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Family Parent

Living In the Present

When you start to gain followers, or you are even simply posting or chatting to your friends, its easy to be hooked to our devices. Even before having Munchkin, I’d use my phone as a comfort blanket, allowing me to avoid conversation at ease when I felt uncomfortable.

However, I have recently had the realisation, when I think about Munchkin’s future, that while having a phone may be essential for him one day, we want him to prefer to play a game with us, read a book or get outside.

It is also stark when you have a look at that bit in your settings which monitors your app usage. I’m not going to say a number of hours I saw in mine, but, I can tell you I was shocked. Oh instagram, you are rather addictive.

One thing I realised, it that even if I put put only three to five stories in a day, I’d do them as they happened, then respond to responses instantly. This could take a lot of time, and that was time I was not then spending with Munchkin. It made no difference to take the photos and videos, then post later when I’m not missing the next thing. Particularly, when with a child, that next thing could be their first word, or first steps or any of the thousands of little but exciting developments they gain in their first two years.

Also, notifications don’t expire. You don’t miss something because you didn’t pick up your phone when it just buzzed. The notification will be sitting there later waiting just as it does when it comes through the first time. And 99 percent of the time, that message can wait, as the point of instant messaging is, messaging, not constant conversation-ing.

If you really need help avoiding you device, see if your phone has a built in focus mode, or download an app such as Freedom, or Forest, which let’s a hypothetical forest grow for all period of time you’ve saved. I found my phones focus mode has helped working from home.

So, I guess I’m sort of writing this as my pledge. To be the best Hubby and Daddy I can be all the time and stop Instagram (other social media devils are available) stealing me away from being in the moment.

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Development and discovery Parent's Learning

Montessori Methods at Home

Montessori play is something I’d never heard about before becoming a parent but is something so great for development. What it means to me is giving Munchkin that freedom to choose what to play or do, making those choices accessible, learn through play and learn life skills.

Here’s a quick what to do to set up Montessori style at home and how we’ve done it, some of which by chance.

  1. Designate an accessible place for everything

This comes down to making things easy reach for your child. From toys, to books, to arts and crafts and snacks and drinks.

For us, we have all toys in low drawers and shelves, clothes for nursery days in bottom drawers, books under the TV for little hands to grab, and Munchkin level snack shelves so he can choose when he’s hungry and what to eat (within reason!).

2. Emphasize Life Skills

This swings on how even young children are capable of pitching in around the house in one way or another and by helping, it sets them up to be considerate and capable adults.

With Munchkin, this occurred naturally. Start to clean, he wants a cloth to join in too. Approach the dishwasher, he wants to help empty it. Hang out the washing, he would help ‘sort’ and pass the items to be hung. I always take him to show him jobs like watering the plants. I’m just too scared to give him a watering can indoors just yet!

3 .Teach Concentration

This is one I could question, but when you read, its about identifying your child’s interests and setting things up to keep them concentrating and thoroughly exploring for a period of time.

We know Munchkin loves the outdoors and a good sensory play activity. So we set up some time and some space and try to make the activity evolve to keep his interest and therefore concentration. For example, we set up an ice play activity, then introduced bubbles and coloured water later to evolve the play.

4. Give them their best learning environment


Discover where your child likes to learn and provide that space. Some children prefer solitude where others like the middle of the room. We have two spaces, a playroom and a play space in the lounge. Munchkin chooses where to go to play, and whether or not to ask for our hand to lead us to join him.

5. Focus on Inner Motivation, Not Reward

This Montessori method is about rewarding behaviour and progress with verbal feedback in moderation, over physical rewards such as stickers or sweets.

This is an easy one and one that we do naturally. Say well done, that’s great, we are proud of you and clap with him at big moments.

6. Use Child-Sized Furniture

For this one we have a tuff tray for floor messy play fun and a mutable for Munchkin sized table activities. We use the high chair when baking to bring the mixing and making to floor level.

If you’d like to know more about Mutable, see my review here.

7. Make Their Bedroom Child-Friendly

This echoes some of the previous points by giving them a play space, so if they wake early they can move from bed to play on their own.

Munchkin rarely uses it, but we have always had a third play space in his room ready for when he moves from cot to cot bed.

Future Montessori plans for Munchkin

One idea we’ve had to expand our Montessori offering at home is to create seasonal nature trays and more role play tuff tray activities, such as making a farm or zoo.

Do you have any tips or things you do at home? Let us know in the comments.

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Parent's Learning

The Constant Lessons with a Little One.

Everyone knows that parents either learn a lot or just constantly wing it. So now Munchkin is now a toddling, more communicative, more hilarious, ever lovable ball of pure joy, there’s a few more lesson’s I have learnt on the journey called parenting.

