The Happiest Kids in the World

We all want our kids to be happy, right? Generally we always reflect back to those fond memories – the fun-filled ones with siblings, parents and grandparents. But is it just those fun family times that shape a child’s happiness?

The new book from Penquin publishing “The Happiest Kids in the World” has opened my mind to a whole new side of parenting. I’ll admit, I haven’t finished the book yet. For good reason – 1) I’m a parent so I’m rather busy from time to time and 2) I’m taking to time to process the amazing ideas presented in the book. 

The book focuses on two mums who have moved to the Netherlands. They are married to Dutch men and the idea of bringing up children in this beautiful country is somewhat different to that in other Western cultures. 

So far I have gathered that Dutch children are encouraged to be incredibly independent from a young age. They are permitted to go to the park for hours, unsupervised. They seem to get into sleep routines much quicker than their American counterparts. Schooling is not a deal breaker. People don’t push their kids to get the best grades, instead they encourage them to be good enough. They don’t make their kids start reading and writing until they are good and ready – often that can be at 6 or 7 years old. But … The Netherlands has some of the most intelligent adults, it creates some of the most incredible technologies AND they are ranked the happiest kids in the World.

If you are a parent and you aren’t now rushing out to buy this book … you’re an idiot. It was the best $30 I’ve spent this month. I’m certainly not the best parent in the world – but if I can do a few little things to help make Finn happier in his childhood then I will damn sure do it. I’ll keep you posted as I discover more awesomeness in the book. 

James 

P.S. Thanks to Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison for co-authoring the book. You guys rock.

Who wants to be the perfect parent anyways?

There are modern day expectations placed on all of us, most of all, us parents. There has been a very definite box that we have all been thrown in to – and how dare we step out of it. Well, you know me well enough that I don’t do boxes and I’m not a follower. I like to define my own course, make my own mistakes and have fun along the way. 

As a new parent I have always tried to be the best dad and husband in every way. It’s the most rewarding experience but also the most draining. I see so many couples who have kids and fast forward 5 years, they are miserable and unhappy. Why? Because they have lost track of who they are as an individual. You might be a parent to your child and a partner to your spouse. But you are also still an individual. We all need our own space, our own time and an opportunity to let our hair down. 

This last month has presented itself with a few opportunities. Opportunities to get some extra sleep. However, I’ve used those opportunities to head out to the city and rub shoulders with fellow adults and consume copious amounts of yummy food and a fair lashing of alcohol. I’m not talking white girl wasted here, just a few cheeky brewskis. Lisa and I felt a bit guilty at first that we were heading out for a night whilst Finn was having a sleepover. But honestly – it was the best thing we did. 

If you are constantly on “mum” or “dad” mode then you aren’t going to be at your best. You will likely burn out. Whether it’s a night out on the town, a workout at the Gym, a day at the spa or a weekend away … do whatever tickles your pickle. 

Being a parent in the modern era ain’t easy. Try being good parent rather than a perfect parent. You will be happier and so will your family. In life, shit happens. Let it be. Let people judge, and care not what they think. Bottoms up!

Thanks for helping me reach 7K followers on Instagram!!

Finn’s New Abode

It’s been a day or two since I put pen to paper (or whatever the digital equivalent is!), but for good reason. We’ve uplifted our lives and shifted them over the last few weeks. And yes, my Instagram account has suffered … but I’m committed to reaching 7K followers within the next 7 days. Lol. I can’t have my followers thinking I’ve checked out. 

It’s been an epic few weeks, moving from our family home into our school boarding house. Lisa is loving her new position as Assistant House Manager. It happens to be at the same school where I’m teaching drums – major bonus for my commute! I was wondering how Finn would handle the transition. The first week was rough, really rough. We had a trip to the after hours, 5 trips to the GP and a bazillion millilitres of babymeds. It was torturous and Finn was not his usual self. But this past week has been epic. He’s back to his usual cheeky self. 

