Digital Dad: Things I Learned As A Parent Last Month

Dad of three. Husband of one. Master of None. All opinions are my own unless my wife tells me otherwise. 

From Happy Meals and Olympic events to Febreze and ‘bags within bags’, here are a few parental learnings from the past month.

1. As far as my kids know, Happy Meals come with 5 nuggets.

2. There’s nothing like going out for lunch with your kids to remind you never to go out for lunch with your kids.

3.  Anyone who says that seeing their child enter the world was the ‘best moment of their life’ has clearly never had two bars of chocolate fall at once from a vending machine.

4.

1st baby: “Can he have this?

“Hmm let me check the salt and sugar content. Is it organic?

2nd baby“Can he have this?”

“OK but just a little bit”

3rd baby“Can he have this?”

“Yes he can have anything as long as it’s not alcohol or drugs.

5. It’s not that I hide in the bathroom per se, it’s just that I sit down and if nobody needs me I stay there.

6. If there is ever an Olympic event for kids who use a new cup every time they want a drink of water my kids would win gold.

7. The longer you’re a parent, the harder it is to get excited when people tell you they’re pregnant.

8.

“They’re just at a really difficult age right now”

Translation:

*They’re little sh**s and they’ve been like this now for years. I just don’t want to admit it.*

9. Have kids if you enjoy slipping on ham, using a chisel to remove Weetabix and waiting four hours for them to zip up a coat.

10. If kids are required to do homework it should be practical stuff like cleaning their room, helping their parents to cook, learning to tie shoelaces etc.

11. My 4yo struggles to find shoes that are in front of him, but he can spot a sliver of onion in a bowl of rice from 10 foot away.

12. I wish I loved something as much as my toddler loves touching his privates. Oh, actually…

13. One of the hardest parts about doing laundry is resisting the urge to feck it all in the bin.

14. One of the hardest parts about parenting is resisting the urge to punch them in the face. (Joke, obviously).

15. You’re never more needed and more ignored than you are as a parent.

Dad of 3. Master of None.

16. If they’re old enough to critique what you make them for lunch they’re old enough to make it themselves.

17. Febreze is the only fragrance I use these days.

18. My 4yo told me yesterday that I ruined his entire life which definitely makes him his mother’s son.

19.

4yo“Dad, when will I be a grown up?”

Me: “When you have a drawer full of grocery bags within grocery bags and a bag full of new and used batteries”

6yo: “Huh?”

20. Putting post-party kids to bed is fun if you have two and a half hours to kill.

21. 65% of parenting is feeling guilty about throwing away school work.

22. 5% of parenting is finding ways to throw away said schoolwork without your kids finding it.

23.

6yo: “Dad, can we go to Burger King?”

Me: “Maybe at the weekend but only if you can spell it for me”

6yo: “Ok….Actually let’s go to KFC instead”.

24. I banned my kids from screen time yesterday so that we could all have a miserable day. It worked.

25. Pre-kids: “Oh hi. Come on in”.

Post-kids: “Oh hi. Come on in. Please excuse the mess and ignore the smell”.

26.. If I had a euro for every time my 4yo (and my wife) didn’t listen to me I could buy a lot of wine. *

DD


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*Drink responsibly

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: A Bell-inter of a night away

The first night away from your kids can be filled with anxiety for a lot of parents but for us (well me anyway) our first time leaving our 6 month old, Thing 3, was anything but. We’re not ‘helicopter parents’ so any chance we get to ‘escape’ our kids is always met with enthusiasm.

The prison-break in this case was an overnight stay in Bellinter House, Navan, Co. Meath, and to say that we were looking forward to it was an understatement.

Our rescuers for the night were my in-laws and before they had even finished their offer of taking all three boys overnight, we had packed the toys, clothes, nappies, creams, EpiPens, formula, baby food, monitor, travel cot, kitchen sink and buggy and we were camped outside their front door with the car engine still running.

The only trepidation we had was how soon into the trip would we start arguing about directions.

Photo credit:: Ruth Maria Murphy
Photo Credit: Ruth Maria Murphy

Me and my good lady wife have travelled all over the world together and have umpteen road trips under our belt but navigators we are not. In all our glorious years together we have yet to reach a destination without numerous in-car profanities having been hurled at each other. Thankfully Sat Navs have become the norm but even with that, we still travel with two of them – Google Maps and in-car navigation – just on the off-chance that one of them is ‘lying’ to us.

