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My grandfather once told me a story about his father that has always haunted me. When he was a young boy, as dinner was being prepared, his father would stand on the doorstep of the house. He would stand and whistle. A short sharp bite into the air. He would then pause for a while before whistling again. A somewhat menacing signal for his children to return home. If my grandfather wasn’t in the house soon after the second whistle there were consequences. As far as I can gather these consequences were often quite severe.

I never had the opportunity to meet my great grandfather. As a father it would have been fascinating to talk to him now. To unravel the concept of parenthood from a completely different generational perspective. The generational gap and my own ideals of parenting have led me to wonder about the long term cause and effect of violence in the home. It makes me think about how certain levels of violence were acceptable in those times. Perhaps not as long ago as we would like to think. Or feel. My father never hit me. I’m sure his father hit him (you can read my interview with my father here if you wish).

This troubles me. It troubles me because it was what was acceptable at the time. Why was it acceptable and why isn’t it now? What has changed?

When Eve wakes up she sometimes emits a noise that is pitched at a level designed specifically to cause panic and alarm for the parents. Apparently this is a natural, instinctive skill. She is an expert at it. It is not a blood curdling, ear drum punching scream (although she can do those too). It’s a whine. A scratchy, blood boiling whinge. Listening to it for more than five minutes drives me quite insane. I have never, ever known a single noise that produces such a reaction in me. It’s just awful. I curl into a tightly bound fist of stress.

During invasions Vikings used to tear the air apart with their battle cries. Then, if any villagers had stood their ground, they would send in Berserkers. Huge mountains of muscle wrapped around a maniacal, spiritual manifestation of fury itself. An army of tired, sun burned, hungry toddlers is far, far more likely to kill you first. I am considering sending her out on international peacekeeping missions. Relay that noise over a loud speaker across any battlefield and you can pretty much guarantee most of the death toll would be attributed to suicide or gibbering, ear pummelling madness.

My point is that our children, as much as we love them, produce powerful emotions in us, both positive and negative. Such is the nature of love itself. In this it is fair to say that we do only, really hurt the ones we love. I have never once smacked Eve but I may do one day. In this life, with as little control as we may have over it, I’d be foolish to deny it.

We aren’t coming home to find our fathers holding leather straps across their laps in grim determination. We can’t threaten our children with a good “thrashing” any longer. We never tell our children “this is going to hurt me a lot more than it hurts you” as we’re busy rupturing their bare buttocks with a wooden ruler. Even teachers were routinely tasked with disciplining generations before us with physical violence. Can you possibly conceive of a teacher injuring your child? Can you imagine then telling your child that it was probably what they deserved?

On the face of it we cannot and will never hit our children. I can understand why we do. If we can understand it at some level it then becomes easier for us to understand where these violent outbursts can come from. To para-phrase Carl Jung we cannot change anything until we truly understand it. It’s fair to say that I would probably have a deeper, less dictatorially based relationship with my father were it not for the casual, violent discipline he experienced in his youth. Then again I am no expert.

“It was just how it was in those days.”

“Never did me any harm”

The acceptance of violence in our homes is our choice. The way we discipline our children is our choice. The way we live our lives is our choice. But once you allow the concept of violence into your life you begin to tread on a different path in an altogether different direction than ever previously imagined.

So when it all gets too much, and the rage explodes in your chest like a Molotov cocktail, try to imagine the rest of your days watching your children flinch away as you reach for their hand, or stroke their hair.

Try to imagine ruling your children with fear. Then again, with the world we live in, perhaps you know all too well what that feels like.

Since becoming a Father I have written. I have written to unlock parts of myself that have been scrambling to find some purchase on the craggy face of my often bewildering subconscious. It is a way to centre myself. To find some comfort in analysis and structure. To allow myself control over one of the most demanding and challenging situations I have ever had to encounter is an extremely rewarding experience. It will continue to be so during my short time here.

I’m not very skilled at talking to people. I’m not perfect at communicating my feelings in a face to face situation. I’m shy, nervous and usually quite afraid I don’t quite fit in. When I write everything seems to make sense. I can compartmentalise myself. I can give myself permission to be a certain way, to feel certain things without judgement. When the blueprint of my mind is laid out in front of me I can start planning ahead. I can start assessing what I can do better next time.

There is, however, something that I’ve never quite been able to feel comfortable about.

