Digital Dad: Time to rethink your family holiday

For the second year in a row, we decided to pack up the kids and head abroad for Christmas. Sacrilege some might say, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

On both occasions we’ve headed to the Canary Islands mainly because you are guaranteed the sun, the flight isn’t overly long (circa 4 hrs), the resorts are very family friendly and Santa can travel anywhere, so why not head off? Granted, holidaying over Christmas can be expensive but if you plan it right and book it early enough you can get some fantastic deals.

December 2015 was our first family Christmas holiday abroad and although we as parents were run ragged, we still had great fun. Thing 1was four at that stage and Thing 2, our ‘livewire’, was two.

The latter kept us very busy mainly due to his mix of independence, fearlessness, craziness and humour, all of which make him a lovable rogue. One year on however and with the addition of our third child – Thing 3 – we decided to do it all over again.

THREE kids? Are ye mad or what? Honestly, it was one of the most stress-free, chilled out and enjoyable holidays we’ve been on in a long time.

Christmas in the Sun

Anytime we mention that we were away for Christmas we’re invariably asked, in typical Irish fashion, what did we do for our turkey and ham (?!) and did we not miss seeing our family over Christmas. Well for any concerned folks out there let me allay your fears; believe it or not, turkey and ham are available outside of Ireland.

So too is goose, roast beef, steak, shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab, chicken and more, all of which were available to us on Christmas day. In fact, the food in the resort for the entire holiday was excellent.

We booked an all inclusive package – breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus drinks and snacks all day long. Regarding our families, yes, of course, it’s lovely to see them on Christmas day but we live near them, we see them on an almost fortnightly basis and we tend to hook up for a home cooked pre-Christmas (and post-Christmas) meal anyway. So if you think about it, how much are you really missing out on?

Also on Christmas Day I don’t necessarily want to be dragging the kids and their associated toys from one house to another while the designated driver – usually me – grunts in the corner about getting home so that we can crack open the Quality Street. And before you wonder, yes Santa does visit the kids abroad. He pre-plans…

It’s all very simple or more simple than you might think. To add to this, most resorts usually have an onsite Santa who visits on Christmas day and gives presents to the kids too.

Granted, holidaying over Christmas can be expensive but if you plan it right and book it early enough you can get some fantastic deals.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas at home but like most parents I’m sure, the countdown to Christmas starts for us pretty much as soon as Halloween finishes. The kids immediately turn their attention to Santa, toys, pantomimes, Christmas trees, decorations et al, so by the time we hit mid-December we’re ready to escape the madness. We also find that the days between Christmas and News Years tend to drag – nobody is around, the weather can be bad and the kids can drive us bonkers! Give us a beach, a pool, some sun and a glass of something nice any day.

Beach Cocktail time - virgin or an alternative

So how was it that a holiday with three small kids this time around was easier than a holiday with just two small kids the previous year? It’s quite simple really; the two older boys are now at a much better age where they can entertain each other without the need for Mum or Dad to don a clown suit and run around after them. It helped too that our newborn (Thing 3) is still immobile – a gurgling burrito you could say – so there really wasn’t much work in looking after him bar the usual duties of feeding, burping, changing and sleeping….pretty much what I did myself for the two weeks!

All of this plus the added benefit of a brilliant kids club (and evening entertainment) helped to oil our well-run parenting machine. The kids slept like angels too. Granted they stayed up until after midnight most nights but this was only on the basis that they napped – post swim – every day. Dually obliging, this napping lasted for three glorious hours every day. I’ve never enjoyed a glass of daddys lemonade silence quite like it in all of my life.

Give us a beach, a pool, some sun and a glass of something nice any day.

We honestly experienced no issues whatsoever – apart from Thing 2pulling down his pants in the restaurant one night and running around shouting ‘look at my hotdog’ – it was über relaxing, zero stress, great fun and without fail we were out every night. The kids had an absolute ball too.

If finances allow, we’ll most definitely be doing it again this year and although Thing 3 will be more mobile by then, Things 1 and 2 will be at an age where they can help us out a lot more.

So if you are thinking about it this year, don’t fret about the turkey and ham, don’t fret about your family – you can always invite them along – and try something different.

Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more.

DD

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Digital Dad: How I Went From Superhero to Supervillain

It was a tradition in my old place of work (and hopefully still is) that whenever somebody left the company they would be given a large A3 card with a photoshopped image of themselves on the front. The card would be signed by all the staff, and typically the photoshopped image referenced the employee’s personality or the sterling work that they had done during their time in the company.

My card was that of Clark Kent ripping open his shirt to reveal the Superman logo and suit underneath. My face was superimposed on Mr Kent’s body, and the reference I can assure you was not that I was a ‘Superman’ but rather Mr. Geek Chic like Clark himself.

Fast forward 12 months, and my then three year old – Thing 1 – who was (and still is) a Superhero fanatic came across the card as we were clearing out the spare room. He literally froze in astonishment staring at the card while momentarily glancing back and forth between me and my now alter ego Superman. He couldn’t believe it. He genuinely thought that I was once Superman (the man boobs giving away my early retirement) and not one to disappoint I took on this role with aplomb and embellished it for all it was worth.

I told tales of Lex Luthor, detailed my battles with General Zod, explained the menace that was Darkseid and talked about sharing burgers with Spiderman and Batman in Planet Hollywood. He loved it. I loved it. He saw me as Superman – my wife saw me as a SuperPrat but it didn’t matter because Thing 1 was ecstatic and as any parent will know that’s all the matters. No Kryptonite in the world was going to change this.

