We have a teenager

So that isn’t strictly true, we have an 18 month old daughter but seriously if this isn’t the ‘terrible 2’s’ starting early she has definitely become a teenager in the last few weeks.

There’s a few moments at the beginning of having a baby that you look forward to, like when your little one starts to smile, when they start crawling, when they start to interact, when they start to talk. Then it actually happens!

The smiling is cute right? Then comes the crawling, not too fast and fairly unsteady so that’s ok. Then there is the interaction, this means that you can sort of start to understand what they want and how to look after them. But, then comes the walking, talking, ‘i can now say no!’ stage.

It’s cute at first, the unsteady waddling and saying ‘ello’ but then comes the running and ‘no’. Now don’t get me wrong it’s still cute, but man is it frustrating. I mean really?! Is there any reason why no is the answer to every single question we ask? Do you want a drink – No, do you want to walk – No, do you want to go to bed – Yeah…….No, is the sky blue – No! You get the picture? 

When our daughter was born people would often comment about how difficult a girl would be, I’m not sure any more difficult than the 18 month old boys we know at the moment but I can definitely see we are going to have attitude in the future. Having said that we’ve got attitude right now!
 

  

Then there are the tantrums, and we sure have had our fair share of tantrums already (I can really relate to the sets of pictures you see titled ‘why my child is crying’) However, we must be lucky parents because at the moment most the tantrums consist of ‘No’, followed by a stomp away from the situation (whilst looking back and checking that we’re still interested) then the drop to the floor in the most careful delicate way you could imagine, lastly followed by ‘Oh’! Then we’re over it and have moved onto the next thing.

But with the attitude also comes the frustration, with the frustration comes the lashing out and with that comes those moments when you say to yourself ‘what am I doing? I really can’t do this parenting thing!’ It raises so many parenting questions and discussions on how we are going to deal / cope / manage the behaviour and attitude. There are times when you just want the right answer to fall out of the sky.

It’s hard to put it all into perspective when it feels like it’s all of a sudden a constant battle, but in reality I know that this only really accounts for about 10% of our days. 90% of the day is a lot of fun with lots of new learning, exploring, giggles and games, so why is it that it’s so easy to get frustrated and that’s all you remember? I’m also aware that when I get home from work my wife has not had fun all day and it’s not an easy life being at home with our daughter!

Here’s to tantrums, tears and teenage years and everything in between!

My Random Musings

2nd Chance

  

12 months ago I sat on a train on my way home from london writing my first blog. I wanted an outlet, a space to talk/rant/confide/seek advice, somewhere to log memories and somewhere to escape to. I wasn’t wanting to change the world or think that I could be the next big thing, I just wanted it to be me, my ramblings on parenthood, marriage, life and everthing that comes with it and if someone else read it, I just hoped they enjoy it.

12 months on and I haven’t written anything for 6 months!!  I don’t really know what happened, I could say life got in the way, I was busy etc etc etc but the truth be told I have nothing, no reason to have stopped and I’m a little bit gutted about it!

So here I am sitting on a train on my way home from London giving myself a 2nd chance! I don’t know if this will be the only 2nd chance I give myself but it’s the first one! Who knows what will happen but I really want to get back to writing and sharing and seeing what happens. No pressure, no agenda, no expectation. Just me, my iPad and what ever thoughts come out of my head.

There’s so much more to a 2nd chance than just trying something again isn’t there?! I work in an environment where giving people a chance is what we do, I have a now 18 month old daughter (seriously how did that happen??) she will always push boundaries and we will have to give her chance after chance after chance. But it’s not just about doing things again, it’s doing them again, learning from the past and trying to do it differently. I was going to say it’s about getting it right, but I don’t think there is a right?!

As a parent it’s all about learning and if we didn’t give ourselves a 2nd chance (3rd, 4th, 5th etc) I don’t think any parent would succeed. I feel like I get things wrong on a daily basis and have to start everyday afresh, but that’s ok because I know that next time I will do it differently and lets face it our daughter is doing ok and I’m sure i’d know about it if she wasn’t

Here’s to not being so harsh on ourselves and to 2nd chances time and time again!

Teething is crap!

