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

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)

A dads experience of labour.I kid you not!.

Baby Thea was due to arrive on the 19 August 2017. We had picked the name prior as I work with children so had a massive list of names I didn’t want. Working in early years eduction I thought I was pretty prepared for becoming a dad even a little smug yeah I work in a nursery with 50 children and had no disasters how wrong could I possibly be!

As I said Thea was due the 19 August so on Sunday the 30th I thought I would be safe to hit the pub my mate he had just been dumped and wanted to drown his sorrows. I thought this could be one of my final opportunities of having a few jars.

After a few maybe 4 I had a moment I can’t explain it it was like a voice saying phone Harriet it could of been the beer. On this advice I phoned to be told that Harriet had thought her waters had broke. I think at this point I had my first panic moment I couldn’t drive I had been in the pub for hrs. I then had the image of an angry Scottish taxi driver in utter rage as Harriet gave birth to Thea in a Scoda.

We were left with one choice call my parents to get a lift as you can imagine. I was slightly worried by this idea my dad is great but useless and it would interfere with his daily routine. My mum would be overjoyed but could get too involved you know what mothers are like! I didn’t have a choice I had a wife in labour telling me to get it sorted so my mother came to pick us up to us to the hospital.

The journey to the hospital was fairly uneventful I was in a state of shock being a mute as my wife and mother took control and talked for Britain as if this was normal it may well be but I’m not an expert of childbirths.

Glasgow Royal infirmary in the early hours of the morning is not a place you want to be really with your pregant wife and mother. It resemanbles a war zone and most people are drunk and arguing with themselves. So last thing I needed was to turn up to part of the hospital that is closed and boarded up like a scene from the walking dead we had to walk for 10 minutes past several people talking to themselves that looked like the walking dead.

Once we arrived I went to reception I was told by a very angry lady I was in the wrong area and my wife should not be walking anywhere let alone the streets of Glasgow while in labour. They put her in a wheelchair and carted her off with me like a naughty school kid behind and my mother carrying Harriet’s pillow showing no signs of leaving.

Once up on the ward Harriet was seen to by a couple of midwifes and I was left outside with my mother! I love my mum but she is intense I don’t really remember what we talked about due the to the Stellas and the general panic/anxiety of oh shit this really happening now! Either way my mother was staying for the birth I think I just wanted it all to be over and everyone to be well.

Soon enough another more happy women told us that Harriet was to be moved into a room for a water bath I wasn’t too keen on this I had refused for 5 years to watch one born every minute I used to say I don’t need to see that it’s too gruesome sorry I know some people love that but not me no way. Again my stress levels went up imagining a paddling pool and something like alien happening. I took a deep breath and went to the room I have to say I was shocked the room was massive and it had a huge bath in it. But Harriet needed the toilet and the midwife was not happy no water bath the baby was on her way cue a frantic walk to another room.

This room was great as well I was on one side my mother on the other the sun was rising my wife was in labour my heart was racing hands were shaking. Harriet started on the Gas inhaling far too fast I thought But was I going to say anything was I balls. A couple of minutes after saying this Gas does nothing I was covered with sick all over my hands,arms and chest.

The birth itself was very quick. Harriet was told to push by the midwife I stayed at the side as I said I didn’t have to see everything my mother on the other hand was like a crazy coach at a football match round the front cheering with encouragement smiling away. You can’t make this shit up I tell you!.

Baby Thea popped out she was tiny we all cried I think with relief as much as anything. Thea was screaming one eye open one closed looking like a pirate I thought. Then Baby was put on the scales as the midwife turned away Thea’s hand grabbed the scales plug and tried to yank it out causing panic from the midwife and her to say I have never seen a baby do that before!

So my life changed forever. I could never imagine a birth like it but I wouldn’t change it for the world it brought the whole family together.

I would love to give some advice, when your expecting your first you get some people that will tell you what to do or expect. I don’t really think you can prepare or know what to expect. In a few hours your world is turned upside down it’s never the same again and it doesn’t matter it literally blows your mind!