1. Weaning them = changes in mealtime expectations for you.

If you are a big fan of eating your toast hot and your Weetabix crunchy, you may have to adapt how you make food for yourself. By the time I have breakfast ready for the Munchkin, then for me and my wife, Munchkin in the highchair and styling in his Bibado then there’s no chance everything is in that perfect condition or temperature. Luckily, I’m not too fussy so all is good.

A little smiley one at breakfast

2. There isn’t a word in our language for how tired you are.

Its true, you can get to places beyond tired, but it doesn’t stop you developing that little human into whatever big human they one day will be. Role playing with his kitchen, singing and dancing to the Wiggles, or in sensory exploration through bubble time, splashing fun or painting with those little hands, tiredness stops nothing.

3. Welcome to repetition, repetition, repetition…

Munchkin initiated reading time in the mornings after his milk by passing a book to me. What a lovely idea I thought. We read five books, one by one. Well, when I say read, I more mean something like:

‘That’s not my fox its tail is too….that’s not my….The End’. As he rapidly skips through the pages.

By day three on that selection of books we had chosen a favourite. And that book needed to be read over and over and over and over. Again and again and again.

4. With increasing development comes increasing hilarity.

With ever developing language come ever funnier moments. Whether it be a perfectly timed giggle or squeak or a slightly imperfect pronunciation when copying us, there are daily moments Munchkin has me in absolute stitches. And, of course, he laughs along with me.

5. You learn a new meaning for the word Love.

We all think we know what love means. I love my family and I love my wife. But every day you experience a different type of love for your little Munchkin. It’s the same squishy mushy feeling you have for your partner, but at the same time, something different. Its inexplainable but perfect.


So with every new day we learn something new which only just adds to the marvellous job of being a Daddy.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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Mental health Parent

Avoiding the Lockdown Lows

I recently wrote a post about staying sane with a one year old (you can read that here). I read it back and realised that while that was great for how to stay happy with all the dirty nappies and early mornings, it didn’t really focus on me, the adult.

So here five ways I have avoided the lockdown lows myself.

1. Streaming (what the internet was born for)

Disney plus came into exisitence bang on the right time, coinciding with the start of lockdown, saving us from boredom by letting us catch up on the latest releases we had missed but also reminincing with the golden oldies.

Other streaming services do exist however, so its important to mention while not dreaming about living at DisneyWorld, we’ve also been dying to save the big cats watching ‘Tiger King’, been is utter disbelief with ‘Suriving R Kelly’, and beyond furious with ‘The Trials of Gabriel Fenandez’.

2. Getting out

We have used our daily exercise hour to get some fresh air and vitamin D, whilst also giving Munchkin a change of scenery. This gives some goodness for all three of us.

3. Project house

Being furloughed has been a great kick to get all the house jobs done.

I finally got around to finish filling some holes in the house and kick started the garden ‘renovation’. Me and Natalie have no real garden experience yet we’ve (somehow managed to) put up a fence post and two panels and most recently prepared the soil by hand and laid some turf (we bought our house with a low-maintainence fully-slabbed child-unfriendly garden).

4. Had some ‘me time’

I thought ‘me time’ would come in the form of the xbox one, but then I discovered that you can play board games online. This was a revalation.

So nap times and the odd evening has become virtual board game times with my work crew, university mates and my Mum, Sister and Wife.

For this we have been using boardgamearena (Here’s the link), which for private play, requires one premium member at only £22.80 for the whole year or you can play other players worldwide for free.

5. Appreciation

I think what has really kept me chirpy is spending some time thinking about and appreciating the benefits of lockdown.

Whether that be being a key worker (woo to all of you) and feeling and seeing the value of your continued sacrifice, having reduced work hours (woo!), or working-from-home commitments (so you can do a day’s work in your PJ’s), or for me, spending time seeing the development of my Munchkin.

I hope you are all staying sane and safe in lockdown.

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Mental health Parent

Covid-19 Self-isolation and Staying Sane with a One Year Old.

When we came to self-isolate we knew this would be hard on Munchkin. His usual week changed suddenly. One moment it was nursery for three days and each Nanny covering one day each. At weekends we would see friends, or his Grandparents, Great Grandparents or his Auntie and Uncle. There would be a weekly swimming lesson and a weekly sensory and play group and then suddenly it all changes and you don’t know why.

It changes to just one day at nursery. But not normal nursery. The first day since the schools closed we arrived to just us in the car park and only two members of staff inside. Then for the rest, he just at home with us. Six days per week of just Mummy, or Mummy and Daddy, and they can’t really tell you why.

So what is important…

Routine. We decide for Munchkin’s, and our, sanity to create a new routine. One to keep things fresh and engaging but also to still differentiate between weekend and weekdays. So we made sure meal and snack times and types were set, and we would have slots for sensory play, reading time, play time and a walk.

And there is the next one, walks. Using the one time to get out of the house to go for a long walk. I realised the importance of getting out the house every day during SPL (shared parental leave) and know what it can do for your well being. Further to that, just getting some regular fresh air, outside those four walls in the garden, does a world of good.

