The Toddler Resistance Movement – A Guide To Swimming

After a particularly traumatic swimming experience I found my toddlers in their room, writing this on their Fisher Price tablet. Be warned people, they are getting organised!

The Toddler Resistance Movement – A Guide to Swimming

The Ugly Giants think that going swimming is all about learning to swim. Idiots. Whereas we all know that the objective of swimming is to get them to empty the bastard treat bag as quickly as possible. Follow these steps and you will be drinking Coca – Cola and grazing on smoky bacon flavour Wheat Crunchies before you are even out of the changing rooms.

1. Whinge to the Ugly Giants in the days / hours / minutes leading up to your swimming lesson. Shouting about it loudly and frequently makes it happen quicker, and therefore gets you to that treat bag quicker. Fact

2. Once at the swimming baths, refuse to get changed. This should result in a decent treat payout. Refuse the banana, let that sweat in the change bag. Hold out for the Organix muesli bars. The Ugly Giants love the smell of chlorine and humid banana on their clothes anyway. Freaks. 

3. Once changed, refuse to wear goggles. In fact refuse to wear any kind of bastard swimming aid. This includes floats, goggles and swimsuits. This stuff is for losers, and will hamper your chances of executing the mission. Stay focussed. 

4. Having spent the whole morning demanding to go to your swimming lesson, refuse now to get into the pool until you get to call shotgun on the floating aids. The acoustics in this place are ace my fellow swimmers, so to secure the holy grail of floating aids (the shark fin float), cry loudly. Remember you are slowly breaking the Ugly Giants in preparation for the ultimate treat payload – Strawberry flavoured Petit Filou yoghurt.

5. If the swimming instructor is one of those tenacious types and refuses to immediately let you into the basket of floating aids, shout “STOP TOUCHING ME” very loudly. I have noticed this gets you what you want. 

6. Run everywhere. The adults will soon tire of telling you to stop. Once they have stopped nagging, run as fast as you can and fall over dramatically, preferably into the pool. This may hurt, but it should result in a heavy treat payload. A small price to pay for that buttered slice of raisin Soreen, my aquatic friends. 

7. Spend 10 minutes warming up by removing all buoyancy aids from your swim suit. This is a good test to see if the bastard life guard is paying attention. You will need him / her later on (see 10 and 11 below) 

8. Create the illusion of walking on water by strapping all buoyancy aids to your ankles and moving swiftly across the surface of the water whilst shouting “I’VE BEEN TOUCHED BY THE HAND OF GOD” This isn’t for snacks, it’s just for kicks people. 

9. The swimming pool is big and cold. When the instructor is not looking, head for the warm bubbly place with the “no children” sign. Get in, keep your head down and keep pressing the bubble buttons. You may get 5mins or so of chill time. Use this time to eat the bag of Monster Munch you smuggled in down your swimming nappy. 

10. Now we’re building up to the piece de resistance. Grab some attention by floating motionlessly and face down on top of the water. This excites the Ugly Giants. (NB an advanced technique in this regard is to collaborate with the other children in the pool and coordinate a Mass Face Down Float (MFDF). If nothing else, this allows you to see which of the Ugly Giants is paying attention) 

11. Alternatively sink to the bottom of the pool and stay there as long as you can. This is a sure fire technique to get the Ugly Giants away from their iPhones. They spend too long on them anyway. Bastards.

12. Now you have their attention, EXECUTE THE MISSION. Remove your swimming nappy and take a massive poo. Ideally it will be a two day stored up poonami. The bigger the better. (NB This is also a good way of testing the pool evacuation procedures. Anything more than a 60 second delay, report the bastards to the local council). Once out of the water, use this as an opportunity for naked screaming. This will yield a quick snack. 

13. The Ugly Giants understand that you are going to be hungry after swimming so once in the changing room use this opportunity to scream loudly until they have emptied their treat bag. Demonstrate how hungry you are by stuffing everything into your mouth at once. Including the buoyancy aids you have smuggled out in your swimming nappy. 

14. Spend as long as you can in the changing rooms. Changing rooms are either freezing cold or stiflingly hot. And the acoustics are amazing. The Ugly Giant’s resolve will weaken quickly under these conditions, so use this as an opportunity to scream loudly until you have emptied the treat bag and negotiated your way to a double showing of Toy Story and pizza in front of C-Beebies when you get home. What you do in the changing room echoes for eternity. 

