Sleep Regression – The Daily Struggle

As we continue on through these difficult times, I’d just like to say, I hope you’re all doing well. Under the current circumstances I think it’s safe to say that nobody is finding life particularly fun at the moment. The effort shown by all key workers has been nothing short of heroic, and for all their sacrifices I’m incredibly grateful. It is also a strange and testing time for everyone faced with lockdown, whether you’re a family with young, energetic children or retired, this lifestyle is almost unrecognisable to most of us. It’s this new way of life that I’ll be focusing on in today’s post, discussing in particular the affect it may be having on new parents and their children.

In previous posts you might remember me mentioning sleep regression, it’s something that could affect your child at various stages of their development and is something we’re currently experiencing with Ezra. So, just what is sleep regression exactly? Personally, I feel sleep regression can come in many forms, but the main symptoms are frequent waking during the night, shorter nap times during the day and fighting sleep when tired. All these things can happen quite quickly, one night you’ll have a great night-time routine with your child and the next they simply won’t sleep. Ezra experienced his first bout of sleep regression when he hit five months old, as first-time parents we were actually quite worried that something might be wrong. However, after talking to our health visitor they soon explained that everything was perfectly fine and we needn’t worry. They explained that sometimes when a baby is trying so hard to learn all these new things, like crawling and rolling over, their brain is so active that they can find sleep difficult. With our worries quashed we continued on despite Ezra’s infrequent sleep, eventually getting him back into a regular routine. One thing that our health visitor also explained to us was that sleep regression can resurface again, but not always. Ezra is now seven and a half months old and seemingly entering his second bout of sleep regression, having experienced it all before we’re not so daunted this time, but for some parents it can be unsettling.

You’ve gone from having a baby that will possibly sleep through the night to one that wakes consistently, your initial reaction as a parent is probably to worry. We’ve also found that Ezra becomes quite clingy when experiencing sleep regression, he finds it more comforting to fall asleep on me or Chantelle and struggles when we try and put him in his cot. My advice to new parents experiencing similar things is not to panic, if you’re worried seek advice from a professional. I think as parents and especially new parents, we tend to worry and overthink a lot of things, I certainly do. In reality though, sleep regression is just another part of your baby’s development, it won’t last forever and you shouldn’t worry yourself silly about it.

In my experience with Ezra, sleep regression tends to last for four to eight weeks in total. Now, I’d be lying if I said it’s been a breeze, it’s definitely had both a mental and physical effect on me and Chantelle. As parents with young children your probably used to getting little sleep, or certainly less sleep than an average individual, but going from getting a little sleep to almost hitting that new-born stage again is hard. You sometimes think to yourself what have I done to deserve this? Broken sleep is the hardest part for me, your body doesn’t feel rested and when you try to get on with daily tasks everything just feels more strenuous. Children can be pretty demanding as well, Ezra might keep us up during the night but he still expects us to keep him entertained during the day, despite being exhausted. After trying to settle him for the fourth time during the night it can start to affect you mentally as well. When you’ve worked so hard to get your child to sleep, you’ve crept from the front room to the bedroom and successfully got them into their cot without waking, you’ve managed to get into bed yourself and then all of a sudden, they start crying. After repeating this several times during the night it can be tempting to sit there and cry with them sometimes, but all I’ll say is try to remain positive, this is just a stage and it will pass.

There are things you can do to try and alleviate some of the stresses on your child during their sleep regression, some may seem very basic and others unrealistic but here are a few that seem to be working with Ezra. If it’s possible under the current circumstances then try and spend as much time as possible outside, the fresh air seems to do wonders for Ezra’s mood and sleep. With the current pandemic this solution isn’t always possible due to limited time outside and social distancing, but any fresh air is better than none, even if that means standing at your doorstep for a time while your child takes in the different surroundings. We’ve also started to encourage Ezra to really practice things like crawling and rolling from back to front, it keeps his brain active and tires him out more if he’s constantly on the go. This is not always the easiest way to spend your day because quite often your exhausted and any break that your child takes is also a break for you, but powering through will sometimes encourage your child to sleep properly during the night. Lastly, and this is perhaps the most difficult, try forming a new routine around your child’s sleep regression, if they are tired after breakfast every morning because they’ve been up throughout the night then make this their nap time. If they are most energetic after lunch then make this the time that you encourage them to crawl and roll over and generally tire themselves out. Having that routine keeps us sane, it might not be the perfect routine but at that moment in time it could be just the right amount of structure to keep us going.

I’m also going to discuss some of the things that we’ve done as parents to combat Ezra’s sleep regression. Firstly, and as much as I don’t like to admit it, you might have to form some kind of night schedule all over again. I know, you probably thought that once you’re past that new-born stage sleep would be a doddle, that both parents could go to bed without too much worry about being disturbed throughout the night. Unfortunately sleep regression has other ideas, knowing which parent will be getting up during the night and which parent will be taking over in the morning is important, it prevents the awkward moment in the middle of the night when both parents see who can pretend to be asleep the longest. We’re also a lot less tolerable of things when tired, not having a routine set for who gets up during the night can lead to arguments. The second idea is a really basic one, remember to talk to each other. There is nothing worse than two parents both struggling and neither one talking to the other about their problems. It’s ok to not be ok sometimes, talking to your partner and discussing how you feel can relieve some of the stress you might be feeling as a parent. Lastly, try and work your day around your child. If they have a mid-morning nap at 11am every day then make that your time as well, plan to do something for yourself while they sleep, that could be watching your favourite TV show or simply spending some quality time with your partner. As long as you make that time for yourself, you’ll start to feel more human again and not just like mum and dad.

