Putting her life in their hands

In October 2016 we sent Florence off for her first day at playgroup. She had just turned 3 and up until that point all childcare duties had fallen to me, @mother_freckle, the in laws or my parents. Up until that point we had not felt comfortable putting her into nursery or playgroup for a number of reasons but mostly due to her allergies.
However it got to a point where we thought we needed to do it. We needed to let her go and play with kids her own age as opposed to a load of old farts who she tires out after 5 minutes. It was difficult because it meant trusting people outside our family who had at that time no emotional connection to our daughter. We were quite frankly putting her life in their hands.

We looked around the local area for the best place to send her. Lucky for us the local primary school has a little church building in the grounds where the local playgroup is. So we scoped it out and as soon as we walked through the doors we knew this was the place for her. It was family run and just had that homely comfortable feeling about it. We told them all about Florence’s allergies and they did not bat an eye lid. They took it all on board reassured us and told us they would book on all necessary training. They even told us they would change the butter they use to one we use to ensure Flo was safe.
On the first day I was a bag of nerves. She had seemed so big but sending her off made me realise how small she was. It was only a half day little taster but I couldn’t stop checking my phone hoping it was 12pm and we could go get her. When those to little hands ticked to 12 and the doors opened me and the Mrs ran in to find her. She was sat happily with the other kids with a big smile on her face. On the way home she couldn’t stop talking about Aunty Lisa and Eliza and how Eliza was her best friend but not Riley because Riley was silly. It melted my heart and I knew she would be fine.

Over the past 10 months she has grown so much and learnt so much. The playing, the painting, the glitter, the reading, the learning, the all round play that she has enjoyed has 100% made making that decision worthwhile. Its helped make her the wonderful, intelligent, confident, happy, sociable, assertive little lady she is today. She has made some little friends who will now go with her to school and we have made some little friends to, so our social circle has grown. It needed to we had no couple friends up until playgroup came along so we’ve gained so much from it as well.

And today brought the curtain down on this little adventure. I didn’t expect it to be as emotional as it was but it got me. Seeing all the playgroup staff in tears had me in tears. It also showed me how amazing and caring they are and how we were so right to trust them with Florence. They told us how much they will miss her and had nothing but wonderful things to say about Flo and it made me feel so proud. I felt proud of my wife and I for how we are raising our little girls. I felt proud at how well our families do in helping us raise them. But mostly I felt proud of Florence. No matter what comes her way she just seems to take it in her stride. I sometimes feel we ask to much of her, but she just seems to relish it and be unfazed by it all.

I imagine many of you are in a similar position today. I imagine you feel the same way as I do right now. An absolute bag of different emotions; sad because they are growing up and moving on; happy because they have had a wonderful adventure and grown so much; excited for the next adventure whilst also being anxious about what this may bring. I think it’s normal to be a bit all over the show at such milestones. We go through so many of these as parents it can be quite easy to forget them. And I think that’s why I wrote this. Its to help me process everything that has happened in this chapter of our lives, reflect on it and learn from it. I think sometimes I get caught up in a lot of things and maybe don’t spend enough time being present and appreciating what’s happening now in this moment. Before I’ve known it it’s gone. So I am making a promise to myself to be more mindful.

Anyways I wish you and your little ones all the best in your next adventures. And if any of the staff at Flo’s playgroup happen to read this… Thank you.

 

Let’s talk about sex

Now then. A nice juicy topic for discussion. Those 3 little letters that when combined form a word guaranteed to prick your ears up. So what about sex whilst pregnant or after baby has arrived. I thought I would lay down in writing my two pence worth.

So pre baby, you probably had a healthy appetite. You were young, vibrant, in love and child free. Eyes only for each other. Sleep was not a dream but an achievable reality. Your bed belonged to the two of you. A sanctuary you could retreat to when passion struck. You basked in freedom and be it morning, noon or night, you could ride that rainbow to satisfaction.

Somewhere along the way the decision was made to add to your household. This may have been through conception, adoption, surrogacy or any other way that led to the growth of your family.

