Diary of Dad: Going back to work

Today is the start of my second week back at work (or at my job to be more precise) after almost two months of leave.

That’s right… after almost two months off, I have returned to full time work.

I guess you could say that it all started back in late October, when a series of unfortunate events left me with 2 protruding disks in my neck, a compressed nerve and some of the worst pain I’ve ever had to deal with.

This kicked off an extended period of leave that was ultimately to help me recover, both physically and mentally, from the neck injury I had sustained. However, it also kicked off my first experience of being a ‘full-time stay at home dad’.

Leaving for work this morning, on my first day back after being at home with my kids for the last couple of months was honestly one of the hardest things I think I’ve ever had to do.

My boys had become so accustomed to having me home, that they didn’t understand why I had to go back to work. And throughout all last week, it was barely 9am before they were asking when I was coming home.

And as I kiss them each morning before I leave for a long day ahead at the office, I find myself wishing that I could still stay at home with them.

However, being back at work is where I am meant to be right now. To keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on you backs.

And while I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been given as a job, I am finding that I am thinking more and more about the time I was able to spend at home with my family.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing stay at home dad to my boys! And hopefully, one day, I get to experience that again.

Merry Christmas from NSSLOU

From us to you…

We wish you the Merriest of Christmases!

May it be filled with joy, laughter, family, friends and love.

And of course, plenty of good food and drink!

Barton Christmas 2019

Birthday boys…

Both Jesse and Jasper had birthdays over the past couple of months. So did Renee and I, but I think we get outranked on the importance scale lately…

And this year, Grandma and Papa decided they that instead of buying something for the boys, they would give them some money to spend at the shops themselves.

Well, can someone say Kmart shopping spree?!

The boys thought this was the best idea ever. And so today, we finally toddled off to Kmart so the boys could spend their birthday money on whatever they wanted.

Well, wouldn’t you know it… but apparently $50 each goes a long way when you’re shopping in Kmart.

And as you can see, the boys were pretty chuffed with their Kmart hauls!

Good job boys… and happy birthday!

Weathering the shitstorm

I saw a post on Facebook today from a desperate Mum of a one year old daughter who was seeking relationship advice. She said that she was thinking of leaving her partner because they were going through some struggles and she was worried she didn’t love him anymore. It made me feel really sad and I didn’t even know the woman! It was just an anonymous post on a Mums group page.

I really felt for her and sad that she was considering giving up. Marriage (or any long term relationship) can be challenging but those first few years of parenthood are just a major shitstorm. Beautiful, yes. But a shitstorm nonetheless.

Almost every Mum I have spoken to about this say they have experienced a time of struggle in their relationship after having a child. And if you’ve had more than one child in a short period of time it is an even bigger, smellier shitstorm. And sadly it seems many couples make the difficult decision to call it quits rather than weather the storm.

We have not been immune to the struggle. I mean, when you throw hormones, very (very) little sleep, small people needing your attention 24/7, a fair bit less action in the bedroom and a shit tonne of laundry and dishes piled up things are bound to get a little….strained.

Now, they say that the key to any lasting relationship is communication. I just finished reading a great book by Alan Loy McGinnis called The Friendship Factor and in it he talks a lot about the ultimate friendship; a marriage. The author writes that many of us have a tendency to stop talking to the ones we love the longer we have known them. Makes sense, right?! He goes on to write about an experiment that measured the amount of conversation that occurs between the average married couple over the course of a week. The end result….17 minutes! SEVENTEEN MINUTES. Geez, the average male takes longer than that to take a dump!

This scares the life out of me. Especially since some day not too long from now the kids will be grown and we’ll be back to just us. Forever.

It’s definitely not always easy to keep the communication flowing especially during those difficult times. Though we should be able to be completely honest and transparent with our spouse it is often the hardest because we care for them so much and fear what might happen if we are. But the stories we tell ourselves and the resentment that builds up because, well, he should just know what’s wrong without me having to spell-it-out are always worse than just talking about it.

So in saying all of that, whether you are knee-deep in shitstorm or if you have managed to pop out the other side, I’d love to hear what you and your partner do to keep the conversation flowing (and not just about how many times little Johnny pooped today or what takeout to get for dinner). How do you make time for each other and what kinds of things do you do to keep your marriage pilot light lit?