I have another daughter. I have a twelve year old daughter. I have a daughter who I haven’t watched grow up. I have missed out on so much. Part of it is my fault. Part of it relates to the circumstances surrounding us at the time. All of it boils down to the fact that I have a daughter who I don’t know. I haven’t watched her grow. I haven’t seen her start weaning. I didn’t see her first step. I wasn’t there for her when she started school. I haven’t been there when she needs help with her homework.

We speak now on the phone. We see each other when we can. Geography is the only enemy. We’ve managed to spend some quality time together and I can feel the bond growing. There’s a part of me that feels that the bond has always been there. It just needs tending. It needs to be fed with rich, strong experiences that bind us ever closer. We’re working on it. What frustrates me sometimes is feeling guilty. Feeling guilty for not doing enough. I have so many questions to ask her. There are so many things about her that I want to know, to understand and to feel.

So I asked her.

What three words best describe you?

The three words that I would say best describe me are probably confident, a little lazy and impatient.

Do you think we are similar? What traits do you recognise in me that you have?

I think that in some ways we are similar but didn’t realise until I had met you a few times.

What are you most proud of yourself for?

I think that I am most proud of the fact that I am my own person. That i don’t aspire to be the same as anyone else.

What did you think about me when we first met? What do you think now?

When I first met you I was nervous but I could tell that you were too. I thought you were nice and funny and interesting and as I have gotten to know you, I can tell that my first opinion of you was 100% right.

Do you think that any child needs a Father or a Father figure when growing up?

In my opinion, I think that a father figure is important. Some people never have one and they turn out fine but i feel that I haven’t always had a father figure in my life but I am incredibly thankful that I have one now.

If you could change one single thing in your life what would that be?

I don’t think that I would change anything about my life now. I have my friends my family and now my sister.

So there you have it. A few little words. A handful of brave questions. Honesty and beauty in return. I could not have asked for anything more. When I read her response for the first time something in me shifted. I felt the connection I hadn’t seen before that had always been there. When you’re looking for something it’s easy to forget that sometimes it is right there in front of you. She writes like I do. She astounded me with her responses. Minute by minute I feel I am more deserving to be known as her Father.

The house is very quiet. The clouds above are bloated with snow and the ever growing silent threat leaves a steady hush over the rooftops. On this day I am truly alone. Until 14:00. When I have to go and collect my daughter from nursery. On her first day. It’s so quiet I can hear the wood in the house ache.

So one year has passed. One year in which I have watched my daughter grow from a tiny, fragile, totally dependent newborn into a brave, happy, moody, independent little girl. There are even some days I catch her looking at me and I see the woman she will grow to be flash across her face. Just a short brilliant burst but it’s there. Everything she is and will ever become. Finding and picking the right nursery was a decision that had to be made for her but we think we’ve made the right choice. It felt right.

The kids were smart, confident and friendly when I first visited the nursery. I sat amongst them while my daughter’s key worker showed her around the place. I could hear her crying but I knew that, if she were to see me, she’d have to see me looking happy. Brave. Confident amongst all these new faces. All these other spirited, smiling little faces. She cried anyway but I had a feeling that would happen. It’s all new for her. It’s a new adventure and, when you first venture out on your next experience, it’s always going to be frightening.

The entire year she’s been on her adventure with us I’ve written about it. I’ve taken a shovel to my soul and heaved out parts of my consciousness to the public only to see it in front of me. My perceptions of this world surrounding us all have changed to the point where I am constantly questioning myself. I am indeed a cynic, a grump and a fool. But I am also fractured, wildly sensitive and acutely aware of the very short time we have on this earth. And none of that matters. None of what I think about myself matters in the slightest. At this moment my daughter’s experience is all hers. There’s a lesson to be learned there about what it is to be a Father.

I love being a Father. I work hard at it. Both my wife and I invest every last scrap of ourselves into the well being of our daughter. Today I am learning that letting go, and doing nothing apart from being a phone call away, is the only thing I can do. Parents often feel hopeless, guilty and alone in their feelings. This is a mistake I’ve made too many times. I am proud to say that I am tired of the self deprecation. There’s no room for it in this house anymore.