As time went on and Thing 1 got older, he continued to ask me questions about my cape-flying ways. Every book we read and every toy shop we visited resulted in further recounts of embellished tales of my superhero days. To be honest, I thought that he’d outgrow it and granted I didn’t extinguish the myth but being honest, I loved it.

I loved that he was still so innocent as to think that the Dadbod standing in front of him was once Superman. My wife, the real superhero in the house, could only stand back and dream about having a husband with a six pack and bulging biceps.

Superdad

Yesterday, everything changed however.

Sitting down for dinner, I asked Thing 1 about his day. As usual, he had a great time in school and mentioned that he played superheroes with his friends. But he said that when he told his friend that I was Superman, his friend laughed at him. When asked how this made him feel he said ‘Not good’.

I looked at my Wonder Woman wife, and together our hearts sank. I’d have to tell him. I’d have to shatter my his dreams and I’d have to do it before school the next day. I felt both sadness and joy that this little boy was still so innocent that he believed everything I told him.

So this morning I faced the biggest battle of my Superhero career. I got up early with Thing 1 and as we sat together having breakfast I told him that I wasn’t Superman. I explained about the photoshopped card and that when he first saw it he was too young to understand.

He seemed to take it all in but what came out of his mouth next almost floored me…’So you were never a crime-fighter daddy?’ ‘No son I wasn’t. Does that make you sad?’ He turned away with watery eyes and proceeded to finish his Weetabix– the same Weetabix that I told him helped me with my super powers. I felt awful, and if I’m being honest I was close to tears myself.

We hugged and in fairness to the little guy, he took it in his stride and moved on pretty quickly. We went about building some Lego structures, and I withstood every urge I had to tell him that I was once a Lego character… I’ll tell him another time, I thought.

Thinking back to all the fun we had over the years discussing superhero tales and battles, I don’t think I would have changed anything. Kids are innocent and that’s one of the loveliest things about them. I genuinely felt emotional seeing Thing 1’s face change when he realised that I wasn’t the crime fighter he thought I was, but it was better he found out now than be made fun of about it in school.

This whole episode taught me a very valuable life lesson about how gullible kids are, and I’ll be extra conscious in future about the type of ‘tales’ I tell them. One thing is for sure though, I’m absolutely dreading the day that I have to tell them about the Easter Bunny.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them

Signing off,

SuperDad

 

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Conversations With Kids – pt 1

Random conversations I’ve had with my 4yo and 6yo boys.

Me: So boys are you excited about school on Thursday?
4yo: I am
6yo: Not really
Me: Oh. Why?
6yo: Well I’m excited to meet my friends but not about the work.
Me: But you have to work. School is where you learn and the more you learn the better you’ll become at things and hopefully then you can be anything you want to be. You want to be an Astronaut don’t you?
6yo: Well maybe, i haven’t decided yet
Me: And Reilly (4yo) you want to be a fire fighter don’t you?
4yo: No not anymore.
Me: Oh yeah? What do you want to be?
4yo: An evil dentist.

*I almost crashed the car*


4yo: Dad! Dad!
Me: What?
4yo: Come here. I need you.
Me: I’m doing something. What is it?
4yo: Please you have to come here right now.
Me: OK hold on.
* runs upstairs.
Me: Right what is it.
4yo: Look at how big the poo is that I just made


4yo: Dad can i have a ham and cheese sandwich but I don’t want any ham ok?
Me: Ok so just a cheese sandwich?
4yo (nodding): But can I have the cheese separate?
Me: Ok…so you just want a slice of cheese and some bread??
4yo: Yes but with no butter on the bread ok dad?. That new butter is yucky.
Me: Grand. Here you go.
4yo: But can I have a cheese string?
Me:So you just want a plain slice of bread and a cheese string?
4yo: Yes.
Me: Yes what?
4yo: Please
Me: But you can get them yourself. You don’t need me to do if for you.
4yo: But I’m tired. I need you to help me dadda

*Dadda my ar*e. He never calls me that unless he wants something the lazy toad*


4yo: “Dad, i’m going to live with you in our house forever and ever and ever”
Me:
Me: “Never joke about that again, do you hear?”


4yo: Dad?
Me: Yep.
4yo: What’s for dinner later?
Me: Spaghetti Bolognese
4yo: Ok. Can you cook it so that it tastes like Chicken Nuggets?
Me: Yeah sure, that’s exactly what I’ll do.


4yo: “When I grow up I want a husband like Mummy”.
6yo: “No Mum isn’t a husband. Mum is a wife. Dad is a husband”.
4yo: “Well i want a wife like Mummy then” .
6yo: “Me too but she would have to like Ninja Turtles”.
4yo: “Yea my wife has to like Paw Patrol too”.
[a communal pause and back they went to playing]


6yo: Dad can you tell me a word that doesn’t contain any vowels.
Me: Why
6yo: For school
Me: Why
6yo: For school i said.
Me: Why
6yo: FOR SCHOOL
Me: Why
6yo : FOR..*walks away angry and asks his mum*.


ENROUTE TO SCHOOL.
6yo: Dad?
Me: Yep.
6yo: How do you know that man?
Me: Huh? What are you talking about? Who? What man?
6yo: You called that driver Dick.
Me: Oh right. Eh, don’t mind that, he’s just an old school friend.