As my wife posted on facebook this week ‘Teething is crap’. The last couple of weeks have been a bit tough in our household. I’m not looking for any sympathy (mainly because I know I won’t get it!!) but Darcie has had several bad nights and this has led to quite an exhausted mum and dad.

We’ve been so fortunate with Darcie’s sleeping, she was sleeping through from 8 weeks and is able to self soothe to the point where we can put her in her cot whilst she’s chatting away, leave her room and she’ll be asleep within 10 minutes. Really it’s a bit of a dream I know! But this leads to some complacency on our part and means that when we have a weeks like the last couple we really feel it. 

Darcie is definitely teething at the moment and this meant that she has woken up on at least 3 different nights screaming. The usual reaction to this is, wait for 5 minutes and she’ll put herself back to sleep or we’ll go into her room to move her because she’s usually got her head stuck in the corner of the cot and can’t move herself. However, the screams recently were different, they were definitely screams of pain and screams of our poor little girl not knowing what to do with herself.

It’s strange how waking up at random times of the night to a screaming child can really disorientate you. There were a couple of times where I really wasn’t sure what was going on, there were times when Chloe and I were just a bit short and angry with each other and there were definitely times when I may have shut my eyes for longer than a couple of seconds when trying to rock Darcie back to sleep.

We tried several techniques over these days to try and calm Darcie down and get her back to sleep. We tried calpol, teething gel, teething toys, changing her nappy, singing to her, rocking her and feeding her. I think there were combinations of all of the above that worked on different nights but the most successful was feeding her and then sitting in the chair and rocking her to sleep while gently shhhhhhing in her ear. I must admit that because she has been so good at going to sleep and we have made sure she doesn’t get used to sleeping on us it was really nice to get the opportunity to feel this closeness again last week. When it came down to it all she wanted was to be held close by us and know that she was safe.

The other bonus is that during the day shes been really clingy which has meant we’ve made the most of the baby sling we spent all that money on!!
  
I think the thing that really stands out from these nights was the complete sense and knowledge that there was absolutely knowing I could do. I felt so helpless at times because all I could do was hold Darcie whilst she was screaming and try to soothe her, knowing that I couldn’t really take away the pain. While she can’t communicate it is so difficult to understand what is wrong. It is a complete guessing game most of the time and you just hope that you get to the answer pretty quickly.

This is definitely something that you can’t learn from a book, instinct really took over for us. However many times we may have been a little short with each other it was mainly because we were helpless and didn’t know if what the other was suggesting was going to work (or because we really were just tired!) We really must learn to make the most of getting earlier nights too, when we can!

‘I’m gonna climb……..you can’t stop me!!’

In the last couple of weeks Darcie has decided that she can climb, and climb she is going to do. She will now pull herself up on anything that she can find; TV unit, tables, piano stall etc etc. There has been the odd moment of regret on her part (a few bumps and tears) but in general she is quite successful in pulling herself up, balancing and grabbing whatever has caught her attention to climb in the first place.

  

We have tried to ‘baby proof’ downstairs as much as we can but also don’t want to just move everything so that Darcie does not learn not to touch, pull and bang things. We (the royal type) are yet to buy the right stair gate and fit it (much to the annoyance of Chloe) which means that Darcie has now decided she can climb the stairs as well. She’s reached the top a couple of times (with mum or dad in tow to make sure she doesn’t fall all the way back down again). This is a fairly long process as she has great determination but also quite a short attention span and gets distracted very easily by the smallest of things as she’s climbing. She is so proud of herself when she achieves this that it’s hard to stop her giving it a go. The cutest thing has to be when she crawls over to the sofa and pulls herself up on either mine or Chloe’s legs and then just smiles at us. She is so easily pleased with herself its hard not to smile back. 

Here’s the dilemma. We want to use positive reinforcement as parents, which means that where possible, instead of constantly saying ‘no’, we praise her with everything she does right. It also means that when she’s doing something we don’t think is right we have to try and distract her with something good or just keep moving her away until she gets the message. This has been successful on a couple of occasions but is hard work. It’s so difficult not to say no, its so easy to give up quickly when she just goes back to the same thing time and time and time again but we’re going to persevere.

