Digital Dad: Nut allergy, the biggest party pooper in town.

What started out as an innocent bite turned into a life threatening, life altering situation.

It happened one Saturday morning. On seeing his Mum attempting to scoff down a peanut butter bagel before starting the 100+ chores that every parent has, Thing 2 innocently asked if he could try some of her bagel.

After duly obliging for fear of a tantrum, Thing 2 bit in and no sooner had the crunchy butter hit his lips than he spat it out with the typical ‘yuck’ that most 2 year olds so quickly become fluent in. He didn’t even swallow it. It merely touched his tongue. It had been in his mouth no more than two seconds. Unfortunately that was enough.

What started out as an innocent bite turned into a life threatening, life altering situation.

His entire face swelled up. His eyelids became so puffed that he could longer see. Hives broke out all over his body. He started to gasp for air and credit to him he didn’t even cry (which was almost worse). Needless to say we got the fright of our lives but thankfully this was only a warning sign. After bringing him to our local chemist, his symptoms were treated with oral antihistamines but we were lucky. Very very lucky.

Thing 2 has since been diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. He’s allergic to other nuts too but peanuts are the killer (god forbid) and had he swallowed the peanut butter that day who knows what would have happened.

His entire face swelled up. His eyelids became so puffed that he could longer see.

Thankfully it’s now being managed. I say managed because it’s impossible to control it. Control implies that you are in charge of it 24/7 but unfortunately you can’t always control what your child eats or more importantly what another person gives your child to eat. This is Thing 2’s Achilles heel.

I find that the hardest thing about Thing 2’s nut allergy is being the party pooper – no you can’t eat that, no you can’t eat that either. Sure we’ve been told that Thing 2 is never allowed to be in a Chinese restaurant. A life without sweet ‘n’ sour chicken and spring rolls is not a life worth living!

What’s more is we’ve become the party pooper family.

Thing 2 started preschool a few weeks ago and due to the seriousness of his condition, birthday cakes are banned and letters were sent to the families of the other kids stating that no nuts of any kind were allowed.

Bye bye Mr Peanut Butter sandwich.

This not only applies to his school. As you can imagine, parties, planes, sleepovers, child minders, relatives, friends etc all have to be instructed about this strict strict policy and furthermore they have to be shown how to use the Epi Pen(s) if Thing 2 is exposed to nuts and goes into anaphylactic shock.

We’ve become the party pooper family.

I can’t stress enough how serious a nut allergy – particularly peanut – is. A lot of people still think being allergic to nuts means that you might just get a rash or start sneezing etc.

For instance on informing a group of people about Thing 2’s allergy, one of the lads in the group piped up with a ‘sure my kid is allergic to carrots’ gag. Now I appreciate that it was a joke but on hearing other people laugh i couldn’t help but feel that he was making fun of the allergy.

My first thoughts were, ‘well if I shove a carrot where the sun doesn’t shine, do you want to see what type of reaction you’ll have’

I can’t stress enough how serious a nut allergy – particularly peanut – is.

But in all seriousness, Mr Carrot Man’s joke/attitude highlights one of the major reasons why it sucks to have a child with a nut allergy – some people assume we’re being paranoid and that we’re being party poopers for no good reason.

That said education and awareness is much better than it used to be and if we could tackle nut allergies like the NHS are tackling sugar with their Sugar Smart – Change4life campaign we’d be doing well.  Checkout their Sugar Smart app (free on iOS & Droid) where you can scan the barcodes on food packaging to reveal the number of sugar cubes in everyday food and drink.

Now wouldn’t it be nice to see the HSE do similar….


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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.


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Study Finds, Women need longer than six weeks to recover from childbirth.

Having a baby is a beautiful experience. Or rather welcoming a baby is a beautiful experience. As a guy I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, even fathom a guess as to what you amazing women go through during pregnancy both physically and mentally. Us guys have it easy. We can just sit back eating Jaffa Cakes waiting for the new little person to arrive. It’s very much a man’s world.

But as everybody knows, giving birth is just the start of it. The demands on one’s body can live long after the birth of a child and although most books and doctors may tell you that you’ll be back to normal within six weeks this just isn’t the case for most women.

Of course, I can only talk about my own wife in this situation but while being pregnant with our second child she developed Symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD which stayed with her for almost three years. For every day of those three years, she was in crippling agony.

Sometimes she was unable to walk, sometimes she was unable to get out of the bed, and sometimes she was consuming more medication than she was food. Three full years of chronic pain – multiple doctor visits, multiple nerve block procedures, multiple physiotherapists and oodles of pain medication but unfortunately nothing helped her.

Needless to say, it took its toll on her and if I’m being honest it took its toll on me too. Anyone who has suffered or is suffering from SPD will tell you just how painful and emotionally draining it is. Thankfully after the birth of our third child, the SPD went away and my fantastic wife is now more or less back to her original brilliant self.

Mother and newborn

The reason I write about this is because I recently came across a study by Dr. Julie Wray – a researcher in Salford University in England – who interviewed numerous women at different stages of post-partum life in order to gain a unique insight into postnatal recovery.

During her research, Dr. Wray found that the standard six-week recovery period is a ‘complete fantasy’ and it can take a full year for a woman to recover from childbirth.

Physical recovery is just one aspect. Anybody who has a baby will know that the emotional shift and psychological effects to becoming a parent – even for a father – can be one of, if not, the toughest challenges.

