Not being the breadwinner

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I live in a house I could never have dreamt I’d live in, I drive a car I’d never be able to afford. Recently I had one of those moments I occasionally have thinking about my previous life. And I felt slightly odd, almost like I didn’t deserve to be in my current situation. Is this because I’m a man? Then I thought, why on earth am I thinking like this, perhaps it’s guilt? Or perhaps I just occasionally think, had I not met my wife, things for me would be very different.

I only met my wife 6 years ago, had you asked before then where I might be living and what I would be doing in 6 years time, it certainly wouldn’t be what I’m doing now. “Imposter Syndrome” my wife calls it.

I’m a stay at home Dad. So by definition I’m not going to be the breadwinner in our family. It’s a decision me and my wife took together and I have no doubt that it was the best decision we ever made. I get to spend time with my two little girls and be actively involved in their early years, something a lot of men (with older kids) tell me they wish they had experienced.

These days, in over a third of UK couples the female is the breadwinner. Slightly above the European average of 31.1%. So it is not at all unusual for me to be in this position. Yet in 2017 the number of men out of the workplace specifically looking after children or the home fell to a 3 year low; 232,000 down from 241,000 the year before. Is the “novelty” of being a stay at home Dad wearing off? Do men feel that they are only valued for their work role?

Well for me neither is true. I really enjoy being at home looking after the girls and running the house. I did not attach a great value to my previous career as a management accountant. So for me, as the girls get older, I’m starting to get concerned about what I’m going to do when I do decide to return to the workplace.

I still find it hard to get out of the mindset of worrying about not contributing to the family financially. But I remind myself that, being at home, looking after the house and the girls, my contribution is just as important as paying for it all. As always, my amazing wife is tremendously supportive. Not only does she have a stellar career and is an amazing mum, but she is also my biggest supporter. That’s so important.

So whenever I have these “imposter” thoughts, I just think about my amazing wife and family and think how lucky I am.

An Occasional Post

It’s been a while, when I changed the blog’s name to the “Occasional Blog” I really wasn’t fibbing was I. So here is an occasional post, what have I been up to?

Well it’s been a busy few months at the Occasional blog HQ (when is it not?). Once again i’m in awe of the bloggers who manage to get content out there regularly while still looking after a family! The girls have been keeping me busy as usual. Little m has been growing up rapidly and recently celebrated her 2nd birthday. She’s spending a lot of time copying her big sister as well as practicing her “terrible twos”. There have been a few tantrums but nothing out of the ordinary, thankfully. She recently started doing 3 days at week at the same nursery school as big M. Which is great as the school is on a farm and incorporates a Forest School, both girls love going there.

It’s also great from my perspective as I get two days a week now where both girls are at school. Can I finally address my expanding waistline and get fit again on the bike? No, there’s housework to do. To be fair I have still managed to get on the road and do some training as well as get the housework done. And look, today I’ve even enough time to write a blog post! Go me.

We also recently found out where M is going to go to “big school” in September. School places are allocated by the county council, you can request up to four schools in order of preference. We got our first choice which is great as we had heard of some parents not getting any of their choices. It appears in some areas where there are a high density of children all vying for one or two good local schools, people will lose out.

Now we have to start the marketing campaign to get her used to the idea of the change to big school. M really doesn’t like change and is so settled at her nursery we’re worried she will struggle going to a new setting. Especially as we seem to have picked a school where none of her friends are going. But let’s face it, you remember your primary school days and the friends you make there very fondly. At least that’s what we’re telling ourselves!

It was quite emotional for me and my wife, the realisation that our little girl is growing up and starting school. That’s one inevitability I’ve recognised since being a parent; however long you feel certain stages of their lives are going, before you know it, time flies by and you’re left wondering “how did that happen?”

Talking of which….time has flown and it’s almost time to go and pick them up from nursery. Back to the grindstone!

A Day in the Life by Mumma in Training

I recently had the honour and pleasure to be asked to do a “day in the life” Q&A by Steph at Mumma in Training. Steph writes and excellent blog about her experiences as a mum. There are some really useful tips, hacks and observations on the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

You can read my interview here.