I’m going to finish this post by saying what we’re all probably thinking, everything seems and feels so difficult right now. Covid-19 is having a massive impact on all of us, many aspects of our lives are uncertain and isolation is possibly beginning to take it’s toll on us, especially with young families. It won’t be like this forever though, during times like this it’s important to remain positive, try and focus on the important things in life and where you want to be when this pandemic has passed.

Thank you for taking the time to read through my blog everyone, I really appreciate it. Feel free to find me on Facebook at A.P Writing for more posts, I hope you all remain safe during these difficult times, see you all real soon.

Adam

The Parental Dilema – Is this the right career for me?

Isolation, social distancing and lockdown, I think it’s safe to say we’re all a little restricted at present, but life doesn’t have to become boring does it? As I discussed in my previous post, The 12 Week Plan, if we set our days out correctly and stick to a routine, they’ll flow without feeling so restricted. However, even with a day crammed full of activities and exciting things to do, we’re still left with a lot of time to think, and my thoughts recently have turned towards my job. For some of you this may bring back happy memories, you might be one of those lucky individuals who truly loves their job and can’t wait to get back, for others the current isolation period might feel like a last minute holiday. In all honesty, I probably fall somewhere in-between those two categories, I don’t dislike my job, in fact I actually quite enjoy it, but being home so much recently has opened my eyes a little to just what could be possible. Throughout this post I’m going to discuss what new ideas I’ve had, how being a parent has greatly affected those ideas and what I’d like my future to look like once coronavirus is a thing of the past.

As we get older certain things within our life begin to change, we might find ourselves trying new food and really enjoying it, even though we might’ve hated that particular food as a child. Our opinions will probably change as well, when we’re younger we feel invincible, like whatever people say to us doesn’t matter because we’re strong and capable, but then when we hit a certain age we take a look back and think, ‘wow that actually makes a lot of sense’. At school we have no real idea of what direction in life to take, if you’re anything like me you took subjects because you had to, not with any real idea of where they might lead you. Now I look back and think of all the wasted opportunities I squandered, having Ezra has really made me think about what I’m doing in terms of my career and whether that career is sustainable. Two weeks of isolation has shown me what having a different career could look like, I’ve spent so much time around Ezra and Chantelle, it’s been amazing. Of course, It would be great to have a career that allowed this kind of life all the time wouldn’t it? I do however hear some of you saying that it’s not realistic to think we can, but my question to you is why can’t we? It won’t happen overnight, that’s true, we will have to go back to our regular jobs when coronavirus has passed, but why can’t we be working towards this new career, this new way of life?

If I could go back to school and take different subjects, I would, I’ve got a much greater understanding of what I would like to do with my life now, It’s taken me a long time to figure out, but I got there in the end. Having my own little family has also changed my opinion of what I’d like to do, I want to be around more, I would like to be able to spend time with Ezra and Chantelle without worry. This leads me to think that carving a career that allows me to work from home is perhaps more suitable that the current 9-5 working pattern I find myself in. I’ve got all the free time in the world at the moment, structuring my days correctly has shown me that with a little discipline, I could easily work from home. This is why I’m going to go back and study, further enhance myself so that in the future I’ll have this work life balance I’m looking for, I’ll be able to work under the hours I set, I’ll be able to work freelance from home. Personally, I feel having this kind of goal will also keep me motivated for when we do all go back to our regular jobs, with hard work and dedication we can all get to where we want to be.

There are many reasons for why you could be convinced to stay with your current jobs however, and I completely understand why you’d think like this, because these are the reasons I’ve never retrained and chased another career as well. Security has to be at the top of our list of reasons to stick with the job we currently do, it’s a no brainer really, chasing a new career, especially one in which we work for ourselves is risky. We only have to look at the affect the coronavirus has had on the self-employed to realise there’s less security within this sector. This has been the main reason for me staying still, I’ve now got a family to support and I simply cannot afford to be out of work, a regular salary every month is always going to be very tempting. I also feel that one of the reasons we stay with our current jobs is because it’s comfortable, we’re good at the job, we get on with it and then we come home. Repeat on a daily basis and that’s what our life becomes, there’s no risk involved, we’re secure and have nothing to really worry about. The last reason I’m going to discuss is not necessarily something I agree with, it’s something I’ve been told numerous times over the years, and that reason is that working 9-5 is how things are, it’s just life and I should get on with it. You’ve got to ask yourself though, even with all these reasons for staying with your comfortable job, are you getting the most out of yourself? Or is there more you want from a career? Deciding to commit to the idea of a new career is scary, having a family to support makes that choice harder still, but you’re doing this for them as well as yourself right? Sometimes in life we have to take risks to get the rewards we’re looking for, if we retrain and go after a new career, we take that risk for sure, but the rewards could be incredible. In my case I’d have more time with my family if I was to freelance and work from home, I’d be around more to help out and I also feel like every day would be a challenge, I’d be constantly learning, constantly evolving.