If you went down the conception route you may have voyaged on a sexual journey that expanded your horizons. The female body does miraculous things through pregnancy and is a wonder to behold, and if you are anything like me you will enjoy this period. As the months go by, and the body shape changes, sex can become more creative, flexible and adventurous. Or you might not be feeling it at all and knock it on the head, literally. You might want that thing as far away from you as possible. If you are the male or spouse in this equation you may be feeling slightly frustrated. A situation that although you crave releasing from, will only be worsened by indulging in self-pity and outspoken disregarded for your partners feelings. (I suggest lots of foot massages and an exuberant use of ‘Yes’ responses when asked to do anything, to help improve relations).

Post baby and the time after birth that is recommend to pass before you engage in a little tomfoolery varies. I have read it is safe from anytime after baby has arrived to at least 6 weeks after. Not being a man of medicine, all I would add is that it is a decision to take together when you both feel comfortable enough to get frisky. Particular emphasis should be placed on the use of contraception during the early stages post-partum. The lady is very fertile and unless you fancy having two children mere months a part and possibly in the same school year, then put a coat on that fella.

Time together, just you and your spouse, may become limited once your new bundle of joy has arrived. Your bed, which was where ‘the’ action happened, is now a place where sleep is grabbed, tears of joy and desperation are shed, as you navigate the early stages of parenthood. You may still share your bed with your spouse but you may also be joined by your child whose head rests firmly on one parent, whilst the other parent has the joys of removing toes from the crevices of their ribs. If you have multiple children, of various ages, you may not actually see each other at night, except for a glancing high 5 as you move between rooms encouraging your sprogs to return to sleep.

This does create difficulties in securing relations of a sexual nature with each other. As such you may now embark on a ‘grab it whilst you can’ mentality, taking full advantage of that 2 minutes where they are a sleep or otherwise distracted. You may be lucky enough to get more and relive some of that youthful joy. You may on the other hand have to adopt positions that if spotted merely look like wrestling manoeuvres, with who ever is on top naturally being the victor, and as such avoiding a more difficult conversation.

Sex post baby may be frequent. Opportunities may be more abundant, confidence high, appetite undeterred. However, it may have dropped off.  I have had a few conversations with parents who draw on similar themes when it comes just reasons for a drop in fornication frequency.  For new mother’s these tend to be due to loss of confidence as a result of post baby body shape, tiredness, opportunity, practicalities of clean up afterwards, what happens if baby wakes and that they have been touched and mauled all day so space not sex is what is on the agenda. New fathers conundrums on this matter, and I can only really talk from this perspective with any really conviction, are that they feel that their spouse does not find them attractive any more, difficulties reading sexual cues (thinking their partner wants the whole package, when they only want a cuddle), not wanting to come across as a pest so they avoid making advances and of course tiredness, opportunity and cock blocks in the bed.

If faced by such difficulties and obstacles I can only suggest one thing. Talk! Talk about how you are feeling, give your side of the coin and listen to your partners. Come up with some things you can do to help get more quality time together. Phones down at 9, date nights, massages without the happy ending. Be present with each other and realise that the difficulties won’t last for ever. Eventually you will be able to get the kids to sleep in their own bed or ship them off to the grandparents for a night. And when you do spend that time doing something nice. Or just fall asleep on the couch like we do, but do it together.

Much Love

 

 

 

A brief theme park survival guide for parents: How to have funtimes!

Before I provide you with a brief survival guide to ensuring funtimes are had by all at a theme park, I thought I would provide a sort of reflective account about how I was feeling going into today as this may have impacted upon my experience and I don’t want to mislead you the reader.

Grumpy, irritated, not in a good mood. Summed up me yesterday. So today the sun rose, the birds tweeted and I got out of bed to relieve myself determined I would have a better day. Instead of going back to bed I took myself downstairs and made a coffee. 5 minutes of peace later I was joined by the eldest, followed an hour later by the outstanding members of the clan.

After the morning pleasantries were completed I was asked by the wife what I wanted to do. Without hesitation I replied ‘Gullivers World’, the local theme park.

