The Problem of Instagram Pods

So where to start many of us won’t know what a pod is or why it may concern us, so I guess that’s were to start.

A pod somewhere from 15 up to a 1000 so called influencers or people with the “same interests” agree to like or comment on each other’s post to beat the Instagramalgorithm .

Or that’s what they say. Each will have set rules which you must follow or get kicked.

Most of these pods will be on telegram or others apps. They may use hashtags to notify each other so they know who to like and comment and when.

I want to say these aren’t for example a support network group were you talk to each and offer help as the main point of these pods is you have to engage on posts.

To gain as many followers as possible how do I know this it’s all over the internet people saying they are great as it takes to long to naturally grow your account god give me strength this is parents saying this.

Why am I raising this?

I guess since lockdown Instagram has gone crazy I’m asked daily how do I grow my account, I want more dad followers. I want I want I want ….

If that’s the reason your using social media or me I don’t really want to interact with you as it’s already sort of fake.

It really depends what your using your account for. My account was started for me and my family I talk about family and my Mental Health topics that really shouldn’t fake. I find it very sad people would post about such personal topics then use pods and fake comments to promote it. I mean if you have nothing to hide just tell everything what your up to and stop editing posts afterwards. Be 100% honest on such delicate subjects.

I wanted to talk about ads so have contacted some companies about what they think of people using pods I will update this as I get more info but the word “shocked” has been used.

But what do I know so I did more digging and found a great report by researchers at NYU

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/techcrunch.com/2020/04/29/instagram-pods-game-the-algorithm-by-coordinating-likes-and-comments-on-millions-of-posts/amp/

A really great read which shows you the problem is worldwide and that Instagram are aware of these issues and have and will take action again. This study found 2 million posts had been affected by pods with more than 100,000 accounts taking part and this is only one study.

So if your going to use a pod why not be honest and tell everyone that’s my question to you.

Personally I won’t be joining one anytime soon. I feel it sets a bad example. It reminds of the annoying kid in school. The one that would complete GTA in a day using all the codes while it would take me and my other mates months.

In the long run they missed out as we shared our experiences each day laughed and cried “why can’t I complete that level”. Just remember in a world where we seem to demand everything straight away sometimes it’s fun to go slow and just enjoy the experience.

Potty training during Lockdown

Let’s start with this “Oh yes a perfect time for potty training,is lockdown “ this was the response from most people when we talked about Thea beginning to use the toilet.

I’m going to save a fortune

My question to them is, how the bloody hell do you know, as far I’m aware this is the 1st lockdown and I’m sure if we had one before it wasn’t used for toilet/potty training but maybe I missed something.

Onto my second moan what the bloody hell do you call it, I got pulled up for calling it potty training but toilet training sounds not right either. I mean no offence but I am going to use the term potty training in this blog my anxiety levels are at full capacity after 3 -4 months of lockdown with a toddler.

So Tony get back on track, we decided to start Thea potty training when lockdown started aren’t we fun parents. It has been interesting to say the least we ran out of frozen pants use your imagination on that one.

But how did it go I’m going to bullet point some of our journey ( some people get to go on a journey around the world this journey was not like that).

1) Potty training is a journey some days are better than others. Thea was eager to learn but basically some days she just wanted to poo in her pants. The reasons I’m not happy, I’m tired and there is a monster in the potty.

2) We found having a routine helped potty beside the bed for morning and night,gently reminding her to go. This worked well but some days the potty would just get launched across the room.

3) Pees are way easier than poo’s well this is what Thea was like. Poo’s for along time were done in her pants in our closet in the dark.

4) Take a break if it gets intense, don’t stress and we don’t want our little ones getting upset. It will only take longer and you don’t want them being scared it will only make a bigger problem

5) Working with children I know that toilet training can be sped up with siblings and watching their peers in nursery. This were I think lockdown is not always the best time. Imagine all your life happy pooping in your nappy. Then your mummy or daddy says you don’t do that you do A,B,C your toddler if stubborn might tell you to do one as they don’t believe you.

Some days it’s not worth the battle

6) Reward chart again used in nursery or stickers we had stickers went down a storm. We spoke to Thea about potty training loads and loads. Thea loves stickers she wanted Peppa pig ones so pretty simple and we would hand them out at night and just encourage and praise her.