I wonder what she’s doing now? I hope she manages to get some sleep. We packed her bunny along with her dummy so she has some connection with home. She even helped me take them out the bag when we unpacked it at nursery. My wife and I packed her companion Bobble Cat along with the snacks she likes. We put on brave faces as we packed extra nappies and clothes. We smiled at each other bravely as we watched her stomp around the house in her new shoes. We coughed and choked back tears as she pointed at her bag over breakfast and said “mein”. And as my wife left for her day at work she smiled at us both by the door as if it was just another day. We all choose our bravery carefully. In the end it’s all about her and we both know it. I think those most affected by today will be us and sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Since I started writing this blog I feel I’ve changed somewhat. I guess that’s what being a Father does to you. The experience not only invites you to deconstruct yourself it demands it. It’s a demanding and challenging job. I’ve taken time off work while my wife restarts her job after a long period of maternity leave. As a result I’ve had a taste of what it’s like being a househusband. It’s hard fucking work. I remind myself all the time that we’re extremely lucky to be a happy couple. I know many new parents who are not.

I wonder what she’s doing now? Reading I expect. She loves to read. She likes to take time out on her own to sit among her books. She turns each page so gently. She takes time over each page. Her long eyelashes flutter as she blinks her wide blue eyes. Her soft little hands run over the paper, searching for different textures. I could look at her all day. And when she sees me out of the corner of her eye she gestures at me by raising her book in air, smiling as she asks most graciously if I would read it to her.

Or maybe she’ll be screaming? Did I pack enough nappies? Did I pack the wrong toy? Did I dress her in the right clothes? Should I have left so abruptly? Should I have cuddled her and kissed her cheek when I said goodbye?

Being brave is hard work. There’s a sadness at the back of my throat like a hot stone. But I have to be brave because she wouldn’t want to see her Daddy sad. I guess that’s what today is all about.

My advice for any new parent helping their child through nursery? Try to enjoy it. Have some “me” time while they’re having “their” time. You may not be there for their first step into a new adventure but you’ll be there waiting for them to come home. Always.

Earlier this year me and the kids made a papier mache castle for their PlayMobil knights. I thought it might be of interest to fellow dads for me to share the story of how this started, how we did it, and what we ended up with.

A bit of background – I’m a designer and illustrator by trade. I have two kids. A daughter nearly six now, and a son who is about three and a half. 

This project came about for a couple of reasons.

The first was that I really wanted to get stuck in and make something with the kids. I wanted to work on something over a couple of weeks. Hopefully helping to plan what the castle would have, and seeing the castle take shape would be fun. 

The second was that the PlayMobil castles are ridiculously expensive!

Anyway – this is what we ended up with:

The finished product

Next blog post – from humble beginnings…

Dearest Eve,

I am writing this to you with a vision of your unseen future in my heart. I am writing with a love infinite in its own knowledge of itself. I am writing to you as your Father and as your companion in our journey through this short time we have together.

I am tired. But not as tired as your Mother is. Your movements in the dark of night are tempestuous to say the least. You have a cold at the moment and, at barely ten months old, you aren’t quite sure what is happening to you. Each time I hear your tiny cough in the dark it pulls my heart apart a little bit more.

In these twilight moments I think about your Mother and I wonder how I have been blessed with such luck. She is a woman who has faced such adversity and tragedy only to come through stronger than perhaps even she realises. She is a woman who loves endlessly, fiercely and without compromise.

In these moments I realise how difficult it must be to be a woman. It is this thought which leads me to wonder what your life will be like as this is a strange and weird world ruled by men. The power struggles running to the very core of this world have seen furious, powerful and proud women but most if not all are lost to the winds of a bloody and pointless history. You need to be aware of this. You will need to be aware of the hardships that women have experienced throughout the various tragic milestones of our history. It will make you a better woman.

When I get home after work I come home to a partnership with your Mother. We are entwined in our devotion to you. I work at my job and she works at her job. Everything that comes before, after, and in-between is handled between us both equally.The man that comes home to his family with expectations of worth is a fool. The woman that sacrifices herself to her partner is an even bigger fool. In our own insignificance we are all equal.

Let no man tell you what is expected of you. If I see washing up that needs to be done I’ll do it without question. If I hear you in the night I will come to you. If there is food to prepare I will feed us all. As a family we are all in this together to make our lives and loves as passionate and tranquil as possible. The aged expected responsibilities for a man and a woman in partnership for the greater good of their own family are dead and buried. Enter only into a partnership. To love someone only for their love for you is a thankless love if ever there was one.