So we headed off kid-free and with the sound of two Sat Nav voices talking over each other. It was like having two other stammerers in the car with me…it was starting to sound like a rap song. Forty-five minutes later we ‘reached our destination’‘reached our destination’ and as we switched off our two travel companions we were ready to relax and indulge in our pre-booked afternoon tea.

And that’s what Bellinter House is – a step back in time where one can relax and indulge in the surroundings of a fabulous 18th Century Palladian styled house, designed by Richard Castle the same architect responsible for Leinster House.

Stepping inside we were met by very friendly and knowledgeable staff who informed us of the games room, the library and the set of interconnected drawing rooms that branch off from the lobby. Our bedroom – one of 5 rooms in the main house – was a large Georgian room with high ceilings, pink walls, dark wooden floors, and oodles of character.

Vintage furniture, coupled with a modern mirror-tiled rain shower, centrally controlled lighting, an entertainment system and coffee/tea making facilities (which delightfully included Tunnocks tea cakes) all combine to the quirky elegance of the hotel.

Photo credit:: Ruth Maria Murphy
Photo Credit: Ruth Maria Murphy

As mentioned, we booked ourselves in for afternoon tea – a selection of hand cut sandwiches, warm scones with cream & jam, and pastries, all served with tea and coffee – and settled ourselves in the fabulous drawing room for the next couple of hours. At €20 a head the afternoon tea was good value for money and the scones ticked all of this Dadbod’s boxes.

My only bug bear was the bizarre Banksy-esque interior design choice of blanking out sections of paintings, with spray paint and masking tape throughout the drawing room. It’s an odd choice and we weren’t the only ones to comment on it. This is subjective of course and the ultimate first-world problem and to be honest, we were just happy to sit in our palatial surroundings without having to peel ham sandwiches off the floor or wash cream and jam out of Thing 2’s hair.

If filling your belly with afternoon tea isn’t your thing, then Bellinter’s extensive grounds offer a multitude of paths and walks and with wellies available for guests, it’s easy to slip into your walking attire and explore what Co. Meath has to offer. Horse-riding, clay pigeon shooting, hot air ballooning, wakeboarding, golfing or fishing on the River Boyne can also be arranged.

Needless to say we did none of these and having hit a food coma we retired to our fabulous room for three hours of uninterrupted sleep. Bliss.

Photo credit:: Ruth Maria Murphy
Photo Credit: Ruth Maria Murphy

Bellinter’s 2AA Rosette award winning restaurant the Eden is located in the vaulted cellar which is accessed via a narrow spiral staircase. The food and service were very good although the cellar itself felt a little sparse which was in stark contrast to the cosy surroundings of the drawing rooms above.

That said we couldn’t fault our lovely meal – Eden Smokies and Braised Pork Belly – and two hours later we rolled out of the restaurant and retired to the drawing room for some evening drinks by the open fire.

The next morning we enjoyed a perfectly good buffet breakfast in the cellar before my darling wife headed to the Bathhouse Spa for a very relaxing back massage and some eyebrow treatment thingy. I, on the other hand, headed back for a 2-hour kip in preparation for next 11 months of broken sleep. Hail kids I thought. Hurray.

The damage…

The cost for an overnight stay including a 3-course dinner and full Irish breakfast will set you back €105 per person sharing. Afternoon tea is priced at €20 per person. A 30 minute back massage and eyebrow tint and shape cost €40 and €20 respectively.

Check out their website below for numerous offers including Valentine’s packages.

The verdict…

We had the pleasure of being invited to Bellinter House on a complimentary bed, breakfast and evening meal basis. That said I feel that the prices listed above reflect good value for money and as a couple we had a very relaxing and enjoyable stay. It’s a very charming venue that perhaps could do with a polish in one or two places but that is to be expected for any 18th-century house.

We had been looking for a one-night bolthole within an hour’s drive of Dublin and Bellinter ticked all the boxes. Door to door it took us 40 mins.

We’ll definitely be back again.

The details…

Bellinter House, Navan, Co Meath. Tel: (046) 903-0900

Other options in the area…

Other hotel and spa options that we looked at around Meath and Kildare include:

Co. Meath

  • Dunboyne Castle Hotel and Spa
  • Johnstown House Hotel and Spa
  • Knightsbrook Spa & Golf
  • Tankardstown
  • Pillo Ashbourne

Co Kildare:

  • Killashee
  • The K Club
  • Carton House Hotel & Gold Club
  • Osprey hotel & Spa
  • Clanard Court hotel

Wherever you choose, I hope you have a great time.

