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!

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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

To the wives of Bogan’s.

The Bogan DadI address this, not to the Bogan Dad, but to his wife. The reason being that there’s absolutely no way a Bogan dad would be reading a blog about being a dad, or possibly even reading full stop.

To all of you partners of bogans, my heart goes out to you. It really does. I shake my head when I watch some of the actions of the Bogan dads here in New Zealand (there are Bogan, feral and redneck dads in every country) and it’s so hard not to stop and say something. But, I am built like a ping pong player rather than a rugby player so it’s probably best I refrain from offering the Bogan dads any verbal feedback.

You may be wondering, am I a bogan (if you’re a bloke reading this then you are not!) or is my partner a Bogan? Well here’s some tell-tale signs that your baby-daddy is a numpty.

  1. They sport a mullet
  2. They wear a wifebeater (a vest) by choice
  3. They drive like a maniac
  4. They visit the pub twice or more each week
  5. They scream in front of the kids
  6. They pump bass from their man cave
  7. They think going to Disney on ice is not cool
  8. They refuse to wear a tutu when your daughter asks them to
  9. They tell their son to “harden up and take it in the chin” when they are being bullied
  10. They believe that showing too much affection to their son is a bad thing.

Now I know that some of the top 10 points above are quite hilarious – but a lot of them are deadset serious. Over the past few months I have witnessed some shocking dad acts. The sad part is that the only person losing out, is the child. I watched on in horror as I was sitting at a set of lights in my car whilst a dad was calling his 5/6 year old daughter the C word. Her mother was walking alongside her and cowered away as he berated the daughter. That is simply not right. What an awful place that poor mum and daughter must be in. Clearly the Dad is abusive and it’s not easy for the mum to walk away or seek help. That’s where I think friends and family have to step in. There’s got to be someone who notices that something isn’t quite right in that family. If they do, they need to speak up and seek help. I know that New Zealand  has some amazing support services. If you or someone close wants to get some support – check out these links.

The Women’s Refuge

AreYouOK

Shine

Being a Bogan is not cool. Being a good role model is the only option us Dads have. Now don’t get me wrong, we are all human and we all have tough days, but it’s essential that we remember it’s not about us – it’s all about our kids. I fast forward in my mind to a point in time when Finn is an adult and has his own family. I always ask myself what he might think of me as a Dad and how that might impact his role as a father. I want him to remember a warm, loving dad – and someone whom he could talk to about absolutely anything. My Dad is that person. I am so grateful to him, and to his father before him. It’s only 4 weeks until my Dad comes to visit my family, it’s his first trip to NZ and his first time meeting his little grandson Finn. It will be one special moment.

Here’s to all the awesome, epic non-bogan Dads out there. I salute you.

James

Founder of ModernDad.guru

A weekend away and Adele, is what every parent needs!

SunsetThe day finally arrives for Lisa and I, we are super excited to head to Auckland for our weekend of guilty freedom to celebrate Lisa’s birthday. Now, her birthday was in December, so please hold up before judging me for such a ridiculously belated birthday present. We had to delay the treat as Adele was a little preoccupied in December – she could only lock in March 23rd for us to have a catch up with her.

So we got our bags packed Thursday morning and then dropped Finn to daycare. Lisa and I went to work for a few hours, then I popped home to pick up our bits and pieces. I realised my wedding finger felt a little naked … I’d forgot to throw my gold bullion on that morning. So I went to retrieve it from its usual place where I set it each night. Of course, old Murphy was playing his tricks again. No sign of my ring. Panic set in a little – the old ticker started to ramp up. I searched high and low, with no luck. Reluctantly I reached for the phone to ask Lisa if she had seen it … you can imagine how that went down. Not good. Anyways, I decided time was of the essence so I had better put it on the back burner until we returned from our trip.

We head to the airport and straight up to the business lounge. It’s our little sanctuary where we can consume too many calories and whet our palates with a few glasses of bubbles. Life is good. Finn is being picked up by Aunty Donna and Uncle Jason. We have two days ahead of us with Adele and retail therapy.

Fast forward two hours and we are sitting in an Uber enroute to Auckland CBD. By the way, if you haven’t tried Uber because you think it’s “dodgy”, you love your local taxi company or you are stuck in the dark ages then get a grip. As a modern Dad I think the convenience, safety and cost effectiveness of Uber makes it much more appealing than a stuffy cab. Back on track sorry (I go off on tangents regularly, all part of the daddy brain syndrome), we are in the cab and I receive a message from Aunty Donna asking us to call. A pretty ominous message. I called and my heart sank when Donna said that the daycare called saying that my little Ninja had a really high temperature and needed to seek medical care. The doctor informed Donna that Finn had an ear infection and a rattle in his chest which could progress to pneumonia if it isn’t managed appropriately. It was the worst feeling as we weren’t there for our son when he needed us most. Aunty Donna had managed to get his temp back into the 37’s and I could hear him laughing in the background. Our first instinct was to book the next flight home but we knew our little legend was in good care and on the mend. Still, it was on our minds the whole time – all you parents will be able to relate.