2692-032

 

The toddler survival kit

It seems I blinked and now I have not one but two toddlers on my hands. With two boys, aged 3 and 1, I have certainly learned a thing or two about life with toddlers.

In no particular order, here are my must-haves for surviving life with toddlers.

A hand-held vacuum

Toddlers and mess go hand in hand. Get used to it. Meal time mess used to be restricted to the floor under the highchair but toddlers prefer to eat on the go. This means nothing is safe! The floors are constantly covered in crumbs, squashed fruit and week old sultanas. Don’t even get me started on the couches, walls and windows. Enter hand-held vacuum. You can easily whip that baby out and quickly clean up the floor, lounge or child’s lap without the fuss of a bulky corded vacuum.

A bubble machine

Kids LOVE bubbles. A manual wand type situation will work just fine but if you really want to up your bubble game and keep your toddlers occupied while you remain hands free, you need to get a bubble machine. These suckers can pump out hundreds of bubbles a minute all at the push of a button. Genius! Just be careful where you use this. If you are out in public you will very quickly attract all the children within a 500m radius.

A “beach” caddy

Toddlers require lots of crap. Yes, even more than babies if you can believe that. A simple trip to the park or family outing requires precision planning and packing. Between food, drinks, toys to keep them amused, changes of clothes in case of accidents or mess, hats for in the sun, jackets if it gets cold. The list goes on and on. One of the best things we have ever bought was a “beach” caddy from Kmart (hint, most of the things on this list can be purchased at this wonderful store). It folds up and is big enough to hold all of the crap and a kid or two as well. Every time I use this I get comments about it. God send.

Snacks… a lot of snacks

I never really understood the power of snacks until my second toddler. Toddler one can easily survive a week on nothing but milk and kinder surprises but toddler two LOVES his food (got it from his mama!). Snacks can be used for loads of different purposes including a diversion tactic, tantrum diffuser, boredom cure, oh and sometimes even for hunger.

A happy place

Toddlers are assholes. This is not new information. But if you’re like me you always thought that seemed a bit harsh. Nope. It’s true. Toddlers have a way of breaking you down. They may be small but they can make even the most mindful of mums lose their shit from time to time. Your spirit will break a little every time you have to wrestle a toddler to the ground to brush their teeth or drag them out from under the desk because they think running away and hiding from you at bath time is hilarious (or is that just me?). At some point you will need to walk away from your child, close the door and punch the air or scream into a pillow. Then find your happy place before emerging to try again. Don’t worry, bed time will come. Eventually.

There is never a dull moment with toddlers around that’s for certain. And though none of the above is ground breaking, life changing advice, hopefully it helps you to navigate the mine field that is life with toddlers whilst keeping a shred of sanity in tact.

What are your toddler survival tips?

Our babies are growing up (sniff, sniff)

Sometimes I feel quite sad that I no longer have a baby. Jesse is three so basically a grown up and Jasper is heading towards 16 months and embracing full-blown toddler-hood.

Sometimes I miss those blissful new mama days when you feel so exhausted but so elated at the same time. I already feel a bit out of the loop especially since I’m surrounded by new mums and first time mums in my job.

But, as much as I miss it, I also absolutely adore the stage we are at right now.

The other day I had a lovely lunch date with my boys and I was relishing in the fact that, though they are still dependent on me, its very different now to life with a new baby.

We sat in a cafe (kid-friendly of course, let’s not get too carried away!) and enjoyed a meal together. Well, I ate a meal while Jesse consumed an entire giant cookie and Jasper shared my chips and dropped his sultanas all over the floor. There was also a few clean ups of spilled beverages. But all in all it was really nice.

Then afterwards they both went in the play area and played together while I looked on. I didn’t have to intervene. I didn’t have to nurse a baby while trying to keep an eye on a toddler. I could just sit. And be quiet. And sip my coffee. And watch as my two little boys played and laughed together.

In that moment I really appreciated how things are right now.

Now, I do need to say that it’s not always rainbows and unicorns. Just days before this I was absolutely hating life as I tried to hostage negotiate my way through the basic morning routines.

I still have just enough night wake-ups to keep me coffee dependent and a heavy reliance on nursing bras and easy boob access. So I’m not out of the woods just yet.

As crazy as it sounds I will miss all of that. But getting past the baby stage and seeing your babies grow into little people is also pretty great.