Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Day I realised I had developed the 'Dad Bod'

The Dad Bod - get up and active

I've always been active, be it sport or doing things at the weekend. However, I must admit I was unprepared for all of that being turned on its head when we started a family. I think it was worst with our first because we were learning as we went, and after; a full day at work, limited sleep, house chores and DIY etc the last thing I felt like doing was going for a run, or even think about exercise. Instead; we'd eat post 9pm together, most of the time. I'd raid the vending machine of sugary dreams at work, and then crash on the sofa between the two hour bottle feeding cycles we were 'advised' was a must.

It wasn't until I saw a picture of myself whilst on a beach, that I realised I had started to develop the 'Dad Bod', and was actually 'daddy cool'. This was not a look I wanted or felt comfortable with. Don't get me wrong I was not a finally tuned athlete before, but I certainly did not have moobs or a second chin. I'm not critical of anyone who does, as it takes all sorts to make the world go round. But I personally felt something had to change, which I decided to do gradually so I could still help out and pull my weight (no joke intended). But also I wanted to show the boys that taking part in activities was good.

I started taking part in the local parkrun which I found by chance online. It's a free event and only 3K, plus:
  • It's organised which helps in me thinking I've got to go because someone else is taking the time to be there. 
  • You have a unique barcode which tracks you on the morning, and plots how you're progressing time wise, within your age and gender groupings.
  • There are people of all mixed abilities which helps make it a friendly place to go, particularly when it's blowing a gale in the middle of December. 
  • If you're away for the weekend and there is a local parkrun, you're able to attend and your time is recorded using your barcode. 
This helped me start to get back on track and cut those sugary foods from the vending machine etc. Don't get me wrong, I still look nothing like Cristiano Ronaldo, but the moobs and gut are slowly disappearing. Plus my wife doesn't hear me moaning after the third bit of cake anymore. I'm also feeling more energised, which has picked my mood up, and I'm sure is helping everyone in the house as it's one less stroppy person to deal with. 

As the boys get older, I'm sure there'll be opportunity to get back into recreational sports, and they may even join their old man in the weekly parkrun. For now I feel like I've found the balance that's right for everyone. Who knows, I may even meet my target of taking part in a half-marathon by the end of the year, and a full one in the next three (knee permitting).  

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Streaming TV, you just saved my mind

We've never had any pay-per view tv services, so either used good old Free View or DVDs. However, we found that we were spending money hand over fist on dozens of kids films only for Toy Story 2 or Frozen to ever be watched/provided background noise whilst we all kipped on the sofa. It must have been about the tenth time of playing Frozen I actually managed to see it all the way through. And, no my life does not feel complete as a result. 

When I found out we were going to have our second I was determined I would not be stuck downstairs doing the last feed whilst everyone else was asleep, to be left watching repeats of EastEnders and Corrie. Or even putting the Shopping Channel on and seeing the Insanity Workout routines and Nutribullet sales pitches (subliminally mocking the Dad Bod).

So with wanting to save space from piles of scratched DVDs, and to keep myself sane through the long winter nights of feeds, nappy changes and fixing broken toys, 'we' opted for Amazon Prime. My eldest also enjoys it as the classic infant catnip of; Pepper Pig, Fireman Sam, and The Land Before Time, (currently this months favourites). Plus there's the music streaming options, or the TV screen saver of an open fire, with sound effects for when those winter evenings really draw in (wishful thinking).

So you may be wondering where those DVDs are now? In the garage waiting to be boxed up and sent off to Music Magpie. That'll no doubt be the summers task when I can't get the BBQ out for all the junk.

My top TV shows with plenty of series and episodes to get through the tough nights are:

The Walking Dead
Ray Donovan
Black Sails
Mad Dogs
The X-Files

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

When three becomes four

When three become four - Keep calm and carry on

This is I guess as good a place as any to start my first blog on OneDad2Sons. Back in September 2015 we welcomed the arrival of our second son. Both my wife and I come from dual-child families, and we wanted to give our eldest the same experiences we had growing up. Although we both had sisters, and he now has a brother. So my wife is now out numbered, and facing what her dad had to endure in being out-numbered.