The study found that hospital wards can have a negative impact on women’s ability to recoup and celebrate the birth of their child, and realistic woman-friendly postnatal services are needed to help women with the transition of becoming a mother.

“Women feel that it takes much longer than six weeks to recover and they should be supported beyond the current six to eight weeks after birth,” Wray explains. “The research shows that more realistic and woman-friendly postnatal services are needed.”

I’m young enough to remember my own mother being in hospital for a week after the birth of my sister (we never ate as many portions of beans on toast as we did during that week. Thanks Dad!). The current generation of mums however now feel like they have to go home before they are ready. As well as this, many mums nowadays hold down full-time jobs outside of the home and have to return to work long before they might actually feel ready to do so. Am I right?

Dr. Wray thinks more and longer care of new mums is needed and thinks it is worrying so many new mums feel the pressure to get back on their feet so soon after childbirth

Do you agree with this? How long did it take you to feel back to normal after giving birth? Let us know your comments below.



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Digital Dad: Whip Yourself Back Into Shape!

So before ‘Baby Burpalot’ came on the scene 9 months ago I had established somewhat of a daily fitness regime albeit only after the other two kids had gone to bed and I had let my fajitas digest.

Nowadays however, as much as I try to curtail my sugar consumption, I find myself running out of time in the evenings; what with coming home from work, feeding the kids, changing the kids, playing with the kids, reading to the kids, chasing the kids who have now hidden on me, finding the kids, invariably nursing Thing 2 (who probably ran into a wall), brushing their teeth, wiping their butts noses, wrestling them into bed, prepping for the five further rounds of wrestling them back into bed and finally cleaning up the house.

Oh parenting, it’s such a blast…

I’ve contemplated the get-up and go early morning jog but honestly the kids would probably latch onto my ankles before I even left the house. They’re great like that; “Ha what’s daddy doing trying to get out for a jog? Oh, silly daddy. Let’s hit him in the privates with a Nerf Blaster and jump on his back when he’s bent over. Once we’re on his back, let’s elbow him in the ribs…he loves that”.

Ok, so I’m embellishing slightly but only slightly. I do walk around the house with a Nerf gun holstered to my leg purely for self-defense.

Anyway, I know I’m not the only parent to struggle and juggle with their time and if you are one of these people then keep reading because I’ve come up with some very effective home fitness techniques to whip you back into shape.

1. The Cavity Kid
This is a very simple one. If you have a spare cavity block or two lying around the house, don’t let them go to waste. Place your child on one of the blocks and run around the garden with it. It’s great for the glutes and enhancing your shoulder definition.

If your little one moans about it being sore on their little legs just place a few paper towels underneath them. Likewise, glue is very handy if they keep slipping off!

2. The Sugar Rush
Give your child lots of sweets before they go to bed. You’ll spend the next couple of hours chasing them back into bed. It’s fantastic cardio especially if your kids sleep upstairs. Your calves and thighs will be toned in no time.

3. The Numb-bell
This is an easy one, although you’ll need the right type of nappy for it to be effective. As the name suggests, place a 10lb dumbbell in your child’s nappy and rock them to sleep in your arm.

Regardless of whether they sleep or not, you’ll thank me for the long lasting effects it’ll have on your numbing arms. I’m still struggling to type this after last night’s session.

4. The Insomnia
If you want to increase your stamina, simply lie awake worrying about all the things that could happen to your kids over the course of their lives. The list will be endless and If you want to add some extra stress, turn off the baby monitor and lie there wondering if they are OK.

Exercise With Kids

5. The Horseback
If you’re good at multi-tasking then this one is for you. Lie flat down on your stomach and let your kid(s) straddle your back. Slowly raise your body up and down using only your hands, always being careful not to drop your child.

If you have long hair sometimes your child might like to pull at it. Also if you’re hungry you could put a plate of food on the floor and eat off it using only your mouth.

6. The PopCake
You’ll need a large bag of popcorn and some rice cakes for this one.

  • Step 1: Get the kids all riled up about watching a movie and eating delicious popcorn.
  • Step 2: Give them said popcorn along with some nice delicate rice cakes.
  • Step 3. Tell them that they can eat them on the carpet, the couch or anywhere in the house for that matter.
  • Step 4. Hoover frantically for the next hour.

Repeat daily for effective bicep and tricep definition.

7. The Moan
Complain to your wife/girlfriend, who has just had a baby, that you feel fat, overweight and tired. Prepare to run, very, very fast.

8. The Flatpack
It doesn’t matter what it is but buy something that needs to be assembled and then Invite your children into the room while you unpack it and attempt to put it together. You’ll break into a great sweat while you chase after them for the screws, the tools or the now ripped instructions.

I spent nine hours on Saturday putting half a bunk bed together. NINE HOURS, and I’m only halfway done. I kid you not.

9. The Relaxer
This is a close relative to ‘The Moan’ above.

While your partner is working to the bone cleaning up after everybody, simply sit back on the couch and kick up your heels. I won’t tell you what happens next but you’ll definitely break a sweat…if not a leg.

10. The Dodger
This one is fantastic for enhancing your coordination. If you find your partner slaving over a delicious home cooked meal, simply complain about the mess they have made. Believe me, you’ll be dodging flying cups, plates, tins, cutlery, you name it.

As I said, it’s great for your coordination.

Best of luck with them.


Ps. The above ‘exercises’ are meant as a joke and in no way adhere to any health and safety standards….just in case you get the urge to try them! #LegalSmegal

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