How to Survive the Winter Bugs

Winter time babies and toddlers will bestruck down with green noses, violent bottom explosions and come to think about it violent mouth explosions .

Can you prepare for it ?.

No each time can be different and can come on with no notice what so ever .

I am going through it with Thea at the moment . For years in nursery I would dread it ill 2-5 years old coming in all emotional and generally unwell. So over the years I have learnt how to help them and make the most of the situation .

Here are my top 10 tips for beating the bugs

10) Prepare make sure your stocked up on baby wipes for those green noses and stinky bottoms.

9) When a child is ill they may not eat meals. They will graze over lots of different finger foods .

8) Den making they can be tired and grumpy they don’t like the light. Get some pillows , blankets , pegs and let your imagination go wild.

7) Teamwork your sleep will be affective so if you get a chance tag out with your partner and have a break spending 24hrs with an ill child is tiring.

6) Fresh Air I know getting your child out when unwell is a drama. But Thea fell asleep within 10 minutes. Being in the fresh air is healthy and gets you both out and about maybe even a chance for a take away coffee.

5) Sky Cinema frozen on all day every day she was like a zombie, don’t know if it comforted her but raised her spirits and gave me a rest. Put their favourite cartoon on.

4) Comfort them, Thea would have what looked like tantrums but in fact she just wanted her back rubbed and a snuggle.

3) Make them laugh ” laughter is the best form of medicine”. It may well be just silly voices or throwing up in air ” not recommended with sickness bugs”.Thea laughs when I dance whatever works for your child

2) Try,Try and try again. The above worked for Thea but at all different times. You almost have to have special Marvel Powers to understand what they want. Unfortunately I don’t so it was a case of trying the above to help her through the day.

1) Children are just like little adults. Remember this when looking after them.

When your ill chances are you will have all the same symptoms . Tired,not hungry,grumpy,sore and just out of sorts . Except you can communicate what is wrong even though no one wants to listen.

So try to think what would you need.

And finally try to enjoy moments of it. Yes it is pain to be off work. But every so often you will get a snuggle , smile or laugh that will make it all worth while .

Ice Play Activities

Over the last few months Thea has been exploring water and ice. It has been great fun watching her explore,learn and understand both of these .

I have documented these on my Instagram (therealworkingdad ) . But I was thinking how I could I make it easier for us busy parents to take part.

When I thought why don’t I do what I do in nursery . I have all my activties in order in a folder. I have the materials I need, how to set it up , the benefits and development gains and what would I do different the next time .

So I thought I would break it down in blog form so you can print your own list of activties that I have learnt over the 7 years I have worked in early years education.

Ice Play: Exploring ice

For this you will need:

Tupperware

Water

Food colouring

Toys

Fruit

Instructions

Get several Tupperware containers make room in the freezer .

Chop up some fruit apple and banana .

Get a couple of toys like cars,bricks or a bath toy something your child is familiar with it.

Put objects in Tupperware add water and a couple of drops of food colouring.Put in freezer over night.

The next morning take them out leave to thaw slightly so you can get them out the Tupperware .

I used the paddling pool to explore the ice but you can use anywhere you want.

What to do?.

Play with the ice touch it and encourage your child to explore it .

Thea it first was slightly shy about the ice .

If this happens use the ice with the toy in it as your child is familiar with the toy they will be confident to explore it.

Talk about the ice melting this will help develop an understanding of ice and develop language .

Thea loved seeing the ice melt to reveal her car she picked the ice up and tried to smash it several times.

Why put fruit in it.

Yes the fruit becomes like slime.

But children love exploring different textures.

Thea use to hate messy play but by encouraging her to explore it she has become confident in messy play.

As the ice melts your child may eat the fruit while exploring it using different senses like taste ,touch and smell .

This activity is really free play it’s not meant to be structured.

You are letting your child explore the ice.

Each child is different and will learn differently .

All you have to do is encourage them,talk to them and of course prepare it .

Learning benefits:

Problem solving-why is the ice melting

Language development : talking about ice and melting

Sensory play: exploring different textures also helps build confidence and independence .

Fine motor: ice is skippy and difficult to hold so a great workout.

Attachment: Spending time with your child exploring is great for bonding and you learn so much about your child.

Creativty : will they stack the ice, try to use it to draw like Thea .

Physical: if you use a paddling or bath this can be quite a workout as your child is using their core strength to balance and smash the ice.

So there you go your first activity , over the coming weeks I will post more activities for you.

A Day at Lords Cricket Ground

Lords the home of cricket.

