I have been pretty hands on dad when it comes to raising our 6 month old son, Kizzy Ray. I have always felt comfortable as I had helped raise my two younger brothers and have also spent lots of time with my nephews, aged 10, 5 and 2. So when my girlfriend suggested that I take 3 months off of work (paternity) when she returned to work at the end of her maternity leave, I felt quietly confident that it would at LEAST be a bit of a rest bite from the hectic pace of life working full time in a busy London restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I know AND appreciate what my girlfriend does, but she makes it look and seem effortless! I mean, how hard could it be taking my son to the park every day, giving him some tummy time, keeping the home tidy? Being off work I’d surely get to watch some great movies, keep up to date with all the summer football transfers too…? EASY! Right…? Or so I thought….
Now Kizzy Ray is a pretty good sleeper. His mother and I have been blessed that he likes his routine, and will regularly sleep in excess of 10 hours a night. So when he wakes at 8am and has his 1st feed, I would usually still be sleeping after a night shift and not notice. I would normally be woken up around 9ish for some “Daddy time” before I would jump in the shower, eat breakfast then off to work again all before 10:30am. (depending on rota’s). So in my mind, that was always a switch off point for me where I could concentrate on other important “non-baby” related issues. (Mostly Facebooking and Sky Sports news updates)
Now all my prep had been done the night before, bottles washed and sterilised, I’d got some food bits in to make breakfast for my girlfriend before she went to work, and a mental list of all the movies I would be watching over the coming weeks. SWEET! And I swear to God, all was going according to plan until my better half informed me that I would also need to make our son his organic carrot puree for his tea, feed him his breakfast solids, cut his nails, do the weekly food shop (she had already emailed me the list), fix the pushchair I had broken when we were on holiday and to make sure that I taken the meat out of the freezer so I could cook our dinner later. WHAT?!!? All this on top of Tummy Time and making sure I take him out for fresh air and play time? A joke. Surely…?
Honestly, I did NOT know where to start! So I just sort of, stood there! Looking at the pile of dirty breakfast dishes standing in front of me, my son laying on his play-mat, and all the time in my head trying to figure out (logically) which of the two needed addressing first, when it suddenly dawned on me… I was in deep s#!t! Quite literally. The God awful whiff expelling from my sons nappy meant that the decision had been made for me. Dishes it was! Kidding. After dealing with my sons gift and getting him into his daytime clothes (his Arsenal kit that I had bought before he was even born) I placed him on his play mat for Tummy time and started defrosting his solid foods. I have to hand it to myself, I even managed a bit of multi-tasking and did the dishes at the same time while also keeping a paranoid little eye on the rug-rat, who had somehow managed to get himself under the coffee table even though he cant yet crawl?!!?
After feeding/wearing a fair amount of Kizzy’s solid food, I decided that I needed a quick time out to re-group so I put him in his Jumperoo, a total God-send piece of equipment that was to become my Alli over the coming weeks when I needed to be doing something and needed to have him somewhere that I knew would A) keep him safe. And B) entertained. This bought me a GOOD 25/30mins. Time enough for me to peel his carrots that I would be pureeing and take the meat out of the freezer. I had planned to do something really special for dinner to kind of show off how well I had handled and easily adapted to my new role, but feeling slightly stressed out already (it was only 11:50am) I went with my trusty old fail safe. Spag Bol. (every mans specialty) At this point little man started whinging. I was a little confused as I had fed and changed him so he should’ve been good. When I picked him up and asked him what was wrong, he responded by rubbing his eyes… A-ha! Nap time. YESSS!
Now, I had planned on using his nap times, as my daddy time, but I was to soon work out that his nap times were to become my “getting stuff done” times. So with him down for an hour or so I successfully finished his carrot puree and began freezing it, put a load of washing on and prepared to hit the shops and park when he woke up. Again. I had totally under estimated just how much effort and forward planning goes into getting everything together in order to be able to leave the house with an infant. Its kinda like packing to go away for a whole weekend! And even though I had checked, double checked and even did an idiot check, I still managed to forget his “muzzie”. So when he made a mess after feeding, I had to use my sleeve to clean it up. Nice.
The day was fast fast slipping away, and by the time I had finished my calamitous shop in my local Sainsbury’s having fun trying to push a buggy and pull a shopping trolley at the same time (bumping into a few disgruntled OAP’s along the way) all the time trying to reason with an 8month old who despite me telling several times in my best soothing ‘mummy’ type voice that we were “almost done, baby…” continued to voice his frustration and anguish at what I can only assume was his complete and utter dismay at how incompetent a buffoon Daddy was. I swear, it was almost like he was mocking me from his pushchair as I once again rammed him into a supermarket display… Ooops!
