Archives for posts with tag: parenting

When I was growing up I was amazed at the interest my cousin had in animals. He spent most of his spare time reading about them, and he’s still the same. I didn’t have much of an interest. We didn’t have pets growing up – with the exception of a pup for three weeks! (He nipped a neighbour and was sent to a great big park somewhere!?) So, animals and pets are a new concept to me.

Now I see my children showing an interest in animals that helps me learn more about them as well. We have hens, a goldfish and a cat. Their numbers fluctuate over the years – the hens are fairly constant, the goldfish started with one, then two, then back to one. The cat likes travelling so he is like a teenager in the family – you see him when you see him. Oh, and we used to have a hamster or some small furry animal thing. It was more of a nocturnal creature so we rarely saw it during the day. I suppose it was also like a teenager.

Anyway, thankfully the interest we have in animals is easily fed when you look online. We have a few animal books in the house, but everyone has to agree the attraction of moving pictures is often more appealing to children (and some adults). Our main source of tv programming is through Netflix, so over the years my daughter has moved through the various age appropriate animated shows. There is a wide collection of shows that use animals or anthropomorphic characters telling a tale or sharing information. It’s a great source of learning.

Television shows are very informative nowadays, and many do a great job in making it entertaining and appealing to children and adults. While growing up, I learnt a lot from watching tv, and complimented this with reading; so I’m not the kind of parent that thinks tv is bad. Therefore, watching a selection of shows is a tool for learning used in this house.

I’m not a fan of Peppa Pig (earlier shows are very sexist), but the kids love it. However, the selection of other shows on Netflix is a great distraction. I’ve enjoyed, and continue to watch with my youngest, the talented works of Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear, Clifford the Dog, and more recently Wild Kratts. The latter is great and the information on animals is fascinating. Other shows that are watched here are Bubble Guppies (which has a great ‘rap’ for going outside) Animal Mechanicals (pre-engineering course), Busytown Mysteries (problem solving), and then for entertainment (very important part of all ages of growing up) we have watched Babar, Snow Dogs, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and Open Season.

It’s great to have days outdoors, with (possible) sunshine, nature and fresh air. But if you happen to have a day indoors, I’d definitely recommend watching some of these shows with your child. You can switch off from adulthood and learn or be entertained with your child. Enjoy!

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Note: this post is part of the Netflix Stream Team promotion. As usual, all words and thoughts are my own.

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Before I go out and celebrate St Patrick’s Day with the kids I just wanted to mention a few things that have been on my mind.

Firstly, an amazing event we attended a few weeks ago was Babytalk – a parent and baby type show. However, that description isn’t fair, as this was more than a show, it was an experience. They catered for everything. I went for a few hours and stayed for the weekend! There was a dining section with natural light, looking out onto a pond and manicured lawns, a kiddies play area, face painting, a reading corner and every hour there was an activity to inform or entertain the attendees. Grandparents and kids were free, so plenty of the maturer child-carer was visible on the day, while the younger parent strolled around the stalls. This must have been a bonus for stall holders. So I’d definitely recommend it, and their logo and branding design are very eye catching.

While there I came across a new app for expectant dads by IQ Content. Very simple design and simple to navigate through the material. It’s for a general international audience so there aren’t any local details. However, in terms of getting to read something about pregnancy and birth, while fiddling with your smartphone means that you are making an effort. DaddyO will definitely inform you and prepare you for the role of parenthood. Once the baby arrives, you will need more than an smartphone app!

That brings me onto a great piece I read on the new Parent.ie website by stay at home dad, Tom Evans. He captures the emotions of the roller coaster ride of parenting, and it’s good to hear it from a dad’s perspective. It’s a short enough piece for you to read quickly enough to be informed if you’re on the road to being a parent, and if you’ve already arrived here, well then you will empathise with the words. Read the article here.

And lastly, it’s one of my favourite times of the year – Offset! It’s an annual design conference in Dublin – 3 days of back to back international design talk. It reminds me of how much creativity is out there and how much I want to be a part of it. So, in less than a week I will be a non-practicing parent of sorts. After dealing with, and participating in, two weeks (or more) of non stop illnesses in this family household I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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Image from mi9.com

Of all the Oscar nominated movies this year, many parents will probably only recognise the award winning feature ‘Frozen‘. It’s a typical Disney style movie: amazing animation, love themed storyline (this time with a twist), and lots of singing! A bit too much of the latter for me, but my body-building brother impersonates it so well that I’ve fond memories of the musical theme now. Well done Disney!