Finally, its sharing the workload; the nappies and changes; the routine and the household normalities like the dinner and cleaning. Though I am sure most mothers will agree, sharing the workload should happen regardless of whether there is a pandemic or not!

I hope you stay sane during your self-isolation everyone.

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Development and discovery Family Parent Shared Parental Leave

An average week of Daddy and Munchkin

After a lovely weekend, which of course every weekend is, that dreaded Monday comes around again. Mummy leaves early in the morning and we are left to our own devices again. When I say dreaded though it’s just that we miss her, not that we aren’t looking forward to a wonderful week of Daddy and Munchkin time again.

Monday starts with a lovely 30 minute stroll then half an hour of rhyme time and 15 minutes of play with all the other cute local babies. This covers (with associated actions of course) everything from ‘Five little ducklings’ to ‘Hickory dickory dock’. It also acts as a lovely little morning arm workout with ‘I’m a little baby, I fly high’ amongst other songs which involve lifting a Munchkin who’s getting heavier and heavier by the week. With the walk and the baby lifting during the rhymes it’s a perfect start to the week with a little exercise for Daddy. Its also a great place to make some parent friends and for Munchkin to meet other little dots.

Walking to Rhyme time



The only other regular activity is on Thursday with baby swimming. We leave in the morning for our 50 minute drive. There were closer courses, but not at this price making it worth the travel. Baby swimming not only gets Munchkin into swimming itself but also teaches important safety skills such as spitting out water, how to turn and how to climb out if he accidently fell in water. We had done plenty of kicking when playing at home but now we are kicking in the water too (one of the firsts that Daddy got to witness) 😊.

Ready to swim

That leaves us three other days. We make sure get out on at least two of them. Usually once a week we go with Nanny G to see Munchkin’s Great Grandparents. Then on the other days I either take Munchkin into work to see my work mates, to our local friends or his Guardians, or just on a walk around the local area. We fill the rest of the time with playing on his play mat and activity gym, practising sitting and crawling, and reading.

Munchkin loves a ‘That’s not my…. ‘ book.



As hard as it can be to get out nearly every day it’s important for both of us. One week I was so exhausted I spent two days at home in a row and it just made me fall into a miserable state. So even if it’s just a short walk, it can make improve the most difficult days.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin.

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Parent's Learning

Things I’ve learnt on this journey called parenting

After 8 months of Munchkin madness here’s a few things I have learnt along the way…

1: Advice is often conflicting

With a new baby comes a barrage of information. There’s the NHS website, NHS courses, private courses, staff during pregnancy, after pregnancy and post natal care. Oh and then there is other websites, apps and chat boards. Then with anything, be it weaning, sleeping, routines, or milestones there is different information on each source.

For us, we just took an overview of many sources, then just went with our hearts and did what we thought was best for our little muffin.

2: Enjoy every minute

Yes it’s a ballache (or a…breast ache?) waking up at 1am 3am 5am to get up for work at 6am however it doesn’t last long and before you know it, the days are over when they can fit in your arms for a nap and now it’s time weaning and rolling over or chasing them as they crawl and then run away. Time goes fast so saviour every moment, the good, the bad and the ugly.

3: Nothing can really prepare you

We skipped along to the antenatal breast feeding class and came away brimming with knowledge and confidence. Four weeks later our Munchkin arrived and it was all shot down in a day. Nothing can really prepare you. I’m not knocking the classes, but merely saying to take all the advice with a pinch of salt. Every baby is different and every baby will behave differently to the average baby in every little thing they do.

4: You don’t need everything or the best of something

If you’re left thinking ‘how am I going to afford everything I need for my baby’, one of the biggest things I have learnt is you dont need everything and you dont need the best of the best. We personally invested in a good travel system, but opted for a cheap rocker and play mat. Facebook marketplace is your friend too. There is many a bargain of baby bits on there!

5: It will get easier

You thought you had a bad day befor parenting? Oh how wrong you were. However, its always short lived. Me and Natalie had the worst first 5 days following our Munchkin’s arrival as he initially struggled to feed then forgot how to sleep, however it was just 5 short days. For every bad day there is equally a day of magic and joy.

6: Hurdles are there for leaping over

My biggest hurdle I found was that I was so used to being in my happy bubble where I would always have my wifey, family or my friends by my side. However, stepping into shared parental leave I was suddenly on my own. This made leaving the house with my Munchkin alone to go to a baby group where im the token daddy on shared leave a much bigger step than i expected.

But hurdles are there to be overcome. I started with small steps in getting out the house and going around the block and back home then it wasnt long before i could go anywhere. Whatever your hurdles may be, don’t fear them. Approach them slowly and you will jump across them.

Finally…

In most things there isn’t a right or wrong. There’s a choice. When it comes to parenting, choose what you want to do and how you want to raise your child. We are all different because of the different ways we are raised 🙃.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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