My walk home was a little slower than I anticipated, what with being laden down with shopping bags and having to stop every few meters to rest my hands and take a breather. At least Kizzy found my struggle amusing… Having accepted that I wasn’t doing too well I made the executive decision that I would NOT be fixing the push chair today!!! Sod it! I was going to drop off the shopping, change his nappy then hit the park for some play time. We did this and I really enjoyed watching him shuffle through the tunnel in the park backwards. I think it was the 1st moment that day that I stopped stressing or worrying about time schedules or what else i had to do. It was just me and my beautiful son playing and laughing. This was the moment that I remember most about our 1st day together. it was definitely one of those father son moments that i will always cherish…
When we returned home, I must admit that I felt a lot more relaxed. I think the fresh air and a little play time really does help! He ate (and loved) his carrot puree, and was happy to have some more tummy time while I made the fastest ever Spag Bol and threw a load of washing on. And with that all done I could concentrate on getting him ready for bed. So by the time Mummy arrived home little man was bathed, ready and enjoying a cuddle on the sofa with daddy while we listened to his Bedtime Nursery Rhymes…
“How was your day babe?” asked my missus. I replied with my BEST EVER poker face… “Easy..”. 😉 Xx
*I like to add that after Merilin arrived home, she was quick to point out my failure to cut his nails, the washing that although was now clean, was still in the washing machine, the buggy was still broken AND i has failed to put Sudo-cream on his neck after bath time…
*I’d also like to add… I have (since the time this article was written) improved to almost “Black belt” daddying status!!! 🙂 Xx
Relaxing amidst lush green fields, beautiful beaches with freezing cold water, eating stinky cheese and baguettes for ten days solid and drinking only the reddest of red wine. Our camper van trip to France was full of potential for our first family of three holiday – and it was fabulous – really lovely. Daisy loved the seaside – shouting with excitement each time she saw dogs jumping the waves, ponies trotting down the beach, and seagulls swooping down to scavenge picnics. To watch her little inquisitive face trying to work out all of the new things that she was seeing was fabulous.
But seriously… nobody tells you that camping with a baby is HARD WORK! I can’t decide if we came back more tired than when we left (actually, we definitely did!), but on reflection it is definitely worth it. So go ahead and book that ferry crossing, dust down the camper and get packing. My advice is: know your subject.
So, here is my holiday essentials checklist for camping with a baby:
– awning or gazebo come rain or shine to avoid sunstroke and to keep the pram dry during downpours
– at least two beach or yoga mats that can be your base when back at camp and can be taken to the beach etc for picnics (beach picnic with baby on the move = very tricky)
– tiny blow up paddling pool (AKA baby bath) to keep baby clean and to cool down on a hot day (we got ours from the pound shop – best £1 I’ve ever spent)
– highchair – this may seen excessive but is probably no. 1 on my list of essentials as Daisy was SO distracted when eating picnic style as she just wanted to crawl around. The highchair enabled me to keep my sanity during mealtimes and prevented Daisy from starving (luckily, we’d splashed out on the Baby Bjorn highchair which folds flat and is super neat, so didn’t take up too much precious room in the camper).
– sterilising tablets to keep baby alive (and another top tip: be vigilant about rabbit poo on the floor = BAD when put in baby’s mouth)
– plenty of hats / bibs / vests / weaning spoons and bowls
– easy to put on / take off cardigans and warm layers
– WET WIPES
– head torch
– warm, runny baby porridge for the morning – drunk from a bowl (I consider this to be the baby equivalent of the early morning caffeine fix….an essential kick start to the day)
– bananas (the simplest, healthiest, easiest of all foods for littluns, non?) and other easy to access snacks (esp. for driving days)
– small selection of toys
Finally, don’t forget to take a healthy amount of humour for the ride – it was much needed at times, especially when the tiredness crept up on us!
Enjoy the trip brave travellers – your baby definitely will – but be prepared to book grandma in for a day on your return so that you can rest up and recover!
I’ve always thought that much as we resist, we are genetically programmed to turn into our parents at some point. My lovely friend Jo Avery sums it up quite nicely on her blog.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, I am my mother after all.
The final realisation hit me as I bit down into my crackerbreads and light cheese spread that I can hide from it no more. I am my mother.
I have become a 1976 housewife.
I ride to school on my bicycle with a basket on the front. Just like my Mum.
I eat two crackerbread’s for lunch whilst watching Australian soaps. Just like my Mum. Only she watched The Sullivans and Sons and Daughters. I watch Neighbours and Home & Away.
I help out at my children’s school listening to children read. Just like my Mum.
I tell my children to not sit on public toilets. Just like my Mum.