DD

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Random Things You Should Know Before Having Kids.

Here are a few random tips you should know before having kids (or having more kids):

  1. Friends without children might become distant for a while.
  2. Your conversations during pregnancy will be about pregnancy.
  3. Your conversations after birth will be about your new baby.
  4. You won’t know what you did with your time or what you talked about before you had a child.
  5. Babies’ heads are magnetically attracted to doorways or in our case coffee tables. #GluedForehead #StapledHead
  6. Never give your child a bedside glass of water unless you’re happy with taking them to the bathroom at 4 a.m.
  7. In the middle of the night you won’t care how cute a onesie is, you’ll care about haw many snaps it has.
  8. You’ll be judged more than your child will when they act up in public. This is particularly true when in restaurants and parks or on airplanes.
  9. Always make your child go to the bathroom before you leave anywhere.
  10. Time will fly by so take lots and lots of photos and videos.
  11. You’ll better understand your parents, in particular your mother.
  12. You’ll do things that your parents did, in particular your mother.
  13. Your child will watch you every day for lessons on how to be a human.
  14. If you don’t freak out when your child falls down there’s a good chance that they won’t either.
  15. Staying fit becomes a whole lot fatter harder. Hence try to keep up some sort of exercise routine.
  16. Staying awake becomes a whole lot harder.
  17. Staying asleep becomes a whole lot harder.
  18. Children have amazing memories but they cannot keep a secret.
  19. Children like to talk about boring stuff, but talking to them about it is a huge part of their development.
  20. Watching your child interact with other people when they don’t know you’re watching is great.
  21. If potty training isn’t working, it’s probably because your child isn’t ready.
  22. There’s no quicker way to make sure your child is listening than by fighting with your partner.
  23. Yelling at a child mid tantrum will usually make them worse.
  24. Children will ask for way more toys than they need. Unfortunately the same doesn’t apply to parents and money.
  25. If your child has a security blanket or a cuddly toy, buy a spare one or have a backup. We learned the hard way when a dog started dry humping our son’s bunny.
  26. Distraction will be one of your best ‘weapons’.
  27. Your tolerance for gross things will grow exponentially – my tooth recently found poo under my fingernail.
  28. Never be too cocky if your child isn’t going through the terrible twos because they might end up being a Threenager or a ‘Fournado’ (I just made that word up!).
  29. Watching your kid interact with other people when they don’t know you’re watching is great.
  30. Accept all hugs, kisses and cuddles from your child. You’ll get fewer as the years go on.
  31. You’ll try to be the best parent you can, but always remember that just keeping your child alive is a win.
  32. You will need to find the balance between getting sleep and personal time.
  33. Plan as many date nights. as you can.
  34. If your child cries when you leave them just keep on walking. They’ll eventually stop.
  35. If you don’t have one already, you’ll soon develop a DGAF attitude…and it’s great.
  36. I’ve lots more but I’m too tired from parenting…zzzzzz

DD

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THINGS I LEARNED AS A PARENT (PT 3)

1. I’m half tempted to create an ‘Unboxing dinner’ video on YouTube so that my kids will eat the bloody food.
2. I’d love to calculate how much time I’ve spent looking for something I know I’ve already thrown away.

3. Raisins, or as I commonly refer to them as, ‘my favourite little box of shut the f*ck up’.

4. My kids moan if they have the same dinner 2 days in a row yet they’ll happily have the same cereal everyday of their lives.

5. If you want your kids to do almost anything just tell them that it’s bedtime.

6. The only thing I want to try in the bedroom these days is 8 hours sleep.

7. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tap your kids to see how long is left when they are telling you a story, similar to when you tap the screen on a YouTube video

8. Apparently no one calls more than a husband doing the grocery shop.

9. I agree with my kids a lot just so they will stop talking.

10. What doesn’t kill you DOESN”T actually make you stronger; It wakes you up by jumping on your head, telling you that they’ve wet the bed and that they want breakfast.

I1. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be moaned at in surround sound, I recommend having 3 kids (and 1 wife).

12. Nothing ever good comes of a conversation that begins with “Dad are you in a good mood?”

13. DD Tip: Take your kid’s ‘artwork’ to work and throw it away there. That way you’ll never get caught throwing it away at home.

14. My kids go through more toilet roll than an Abracadabra jacks.

15. Yesterday I pressed the pedestrian crossing button right in front of my kids just to remind them who’s in charge. That’s how petty I am.