7)Nursery taught me this one children are all unique and different. Of course take advice but don’t get upset if it doesn’t work for you. Seeing headlines on social media saying my kid potty trained in a week is crazy good for them but in the majority it takes longer. I have potty trained someone in a nursery setting in a week but that’s totally different from the Lockdown situation. In my experience it takes as long as it takes you want them to be confident and independent not traumatised.

8) But really what do I know. I don’t even know if Thea fully trained. I mean the only toilet she has used is the one in the house. I have no idea in a social situation if she will ask her teacher or know to go only time will tell.

Stay calm even when others are having a melt

My SkinCare Routine with El Naturals

My skincare where to begin?. When I was in my teens I suffered with extreme acne so bad my doctor put me on medication for it. It calmed down but can flare up and I have scarring which my daughter loves to point out. For years I have hopped between brands trying to find a solution, spent a fortune and so much time hunting it out (why can you never find the products you want in shops).

El Naturals
https://www.elnaturals.uk/

So when El naturals gifted me their new Father’s Day range I was really excited. You see their skin care products are unisex and produced specifically so it can be used by all skin types and all family members.

After hearing about other parents having the same problems as myself I thought it would be useful to run through the products I’m using and my daily routine.

1)Q10 Cleanser

2)Black Clay Mask

3)Collagen Moisturiser

4)Marula Oil

My skin care bundle

Onto my routine above is the order I use the products but you may change the order we all have different skin it’s what suits you.I will now talk about the range and how they help my skin feel refreshed and rejuniveted.

1) Q10 cleanser – I start with this, I gently massage into my skin and use a clean damp face cloth to remove it. I use about a 1 pence piece of the cleanser. It’s great for cleaning my face and repairing my skin perfect 1st thing in the morning.The cleanser has avacado and apricot oils in it which help nourish the skin and here comes the science bit Co-Enzyme Q10 which repairs the skin cells by producing energy amazing.

Q10 Cleanser

2)Black Clay Mask. I use roughy the same amount as I do with the cleanser or more sometimes as I love the stuff. It’s brilliant for cleaning my skin getting the rid of the dirt on my face and opening my pores. I gently rub the clay mask all over my face as your doing this you can feel it going to work getting . I then splash my face I personally like to rub again and finally cleanse my face with cold water. How does it keep you looking young and fresh we have grape seed for better circulation and omega 6 to reduce your pores.

Black Clay Mask

3)Collagen moisturiser if only you could smell it wow!,it has a cherry extract in it. It’s a delight,it’s not an overpowering smell as all the skincare products are scented to be used by anybody. It’s like a fresh slightly summery smell. But apart from smelling great this helps us stay young it has key oils , essitntial extracts and marine collagen and Goto Kola!.

You would think moisturising is easy just grab loads and chuck it on… no I never use to do this !!. This is how I moisturise now I use no more than pea shape at a time , warm up it up my hands and gently massage circles around my cheeks the driest part of my face . Then I move onto rest of your face. This is how my routine works I take my time I enjoy it and use it as relaxation time as well.

4)Marula Oil Face Body Serum. I will be honest before using El Naturals I had never tried anything like this before. I will now be using it forever. I’m going to tell you it makes me feel or try too it lifts your glow and skin to the next level. It’s feel luxurious and you smell like you have been to an extravagant Spa on holiday but really your in your bathroom on a Monday morning.On top of that it works brilliantly at helping my scars heal and be less pronounced .

How does it do this, well you have Marula and Apricot oils to help your skin to look fresh and ready for the day. But how does it repair your skin?, it has essential primrose and prickly pear oils included in it.

As I was new to this I got the experts to help how best to use the oil. Apply the Murula oil to your skin by using your finger again I like gentle circles I obviously lead a stressful life. One or two drops should be plenty.

Murula Oil Face & Body Serum

And that is my skincare routine with El Naturals. I hope you find it useful .

Before I finish I just a quick word from my wife Harriet- Hi I have suffered with severe excema and allergies all my life this is has made finding skincare products a real challenge. I often find products set my skin off which is difficult as the reaction will stay for hours or days. El naturals skincare range has been amazing for myself I can look after my skin every morning without worrying I will be in pain. Also I can pinch Tony’s too as it’s unisex.