Positive reinforcement sits well with us at the moment while Darcie is quite young as I’m not sure how much she’ll understand when we say no anyway, but I’m sure this will get more difficult the older she gets. We also don’t want her to grow up not knowing what no means and being in an environment where she gets away with things or doesn’t understand the concept of ‘no’. As she grows up and is looked after by others this is going to be more difficult to reinforce. I’m also aware that this may prove difficult when we are in different environments as a family. It’s so easy to feel like you are being judged as parents and this may prove to be one of those things we are ‘judged’ on, but I feel that everyone should be able to bring up their children in the way that they seem fit (and I try not to judge myself, honestly!!)

I’m starting to realise just how difficult parenting can be and how important it is that as a couple we support each other and parent in the same way. I’m sure ‘no’ will come out of my mouth at some point but I will definitely try to limit this.

Lets just hope I don’t get repetitive strain injury from constantly moving her away from things!

5 reasons I hate being a dad:


Okay so the title is not entirely true………how can you hate being a dad? I don’t hate being a dad at all, I hate what being a dad sometimes leads to. There have been so many times in the last 9 months when I have wished that I wasn’t the dad, not because in any way I think being a mum is easy but because there have been times when I feel I miss out. Being a parent is incredible and there have been a lot more good times than frustrations, but here’s 5 of the frustrations:

1. Feeling useless at the birth

This one goes right back to the beginning. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I have felt so useless. We completed an NCT course so I feel I was quite well prepared, but looking back, when it all happened, understandably the dad is just there. The birth of Darcie wasn’t the easiest and this definitely changed things, but having to stand and watch and not be able to change anything is so frustrating!

2. Work

I wish we were in the position where we could be stay at home parents, but this is not the case and it means that I have had to carry on full time whilst Chloe stayed at home with Darcie for the last 9 months. Having a daughter that has slept really well means that she is very rarely awake when I leave for work in the morning and I only get 1.5 – 2 hours with her in the evening. I get to do all of the bedtime stuff which is great but I miss her so much in during the day. Thank goodness for facetime though, that definitely helps!

3. Missing development

In being at work I often miss out on Darcie’s development. I find that I can still get excited when I see things for the first time, but there have definitely been occasions when I’ve been really excited about something and Chloe’s just been like, ‘yeah she did that earlier!’.

4. Not feeling like I can take control

I realise that I can take control when needed, but with a combination of the points above (especially being at work a lot!) I don’t feel I have the authority to take control. Chloe spends all of her time with Darcie, knows her routine back to front, knows the cues and has read enough to have a good idea of whats best for her development. If you’ve read my previous post you’ll know I ask a lot of questions and some of this is down to the fact that I don’t feel confident taking the lead with Darcie.

5. The Sunday Blues

I now get the sunday blues like never before. I didn’t realise that they could get worse, but since becoming a dad, for the reasons above, there are definitely sunday evenings I don’t want to end. Weekends are great family times and I always want to make the most of the time I get to spend with Chloe and Darcie. However, they just fly past so quickly. I’ve tried everything to make them slow down but it just doesn’t seem to work.

So what I’m trying to say really is that I absolutely love being a dad, however, I really need to find a job that I can either do from home or that pays enough that I can cut my hours down… Wishful thinking, I know!

New Mummy Blog

I just don’t know enough

A symptom of the fact that I don’t like to read is that I don’t feel like I know enough. Chloe has read a lot of books and looked up a lot of advice on line when it has come to the different areas of development for Darcie and seems to know a lot of techniques to try to ensure we give Darcie the best start. I on the other hand feel like I’m just winging it!

  

 I was brought the book above whilst Chloe was pregnant to try and help me through it all and I also tried  to read some of the books that Chloe had so that I had some idea of what was to come. If you’ve read my  previous post you probably know how far I got! For some reason I just had an overwhelming feeling that it was all going to be ok, and still do. However, in practical terms this isnt always enough and leads to me asking Chloe lots of questions about how to do things. Even if its a simple thing (now!) of packing the nappy bag, I always find myself checking with Chloe that I’ve got everything and got it right even though I know I probably have. I’m constantly checking in and making sure I’m doing ok.

I hadn’t thought much of this until a few weeks ago when Chloe said she wished that instead of me asking her questions all the time, that I’d go and do some research too like she had done. She felt like she was the one that had to have all of he answers.