The worrying thing for me is that the retirement age is increasing rapidly, it’s a frightening thought to think we might still be working when we hit 80 years old, but that’s the reality. Hopefully I’ll be well and truly retired by that ripe old age, but if I’m not I would like to be working on my terms. I’d also like to discuss briefly our mental state when we go to work, I’m lucky that I don’t wake up dreading going into work, we all get days where we’d rather not go to work, that’s natural, but I wouldn’t say it impacts my mental state. Although, in the past I have had jobs that’ve made me feel this way, when you have responsibilities like a family to support, sometimes these feelings get pushed to the back of your mind, and you do exactly what we stated earlier, you get on with your 9-5. Ask yourself is your current job what you really want to be doing? If the answer is no then ask yourself what it is that you would like to be doing? Then when you’ve answered that, finally ask yourself what’s stopping you from achieving this dream job of yours? The likelihood is that we may face a few challenges in getting there, but it’s not impossible. I’m going to have to retrain, to be taken seriously in what I’d like to go on and do I have to be able to show people that I’m qualified. I understand this will take time and the 9-5 is something I will continue to do until I no longer have to, the end result will be worth it however. As a new parent I’ll be able to work around my family life and create a work-life balance that’s more suitable for me and my family. I’ll be challenged everyday as I begin to make the important decisions and become my own boss. Nothing will be handed to me and it’ll take hard work to get there, but with perseverance I’ll arrive at the end destination, and so can you, just don’t be afraid to take the risk.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to like and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. See you all real soon.
Adam

The 12 Week Plan

Welcome everyone, I hope you’re all well and finding some form of motivation in these difficult times. If the future feels a little daunting, which to be completely honest, for most of us it does, hopefully this post will help to alleviate some of those worries. I received a text message yesterday just after 5 o’clock, within the message it stated that I was one of the 1.5 million individuals that come under the high-risk category if I was to contract coronavirus. Now, I’d been expecting this but it still came as a shock when the message actually arrived, it somehow made everything feel deadly serious. The thought of contracting this horrible disease is frightening and so is the idea of being housebound for twelve weeks. So, with all that in mind, in this post I’m going to discuss the things I’ll be doing throughout the twelve weeks to remain sane, keep myself motivated and most importantly, stay healthy.

Firstly, now this is incredibly simple and takes very little time at all to complete, I’m going to make my bed and get dressed every day. Pretty basic right? The truth is, well for me anyway, that if I don’t do these very basic things my day never really starts, I cannot differentiate between morning, afternoon and night if I’m walking around in my pyjamas all day. By making your bed it means you are unlikely to get back into it during the day, by getting dressed it allows you to feel like your starting the day in a proactive way. I’m trying to keep my day as close to normal as is currently possible, if there was no coronavirus right now what would we being doing with our days? For the vast majority of us we’d be getting up, getting washed and dressed and then heading to work, so why should the routine stop just because we’re in isolation? Some people may be able to complete their regular jobs whilst at home, if so that’s awesome, but if like me you’re unable to do that, then let’s continue on and fill our days with other productive things.

I’ve started to write down a daily plan in my planner, again this might seem pretty basic and in actual fact it’s something I used to do regularly, but in recent times there’s been very few entries in the diary. Why have I started doing this now? Well, in order to fit different things into my day, I need there to be structure, from experience I’ve found it very hard to stick to things if I don’t know when I’m meant to be doing them. If they’re written down there can be no confusion, it takes away the debate we always have with ourselves about which task to start first, a debate that normally leads to procrastination. knowing what we’re doing and when breaks the day down conveniently for us, with that structure it feels like separate portions of a day rather than just one long expanse of time, something I feel helps productivity. Along with setting detailed plans in the planner I’ve also cleared and readied my office space, since having Ezra I often do my writing around the house, It’s sometimes easier that way because I’m mobile, if Ezra needs something I’m on hand to help if needed. It’s also driven by the amount of time I used to have, I’d get back from work at 6pm and be in bed by 10pm, those four hours in-between where spent as a family, cooking dinner and using whatever was left to write. However, there’s no reason not to sit in my office now, with so much time to use I can fit it all in without worry, having a dedicated place to write again will certainly help with productivity and make me more focused.

As well as writing, of which I’ll be doing a lot, another huge focus has been my initiative, Ditching the Dad Body. This is something that’s been on my mind for quite some time, I started in early March with the aim to set an example for Ezra with the way I eat and exercise, incorporating a healthy lifestyle into my routine. I was doing rather well up until the coronavirus pandemic really started, running after work during the week, eating fresh meals every day and cutting out takeaways. When I was told last week that I needed to self-isolate for seven days this new healthy way of life drifted away, partly because I was stressed and worried, but also because I got lazy. My routine was gone, I’d run after work because it was convenient and I didn’t like the idea of home workouts, the frustrating thing is when I stopped exercising properly my appetite slunk back into its old habits. Although, now knowing that I won’t be able to leave my house for twelve weeks has actually reinvigorated me, Ditching the Dad Body just needs a few tiny alterations that’s all. I will instead follow a home workout called Focus T25, this is a workout from Beachbody who are a very reputable company that get results. As the name suggests it’s only 25 minutes long, perfect for fitting into my daily schedule. The programme also lasts for ten weeks, which fits nicely into my twelve week isolation period, what’s not to like? I’m hopeful that by exercising throughout the week I’ll remain motivated; it’ll keep my mind active and release good endorphins that should promote a positive mental attitude. There are some wonderful free workouts to complete at the present time as well, Joe Wicks is performing free PE lessons/workouts for children and adults, why not make this part of your day?