16. Don’t give your kids a Granola bar before bringing them to the dentist….NOT impressed.

17. I poured boiling water on my hand the other day – I wasn’t trying to – and the first thing I heard was ‘Daddy can I have a snack?’….He chewed on that bandage for a good 5 minutes.

18. I often wish there was a drive-thru for everything.

19. I’m now at the stage where I wish that I can sleep when I can’t and I’m no longer able to sleep when I can.

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

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

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

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

24. Lego should invent a Lego hoover that parents can use to hoover up Lego.

25. A walk in the park is not a walk in the park.

26.Tetris and Tupperware drawers are pretty much one and the same.

27. What doesn’t kill you DOESN”T actually make you stronger; It wakes you up by jumping on your head, telling you that they’ve wet the bed and that they want breakfast. #GoodMorningThing2

28. I’m inventing a ‘Sock Lock’ that prevents toddlers from pulling off their socks and chewing on them. Hit me up if you want to invest.

29. Regardless of how tired you are, check that the sticker is off the apple before you scoff it down.

30. “DAAAAD. HELP. It just came out”. What I didn’t want to hear (or see) when i walked into the bathroom at 3.37am last night.

31. I’m convinced that my 4-year-old is trying to disprove the scripture that ‘man cannot live on bread alone’. #ChallengeAccepted

32. ‘Ugh I hate broccoli’. Yet he’ll eat freshly picked snot no problem.

33. Co-sleeping; what a load of s***.
—->(1) nobody bloody sleeps and
—>(2) it’s more like snow plowing, given how much I have to shift both kid and wife over to their side.

34. Although frowned up, it;s not illegal to call a toddler an asshole.

DD

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THINGS I LEARNED AS A PARENT LAST YEAR (Part 2)

1. 90% of eating with your kids in a restaurant is preventing them from (1) putting food in their drinks or (2) spilling their drinks.

2. ‘Dad, why don’t you let the radio sing instead?’, was just cruel and unnecessary.

3. Trying to open a Capri Sun without it squirting out is one of parenting’s toughest challenges

4. Wearing a Halloween Mask in bed has been a great way to stop our kids from wanting to sleep in our bed at night.

5. You don’t know creepy until you’ve had a child stand over you at 3am and whisper ‘Bunny says he doesn’t like you”. #TimeToChangeTheUndies.

6. Did you know that blueberries can pass through a baby’s digestive system fully intact? Same goes for sweetcorn, carrots, potatoes…

7. One of the best sounds you’ll ever hear is your partner and kids in fits of laughter in the next room.

8. . That said, hearing Thing 1 (5) ‘teaching’ and explaining something to his younger brother (3) makes everything in my world completely insignificant.

9. Son: “DAAAD I only asked you to hold my ice cream”.
Me: “Yes and that was a mistake. Now you must learn from it..

10. The one thing I have in common with our baby is we both cry when our bottles are empty.

11. 6yo: “Daddy what does neglect mean?”
Me: Sssh I’m watching the golf.

12. “I want a snack” – my 4yo when he’s eating.

13. Nothing halts having fun with your kids quicker than when one of them grabs your glasses.

14. We teach our kids not to lie and then 30 seconds later tell them that their picture is excellent.

15. Before i had kids i thought only perverts sniffed underwear.

16. If you yell “what are you up to” and your kids say “nothing” that’s kid code for “you better get off your fat a** and check on us”

17. Always double-check the garden after you’ve had a party because seeing a 3 year old chew on a cigarette butt is all sorts of wrong.

18. If you want to see a full-blown meltdown, give a boy a girl’s party bag by ‘mistake’.

19. Always make sure that your son is looking into the toilet (or even at the toilet) when you offer to have a ‘wee wee’ sword fight with them. #DadsWillUnderstand

20. I’ve been present at 3 births (right hand is still fractured) but nothing compares to the facial expressions of a toddler trying to squeeze out a poo.

21. Sunday bedtime is usually when my kids like to discuss quantum physics

22. It’s also the time when my kids ‘need to finish’ their homework.

23. …and it’s also the time when I tend to lose my sh*t.

24. I only bring my kids to the library so that I can get some peace and quiet.

25. I’m never more nervous than when I insist we’re out of something and my wife goes to look for it herself.

26. You haven’t really been patronised until a 6yo hugs you and starts patting you on the back

27. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make my 3yo wipe his own arse.

28. Its weird how 6 glasses of water seems impossible but 6 glasses of wine can be done in one sitting.

29. ‘No I’ll do it myself’ is the reason i’ll never be on time for anything ever again.