Lords is owned by the worlds biggest cricket brand, the Marylebone Cricket Club Which also owns the copyright to laws of cricket crazy.

Why does a Scotsman care about Lords or cricket?.

Simple family my papa was a Yorkshireman and keen cricket fan . As I was growing up he would look after me which meant summers of test cricket on BBC. Over the years I watched it with him and had a beer of G&T with him . As time progressed I would have tell him what as happening as his eye sight deteriorated .

So I have a relationship with cricket and find childhood memories due to my papa.

This year I decided I was going to visit lords but first I had to get a ticket a fairly simple procedure.

I went onto the Lords website http://www.lords.org looked at the fixtures and found a ODI with India perfect not too long not too short 50 overs each. You don’t just buy tickets though you pick where you want to sit I went for the Grand Stand £100 a ticket pricey but your watching a sporting event at an iconic venue for 8-9 hrs.

Then you feel in your details and wait you see it’s balloted for tickets due to demand.

I was informed by email and told the news I was successful by email and tickets sent out sharpish.

On the day of the match I got the train to Euston and walked through Regent Park to the ground it was a lovely summers day and I got to stretch my legs before sitting down for 9 hrs .

Lords is by St John’s Wood and is a lovely area I would recommend going early and grabbing breakfast somewhere and chill. Even celeb spot my spot of the day Mr Damian Lewis ( way taller and muscular than in TV)

Then head to Tesco and stock up on supplies:

Sun cream

Water (you can refill once in the ground)

Beer (2pints each you can bring in or a bottle of wine)

Food (it’s a long day)

Your bag will be searched on entrance we entered through the North Gate busy but we got through very quickly all the event staff were quick,friendly and efficient throughout the day.

Then the walk to find your seat this was view I was impressed I could see everything very clearer and there are of course screens for reply’s or use sky go as well to watch on sky sports another tip.

The seat I had was nice and padded perfect for 8hrs and enough leg room I’m 6ft 2inc.

The next question facilities bar you had que’s but nothing major 5 minutes top about £5-6 a pint £9 a pint of Pimms and lemonade.( I know steep but is London and an event).

Food though I’m not paying £5 for a pork pie or scotch egg hence why you go to Tesco.

You can previous hampers or book into a restaurant but it’s pricey but looked fab.

Toilets busy but all fine and enough of them.

Family friendly as well.

So onto the cricket England started well and collapsed mid order no surprise there but Joe Root getting a very impressive century helped by battling Willey getting a half century give England a respectable 322 for India to chase.

India started very well their fans in good spirits trying to wind up the English but soon lost 3 quick wickets and became very quiet we only sing when are wining springs to mind the match levelled out for a while and could of swung either way but India never recovered or in few went for it.

This was confirmed by the introduction of the legend Dhoni when India were 140-4 he didn’t seem to be at the races. Hitting singles when his country needed 4’s and 6’s. As the match continued the atmosphere changed fans felt sort changed even booing him and slow clapping as he lost interest and stopped running.

India were eventually defeated by 86 runs all bowled out for 236 Plunket the pick of the bowlers taking 4 wickets

So the final 15 overs were non event but overall visiting Lords was a fantastic experience and would love to return next and at some point with Thea as she gets older .

Why the ground is spectacular as you look around it from the old the pavilion to the new the press centre thousands of people watching a cricket match as planes fly across you forget you are in the city of London. There is definitely something magical at Lords.

On top of that it is a well run machine from getting you in to the ground and to your seats to serving you a cold pint the service was ace and especially it was lovely to see the services there helping people to their seats and making them feel safe and welcome.

5am Parents Club Who wants to Join ?.

“5am Parents Club a club for anybody that is woken up between 4.45-6.00 by the children wherever you are in the world”

On becoming a parent I was warned it would be life changing “Tony you will never get a minutes peace”. To say I wasn’t prepared for being woken at 5am or earlier 75% of the time is an understatement.

It’s so bloody early Breakfast News on BBC has not started . I remember the good old days of getting in at 5am after a kebab or pizza and a night of drink and dancing the night away. Instead I’m waking up to a baby gremlin shouting and shaking her cot Butter wouldn’t melt but minutes before it was like a zoo the noise she makes to get me up.

You wake looking at your partner praying it’s not your bloody turn while your partner is nudging you get up baby needs her nappy changed,baby needs a bottle , baby needs Peppa Pig. Bloody Peppa Pig daddy needs Bloody sleep.

So as I navigate getting out of bed without falling over the obstacle course of baby toys and equipment made all the more difficult as my eyes have not adjusted to the light or by being rudely awaking . I have one thought coffee.

