Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: dads talking (page 1 of 2)

The party is over

This is it, the party is over, 2 and a bit weeks of glorious paternity leave are finished and it’s back to reality tomorrow. I’ll be honest I bought a few Euromillions tickets last week in the hope that maybe I could extend my time off but alas no luck and the bills won’t get paid because I’m a good dad will they? Like when Henry was born one of the best things about being on paternity leave is actually having time with the older children. Matilda and I spent so much time together while the lady of the manor looked after Henry, we walked Bracken every day and did bath time together it was just great. What dad doesn’t love the thought of waking up and playing with his kids every day?

This time was similar, most days I’d get up with Matilda and Henry to do breakfast and then take food up to the lady of the manor so she could eat and feed. Having 2 weeks holiday is always great but I think being ok with living life as normal rather than trying to have a ‘holiday’ makes it better. You just do regular activities but do them together when normally things like taking Bracken out normally get fitted around everything else. You have time (not much with a baby in the house but some at least) to do all those things you want to do at a weekend but never get around to.

We did Halloween craft and I got to join all our NCT mum friends at a Halloween party, we walked the dog, we jumped in puddles and played in the forest, we baked bread and cooked, we had many many games of hide and seek, we snuggled on the sofa watching TV when it was cold, we did jobs in the garden with nanna and gramps, we went swimming played on the swings, we went to the kids first ever fireworks display and tried candy floss. The list goes on and actually despite all the sleepless nights and moments of chaos where we wanted to scream it’s fun and I think we’ve done an awful lot.

Don’t tell the kids but we may also have taken advantage of their preschool days to go out for coffee and cake and pretend that we only have 1 small baby for a while. No need to persuade 2 children to sit still and eat their food without knocking drinks over and most of all some peace without all the questions. We all need some of that down time as parents don’t we?

Rupert is in general a very chilled and happy baby and so strong! He’s 3 weeks old on Wednesday and already is holding his head up and moving onto his side when lying on the floor. He’s also packing on pounds, at 11 days old he weighed 10lb’s vs. his birth weight of 9lb 6oz so clearly mummies milk is gold top. Still weighting to see if he ends up a blondie like me and Matilda and Henry, the lady of the manor is hoping he’s going to be a red head like her but no signs of that yet.

I’m not sure how the kids are going to react to me not being around, there are already murmurings about not wanting me to go to work, but they’ll adjust again I’m sure. Certainly isn’t going to make sitting in an office again any easier, but I do at least have some great memories to take with me. I do hope also that Matilda and Henry have enjoyed it fully too, there has probably been a few too many shouty moments born out of tiredness and frustration on my part. I didn’t run much at the start, there was just no way to fit it in and that just makes me grumpy without the broken sleep also. We’ve tried to give them lots of attention and not just focus on Rupert but it’s not easy is it? Having a newborn can be quite intense and demanding and all consuming if you let it.

As I’m falling asleep writing this I’m going to hit publish and try to get some sleep before attempting to get out of the door for work tomorrow for the first time in 2.5 weeks. An attempt that also includes a preschool drop off for Matilda, wish me luck!

And then there were five

I have now been a dad to 3 for 4 whole days, in fact counting to 4 is about all my brain can cope with at the moment after 3 nights with a newborn. I did have 4 hours straight sleep last night though which felt like heaven, funny how quickly your perspectives change isn’t it? But after keeping us waiting for 6 days past his due date our baby boy finally arrived on Wednesday 22nd October weighing a mighty 9lb 6oz’s. I shan’t give you a blow by blow birth story other than to say the lady of the manor was awesome, she also enjoyed the full spa treatment at the birthing centre with a massage before a quick pedicure (removing nail polish from your wife’s toes while she’s in labour isn’t something they teach you on a NCT course) and then a dip in the jacuzzi.

But without further ado I give you the youngest heir to the Fool’s kingdom; Rupert

 Ben and Rupert first cuddle

He’s a bit of a cutey isn’t he? Such a chilled out little dude too, cries a little when hungry or wants his nappy change but other than that just sits quietly taking the world in. He doesn’t seem phased at all by the chaos around him as his noisy brother and sister play in the noisy way that only small children know how. Certainly doesn’t seem to stop him sleeping either, I think he’s going to be able to sleep through anything given how noisy it’s been from day 1.