6yo: Dad?
Me: Yeah
6yo: Do sheep shrink in the rain?
Me: What do you mean?
6yo: Well. Mummy gave out to you because her wool jumper got smaller in the wash.
Me: Oh right. Yes, well wool shrinks if you wash it incorrectly. Daddy made a mistake.
6yo: So do sheep not shrink in the rain then?
Me: No the wool protects them and keeps them warm. They don’t shrink.
6yo: So do they not turn pink either.
Me: Well that was another mistake. Listen here comes Mummy, lets talk about something else….so how was school today?
6yo: Good.


6yo: “Dad, when will i be a grown up?”
Me: “When you have a drawer full of grocery bags within grocery bags and a bag/box full of new and used batteries”

DD

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Digital Dad: Are You A Helicopter Parent?

Dad of 3. Husband of 1. Master of None.

I’m going to put my cards on the table and say that I’m definitely not a ‘helicopter parent’. Well if I was I’m not anymore. I have 3 boys – 6, 4 & 1 – all very independent in their own right with one perhaps being a bit more ‘demanding’ than the others. We don’t and have never ‘child proofed’ our home. Ok so we don’t leave knives lying around the place or the fire guard off the fireplace but we’ve never used a stair gate, we’ve never put covers on plug sockets and we’ve never bubble wrapped a coffee table.

I say this in jest of course and as a parent I protect my kids as best I can but there are always going to be times and situations when I can’t protect them and I accept that.

All I can do is equip them as best I can to protect themselves the best they can.

So what is helicopter parenting? Well, as you might have guessed, it’s over parenting, meaning over controlling, over protecting and over perfecting a child’s life. It’s a somewhat regimented and directed parenting style with the goal of protecting the physical and mental well-being of the child, often unconsciously at the risk of stifling the child.

As parents we instinctively want to protect our kids and keep them safe and that’s perfectly reasonable. Sometimes however, without quite realising it, this can lead us to become ‘Helicopter Parents’. The trick is to recognise when these over protective / over controlling instincts kick in and to intentionally back off to let our kids learn to take care of themselves

Listen we all know that parenting is nerve wracking. Sure half of us probably don’t know what we’re doing most of the time – this is probably more true with a first child – and TV shows and news articles continually pumping out nightmare stories or ‘What If’ scenarios obviously doesn’t help.

Helicopter parenting

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as guilty as the next parent for helping my kids to retrieve their toys from other children who snatched them away, or helping my kids to ask for something that they want. It’s only when my eldest first reached the age of “NO, I’ll do it myself” or “why can’t you just let me do it myself” that I realised I was being more of a hindrance than a help.

So what are the signs that you may be a helicopter parent?

Knowingly or unknowingly and out of sheer love and concern for your child, you might be following the helicopter / hover style. For instance if you find yourself answering questions of behalf of your child or you have heart palpitations at the thought of your child going on a play date, or it’s never crossed your mind to have your kids help out with making dinner or emptying the dishwasher (because knives are sharp) then maybe, just maybe, you’re a helicopter parent.

Other signs might include:

  1. Not allowing your child to make age appropriate choices
  2. Not allowing your child to tackle their own problems.
  3. Constantly negotiating on behalf of your child
  4. Your nickname being ‘Black Hawk’ or ‘Chopper’
  5. You’ve been known to disinfect playground rides.
  6. You shield your child from failure
  7. Your child’s first overnight will be in college.

.What are the affects of helicopter / hover parenting?

On a more serious note however, research has shown that parents start being overprotective with a genuine intention but in the process of engaging with kids and their lives, they lose the actual perspective of what they want. So rather than helping their children it can have adverse affect such as:

  1. Low self-esteem and confidence.

The over involvement of the parent makes the child believe that their parents will not trust them if they do something independently. It, therefore, leads to lack of self-esteem and confidence.

  1. Immature coping skills.

When the parent is always there to prevent the problem at first sight or clean up the mess, the child can never learn through failure, disappointment or loss. Studies also reveal that helicopter parents can make their kids less competent in dealing with tensions and pressures of life.

  1. Overanxious.

Helicopter parenting can often lead to increases levels of depression and anxiety in a child. Children that always look for guidance can often become too nervous to make a decision when left alone.

  1. Sense of entitlement complex.

When parents get over-involved in their child’s academic, social and sporting activities, children can quickly get accustomed to always having their parents to fulfill their needs. This can make them more demanding as they feel that it is their right to have what they want.

  1. Underdeveloped life skills.

Over involvement of parents can also lead to children refusing to learn basic life skills such as making/packing lunches, tying shoe laces, cleaning a mess, emptying a dishwasher, general house work and cooking a meal.

How To Avoid Helicopter Parenting.

If while reading this you suspect that you might be guilty of helicopter parenting or you realise (now) that you might be stifling your child’s independence, fear not, a few simple adjustments to you approach can make all the difference.

Similar to any habit – good or bad – make a conscious effort to avoid doing things a certain way. For instance:

Helicopter Parents

  1. Stop Hovering Over Your Child.

If your child can dress themselves and tie their own shoe laces then let them do that. If they can pour their own cereal or make a sandwich for themselves then let them. Try to avoid holding them back from doing things that suit their age. As mentioned above, try not to get over-involved in your child’s academic, social and sporting activities.

Children, like adults, need to learn for themselves (within reason of course) and disappointment, discomfort and even pain is all part of growing up.  If as parents we shield our children from life’s hardships and struggles they are never going to learn if we are always doing it for them.

  1. Stop Overthinking.

Try to stop worrying or over thinking about all the things that could happen to your child. Easier said than done, I know but try to let go of all those negative thoughts such as: “Is he/she interacting enough with people in school?”, “What will he/she become when they grow up”  “Is his/her shyness because of lack of confidence?”

Try to avoid searching for evidence to confirm your worries about your child..

  1. Scale Back On “Yes”.

Kids are cute. Kids are sharp. Kids know how to play up to their parents. If you are too obliging to them they will take advantage of it.

  1. Stop The Labels.

Hands up, I’m guilty of this. Be it positive or negative; try not to label your child. Refrain from labels such as the “funny one” or “sporty one” or “lazy one” or “you’re just like your mom/dad”. Also avoid saying “You always…” or “You never…”.

Words are powerful thus try not to make any negative assumptions about your child’s behaviour.

  1. Let Them Chose A Different Path.

You made your kids but you cannot make them become something that you want.

If you over-influence a child they’ll struggle to perceive their own hopes and dreams. Let children explore their own thoughts and opinions. If they think differently from you, so be it. Listen to them rather than shut them down. Discuss it with them. Let them express themselves

If your child chooses a path that is different from what you have wished/decided for her don’t take it personally. They are children after all, not clones.

  1. Don’t Ignore You.

Don’t forget to focus on your own life. If your child becomes the focal point of your life it’s very easy to neglect your own life and to stop thinking about your needs, your interests, your relationships, your social life and your activities. Step back and reassess.

Let me know your thoughts.

DD.

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Why I Tell My Kids They Can’t Be Anything They Want To Be

I came across a children’s book recently which depicted a character in a variety of impressive professions ranging from a sports star and a surgeon to an astronaut and a rock star. The core message of the book was that “You can be anything. What you achieve is only limited by your imagination”.

As I flipped through the book this message that our kids can do and achieve anything they put their minds to became more and more alluring. What parent wouldn’t want to believe that their children’s achievement is limited only by imagination?

What parent wouldn’t want to encourage their kids to pursue ambitious goals, like becoming a surgeon or an astronaut? Sign me up.

This is great I thought. Be gone with the damaging socio-cultural stereotypes of the sort that tell girls that they can’t become race car drivers, or disabled people that they can’t become athletes or people of a certain race that they can’t become world leaders.

But as I thought a bit more about it I wondered what could possibly be wrong with telling our kids that they can be anything? Surely it’s the right message to tell these influential young minds. They’re sponges after all; they’ll soak it all up, right?

The Downside of Goals
Well, kinda but there’s a flipside to everything. Goals intended to motivate can often have significant negative side effects on young minds.

Focusing on a goal is one thing but the failure to achieve these goals has the potential to damage a child’s self-worth and their ability to value others.

Intelligence, skill, ability, and personality are key factors to achieving ‘success’ but luck and chance also pay a huge part of what people have achieved and can achieve in their lives. Telling our kids that they can do anything ignores the huge role that chance can often play in success.

Not every child who wants to be a sports star, an actor or a surgeon can become one, even if they work hard at it. In every success story, there is often the grace of good fortune – a person being spotted in a restaurant who goes on to be an international model, a singer being spotted in a karaoke bar, an actor being spotted in a school play and so on.

Future Possibilities
Future Possibilities

Chance & Luck
Yes, skill is a key part of success, as is hard work but chance also plays a predominant role. Hollywood success stories are littered with chance and luck. For instance, Jennifer Lawrence was spotted in Union Square by a talent scout and before she knew it she was thrust into the spotlight with a future Oscar under her belt.

Lawrence is undoubtedly a very talented actor but her talent would still exist without her great success. It, therefore, begs the question what kind of life she would be living if she had hadn’t been walking through Union Square at the exact same time as the talent scout?

If we as parents promote the idea that success is primarily determined by factors such as skill, effort, determination and hard work then we’re ignoring the overriding influence of chance/luck and this is to the detriment of our children.

All children, like adults, will fail at things and it’s the children who don’t recognise the significant role that chance plays in determining outcomes that may blame themselves or give up trying.

My kids are still very young – six, four & 18 mths – so their goals and ambitions change on an hourly basis (my 4yo still can’t wipe his own butt which is a goal I hope – and pray – he achieves soon. If I see them fretting or getting stressed about something I tell them to relax, take a deep breath and not to worry about what hasn’t happened yet.

A mind that is constantly focusing on the future whether it be getting good grades, making the football team or applying to colleges can often be more be prone to greater anxiety and fear.

Don’t get me wrong, stress can also serve as a fantastic motivator but continued stress can often impair a person’s health and mental state.

Yes, it’s good to have goals to work towards (my kids are currently saving their pocket money to buy more Lego) but rather than continually encouraging them to focus on what’s next on their to-do list, I prefer to help them stay focused on the task or conversation at hand.

Digital Dad
My wife often refers to me as ‘The Slug’

Down Time
Again, my kids are very young to these tasks which are usually to complete their homework or to clean up their toys.

My wife often refers to me as ‘The Slug’ mainly because I know how and when to chill out. While it’s an unfortunate name to be called, I’m kind of proud of it because it means that I’m able to relax and switch off.

These days, particularly with the high usage of social media, more and more children are feeling anxious at a younger age. They are worried about grades, worried about being liked, worried about the future and feeling the pressure of growing up too fast.