15. Remember, collaboration is a key weapon in our armoury. The Ugly Giants are rendered useless in the face of a double toddler, steamy naked, screaming onslaught (DTSNSO). So if there are two of you, do what you can – drop your clean clothes in the puddles, make a naked break back to the pool, swan dive into the sanitary bin, lick the floor. Whatever you do make it noisy, make it big and make it quick. Those fruit flavoured jelly tots will soon be yours. Shock and awe people, shock and awe. 

16. And remember people, to keep those snacks coming, you need a repeat performance. Plant the seed by repeatedly and noisily demanding to go swimming again during the journey home. The Ugly Giants will be like putty in your hands by this point. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Over and out.

 If you are reading this, you are the resistance






Bastard Holidays

You look tired, why don’t you book a holiday – give yourself something to look forward to. I’ve just been on one with my boyfriend and it was amazing

These were the simple words, uttered by a friend in the kitchen at work today.

Well my smug, well rested and bright-eyed friend, these are the reasons why a) holidays are actually bastard exhausting these days and why b) holidays are not bastard well meant to be looked forward to anymore

1/. For you packing means throwing a few clothes in a bag and walking out the door. For me packing begins weeks before the holiday begins, if not months. In fact I have started packing NOW in April for a holiday we are planning in August (* takes a hit of gin to stop the twitching)

2/. You won’t have your face clawed off by a bezerk toddler if you forget to pack Peppa Pig leggings.

3/. Studying and thinking about holiday property room configuration is about as tedious as reading Mr Messy on a perpetual loop. Oh I forgot, you have no idea how tedious either of those things are. Bastard.

4/. Your journey to your destination will be a chance to watch the landscape go by, catch up on the latest movies, read a holiday novel or get some restful sleep. For me it will make Marlow’s journey up the Congo River look like a fairground ride. Because listening to two toddlers having a screeching competition for two hours whilst stuck in French traffic is not something anyone should have to go through. (* sets up Amnesty International on speed dial)

5/. Upon arrival at your destination you can fling open the French doors and flop onto your bed. I, on the other hand, will have to immediately set up a perimeter and carefully remove the car seats before the squashed raisins, brioche and colouring pens begin to fuse, multiply and morph into a deadly contagion like they did Last Time. (* sets up Centre for Disease Control on speed dial)

6/. Holiday property brochures always lie. For you this isn’t an issue. For me that bastard line in the configuration plan which turns out NOT to be a wall between rooms, but a line to denote a change in flooring materials, will mean sharing a room for TWO FECKING WEEKS with my wife and two bastard snoring children. This means wake up at 06:30, lights out at 19:30, no down time, no drinking and shouting loudly and definitely no sexy-time.

7/. For you, free standing glass cabinets and unfenced gardens will provide charming property character and a pleasing sense of boundless space. For me, these things will provide The Crazies with their first experience of near death base jumping, and free-range and self-guided toddler tours of local highways and electrical sub-stations.

8/. Your holiday is a chance to indulge in two weeks of pure hedonism, escapism and down time. For me I will need to put all my own needs on hold in order to plan and execute exciting child centred activities, fun and games EVERY DAY for two bastard weeks. But it will be the fact that I forgot the bastard Peppa Pig leggings that will dominate conversations for the entire journey home. In between the bastard screeching competitions of course.

9/. Your evenings will be spent on balmy terraces, enjoying fine wine, leisurely food and scintillating conversation. Mine will be spent ramming food down my mouth as quickly as possible, shouting loudly at my wife and watching while one child feeds fish fingers to a tank of expensive looking oriental fish, and the other asks an angry looking man at the next table why his nose is so big.

10/. You will lounge on a beach recliner and will luxuriate in a thirty second application of Hawaiian Tropic sun cream, the mere smell evoking a tropical paradise. I, on the other hand, will be spending half my days sprinting up and down the beach trying to marinate my slippery children with a dense pasty gloop just to get minimal sun cream coverage. And don’t get me started on the question of bastard sun hats; because this is a question where Superglue is the only answer.

11/. Because by the time I have finally cleared the laundry backlog from this damn holiday it will be time to think about packing for the next bastard holiday.

So there you go my relaxed and just-returned-from-holiday-faced friend. If I sound bitter, it’s because I bastard well am. Bastard Holidays can feck right off.

The Last Push

“One more Peppa Pig and then it’s time to go to bed. No, I said ONE more. JUST. ONE. MORE!”