It’s probably a bit of an understatement to say that Matilda and Henry love him; he’s certainly not been short of cuddles and kisses from them and do an excellent job of sitting ever so still on the sofa so that they can hold him. We got home after they’d gone to bed on the day he was born so the first time they met him was in our bed the next day, Henry just ran straight up and started giving him kisses, Matilda was a little more apprehensive though. We just gave her space during the day to decide when she was ready to meet him properly, no point in trying to force these things is there after all she got her stubbornness from her daddy. It took half the day before she asked if she could hold him and then she sat for 20 minutes without moving a muscle while he sat on her lap; there can be few moments as a parent that are as happy as that.

Henry and Rupert meeting

Matilda and Rupert cuddling

We’re slowing settling into our new routines and roles in the house, finding the new balance now there is an extra person house. A little bit of trial error to find what works and what doesn’t including learning that I don’t make the lunch boxes as well as the lady of the manor. But the children seem very excited about having me home which is of course fab and I have another 2 weeks of paternity leave left (I’ve taken holiday, who can really afford to take leave at statutory pay?).

We’ve been talking about all the things we can do over the next 2 weeks, saying things like ‘we could do that when I’m on paternity leave’, but the reality is that survival is the main objective at the start isn’t it? Hopefully we’ll get a couple of day trips in but I think the kids will be just as happy with playing hide and seek in the garden followed by snuggling up watching a movie. The one thing we will most definitely be doing is grabbing a coffee with just Rupert for company when Matilda and Henry are at preschool. Going to be a while before we get that chance again.

Let the fun begin.

5 skills all new dads need to perfect

As I sit here potentially hours away from meeting the 3rd in line to my empire (a house with a big mortgage, an old Toyota Yaris and a years supply of running clothes) I thought it would be a good moment to share some advice to new dads. As a veteran dad and parenting expert (i.e. I have 2 children) I think I’m perfectly placed to share some words of wisdom.

I thought I’d start with the top 5 skills all new dads need to perfect, essential skills that will see you through those first chaotic months as a new parent and establish you as the alpha male in your NCT group. Knowledge is power people.

  1. How to sniff a nappy – Changing a small babies nappy is never an easy task, same goes for undoing the poppers on a baby grow so you really want to minimize the number of times you do it. The answer is to develop your sense of smell so that with one short sniff you can identify exactly what is in the nappy. As your skills develop you’ll also be able to tell the difference between gas and a true dirty nappy.
  2. Monitoring and describing poo – A direct link to the above, it’s amazing how quickly as a new parent 80% of your conversations revolve around bowel movements. You become obsessed with the colour, size, consistency and frequency and are perfectly happy to discuss those details with your partner while eating your dinner. Being able to accurately describe the contents of all your child’s nappies for a given period is an essential skill for any dad and also allows you to play true top trumps with your fellow new parents and see who was had the worst poo related incident.
  3. Terminology – We all know that knowing the lingo is an important skill in any situation, in the parenting world you can convince people of your parenting prowess by throwing in buzz words such as ‘attachment parenting’ and ‘self regulation’ casually to conversations. At a more basic level it’s also important to know that it is a muslin and not a Muslim as the lady of the manor often calls them. No one wants to shout across Mothercare ‘honey do we want a white or coloured Muslim do they?
  4. How to not hear baby cries at night – I think dads have evolved to have selective hearing at night, at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. But dads there is a very important skill here, you need to be awake enough to offer to go to the baby crying but not too awake that you offer before you partner is getting out of bed already. Don’t forget it’s important for us dads to get our beauty sleep, after all we are the hunter gatherers of the family, the ones who provide right?
  5. Efficient burping technique – Being able to extract that awkward trapped wind that has made your baby wriggle, moan and cry for the last hour is a true super hero skill. It requires more than brunt force, there needs to be technique and precision. A careful balance of gently bouncing around while aiming the pats are the precise spot of the back to have the maximum effect. Not too hard that it could hurt your baby but hard enough to encourage that burp up to their mouth. Advanced skills involve combining the bouncing/patting with some leg bends while they lie on their backs.

Did I miss any? What skills do you think every new dad needs to learn?

Entering the red zone – round 3

Alex 33 weeksThis is it, we’re entering the red zone, 4 weeks and counting until due date which means it’s entirely feasible baby boy could arrive at any time. Scary. We’ve done this twice already so there isn’t that fear of the unknown, of what birth will be like and how it will feel to hold him for the first time. But I’m still nervous. Nervous I think about the reality of having a newborn again and of having 3 children. The latter is perhaps the most scary, the first few days with a new baby are always chaotic but with 2 other children to think about also it’s likely to be even worse. I’m sure we’ll settle into a routine soon enough but I can imagine our patience will be tested, little steps each day though right?