We tried preparing for our new arrival, but didn't really know what to expect, other than we were having another boy. After all we had just gotten used to having three personalities in the house, and the whole; work, nursery, life, and exercise balance had just gotten back on tack, providing some sort of normality. But now we were willingly chucking a potential grenade into the mix, with a fourth member of the family.

With our first although rewarding, it was bloody hard going physically and emotionally. My wife breastfed for six weeks, and I could see it was becoming stressful for both of them. So I bit the bullet, and got some formula. After reading the instructions because it was not covered as part of the NCT classes, and using cooled boiled water (taking 20 minutes to cool seemingly not ideal compared to the instant milk from his mum), he promptly took 8oz. What was the fuss all about I thought? That was until he bought it all back up out of his mouth and nose. Not exactly the perfect way to relieve a stressful situation at 1am. Needless to say I didn't sleep that night and kept a bleary eye on his basket. It took longer than we ever thought to get into some sort groove. We probably didn't help ourselves with all the books, YouTube videos, and varied yet well intended advise from family and friends. If I'm honest, I did have that experience in the back on my mind as the second pregnancy developed. However, this time round we had ourselves a Threenager, along side a newborn. 

Our biggest concern I guess like most having a second child was how our first would be on meeting at the hospital, and how they'd be when we all got home. I must admit we couldn't have wanted for any better a reaction. He was an absolute star. I think it helped that we ordered a bag full of 'How to Train Your Dragon' toys as a gift from his new brother, to sweeten his arrival. We had spent the 9 months prior involving him in choosing toys, clothes, singing and talking to the bump. Since then, the two of them have developed a really nice bond, with the youngest starting to smile and laugh. How long this will last for I have no idea, but I'm sure that when he starts taking those Dragons it'll change. But for now all is good, and any animosity or jealously is aimed towards us. 

Don't get me wrong, although it's bloody annoying, tedious and frustrating to deal with these outburst, they are inevitable and according to the experts part of their development. We'd rather it be aimed at us than a four month old. Even if I've only had three hours sleep, and getting ready for a big day at work. It comes with the territory, and won't last forever. Or at least I hope it won't. Plus throw in to the mix the fact he's now kicking his naps, and trying not to fall apart by the end of the day as a result. I'm still learning to pick my battles, which is a big learning curve for me. But just as I think I've got it, they're moving on to the next phase, which in itself is tiring.

Just as our eldest is learning about the new dynamics and adjusting, so are we. More so than before, as what little time we had is now split. We often find ourselves; hurrying meals, washing and drying up (no dishwasher), working our way through the mounds of washing and tumble drying, and removing a dozen toys from the bath each night. All this whilst keeping to the routine of the new addition, and making sure we spend time with the eldest. This was made easier during the first six weeks, with the on-hand support from the Mother-in-law. Even bed time is now phased, where I'll do the last feed, whilst my wife goes up early with the dreaded anticipation of getting up in the middle of the night. And before my alarm goes off somehow we've all ended up in the same bed, jostling for position to just about stay in it. Considering they're little people, they take up a lot of the bloody bed in their diagonal starfish positions.

It's my wife who I think has gone through the biggest change, and how she's managed to stay sane I have no idea. I applaud her strength, calmness and ability to entertain everyone's needs. I do try to help but in my slightly blinkered view I think I'm helping, when I'm clearly not. The intention is there, honest. That's another point I'm trying to work on. During weekends when I'm around all the time the routine goes out the window, which must frustrate the hell out of her.

Before the youngest arrived we had conversations about "wouldn't he benefit from the same one-on-one attention the eldest had?". But, you know what, given where we are now we're all having to adapt, and he doesn't know any different. We're making sure we give him all the attention he needs and deserves. Plus we love him just the same, even if he's having hand-me downs from our eldest. If anything, and this will no doubt prove to be the commentators curse, he's fitting around an active family, and everyone seems to be onboard with that. For the moment, at least. Lets see what happens in the next eight months.