Another aspiration of mine in recent times has been to start an online open learning course, with what’s transpired over the last few weeks I’m finding it hard to grasp a reason not to start one now. Financially I will have to assess whether this is a realistic thing to be doing but I certainly have the time, why shouldn’t we set new goals? It would be something positive to come out of twelve weeks stuck at home, it also gives me something to aim for and look forward to. At the end we will also have something tangible and useful that can be used in the future, something we can be proud to show off, to let people know what we’ve achieved. Now, this idea might not be for everyone, I’m quite a studious individual which is why I’d look at a course in something I find interesting, but try using a part of your day to learn something different, who knows you might come out of isolation with a wonderful new passion.

Lastly, I will look to read a little more often. I’ve always been quite an avid reader but with work and a new baby taking priority in recent months, my reading pace has slowed. With an entire twelve weeks to dissect I’m sure there will be ample time to read, there’s many reasons why I feel reading will help a lot of us who are stuck in isolation. The biggest and most important is that it’s pure escapism, if we’re reading a novel or in my case an epic fantasy trilogy it allows us to be someone else, be doing something else. In that period of the day put aside for reading we’re suddenly no longer the person stuck in isolation but a hundred different characters, living a hundred different lives, and I feel like that’s liberating when all you’ve seen recently is the same four walls of your house. We also learn a great deal by reading, it keeps us informed and our brains ticking over, if you’ve got aspirations like me to one day be a success within the writing industry then reading is certainly a way to learn new, useful techniques. Of course, my family will also be filling a huge portion of my day, I’m looking forward to having so much time to spend together, having so long together is something we’ve not experienced before because our schedules have always been so hectic.

I’m going to finish this post by answering a question that you might have been wanting to ask, how does any of this prevent me from worrying about contracting coronavirus or the future? In truth, we will always have these worries, until coronavirus is defeated it’s hard not to panic, but by setting a routine like I’ve discussed throughout this post it will keep our minds occupied. Having a routine and things to look forward to during your day will make it far more enjoyable, if we sit there worrying ourselves silly about everything, it’ll end up feeling like a very long isolation period indeed.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to like and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. See you all real soon.
Adam

Covid-19 – A Dads Perspective

Welcome back everyone, sorry it’s been a week since my last post, the worlds suddenly turned rather crazy recently. Me, Ezra and Chantelle are all currently in self isolation and have been for the last four days, within this post I’m going to discuss what it’s been like for us as new parents during this time, paying particular attention to our thoughts and worries within this ensuing pandemic.

Where to start eh? It really has been a whirlwind week in which everything seems to be changing on an hourly basis, I think we should probably start with what it’s like being cooped up with a 6 ½ month old baby whilst unable to leave the house. Now, I’m all for extended holidays and if you’d asked me a few weeks ago about self-isolation, I’d have probably said it sounds like a reasonable idea. Of course, I like many others have come to realise that coronavirus is something to be taken seriously, poor Ezra hasn’t the slightest idea why everything seems to have stalled. He’s like all of us, bored of the same thing day in day out. This is perhaps the biggest struggle we’ve faced so far as parents within this isolation period, we have an incredibly energetic baby, a baby that’s learning so quickly we can’t keep up. Oh, and to add to all the new things Ezra’s learning, he’s also teething, typical right? Going out was one of the highlights of his day, even if it was only to be walked round the town in his pushchair, he’s an outdoor baby that loves fresh air. All of his play dates are currently cancelled so he’s not been able to interact with the other babies from baby steps. These were also a good reason for all the new parents to get together and just chat, catch up and talk about their children, I know this is definitely a part of the week Chantelle has missed. You’ve all of a sudden lost that face to face contact with other people that’re going through exactly what you are, which can be a difficult thing to lose. Ezra’s sleep has taken a hit as well, we’re trying hard to keep him entertained but he’s got a seemingly endless supply of energy to burn, meaning his night time routine has become frequented with disturbances. He’s getting better as the week draws to a close, it’s true that some of this disturbance could be down to growth spurts and teething, but I’m convinced this isolation and uncertainty is playing a part. With each passing day however, I’m hit by the fact that this is probably not something that’s going to change anytime soon, so we better get on with things the best way we can. Look towards the future with positivity, keeping one eye firmly on the present, we cannot ignore what’s unfolding around us, but we can focus on all the good things life will bring us once this has passed. I’ve heard a lot of negativity from all different age groups, people saying things like ‘well we’ve all got to die at some point’. That statement is 100% true, we do all have to die at some point, but don’t be so utterly ridiculous by thinking that it has to be now, we all have so much to look forward to. Coronavirus is not the end, but it could be if you give in and choose to let it get you down, enjoy your life, limited as things are at the moment.