Thanks Harriet and thank you El Naturals for some great products and getting my skincare routine sorted for me. I have put the website and Instagram page up so you can go and check them out and start your new skincare routine.

http://Instagram.com/elnaturals_uk

http://www.elnaturals.uk

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

So this years theme “Kindness” and let’s be honest with lockdown in almost its 10th week as I write this we could all do with some lovely kind words.

Kindness

We are going through the unknown we have never had something like this in my generation .

Which means we don’t really know how to react or think . We are told by social media and the news to stay positive but on the same sites told of doom and gloom or worse you witness hate as people argue their points not willing to be wrong or knowing the damage they cause to others .

My question is why not just be kind or as I tell the children pay a complement,make someone smile or if you are annoyed take a deep breath and talk about it. Surely you would prefer to brighten someone’s day rather than ruin it. Often by being kind you will get someone to open up you may even find out you have helped them what a great feeling.

A prime example of kindness is our Thursday night routine of banging our pots and decorating our windows in support for key workers some gestures that bring people together when in isolation. What I have noticed is the smiles it brings to peoples faces .

This leads me onto my thoughts of kindness why are we kind ?. For me when I link it to my mental health . I want to be kind to help people. You never know what someone is going through are they suffering. You can look amazing and be faking it to Oscar level but inside be crumbling and drowning.

I guess we have had all experienced kindness and unkindness. Think of how you felt when you received this kindness I’m sure it was 100 time’s better than the unkindness you received.

Think isn’t it so much nicer to be kind

Think you can make people feel that by supporting someone or just listening to what someone is going through . You may of been through something similar. So if you can choose to be kind.

I want to round this off with why mental health awareness week is so important to me. It gives us a chance to talk about mental health so hopefully we can end the stigma behind. Obviously this takes time but my big driving force is Thea and working with children I want them to feel safe and secure when talking about their feelings.

Lockdown this year is going to have a massive affect on them anything up to maybe 5/6 months of missing school,nursery, playgroups is a massive amount of time to miss out on.

Missing out on social interaction and new experiences

I know lots of my training in Early Years Education was on the importance of social interaction for 2-6 year olds especially and what can happen if they miss out on this .

They will need our kindness over the next few months even when lockdown is raised . Our kindness will keep their chins up and encourage them to be open about their feelings and help us understand them.

But why stop with children if we can be kind to children we can be kind to each other too. During the next few months lots of us may go through difficult time’s let’s build each other up by being kind instead of tearing each other down . I think you may find it beneficial to yourself and the people you are helping

Don’t be a dick be kind

Lockdown 2020 : I have 99 Problems but Bog Rolls are not one

Since the 23rd March we have been put into lockdown (some will argue we are not in lockdown but that’s not the point of this post)

Our lives changed over night , during the 21 days since we have witnessed some amazing sights and some not so amazing this post will talk about them.

1) Bog Roll . In Britain we know now the answer to the old question “if your stranded on a island what one item would you take” “Bog Roll and make it a 36 pack” . Crazy absolute mayhem in supermarkets. Will we ever know what those people were thinking buying a 100 bog rolls at a time .

2) Clap for our Carers every Thursday night 8pm we open our front doors , get the pots out and bang and cheer. To show our support to all the key workers keeping us safe during this time. I love this it’s really bringing the community spirit back. The 1st night I had a shiver up my spin hearing everyone cheer. I so nice to see people appreciate people.

3) How important a walk and fresh air are . I don’t think I have ever appreciated a simple walk so much. It’s a tough one I found myself guilty for taking my daily exercise but this takes me into point 4

4) No matter what is going on in the world there are going to be twats that don’t listen . Yes you the bog roll warriors , the people having BBQ’s on beaches and having house parties.

5) Schools Out Yes every parents worst nightmare became reality. The schools closed and parents everywhere grabbed a large drink. While everyone without laughed. As a friend said to me “I am living the dream getting paid to play computer games” .

6) Boris got ill and our daily updates got less interesting . Our leader got the virus or did he?. Anyways he disappeared from our screens and I felt the replacements seemed sort of lost witch is saying something as Boris normally looks like a rabbit in the headlights

7) We will not run out of bog roll

8) Social Distancing became a thing told to avoid all contact with others unless essential being an anxious introvert I rejoiced until I found out my toddler was classed as essential . She has taking social distancing the opposite way and won’t leave our side constantly saying “Play with me “ . I look forward to the day I get to go to work and have a day off enough said on that .