No idea where the idea came from just kind spontaneously fell out. Not like me. But there we had it today’s plan done and dusted in a second. Not the usual 4 hour debarcle we usually engage in before we reach a decision about what to do.

The next 3 hours were spent getting ready. Flo has glitter make-up for our forthcoming adventure to Besitval. It was earmarked for this occasion and hidden just in case little hands found it. Fortunately for Flo, the wife is a soft arse and gave it her today. So after I sat patiently whilst Flo fajazzled me I went and completed the first essential piece of advice I will provide.

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Jam pack a bag of food and drink 

Kids eat food. Food at any attraction is well pricey. Therefore save your self some pennies and take a pack lunch. Next point don’t go into any gift shop / sweet shop on site. You will buy for your child. The sweets will be packed full of E numbers. You don’t need that extra hyperactivity. We were surrounded by jacked up Brownies/ Rainbows all day and it was pretty annoying. They clearly hadn’t been kept away from the sugar and it was at the detriment of my ear drums.

So now having shattered your world with that piece of advice I will rattle of a few more pointers.

Leave your personal space at home

Every other bugger does and even if you try to keep some distance your shepherded into very small spaces that make it nigh on impossible to breath clean air. You will find yourself in front of someone who will be exhaling ever so gently onto the nape of your kneck. It will be off putting and uncomfortable but unfortunately it’s unavoidable. Your child will also most likely ask a question or make a statement that could cause embarrassment. For instance “why is that smelly man not moving?”. Kids say the best things at the greatest times. I usually look to redirect Flo, such as “look at the there” and hope for the best. Other kids in the line will accidently sneak in front of you. It will be tempting to call them out on it. I take the more passive aggressive approach and push Florence back in front of them.

Even if a ride is shit fake it 

Flo wanted to go on all the rides. There was one, i forget the name, that looked pathetic. I mean it looked proper crappy. I could have walked faster than it. But Flo wanted to go on it. I tried to palm her off saying she wouldn’t enjoy it but she was having non of it. We got on and sweet baked potato it was naff. We just went round in a circle very very slowly. It’s hard to be enthusiastic after such an experience but remember you are there for them not you. Smile and knuckle down. If they are having fun don’t piss on it. You will regret it when they throw a wobbler later.

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Acceptance

You are in a kids theme park. The inevitably means there will be lots of kids. Your kids are probably ok and well behavedish. Other kids particularly those in large groups, parties, scouts, Brownies etc will be buzzin. Likelihood is their parents have binned them off on the scout leaders for the day so they are free to go wild. This means you’ve got soupped up, parentless kids, in large groups in a theme park with sugar. They will be loud. They will bump into you or cause you to take some sort of jedi evasive action. If one does some stupid shit the rest will follow. Don’t challenge it it will only bite you in the arse. Rise above it. Accept it. Embrace it and remember you were that annoying begger not long ago.

Finally,

Before leaving to go on your experditation make sure you have stuck the wine or beer in the fridge. If you don’t drink make sure whatever you enjoy as a tipple is in because once you get home you will have earnt it.

Much love

 

Review: Breast milk in a brew

Presleep the wife and I have a cup of decaf tea, maybe a cheeky biscuit. It’s our way of unwinding, talking the day over and planning the next day. Without it I don’t feel relaxed or that I’ve put the day to bed.

So last night when I flicked the kettle on, popped the tea bags in the cups and joyfully walked to the fridge I was disheartened to discover we were all out of soya milk. Not a drop.

Now it was 10pm, Sainsbury’s was still open but I was in my jimmy jams and could not build up the energy to get changed and venture out into the dark night to simply get more milk.

All seemed hopeless.  Until I noticed the bottle of expressed breast milk perched upon the top fridge shelf. It was from earlier that day when she left me for a day of galavanting whilst I played solo parent for 7 hours, the longest I’ve ever gone. I had successfully navigated this challenge but now needed to solve my lack of milk conundrum.

I therefore used the breast milk for my brew. And it was fantastic. Gave it that creamy taste I require, whilst reducing the temperature to a consumable degree. It held well, did not curdle, which some soya milks in my experience do, and looked the business. The brew tasted delightful and took a Hobnob successfully.

Nothing major. I am sure a number of people have done it before. Difference is I’ve not heard many people say they’ve tasted breast milk before, well as adults anyway. When I have heard it discussed people usually sound appalled at the idea. Never really understood why it was such a big deal.

Now I’m not saying that we should all go around trying random ladies breast milk or hook up hundreds of lactating mummies and start milking them for profit and consumer demand. What I am saying is that if you try your partners milk or use it for everyday purposes, maybe on your coco pops or in your brew is it that big a deal? I mean it is produced for human consumption and is full to the brim of fanastic properties. It’s readily available, aslong as your partner is producing it, it’s minimal carbon footprint means it’s beneficial to the environment and it’s free. Saved myself a journey to the shop and £1.40 simply by using it last night.

And whilst I am talking about breasts and how they can offend, why do so many people get all riled up other breastfeeding in public?

Doing something natural, that’s been done for thousands of years, gives a baby the essentials for healthy growth and development is seen by some as inappropriate when done in a public areana. We shouldn’t be ostracising women for breastfeeding in public. We should be encouraging it and supporting these ladies. We see so many funbags out there all greased up, getting bobbed around and motorboated and rarely bat an eyelid. So lets not get all squibbly when a mummy pops one out for function.

Mummies I got your back.

The Evolution of Relationships

Picture the scene: Its 2005. A young, firm, moderately tall and somewhat handsome 17 year old takes his seat in his College Physical Education class. To the right the door opens. In walks a blonde piece of arse (don’t be offended I marry her later) in a suede skirt and a fluffy pair of boots. The scores are in. 10’s across the boards. No splash.

She takes a seat a couple of rows in front of him and to the right. He is back row because he has a fear of people sitting behind him due to numerous traumatic experiences of people giving him wet willies. He takes no risks.

Time ebbs away. Not much happens until a soft tone emits from the pocket of our back row hero. The class turn including the fitty at the front, perplexed as to what the song is that rings from the stallions trousers. Without fear he removes his phone and proclaims without hesitation ‘it’s the ringtone from Thomas the Tank, belting tune’ before apologising and turning it on silent. She gives him a little smile. And so it begins. A little flirtation in P.E, nothing more as they are attached to others, until they go their separate ways.

Fast forward 2 years and who would have thought but for Facebook to bring them back together. A cheeky few messages sent and a date is arranged. He whisks her off to that most romantic of destinations…. Hollywood Bowl. There will be no bowling tonight. Just a couple of pints and a few Malibu before cuddling up on the couch back at his place (well his parents couch as he is 20 and a poor arse student) and watching Everybody Loves Raymond.

So what happened next. Well read on below. And see how our couple age and grow. (Didn’t know I was a poet did you).

Enough of the taking as above as I am struggling to keep it up. Hold the innuendos please. So me and the Mrs have been married 5 years but together for 9. It’s been a fair old journey. But I thought I would discuss the biggest changes to our relationship.

Moving in together and bloody housework

Going from living at home to living together actually saved us money. We spent practically every night in the pub when we lived at home. Since we moved in together the pub we went to has closed so I can only presume we were financing it. Anyways it is a big step. You wake up together, go to sleep together, you there, their there. It’s pretty intense. But I’ve found it a good laugh. Obviously we drew straws for house work jobs. Thankfully I didn’t end up in bathroom duty as going elbows deep in toilets is not my thing. Give me a vacuum and an iron all day long. We’ve maintained our roles since the early days and it’s gone ok. Of course I don’t clean to her high standards and I cannot argue back with out the dettol spray coming flying back at my head but it works and the jobs get done.

Getting married

I popped the question after asking her father for his daughters hand in marriage. He was pretty eager to hand her over! The wedding plans went well. I stayed out of it unless asked to engage. When I did try to assist I was told to stay out and my ideas were often dismissed. Despite 4 threats of cancelling the wedding, I did eventually go through with it. I couldn’t do that to her she had worked so hard (it might have been the other way round). Anyhow we got down the aisle said the ‘I do’ s’ and cracked on with life. Not much changed. We still argue, we still laugh. The only difference is if she divorces me I get half and she owns far more than me so I’ve got her there.

Having kids.

The decision was made to add to our family at a wedding. Caught up in the romance and euphoria I leant over to the wife and said ‘now then sausage how about we pull the goalkeeper and see where that takes us?’ How could she say no. I had imagined that over the next months or so I would have discovered why Duracell bunnies have such a good rep. It actually didn’t take long and before we knew it we were now pregnant. 9 months later Flo popped out and we now had someone to keep alive. I don’t think a relationship gets tested as much as when kids come along. Everything becomes more intense. The happiness, the joy, the anxiety and stress. You laugh together more and cry together more. The arguments seem to get more dramatic as you now have witnesses hanging around all the time. We’ve had to watch it because we are a slightly firery sweary couple who have a parrot for a daughter so any ‘fucks’ or ‘buggers’ will defiently be repeated. Then we added another and this changed things again. Where once we might had squeezed 5 minutes together when Flo was asleep, we are now lucky if we manage to give each other a 5 five in the morning or before bed. But its all magic and well worth it.

So there is a little snippet into mine and mother freckles relationship. 5 years of marriage, 9 years of being together and 12 years of knowing each other.

Not always perfect but always eventful.

Much love

Daddy Freckle

Review: The Zack by Bax & Bay

I feel I can rock the shit out of a ladies baby changing bag. I feel this way because I’ve left the house numerous times with the wifes changing bags and had lots of nice comments about how they suit me.

However three years in to this parenting job and with the brood now at 2, I felt it appropriate to go out on my own and become a changing bag owner.

The bag of choice; The Zack rucksack. The colour; Olive green. The reason; see below.

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I needed a multifunctional bag because as well as being a father and husband, I am also a gym enthusiast (I like to go to the gym to take the kids swimming and sit in the sauna), a shopper and all round general family donkey. So I needed a bag that could switch functions when needed.

The Zack bag first and foremost comes kitted up for its primary objective. It’s a changing bag, complete with changing mat, insulated bottle bag and handy pockets for all those little necessities you need to keep your baby fresh and clean.

And that’s about where the comparisons with other changing bags stop. This is not only practical but also beautifully crafted and stylish. Made in waterproof, washable faux suede, the Olive Green Zack bag is prepared for all the hazards of parenting and the British weather. So if its baby sick or a summers downpour this bag is going to keep the contents dry whilst being easy to clean.

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The faux suede is soft to touch and can easily be used as a pillow to rest your head or allow your little one to lie on if your into sharing. It’s comfortable to wear, the straps are strong but gentle on the shoulders and back. A simple pull on the drawstring, and a strap though the sleek buckle, locks your contents away from investigative little hands.

For me it’s a gem of a bag. Workable for family life but also as a general rucksack. It looks at home when I am out with kids or popping into my locker at the gym. It really is a practical purchase for the everyday use.

The Zack Bag is available in 5 colours. From yellow waxed cotton to a cheeky pink little number. See the range here.

For great deals and up to date offers check the Bax & Bay Instagram feed.

The reality of parenting: why I share

Last night the wife and I got talking about why we decided to switch off the privacy settings on our social media accounts and begin sharing our lives with the big wide world. Before doing so we kept all that was happening sealed off, accessible only to a select few who could see and know what we were doing.

So here is the reason I switched off the security setting and let you all in.

Florence was about 3 months old. She had barely slept the whole 3 months because colic had reared its brutal ugly head. Having only recently changed careers, I had started a brand new job 2 weeks before she was born.  I felt like I was treading water. Occasionally it all got to much and my head would go under. I didn’t really talk about how I was feeling at the time as I didn’t really have much opportunity to talk to people, let alone anyone who I felt would understand or was in the same situation. I was feeling properly bleeding stressed out.

Then one day after work I walked through front door and the in-laws were having cuddles with Florence. Honestly I couldn’t be arsed talking just wanted to get a drink, them to go home before the nightmare of bedtime kicked off. However I am a fecking gentleman so I asked if anyone would like a drink. As everyone does when you really cannot be arsed to make drinks, they all churped up that they wanted one. So I trudged off to the kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised that when I got there the father-in-law had got up and followed me. The conversation started off with the usual ‘ How’s it going?’ generally chit chat before he said something that knocked my socks off.

‘Felt like you want to throw her out the window yet’?

I was blown away and it wasn’t because I was horrified at what he had said. It was because I had thought that exact same thing numerous times at 3am when I hadn’t slept, and instead I had been rocking, singing and dancing like a dick head for hours. In that moment I knew I was not the only one who had felt and thought like this. And it’s not that I would have thrown her out the window, but having these thoughts and feeling so stressed was making me feel horrendous. I felt like a proper shit daddy for feeling how I did. Now I was not feeling this way all the time. Generally I was loving being a parent but when it was bad it felt fucking awful.

Anyways after this little eye opener I decided that when people asked how it was going, how I was finding parenting I would give them the whole story. Not just the Disney version but the good, the bad and the ugly. I found people found it really helpful, I even had expectant parents in work telling other expectant parents to talk to me.

Then I joined Instagram.  All I saw was people talking about their perfect child, perfectly sat listening or playing perfectly with their perfect parents who had captured the perfect picture at the perfect time. Everything was perfect. Every picture, every description; perfect. Looking at all these pictures created the idea that 100% of the time these parents and their children were perfect. They were all happy. And that’s great. I love seeing those profiles. They make me happy reading them and hearing about the wonderful things they are getting up to. I understand why people want to only post and talk about all the nice things about parenting.

However for me that is not my reality of parenting. It’s not perfect and it isn’t always happy. I wanted to give the full picture of how me and my family experience life as we fumble along. The aim being simple. If what I talk about helps someone like my father-in-law helped me then I feel I have given something back, helped another parent who might have been struggling like I was.

So I talk and will talk about all the positive things about parenting. I will talk about how proud I am of my children. How much I love them. How I am happier now since they came into this world than I have ever been. All the positive emotions these two little ladies fill me with, the joy, the admiration, the love, will be plastered across my social media.

However I am not going to limit it to that. You will also hear all the hard things about parenting. You will hear the negative side of things. How emotionally at times I feel more anxious, sad, helpless, frustrated and angry than I did before I had kids.

I will share the emotional rollercoaster because I don’t want to just show happy times. Happiness to me is only part of the picture, a great part, but still only a snippet. The main picture is how meaningful it all is. I hope that by doing this people will read my stuff, enjoy it, laugh, maybe cry, but most of all know that they are not alone, that we as parents are in it together.

Much love.

Daddy Freckle.

 

Review: Baby Carrier One – Spring Collection

In the Freckle household we have a number of different ways of transporting the smallest member of the team around. We have slings, we have prams, we have carriers and we have our own muscular strength.

Number one option for me hands down is our Baby Bjorn One Carrier from the Spring collection. This collection has been inspired by the modern day man, a description I hope fits me. Read my #dadstories here.

I’ve been using it for a while now and I absolutely love it. You might have noticed me rocking the anthracite mesh limited edition cheeky little number from the spring collection. It’s the first thing I grab when leaving the house. I’ve forgot it in the past and the consequences have been painful. All the other designs in the collection are stylish and handsome so you are not limited when it comes to options.

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For me the greatest advantage of the One Carrier is it gives me the time to hold little Freckle close without using my own arms and in the process sapping my energy, increasing my core body temperature and all round being generally uncomfortable. Its light and durable and carrying her around in it is comfortable and easy on the back.

It is simple to use which for me is essential. I dont have to spend 20 minutes decoding the instructions before I can leave the house. Just pop it on, strap baby in and we are off. Freedom.