Baby has another thought I pick her up and pray her nappy is wet and not soiled the last thing I need is to try to change a 10 month old when my brain and body is functioning at less than 50%.

Into the living room I go get baby on the changing mat dash to the TV get it on get Netflix on and that bloody pig.

This might calm Thea enough for to get through changing her

Netflix and chill is hardly the term I would use for “5am Parents Club” Netflix is an essential survival tool. Once Netflix is on this gives you a window . This window is vital for getting through the hour. Once Peppa is on get the coffee on this energy boast is vital as you prepare babies breakfast and keep them entertained as Netflix will only work so long.

As I said entertainment is vital otherwise you get a noisy angry gremlin sorry baby if you have the energy go wild use your imagination be creative do some messy play or even art work very funny i here you say.

If not read a story and try not to fall asleep or maybe get on the ground and ruin your back more than it already is by playing with toys or just try to survive until daylight hits, your partner wakes or until your little one falls back to sleep.

If this sounds familiar you may want to join the club. But there are some side affects:

Tiredness

Grumpy ness

It can age you

You lose sense of time

You can injure yourself as your working under a lack of sleep

Headaches the noise the constant noise

Sometimes it feels like your in war and it’s only 6.30 am.

But I can offer you benefits :

Great chat with fellow parents going through this war.

Knowing you are not alone and you don’t have a devil child that wakes you at 5am every morning

Self satisfaction of getting through this time unscathed

You are bonding with your child and making memories

Some days you will be a superstar and get loads off your to do list well maybe

You are gaining an extra 2 hrs of the day you would never of had

Its free follow therealworkingdad share the #5amparents club and help each other through this time

My Journey with Anxiety

Mental Health awareness week maybe over for 2018, but im determined to keep talking about my mental health. Why?  I found the week very inspiring I heard stories from people from all over about their mental health. It gave me the confidence to talk about my own problems with anxiety for the first time since being a child 25 years of bloody anxiety. No wonder my nails are shredded. It gave me the confidence to open up to my parents about how I feel on a daily basis, it has brought us closer together and I have learned more about my childhood and family which helps me understand my anxiety.

Since it has been a few weeks of opening up my mood and anxiety has changed. At first I spoke about it went to the doctor and felt a massive weight off my chest , but as time has gone on I have felt my anxiety come back slightly each day.

Maybe I havent been honest enough with people since that week or maybe not even pro activte enough. I have good days and bad days but deep down my anxiety is still there and my self worth is low. I find writing it down a relaxing process giving me time to reflect and work through my thoughts (having dyslexia and a delay in processing information I write notes and plans all the time).

So here we go…  I am currently signed off work with generalised anxiety after a discussion with my family I resigned from my new job it was completley out my comfort zone and when working with children they need a routine and felt this was the best decision . I go and see the doctor every couple of weeks but they are saying at the moment my confidence and self worth is very low meaning. Im having panic attacks over even small events outside my routine. I am not on any medication at the moment in the past I have been on propanlol and diazepam with different levels of success. I want to discuss my options with the doctor see if there is something that can assist in keeping me with a more consistant and leveled mood. My doctor wants me to work on my confidence and self worth and has suggested CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therpy). What is CBT  ” a type of talking treatment which focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems”.

I have been to CBT on the NHS before in Glasgow and it was not for me I was rushed in and out and it felt like a tick exercise so I paid for two separate private therapists again I just didn’t make a connection. I had about 20 sessions in total so did try and was honest but felt that I was told to focus on being more assertive and confident whilst remaining calm which even after 20 sessions felt overwhlemimg and still outwith my grasp. So what I am I anxious about my life, health, family, change of routine, noise, to name a few sounds crackers right or maybe it doesn’t and it’s just my mind playing tricks on me.

Having anxiety for so long I have several defence techniques or things I do to calm and centre myself I get up and go out for a walk put my headphones keep my head down and walk for miles pushing the pram and let my mind wander I find sitting still can make my mind feel like its going crazy. The gym I like to keep fit it makes me feel good about myself I like to run longer and lift heavier weights it helps me feel good and builds my confidence for the day. Mediation not in a centre just on my phone do a full body check, get my breathing together, centre myself and battle through. I don’t do this enough life with a young baby there are not enough hours the day.

Writing this blog is a new experince, one I stopped writing as soon as I left school I hated it as I felt I was crap at it. I did’nt get diagnosed with dsylexia and processing delay until I was 29 years old. Throughout school I was called lazy and told I didnt study enough I still get upset looking at my reports I need to stop doing that. Writing this blog however somthing I am interested I enjoy the whole process.