30. ‘Really. Wow that’s mad’ – things I say when i’m not listening to my kids (or wife)

31. If bottled bath water was a thing, my kids would drink it by the gallon.

32. Even if my privates were on fire my kids would walk into the room and ask me for a snack.

33. 4yo: I don’t like it, it’s too spicy.
Me: IT’S A YOGURT

DD

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THINGS I LEARNED AS A PARENT LAST YEAR (Part 1)

*a selection of some of my random thoughts on being a dad to 3 boys*

1. Being a dad has thought me that you don’t need fun to have alcohol. very important lesson.

2. Three boys. Well I’ll tell ya one thing, farms don’t smell as bad as they used to.

3. Raising a toddler in particular is similar to being a dog. You’re continually sniffing an arse

4. If you think your kids will go to bed earlier and easier just because they didn’t nap, I can recommend the following book – ‘Parenting For Dummies’.

5. First child – healthy, organic, sugarless everything.
Third child – “Just pick it up and eat it” [as the microwave burrito falls on floor].

6. It’s getting harder to figure out a way to play with my kids without actually moving.

7. If you’ve never had a stalker experience just put a 1yo in a walker. #TheStalkerInTheWalker

8. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, trying to count out the correct amount of formula scoops is a head f*ck particularly if someones talking/screaming/sh*tting in the background.

9. The new title of my imaginary parenting book will be ‘Never mind, i’ll do it myself’.

10. If you slack off enough kids become very self sufficient, very fast.

11. Therefore teach your kid from an early age just how comfortable the couch is so that they aren’t constantly asking you to do stuff.

12. That said, no good ever comes from a toddler sitting naked on a couch.

13. Lads, always go big on Mother’s Day…I learned the hard way (the fact that she’s not actually your mother didn’t seem to matter).

14. If something looks like poo, feels like poo and smells like poo, it’s poo.

15. Pro Tip: Continually emphasising the need to keep your kid on a strict schedule makes it easier to say no to crappy things you’ve been invited to.

16. The smell of a bad nappy can linger in your house longer than your In-laws. I love them really (the in-laws that is).

17. When remarking that ‘they’ve gone down well tonight’ it’s always best to check that the monitor is on first.

18. Potty training and bubble baths should never be mixed – all will look lovely on the surface but what lies beneath can be the stuff of nightmares.

19. The day before you bring your kid to their first swimming class, put a little pee in their bath so that they are used to it.

20. Pro Tip: Have your partner leave you a voicemail of the baby screaming. Save it and play it to people when you need to get out of something.

21. If your buggy doesn’t have a cup holder, get one. Believe me, It’s easier to play Jenga on a bus than it is to steer a buggy with one hand.

22. Assuming they’re fit and able to pitch in, accept every bit of help on offer from granny and granddad, Their philosophical advice will be brilliant. Their medical advice not so much!

23. I’m noticing more and more that most of my sentences tend to start off strong and then trail off into sighs as my kids ignore me.

24. Planning our wedding was easier than planning dinner that everyone will eat.

25. It turns out that if you wait long enough to make dinner everyone will just eat cereal.

26. Hell hath no fury than a toddler who wants to peel a banana himself.

27. Hell hath no fury than a dad who has to clean up a squashed banana

28. Saying ‘see you in the morning’ as I tuck my kids into bed is pointless.

29. It’s possible to destroy a house with a granola bar.

30. It’s also possible to destroy a house with a rice cake.

31. The loudest sound in the world is my 4 year old shouting ‘Dad, I have to do a poo’ followed by “Dad can you wipe my bum”.

32. If you have Ready Brek on your crotch there’s a good chance nobody will sit beside you on the bus/train.

33. The trick to cleaning Weetbix off the floor is not to leave it for more than 8 seconds.

34. I wish my wallet refilled as quickly as our laundry basket.

35. It’s near impossible to not open your own mouth every time you try to feed a baby.

DD.

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Part 2 tmrw (unless you’re sick of reading this stuff – just let me know)

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.

Let me know if you’re interested – SIGN UP HERE

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Best,

DD


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Digital Dad: Mums and their Boys – What to Expect.

Apart from the endless mess and the countless trains, planes and automobiles that you’ll have in your home, here’s what to expect and what you should know if you’re a Mum or Mum-to-be of a boy. I have three…

1. Tolerate the Fart (and burp)

Thankfully my good wife grew up with two boys, so she’s well equipped to deal with the potent mix of various human gasses. Kids think farting – or ‘whizzpopping’ as we call it – is funny, end of.