One thing that’s been niggling at me, both as a parent and as an adult, is how this pandemic will impact us financially, I’m not being negative when I say this, just realistic. As a dad with a family to support it’s getting very hard to ignore what kind of ramifications coronavirus will have on both short and long term. In the present, currently on SSP due to being off work in isolation, the question of keeping a roof over our heads falls into place. Nobody can live on SSP, I feel lucky to be getting that, there are many people within this country who’ve lost their jobs, they have families to support as well. The weekly food shop gets tighter and tighter, not just financially but also because of all this crazy stock piling that’s gripped the nation, I think in the immediate future it’ll be a case of prioritising which bills we can pay and which we can’t. There is of course going to be plenty of long-term plans that might be affected as well, marriage, learning to drive, studying and Ezra’s university/ house deposit fund are just a few of ours that are already being put on hold. I’m not saying these things are completely scrapped but we have to, for the moment at least, be realistic with where our money is used. The government intervention will be a huge help to all of us, of that there’s no doubt, I do think this will take time to initiate though, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It’s important in times like these to make the most of what we have, as a parent I’m going to be concentrating on building strong bonds with Ezra, like I’ve said, he’s developing really quickly, learning new things every day and I’m glad I’m here to see him evolve. If there is to be a prolonged period of isolation or as some press have stated, complete lockdown, I will try and start an English course that I’ve been looking into for a little while which should keep me occupied. (This will be money dependant) As well as spending good, quality family time with Ezra and Chantelle I’ll also use this time to set new goals, I think when this pandemic has passed it’ll be important to know what we want to do and how we’re going to do it. Whether that’s simply finding steady income, settling back into your current job or going out and trying something completely different, if you set out plans now, they’ll become so much easier to attain when the time comes.

I’m going to finish this post like I usually do, by stating the obvious. Getting through coronavirus is going to be hard. I’ve already seen the impact its had on my life, motivation and general wellbeing, I hate to think what it might be like If I were to have/contract this horrible disease. As always though, staying positive about things and concentrating on what we can do is vital, I’m lucky that Ezra is so young and probably won’t remember much of this but I’m still going to be an example for him. I won’t let him see me get frustrated or down, when he’s bored and annoyed I won’t let that stop me trying to keep him entertained, it wont stop me trying to make his day the best it can be. Coronavirus, like isolation is only going to be temporary, the sooner we come to realise this and concentrate on fighting this disease, and also by listening to Boris, things will become easier.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to like and leave a comment, I look forward to hearing from you. See you all real soon.
Adam

Difficult Times

In times like these, when darkness rules the roost, hopelessness settles in.

The futures unclear, while isolation remains our only certainty.

But do not lose hope, we’re bigger than social distancing, we’re bigger than isolation, we’re bigger than coronavirus.

A generations problem is upon us now, with which we must find the solution. Only together can we draw strength, only together will we succeed.

So, remember your loved ones, for they will not forget you, and collectively our formerly bright future, shall return.

Ditching The Dad Body – An Update

Welcome everyone, to another addition of A.P Writing. Although this post will only be a short one, I’ll look to keep it informative and interesting, as the title suggests it’ll detail my progress through Ditching the Dad Body. I’ve been following the initiative for five days now and I’ll be completely honest, it’s been difficult.

So, I guess what you’re all wondering is what kind of programme I’m following? Well, to be truthful I’m not following any particular programme, instead I’m running or doing weights one day and resting on the next, alternating this day on day off pattern. I did seriously consider starting a professional programme like Insanity or Transform 20, for those of you who don’t know, these are programmes run by a company called Beachbody and they’re extremely effective. The main problem I have with these kind of programmes however, is that they’re quite restrictive, it’s everyday for 6 to 8 weeks, from my point of view I simply couldn’t commit to that rigid routine. When I run, I go straight from work after the day’s finished, I’m home by 18-30pm ready to be dad again. As much as I’d love to commit to a strategic 2 month programme it’s not fair on Ezra or Chantelle, they still need me to be dad, I can’t push my responsibilities aside every night to complete a workout. I wouldn’t have it any other way either, for those expecting parents out there, all those new dads, it really is the best feeling in the world knowing you get to leave work and come home to your beautiful baby. You’ll find that the time you have to spare becomes precious, of course, there is time for things like running but it’s about being practical, fitting those things around your responsibilities as a parent.

One thing I’ve really concentrated hard on though is my diet, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that my diet before starting Ditching the Dad Body was absolutely atrocious. I’ve cut out crisps and chocolate completely, instead replacing them for healthier alternatives. I’ve switched to more meals throughout the day, these meals being healthier. I think to give you some perspective I should probably run you through what my daily food intake used to look like. So, I’d have some kind of cereal in the morning, normally coco pops, I’d get to work and eat my lunch which would be some kind of sandwich, crisps, chocolate bars and fruit that I’d end up leaving. Later in the day I’d get hungry again, go to Subway or Greggs and order a baguette and more crisps, upon arriving home I’d drink a mug of coffee and order us a takeaway. Now, it’s no excuse but when you’re a new parent your time is often limited, that style of living is something I fell into because it was comfortable, to make a change you really have to want to. I make sure that all my lunches and dinners now contain some form of fruit or vegetable, I don’t snack on junk food like I used to either. It does take some sacrificing and will power, I’d actually go as far as to say that the eating healthy part of Ditching the Dad Body is 100% harder than the physical working out part. Being strict must come with some rewards however, every two weeks I will allow myself a cheat day. This is something I’ve learned from previous experience, I can’t eat this way indefinitely, but in order to make it a way of life I need to allow for a blowout every now and again. This’ll allow me to re-energise, re-focus and move forward full of new motivation.

