Today marks three months since my son was born. It sounds like a cliche, but the time really does fly. I had ideas of accomplishing so much with the Millennial Dad project, and having a new born baby was going to be the icing on the topical cake. Or so I thought.

Instead of being a dad blogger who capitalised on the arrival of a new baby, I did the complete opposite and withdrew from blogging almost entirely.

I’ve barely had any time to write a post, read other bloggers, or follow and contribute on Twitter. If you look at my profile, you would think I’ve gone off the grid.

I’ve failed at blogging… but that’s ok!

Despite becoming a dad for the second time, I’ve realised I definitely don’t know it all. This baby is different from the first one. And I’m different, too. It’s been a big adjustment going from 3 to 4 of us. And just as the oldest one was beginning to play by the rules: social graces, sleeping through the night, that kind of thing, along comes a new one with its own agenda that we have to fit around. Three hour sleep stints, anyone?

So, I may have failed to blog very much, if at all, but here’s three reasons why it’s ok not to do all those extra activities.

 

1. Family.

The arrival of a new baby takes every ounce of effort. From waking up every three hours to rocking to sleep, it’s not easy to get things done with a newborn. Accept help when it’s offered and try to get things done around the house. It’s never going to be perfectly tidy or clean for a while, but that doesn’t matter. Don’t forget to spend time with the other one so she doesn’t feel left out. And try to make time for each other as a couple. Yes, a newborn truly throws family life upside down and inside out.

In the idle moments when you’re not trying to catch up on sleep, you could try to be creative, if you have any capacity left. So, yes, blogging may have to take a back seat for a while.

 

2. Work.

The term “do you live to work, or work to live” may be a conundrum for some people, but those with families should know which side of the fence to sit on. Work should exist to support your family. Yes, do something that fulfils and excites you if you can. Actually this is a must. But don’t confuse work as a substitute for spending time with your family. Especially as man, it’s easy to get sucked back into the world of work after the standard two week paternity leave.

Work is important. It pays the bills. Work hard, go home, be with your family. For however long you’re working, blogging can’t really take precedence. Unless, of course, your job is blogging and social media. And you earn enough to make a significant difference in supporting your family.

 

3. Self-preservation.

Dads and mums can spend a lot of time together in the first few weeks of a new baby’s life. However, it’s not always time spent together in the normal sense of being a couple. You’re both employees, no, you’re unpaid labour solely to care for and grow a baby. Time for yourselves is pretty much non-existent. The time that you do get for yourselves quickly becomes sleep. Not deep, regenerative sleep, but only the light kind that you might snatch on an 8 hour coach journey in a stuffy old coach with sweaty leather seats.

Your body treats any free time that you do have as some form of self-preservation. Given half a minute it will shut down and convince you to rest. This doesn’t lend itself well to the creative arts of blogging. Sometimes you’re just too damned tired to blog. And that’s ok.

I enjoy reading and writing parent blogs. It’s a fun community and I’ve gained a lot of useful tips. I like to contribute when I can and I’ve still got some bigger plans for my blog. Right now is not necessarily the time to execute them. I know when to fight my battles and there’s no point trying to enforce something that’s not absolutely essential.

The key word in all of this is BALANCE.

Each new parent should try to find the right balance of what they want to do in their lives. Those crucial early weeks and months of a baby’s life are so special, you deserve to be at your best to enjoy them.

Four years ago we welcomed a baby girl into this world. I’ve watched as she’s grown and is now at nursery. Gender doesn’t seem to matter to her, right now, and that’s great. She plays with everyone but I can also see some subtle differences in the way she interacts with girls and boys. Is this a natural part of being a girl or a boy, or is it society beginning to introduce stereotypes according to gender?

I’m committed to do everything I can to make sure my daughter can live a fulfilled life.

So far, there have been no obvious boundaries to her development based on her gender. However, I know there are probably some subtle messages coming from the older generation about what a girl should be. There is still the relentless push of anything pink and fluffy.

Sometimes it’s difficult to stop people pushing their own ideas of what it is to be a girl. I see it is my role to do as much as I can to ensure she can thrive and achieve whatever she wants . There should be no glass ceiling for her generation.

Am I being over-cautious? Perhaps, but then women have been suppressed for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

My wife is also a committed feminist. She has dedicated her career to expanding opportunities for women around the world. I’m proud of the things she has achieved, and she has also taught me to think differently. I went to all-boys school and had a particular view of the world. Now I see that equal representation between men and women is vital to the success of our society.

The Millennial Dad has a huge role to play in International Women’s Day.