In Ireland, we have a distressingly high rate of stress-induced suicides among children and young adults.

I’m in my 30’s and I already know five people who have passed away from suicide over the past 20 years. Not enough is being done to address this.

For this reason, but not this reason alone, I’m particularly conscious about not over-scheduling my kids. I make a concerted effort to allocate time for them to be left to their own devices. We have to remember that children are excellent at turning almost any situation into an opportunity to play.

They might read a book, climb a tree, play with their toys, draw ‘a slug’, lie on the couch or complete a jigsaw. I personally like to see them enjoying chill-out time which I hope will allow them to approach life from a more centred and relaxed place.

I hope I’m not coming across as ‘preachy’, that really isn’t my intention but from experience, I notice that giving my kids downtime helps them to learn and be more creative and innovative (I’ll exclude my 4yo’s wiping issues from this).

Superhero Kids
Superhero Kids

Comfort Zone
Like many parents I’m sure, I tend to identify my kids by their strengths and the activities that come most naturally to them.

There’s nothing wrong with this but I recently came across an interesting talk by Carol Dweck – Professor of Psychology at Stanford University – whose research showed that by doing this, we unintentionally box our children into a persona which makes them less likely to want to try out new things that they may not be good at.

So for instance, when a kid receives praise primarily for being athletic, they’re probably less likely to want to leave their comfort zone and try out for the music club or the drama club.

Again, my kids are probably still a bit young to put this to the test BUT in saying that, I introduced the Wii gaming console to them on Saturday and once Thing 1 (six) realised that he was good at a certain game – Mario Kart – he didn’t want to play any of the other games because, well, he wasn’t as good at them.

So what did I do? I caved and just let him go back to playing Mario Kart. Perhaps I should have persevered with the other games so that he could learn and improve.

Again going back to research by Dweck, our brains are wired to learn new things so instead of identifying our children’s strengths, we should teach them that they actually can learn anything, as long as they try.

By doing this, children will hopefully be more optimistic and even enthusiastic in the face of challenges, knowing that they just need to give it another go to improve.

And they will be less likely to feel down about themselves and their talents.

By the time this is published I’m in no doubt that my 4yo won’t have mastered his wipe but I’m confident that he’ll get there eventually and I’m happy enough with that. I could tell him that he can become the best ‘wiper in the world’ if he tries hard enough but I’m not going to because I’m sure there’s a 2yo out there who’s far better!

I joke of course but I asked people on my Facebook Page whether they tell their kids that ‘they can be anything that they want to be if they put their minds to it’ and the majority said that they do.

This isn’t surprising but I’d be very interested to know what you do and whether chance and luck are factors that are raised with your kids when they discuss their plans, goals and professional ambitions.

Comments welcome.

Tks

DD

Digital Dad: Things I learned As A Parent Last Week

From Russian roulette to Santa bribes, here are 27 things that I learned as a parent over the past few weeks…

1.It only took two phone calls to Santa this morning to get the boys ready for school. Result.

2. Everywhere is a potential bed if you try hard enough.

3. Nobody is better at Hide-and-Seek than my wife when she hands me the kids after I walk in the door from work.

4. YAAAAY bath time.

  • 10 mins of tactical negotiations to get the kids into the bath.
  • 5 mins of screaming about how hot the water is (it’s not).
  • 1 min of fighting about which end of the bath my 4yo & 6yo want
  • 3 mins of screaming about getting shampoo in their eyes (I didn’t )
  • 5 mins of laughing as all 3 do farts in the bath- 2 mins of panic while we realise that Thing 3 (our toddler) ‘sharted’ not farted
  • 2 mins of ‘full monty’ dancing
  • 3 mins of post evacuation chasing of Thing 1 & Thing 2 in order to get them dry and dressed.

Parenting (with clean kids). So much fun.

5. My toddler should write a book called “Why one sock is better than two”.

6. My 4yo should write a book called “Why I never wait for the sun to come up”.

7. My 6yo should write a book called “Why I want to be a Lego Master Builder”.

8. *from upstairs to downstairs*

4yo: “DAAAAD. I got poo in my hair”

Me: “That’s not possible. Go to sleep”

Turns out it is possible. #ByeByePillow

9. “Noooo I want to do it, I want to do it. I said I WANTED TO DO IT” – my 4yo’s nightmare last night, presumably about traffic light buttons.

10. If you’re ever concerned about your kid’s hearing, just open a bag of crisps from another room.

11. it’s always fun to find a mushed up banana stuffed between your ‘no longer new’ couch.

12. Conjunctivitis.com – now there’s a site for sore eyes. #DadJoke

13. Parenting Russian Roulette – Undressing a standing toddler and removing the nappy not knowing if anything will fall out or slide down. I lost

14. Asking your kids to clean up their toys while you hold a large black bin liner is EXTREMELY effective. Try it.

15. It’s slowly dawning on me that the only way I’m going to ever use a gym is if I go to prison.

16. DING DONG.

Sales Caller: “Oh…..Hello there. Is your Mummy or Daddy there?”

4yo: “No”…while slowly closing door.

Sales Caller: *puzzled look*

Me: *feeling proud (as I hide) that he executed it perfectly*

#WitchingHour #GoAway #WorstTimeToCall

17. I can’t believe I was naive enough to think “a soft play centre will never see a cent of my money”

18. School photos; because who needs money to buy groceries this week.

19. My kids have reached that stage where they blame their farts on their mum now. Is it bad that I’m somewhat proud that they’ve reached this milestone?