Again, being truthful, the first time I went for a run nearly killed me, my legs felt like they might fall off and I had to walk for a little while. The second time wasn’t any easier either, believe me I’ve wanted to pack it all in, but this isn’t about me anymore. If I give up it’s not just me I’m letting down, it’s Ezra as well, I want him to see me setting an example, what kind of example would I be setting if I just gave up when things get hard? He doesn’t always make it easy, long nights with disrupted sleep don’t mix particulary well with healthy living but as I keep saying, things will get easier. I’m going to end this post by letting you know a little secret, the more you prove to yourself you can do something, the less daunting it becomes, I’ve never felt so motivated to Ditch the Dad Body. You can use that positive energy in everything you do, our little ones won’t always make things easy but with a tiny bit of determination we’ll see results.

As always everyone, thanks for taking the time to read through my post, I really do appreciate all the support. Please feel free to leave a comment and like, you can also find me on Facebook at A.P Writing, catch you all real soon.
Adam

When did you learn to do that?

Rolling over, babbling, crawling and maybe even sitting up, what do all these things have in common? Well, for the average person not a lot, they’re just words, but if your life is full of the challenges associated with raising a new-born, these things are probably becoming commonplace. Ezra’s surprising us every day with each new trick he’s somehow learned, within this post I’m going to discuss what all new parents can expect when their baby starts to develop. So, grab a quick cuppa and put your feet up, we’ve got lots to cover.

I’m going to open this post by making it clear that there really isn’t any particular time frame for when you can expect your baby to start doing these things. The reason I’d like to highlight this point is because as new parents we can often put far too much pressure on ourselves when it comes to the rate at which our baby is developing. Relax and let your little munchkin lead the way, getting upset that your friends’ baby has started rolling over already and yours hasn’t leaves nothing but negativity. This is something I’d say both me and Chantelle suffered with at the beginning, of course as new parents it multiplied our worries as well, we only knew for certain what we read on the internet, and even that was inconsistent. Some websites will say your baby should be all singing and dancing at 6 months old, others will quote 4 months, all I’ll say is ignore all that and focus on what’s in front of you. Ezra is over 6 months old now, he can roll over, partially crawl and babbles to anyone that’ll listen, but he can’t sit up yet, am I worried? Absolutely not. He’ll get there in his own time and the important thing is that he’s trying, his attempts at sitting up currently result in a few giggles, a little chat and then a paddy when he realises, he’s not quite ready yet. I can’t help but feel proud to be completely honest, for the past two weeks he’s tried to sit up and each time he gets closer than the last, it won’t be long before he raises himself up all on his own.

It can be quite frightening seeing our new-borns suddenly roll over or come out with a new, strange sound for the first time. I remember thinking ‘is he meant to do that?’ when Ezra first rolled over, it seems silly now but you’ve got to remember that most new parents haven’t got vast amounts of experience to fall back on, each new thing can be pretty daunting. I’ll give you an example, Ezra no longer wants to sleep on his back, proffering to settle instead on his side, this is fine until he decides to roll onto his front during the night. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve woken in a panic and moved Ezra back onto his back, he’s persistent though and in the end, we spoke to our health visitor because like all parents, not just new parents, we became worried. We soon found our worries quashed however, as the health visitor pointed out, Ezra can roll himself over comfortably now, it’s natural that he’ll do it in his sleep, and as easy as that our panic was over, crazy eh?

I think it can sometimes be hard to imagine our beautiful little new-borns being anything other than new-borns, we get used to them needing us for everything, so when they suddenly sit up by themselves it feels strange, we don’t always know how to react. The problem as well is more often than not they’ll try learning all these new things all at once, one day they’re relying on you to lift them up and feed them, the next they’re pulling the bottle out of your hands and sat up using nothing but their own devices. I’m learning to embrace it, like I said earlier, my first port of call was always to worry, that’s natural right? I’m a new dad and learning on the job, when something changes, I always assumed it’s for the negative but in reality, it’s all positive, while I learn how to be a dad, Ezra’s learning anything and everything he can. Enjoy it while you can is what I’ve been told, before we know it our little new-borns will be walking, talking, eating machines and we’ll need eyes in the back of our head.

Occasionally, learning all this new stuff can result in our little ones brains becoming overactive, and you may experience sleep regression. This is quite common I’m told and is definitely something Ezra has suffered with; his sleep has been sporadic to say the least. It’s not really that surprising when you think about it though, when his brain is constantly whirring with all the cool things he’s learning, sleep can become a difficult business. Try looking at it as a positive thing however, it shows that your baby is learning and developing, even if it means long nights for us. I’m going to finish this post by stating the obvious, being a parent is hard, especially a new parent, but the things we’re struggling with will always get easier. Lets enjoy this new-born period now because it will only come around once, make the most of every new thing they learn, capture each moment and treasure it.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read through my post everyone, I hope you found it useful and I look forward to writing the next. Please feel free to leave a comment and like the post, see you all real soon.

Adam

But You Don’t Look Unwell

Welcome back Everyone! I’d like to start this post with an apology, sorry for the lack of posts recently, life as it often does, has taken over. We’re back however and it feels great to be writing again. I’m going to discuss something in this post that I feel is relevant to pretty much everyone in their daily lives, whether you’re a new parent, suffering with crohn’s or simply just being the best version of yourself. So, what’s this thing that’s relevant to all of us then? Well, I’ll come straight out with it, personally I feel there’s a concept in today’s society that unless you look unwell, you’re not unwell. Now, that statements possibly a tad dramatic but there’s also a hint of truth behind it, silent illnesses are a real thing. We’re very good at putting on that perfect visage, getting up and going about our daily lives like everyone else, but do we really know what a person is truly feeling?