Thankfully, I’m lucky to have a mother-in-law that is happy to babysit for us, so I often get to the cinema, and therefore I’ve seen a few of the movies from this year’s Oscar nomination list. The Best Picture winner ’12 Years a Slave’ was an amazing film and definitely deserves to be on the list. It’s an amazing depiction of an enslaved freeman on the northern States; I felt nauseous throughout most of it – watching a brutal slavery period of the United States is not ‘entertaining’ . Watching it play out in such a realistic manner was hard to stomach at times.

On a lighter note, the movie Gravity was equally amazing – it’s so quiet in its delivery – with a bit of action as well. Brilliant performances by the small cast, and I really appreciated the 91 minutes they used to tell the story. If it had been longer I would have felt they were dragging the story out to keep up with the expected 120 minutes of movies today.

The Great Gatsby was another Oscar movie I was lucky to see. I’m a big fan of Baz Luhrman films (not his Chanel advert!) so I’m probably a bit biased in my review. Brilliant portrayal of the book, really enjoyed watching the film – Leonardo Di Caprio is a great Gatsby (sorry!) but casting Toby Maguire was a bit distracting. He did well in the movie, but I would have preferred to watch a lesser known actor in the part so that Gatsby (DiCaprio) was more of a ‘celebrity’ next door.

I hope to see a few more movies from the winners and nominations of the Oscars. I might have to wait for my babysitter, or a quiet night for renting a DVD, or for it to play on Netflix.

We have lived without a tv for many years so when Netflix came to Ireland I was intrigued and loved the first month free option. I was hooked within a week. There is so much online that I had endless hours of entertainment. I will admit that the attraction was enhanced by the fact that I haven’t seen or heard of many of the programs listed, so it’s a novelty for me to see so much at once. The option to watch a whole series back to back is simply amazing. Breaking Bad and the popularity of the Netflix series ‘House of Cards‘ demonstrates how many people appreciate that option.

Thankfully, there are many movies also available with this subscription, so I’ve managed to catch up with some previous Oscar winning films as well. The Iron Lady, The Help, Capote, The Usual Suspects, Fargo, The Aviator, are all available on Netflix – and can be watched on a tv, smartphone or tablet. It’s great! They’re also showing The Square, a documentary based around the Egyptian Revolution and tells the story of the power of citizenship. I’ve watched some of these movies while sitting in the car waiting for the rest of the family at various events. I reckon I will get to watch a whole lot more in the weeks ahead. With the current weather conditions, view on demand, any kind of device, huge selection of programming and movies, you couldn’t be bored! Just remember to share the popcorn. 🙂

Please Note: I did plan to write about the flexibility of programming Netflix offers to parents, so this post is still very much my own opinion. However, to be totally honest with my readers, I have to mention that I recently received an annual subscription to Netflix in return for mentioning some of their updates and offers. This is one of them – but without a doubt, Netflix have loads of movies for you to watch – some are Oscar winners.

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Pics courtesy of IMdb.com

I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding, I understand the benefits it can bring to children and subsequently to the child’s parents. We have been lucky enough to provide this choice to our children. It’s not always an easy option but with support and determination parents can keep breastfeeding their children for many years.

Some of the main breastfeeding support services in Ireland are Le Leche League and Cuidiú – both of whom we have used. My wife was obviously the main participant in their services and she gained friendships as much as advice during her initiation into motherhood. She was so impressed by what they offered she has trained to be a qualified breastfeeding counsellor with the Cuidiú organisation.

As a breastfeeding dad my role is mainly to support my wife’s role in being the feeder of our children. That usually involves taking the slack in household duties and parenting, and also tagging along to various breastfeeding events so that my wife can listen to the various speakers and network with the other attendees. It can seem that dads are only the support parent of the household, but nevertheless an important role in the early years.

Next month, La Leche League is holding its annual conference in Ireland and the keynote speaker is Dr Jack Newman, a well known breastfeeding advocate and author. It’s great to see that a man can be included in the role of breastfeeding advisors. It’s not the first time the keynote is a man, I previously attended a conference where David Coleman was the keynote speaker. So, thankfully sexism or gender discrimination isn’t alive in the ranks of La Leche League.

However, something that sours my opinion of this organisation is their attitude to working mothers. The service is available to all mothers who need breastfeeding support. The problem arises when the ‘working’ mother wants to return the favour, and train up to be a support counsellor to other breastfeeding mothers. My wife, who works part-time, made an application to train with La Leche League but received a ‘dissuading’ letter which focused on her role as a mother who is working rather than a dedicated breastfeeder who wants to support other women. This reaction was very judgemental and hurt my wife. Thankfully Cuidiú had no such issue and welcomed the passion my wife has on the subject. I would assume that a working mother would be beneficial to Le Leche League as it provides the empathy and understanding a working mother might need during her work / life balance struggles.

The reason I wanted to write this today is that I find it slightly irritating that La Leche League have no problem asking a man who works for a living to speak about breastfeeding – to offer advice and support to mothers at their national conference. This contradicts their actions to not allow working women to do the same for the League. If training breastfeeding support advisors is only available to women who are full time stay-at-home-mothers, then it creates a diluted structure within the organisation, as mothers who want to return to work or mothers that cannot afford to stay at home cannot get involved. Why is a working mother not admired and accepted within La Leche League? Maybe there is an element of sexism after all!?

Anyway, that’s my soapbox moment, and obviously I hope it’s a policy the League will review. No matter what happens, remember that the support is there from Cuidiú and La Leche League for anyone who wants to breastfeed their children; and the conference is a great social event whereby you can gain support over the few days and in the months and years following afterwards.

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I’ve always liked flexibility. When I had children I realised flexibility is very important. A recent Saturday plan of mine was to head into the city to see a photographic exhibition. I had made a few unsuccessful attempts previously but today was the last day of this showcase, so I really wanted it all to work.

I did the considerate parenting approach: let the kids know the night before that I wanted to go out the following morning. I mentioned it again over breakfast. Encouraged their participation with a promise of a playground session while we were in the city…the suggestions of one theory of parenting! However, today was a stay at home and play day in the kids minds. How do I know this? Because they dawdled at everything they did. They played together in amazing synchronicity – the age gap between them (6+2) rarely let’s this happen, but it happened this morning. Distraction after distraction was all that happened this morning.

So I made the choice to create the chaos that ensues the compulsory extraction of kids from a playtime and got us into the car and headed into the city. Three grumpy heads took the (necessary!?) journey. As we approached the city I noticed a navy / naval / marine boat docked on the quay wall and slowed down. A small group of people were standing alongside waiting to board, and I quickly considered us joining them. Without hesitation I pulled onto the quay and stopped to ask the kids would they like to go on board? They jumped at the chance after the six year old clarified that this spontaneous event was not replacing the pre-planned playground visit.

So, the next hour was spent as a family exploring the engines, bridge, decks and weaponry of a naval vessel. The highlight for the kids was the captain’s chair, the downside for us all was the cold wind on the upper decks. But we were all enjoying the opportunity to see something that isn’t available every day.

Back on land, we got an ice cream (thankfully, our kids believe ice cream is not just for summer!); we still made the photographic exhibition (which the kids enjoyed as well) and great day was had by all. Thanks to flexibility.

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I attended a La Leche League conference last weekend; an inspirational event for us in determining our actions and beliefs in parenting. The main task of fathers attending the conference is to do their parenting role in the lobby or hotel corridors. Each year I think I will get to listen to some interesting facts from one of the conference speakers, but it hasn’t happened yet. My wife is usually the one who attends the sessions (she is obviously more interested and appreciative of the discussion on breastfeeding than I ever will) so I’m happy enough with the way things are right now. This year’s conference was less demanding of my parenting skills as our children loved the play and crafting rooms.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to write about this event is because the mothers who take on the mammoth task of feeding their child through their breasts get a lot of stick for this choice. Society, health professionals, partners, family, employers, etc can often be the critical nay-sayers of this very important role. I can appreciate the complex situations that sometimes prevent a mother taking on the breastfeeding role, but there are instances of people strongly criticising or preventing the mother from making, or continuing with, the choice to do it.

So today, on this day celebrating motherhood, a big Thank You goes out to mums who do or support breastfeeding! For those who might be struggling through it, here’s some information that might be encouraging and of interest.

2012 ESRI Figures on Average breastfeeding rates:

Ireland: 5 out of 10, UK: 8 out of 10, EU: 9 out of 10, Scandinavia: almost 10 out of 10

A study in Brazil found that infants who were not breastfed at all had a 14 times greater risk of death than those who were exclusively breastfed.

830,000 deaths could be avoided if every baby was breastfed within the first hour of birth.

Spending on formula feed is worth $25 Billion, whereas breastfeeding costs us nothing!

Ref: Superfood for Babies, Safe the Children, 2013
The Journal.ie, 2012, National Breastfeeding Week

I also include the data because, if the stats are correct (and I’ve no reason to dispute them), there are more children celebrating mothers today because of her choice to not go with the new fad of bottle feeding!

Thanks mam. x

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