20. Last Saturday my 4yo son took off his shoes, top and jeans and stood in a display shower in Homebase while waving at customers.

21. Meanwhile, my 6yo dressed up in full Nerf ‘combat’ gear yesterday just to kill a bug. I swear I could hear the bug p***ing himself…laughing.

22. If you’re bored, a fun thing to do is tell your kids that it’s time for bed, and repeat it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and….you get the picture

23. “Ugh. I’m not eating that, it’s yucky” he says about tiny bruise on banana.

The same can’t be said for a stringy snot however (as I type ‘n’ wretch)

#OurFourYearOld

24. Cleaning your house is pointless if your children are going to continue living there.

25. I thought I was a normal person until my 4yo son asked me if “I’d eat a bowl of dog poo for 3 million euro pound money”

26. Never ever lose instructions for a newly bought Lego spaceship. #SundayRuined

27. I’m thinking of setting up a ‘Nap Club’. It’ll be kinda like a book club just without the books or the talking.

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Best,

DD


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Digital Dad: My Attempt to Lose the Dad Bod.

The Dad Bod. What is it? Well when you wake up and realise that you can’t see your feet anymore and that your breasts are bigger than hers, it’s most likely that you have one.

For the past number of months I’d been blaming numerous dry cleaners for ‘shrinking’ my suits and I’d been setting the washing machine to low heat because well why else would my shirts not be fitting me anymore? My wife too had been indicating that I’d be able to breastfeed Thing 3 soon enough and when the sports bra she leant me broke I started to get the hint.

The Dad Bod,  when you wake up and realise that you can’t see your feet anymore and that your breasts are bigger than hers, it’s most likely that you have one.

Granted, before Things 1, 2 & 3 arrived, I was no male model (I’m more female model now) but to a certain extent I did manage to stave off the visual signs of ageing and gravity. Now however I have what you might call a Dad Bod.

It’s basically my old body but it doesn’t fit into my clothes anymore and it’s always best kept covered up…

Some people will argue that has always been the case, but we’ll ignore that and swiftly move on.

My wife too had been indicating that I’d be able to breastfeed Thing 3 soon enough and when the sports bra she leant me broke I started to get the hint.

So the Dad Bod, this was a problem because I had been invited to my cousin’s wedding (Hi Sophie & Ed), which was one week away and the only black suit I had had obviously ‘shrunk’.

Without the time and/or patience to hit the gym I decided then and there that I’d embark on my first diet of the non Cadbury variety (farewell for now, my milky chocolatey dunky friend). It was the weekend – how hard could it be?

It’s basically my old body but it doesn’t fit into my clothes anymore and it’s always best kept covered up

I got up the next day, got the kids fed and joined them by pouring myself a bowl of All-Bran (yes it still exists). By the fourth spoonful every last ounce of moisture had been sponged from my mouth.

I felt like I was doing the 60 second Cream Cracker challenge. I was half tempted to give Bear Grylls a call but that would have been stupid as I don’t have his number.

Poor Thing 1 looked at me with a somewhat worried expression. He passed me some of his orange juice, but I refused. In for a penny, in for a pound and all that.

For lunch I had a salad. For dinner I had a salad. For my nightly tea dunk I had carrot sticks. By 8am the next morning, wifey, and all the kids had locked themselves in the kitchen while I banged on the door with a rice cake begging for a fry. I threatened to eat ‘Bunny and Neem’ but not even the shrieks of horror from Thing 1 & 2 were enough to open the door.

I felt like I was doing the 60 second Cream Cracker challenge.

But I persisted. Mainly because as I passed our hall mirror I looked at my reflection and what stared back at me was something that resembled ‘Sloth’ from The Goonies.  ‘Youuu guuuys’, I roared and made my way back to All-Bran hell.

Somehow I made it through the next few hours and by 5pm this grumpy fatty was ready to sell the kids for kebabs.

I stood on the scales, watched as the digital reader flickered for a few seconds (a dodgy battery obviously) and waited with bated breath. 3lbs lost, yahoo, 3-whole-lbs in 36 hours. Unbelievable.

Then as my fat brain kicked in I questioned it.

Guess it was unbelievable – that bloody battery. The reader was so dim that I didn’t see the decimal point. It was actually .3lbs lost, yahoo, .3lbs. Result. No better way to celebrate than by tucking into a Buttered Chicken and reuniting with some of my Cadbury friends…..Belt off and lounge pants to the ready.

The wedding was great.

DD

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Digital Dad: A Tip Of The Cap To Single Parents

The phone rang and like a bat out of hell she was gone.  As I watched the smoking tires fade into the distance I turned around and looked at my kids. One had two straws up his nose, one was munching on his foot and the other was picking out a now wet toilet roll that had fallen into the bowl…It was going to be a long, long weekend.

My gorgeous darling wife was heading abroad for four days with her friends and had been planning this well deserved trip for quite some time.

I was genuinely happy and excited for her but two weeks ago my safety net was pulled from underneath me when I found out that my parents and my in-laws wouldn’t be around for the weekend either. I was up nappy creek without a wipe, so to speak.

Like a bat out of hell she was gone.

We have three boys under six – five, three and 10 months – and although I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with them (aka parenting) on my own for a couple of days/nights before, this was going to be a different challenge. I won’t lie. I wasn’t looking forward to it.