Our time on this earth is short. We are but fleeting moments in the creations of our own design. In our home and in our arms you are the brightest star burning with a light rarely too blinding to stare into. But I want you to realise that your time on this earth is but a tiny flash of light in the vast scope of the universe we are presently tumbling through. Embrace this humility as you would your own children.

Your time is to be lived as you wish. You are free to love, hope, dream and sacrifice as you see fit. But I want you to always remember the humbling nature of your insignificance. I want you to remember that all are to be treated equally even if you yourself are not. All of your relationships, loves, triumphs, tragedies and experiences will make you the woman you will be proud to be. Just remember you are one of many countless others burning in the skies above all of us. Your humility will be the making of you.

Burn brightly my love. You are the brightest star in my sky and in that you are granted supremacy.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything – work and a teething baby have monopolised my time. Hopefully, you’ve read, or are about to read, my post on the 5 things that I really don’t want for Christmas. This new post is here to show that I’m not actually a misery; I was just in a bad mood when I wrote that one.

I could write a post all lovey dovey Maria Carey inspired “All I Want for Christmas is Yoooou”-style and dedicate it to my wife and daughter, but I’m thinking more about presents, because I think I deserve to be a little bit selfish every now and then.

So I hope my wife comes across this when she’s surfing the internet, and buys me all the things on the list, because I’m not going to buy them myself. Anyway I’m sure she spies on me, so hopefully she’ll find this and then buy me all these great things.

 

The She Wee

I am sick to the back teeth of going out, or going on a long journey only to have the girls start to complain about needing the toilet. It is always in places where there isn’t a public loo for miles, or all the public loos are closed or out of order.

Introducing the She Wee…

I expect that this baby will save me a headache or too in the future, so it’s got to be a worthwhile investment. It’s basically a funnel, but it’s pink, and comes in a carry case, which I guess could double as a pee-pot should your missus get caught short. This is the sort of item that is not on the high street for obvious reasons.

 

A Briefcase

I look really unprofessional going into the office without one. The Directors all have them, and I want to look really important like one of the directors. I almost bought one in the charity shop the other day, it was in perfect condition, but the keys and combination were locked inside, in classic Only Fools and Horses style.

What would I do with a briefcase? I’d probably buy a suit and then walk around Reservoir Dogs style.

 

A New Suit

Since becoming a dad, I’ve put on loads of weight (see dad weight) and consequentially, I now need a new suit. I saw a wicked Ben Sherman suit in the sale in Debenhams. I’ll need this to go with my briefcase.

 

Quiz Book

There are only two things I like in a book – quiz questions and comedy. After dossing on the internet for 10 minutes, I found that there is an Only Fools and Horses Quiz book. So I want that now, too.

It’s not like anyone else cares enough about Only Fools and Horses to ask me the questions, but I can test myself, and then it doesn’t matter if I get all the answers wrong.

 

Help The Heroes leather wrist band

If there is one charity I think you should support, it is Help The Heroes. These brave men and women are out in the world, away from their families and under real danger of becoming injured or killed. The least we can do is donate some money to give the injured and families of fallen heroes the help they need just to get by each day.

 

Has anyone else out there tried to drop any hints to their spouse or partner? Or maybe you get forgotten? I’ve got a new born and I know she’ll be the centre of attention come her first Christmas, but I’m not jealous in any way…really…

Way back in August my boys (courtesy of the wife) got the opportunity to review the Tritton Trigger Stereo Headset for the XBox 360.  The boys both love them, and the fact that they can also attach them to their iPods is a huge bonus.

 

Soon after receiving them, I got offered the Daddy version of the headset to review – the Tritton Detonator Stereo Headset.  Both these headsets are part of the new range of Tritton official XBox 360 headsets and, is part of the only official licensed headsets available for the XBox 360 from Mad Catz.

Tritton Detonator Stereo Headset

 

I will give you the techy stuff first…….The Detonator is created with the highest quality 50mm Neodymium magnet speakers enabling a high fidelity game and chat audio to be pumped out with rich bass and crisp highs.  Adjustable chat volume and game volume is available on-the-fly, enabling you to easily fine-tune your audio experience within your grasp.

