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Showing posts from 2018

Dad Discovers... Shopping

Ah shopping. Some things I blog about aren’t necessarily age-specific and will probably stay the same regardless of how old The Boy is. Soft play for example, will always actually be soft torture even when he’s a bit older. But other things change over time and have varied massively depending on his age.
One of the times this is apparent is my experience of taking him to the shops. At two-and-a-half I’d say he’s been through three main phases:

Phase 1 – Babe Magnet This could actually be taken in two ways since it involves having a baby stuck to you like a magnet. When the Boy was really little I loved nothing more than strapping him to me in his harness and going off out and about. A few weeks later he started demanding a better view than my chest, and he soon became semi-permanently attached to me, looking out into the world taking in the sights and sounds.
At this point he was a dream to take around the shops. However, it was clear from day one that certain people were drawn to ba…

Dad Discovers... Soft Play

“A dungeon horrible, on all sides round… No light; but rather darkness visible served only to discover sights of woe” 
- Description of Hell in ‘Paradise Lost’ by John Milton.
A Great Idea Soft play establishments were one of those things that I was vaguely aware of before having kids, without actually having any interest in. It’s a bit like the way that I’m aware of cricket, ITV Be and Luxembourg and have nothing against them but have no plans on giving them any of my attention.
Flash forward to the present and I’m sitting at home with a small energetic child, it’s raining outside and we desperately need to get him out of the house for a bit. Then we remember that there are mythical play lands specially designed for small children. They have a cafĂ© too, so what’s not to like? We decide to give it a try. Remote for a Reason What sets the tone for these places very early on is their location. Something conveniently located in town? Nope. Something in a leafy suburb overlooking a park? …

Dad Discovers... Football Teams

Fickle Fan While watching the England v Colombia match the other day The Boy ran in and shouted: “Red team score a goal!” I was delighted by this until about 5 seconds later when he had a change of heart and declared “Yellow team score a goal!” and then annoyingly repeated that for the next few minutes before losing interest altogether and wandering off to play with some trains. At 2 years old it’s a stretch to get him interested in anything that’s not on CBeebies or Milkshake, but I realised that by the time the 2022 Qatar World Cup rolls around he’ll be six and will probably be a lot more interested in England’s success. Inheriting the Pain This got me thinking about supporting sports teams, the tribes we align ourselves with and how we often pass these allegiances onto our children. As an English kid with an English family, The Boy will have no choice but to support England. He’ll inherit the shared history of everything the English team has or hasn’t done over the years and that …

Dad Discovers... Being Ignored

Parenthood can be a cruel mistress sometimes. There's been a lot said about the one-sided nature of the parent-child relationship, and that's unlikely to change until your children reach the age of 23 and wake up with the sudden realisation that you've done a lot for them and you weren't really trying to ruin their lives after all. And of course, nothing makes us appreciate our own parents more than actually having kids ourselves, which forces us to think about everything they had to put up with when we were kids. But although it's not always a bed of roses, few things will match the kick in the guts the day your toddler decides they can't be bothered dealing with you at all, and starts ignoring you.
Welcome Home  It takes me about an hour and a quarter to get home from work including a lengthy walk and an even lengthier train journey. What keeps me relatively cheerful is knowing that my little boy will be waiting at the end of it. So imagine my joy when havin…

Dad Discovers... Safari Parks

A Love of Cars I'm originally from Essex, and we love cars. So much so that we've figured out how to involve cars in activities that didn't involve them in the first place, and in some cases invented new car-based versions of existing activities. Fancy a meal? Drive-thru McDonalds. Fancy selling some goods? Boot sale. Fancy hooking up with random strangers? Dogging.

So why use up valuable energy trudging round a zoo when you can sit in your car and point at animals through your window? I'm fairly certain that the people of Essex didn't invent the safari, but frankly it's right up our street. What's more (having some Essex blood in him), The Boy LOVES cars. Even more so than animals, so a trip to Woburn Safari Park would clearly be a winner for everyone (especially the pair of 2-year-olds travelling with us).

After arriving at the park and paying to get in, we got The Boy out of his car seat and let him sit on my lap while I drove. Every other parent was do…

Dad Discovers... Birmingham

Let's all go and spend a day in Birmingham! Said literally no one ever. But being brave and adventurous we leapt into the unknown and became the first family in history to do a day trip to Birmingham. Probably.

In truth, despite having done a lot of international travel I still hadn't visited the UK's second biggest city and had no real idea of what there was to see (other than Brummies). What with it also being the nearest city to us after London, I felt this was a bit shameful and it was time to rectify the situation.
Getting There Fortunately at around the same time we were looking into this, there was a sale on with Virgin Trains and we'd managed to pick up some cheap tickets on a fast train. The Boy LOVES trains, so this was a perfect opportunity to get him on one, whilst not being a long enough journey for him to terrorise everyone on the carriage.

So having arrived at the swanky redeveloped New Street Station, our first destination was Brindley Place, at the he…

Dad Discovers... Moving House

Living in a Box When we moved out of our little London flat into our first house, it seemed huge. It had an upstairs! It had a whole other bedroom! It had a little dining room! And although we quickly filled it up with stuff, it was comfortable.