Spending time with my family, I love spending time with Thea and my wife Harriet going out on trips outdoors getting away from the city we often go down south to see family and Thea’s Godparents I feel like a different person being in the countryside without the hustle and bustle of the city. Even though I grew up in the city I don’t know if I belong here and I think about that often maybe too much. I also had ME (Chroinc Fatigue) for a number of years leading to a hopsital stay two weeks after my wedding, my healh plays on my mind most days but I will save that journey for another blog post im going off course now.

Im due to go back to the doctors soon and feel Im ready to tackle my anxiety full on Im fed up of it being at the forefront of my life. I want to find myself and not let my anxiety control me. How will I do that I dont really know yet apart from what I have said above keep talking, do what makes me happy , take care of myself and listen to the advice of the ones I love and my doctor. It’s not all doom and gloom even by writing this I feel in a more positive frame of mind and ready for the day tomorrow. Dont suffer in silence millions of people are going through the same issues if you dont talk it will eat you up and you can go to some very dark places which I dont want anyone to go too.

Men in Early years Education

I have been training or working in early education for the last 8 years.

I had two years at college with 2 separate 6 month placements in council nurseries .

Once qualified I have worked in nurseries and junior schools. Mainly independent/ Private which are fee paying and finally back to a council.

In all my time I have never worked with another male in early years.

In the England 5% of the workforce are male in Scotland only 3% are!!!.

This after the UK governments have been trying to increase the number of males in the last decade a 2% increase in England and 1% in Scotland hardly figures to be proud about.

So why are there so few males picking early years education well the goverment and several education sites have published papers and there seems to be four main reasons.

I am going to give you my personal view on each. Education can be a slightly touchy subject with parents so hopefully I don’t offend anybody.

1) Men fear being stereotyped that parents and colleagues may not be welcoming and think it’s weird job for a male.

I think in the uk we have come along way and parents just want what’s best for their children. I have had a few parents who didn’t show up for parents evening with me ,made the odd comment or asked me not to change their child.Its difficult but it has been the minority.

2) Working in a female dominated environment. Right Tony be honest. It is difficult always being the only male. I have been in nurseries that have never had a male before so you have to use female toilets and heard many things I wish I never. However I did meet some wonderful early year workers and lovely people who helped me. What’s most difficult you feel quite isolated. In Scandinavia they group males together at first I think this would be a good idea here to get numbers up and so we can support each other.

3) Low pay puts men off as it’s not enough for keeping a family. The pay is below the national average wage which I think for such an important job is crazy. There has been talk about grants for men to up wages. I feel this is crazy you can’t have men getting paid more than women for the same job.

4) And finally men don’t know about early years education it’s not an option.

We need to talk about it more in schools and colleges have positive male role models come in and talk about the fantastic experience it is to help young children develop and learn.

Over the past couple of years I’m hearing more voices on social media and the news talking about males in early years which is great but it feels like it’s regions when this a national issue we should be uniting so every child in the UK has positive male and female role models.

Personally I am taking a break from working in nurseries I have had a fantastic time in early years. Met so many great children seeing them grow has been awesome.

But having a new child myself I have to put her 1st the hrs and workload has gone up over the years which has had a physical and mental affect on me.

I am still looking to work in Early years but with my own business as an Independent male nanny specialising in additional support needs and sport/fitness programmes

Living with Anxiety

Anxiety-A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome

Or Psychiatry A nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks

These are the definitions of anxiety according to the Oxford Dictionary.

So this is what I am living with but this barely scratches the surface.

Anxiety can creep up on you or hit like a bolt out of the blue. Your not safe anywhere even your own bed. My sleeping for several months was a very unpleasant experience I just could not drift off. My mind would be full of thoughts bouncing around like lighting bolts. What was i thinking about anything and everything from when was I going to get the shopping done to what if the traffic was bad in the morning. This may not sound important but my this resulted in my body tensing up so much my back would ache,my teeth would start to grind and I would sweat uncontrollably. I don’t know how I got to sleep but I did only to wake up with my clothes soaked in blind panic that I may have slept in. Now I have baby Thea I know that will never happen. So you could say i was worried and stressed about life in general which can bring on anxiety but just because you have rough idea what is causing it doesn’t mean you can control it.