The big test was when we started weaning. I was rather naive when it came to introducing food, I thought we could just start giving Darcie everything. Fortunately for me, and Darcie, Chloe had researched this and knew exactly what she was doing. She spent hours in the kitchen making purees and ensuring we had the right snacks and drinks and pouches that we needed. Making sure that Darcie had a wide variety of foods so that she didn’t get bored and ensuring she tried everything enough times to properly know whether she liked it or not (who knew you needed to try something 10 times before you really know if you like it or not?!?! Chloe knew!)

Obviously a feeling of ‘it’ll be alright’ can only get you so far!

There have been times when I wondered how much is human instinct and how much is learning from others experience. I think that human instinct can get you so far and I feel that that gives you a good starting point, but there is something to be said for peoples experience and knowledge, especially when it comes to raising a child. Now I know that you can never be fully prepared if you relied only on books, and I know that it would be a long learning process if you solely relied on human instinct. There has to be, like with many other things, a common ground. A happy medium between human instinct and learning from others, I just need to find a way of sourcing the learning from others bit which doesn’t involve too much reading!

Now is this a Dad thing? Am I the only one out there that feels like they just weren’t / still aren’t prepared? Is there a happy medium? Maybe I just need to start reading?!!!!

I can’t read!

Ok, so technically I can read, I just don’t like to!

Throughout my life I have never been a reader. Even though both my parents like to read, this gene obviously went to my sister. I remember being on holiday as a child and we’d go out for the day and then return to our caravan, my parents and sister would all sit down to relax to read a book and all I wanted to do was carry on being active, constantly asking who was going to play boule or swingball or tennis or football, I was just not a child that liked to sit quietly and read. My sister would constantly have a book to hand and this caused some interesting issues once she could drive. Having always read books whilst in the car she never knew what direction anywhere was. She couldn’t even get herself out of the town we lived in in the right direction sometimes. Now obviously I read the necessary books at school to ensure I scraped through my GCSE English and managed to read enough at Uni to get a degree, but I have never  been ‘into’ reading. This has never really bothered me too much, but now I have a wife (Chloe) who reads (a lot) and friends who read, and most importantly a daughter (Darcie) who is relying on me and Chloe to teach her to read.

Chloe loves reading, and I’m not going to complain too much at that (it has meant that I probably get to watch a bit more sport on the TV than I would otherwise!!) and we have friends who like to read and I often get lost in conversations between them and Chloe while they talk about books and swap ‘good reads’. I do have a friend who is on the same wavelength as me when it comes to reading and its always nice to be able to joke with her about it. As a Christian a big part of life should be to read the Bible (you probably know where I’m going with this….) but I’ve always really struggled. Its not like the bible isn’t split up into nice small sections to make it nice and easy(!), but that still doesn’t seem to help. A little while ago my friend suggested that we try to learn bible verses together, we’d text each other a verse and put no pressure on this with time frames to learn it, only moving on when we were both happy we’d got it. We even started with verses that only contained one word, and we still didn’t stick to it. I just don’t know if reading will ever be for me.

I’ve tried to think about what might be the problem. I realise I’m naturally more of an active person and this is shown by my reactions as a child to everyone sitting around reading. But there’s also a couple of other issues, when I try to read a book, firstly, I often forget what I’ve read previously which means I have to re-read what I’ve read the day before, this means that it’ll take forever to read a whole book anyway(!) and secondly, I don’t think I have the imagination for a book, I’d rather watch a film and let the director set the scene for me rather than try to set it myself.

This brings me on to Darcie and a major parenting dilemma. Chloe and I have had several conversations about reading, I’ve joked that Darcie will probably get my genes and therefore not like reading (that wasn’t very helpful) but I don’t want to miss out on such a big part of her learning. Now this is pretty easy at the moment, a) because she has quite a short attention span, b) because children’s books are pretty easy reads and c) because there are lots of pictures (I love picture books!!). However, this is still an effort for me and it really shouldn’t be. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my family during the day so it should be nice to sit and read with my daughter, I don’t understand why it’s an issue!