I wipe muckiness off their faces with my own spit. Just like my Mum.
I go to coffee mornings whilst the kids are at school. Just like my Mum.
I buy all my school uniform from M&S because, ‘it washes well.’ Just like my Mum.
I don’t like going out on Saturday nights anymore. I used to chastise my Mum for this as a teenager, seeing it as a sure sign of having no life. Now I am to be found with a cup of tea (not even alcohol) on the sofa watching Strictly Come Dancing on a Saturday night. Just like my Mum.
God help my other half…
Being a pretty useless swimmer myself, I was keen to get Fred into the pool as soon as possible to ensure that he is confident and capable in water. I also thought that after spending 9 months in the womb, he’d probably be fairly at home there.
We began lessons when he was 4 months old and haven’t really looked back. Such is his excitement, that even before we’re in the pool his legs are kicking in anticipation and that’s pretty much how it continues throughout the lesson (which is lucky!)
We’ve recently joined London Baby Swim in Wandsworth, which I’d highly recommend. It’s in a purpose built unit, so there’s loads of space. As the focus is on babies and toddlers, the changing rooms are set up with baby changing mats and a playpen, plus there are high chairs in the reception area. The facilities are also kept really clean and the water temperature is warmer than a usual pool, so very baby friendly. In term’s of the lessons, there’s a really nice balance between helping the babies to learn some essential skills and having fun in the water.
We’re now reaching 6 months of swimming lesson, so along the way I’ve picked up some top tips on how to make the most of the experience. I hope that you find them useful.
- Be organised about finding lessons – in London, baby swimming lessons tend to get booked up fairly quickly, particularly for the more popular weekend slots, so sign up to newsletters from pools that you like the look of, which means that you can book as soon as that term’s lessons become available.
- Give yourself plenty of time – getting yourself and baby changed often takes even longer than the actual swimming.
- Make sure that your baby is well rested before the lessons – a cranky baby is more likely to be overwhelmed by the experience, which can mean tears in the pool.
- Double wrap your baby’s bottom – your cute little floater doesn’t want to be the generator of any floaters in the pool, with some pools now insisting that you use both a swimming nappy and Happy Nappy swimming trunks.
- Plan your post lesson escape – have everything that you need to get baby warm and changed at the top of your bag, as it saves you having to scrabble around after the lesson.
- Take a drink and snacks for your baby to have after the lesson – the lessons might only be 30 minutes long, but it’s both mentally and physically tiring for them.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was in the process of buying a new house and as she listed some of it’s assets, high up the list was the soft play area for children located just 5 minutes away. Pre-baby, soft play was a world that I’d never really ventured into and not too surprisingly, wasn’t a big interest of mine! It wasn’t a widely available activity when I was growing up, although I do vaguely remember the ball pool at Blackpool Pleasure Beach… I was an extra tall 9 year old that exceeded the height limit, so much to my dismay I wasn’t allowed to enter. I stood on the edge watching my little sister, ‘our Nic’ have all of the fun. Yes, soft play holds some tough memories for me, although I think I’ve fully recovered from this hard lesson in life now. Anyway, moving on…
With little Fred in tow, I can now see the benefit of having a good soft play area nearby and am even becoming quite well versed on what’s hot and what’s not in the world of soft play fun! Having attended a couple of the big commercial offerings, I can report back that their scale can be a little overwhelming. They often seem to be in purpose built warehouses, which doesn’t help the acoustics when you’ve got 200 kids screaming noisily with excitement. Perhaps these larger spaces will come into their own when Fred’s a bit bigger and I can leave him to play whilst I escape to the cafe, but for the moment I just want something a bit, err ……calmer?… more chilled?
A tip off from a friend pointed me in the direction of the National Army Museum Kids Zone which I have since visited with Fred. It’s suitable for children from 0-8 years and has lots of different zones: climbing frames, a dedicated soft-play space for babies, arts and crafts, dressing-up costumes, books, interactive toys and panels. Plus, it is a far, far more calming space than some of the other soft play spaces, so is great for younger ones.
I’m sure that this is largely attributed to the ticketing system which they run, where you book your preferred time-slot online before you arrive – very handy. This keeps the number of children to a manageable level, which is important because it isn’t a huge space. The staff are absolutely lovely, and between each session, they run a 10 minute break for a quick tidy up which means that whatever time of day you go, it’s tidy, clean and generally feels well nurtured and looked after.
To top it all, the entry price is just £2.50, which is an absolute bargain for central London and should appeal to all thrifty Baby Jumblers! I can highly recommend it for a lovely outing for you and your baby.
To read a bit more about soft play for babies, and to find some other ideas for activities, here are some links that I found useful: