Having Dyslexia and not knowing you have Dyslexia

At the age of 29 years old I did a check/ test with Dyslexia Scotland to see if I had dyslexia or in my words “I’m I just thick and lazy” like many of my teachers had implied.

After the test which involved puzzles , sequences and words . The report I got basically said moderate / to severe dyslexia and I also had a processing delay , I found it hard to understand instructions and problem solve. I had felt that for years I would be asked to do a task but it was like I was being spoke to in a foreign language . I never said anything and took the jokes or the annoyance of co-workers or managers.

Why did I do nothing?.

Imagine every school report and teacher say your lazy, doesn’t study , complete homework and isn’t teaching their potential. To say my confidence was shot is an understatement , I’m actually getting quite emotional writing about it. 13 years of education the best time of your life, I don’t think so I hated it and have an anger towards the education system how could they let this happen and then the teachers yes it was the 80’s and 90’s but the way the spoke to me and treated me was a disgrace and has definitely affected my mental health as a teenager and young adult . How can you put a child constantly down and not help them?.

Right enough of feeling sorry for myself and ranting.

How my dyslexia and processing delay affect me ?.

I’m going to start with how it affects my Instagram . When writing a post it can take several attempts . Why well I sometimes miss out words and even when reading it through I won’t know it’s missing. You see my reading is horrible if I’m reading a book I need total silence or I just don’t take it in. I often read the same line or page over and over again. So my posts can take an age to put together.

Onto spelling , I could say I can’t spell but that’s not totally right. I can but it’s like my brain muddles up the words and spits them out back to front and plays tricks on me. It looks right to me and I have the right letters but in the wrong places. It is incredibly frustrating as I often can’t use words I want to as I have no idea how to spell them or I’m scared I will be pulled up for my mistakes .

When I’m writing I struggle to make it all link together , I struggle with the grammar and punctuation I just sometimes miss it out.

I think this can be related to my audrity processing delay. I struggle with instructions verbally but also understanding skills like writing. I remember trying to learn about writing skills in school I had no idea what the teachers were asking of me so I had to self teach myself and come up with defence mechanisms to survive . God forbid the teacher asked me in class or read out my work talk about an anxiety bomb.

So how do I cope for college I had a scribe I would tell them what I was trying to say and they would put it in to proper English I also got funding for a proof reader which was fantastic. I unfortunately never got this help at university . I felt they wanted us to be robots “to pass this course you must write the way we want you to” this was never going to work my content and understanding was good but it didn’t read like university papers I soon dropped out.

Day to day I will ask family and friends to check my work but I can’t do this for every post it just wouldn’t work. Also when somebody checks your work they change it . It no longer sounds like me.

Honesty I am up front now on forms I put down I will need support or extra time and in work situations I will tell people. I may take a little longer to respond . I feel this helps me relax and what else can I do ?.

I love writing and posting it’s amazing for clearing my mind and moving on. It stops me from overthinking and keeping my anxiety in check . I also have journals with lists and thoughts but sorry they are just for me .

I hope this post helps you understand the difficulties I have when writing and maybe encourages some others with dyslexia to start writing or share their experiences.

How to Survive a Wedding with a Toddler

Life with a toddler in our experience can be hectic . The transition of Baby to toddler is shall we say emotional. Taking a baby out you can keep them entertained and happy with a pram and bottle when out socialising. A toddler goes somewhere new and becomes an emotional wrecking ball. A pram will not contain them and will not silence them .

Life does not stop though so when we knew our friends Kirsty and Emmett were getting married we thought we better get organised. Thea would be 20 months by the wedding and in full toddler mood.

So for a smooth weekend this is what we planned.

:Keep it simple stay in the hotel of the wedding The Piersland Hotel.

:We didn’t want to rush so we booked the night before and after. This meant Thea could get use to place and not be like a Taz Manian Devil when seeing a wedding for the 1st in a new place.

: We all deserve a break and weddings are always a fantastic occasion . With this in mind we got our friend Nikki to come down to babysit. We had booked a cottage so plenty of room and Thea loved Nikki.

:Do a food shop the day before, pick picnic foods and your child’s favourites it’s a break for them too. You never know how they will react to sleeping in a new bed. That can be bad enough you don’t want them hungry too.

At this point I have to say I was feeling quite chuffed with myself. We were going to smash this wedding .

The day before the wedding I left Harriet and Thea at home and thought I would get a gym workout,sauna and shave . As I was in the changing room about to go to the gym my phone rang … I very nearly didn’t pick it up I saw it was Harriet and thought it would be reminding as always pick up milk for Thea .

Thank God I did answer it was Harriet hyperventilating while trying to shout the wedding is today. It was now about 11.30 the wedding was 14.00 the next day . I don’t know why but I chuckled down the phone. You can guess how that went down, so off up the road I went knowing I was in for a world of pain.

When entering the flat I can only describe it as a chaotic war zone and I had walked straight into the middle of it with a big silly smile. Harriet was in full panic mode, red face,eyes filling,banging everything down and speaking very high pitched.

I think because I knew Harriet was panicked it relaxed me about it. When it’s your wedding your so caught up in the moment you didn’t even really know who is there,but I was quietly confident we would make it. Harriet packed and kept Thea happy and then packed the car and to cut along story short we made it to the hotel with 15minutes to spare but our story does not end here.

Thea had missed her nap. Never ever a good thing to miss for anyone. I don’t remember a parent ever saying I’m so glad our child missed their daily nap right before their 1st wedding.

The hotel is stunning and old with lots of rooms and stairs which would be fine if we arrived 24hrs earlier and Thea had explored them all. So getting to the bar was a battle as she fought to explore the men’s toilet .

But there should of been a babysitter and we should of been at the bar having drinks.

Thea was now at her 1st wedding. Inthe bar she ran about like a headless chicken but was not causing to much fuss. The ceremony though was a different ball game. How the hell do you get a toddler to sit still on a chair in a room with about 60 people let alone stop them shouting Daddy and Duck.

I took one for the team and escorted Thea out the room like a teen getting escorted by the police for drinking several bottles of Mad Dog 20/20. I didn’t want a scene the teen wanted everyone to know I was ruining there fun an they did not deserve this treatment. I left to the slap of my nose and raspberry.

So I missed the ceremony but caught glimpses as Thea heckled through an open window at the back. But it was worth it Kirsty was one of Harriet’s bridesmaids and loved watching her get married myself and Thea so her crying cue Thea banging the window.

Afterwards there was photos,drinks and then dinner.

This time was spent necking beer as fast as possible and running after a toddler trying to escape us . It was knackering work but Thea was in her element playing outside,talking to lots of new people eating sugar what else does a toddler want a dog… oh yeah Bruce Kirsty’s and Emmett’s dog made a guest appearance Thea loved that.

But she was getting tired and cranky about 8pm so we took her back to the room. Harriet was putting her down and I was in the other room making coffee. After a while of silence I went through and both were fast asleep it was 8.30pm and it was the end of the night for all of us. What a day.

So to survive a wedding with a toddler 1st things 1st make sure you have the right date in your diary.

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.

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