We checked into our AirBNB apartment in the centre of the city. It was our first time using AirBNB and I have to say it was awesome. Check in was seamless, the whole process of booking was a dream. If I’m going to walk the walk as a Modern Dad, then I ought to be trying these modern ways of living. AirBNB is cheaper, easier to book and really user friendly. We ended up in a New York loft style apartment a stones throw from the shops on Queen Street. We felt like teenagers again.

We caught up with Adele as planned. She was simply outstanding. Clearly she has one heck of a set of lungs but she is also funny as hell. Over the course of a few hours she had us all in stitches and gave no f&$ks about anything. She spoke her mind, dropped profanities when it suited and sang her little heart out. It was a night to remember and we felt like we were able to connect with Adele – almost even relate to her. My most favourite song is “Sweetest Devotion” and l now love it even more as she told us she wrote it for her son. The words are powerful and describe that life changing moment when you first meet your child. Hairs stand on the back of my neck as I type – reliving that moment when I first met Finn.  If you get a moment, listen to the song and think of that moment when you met your baby for the first time. Powerful stuff.

Lisa dragged me along for a bit of shopping (I should be honest and admit that I was rather excited to hit up H&M!) – we proceeded to gather a few items for ourselves then discovered H&M Kids. This is some serious swag. Baby fashion up the yin yang. We were on Cloud 9 hooking up Finn with tweed trousers, bow ties, winter woollies and trendy hoodies. We probably should buy shares at H&M lol. Plus if I’m gonna be a Modern Dad then I have to have a few slick garments donning my wardrobe hangers.

What’s one of the great things about city living? Mid-afternoon beersies of course! We indulged in some tipples on Friday down at the Viaduct and met up with some friends. After a few cheekies at Britomart we headed to the Gin Room for a nightcap. Dear oh dear, that was a bad idea. Don’t get me wrong – it was the most epic little cocktail bar in New Zealand, but the head was a little foggy as a result. These simple guilty pleasures are some of the little things that we lapped up. These rare treats were so greatly appreciated and I think us parents all need some “fun” time. We all deserve a break. Even though you may feel guilty for ditching your little cherub, it’s a treat that you have earned. Plus, look at the benefits for your child. They are learning to become more resilient and more independent – none of us want a molly-coddled child on our hands who hasn’t spent as much as a night apart from us. Enable your child to build their confidence right from the start. That cotton wool you so lovingly wrap them in will eventually be useless when they enter the big bad world as an adult.

Now, I had better get looking for that wedding ring. I will update you in due course.

James

Founder of ModernDad.guru

Breast is best. Right dads?

breastThe old saying Breast is Best is still a big catchphrase today in modern parenting. If you haven’t been to an Antenatal class and you are trying to figure out if it’s worthwhile – just stop thinking and get your butt along to one! The class is a little awkward to begin with but by the third class you start to make some connections with the other new parents. We learned a little bit, but mostly nothing we didn’t already know. The BIG bonus of these classes is post-labour. We have made some great friends through it, and because we are all going through the same challenges we tend to reach out frequently.  For the lads, that means consuming beer and sharing dad jokes. Lisa and the girls all message each other on a little FB message group – it has been golden during the tough times (and yes, we aren’t perfect parents smelling of roses, every now and then there’s a splash of fertiliser).

Feeding was a key element of one of the classes. However, they asked all the Dads to go to another room and think about how we can nurture our wives (or something warm and fuzzy like that). Honestly – I wonder why we weren’t included? Seriously though. What they don’t tell you is that as a Dad – you are the first responder to those feeding emergencies. The sweet granny hosting the feeding class isn’t standing by my bed at every hour on the hour ready to help with this new art of Boob-nutrition. You are the one helping your darling wife and new little cherub learn to feed. Let’s face it – the 2 day old human has no clue and is on a steep learning curve, not to mention your wife has never breastfed so she’s no expert either. Who’s the first person they look to – yep, silly old Dad. So – you learn how to squeeze, poke, prod, massage …yes boys, Im talking about your wife’s mammaries. But all of this action isn’t in the least bit romantic or fun! It’s serious business.

Now – to be fair to the New Zealand system, you are assigned a midwife from the moment you find out you are in the family way. Well actually, it’s more of a mad dash to find a midwife as you pick one from a website – Find Your Midwife. It’s kind of like Tinder for Midwife finding lol.

