Shopping with Kids

Every Shopping trip is a new experience. Some do it for Leisure, Others do it out of Necessity. Some do it Daily, others weekly, some only when the occasion calls for it. One thing is for certain, you don’t know shopping trips until you have done them with kids.

Shopping with the whole family is a great experience, most of the time. Dad taking the kids shopping without Mum? Well that’s completely different.

So How Often do you go Shopping?

Honestly? As little as possible! even before Kids, Before Marriage, I only ever shopped out of necessity. Food where required, and when the occasion called for it. Now I have a kid, I tend to stick to the same pattern. Although when its wet outside and the shops have indoor play equipment, they can be useful. (I call it necessity).

The reality is, now you have kids the last thing you want to do is go shopping, the preparation involved, the experience itself, and the aftermath (which can be good or bad).

How is Shopping with Kids Different?

Well it really comes down to the age of them and what you are shopping for. When they are still young enough to be in a pram, it might seem easy, but the preparation involved in ducking down to the supermarket to get bread and milk is massive. Yes it gets a little easier each time, but chances are as a Dad you won’t have too many times you do it alone, which means you are going to make mistakes, I know I constantly forgot to take different things.

Once you have finally got the hang of it, the pram gets boring and they want to walk beside you. All of a sudden everything takes longer, a lot longer. Kids at this stage are also constantly learning new things, like grocery shopping. Not only is your trip longer, but now its more expensive, because your kids are putting a lot more in the trolley, and either you didn’t know they put it there, or if you take it out a tantrum isn’t far away.

Advice for Dads

Get used to it because there is no getting out of this one. Seriously its not all that bad, there will be tough days, there will be days where you question why you decided to do it solo. But! just like parenting the good will always outweigh the bad. To make your life a bit easier, here’s a few pointers.

  • Preparation is they key. You can’t pack enough supplies, whenever you think you have packed enough, pack more. If your driving there, why not throw another bag in the car. Nappies, Wipes, Clothes, Snacks, the Lot! you are going to need them. A short trip can easily turn into a long one.
  • Make sure you have the time to get it done. As I said earlier, everything takes longer with kids, so leave plenty of time to complete your trip. You don’t want to be rushing, not only is it stressful for you and the kids, that’s when you make mistakes.
  • Don’t be embarrassed. I know I did the first time I was out and things went a little pear shaped. All parents have been there before and know exactly what your going through. You know what your doing, its the same as being at home except all your supplies (preparation?), are mobile. Just do your thing and you will get through it.
  • Enjoy the Experience. While it may seem like a simple shopping trip, you are making memories that will last a lifetime. This is quality time between you and your kids, for some dads this doesn’t happen often enough. In the end, even if the trip was a disaster, you can guarantee your partner will appreciate the kid free time you gave them by taking your kids shopping.

Top 3 Tantrums of the Week – 8/4/18

For something a bit more light hearted I’ve decided to start ranking some ‘top moments’ of the week. The idea being parents have something they can relate to and the non-parents can get a peak behind closed doors, but overall everyone can have a laugh.

Last week’s Top moments is all about Tantrums! We have all experienced them, some worse then others. Last weeks have been filtered down to the top 3.

Number 3: The Over-tired need to eat but don’t know what I want to eat tantrum.

Today I haven’t wanted to go down for a nap and its past lunch time. I’m Hungry, I’m Tired, but nothing you offer me looks tasty enough to eat.

Number 2: The I don’t want to eat whats on my plate I want whats on yours. Using your cutlery. Even though its identical to mine.

I don’t care that we are eating the same meal, I don’t care that you have foregone using toddler plates and utensils in an effort to get me to eat. I want whatever is on your plate, and I need to use your fork to eat it.

Number 1: The why isn’t there more watermelon tantrum.

I just discovered I like Watermelon, I like it a lot. So much I want to keep eating it. I don’t care its making a mess, I don’t understand why you won’t let me have anymore, the other kids clearly aren’t enjoying it as much as me.

I’ve only just noticed the running theme here of Food. Had Similar experiences? Can your kids tantrums beat mine this week? I’d love to hear your experiences as well.

Tune in this time next week for another ‘Top Happenings’ of the week.

Being Successful while putting your family first.

Being successful in the workplace isn’t just getting a promotion or a payrise (although thats always nice). Its about job satisfaction as well.

As a Dad, it can be tricky to maintain a healthy relationship with your family while being successful in the workplace as well. It really comes down to your short and long term goals.

I am currently in a new role in my workplace and trying to succeed in it. While also raising a toddler. What does that mean? It means there are going to be days I need to take off to look after a sick child. There are going to be days I need to leave work right on the dot because I need to pick him up from daycare. There are going to be days where I am a zombie because I was up all night. A good boss will understand this, but you need to be honest with them, also try to see it from their side every once in awhile and on your good days go over and above and this will outweigh the other days.