 

As with the Trigger you can effortlessly convert the Detonator headset into portable headphones by disconnecting the in-line audio controller and plugging the 3.5mm jack directly into your device, such as mobile phones or MP3 players.

Tritton Detonator Stereo Headset

 

When not communicating over Xbox Live and just listening to music, a headset’s microphone only gets in the way.  The problem is solved with the Detonator’s removable solution; it provides the freedom to use the mic only when necessary and when privacy matters most, the mute feature allows you to easily turn the mic on and off as needed.

 

The Detonator headsets are fully compatible with any XBox 360 console and come supplied with all the required cables and adaptors to connect to legacy or current-gen consoles either connected to a display via HDMI or component/VGA/composite.

 

What do I think?

 

The headphones are bigger than their little brother, the Trigger, and therefore perfect for older teens and adults.  They are comfortable to wear, even after a long period of time and the sound quality is second to none.  The game play was very realistic when wearing these and I could even hear bullets whizzing past my ear and the fans cheering loudly during Fifa! The commentary on Fifa is so realistic and much clearer than the TV!

 

The ear cups are soft and pliable and are so good at keeping ambient sounds at bay, that I couldn’t hear the wife telling me dinner was ready.  It also means that she can’t hear the sounds coming from the headphones, which has known to be annoying in the past.

 

The cabling provided is really long, which means I can do gaming on the main television and lounge around on the sofa (much to the wife’s disgust).  She likes to keep me relegated to the dining room!

 

 

The other good thing about having both these headsets in the house, is that now the boys can have one each so there are no arguments (well when I’m not playing).  Callan had wanted a pair of Dr Dre beats (nope I have not heard of them either), but even he admits that these are just as good, and at £40 are very reasonably priced!

 

If you are gaming mad or have children and teens that are, then I highly recommend these headsets.  The Trigger is perfect for the slightly younger gamer and the Detonator is perfect for older teens and adults!

 

 

Now that George is five months old I feel like I can cautiously sit back and say that I am getting the hang of this parenting lark. It helps that I am backed by George’s ever lovely Momma who invariably knows the right thing to do for our little bear. She always tells me to trust my instincts (‘use the force Luke’) and because of that I have always been happy to look after him by myself. I have learnt huge amounts in a short period of time and although I’m sure things will change I feel like I’ve made a good start.

To add to my knowledge I have read blog posts from a variety of interesting and inspiring bloggers, dipped into books/magazines and compared experiences with friends. I’m still mainly bewildered by ‘parenting types’ and have only the vaguest idea what most of them are but I’m starting to think this is a good thing. Despite all this increased knowledge I still don’t have any good advice for any new parents.

I mentioned this to a friend and she asked ‘is this because you still feel like you are winging it?’ The answer is of course ‘yes’ and I would be surprised if that ever goes away but that isn’t the whole story. The main reason is because I don’t feel anything I do is universal. I just don’t buy the idea that some things work with all children (except possibly ‘In the Night Garden’). It seems that unwelcome advice can be a plague for many parents but I still don’t understand why anyone could have such unshakable belief to want to force their random pearls of wisdom on folk.

George Takes a NapSleeping seems to be an area that brings out the instinct to interfere. Every time I hear a story from a friend about the patronising suggestions and unhelpful comments they are offered to get their babies to sleep I wonder why they don’t offer a swift smack in the chops in return. I’m aware I may get my own high five in the face for revealing this, but George is a sleeper. Although we give him a routine and somewhere comfy to lay his head we are essentially helping him to do something he wants to do already. I firmly believe you ‘get what you’re given’ and we got a little boy who loves a good snooze.

As a result I don’t feel what we do would definitely work with any baby other than George and this is true for most parts of his life. Maybe it is my naivety or lack of experience that makes me think like this. Either way I’m not going to worry, as there isn’t a queue of people at my front door begging me for the secrets of good parenting and not feeling the need to buy a Gina Ford book will save me money.

Do you feel ready to give out your own advice? Is there a secret to good parenting? Do you think I have got away with using a Girls Aloud song to title this post? Comments in the usual place.

You want more of me then get some here – http://alwaystimeforbiscuits.wordpress.com/

Hazel wrote a post about how we first met. I thought I’d do something similar; only provide a bit more background about myself in the process. I guess this blog post is also a public “thank you” for everything she’s done for me, for giving me my beautiful daughter and for always believing in me and encouraging me to be the best I can.