As you all know, I suffer with crohn’s disease. This is something that until starting A.P Writing I’ve kept to myself, it’s not particularly visible from the outside but it has a huge impact on my life. I’ll come onto how it impacts my life later in this post, but for now I’m going to talk about what’s made me want to discuss it, why now after years of being embarrassed? The truth is becoming a father has made me see things from a completely different perspective, if you don’t share these invisible illnesses they’ll just swallow you up, it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Of course, crohn’s is my invisible illness but there’s more to life than crohn’s disease, you might be someone who’s battling depression, anxiety, perhaps you suffer from PTSD. The point I’m making is we cannot immediately see this in a person, we’ll take them at first glance, and at first glance everything’s as it should be. When that person says I’m not well we’ll automatically think ‘well you don’t look unwell’ , some people might even say it, I’ve had that many times and let me tell you it’s probably the worst thing you can say to someone suffering with an invisible illness. How is anyone meant to build up the confidence to open up if they’re put down before they can begin? I don’t think that many people if any do this deliberately, why would we? I think it’s perhaps down to years of associating real illnesses with some kind of visible form, that and the emergence of social media. News is so readily available nowadays and we’re so easily influenced by what we read, we’ll see that some celebrity is struggling and what a mess they are, their pictures will be spread over every magazine, always the worst photo of that individual. To the average person they’ll look at social media and think ‘I don’t want people to think I’m like that, these problems I’m having I’ll just keep those quiet I think’. Social media, in fact media in general is a fickle business, we all saw the tragic events that unfolded surrounding Caroline Flack. It’s unforgivable the role media played in her death, they portrayed her as guilty until proven innocent, the invisible illness she was suffering with, whether that was depression or something else was completely ignored, we weren’t asking if she was alright, assuming that on the face of things she was fine and she was probably too scared to open up to us.

Earlier in this post I said I’d explain how an invisible illness like crohn’s can affect my daily life, like most illnesses there are good and bad days, I’ll be discussing an average day. Now, believe it or not, most days start with a quick dash to the bathroom, poop number one never can wait. If I’m lucky I might get a sip or two of tea before it’s time for poop number two, sometimes poop number three comes before breakfast, but it’s normally after. Of course, we can’t go to work without poop number four making an appearance. I’m sorry for being so graphic everyone but that is honestly an average start for me and a lot of people who suffer with crohn’s. If I’m tired or fatigued, mainly at the end of the week, I might be sick in the morning as well, add to that the five tablets I take for good measure and the day’s off to a wonderful start. Ezra isn’t sleeping particularly well at the moment either so both me and Chantelle are quite drained before the days even begun. I’ll arrive at work feeling empty, despite it only being 8-30am I’m ready to eat lunch I’m that hungry, I’m drained after losing many nutrients through going to the toilet so much and I now have to pretend to be happy, I have to put on that visage we talked about earlier. The day will progress, I’ll eat lunch at 10/11am, end up buying more lunch to try and feel full up, I’ll think bout falling asleep at my desk, already thinking about getting home and going to bed. Eventually work will finish, I’ll come home knackered, spend some time with my beautiful partner and son, go for poop number five and six if they didn’t already come in the morning and finally struggle to eat dinner, after taking another two tablets I roll into bed and repeat all again tomorrow. As I’ve said that is an average day, a bad day would be a flare up which would likely keep me in bed unable to be much help or use to anyone. If you took me at face value however you wouldn’t think anything was wrong, I talk as you’d expect anyone would, act normal and don’t express what I’m feeling, but you can see what it’s like just to get to work sometimes. I consider myself lucky because my crohn’s is manageable, for some it really isn’t and they’re just unable to complete the things we all take for granted, like going to work or exercising. This is applicable for many silent illnesses not just crohn’s, depression is a huge taboo subject at the moment, we’re trying to raise awareness but still not enough people feel confident enough to come forward and talk about their problems. So, with all that I’ve discussed in mind, lets open up more and welcome others opening up to us, no more of the ‘but you don’t look unwell mentality‘.

The majority of people in our society are incredibly understanding and allow others to express whatever they might be dealing with, for that I’m very grateful. Moving forward I won’t be so quick to judge a book by it’s cover, I’ll also be trying to keep a more positive outlook on things, yes we all have to deal with, things we might not want to open up about but they don’t have to become limitations. I know this has been a slightly edgy post, (it’d been building for a while) but I promise the next one will be as I’ve said, far more positive. It’ll include the first few days of my new initiative Ditching the Dad Body which starts tomorrow. As always I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, I’m incredibly thankful, please feel to leave a comment or a like, catch you all real soon.

Adam

Ditching The Dad Body

Welcome back everyone, I hope you’re all well and enjoying life. I’ll keep this post short, as the title suggests my new initiative moving into March will be ditching my dad body. Over the last twelve months I’ve acquired quite impressive levels of laziness, eating far too many takeaways and living generally care free when it comes to food and exercise. What’s caused this? I hear you ask. Honestly, I’d say becoming a dad has contributed most, you learn quickly that your time isn’t actually yours anymore. It becomes easier to order a takeaway rather than cook, time to yourself turns into much needed sleep, exercise nothing but a pipe dream.

