who will excitedly beckon me into the living room, point at Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy or any of the other characters that reaffirm who they are by only being able to say their own name or come up with their own theme tune and we will watch them doing their stuff in the garden. The best bit is when Iggle Piggle knobs off on his boat and we get down to the Cbeebies bedtime story. Here the Beeb pull some weight
and pull in names such as Professor Brian Cox, Guy Garvey, Simon Pegg, Mary Anne Hobbs!!! And even crossing over the childhood timelines Floella Benjamin who all then read bedtime stories and wish the children of Britain a good night. Then comes the flosong, the good night song, all part of our night time routine now. Post song Bea will even take herself off to the bottom of the stairs ready to be escorted upstairs to bed. Perfect! Although I am aware that I need to be careful saying that in public, both not to jinx our luck or to infuriate those parents with little ones that refuse to sleep. We are lucky!

I don’t remember my very early days of watching kids TV; it is likely I was a fan of Play School and Rainbow because my first two toy bears were named Ted & Bungle. The TV that stirs up the happy memories are shows that seem to now be on Hollywood’s radar, my generation now all in our 30’s with some disposable income and nostalgia pangs large enough for us to want to see a big budget Transformers/Turtles films. I am still waiting for them to make a Thundercats movie – do you hear me Hollywood, make that movie!

The American cartoons like Ghostbusters, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man & Thundercats, are so good that films and re-boots have been created, lunch boxes, t-shirts, duvet covers and new toys made and sold (something more for the disposable income to be spent on?)

The fantastic British cartoons like Banana Man, SuperTed, Duckula, Danger Mouse; frankly ANYTHING voiced/narrated by David Jason don’t seem to have the same commercial value for a reboot (I know there is a new Danger Mouse cartoon – keen to see how good/bad it is).

My wife points out that Bea “cannot be into everything you are in to.” That is correct (although it would make things easier, and allow me to buy more toys for us to play with… Or keep on a shelf in my office), I’m kind of hoping that means I don’t have to be into everything she seems to like… But that is when the guilt kicks in.

There is a fantastic blog written about In The Night Garden In The Night Garden: 10 things we’re all thinking (aren’t we?) | The (mal)Contented Mother it covers an awful lot of what I don’t like about the show – it is no Rainbow. The zero shits given about the sizes of characters in relation to the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk is a real bugbear of mine!!! Plus the fact that at 33 years old I have just typed Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk – ridiculous!!!

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As with many hugely popular kids shows there are those commercial opportunities, in addition to this there seems to be a trend about creating a ‘world’ or ‘experience’ – like a smaller, less bells-and-whistles Disneyland.

My wife emailed me this week asking if I wanted to visit In The Night Garden LIVE, to see Iggle Piggle in the flesh/fur/whatever he is made out of. They create The Night Garden and you and your younglings can get up close and witness ‘the magic’ first hand (even closer if you pay a premium for front row seats). The promo email had it all, the heart-warming testimonies, the images of happy families; even a video showing you a glimpse of what to expect… And yet my reply was a resounding NO!

“But imagine seeing her face, it would be worth it surely!?” Replied my wife

And here comes the guilt.

No

I literally watch this show and pick it apart.

The Night Garden isn’t the only place I’m not sure I’d want to visit. The Tweenies strike me as an obnoxious lot and to hear Jake & Milo whinge (A LOT) to see them LIVE would be a step too far for me. TellyTubby land looks like Hobbiton, so unless you can guarantee me an army of Orcs will invade and rip the aerial off LaLa’s head then nope… Count me out.

Peppa Pig has her own world, I have heard nothing but good things from friends that have been but, for me, Peppa is like Stacey from Gavin & Stacey, I just don’t care for the title character. Both Peppa and Stacey have high pitched moaning voices and both get whiny when life doesn’t go their way. It is the support cast that make the show, George, Smithy, Daddy Pig and Uncle Bryn all funny characters that hold the show together.

So do I want to visit that garden. NO!

 

Do I feel guilty? Should I feel guilty? I don’t know. Should I?

 

 

 

FYI: My wife and mother-in-law have decided to take Bea to see Iggle Piggle and crew, I’m sure they will have loads of fun without me muttering under my breath about the ridiculousness of it all!

 

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