My longterm goal is based around raising my family, part of that is ensuring financial stability for their future. Short term goals include progressing into a role that is sustainable and helps ensure that financial stability. Along with maintaining healthy relationships with my family. While my goals have both a personal and professional side to them. I always try to put the personal above the professional. If I can achieve these goals I will feel like I am successful in the workplace. But again this is going to look different for everyone.

How will you know when you have achieved job satisfaction? When you jump out of bed in the morning ready and rearing for work. Just kidding, for those of us who aren’t traditionally morning people that will never happen, and for those of us who are parents, We will never be excited about going to work if we haven’t slept. I believe when you have achieved job satisfaction you will stop thinking about all the ‘what ifs’. What if you worked somewhere else? What if you hadn’t taken on that responsibilty? What if you didn’t work? You won’t be asking these questions because you won’t be worried about work and your spare time will be spent thinking about your family.

So set your goals and work towards them, but make sure you take your family along for the journey.

Dad’s Best Friend

Dad’s best friend has always been Dog. Faithful companions for Life, through tough times and good. What happens when a little someone comes along to interfere with that relationship?

Growing up our family had dogs. While not the most well behaved dogs they were still part of the family and helped create many cherished memories. Mrs Down Under also grew up with a faithful companion so we knew early on that a dog would be part of our lives together.

Meet our beloved Eddie, a Large (50kgs) Black Labrador who will be as settled or as active as you want him to be. Eddie was around for over 4 years before our young one came along so you can imagine he was pretty set in his ways.

All of a sudden his life was turned upside down. Along came this blob that mum and dad were paying all their attention to. He took it like a champ, avoiding it at all costs for awhile. Yet becoming a lot more defensive of our house at the same time.

It was important at this stage to ensure Eddie remained part of the family and wasn’t excluded. We took him along to family outings where possible, and spent time with him when the child was asleep. This allowed our family to grow together.

Fast forward 9 months and the two followed each other around everywhere. At that stage our child was very curious about this giant hair black animal. Eddie just loved the extra attention.

These days our toddler does most of the chasing and there are some days Eddie looks like he has had enough, but still puts up with him. True sibling love right there.

Kids Toys

How many toys is too many? Should you have a variety? When do you decide your child is too old for that? Do you have to abide by the age guides on the box? Why does every toy have a choking hazard? So many questions that I won’t even try to have the right answer for but here’s my thoughts.

How many toys is too many? Ask your kids and they will say you can never have enough. Ask a parent and they will tell you they already have too many. Finding a way to keep them tidy plays a massive role in this. The Down Under household is lucky enough to have a designated toy room, or rather a neat pile in the corner. If you can’t control them, then you have too many. If you can control them, then variety is a blessing

Should you have a variety? absolutely, I cannot stress this enough. If your children are anything like mine then they have a short attention span and need change to keep them occupied. A variety isn’t having a toy car in every color – although my toddler begs to differ. This is also for your sanity, any toy that makes a noise gets old very quickly when it is played for hours on repeat.

When do you decide if your child is too old for that? Simple, when they stop playing with it. Or rather when they beg you to buy the bigger truck because it has more flashing lights and makes more noise then the older one. This is going to be different with every child and every parent. Run with what works, and my advice is to put said toy in the cupboard before tossing it as a toddlers mind can change quickly. Bonus tip – if your planning on having another kid keep said toy in the closet until they come along, not only is it sentimental but will save you money!

Do you have to abide by ages on the box? if your 3 year old is still playing with toys designed for infants i’d say its time to move on. But if your toddler likes the look of the train set designed for a 4 year old, why not give them a shot at it. Supervise them to avoid choking hazards (more on that later), but you might find they really enjoy them, and it will also help your sanity! Think of the ages more as loose guidelines rather then rules.

Why does every toy have a choking hazard? because those loose little pieces are the best part of the toy and there is no way the manufacturer could make the toy successful without them. Honestly I can’t answer this one, I am thankful that my toddler isn’t one for putting toys in his mouth though, gotta take the little wins where you can. Also look at the answer to the previous question, they are there for a reason.

Easter Morning or Is it ok to have chocolate for breakfast. . .

How did this magical rabbit sneak into my house last night and why is there chocolate eggs ‘hidden’ everywhere? Did I miss a joke played against all parents of seeing how sick or hyper active our kids can get before midday?

Its Easter Sunday and given my little guy isn’t quite 2 years old yet the hype around hiding chocolate in foil is still lost on him. However given its a tradition both of our families grew up with and we still enjoy the occassional chocolate we have decided to play along this year. Although the game is called “can mum and dad keep the child engaged long enough to find all the eggs mum and dad forgot where they are hid before the dog finds them”. Not to mention can we control how much chocolate the child eats before it becomes an issue.