We’ve got slings which come with forty pages of instructions and diagrams about how to strap baby in which baffle me. Quite frankly I don’t trust myself to use one on my own, the complexity of them scares me. However with the One Carrier it couldn’t be simpler to use. Its got three different carrying positions. You can pop baby on your front, facing towards you or out towards the big wide world. Or if you fancy you can pop them on your back. The instructions are simple and convienently located on the carrier if you need them.

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The One Carrier can be used from birth up until three years, therefore growing with your baby and saving you the hastle of having to buy a new carrier at each little milestone. It also frees the old hands up leaving you able to engage in the world as you usually would whilst conviently and confidentially bringing your little one safely with you.

Storage wise it takes up little room. Just hang it up with your coats and grab when needed. Easy.

And if the the inevitable spillage or baby sick happens upon your One Carrier you can relax in the comfort of knowing that a little wash at 40° will make it nice and clean again.

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At the business end it’s priced between £134.99 – £154.99. An investment but one well worth it as it’s going to give you three years of use and closeness to your little sprog, before they want nothing to do with you.

Check them out here.

Much love

Daddy Freckle

 

 

 

The reality of parenting: an unsuccessful mothers day.

When the wife woke up this morning I imagine she thought a day of pampering was ahead. She would have been right. That was the plan. Unfortunately when you have kids things don’t always go to plan.

It would seem Florence has taken my smart arse wind up merchant side and coupled it with the Mrs fiesty stompy side and decided today was the day she was going to show us what that looks like.

It’s been relentless. No breakfast in bed or drinkable brews for my fine lady this morning. She got beans on toast at 11:30am a whole 5 hours after she got up. In between that time we heard the words ‘Can I have’ approximately 309 times and had about 10 end of the  world emotional breakdowns. I was called Mike all day instead of daddy and whenever I told Florence to call me daddy she replied ‘alright Mike’! (Cocky bugger). My stress levels got so high that I developed some sort of stress induced eye twitch.

We eventually managed to leave the house after 2 hours of negotiating and a boot/shoe crisis which made me want to bang my head against the wall. Thinking it would be nice to sit in the sun and have a drink, we went to the pub where I discovered it costs more to drink non-alcoholic beer than the real deal and giving an already hyperactive kid J20 is like giving amphetamines to a cocker spaniel. Florence couldn’t sit still and the excitement finally got the better of her and whilst I was buying the drinks she darted leaving mummy tear arseing it after her baby, car seat and drink in hand.

Florence picked nana a lovely bouquet of wild flowers whilst we were sat in the pub, only to mangle these into a mushy mess on the journey to deliver these. Upon our arrival at nanas Florence proceeded to lock us all out of the house, requiring me to jump a 10ft fence in my favourite boots scratching the bugger out of them.

After a short visit and a hasty exit we visited my parents which to my amazement was a visit which largely went without incident. She appeared to mellow and all seemed to calm. However it was clearly just a break in proceedings and a chance for  her to reboot for when we got home.

Now bedtime in the Brook household usually starts around 5:30. Today it started at 4:15 and that’s after the clocks had gone forward. We had simply had enough and couldn’t wait. So after a splash in the bath where all the toys were launched onto the bathroom floor, Florence was quickly dried and escorted into her bed. After 2 tries at getting her toast request right (I forgot the peanut butter 1st time, didn’t hear the end of that one for 10 minutes) the lights were eventually switched off and peace fell over the house.

On leaving Florence fast asleep I visited the fridge where I proceeded to abandon my quest for a thirst quenching beverage and instead I spent 5 minutes shoveling cocktail sausages into my mouth. Not my finest moment. But hey Florence was asleep and the curtain had dropped on today’s little show.

However like many shows we weren’t done yet. We got an encore. Barely had I had chance to swallow the last of the cocktail sausages when Florence decided to wake up and give us a 2 and a half hour encore. One we were not expecting and quite frankly one we could have done without. Now ironically  after calling me Mike all day she decided to shout for daddy and instead of been relieved and pleased that the message had finally sank in, my stress levels went up and my eye twitch kicked in. Thankfully it only took 20 minutes for her to fall back to sleep.