And I know it’s parenting, I’m not disputing that or trying to wriggle away from any responsibilities but it’s tough for anyone to mind three kids without a break for a prolonged period of time.

Single parents, I salute you.

Dad Feeding Child

The prospect of feeding, changing, cleaning, cooking, playing, entertaining, nursing and ultimately refereeing for four full days probably isn’t something that anyone would look forward to. But hey, as I said that’s parenting for you.

I’ve had it relatively easy up until now, especially the past 10 months while my wife has been on maternity leave. Work has been my escape, my break if you will, from the monotony of day to day parenting so I haven’t had to do the ‘take for granted’ chores of cooking, cleaning, laundry et all.

I was up nappy creek without a wipe

Anyway, I embraced the weekend with all the gusto I had. Between a junior infant’s sports day, swimming lessons (Tip: don’t forget to remove the blue overshoes before you go shopping), GAA nursery, a pet shop visit and some pre-camping accessory shopping for this coming weekend’s ‘Camp Friends’ reunion we had enough to keep us busy.

The jewel in the crown, however, was the trampoline I bought which I was hoping would keep them occupied for most of the weekend…thankfully it did.

And it was the trampoline; or rather the assembling of same that highlighted just how important it is to spend quality time with your kids. After putting them up to bed on Friday night I proceeded to assemble said trampoline only for Thing 1, our five-year-old, to come back downstairs because ‘he wasn’t tired’.

He volunteered to help me ‘read’ the instructions and for the next two hours, I did a one hour job.

Realising after some time that he wasn’t really helping me or that I didn’t need his help he got upset and it was in that moment I realised that for him this was a ‘I’ll show daddy what a big boy I am’ bonding moment.

I was too distracted with reaching the end goal to cop it, but thankfully I had enough smarts to get him to help me put the final spring on the trampoline so that he could finish the job.

It ended well and I made a big thing of him staying up late and helping me. He was proud of himself.

I also promised myself to never let anything distract me from those fleeting bonding moments again.

They are precious and by god kids grow up so quickly.

Dad and Baby

It was being on my own with them that I got to appreciate just how lovely my kids are. They adapted to my style of parenting. I let them wear odd socks because that’s ok. I let Thing 2 pour milk into his dinner – on the proviso that he eats/drinks it all – because he’s quirky like that.

I let them sleep in their t-shirt and shorts because they didn’t want to waste time getting dressed in the morning…trampolining was more important.

Granted this wouldn’t be the norm if I was a stay at home dad.

My methods would change and evolve but even still, I realised after just four days that a stay at home parent is not the life for me.

It’s not that it’s a hard job per say, and it’s not easy either, it’s just relentless.

Even the small things like hanging pictures, changing bulbs, mowing the lawn, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, tidying up, become big tasks over time. It’s just nonstop.

I had the cushion and comfort of knowing that my wife would be coming home but if I didn’t I’m not sure how I’d feel. I have a new found appreciation and respect for my wife and stay at home parents but more importantly for single parents who do this day in day out while also trying to hold down a job. After looking after everybody else, it’s the lack of that precious ‘you time’ that really stood out for me. If that’s you, I salute you.

Multitask Mum

As I said at the start of this piece, my wife deserves a mini holiday with the girls. I’ll deserve it too when my time comes. All parents deserve it. Everybody needs a break whether it’s on their own, with friends or as a couple. Life is short. It’s to be enjoyed not suffered and certainly, that’s how we as a family live it.

That said, I was dreading the weekend. Some of my mates were in the same boat so being the nerds that we are we set up a ‘Single Dads’ WhatsApp group and exchanged war stories.

One of the lads even pretended that he’d allowed his kids to stay up and watch the Champions League Final even though we all know that he’d simply failed to get them down to bed that night.

Anyway being a glutton for punishment I decided to invite the lads and their kids over for a ‘Trampoline BBQ’. In for a penny, in for a pound and all that. Nine kids and three adults later there we all were happily soaking up the sun heaping self praise on each other while the trampoline did all the work.

We thought we were great. It was only four days but ignorance is bliss.

One thing we all acknowledged though was how tough a job it is as a stay at home parent and how much tougher it must be to raise kids on your own – whether by choice or not. It’s all consuming, it’s relentless and it’s often thankless and we only needed a few days over a long weekend to experience this.

We couldn’t fathom what it must be like if you have to hold down a job on top of all of that.

So as the title of this piece suggests, I salute and tip my hat to all the hard working single parents out there.

Best,

DD

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Dear Dad: A Message From My 6-Month Old. Part 2

Dear Big Person,

Thanks for taking on board some of the issues I mentioned in my last message. Your stale breath has slightly improved and I’m glad to see that there were no ‘nappy nugget’ incidents last week.

While I lie on my back I have a good deal of time to ponder about things so I’ve put together a few more bugbears that I hope you’ll be able to help me with…

1. Can you remember to clean in between the creases of my chubby legs. I found a raisin in one of them yesterday. At least I think it was a raisin, same colour but ‘twas very very soft.

2. That long necked thing that you guys call Sophie, any chance you could get it to stop squeaking? I’m continually biting it but it won’t shut up.

3. Heads up that when Mummy tells you that she didn’t know I had a ‘pooey’ nappy, she’s lying. She often sniffs down there, calls you and then pretends to get a phone call from somebody important.

4. I may only be starting to rollover but I’m no fool. Just because you turn over the mattress doesn’t mean I can’t still smell the vomit.

