2014 – the year I could no longer escape the fact I am a grown up

That may seem like a weird thing to say as at the start of or the year I was already a dad to two, married for five and in a relationship for ten.

Then in February we had Freddy who is awesome, even though he seems to hate sleep (sorry buddy, you are getting evicted into your own room very soon).

So now I’m a Dad to three children. Three! That’s more than I have hands! And I’m supposed to teach them about a world I’m not sure I understand myself.

The doubting demon in the back of my mind says “How can you do this, you’re not even a proper grown up”. Now, as much as that demon can be quite convincing, I’m starting to think he’s wrong. I mean, none of them have ever been hurt too seriously in my care, they’re fed pretty well and happy most of the time – so maybe I am a proper grown up?

Then there’s work, which went nuts half way through the year when three out of our team of six left in the same month. Suddenly I’m stepping up to do work that was previously done be people way above my pay grade. Don’t get me wrong, career wise this is great and I’m so much happier with my job now than the one I was doing at the start of the year. The weird thing is now new people have joined the team suddenly I’m the one they come to with questions and for advice. They’re expecting me to make decisions for crying out loud!

Along comes the doubting demon again “Andy, what if they find out you’re faking it, don’t really know what you are doing and aren’t even a proper grown up?” But then I start talking and people nod like it makes sense, they go do what I said and it works.

It makes me wonder. I might not feel like a grown up, or even behave like one, but I seem to be OK at some of the ‘grown up stuff’. Maybe, just maybe, the doubting demon is wrong and would be best to shut the fuck up?

So there you go. 2014, the year Andy grew up (aged 34). But not totally, I still like Thundercats and stuff like that, I’m just a bit more grown up than in 2013.

Does any of this sound familiar? Are you a non-grown up doing grown up stuff fearing the day you get exposed as a fraud?


It’s the weekend! Andy’s jukebox #10

I’m not sure if it’s the time of year (winter not Christmas) but my musical tastes are currently flitting between fairly lairy techno and moments if melancholy. Maybe it’s the brutal lack of sleep brought on by piles of ill children. Who knows, either way – here’s what’s been on my stereo this week.

Elliot Smith- Kings Crossing

Boys Noize & Erol Alkan feat. Jarvis Cocker – Avalanche (Terminal Velocity)

First day watching all three kiddies – he survives!

This Sunday was the first day I watched all three children on my own. Although mildly terrified on the run up it was actually completely fine. Here’s what I discovered:

Get out early, and stay out
I knew this anyway – hanging around in the house = bored monkeys, and bored monkeys = riding brother like a donkey, poking sister in the face etc etc etc.

So we were on the 9:30 train to soft play, shops, GBK, play park – anything but hang around in the house. The added bonus was that just after lunch they all did this, at the same time!



Do whatever you need to to keep the happiness levels up
Those photos say it all. That’s Five and Nearly-3 in the double buggy and Really-Quite-Chunky-For-10-Months in the sling. The back ache was preferable to herding the older ones under their own steam.

I could hear Dear Wifey saying “What’s the point of all that exercise if you can’t carry all three children when they have a chronic case of ‘tired leggies'”. And she would have had a point.

Share the load
I’m not sure if this is cheating, or invalidates everything I’m saying, but Five had a birthday party in the afternoon. At which point looking after two children felt like a holiday.

And a bonus fourth point: Dear Wifey does an amazing job
I also knew this anyway. While I’m patting myself on the back she does this every single day. I now have a fuller appreciation of why she falls asleep on the sofa at 8:30.

Getting priorities in order

This sort of follows on from my post last week about finding the time for exercise, or anything else that is important to you.

Writing that got me thinking about how I try to manage different priorities in a way that means everyone’s (family, not the whole world) needs are met, including mine.

This isn’t much of a structured post, it’s more of a brain dump. This seemed to be as sensible a place as any to record it.

Inescapable priorities (if I didn’t take care of these I would cease to function, or be on the way to being an arsehole):

  • Family – give focused love to each one
  • Family – play
  • Good food – for me, make sure it is provided for them
  • Roof over head
  • Work (which supports 1,2,3&4)
  • Sleep (or whatever approximation of sleep you can get)*

* That is my ideal order. The day-to-day reality is that it goes 5, 4, 3, 1, 2, 6. Note that sleep comes last both times. Our son is cute but he is a menace during the night.

Then, other things I like to do, but aren’t life or death:

  • Blogging**
  • Exercise
  • Hobbies
  • TV
  • Basically, everything else

** I know this is a serious earner for some but probably not for most

This helps keep me honest. I know I need to get everything in list one sorted first (which can take upwards of 90% of my day). However, and going back to the time post, once that’s done the order of list two is completely up to me. Usually I put exercise above blogging in the evenings, sometimes I put a chocolate brownie above everything.

How about you? Does anyone else think like this? I sometimes wonder if I’m a bit weird……

Finding the time

I was never a particularly sporty or active child. My get fit journey is a relatively new thing, born out of wanting to be able to inspire my own children to be more active than I was and to be fit enough to join in.

One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that, although as parents we have an awful lot going on, time doesn’t need to be the thing that stops you getting in shape.

Here are three things I’ve discovered by doing the opposite and failing horribly.

Exercise doesn’t have to be time consuming, costly or complicated.
If all you have is 15 minutes then that is fine. Is it ideal, no. But if it is more than you did yesterday, and you make those minutes count, then you are well on your way.

You probably spend time doing things you don’t really need to that you could spend on your health instead.
Quick pop quiz:
Do you watch TOWIE, Made in Chelsea or Geordie Shore
Do you watch Strictly, X Factor or I’m a celebrity
Do you watch any soaps

If you answer yes to any of these, you can make the time. In five years time will you give a shit about who won this year’s X Factor? Will you even remember their name? Probably not. You could even do some exercise in front of the tele if it really means that much – try alternating sets of push ups and squats in every as break.

Work out what kind of time you can free up and plan around that
Can you free up lots of little bits of time or a couple of big chunks? I’m a little and often man personally. I have about 45mins most days between the children going to bed and dinner so that’s the time I use. You might be the opposite. The point is to fit exercise around the time you have, not try to get to a class you’ll never make because of ‘life’.

This isn’t just an exercise thing. This year we had our third child and my wife managed to write a book at the same time. This amazes me as some days I feel like I’ve barely got enough time to breath. She did it by sacrificing a couple of hours sleep most nights – she would get up at 4 or 5am after F’s last feed and write. This is pretty extreme but she did it because the book was that important to her, more important than the sleep. The result is the book is now published (get it here!).

My point here is, if a breastfeeding mum of three can give up hours of sleep for something that matters to her, you can find a chunk of time here and there to do some exercise.

How about you? Do you feel like you can fit it all in? Any tips for others that struggle?

Have you bought Reneé’s book yet? Why not! Do it, do it do it 😉

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