Reflecting on the past few weeks has forced me to consider what impact this new life might have on Finn in his early years. I have to highlight that Lisa nor I have any blood-family here in New Zealand. We are so lucky to have a few amazing friends though, and they have adopted Finn as one of their own. But thinking about the boarding scenario … it’s awesome. I’m struggling to pinpoint any negatives. Finn is now surrounded by a huge amount of older brothers and sisters. His new living room is the Common Room and his new backyard is several acres of playing fields and sports grounds. He’s already made a few BFFs at the dining room. Dinner for Finn is one huge social occasion. His most favourite people are Aunty Alice, Didi and Molly. I blogged a few months back about the old one-liner “It takes a village to raise a child”. And I’m truly seeing the truth in that right now. These new people in Finn’s life are going to have a profound impact on his childhood. I’m so grateful that Finn gets this amazing opportunity. 

I have no doubt that there will be many hilarious stories to be told of Finn’s upbringing at the Boarding House. Stay posted!

James

New invention for parents!

It totally baffles me, how we can send humans to space, explore the deep sea and fly in the sky but we cannot keep runny poos in a nappy!
As a new dad I have become very skilled at discovering singlets covered in runny poo and doing my best to remedy the situation. To all of the budding entrepreneurs out there and the Delboy Trotters – I challenge you. I challenge you to create the indestructible diaper. You can even use the “indestructible diaper” brand name if you wish, thank me later. If someone could create a diaper that does not explode every time a runny poo hits it, they would be a multi billionaire overnight.
I ask you to find one parent who will disagree with me. I promise you won’t find that parent . There is nothing worse than changing your babies nappy, washing clothes and adorning some new garments. Only to discover 30 seconds later that the same thing just happened. Repeat this four times within a 30 minute time frame and you have a little glimpse of what it’s like to be the parent of a toddler.
If you are excited to become a parent, please don’t let this put you off. It is simply the most epic journey of all time but it can be challenging. Here’s to the next solid poop.
James

Dom Perignon and Runny Nappies.

Well, she’s been one big old week. If life was a roller coaster – I’ve just experienced it first hand. All in all though it’s been a cracker. 

Rewinding to last Saturday : Lisa and I were celebrating some epic news. Hold your horses folks … no baby news … we aren’t planning or hoping for anything on that front! We cracked the Dom Perignon to mark a very special day – the day that we found out Lisa got an amazing job offer. It’s an absolutely amazing job and the whole experience for Lisa (and for us two lads) will be so cool. I’ll be sure to blog about it as our lifestyle is about to change substantially. We’ll be well and truly surrounded by culture, community and awesomeness. More on that front soon. 

But the next day wasn’t so flash. Don’t be running to conclusions though – it wasn’t a hangover or anything silly like that. Lisa started puking (and the rest that accompanies the stomach flu) Sunday afternoon. Then our friends got the bug and Finny had the runs too. Ever had a Thai Laksa? Well that perfectly matched his nappies. I was the only one feeling chipper. I couldn’t figure out why it had skipped me but I was counting my lucky stars. Must be the luck of the Irish?!

Lisa started to pick up a few days later. Then suddenly I felt a strange wave rush over me after dinner Tuesday night. And the fun began. Irish luck turned to Murphy’s Law. It was shocking. I can’t go in to detail – you might never return to my blog! But I have to say, we were bloody lucky that we didn’t both get sick at the same time. I honestly don’t know how we would have coped with the little guy that night. We would have had to call in the troops. But then you feel like you don’t want to ask anyone for help because you don’t want them to get sick … it’s a dilemma. What would you do??!!

Anyways – the week is coming to a close and I’m managing to keep down my Green Tea and crumpets so that’s just marvellous. 
Finn is still delivering vindaloo a little too often in those nappies of his but the Doctor assures me it will pass. For now, he’s been banned from Daycare. But for all the right reasons! It’s important as parents we don’t spread this sh$t around (literally) – so make sure you respect your daycare’s policies and also invest in some hand sanitiser and a gas mask!

Till next time.

James
Instagram Mayhem

Sorry Ladies.