6. Speaking of rolling over, those Lego pieces are a bit hard on these young gums. It might be advisable to move them out of my way. I’m happy enough with the stale Liga I randomly find under the couch however.

5. Mummy has mentioned this to you several times but can I remind you to use the vests from the top drawer rather than the bottom drawer which are now 3 months old.  My bum isn’t meant to squeak every time I move and I’m sure my ‘wiggly thing’ is meant to have room to wiggle.

7. NO NO NO. Don’t ever put one of those winter snow suit thingys on me again. They look ridiculous and we don’t live in the arctic. I’ll be the laughing stock of crèche. Lilly with the one tooth has already had a snigger.

8. You might want to get the floorboard fixed. I hear it every time you try to sneak out of my room. I keep screaming at you but you don’t seem to understand.

9. If you can’t be bothered to cut my nails then face the consequences. It’s not my fault.

10. Same goes for Mummy and Thing 2’s hair; if it dangles I’m going to grab it. Get me some better toys and I might not be so entertained by their screams.

Nappy Nuggets

11. Any chance of a bonjela drip? These gums are killing me.

12. That activity centre gives me a right old wedgie. Best not to put me in it until my feet actually touch the ground.

13. Don’t mind Mummy, I’ve no issue with staying in my pyjamas all day. I’m happy to follow in your footsteps.

14. If you don’t like seeing the spaghetti race down the wall then stop moaning and move my feeding chair away from the walls.  What did you expect?

15. I’ve never seen you eat with a shovel so can you do me a favour and revert back to using the small spoons when feeding me. I’m starting to look like the ‘The Joker’.

16. Sippy cups? Sippy cups? Honestly how old do you think I am? I’ve only just mastered the full fist in mouth, give me a few weeks will ye.

17. I know I take an age to eat my dinner but when it goes cold could you heat it up again? I never see you tucking into a cold Sheppard’s pPe or Bolognese?

18. Do you know how unnerving it is to know that somebody is staring over my cot while I’m pretending to be asleep? If you really need to do it then go to Dublin Zoo.

19. Don’t you love when somebody puts a clothes peg on your nose? No I didn’t think so, so will you relax when wiping my nose and ‘squeezing’ every last big of gunge out of it.

20. Nappy rash is bad enough but stubble rash is just taking the piss. Please shave before you insist on kissing me.

Thanks. Thing 3 xoxo

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Dear Dad: A Message From My 6-Month Old: Part 1

Dear Big Person,

You’re the first dad I’ve ever had and so far you seem to be OK at it. That said I’ve nothing to compare you against so if it’s not too much trouble I’d appreciate if you could take the time to read some of my bugbears below….they’d make my life a whole lot better.

1. Please brush your teeth before kissing me in the morning. It smells worse than my nappy.

2. Don’t be a lazy toad, put the nappy cream on me every time. We’ll see how you like it in your old age.

3. Eh, you can quit with the airplane feeding game. It’s well run its course. Just feed me and shut up.

4. And if I don’t like the food, I don’t like the food. Get over it.

5. I hope the wheels on the bus fall off so you can stop singing that annoying song.

6. Can you do me a favour and quit putting your thumb in your mouth and then wiping my face with it. It stinks. Have ever wondered why I keep throwing my soother out of the cot? Karma sucks baby. Pardon the pun.

7. Can you tell the other two small people to wipe their noses before they decide to kiss, cuddle and ultimately gunge me. Or better yet, do it for them. Cheers.

8. I kind of like my toes, especially putting them in my mouth from time to time so if my shoes no longer fit, they no longer fit. Square peg, round hole. Alright?

9. By the way, it’s your own fault if you keep throwing me up in the air after I’ve just eaten.

10. If you don’t like my ‘nappy nuggets’ falling onto the ground then refrain from chasing the other two small people around house with the nappy. That’s fear in their voices, not laughter.

That's My Teddy

11. If you insist on moaning every time water sprays out of my ‘wiggly thing’ then stop chatting to me and making stupid noises while you’re changing me. Duh.

12. Can you tell the older woman in the tablet to stop singing songs every time she sees me? You don’t see me crying before she starts do you?

13. Listen I know we don’t live in subtropical climate but we’re not in the North Pole either so do me a favour and relax with the number of layers you put on me…especially given that you insist on further wrapping me in blankets when we go out. That redness on my face is heat not constipation.

14. The vibration on my chair has an off button so can you please use it every now and again? It’s nice to enjoy a ’melty puff’ in peace without trying to guess which way my hand will move.

15. While you’re at it, relax with the nappy straps; they don’t need to be that tight.

16. Listen if you insist on so much tummy time, I’ll have to insist on face-planting to make you stop. Agreed?

17. Do you have any idea how boring it is sitting with my back to you and staring at the food-stained seat while we drive? When can you turn me around? Also, there’s a whiff of urine off the seat, did the two small people have it before me?

18. And do you really have to turn on that mobile above my cot every time? Really? It’s doing my head in and the tunes are so 3-months-old.

19. Just a heads up that Granddad 1 doesn’t know how to hold me properly. I think we’re both scared when he picks me up.

20. Oh and by the way, Mummy spilled the drink on the new couch, not Thing 2. I notice that she tells you stuff like that a lot.

Thanks, Thing 3

Ps. Do the above and I’ll continue to let you use me as a scapegoat for your flatulence.

A Message From My 6-Month Old: Part 2