Anxiety Over The Christmas Period

The Christmas period is busy busy with lots of parties and social gatherings.

For most these are things to look forward but for some with anxiety they can become overwhelming. It’s far to easy to fall down that anxiety hole and lets be honest Christmas time with kids, do you really have time to climb out that hole.

What caused my Christmas anxiety

My routine is gone I’m overwhelmed and I start to feel slightly empty and my mind goes into over drive.

I didn’t notice my anxiety levels going up until I spoke to friends online and started to workout why I was feeling off centre.

My warning signs of anxiety creeping up:

Insomnia- Takes ours to sleep my mind racing about future events

Can’t get out of bed- see above can’t sleep too much sleep can’t win .

Mr grumpy returns – I was becoming grumpy because my mind won’t switch off I’m stressed, tired and beating myself up.

Sweating – Day or night I sweat a load more.

So my anxiety levels are due to my routine being out and not having clear goals.

Christmas time to me feels like a riot lots of parties, social gatherings, pressure of getting everything right for everyone.

But without a doubt I’m in a better place than previous years to deal with it.

why?, the fact I can write about it and realise what is happening and discuss how I’m feeling means I can tackle it.

So how do I tackle my anxiety over the the holidays?.

– Talk about it with the ones closest to me, having thoughts spinning in my head aren’t going to go away.

– Positive Vibes only it’s only me who can change I how feel. I think of all the positive aspects of my life Thea, Harriet my health , my career, owning a house and write them down.

– Going into social situations sounds really simple try to relax, do some stretches go for a walk. You don’t want to be tense, twitching and sweating which I have done all at the same time within 10 minutes your knackered.

– Fuck it off right you can’t fuck everything off but if it’s something you don’t have to do, will cause you a meltdown, overstretch you fuck it off. You can’t go through life making everybody else happy if your not.

– Its busy but self care is so important if you forget about it. Your mental health can go downhill fast. I won’t get to the gym much but will do jump in for a sauna and steam for some me time. It could be something simple like a walk,podcast,meditation whatever centres you. If you don’t make time at some point you may become overwhelmed.

But remember if you don’t talk about it or admit to how you are feeling you won’t be able to do any of the above.

And remember try to enjoy the holidays and if you need a chat about your anxiety but don’t want burden anyone you can DM me on Instagram therealworkingdad.

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

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

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!