It’s a well known fact that women are much more organised, much cleaner and more hygienic than us blokes. Now that’s a generalisation but it’s mostly true. Why on earth is that? Do blokes just push these essentials down the priority list? It’s a little disgusting when you start to look at the details. 

A tip for you ladies out there – don’t ever shake a mans hand. Ever. Do what the Japanese do and offer a little bow, or do as the cool kids do and offer a fist pump. Why am I telling you this? Well – I’m a slightly OCD hygiene freak. I hate germs and I hate smells. The thought of BO has me running for the deodorant. Chewing gum is an essential part of my daily kit. Dettol wipes are everywhere. And I wash my hands 20+ times a day.

You ladies must wonder what goes on in the male toilets. Well maybe not, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Blokes will do their essential toilet ablutions, and then proceed to head on out the door without any form of hand washing. Lads will do number twos and forget to wash their hands. I sh#t you not! Not every male does this, but from experience I would say I witness 8/10 males not washing their hands after they go to the toilet. It is absolutely rotten. They are the same blokes that hand over a $20 note to the oblivious cashier for their lunch. The same blokes who shake your hand in the boardroom only a few minutes after walking out of the toilet. Sorry for painting this terrible picture! But it’s time that things change. 

Ladies – I ask you to chat to your bloke about this post. He will likely tell you he always washes his hands but the numbers don’t lie – 8/10 DO not wash their hands. 
I for certain don’t want to be shaking the sweaty, grimey hands of these blokes and then carrying their germs home to my family. 

Sort it out lads. It’s time to be a modern bloke. Use the handwash, and start your sons young with this habit. Change starts at home.

James
Check out the epic Modern Dad Instagram Feed.

The Terrible Twos… a year too early!?

Who hasn’t heard of the “terrible twos”!? We’ve all heard of those tantrum-fuelled horror stories. Those supermarket moments where the little rascal lays down across the shopping aisle screaming bloody murder. I’ve even witnessed scenes like this unfolding and I’ve always thought that the parents need a wake up call and ought to learn to discipline their child. However, times have changed. I am now THAT parent being glared at by the mid-20s non-parent. Yup, role reversal is legit. 
For those of you who know me, you will know that I am merely twelve months into this parenting malarkey. A few months back I was told that Finn was “advanced”. It’s the old one-liner that every parent just loves to hear. But honestly, I think he is just downright outsmarting me. He is very switched on and knows exactly how to get what he wants. 
The Sky TV remote is like Finn’s little fix. It’s his mission to successfully pilfer the remote, and proceed to change the channel. If he notices that the TV channel has changed he will start scanning the room like a hungry Eagle spotting dinner, just so he can see who has his favourite toy. I often think I’m outsmarting him and try to change the channel then attempt to hide the remote under a pillow. But I swear he has eyes on the back of his head. Within 30 seconds he has tracked down his prey!
As of late, I have noticed Finn belting out his hideous scream. It’s frightfully unbearable. It’s usually when he’s munching on a cracker and he spots a Chicken Curry on my plate. Once he realises that I am on superior fodder it’s game over. Once he gets what he wants he instantly cuts out the screaming and seamlessly breaks into a little chuckle. 
How on earth do we sort this little rascal out? Honestly – it is so funny at times. But I don’t want to be that parent who constantly appeases their child. The last thing I wish for is a gaming-addicted, self righteous teenager. And I’m told 10 years goes by in a flash. 
If you have any genius parenting discipline tips for Hurricane Finn, please feel free to share!
James 
Modern Dad

Broken glasses and pee-throughs!

Have you ever had your glasses smashed to smithereens by your child? If you have, I’m delighted. I’m clearly not the only member of this club. However, have you forked out a fiddy dollah bill to get them repaired only to get them smashed by the same little perpetrator a few weeks later? Well that is my situation.

It was Finn’s first birthday and he decided to test out the new carpet in the living room – him and I were wrestling and laughing away – and the next minute he snaps my specs in two. My dad was in stitches – he could hardly contain himself. Me, well I was in a state of shock. How on earth could a 30 year old man let this happen twice – by a toddler!? Perhaps I have an excuse … I’m Irish!