The Millennial Dad is the first to grow up in a world with equal opportunities between men and women. A female of my generation is able to earn just as much and progress just as far as I am able to do. The issue comes when people have children and take time off. Work still needs to be done in this area to allow parental leave to benefit both men and women.

The Millennial Dad is part of the generation that doesn’t apply traditional gender roles. My wife and I share equal commitments at home and I like to think that we both have opportunities to pursue our careers. I would happily fulfil the role of stay-at-home parent and I’m often jealous when I read all the great SAHD blogs.

The Millennial Dad is helping to change society and benefiting feminism. Millennial parents are starting to raise children in unbiased societies where girls and boys can achieve whatever they want in life.

We are expecting another child in the next two weeks. We chose not to find out what it would be, a boy or girl. At first this annoyed me and I wanted to know as early as possible to prepare the things. But what am I really preparing for? A boy or a girl does not need any different treatment. A boy or a girl should have equal opportunities to progress in this world to the best of their abilities. A boy or girl should not be held back at all in what they want to do. It is our role as parents to ensure our children will take forward the baton. I think we have done an awful lot in the last few years to develop equal rights for both men and women. There is still much to do and many pockets of society where things are far more backward than we would like. But it’s important that we keep going, celebrating International Women’s Day and women’s achievements. I look forward to talking to my daughter tonight about all the things she wants to achieve in her life, hoping that there won’t be any barriers against reaching her goals.

And whether she has a brother or sister, I will aim to teach them the same.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer and You…”

          Dr Seuss

I’ve been part of the parent blogging scene for a few months now. What I like about it is the sense of community and how helpful people are. What turns me off is when I see people who are obviously acting fake. Which leads me to the one realisation that I’ve had taking up the reins of blogging.

You can’t pretend to be anyone other than you.

It’s still taking time to find my blogging style. Do I share intimate details about my family life and pictures of my children? Do I focus on writing reviews of great products? Should I focus solely on contributing to other blogs rather than build up my own profile, as are already so many other fantastic bloggers out there?

The main reason of starting a blog was to help focus my mind on writing a book, but that book hasn’t yet come together! Instead I found so many fantastic resources amongst this parent blogging community. I started reading and writing my own material.

So what attracts me to blogs that I like? I really like to read from people who are honest about their struggles and tell us about how difficult it can be as a parent. I also like to be entertained and to read humorous reviews and updates on Twitter and YouTube. I like serious writers and I like cheeky chaps who just do it for a bit of fun.

As a consumer of a lot of parent blog posts I’ve noticed the one trait that attracts me most is authenticity.

If someone is authentic I feel a connection with them and want to read even more of their material. If someone is helpful and engages with me in a meaningful way, writing about things that matter in my day-to-day life, then I am interested. It surprises me how easily I am able to spot bullshit in blogs. I can tell who is writing purely to promote themselves as fast as possible. I can see the person who follows hundreds of people and then and then unfollows them just to boost their social media standing. I can even tell the obviously staged photographs of parents with their families, exploiting them just for promotional purposes.

To be genuine and authentic means to be yourself.

When it comes to my own writing I can try to put on a particular persona and I can try to cultivate brand-savvy images on Instagram. But at the end of the day it just doesn’t feel right and I’m sure it doesn’t work.

I’m not quite there yet with my writing style, but I know what I like to write about and I like connecting with people. I’m not entirely comfortable with sharing loads of pictures of myself or my daughter, and I can’t live up to the pressure of trying to be funny all the time. Some people do this tremendously well. I am not one of them. There are a few people out there who are versatile and can be funny, serious, entertaining and informative while also being genuine and authentic. I’m not one of them yet, so I’m going to focus on what I enjoy and see how things go.

Sometimes I can be funny and sometimes informative, but I know that everything I write is usually a true reflection of me as a person. I believe this is the main way that bloggers can connect with people. It is the one trait that all truly successful parent bloggers possess. My advice to you (and me) is to keep your head in the real world. Don’t try to be someone you are not. You will get found out.

The best way to be successful is to be you.

 

At the start of the year I set out my goals for the Millennial Dad movement. I pinned them to my Twitter profile as a public statement and to hold myself accountable for reaching them. They are:

  1. Define my vision.

  2. Publish my book.

  3. Establish my web presence.

Another month has passed and we’re now in March. I’m writing this post feeling a little ashamed that I haven’t done much to move things forward since the last post. I continue to maintain my web presence although I’ve fallen short in the past week.

Real life always seems to get in the way!