Obviously, there’s a time and a place to fart/not to fart and we try our best to teach our boys this valuable etiquette. For instance, try not to fart in public and if you do, apologise (where appropriate) and try to get out of there quickly without laughing, and never fart under your duvet unless you 1) don’t mind retching and passing out or 2) don’t like the person next to you in the bed.

Regardless of whether you personally find farts funny or not, they will happen so get used to it and learn to tolerate the little people that do.

2. Willy fascination will start early

Boys practically play with their willies from birth. It’s there, it’s dangly and it’s flexible. What more could they ask for?

For the rest of his life, this could be your son’s best and most treasured friend (why do you think we have pet names for them?). Don’t worry about this early fascination. It kind of never goes away (it’s his manhood after all) so be thankful that your son is inquisitive and no doubt thankful to you for his ‘dangly donger’.

Unfortunately no matter how fascinated they are with their ‘little soldier’ it’ doesn’t compute to them learning how to pee in the toilet properly…aka. the Tinkle Sprinkle

3. Get used to the Tinkle Sprinkle

Boys will sprinkle when they tinkle – i.e. urinate – on the toilet seat or bathroom floor etc. You’ll have to get used to this. In fact, boys and pee go hand in hand (pardon the pun). Pee can go and will go everywhere and anywhere – e.g. floors, walls, plants, toys, shoes etc.

The older they get, the better their aim becomes, but with age comes greater range which in itself can be a problem. Keep wipes beside the toilet and whatever you do DON’T keep a toilet rug.

Mum and her boys

4. Safety standards go out the window

OK, so I’m the type of Dad that laughs and shouts ‘hooray’ when one of my boys falls or walks into a table, door etc. I don’t do this because I’m mean or I enjoy seeing them hurt themselves. No, quite the opposite actually. I do it because like most kids, as soon as your child has an accident they turn around to see what your initial reaction is. And if it’s a reaction of horror, angst, worry, or a complete overreaction, well then your child is going to overreact too – and most likely burst into tears.

I instead pretend it’s a game, so that my reaction when they look at me is one of fun and silliness. No, it doesn’t always work. Yes, your kids will most likely cry anyway, but your reaction will help massage the perceived seriousness of the accident.

Boys will be rough and tough. They’ll climb furniture and trees. They’ll jump off chairs and tables. They’ll shoot each other with Nerf guns and most likely give each other wedgies when they are older. This is part and parcel of being a boy regardless of how odd and weird you think it is. Rethink your safety standards and try not to wrap your kid up in cotton wool, unless he needs it obviously.

Just keep the Band-Aids handy.

5. Accept the Full Monty

This goes hand-in-hand (sorry again) with the ‘Dangly Donger’. Boys love to parade around in the nude – well at least my boys do anyway – whether it’s the full monty or just panning out watching RTÉjr in their boxer shorts.

As soon as they are able to dress and undress themselves, their inner Chippendale is released and unfortunately there’s no going back. Embrace it and let them have fun.

Just don’t ask where they got it from.

6. Don’t compare Apples to Oranges

Boys tend to be a bit slower and lazier than girls when reaching milestones. Apparently, I was 21 months old before I started to walk and guess what – Thing 2 was 18 months old too. My goddaughter was only 12 months before she started to walk, so give your little man all the the encouragement, support and time he needs.

This goes for potty training too – we still have a nappy loving 3-year-old who hasn’t cottoned on.

Boy eating pizza

7. Compare Apples to Oranges

…when it comes to drama and tantrums.

Boys, just like girls can throw the ultimate hissy fits over the smallest of issues.  ‘That’s my ninja turtle’, ‘no that’s my Ninja turtle’ or ‘I wanted to sit there…’ etc etc.

A tantrum is a tantrum and my boys are experts at stomping, shouting, door slamming, crying and ‘you’re not my friend-ing’.  True, boys can be more easy-going and agreeable but don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that they aren’t dramatic.

8. Stock up on food.

Boys are active. Active boys get hungry. Hungry boys get cranky. Parents hate cranky. Cranky loves food… this is an endless cycle.

As your boys get bigger and bolder, they become little eating robots and they’ll want to eat more and more. the fridge will be continually raided so keep it stocked up and keep cranky at bay.

9. They will adore you.

When our friends heard that we were having a third boy, nearly everyone sympathetically patted me on the back and said that my wife lucked out and that she would be spoiled by ‘her boys’ for forever and a day. Me, on the other hand, would be tossed to the ‘old-age scrapheap’ because I don’t have a daughter and thus I’d be feeding off scraps for the rest of my life.