It was really quite funny and I’m currently donning my spare pair of glasses. I’m trying to figure out if I should fork out another $50 to get the glasses repaired. Finn does have a savings account, and he was recently given some moolah for his birthday. At what point do I start making the kid pay for his actions? I’m joking, I’m joking! Funny idea though. Lol. I bet if you asked my parents how many things I destroyed then there would be a list as long as your arm.

As you will know, my little soldier turned one this week. ONE! That’s a pretty huge milestone. Not only for him, but for us. I feel like there should be a certificate or something. Somehow we have navigated this first year safely. Now let me honest, there have been a few scrapes and bruises along the way. A few (hundred) sleepless nights, the odd hangry encounter with Lisa and many many laughs later we are at the first big milestone. What has been so amazing? Where do I start!?

– Finns infectious little smile. That little smile has me melting every time. In fact, he is already using it to swoon the ladies. What a cheeky little devil!
– The morning moments. You parents will know what I mean. It’s that moment when you can hear him from his cot saying “da, da, Dada”. It’s even better than Adele singing her latest lullaby. Seeing his little boat race (please get familiar with Cockney rhyming slang as I tend to use it a tad) first thing is just indescribable.

– I just love sitting back and watching my family and friends interact with Finn. He has a magical magnetism and evokes so much love and joy.

– Finn has brought about a whole new way of thinking for me. It’s a whole new perspective on life, the purpose of my life and my key reasons for being here (some of those key reasons are slightly more mundane such as bum wiping and dishwashing … but hey, they are still essential!).

– I love nothing more than the look on Lisa’s face when Finn cuddles in to her. Finn is a rather active young lad – he never sits still. But every now and then, he will spend a moment cuddling his mum. It’s the best!

The list could go on and on. But I hope you get the point … the first year of fatherhood is truly epic. It’s simply one huge privilege, a gift. So lads, please make damn sure you invest 100% in your family. Love your wife, love your kids and love your life.
Just a little added extra for you … at no extra cost.

I was dropping Finn of to daycare (his most favourite place!) at ABC Merivale last week. I was chatting to Aimee and Ari with Finn in my arms. He was oddly quiet and non-wriggly. But I thought nothing of it. A few moments later I set him down to join his buddies in the nursery … and to my surprise and many other folks amusement – Finn has pee’d through this clothes and MINE! It was the perfect start to the week. So I have one suggestion for all you mums and dads who drop your child to daycare in the mornings … keep a spare change of clothes in the car for yourself!!



Note to self.

Happy Parenting you lot, and thanks so much for helping me get my Instagram account to the 5000 follower mark.

James
IG – the_moderndad

An about turn perhaps?

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetSo, if you’ve been a ModernDad follower you might just remember my blog on posting images of your children online. I have a pretty strong stance on it. To date – there have been no photos of my little son Finn posted online showing his face. However, I’m on the fence right now.

Yep, you heard me. I might have to eat my words. But, I’ll own it like a pro. Give me shit, wind me up – do whatever tickles your pickle. But I’m starting to see a different side of things. Now, just pump the breaks a bit Tonto, I’m not swinging right to the other side of the scale. I’m not contemplating being one of those parents who posts every moment in their child’s life. I’m just willing to consider posting the very odd photo of the Finnster at special occasions or when he’s with his sidekicks.

Here’s what has triggered my “about-turn”… Rewind 15 months – Lisa and I rocked up to our first antenatal baby class. And yes, it was awkward as hell for the first 20 minutes. We had to tell 30 other adults what made us gush about our partners. For those who know me, I didn’t struggle to show my soft and loving side (some of my mates might prefer to call it my feminine side – but they are just muppets) but it was hilarious to watch the macho males shrink back into their little mancaves. Anyways, I digress! The antenatal class has been the most amazing resource for us as it connected us with other great people who were going through the same thing as we were. We have made really great friendships and continue to spend time with the fellow parents.