Another major symptom of anxiety was dread as bad as doomsday. For myself this was social events if I had a social event to go to I was a nightmare I got cranky like really cranky I was not nice to be round. I hated myself for feeling this way that I could not go out enjoy myself with my wife. I would then hate myself as I would become snappy to the ones closest to me it was a horrible cycle. I then became embarrassed and my self esteem would drop as I couldn’t bring myself to tell people how I really felt I would beat myself up and all that does is make the situation worse and your mental health worse.

You cant get out of all social events so here is how an evening with Tony would go. I would start to get ready several hrs before the event. Then pace around the house like a man off to court not a party. I may change my outfit several times as I would worry I might have same outfit on as somebody else. I could only wear white or black as I was so uptight I could not stop sweating. The tension in my body would be unbearable like rigid and my hands cleansed. Mentally I was scared I was scared I would have nothing to say and just think of the worst scenarios possible to man. Once at these events in the earlier days I would drink to relax me that was not the answer it just fucks you up and then you feel depressed not good. Instead I would stand in the corner keeping my jacket on hoping that my wife would not leave I did not want to be alone and try to  make small talk. If it was a successful night I would persuade Harriet to leave early we wouldn’t talk and I would go off to bed in a right state being in that state of mind knackers you unlike any gym workout.

If was a bad night cue “Panic Attack” these are bad your chest feels like it is about to exploded like someone is pounding on it. These occurred when nothing bad was happening physically but mentally my head had gone. I would feel faint and dizzy and I had to get out you feel like the room is closing in on you. Tremors my hands would shake constantly as I would always be anxious and so tense they would be sore. I could see people looking at my hands and feel ashamed which just intensified the anxiety. This often lead to me being sick and generally feeling ashamed that I couldn’t enjoy myself or let go. While this is happening though all you can think about is letting everyone down. You feel overwhelmed and out of control like Alice falling through ….Anxiety gets you all over it is horrible.

So if your feeling like this you most likely have some anxiety.

What brings it on can be a number of things including:

Stress

Past or childhood experiences

Physical and Mental Health problems

Current life problems

But knowing why you have it is not going to end it.

There is several ways to get help and its easy for me to tell you about them. But when you suffer from anxiety none of these are easy. As you are having to deal with your own fears or anxieties. In my case I contacted my doctor first, well that was an experience first thing he wanted me to do was to go anti depress ends which i was not happy with as i was not depressed just scared and the side affects were terrible but they may work for you. This put me off the doctors and made my mental health go into a spiral I actually got quite angry for a while. Then a friend recommended boxing which at first was stressful I found it great for releasing tension.

Thankfully I have strong network around me and an especially strong wife who took me back to the doctors to see a different GP. Who said no way are you depressed. I opened up to her and my family and started Group Cognitive behavioural therapy on the NHS. Having anxiety and sharing to one person is hard enough to a group I thought was crazy. It was an experience you had the angry man who said he would not talk as he could not be responsible for his actions and left and 4 women taking selfies and making a Whats App group oh yeah and me having another panic attack just wanting to escape out the window. After this experience I paid for a private 1-1 therapy  this was where i started to understand my anxiety and start to cope with it. Talking about it with somebody who is not too close to you,you can break it down and realise that it is your mind playing tricks on you and your anxiety voice in your head is not real and not Mystic Meg it can not predict the future. Its not easy to open up I felt ashamed and embarrassed at first as if wasn’t good enough but as i went for more we worked through my problems and started to relax. By talking in therapy i could then have the confidence to tell my family to which they felt relieve. I still get anxious I am anxious typing this just now  what will my friends and colleagues think will it affect my job prospects.

Anxiety can hit me anywhere and everywhere walking down the street or in busy places like bars. But I can’t let it control me.

So talking helps. I have also found mindfulness/meditation to be very helpful it centres me when I panic.I still get dark thoughts but l have worked on my breathing slow it down and take control of the situation. For example I touch a table or a wall I know sounds crazy and say to myself I am fine the thoughts are in my head I am standing in a room touching a wall controlling my breathing. I use the Head space app for this in and around Glasgow there are also lots of meditation centres you can pop into after work to clear your mind and reset your body. This may not be for you as every bodies anxiety is different. But world has a major problem with mental health as the below figures show and I felt as a dad and and someone who works with children I had to speak up. Anxiety can affect anyone and are we doing enough I’m not sure but the very least we can do is talk about it and work together to help each other through it.

My anxiety is still here and will it ever totally go away I do not know, I just know by talking about, opening up and admitting I needed help it is improving.

One in 10 people in the UK are likely to have a disabling anxiety disorder during their life.

13% of adults will develop a specific form of anxiety known as a phobia during their life.

At present 40% of disability worldwide is due to depression and anxiety.(AnxietyUK)