A slight exaggeration of course (I hope) but my three boys absolutely idolise their Mum (and rightly so) and there really is no bond like it.

I’ll no doubt be relegated to the point where I’m being bought crappy socks for Christmas and my birthday while mum gets pampered but I’m OK with that, kind of.

Goofy kid

10. Expect the goofy

If you watch Modern Family, then imagine a mini-Phil Dunphy. Boys will be goofy, quirky, weird, and eccentric – and that’s perfectly OK. Be prepared for it. I guarantee you’ll be called (or have been called) poopy head, poopy pants or smelly pants at least once. Am I right? Sure I was called Moo-head (a first for me) only last week by Thing 1 because I forgot to put a spoon in his lunchbox. Silly Daddy.

Boys will have the oddest conversations with other kids and they’ll play the strangest games but again that’s OK. I love quirky. I love eccentricity and you’ll find me laughing all day long at home (and even joining in) with my crazy boys.

Why be just another brick in the wall, after all?

Man, I love them.

DD

Catch me on: Facebook |t: @DigitalDadDiary


Come back next week for my next installment. In the meantime, if you have any funny stories or topics that you’d like discussed feel free to get in touch.

 

Digital Dad: How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online.

Vigilance is a word often used when discussing parenting because the key role for any parent is to safeguard and protect your kids as best you can from the inherent dangers that life throws at them. The internet is no different.

The real world is one thing but the digital world – an ever-changing landscape – opens up your kids to a new wave of potential vulnerabilities and threats.

Instead of continually worrying about it, or worse, worrying your kids about it, my advice as a parent is to immerse yourself in the digital world, educate yourself and in-turn, educate your kids.

I’m a father of three and already I’m teaching my 5-year-old about the internet – what it is, how it works, how to use it and what’s good and bad about it – and like a sponge, he’s soaking up everything.

I believe in educating rather than scare mongering so here are some of my tips for educating and securing (as best you can) your kids online.

Kids on Smartphones

Step Into Their Digital World

Get involved – the internet is a digital playground and it’s inevitable that your kids will want to access it so find out what they are interested in and what are the best websites and apps for their respective ages and interests.

Be their co-pilot and learn about what they are doing, what they have access to, and what they like doing. Guide them and teach them about the rights, the wrongs and the dangers of using the internet and instil in them a sense of responsibility.

Show them that you are open, interested and enthusiastic about their online hobbies and interests and you’ll find that they’ll be much more responsive to you.  As they get older, let them ‘fly solo’ but frequently check in on what they are doing.They are kids after all.

Note: There’s a multitude of free parental control mobile apps available to download that protect your child from accessing potentially harmful content online.

Establish House Rules

Decide how much time you’re comfortable with your children being online and which sites or apps they may go on. I introduced mobile apps to my children when they were three.

I allow them 30 mins of shared time on my phone each day – mainly Lego, driving games and puzzles – and an hour of shared time at the weekends. This is all on the proviso that they have behaved themselves during the day and that they have completed their chores.

Talk about the rules and explain them to your children but don’t be averse to negotiation.

We do not under any circumstances allow our kids to go online unaccompanied or without our permission. We have multiple devices in our house but we have them all set to forget our Wi-Fi password so that they cannot get online without either my wife or I present.

Family Online

Teach Your Kids to Protect Their Privacy

Depending on their age, children won’t really understand the consequences of sharing or revealing personal information online. Sure even adults struggle with this so from an early age educate them on the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of sharing information and make sure that they know the following:

  • Never to give their name, phone number, email address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission
  • Not to open emails from people they don’t know
  • Don’t accept friendship requests from people they don’t know
  • To verify requests if they look to be coming from someone you do know
  • Not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages
  • Never agree to a private chat with a stranger
  • Not to arrange to meet up with anyone they “met” online.

Educate them early and educate them often.

Beware of Strangers Baring Gifts

From an early age, children understand the concept of ‘cops and robbers’ so if explained simply to them they too will understand the concept of a hacker being a type of ’burglar’ that breaks into your house via the computer rather than through the window.

My kids are too young to have email accounts – we’re still at the Jolly Phonics stage – but kids are always thought never to accept sweets, gifts or lifts from strangers so it shouldn’t be a big leap to educate them on the dangers of accepting ‘gift’s from strangers online. Gifts in this instance could be unsolicited email attachments such as viruses, worms, phishing applications and so on.