Your wife (and you, if you aren’t a dead beat dad) visit this midwife throughout the pregnancy regularly. She is also there to deliver the baby and visits almost every day for weeks after the birth. The midwife is a great resource when you are stuck or lost. Our poor midwife got bombarded with a million questions from me – the over-excited newbie Dad.

So, our little Finn, was not overly keen to do things the natural way. It just wasn’t working like the books said it would. Breastfeeding was hard for Lisa – lads we just don’t get it, but it’s a mom thing and we need to just support our darlings through this. Lisa tried so hard to make it work for Finn but it was just not happening and the little guy wanted more fodder. And seriously, more and more people talk about breastfeeding just not working for them now that we openly discuss it. However the midwives are anti-formula up to the 6 week mark. It’s like we are a total failure if we feed our babies formula. Yet I talked to a friend in the USA who said the nurses made up a bottle of formula within hours of the birth as the baby wasn’t feeding properly. I think we would have saved ourselves a lot of stress and anxiety had we been given the option. We were looked down upon and told it was dangerous to feed the baby formula. That’s where this new term “donor milk” popped up. We had no idea what it was. In a nutshell – some moms produce too much milk and have an excess. So they pump the excess into sterilised bags or bottles then freeze the milk. The milk then goes to a milk bank and is distributed to those who need it.

Dad Preparing Baby BottlesNow we have to be honest and admit this was a really hard decision. We were comforted to know that the milk donors go through some very thorough screening and testing to ensure they are healthy. However, it was still an emotional rollercoaster for us to give Finn donor milk. Looking back – it was a good decision. But we also would have went to formula a lot sooner had we not been rookie parents. About 6 weeks in – we shifted to Formula. It was the best decision we made. Finn was finally getting enough milk and was much more settled. Now, is Breast really Best? I think not. The best thing is whatever is best for mum and baby. Don’t let ANYONE tell you otherwise.

Breast is best, so we were told. New Zealand has a service called “Plunket”. It’s a government funded organisation and is one of the major providers of child health services. They offer free classes for new moms to attend as well. So Lisa rocked along to one of the classes only to be looked down upon from the group as she was not breast feeding. It was absolutely terrible behaviour – and the person doing the “shunning” was the old lady from Plunket who was hosting the classes. To me, this was beyond ridiculous. How on earth could she think this behaviour is acceptable? We have a perfectly happy and healthy baby who receives nothing but love and affection. The old girl clearly had her own fair share of issues. She also received an official complaint from the protective dad and hubby (silly old me) and in turn received some free training on how to relate to other people in general. What a twit!

So I say to all new parents out there… feed your baby what you can. Ensure they get what they need and that doesn’t necessarily mean breast milk. Let the haters hate. You will do the right thing for your baby to ensure things don’t go tits up. (my dad jokes are bad, right!?)

Keep on being awesome.

James

Founder, ModernDad.guru

You the Daddy!

12I have thought about Dad-blogging for the last 9 months… but I just haven’t managed to take the step. Well, I figured it was time to man-up and get it out there. Actually, the wife gave me a swift kick up the proverbial to get my ass in gear. My son Finn is almost 9 months old and is keeping me on my toes! My wife Lisa is an amazing mum and has so many great resources online that cover everything about being a new mum. Forums, FB groups, FB chat groups, blogs, Vlogs. And the list goes on. It makes us Dad’s look useless, when I started looking at the same resources for Dads, I was utterly disappointed. There are a few options out there – but they are few and far between. And to be honest, I’d rather watch paint dry than read the majority of boring blogs.

Today’s world is so different than it was a few decades ago. The role of “dad” has also evolved and the expectations placed on Dads is ever-changing. I want to do my bit to share my dad-experience with any new dads by blogging, in the hope that I can establish a fun and engaging online community for Dads to unite, share, impart and most of all have fun. And I have to be honest, I stuff up often – so bear with me. I’m Irish too – so I’m not sure if that means I have another slight disadvantage lol.

I never imagined just how amazing it was going to feel to become a Dad. It’s seriously an awesome experience. That very first moment that I met my son was simply divine. My world changed forever, and no one could ever have prepared me for that. Now I have to be honest, it’s not all plain sailing. There are tough times, tired times, shitty times (literally!) and everything in between. But all of the trying times are far outweighed by the joyful experiences. Watching my baby grow into a little character is hilarious and exhilarating. And I am learning every single day! ModernDad.guru is my way of doing my little bit for those dads out there who care to go the extra mile for their baby and their partner. Otherwise, for those men who actually give a damn.

 

Please help me, help other dads, by sharing your experiences and getting other dads to join the FB group and subscribe to the blog. Being a dad is simply thee most important role a man has in his life. You get one shot. Make it count.

James

Founder of ModernDad.guru