This past weekend was the joint 1st birthday celebration for the entire group. We all converged, dressed in family colours and had a grand old time. Of course my little Finn was a little boisterous and caused havoc – but hey, who wants a boring child!? Haha. They ate relentlessly, smashed cupcakes, shat now and then, pee’d and tore around the house like little terrors. It was just awesome. There also happened to be a photographer present to ensure that we got a record of that special moment. I started to panic a little as I realised that I didn’t want any photos of Finn online. I then scanned the room, terrified! All the parents at one time or another snapped shots of their little cherubs running amok – and of course they are going to potentially want to post these photos online.

I said nothing at the time. But I went home thinking about the whole situation. I spoke to ModernMama (aka Lisa or AKA The Boss) about the whole thing and we both agreed that Finn might be left out of certain moments and special occasions if parents had to exclude them from their photos. The last thing we want is for our little ninja to be left out of things, or be missing from every antenatal birthday celebration photo.

So … long story short (actually I’m talking bullshit, as you and I both know I can never tell a short story!) … Lisa and I have decided to post a photo of the little guy at his Antenatal Party!

A pretty huge deal for us, and a moment where I’m most certainly backtracking!! I shall await the bombardment of “I told you, you wouldn’t keep it up!”. But hey, I have thick skin so fire away and be prepared for a rebuttal.

Cheers,

James

IG – the_moderndad

The Smoking Preggers

Bogan MumLet’s rewind fifty years when it was more “OK” to smoke while pregnant. What a time to be alive. Well not really. The education back then regarding the affects of smoking may not have been quite as extensive as it is today. I laugh when I hear people say “My mum smoked every day when she was pregnant with me, and look how I turned out!”.  But it comes down to risk. Perhaps not every smoking pregnant woman will end up with a baby that experiences side affects. But let’s face it, would you be willing to take a risk like that?

Here’s a short list of potential problems that your baby may run into if your wife smokes, or if you smoke and your wife inhales the second hand smoke.

  • Lower the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby
  • Increase your baby’s heart rate
  • Increase the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Increase the risk that your baby is born prematurely and/or born with low birth weight
  • Increase your baby’s risk of developing respiratory (lung) problems
  • Increases risks of birth defects
  • Increases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

This information is widely available and widely known, but why do we see people continue to ignore it?! It baffles me, it really does. Just last week I noticed a woman here in Christchurch who would have been more than 8 months pregnant, and she was smoking blatantly. I was shocked, what an unfortunate little baby – the poor little thing doesn’t have much of a chance to start off on a healthy footing.

Dad’s – this is where you can help. If you smoke, then perhaps it might be a good idea to quit as soon as you find out your partner is pregnant. If you continue to smoke then it will make it so much harder on your partner to quit because you will be smoking around her more often than not. You could also get some pamphlets from your GP or midwife and chat to your wife about it. It might be a delicate subject, but it’s not one of those conversations you want to put off until tomorrow. If the conversation and the pamphlets don’t do the trick then perhaps you need to go to the midwife and tell her that your wife is continuing to smoke. The midwife or GP might have some good advice or know of a different way to approach it.

I recall living in the city when Lisa was pregnant with Finn. We lived in a modern townhouse which was pretty convenient for our social life! However, our neighbours lived in very close proximity. Our next door neighbours chain smoked – like a cigarette every 20/30 minutes. We couldn’t open any windows or patio doors as the house would get flooded with their second hand smoke. I had a friendly chat, which was met with a one-fingered salute from them. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t realise I’m like a dog with a bone when someone ruffles my feathers. So in the end, I rallied the other owners in the Townhouse complex and have passed a Body Corporate rule that forbids anyone from smoking in the complex.  Modern Dad : 1. Numpty Smokers : 0.

I hope at the very least, I have got you thinking about this topic. If you are a woman who smokes whilst pregnant and you have a rebuttal – please do comment and Im happy to hear your side of the story. You will undoubtedly be wired to the moon though.

Keep it healthy folks!

James