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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Pinocchio Parenting: The Lies We Tell Our Kids

I’m a good parent and I lie to my kids. Lying isn’t what makes me a good parent, but it doesn’t mean that I’m a bad one either.

The truth is, everybody lies. Toddlers, teenagers and adults – we all lie. Think about it, you even lie to your own kids you know you do. If you say you don’t, you’re lying!

We lie to our children for a multitude of reasons; we want to protect them, or we don’t always know the right answer, or we’re just lazy or we’re just having some fun. The latter backfired on me recently.

Obviously, there’s a difference between little white lies and lying to kids specifically to hurt them. The former is the result of taking care of the small people we love but who inevitably drive you to your breaking point and threaten to send you over the edge. [The latter, we don’t even go there.]

So, with that mind, here are some common lies Reddit and Pinterest users have heard parents tell their kids. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

1.“The ice cream van only plays music when he runs out of ice cream.”

2. “My dad told me the rumble strips on the highway were for blind drivers.”

3. “Your mom and I were just…em, wrestling.”

4. “If you don’t behave in the drive-thru you’ll get a Sad Meal.”

5. “Smoke detectors are actually Santa-cams.”

6. “My dad told me people only get 10,000 words per month. If you reach the limit, you can’t physically speak until the new month begins. Anytime I was especially talkative, dad would say, ‘Careful, you’re over 9,000 by now.'”

Little white lies...
Little white lies…

7. “If you pee in a pool, there’s a special dye that will turn it red so that everybody knows.”

8. “If you lie a red dot appears on your forehead that only parents can see. It only goes away when you tell the truth.”

 9. “They don’t sell replacement batteries for that toy.”

10. “When I was a kid my parents warned me that if I pressed the ‘reset’ button on the power outlet the house would explode.”

11. “You’ll have to drive a little Smart car if you don’t eat your vegetables because you’ll be too little for a big car.”

12. “We’re not French so we can’t eat the French Fries in McDonalds.”

13. “The tooth fairy won’t come if your room is messy.”

14.  “If I didn’t sit still during a haircut, the barber would cut my ear off. The worst part was that the barber would play along.”

15.  “We have to leave the zoo now. The zookeeper called my cellphone and your crying is upsetting the animals.”

16. “We’re going to bed now, too.”

17. “I’m leaving without you.”

18. “When I was little my Dad told me that toys grew under the weeds in the yard and if I pulled them, eventually a toy would pop out. And I believed it for a long time…”

19. “The car won’t start unless everyone is buckled in.”

20. “We’re almost there.”

21. “I want to carry you but the doctor said your legs would stop growing if you didn’t walk.”

22. “Our fish went to live with their friends in the ocean.”

23. “My father always said the animals on the side of the road were just taking a nap because the road was warm.”

24. “My son was 8 before he knew that football games on school nights had a second half. I always sent him to bed at halftime.”

25. “When we go on a road trip I’m going to tell my kids, ‘If you go to sleep, we’ll take the shortcut.'”

26. “We got our daughter to eat fish by calling it ‘Argentinian Chicken’. That worked for a long time until grandma came along and messed it up.”

27. “Parents used to tell my only brother and I that we used to have another brother who turned into a mushroom from not taking a bath. Even added him to the family albums.”

28. “My dad said if I could look after a special growing rock, and watered it each day until it stopped growing I could get a dog. I’d water it and every week, while I was at school he’d replace it with a slightly bigger rock.”

29. “The funniest one I heard was a father who was asked about coconuts in a store by his son. He said: ‘Don’t go near those son…those are bear eggs…'”

30. “That drawing is fantastic.”

31. “I’ve got eyes on the back of my head.”

32. “We’ll come back later and buy it.”

33. “If you have the lights on in the car at night, the police will pull us over.”

34. “If you don’t wipe your bum properly, it’ll close up and you’ll have to spit out your poop.”

35. “My dad told me oil stains on the street were little kids that got run over because they didn’t hold anyone’s hand while crossing the street.”

36. “To keep my sister and I busy my mom would tell us if we could kiss our elbow we would turn into the opposite sex..”

37. “Burger King is for royalty.”

Have you any funny lies that you were told when you were young? Do you tell lies to your kids? Comment below.

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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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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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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