I went through the motions that many do these days of being into popular heavy metal that was around when I was growing up in the late 80’s / 90’s. I was really into bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden and some other, newer bands too. However, it was when I discovered Punk that I really began to discover who I was, what my world view was, and how I’d like to dress. After a brief spell with a pink Mohawk, I realised that most of my “punk” mates weren’t too happy with me going off and getting an education. Going off to University was a bit of an embarrassment, it would seem, and the only people who seemed to encourage me to better myself were Skinheads. Skinheads don’t always have the best reputation, but if you look into the history a bit more, you’ll see that there is enough good in there to balance the negative perceptions people have. I’ve linked to a few things in this article, so you can see what I mean when I mention elements of the subculture that might otherwise be a little unclear.

So I shaved off all my hair, bought a couple of check shirts from the Merc when it was cheap, and a handful of budget polo shirts from fruit of the loom as there was no way I could afford a Fred Perry or Ben Sherman at this point. I started to polish my DM boots militantly, and looked after myself a lot better. The new smarter look I’d adopted fitted in much better with my work ethic.

I worked hard, I hard multiple jobs and went into Uni everyday and came out with a 2:1 in my subject, which I feel I can be proud of. I struggled to find work (I applied to everything and anything) and eventually moved back with my parents in a bit of a sulk. 2 years on and my current relationship had broken down, my dole money was barely feeding me and my evenings were spent looking after my younger brother whilst my parents went out. The odd weekend here and there I would stay with a very good friend of mine in London, looking for work in the day and going to gigs with his ska band at night.

I’d pretty much forgotten about the club in Bedford I used to go to when I was about 14, but still popped in there every now and then if I could, usually as my parents would go there for rock and blues nights, and going with them was better than going on my own.

One night, I’d managed to get a day’s work gardening and so had a bit of cash to spend and decided to go into Bedford. I was covered in mud, and probably smelt, but I didn’t really care. After seeing Hazel (I think she’d only just moved here) with her stunning feathercut and DM boots, I decided I’d make much more of an effort to get into Bedford. I knew that I’d have to be with her, or I’d probably never be happy. She seemed to like my style, but it really wouldn’t have mattered what we were both dressed like, I’d still have fancied her, and her personality speaks for itself.

Fast forward a bit, because you can fill in the gaps yourself, and I’m spending every day with Hazel, she encouraged me to go out and demand a job, which I did. I was two months into my new job and had enough saved to move into our first flat, and soon after that, our cottage, our first child and everything we’ve ever wanted out of life. I know I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for her belief in me, and I know I wouldn’t have been happy if we’d never got it together.

We went to a skinhead wedding a couple of weeks back; it was lovely, all Ska music, dancing, Union Jack dresses and Dr Marten boots. I’m not sure we’ll be quite as novel as that, but we’ll still have a blast at our wedding this December. I can’t wait.

The last two weeks haven’t been great. I’ve had tonsillitis, and my partner has had a nasty virus. Our 5 month old, who’s teething, had a bit of a cough that lasted about a week, but cleared up quite nicely – the teething hasn’t stopped yet. Looking after my partner as well as a not very well / recovering baby when I felt like death is the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a father.

Because baby was ill, she was waking up every hour or so through the night, something she’s never really done – this was extremely distressing for her as it threw off her feeding and sleeping patterns, as well as preventing us from getting the rest we needed. During the day, she was just as bad, and with my partner bed bound, I found myself doing everything for baby, from nappies, to bottles and comforting her when she got upset, usually because of her cough. On top of this, I was running around getting water, juice, yoghurts and other light snack s at a moment’s notice, walking (like a zombie) down the shops and chemists for supplies and trying to look after myself as well.

The only thing that I could do to make it all a bit easier and take some pressure off, was to get the preparation for all the day and night’s tasks out the way and done as soon as possible. To cope with the 4.30am wakeup call from baby, I sterilized everything the night before, and made a bottle up ready for first thing in the morning. I’d sterilize things as we went along, instead of letting the empty bottles build up, so that the next bottles were ready as soon as they were needed.

I don’t know how I made it through the last two weeks – it’s burned me out completely and my return to work hasn’t been easy. Has anyone got any coping strategies for when you and your partner are both ill and have a child to look after?

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