When we had The Boy we had to get some extra stuff which took up a bit of space, but it wasn't actually too bad. But the older he got, the more stuff we seemed to need, and the more space everything took up. This also went for The Boy himself, who went from needing a space to lie in to a bigger space to crawl in, to an even bigger space to run around like a lunatic. After a couple of years of very careful space management involving storing everything into tiny spaces like a giant game of Tetris, the realisation dawned on us that we'd need a bigger place.
House Hunting Our previous criteria had gone something like - Does it have at least two bedrooms? Can we afford it? Can we easily get to and from work? Is it in a nice area and does i…

Dad Discovers... CBeebies

CBeebies is great. Until you have kids you'll probably never have any cause to watch it, but once you do you'll be thankful for the BBC for creating it. It's brilliant. There are, of course, loads of other kids channels out there from CITV to Nickelodeon, Disney Channel to Baby TV, but most depend on a paid subscription of some kind, are predominantly American in content, and are bursting with adverts. CBeebies on the other hand is free (sort of), has no adverts and can generally be relied upon to serve up several hours of good quality content for your sprog.

Needless to say there's a lot of different programmes out there, but these are my current personal Top 10 CBeebies shows.

10) Justin's House The almost reincarnation of Emu's Pink Windmill Show, hosted by the undisputed king of toddler TV, Justin Fletcher. He pops up all over the place on CBeebies but this one is the most fun.

9) Baby Jake Oh look, this family live in a windmill! Ah, here's each membe…

Dad Discovers... Eating Out

Do you remember eating out in the days before you had kids? Remember how your stupid, naive younger self would just occasionally go out and have a generally pleasant time, eating interesting food and having good conversations with whoever you were with? Well thanks to your darling child, you won't have to deal with the pressure of that kind of spontaneity again for several years.
First Trips Out Our first few weeks of parenthood mainly involved just staring at The Boy like he might explode at any minute. But after a short time we were confident that he was probably OK, was reasonably unlikely to explode, and we started taking him out into the world. This, in hindsight, was a golden time as we took him to all kinds of fun places and showed our friends just how cool we were and how having a baby hadn't changed us. If anything, we figured we could do even more fun things than we did before and at one point even ventured to a festival in the middle of Trafalgar Square where he at…

Dad Discovers... Night Feeding

A Simple Guide to Night Feeding.Prepare a sterilised bottle and a sealed bottle of formula milk ready for feeding. Place next to your bed and congratulate yourself on your outstanding organisational skills before going to sleep.
Get woken up at an indeterminable hour by a baby who unleashes a furious rage within five seconds of opening his eyes.
Frantically pour milk into a bottle and try to delicately screw on the top properly whilst baby’s whole head turns red as he wakes the entire neighbourhood. Fail to do this first time whilst sleep-deprived and the room is in complete darkness.
Baby gets louder and angrier. Try again, but not whilst holding baby as he will likely boot the open bottle all over you and the bed, creating a damp patch that you will then have to sleep in for the rest of the night.
Stick the bottle in the yawning chasm of baby’s gob and try to keep it in whilst baby shoves his hands into his mouth, pushes the bottle away or thrusts his entire body back like he’s been ta…

Dad Discovers... Nappy Changes

First Impressions Think about having a baby and one of the first pictures that pops into your head is a nappy. And then maybe a creeping sense of terror around what's in that nappy. You might have spent a lot of time around kids. You might have had friends or siblings with babies that you've played with or even helped feed. But odds are you never been called on to remove freshly-laid poo from out of their bum crack, and that's just the way you like it.

Well congratulations my friend, you now have a child and you're now responsible for keeping it clean. You're now an officially designated nappy changer, and you're going to have to get your hands dirty. Quite possibly in a literal sense.
The First One It's fair to say that I didn't have a whole lot of time to prepare for the first nappy change. In fact apart from a bizarre 10 minutes in an NCT session with a nappy, a baby doll and some Nutella (which has put me off Nutella for a few years) I had zero exp…

Dad Discovers... The First Few Hours

A Baby "Congratulations!" said the midwife, placing a tiny lump of wrinkly grey flesh on my wife's chest. I was a dad. After nine-and-a-bit months of pregnancy and many hours of labour here was a small person that we had made. A whole life that we'd just created from thin air. I looked at him as he slowly turned from grey to pink, and he looked at me with his dark eyes, sizing me up with an expression that said "So you're going to be my dad then huh? Interesting." I looked at his tiny hands and wrinkled fingers and he gripped my own finger with his hand. I was a dad. We stayed in the hospital for a while longer, I did my first nappy change and despite having prepared for his arrival for a very long time, we just looked at him in slight disbelief that he was there at all.
Leaving Eventually, the medical staff told us we were being discharged and could all go home. By this time he'd been dressed in his first little babygrow and looked much more like …

Dad Discovers... Blogging

The day I became a dad things changed. Not just the overwhelming sense of love and responsibility and the sick stains on my clothes, but the feeling I was entering a whole world of parenthood with it's own rules, expectations, products and activities! After finally feeling that I just about knew what I was doing with my life, I was now just a newbie trying to figure it all out as it came along.

More so than anything I've done before this has all been a massive learning curve, and I thought it might be fun to document as much of it as I could and share my findings with others. So I've created Dad Discovers. I hope you like it.