So today didn’t go anything like to plan. Not that there was much of a plan in the first place but I had visions of putting on a better day than the wife experienced today. But that’s the thing when you’ve have kids, you can plan all you like but if they throw a wobbler you can chuck those plans out the window. Surviving then becomes the aim of the day. Today we survived and the wife is now sat in bed whilst I make us a brew that we can enjoy whilst sat in bed in the dark. Not a bad end to Mother’s Day im sure she would agree.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you lovely mummies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reality of parenting: Dad on the sidelines

The first few weeks of parenthood are a whirlwind of excitement, joy, relief and pure fear. To ease the transition from pregnancy to with-child  you will probably adopt different roles. Mummy may be chief baby feeder and comforter, daddy maybe mummy feeder and rehydrater plus half-arse cleaner. Eventually you settle into it and manage to negotiate your way through this adventure.

For us we had different roles. As the wife was breastfeeding I was not required to provide baby with any refreshments. Seen as food is a fundamental life source not only offering hunger relief and quenching thirst but also providing comfort, I found myself often on the sidelines doing nothing much more than cheerleading. I would feed the wife, ensure she was hydrated but in terms of feeding Floence I was useless. Couldn’t do it. I don’t have breasts that produce milk. The only thing she got from me if she ever latched on was a mouth full of hair which I imagine she was not expecting. We tried bottles and it just didn’t work for us. To much fath and Florence never liked them when we did use them.

As a result I often felt a little bit pushed out. So I made the effort to provide comfort and bond with Florence in other ways. I would burp her after feeds, I would dance around singing songs at 2am when she woke up when she was colicy and refusing to go back to sleep. I changed nappies, I put on silly puppet shows and gave very light soft baby massages. I attempted cutting her nails once but failed miserably (this pops up a lot in my stories as the whole event has left me traumatised) and would use the baby carrier instead of the pram whenever we went out so I could be close to her. 

All the above things, minus nail cutting, brought Florence and I closer together. We have developed a really good relationship. Because although feeds and changes are important, strong attachments are formed by playing and communicating with your baby. When I’ve spoken to dad’s going through the same thing I’ve always recommended trying doing some of the above. I then also warn them about what happens between 7-9 months old.

Before this period babies quite happily interact with familiar caregivers. You will get a look in aslong as you are there and responsive. However at around 7 months babies develop a fondness for a specific caregiver, the primary caregiver. Now in our house I had fecked off back to work after 2 weeks, doing the old 9-5 living for the weekend dance. The wife was on maternity. She was with Florence pretty much every hour of the day. Grafting, raising our little girl and developing an amazing relationship with her. Securing that primary caregiver status. I was firmly in secondary caregiver position, although nana was trying to edge her way in.

Then Florence turned 7 months old and pretty much over night I became unwanted. I couldn’t get a look in. She just wanted mummy all the time. Didn’t want my cuddles to help her sleep or listen to my musical repertoire. Just wanted mummy and her moo moo’s. It got to a point where the wife would get Florence to sleep and if she woke up and I went to see her she screamed the house down.

It wasn’t the greatest feeling at the time and looking back it’s definitely not my favourite developmental stage. But like everything it soon passed. A few months later I was back in the good books and pretty much a bedtime teddy bear, cuddling Florence whilst she went to sleep.

Everynow and again I do find myself back on the sidelines. The last few weeks for example Florence has been all mummy mummy again. If she has woken up at night she has wanted nothing to do with me just wanted mummy. Wasn’t the nicest of times but then again just like all the times before it didn’t last for long and I was back in the being wanted books.

With Edith I am following the same pattern. I am on the feeding sidelines but everything else I can get involved in. I am also mentally preparing myself for that 7 month point again but at least this time I am aware of it and now what to expect.

So if you feel on the sidelines just try and get involved in anything you can think of. Remember communicating and playing with your babies is essential and will help you build that special bond. And when those times come when you get pushed out a little, just remember it doesn’t last forever.

Much love