Tomorrow however, Ezra turns six months old and that means one thing, he can now begin eating blitzed down variations of what we eat, I need to start setting an example. Personally, I think he’s already impressionable, he copies our facial expressions and words are already forming. It’s not such an exaggeration to say he’s picking up on my poor eating/exercise habits, I need to make improvements. This has been bubbling for some time if truth be told, I’m sometimes guilty of using parenthood as a convenient excuse for being lazy, but now there’s no excuse, ditching the dad body high on my priority list.

With that in mind I’ve decided that A.P Writing is perhaps the best platform to make these lifestyle changes. It’ll be motivating to share with you all what it’s like for an unfit, new dad to try and get into shape once more, so stay tuned over the next few months to see how I get on.

Running on Fumes – The Night Routine

Hello everyone and welcome back to A.P Writing, tonight I’ll be discussing something that all new parents go through when raising their baby, sleep deprivation. It still amazes me how quickly you can get used to disrupted nights, food at all hours and no sleep. Looking back over the last six months I’d have to say this is the one thing that’s affected me most, how are we meant to function properly when we’ve only slept for two hours a night? To be honest I can’t give you a definitive answer to that question, we simply do, we get up, we deal with it and we carry on, that’s what being a parent is all about right? I’m actually pretty lucky really, I’ve got an incredibly understanding partner who takes on 99% of the night-time routine, allowing me to somewhat function while I’m at work during the day. Even with that support I still struggle though, so throughout this post I’ll be sharing what the last six months have taught me.

For the first week after Ezra’s birth we stayed with my family, as new parents I’d describe this support as invaluable, having the ability to ask questions no matter how silly or insignificant you thought they were really helped. It also allowed us small breaks during the day after many disrupted nights. If you’re feeling nervous about the first few weeks I’d advise being honest, speak to those who can help, it doesn’t have to be family it could be close friends, as long as they can offer that support you might need at the time. Now, this is not something that’s set in stone, if you’re feeling confident, perhaps this is not your first child and you don’t need that extra support, all I’d say is it’s worth considering. When I look back to that first week now It makes me laugh, I remember Ezra getting hiccups for the first time and me being the worrying new parent that I am had convinced myself something was wrong. My dad walked up to me, took Ezra and calmly said its only hiccups son, within five minutes he had him asleep, hiccups gone and panic averted. Imagine that something so small had me so worried, but It was something you’ve got to learn, having that person at hand who’s got the knowledge and isn’t fazed really can take away some of your stress in those early stages.

So, what is a typical night in the life of a baby? The truth is that every baby is unique, one things for sure though, nearly every baby will have you up at all hours to begin with. Ezra used to wake between 3-4 times a night, some of those times would be for a feed and others would be that he needed the reassurance from a parent that he was safe. Think of how they must feel, they’ve been curled up asleep for 9 months and all of a sudden they’re free to move around, there’s all these new smells, colours, bright lights, it must be terrifying. In another post I’m going to discuss the importance of pre baby groups and the role that they play, we went to one called Baby Steps and all I’ll say is that speaking to the other parents from that group, our babies all have differing patterns and routines. Some are sleeping straight through, others won’t sleep at all, I’d describe Ezra as in between, he’ll have a good night and then a bad one. There are differing theories as to why one baby will sleep and another won’t, but don’t get disheartened when your child refuses to give in, it might take them more time that’s all. I actually think the worst thing you can do when your baby has restless nights is convince yourself it’s your fault, that you’re doing something wrong. Truthfully, you’re probably doing everything right, but by worrying you can end up convincing yourself that you should be doing more, don’t put that pressure on yourself. This also goes for the advice others can often give, take the good and let the bad sail past, just because something worked for one person that doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone. There’s no blueprint to parenting, believe me I wish there was, it’d make life much easier at times, but the only way to learn is on the job and our babies are the best teachers.


When you hear your baby cry for the first time something changes inside you, well it did for me anyway, you realise all at once how proud you feel, that’s your baby making that noise, you’ve helped produce that new life. You might also like me, think your babies cry is cute when first heard, I’d have to say my opinion has changed slightly since then, when Ezra cries now it’s with far more vehemence. I read somewhere that our babies cry becomes so unique to them that as parents we’d recognise it anywhere, even in a room full of screaming children you’d be able to pinpoint your own. I’d have to say I agree, but by the fourth sleepless night in a row this cry has you at breaking point, it’s designed to get that reaction however and that’s what I remind myself now when I’m getting a tirade of noise from Ezra. The only way our babies can really communicate with us is through noise, they can’t sit up and say dad I’m hungry, can I have some food? Their cry is meant to prick every nerve we have so we realise they want or need something, it could be food, a bum change, or they might just want a cuddle. One thing I’ve learned is to roll with it, no matter how frustrated they’re making you, no matter how loud that scream of theirs is, it’s only your babies’ way of communicating. As hard as it may be sometimes I try looking at it from Ezra’s perspective, his whole life rests on me and Chantelle, without us he can’t eat, change his bum, even sit up, if I had to rely on someone like that I think I’d cry a lot as well.

I’m going to end this post with the notion that a babies sleeping pattern can be incredibly temperamental, and at times it does feel like the whole world is on our shoulders as parents, lets be honest here, parenthood is hard. Things will get easier however, I’m starting to see this now, we still have many sleepless nights with Ezra but he’s developing every day, growing up so fast.

As always thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone, it means a lot. Please feel free to leave a comment, I’ve also created a new Facebook page which you can find here https://www.facebook.com/apwriting19/

See you all real soon.
Adam