I really hope Matilda and Henry get on with their new brother, I think they will, they talk about helping him do things. Matilda tells us that she’s going to hold his hand when we cross the road, which is far too cute. But you never know do you? You never know exactly how they’re going to react to a baby having our attention a lot of the time rather than them. When Henry was born we made sure to give Matilda attention and also not just ignore her whenever he cried, we had a plan for integrating but this time we’re going more on feel. Perhaps that’s what happens when you’ve been parents for a while? You sweat the small stuff less and learn to adapt as you go along rather than assuring yourself that your grand plan will work.

However I did come across this photo while writing this post, even at 14 months old Matilda loved having a brother, let’s hope it’s the same 2nd time around.

Matilda with a new born Henry

We’ve decided to have a home birth this time, in fact we decided that with Henry too but there was no midwife available in the end on the day he was born, so this time we’re hoping to have more luck. What I love is that the midwives we’ve had this time and with Henry have always been so positive and excited about a home birth, they’re all 40+ so maybe they like someone who doesn’t want a birth surrounded by hospital machines? I’ll be honest, a home birth does make me a little uneasy, I like the vision of a baby born at night and having Matilda and Henry come down in the morning to meet him. But I worry about the what if; our first 2 births have been pretty straightforward but you who knows what will happen this time. Plus of course there is the ‘stuff’, the bodily fluids and all that *shudders*, the lady of the manor is a nurse so has seen far worse, I on the other hand am a little squeamish. I also have visions of turning around and finding Bracken trying to eat it and running off with a piece of placenta in his mouth when we try to stop him.

Planning for the birth has so far involved working out the many permutations of what the children could be doing and who will help look after them if we need it. We’ve also packed an overnight bag for them and the lady of the manor. Finally I’ve bought enough plastic sheeting to cover the whole of the downstairs in preparation for all the ‘stuff’, the only thing left to order is the birthing pool. We did have some debate over the pool when I discovered it takes 3 whole tanks of water to fill, but apparently the fact we’re on a water meter shouldn’t dictate the birth plan.

Now we wait……..


I think it may have finally sunk in that we are having a baby in less than 8 weeks (or thereabouts), which I know sounds a little silly because I of course do know we’re having a baby but it doesn’t feel that real when you’re not the one carrying him around in your tummy. This little breakthrough for me came at the weekend, I was snuggled on the sofa with Matilda and Henry watching the videos on my phone. It’s one of their very favourite activities and also probably one of the few times they both actually sit still.

Matilda picked a video from last year just after we moved into this house, it was from a day when the lady of the manor was working and I was at home with the 2 of them. The video showed a crawling, babbling Henry and a small barely 2 year old Matilda running around like a crazy thing. Then it dawned on me; I’m really excited about having a little baby in the house again.

Matilda just born

I’ve always told myself that the baby stage didn’t excite me that much and that it was when I could start having a proper interaction that I really started bonding with them properly. But looking back at those videos has reminded me how much fun it was to have a little wriggling baby. To have those days where you watch them ever so slowly figuring out how to roll over by swinging their legs and then getting that pesky arm out of the way.

I’ll be honest though I’m not so excited about weaning a baby (although Bracken is excited about the food that will be coming his way) and sleepless nights obviously aren’t something I’m in a rush to experience again. But this is most likely the last time we do go through all the firsts again which I didn’t think I’d get sentimental or emotional about but actually I think that’s starting to hit home a little.

It’s amazing how quickly you forget all those things which actually happened only a couple of years ago but feel like a different life time. Life with children is crazy and hectic and often about getting through the day, it’s hard to stop and remember the little things. That’s actually one of the great things about being a blogger and of course one of the reasons I started this blog, you have a ready made reminder of your child’s development. Although I’m not sure I believe my two were every this small.

Matilda and Henry lying down

Now I think I’m going to have a little lie down as I come to terms with all this very mature emotional stuff. After that is the small matter of planning a home birth, but more of that later.


Nutmeg autumn/winter collection

I’m quite excited to share that I’m going to be working with the fine people from Nutmeg over the next year to bring you some regular updates about their clothing range with a few competitions thrown in for good measure.Nutmeg in case you didn’t know is the clothing range from Morrisons which is for adults as well as children. Today I’m kicking off with a few items from their autumn/winter collection modelled by the 2 cutest preschoolers around (even if I do say so myself).