Darcie’s bedtime routine obviously involves a bed time story (usually before she has a bath as she is only interested in milk and sleep afterwards) which I make sure I read, and Chloe reads to her during the day. I’m really hoping that this, firstly, encourages Darcie to enjoy reading and gets her into a routine of reading everyday (which would please Chloe!), secondly, helps me to start to enjoy reading and thirdly, makes some memories to last a lifetime.

As for the bible, well, Darcie had her first bible brought for her a little while ago which is lots of short stories and of course, pictures! It is really important to us as she grows up that we help her to understand the bible and faith etc so that she can make her own choice in the future, and I’m hoping that this will maybe help me to get to know more of the bible and encourage me to get my bible out to read in more depth!

Feel free to give me some book recommendations if you think you know a book that’ll get me hooked… I’m up for the challenge! 

Parents are always right?!

I was on a training course in London this week on Effective Communication. During the afternoon session we were talking about always turning to default positions when playing games etc. and one of the group said ‘yes when you play a game at home with the family the default position is always that the parent is always right and children should listen to what the parent is saying and follow their lead’. Now being a new parent with a 9 month old daughter I realise that I probably don’t really have too much authority to comment on this just yet, but it shocked me a little. And it made me wonder how many parents out there have a similar attitude?!

One of my fears in becoming a parent is that at some point Darcie is going to question decisions I make and make me justify them and that I might not be able to. I really don’t want to be a parent who says ‘just because’ but I’m not gonna kid myself those words will probably come out of my mouth in the next 18 years! I also don’t want to think that I’m always right. I’m very much a believer whether in my personal or professional life that there are people that know more than me and could probably do a better job and that we should always learn from each other (especially from children). I will never forget hearing a motivational speaker tell the story of a cardboard box. He explained that he once gave a cardboard box to a group of adults and asked them what they would do with it, they thought for a while and then started saying things like, that’ll be good for storing this and that, or that would definitely come in handy one day and I’ll store that away somewhere (you get the jist!). He then gave the box to a group of children, immediately they were using the box as a racing car and a space ship and a boat. As we grow up we become sensible, we lose some of our imagination and become consumed with the future and not with enjoying the now.

Do we really make the most of the imagination and ideas and knowledge that our children have? I’ve worked on a lot of children’s summer camps and see so much potential and so many ideas. At the end of each camp staff always talk about how much they’ve learnt from the children and seeing the freedom in what they think and say. Now don’t get me wrong I know there have to be boundaries and ‘rules’ in place to support children and you have to work out where ‘the line’ is in that freedom but surely we can do more?

I can not wait until Darcie is old enough to play make believe and to go climbing in the woods, I want to make dens and go jumping in puddles with her and let her imagination run wild. I want to be a parent that isn’t always right, a parent that lets her have freedom to make mistakes and to learn. I really hope I can be this and not worry about having to justify every decision I make because I will probably make some wrong ones and I want Darcie to question those (I know I may regret saying/thinking that!)

Something tells me this is a post I’ll need to remind myself of over the next 18+ years…

She’s Crawling Already?!

2015 was a year of tremendous highs and life changing lows, it was a year when 2 became 3 and life changed forever. I’m not quite sure what happened to a whole year of my life but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I’m sure at some point I will go through some of the highs and explain how life changed with the lows, but to start with I want to start a blog! So here I am, a husband, dad, son, brother, Christian, service manager etc etc! I’ve thought about writing a blog for a little while but recent changes in my life have made me think about how good it would be to have a platform to share my thoughts, record life, talk about being a dad, ask questions, off load and maybe occasionally have a rant!

One thing I didn’t count on last year was how quickly it would fly by and the decisions we’d have to make. This time last year I was starting a new year excited about a new arrival, knowing that life would change but not realising how fast that would happen and how fast children develop and grow up. This new year I have a child, not a baby, an actual child! I have a beautiful daughter who can already crawl and interact and be cheeky and have tantrums. As a family we’ve made some big decisions already in how we parent and how we want to bring up our daughter, we’ve had to decide how to live life and how we fit that around work and what we can afford. I’ve had to change mindsets with work, after being promoted this year and taking on a lot more responsibility and trying to juggle this with a new family. There has then been a lot of other personal stuff to consider around family and church and friends.

It’s been a roller coaster of a year and I’m really hoping this blog will help me to view life from a fresh perspective and capture the moments which are passing me by too quickly.

Enjoy!