9) Football Football Football. It stopped it’s still stopped. We miss it. But I do think what a shambles and a missed opportunity for clubs to work together with communities but there is still time for this to work.

10)Pubs and shops bordered up I woke up went for my early walk and thought I was in the walking dead. Proper doomsday stuff I don’t blame them I live in Glasgow if it’s not nailed down it will be gone.

So lockdown so far has been interesting and challenging for some more than others. We will all experience it differently this post is just my light hearted thoughts. I hope you can relate and it maybe raises a smile.

Featured

Returning to Work after having a Child

When Thea was 1 years old I have to admit , I was in not a great place. Due to a hell a lot of things but I have to say my work life was hell.

I had fallen out of love of the education system and needed out. Harriet had just started to work for herself so we decided for myself to take a time out and stay at home with Thea . I mean I was trained in early years so why not . I stayed at home for almost a year and loved it. I built an amazing bond with Thea and it let Harriet’s business grow and flourish .

While at home I did some chaperoning which is looking after children on set I really enjoyed it and when in June I got the opportunity to work on a new BBC kids drama (The Demon Headmaster check it out on CBBC on Monday’s at 5pm )full time it was to good to turn down. I thought going back  to work would change our home life  but it really changed and I guess that’s the same for all parents returning to work .

There is good points and bad points to this so here’s what have found out since returning to work .
Let’s start with the positives :

Money Money Money – Having another income is great we can save ,book a holiday and have treats with Thea at the weekend.

Adult interaction – It’s great to spend time with other adults saying that we behave like children most of the time .

Self worth – working for me builds my self esteem bringing a wage into the family home . Also the self satisfaction of working on a project from start to finish feels great .

Reflection- working long hrs makes you realise what is important in life. It also focuses myself .

Mental Health- I feel mentally much stronger . My confidence is growing meaning my self worth has gone up. On top of that putting myself into new and stressful situations has helped control my anxiety .

Right next up the negatives :

Being away from Thea at 1st it wasn’t bad, but now she knows. When I’m getting ready to leave I get “No No” and sometimes a slap and that’s if she is awake . Sometimes I only see her in the middle of the night to change her nappy that’s hard .

Physically knackered : Being out the house for 14-15 hrs a day brutal . It takes a while for your body and mind to get use to that. Walking 20,000-25,000 steps a day your diet has to change 

Quality time : I say I don’t see Thea it’s the same with Harriet . I’m knackered when I’m back home at the moment so it can be quiet in the house. Meals out and days out haven’t been happening as much. I need to change that and get in a better routine. 

Guilt- what do feel guilty about literally everything at first, but I feel this passes and once you talk about it that helps .

Stress/mental health I’m putting this in as I know in the past my work I hated and it brought on this. Thankfully on returning to work I haven’t suffered this. Why most likely it’s down to being  in a better place. I mean that’s why I went back to work . I’m also on medication so I’m guessing that should get some credit too. If your mental health is taking a battering at work please talk about it to someone straight away don’t let it affect your home life .

Right so overall :

I can sit on the fence and say just do what you feel is right , but deciding to be a stay at home parent or a parent returning to work has a major impact on not just you but your partner and your children .

A prime example is this I had a dad in the an old nursery doing a visit his child was going to start nursery full time at one years old. He couldn’t answer any of the questions I had but told me they had another on the way and the child had to go to nursery .

I’m not saying don’t work , don’t send your child to nursery , but you need a balance and you need to think what you really want. We all have different goals and priorities it’s your choice but remember they are not kids forever .

I like being self employed it’s flexible , I’m my own boss and it works for me and Thea . Could I earn more money yeah but the more you earn the more you spend in my experience . But I do think Day release sorry work is good for the soul and mind which will is good for you and also your family

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.

Staying at Home with a Toddler

At the turn of the year it was decided that I would be staying at home with Thea.

Why? Several reasons my work was quiet, my wife was getting lots of work and I have worked with toddlers for almost 10 years piece of cake . How wrong could I be ?.

I don’t need an alarm anymore my day starts when Thea wakes she doesn’t do late starts anytime between 5am and 6am she will wake me by screaming at me or shouting “Hey Duggee”.

So out of bed I stumble get some fruit and toast on with Thea and the kettle on for me .

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.