Looking in shops over the last few weeks its no wonder everyone still follows this tradition because eggs are everywhere, in every store. And they couldn’t be less appealing to children if they tried. Although these days confectionary companies are trying so hard not to affend anyone they are no longer easter eggs but chocolate eggs and rabbits. And chocolate just about anything else that lays an egg.

Has easter moved away from its original intention? Has it just become another long weekend that burns a hole in our wallets? Probably, but given it keeps the kids happy for the most part, I cant see it going away from the Down Under Household. Next year ill try to come up with a better name for the game, or at least a shorter one.

Home Handyman

Home Handyman, Jack of all Trades, Handyman from Hell? What role as a dad do you play in maintaining your home? I’m not talking about mowing the lawn or cleaning, tasks like patching the wall, tightening the door, painting a room, landscaping outside, changing the oil in your car. These are all tasks which many of us take upon ourselves to do ourself. That we could also hire someone else to do.

Ill start with what I have done:

  • Patch holes in the wall, sand back, and paint good as new
  • change oil, filters, and brake pads on the car
  • removing old concrete from the yard and laying down turf
  • change a shower head and faucet taps.
  • Built a large veranda for entertaining.

just to name a few. We are also in the process of renovating our entire house, the bulk of which we are doing ourselves. Skilled family members and online instructional videos are extremely handy.

I have always gotten a sense of accomplishment after completing one of these tasks, a solid pat on the back, and a warm fuzzy feeling like I can conquer any task that might come next. Of course there is always the other side when things don’t go according to plan and you need to call in outside help, but i prefer to focus on the wins.

As a Dad I look forward to showing my kids what the Average Joe can accomplish when they put their mind to it, and hopefully passing on some of the skills and knowledge I have gained to them. What have you done? What are you most proud of?

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A Good Nights Sleep

When was the last time you had a good nights sleep? Please only parents respond to that question, the rest of you don’t know what your in for until you have kids. I’m not just talking about a night where your kid(s) slept all the way through, but one were you woke up truly rested and ready to start the day.

As I write this I have just gone through one of the worst nights I’ve had in awhile. The little guy woke up 2 hours after we had gone to bed and didn’t go back down for 4 hours. That’s 4 hours of playing, singing, reading, rocking, until he finally fell asleep – as I driving him around the block at 3:30am. Then 3 hours later he woke back up. We have an unwritten rule between me and my wife that if one of us isn’t working the next day then it falls to them to deal with these nights, until we realise they are struggling then the other will always help out. This was one of my nights.

Remember those days when you were younger, before fatherhood where you would stay up all night partying and then go to work the next day? Those are long gone, as a Dad you need to take the sleep when you can get it. As a Dad, or any parent your days just aren’t long enough to get everything done. After nights like these is it worth trying to stick to your original schedule and plan or should you sacrifice that to regain some sleep.

Personally I sit on the fence with this one. On one side, I feel the need to stay on top of a schedule and feel a little disheartened when plans fall through due to a rough night. On the other we need to look after ourselves and if that means missing out on an early morning gym session or the chores falling behind then that’s what happens. What do you do in this situation?

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Better then yesterday or Better then nothing.

Getting Fit isn’t so much about the destination but the journey you take getting there. Living an active lifestyle isn’t something that just happens. It requires doing what you can, when you can.

A coach once told me not just to define progress as getting stronger or running faster, but as being better then yesterday. If you did nothing yesterday, then doing something today makes it better then yesterday. You don’t have to be the strongest or the fittest out there, just try to be better then yesterday.

When you push yourself to get out of the house and either go for a run, play sport, or do a workout. You should see that as a win. While you may be exhausted by the end of it, out of breath, or a little sore. You have done more then anyone who stayed at home on the couch. While it may seem like progress it slow. You are also looking after your mental and physical health. Something is always better then nothing.

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My Story begins Here

Well actually it began a long time ago. 30 years in fact. But at the moment that’s not Relevant. No one is interested in my history. What is Relevant is where I am today.

I am a 30 year old Dad (obviously). Married to my beautiful wife Shannen for 4 years now. Father to our son Oliver for almost 2. Spending my days working, My nights caring, My weekends enjoying, and my spare time, well you have found it.

What is it you have found? A collection of my experiences, learnings, ramblings, and day to day happenings as a Dad trying to make the most of life with his family.

So sit back and enjoy a casual read or get involved in the discussion and share your own experiences. But most importantly have a laugh – cause that’s what Dads do. Who knows you might take something back from it, at the least you will hear some Great Dad Jokes because what would a Dad Blog be without Dad Jokes. . .