Our second baby is due at the end of March. The past two weeks have been a constant struggle to paint the house and buy everything we need to prepare for our impending arrival. And then there’s the growing realisation that I’ve forgotten how to care for a new-born baby! Work has been busy and one of my grandparents has been taken ill.

I really wanted to focus on defining my vision for the Millennial Dad movement but I haven’t managed to find the time.

I kind of know what I want to achieve with the Millennial Dad blog and that’s the celebrate and support modern fatherhood. I now need to focus that into a defined vision with a set of objectives and aims. The trouble is, to do any of this requires time and space. I’ve been waiting for the right time to sit and work out my vision, time to write down what I want to achieve, and really give it some proper thought and attention. And now February has passed – technically we’re still at the end of the month because February is such a short and silly month!

I may have failed to reach one of my goals but I’ve also learned a valuable lesson… there’s never a perfect moment!

We can sit and wait for the stars to align, for the perfect weather and opportunity to get things done, but at the end of the day it’s better to just start something and work hard on it. Why?

–         If you start something there’s a much higher chance you’ll keep it going.

–         If you do only a little bit to keep things moving, then you can take comfort in the knowledge you’ve moved things forward.

–         An imperfect moment can be more productive and inspirational than waiting for the perfect moment.

There are many fantastic parent bloggers on the web who juggle so many different commitments and keep going. Look behind their glossy websites and impressive productive output and you’ll find discipline and hard work.

We all struggle from time to time and it’s important to realise we’ll never be able to achieve everything. Sometimes we need to take a break and acknowledge that we’ve done a good job, even if it’s not everything we wanted to get done.

So, I may not have achieved all my goals in February. But I’m proud that I kept the blog running, connected and engaged with more brilliant parent bloggers, and also got a bit more prepared to welcome a new baby into the world. Sometimes it’s ok to give yourself a pat on the back.

My first memory of getting a hair cut was going to “Tony’s Barbers” around the corner from where we lived. I remember the red leather (plastic?) seats with booster cushion. The walls were full of black and white headshots, featuring men with crew cuts and even a mullet. I think today would be a bit of a parody but back then it was all real. I never did have the courage to ask for a flat top. When I’m near home I still go to the same place even though it’s changed hands in recent years. It is much more clean and clinical and has lost it rough around the edges feel.

Boys have their hair cut much earlier than girls.

Our daughter grew her hair for a while before we took off her first haircut. We tried trimming around the edges to keep out of her eyes but ultimately we wanted somewhere give her a good haircut. We also wanted a smooth introduction to the process.

And so we found this great middle salon called Mopp Heads.

It’s run by a guy called Mike, let’s call him “Mopp Head Mike”! He does an incredible job at putting children at ease and distracting them while they have their hair cut. He has a toy car they can sit in, Peppa Pig in the background, lots of books and toys to play with. It’s really just like going to nursery. She loved it.

Sure we could have got away with cutting her hair ourselves. But we didn’t want to. We wanted it to look decent, not that she cares, but we take time to buy a nice clothes so why not a haircut too?

Some relatives, perhaps frugal ones, don’t think this is necessary.

They don’t see the point in cutting a child’s hair at the salon. In fact, they think it can be done at home. Some people tell me I can’t tell if a child has had their haircut at home or by a professional but I think I might guess right eight times out of 10.

Professionals are trained in techniques that aren’t available to the lay person. I don’t know about cutting away a fringe, or feathering, or adding layers; perhaps women know more about this, but all I ask for 90% of the time is “a No. 4 back and sides and to cut it down on top”.
I don’t know how to cut hair but I do know when it doesn’t look great.

Cue granny who came along and try to cut the hair herself.

There’s nothing inherently wrong in this, and it would save us a bit of money, but we had to correct it. She turned it into a bowl cut without even trying. And worse than that, she thought it looked okay! I don’t mind writing about this publicly because she knows our thoughts. After a while we all saw the funny side of it.

This haircutting incident prompted an urgent trip to see Mopp Head Mike to salvage something out of a disaster. This required more than the usual trim. At four years old we finally went for a Bob. And she looked really grown-up.

I don’t think you can replace a professional with a home job.

We wouldn’t do dental work by ourselves and we shouldn’t get do haircuts by ourselves. Sometimes we can get away with a quick trim to save on time and money, but it’s never the same as seeing Mike. Just as important is the experience our daughter has of going to the salons, learning to sit and be patient. It’s great training for the years ahead.

There are loads of great children’s haircutters out there and I have only limited experience. Mike runs a salon called Mopp Heads based in Leamington Spa. He specialises in children’s haircuts. Find out more on his website. If you live in the area I would really recommend checking him out.