If it looks suspect then it usually is. For example, while I write this I received the following text message from ‘Irish Tax’ with an accompanying web link

Beware of scam messages such as this one
Beware of scam/fake messages such as this one

Teach Your Children to Log Out
Simple I know but you’d be amazed at how many people forget to log out of their computers. This is particularly relevant if they use a shared computer or device.

Logging out will prevent siblings or friends from posting or emailing from their account, even if it’s done as a joke.

Be Careful What You Post or Say
Children (and adults to some extent) need to remember that the online world is the real world. Just because a screen separates you from the people that you’re talking to or the sites/apps that you’re interacting with doesn’t make it any less real. Think of Donald Trump’s use of Twitter!

Teenagers, in particular, should be regularly reminded that everything they do over the internet is captured forever and could come back to haunt them at a later date. Nowadays, schools, universities, and employers look at social media profiles when researching candidates.

So make sure that your children understand from an early age that anything that is put online should assumed to be permanent.

Some Rules For Securing Yourself Online

So now that your children are online how do you protect them from hackers, cyberbullies and identity thieves? In truth, there’s no single or simple answer to this. Everything within reason can be hacked so again you just need to be vigilant and follow a few basic rules.

My advice is to put down the ‘Nasa’s Encryption Techniques for Dummies’book and focus, instead, on the mundane everyday stuff that you might not realise you should focus on.

Here are a few simple tips to get you started.

Secure Your Wi-Fi Network

Start with your entry point to the internet.

  • WiFi Encryption – First and foremost make sure you’re using WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protection Access) encryption on your Wi-Fi network. WPA2 provides government grade security by implementing various encryption algorithms. If you are using WEP security I’d recommend changing it so refer to your user manual for making the quick change.
  • Router Password – A Wi-Fi password is one thing but make sure your router is password protected too. Change the router’s default password (usually ‘password’) so that you don’t give someone access to it. With access to the router, a person could change your router settings, including viewing any security keys. Refer to your router manual for making the necessary changes.
  • Disable remote administration – If you never plan on wirelessly connecting to your router, I recommend disabling remote administration. Again, refer to your user manual for making this simple change.

Hacking

Bluetooth connections

If someone has access to an open Bluetooth connection they can potentially switch on your phone’s microphone and listen to you. Most people think that hackers have to be within a close range to do this, but in some cases, they can be within a mile radius.

Again just be vigilant. If a device that you’re paring with is giving you the standard 0000 code then it’s vulnerable. If it’s giving you a unique code then it’s a lot more secure.

Secure Nanny Cams

It’s horrible I know, but if you have an unsecured Nanny Cam (or any connected device for that matter), hackers can potentially gain access to it and spy on your little ones. According to security experts the two most commons methods of gaining access to cameras are:

  • Google Dorking – This is just using regular Google searches to find open cams. For instance, if a camera always has a public URL + camera number, hackers can run some quick queries and search for more open URLs. There’s even a search engine for internet connected devices called Shodan which has a section that lets users easily browse vulnerable webcams.
  • User Manuals – Another simple, but overlooked way to get access. Every camera owner is going to forget their password at some point, which is why manufacturers put that reset info in the manual. Now those instructions are sitting on their site waiting to be exploited.

To protect yourself from this type of hacking, look for a camera that has the following features:

  • Administration settings – Get a camera with a lot of administration settings and change the username and password as soon you set up the device.
  • Remote shutdown – Get a camera that will allow you to shut it off remotely without being physically there.
  • Private URL – Get a camera who’s URL isn’t public. If you’re able to easily watch your kid online, chances are other people can do it too.

Geotagging

Geotagging is the act of tagging your photos with geographical information about where a photo was taken.

By default, the camera application on your smartphone has the ability to add GPS coordinates to the image file so potentially this could put your children at risk. For example, let’s say you post a picture on Facebook of your child’s first day at school, a hacker can now scrape that photo for information and tell exactly where the photo was taken.

The easiest way to prevent this is to turn off or change your location settings on your phone.

Hopefully, this article has informed you of some of the risks associated with being online. Could you get hacked? Sure. Are you likely to be hacked? Not particularly but there are always opportunists waiting to strike so it’s better to be vigilant than ignorant…

Safe browsing…

DD

 

If you have any comments, tips, stories or you like/don’t like what you’re reading feel free to get in touch. Likewise, if there are any topics that you’d like me to cover please feel free to ask.

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