Like many parents we are of course no strangers to shopping in the supermarkets but Morrisions wasn’t one of them until recently simply because we didn’t have one near us. But having spent the past couple of weeks dressing the children in their outfits and of course washing them multiple times (our record is a change of clothes before 8am) I have to say I’m impressed. Not only do they look great they’ve also so far worn really well and most importantly the kids love them!

Henry’s clothes are age 2-3 and he’s a relatively tall 2.5 year old, the shirt fits perfectly but the jeans definitely have some growing room in them and needed turning up. The jeans are a lovely soft material and have an elasticated waist that you can adjust to size. The hoody is just lovely and it’s actually been difficult to prise it off him he likes it so much!

Matilda fell in love with her dress as expected, she put it on over her clothes as soon as I unpacked it. The jumper she’s not so sure on as she finds it a bit itchy so we’ll put it over a long sleeve top once it gets a bit colder. Her clothes are aged 3-4 and the trousers are perfect in length, but big on the waist as all clothes are because she’s such a skinny thing.

Matilda received; blue jeggings, black and red dress, white and blue striped wool jumper, black leggings

Henry received; blue jeans, brown check shirt, grey button up hoody

Storytelling dads – Richy Black

fathers-story-week-logoThis is it, the final post to celebrate Fathers Story week, people often say that they left the best to last, but in this case we haven’t. We do however have a fine gentleman to finish off this series of guest posts from storytelling dads, one that drove for over an hour just to watch me kayak across a loch at the end of the Scotland coast to coast.  That makes him a top bloke in my book!

You may also know him from his starring role in the 12 dads of christmas where he displayed his amazing keyboard skills. He also writes a pretty awesome blog called the only boy in the house which as you might guess from the name is all about his life as a dad to 2 daughters.

So here without further ado is the final set of answers from a storytelling dad, I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, I’ve certainly enjoyed reading them. If you’re a dad reading this and don’t read to your kids then maybe this might have inspired you to give it a go, if you’re a parent who already loves reading with your children then perhaps you’ve found some inspiration for new books to read.

Also one final mention for my run for charity, next month I’m running 100km along the Ridgeway to raise money for Save the Children. My main reason for choosing them is their change the story campaign which is all about giving the UK poorest children the chance to have a good education and specifically learn to read. If you are like the dads who have featured this week and think storytelling and reading are essential for all children then I’d love for you to sponsor me and help Save the Children with this important campaign. You can find my sponsorship page here.

1. What’s the best thing about reading to your children?

Being out of the house all day, five days a week, anything that involves spending time with the kids is special, and reading to them is extra special because it’s such an intimate thing. Reading together is also a great way to see them progress – from completely passive, to looking at pictures, to reacting to the words, and now, with Heather, being able to read some of the words all by herself. Amazing!

2. Where do you read to your children?

Anywhere and everywhere, but mostly in their rooms at bedtime, or on the sofa.

3. All dads like doing voices when reading, what’s your party piece when it comes to impressions?

The one which springs to mind – and it’s one I haven’t read for a while, because it’s often too long for bedtime – is The Troll by Julia Donaldson. It’s two stories in one, one about a troll and another about some pirates, and the stories come together at the end. The troll always gets this gruff, East End of London voice (Gregg Wallace from Masterchef, but a bit more sinister) and the pirates get these terrible pirate voices that probably sound nothing like they do in my head. Amusingly, after we’d had this a while I discovered that Gem had independently given the troll the same voice I did!

4. Favourite book from your childhood?

Can I pick more than one? I’d have to say the Mr Men books, which have now been passed on and our kids enjoy them too


5. What’s your children(s) favourite book now?

They both like pretty much anything by Julia Donaldson, which is handy because they’re all good. Heather also loves a bit of poetry, and has an AA Milne collection plus another from various authors including Robert Louis Stevenson. Special mention also has to go to Penguin by Polly Dunbar – although I haven’t read it for ages, it was a favourite of both girls for a good while, and I can’t leave it out.

6. Last book you read them?

I think the last thing I read either of the girls was a poem from one of Heather’s books, called My Shadow ( It’s by Robert Louis Stevenson, and is probably her absolute favourite poem.

7. Book that your children love but you secretly hate?

Fortunately for me, I can’t actually think of one! I don’t know if that says more about me or the kids… or if I’ve just been very good at steering them away from books I didn’t like the look of/had read far to often in a short space of time. Gem really can’t stand the collection of Dora the Explorer stories, but even that doesn’t bother me. Apart from the one that’s written in the third-person which, for me just doesn’t work. Maybe that’s my answer!

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