Party Politics

No, not of the Brexit variety. I’m talking about the minefield that can be 4yr old birthday parties.

This was brought home to me at earlier this week when I picked up a little envelope from my daughter’s drawer at pre-school. This was at picking up time and there followed an embarrassing situation.

We opened the envelope and I read the contents to her, it was a birthday party invite from one of the other girls in the class. M was so overexcited she skipped out and off to the car we went. We were leaving at the same time as one of her little friends.

She excitedly asked her “are you coming to the party?”

Little friend; “Yes”

Little friend’s mother; “NO, you’ve not been invited!”

I was silently chastising myself for mentioning the envelope, I should have waited until we were in the car before we opened it.

We have got to know each other through our girls friendship at pre-school and I felt immediately embarrassed. It’s quite something isn’t it when you worry about mentioning if your child has got an invite to so-and-so’s party in case the child of the person you’re talking to hasn’t. Not everyone decides to hire a space that can cope with the 30+ children in M’s room at pre-school.

Worrying about party invites when your child is only 4yrs old! I fear there is more of this to come! But that is what happens isn’t it, despite your best intentions, you worry if your child is going to be well liked among their peers.

I try not to worry, after experiencing the chaos that is a party in a soft play last weekend I can happily never experience that again. But you want the best for your children and if going to a birthday party is what they want then along you go!

However another dilemma is soon to raise its head. It’s M’s birthday next month and we are organising a party for her (it’s all a 4yr old wants afterall) in the local village hall. We’ve booked an “ice-princess” entertainer (you can guess who). They are expensive and as soon as you have more than 25 kids you need to pay for another entertainer to support them. So now we have to decide who gets invited and who doesn’t from her pre-school. M doesn’t care as long as Elsa is at her party so as ever it’s left to us parents to navigate the minefield that is children’s birthday parties.

Help!

Tinnitus and me

(c) Houseofhearing.co.uk

I suffer from tinnitus and have done, on and off for about 25 years.

What is Tinnitus

The perception of ringing in your ears. It is a fairly common condition affecting about 1 in 10 people in the UK. For some it can be so overwhelming that it affects their quality of life, they find it hard to sleep or concentrate for example. For others, like myself, it is an annoyance that you learn to live with but really wish you didn’t have to. I find it quite distressing that I can never truly enjoy quiet, I always have a ringing in my ears.

It is not a condition in itself but a symptom of an underlying condition such as age-related hearing loss or ear injury.

Tinnitus and me

I think my first memories of it came around the time I was university. I’d go to gigs and find my ears ringing for days afterwards. Since then it is something I have always been aware of but have just got on with. When my children arrived it became a bit more of an issue. I found that my daughter’s cry was at the same frequency as the ringing in my ears. This meant when she was upset and crying hard I actually found it painful to listen to.

Earlier last year I decided to try to investigate it further as it was causing me such discomfort. I went to my local GP and managed to get a referral to a specialist. I had hearing tests and a follow-up discussion with the specialist. As you get older you lose hearing at higher frequencies, this is normal. But for me as these nerves die off it creates “noise” which is interpreted by my brain as ringing. So ┬áthe problem is exacerbated as I get older.

What can you do

Nothing unfortunately, well, there is no cure for it. Tinnitus can impact your quality of life and cause problems such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Sleep problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression

You can already see if you’re a new parent, these are complications that you definitely don’t need. If you’re able to treat these conditions then while it won’t make your tinnitus go away, it will hopefully make you feel better.

What I was told is that as there is no cure for tinnitus you can find ways of managing the condition. Try and reduce stress factors, attempt to get a good nights sleep, turn down the volume and get some exercise for example. If it is something that does bother you then there are support groups out there that can help. I’ll add some links below.

And for me?

Well as my eldest has got older she understands that Daddy sometimes has sore ears so she needs to be a little bit more quiet. This usually has the desired effect, though during her terrible twos she did once or twice scream at me deliberately. But hey, that’s toddlers for you!

Useful Links

British Tinnitus Association

NHS

Take on Tinnitus