“Brush your teeth, properly. PROPERLY! Don’t stick the toothbrush THERE!”

“Put your pyjamas on. Where are you going? Put your pyjama trousers on! Not on your head! Take them off your head! Take the trousers OFF YOUR HEAD!”

The bed time routine. The last push. The eternal battle between adult and child; one party desperate to push the envelope, milk the minutes and extend the day; and one party desperate to curtail, to finish, to seek closure.

The friction. The tension. The exhaustion.

Sometime around 6:30pm our family moves into the bedtime routine. I feel it as a parent, and the children are feeling it too.

The older child might complain of tiredness, but the younger child will never let on, and will continue to run around the house, a morass of flailing limbs and wobbly sprinting.  

But he will be betrayed by the occasional flop on a chair, a rubbing of the eyes and the ultimate give away – the yawn.

This is the signal. The yawn.

It’s time to warm the milk and put on the DVD.

It’s a familiar routine, goodness knows how it started but it kind of works. Warm milk in front of 20 minutes of whatever DVD happens to be in vogue at the time.

Each child gets to choose one episode. These are the rules.

It is beautiful watching each one take it in turns to choose their episode. They revel in their empowerment, exercising their right to choose and they deliberate for what seems like an age before finally selecting their choice.

Each selection is accompanied with gleeful bragging rights and a giggly sprint back to the sofa.

The other child will take exception to the choice, but it will be only temporary. It is all part of the pattern, part of the routine.

And the episodes will finish and there will be a momentary tantrum when the television is turned off, but both children know that there are bigger fights ahead, so they reserve their energy.

The parents may have won this battle, but there is still a war to be waged before this day is out.

Climbing the stairs is another battle. The older child is quick, up in a heartbeat, mind set on the mischief that can now be caused in the upstairs domain.

The younger child delays, deliberating over each dangerous step; pausing to inspect every wood knot on the handrail, every speck of dust on the stair runner and every dead spider that resides on the Staircase of Wonder.

There are some nights when I can deal with this, and sometimes even entertain this journey of exploration. But tonight is not one of them. My objective is to complete the routine as quickly as possible, get the children safe and snug into bed and get back downstairs to whatever treasure awaits.

And the treasure could be a glass of wine, it could be a pint of beer, it could be a favourite television show, a conversation with the wife, a favourite book or just simply a sit-down-and-stare at whatever object happens to be in eye line.

It doesn’t matter what it is. It is a reward.

A reward for knowing I have made mistakes that day, but that I will grow from them

A reward for knowing that I have done the best I can, that I have been the best I can be and that I have loved with as much room as there is in my heart.

And a reward for knowing that I have got my children safely through another day, with some degree of decorum, mental health and personal hygiene still intact.

So the reward is there in my mind’s eye. It looms larger and larger, sometimes taunting, sometimes alluring. But it’s there.

And it’s there, calling like a wanton siren from the shadows, when for the millionth time toothpaste ends up smeared on my black work jumper.

It’s there throwing its hair back and fluttering its eyelids as one child escapes half naked back downstairs and the other attempts to flush their face flannel down the toilet.

It’s still there, beguiling and flirtatious, as the young one refuses to get undressed and the older one, cackling manically, does a naked swan dive into the laundry basket, sending clothes spilling over the floor.

It’s like herding cats. Crazy, psychotic toddler cats.

But soon we are reading books. Nearly there, last push.

Same rules apply, each child gets to choose one book.

Some nights the book choices are great – short, easy and quick, entertaining even for the adult.

Other nights the choices are long, deadly dull books.

Tonight is one of the latter. I resist the urge to persuade the child to choose another book, and read it for the umpteenth time, almost on auto pilot. I get no enjoyment from it, but the children are spellbound.

Then I tuck the older child up, she goes down easily and snuggles up in her duvet. The younger one is still fighting, refusing to get into his grow bag, starting to meltdown.

I am not in the mood for this, and I can feel a knot of tension rising in my chest. I start to sing and rub his chest and immediately his eyes open and his body relaxes enough for me to get his legs and arms into the grow bag and the zip done up.

I breathe a sigh of relief and pull the side of the cot up, the final signal that it is over, the day is over.

I kiss them both good night and they both make one final complaint, but I am walking out of the door, and it is a half-hearted complaint. The day is over and they know it.

I find something to do in the room next to them for a few minutes and then check back in on them.

Both fast asleep, snoring.

I allow myself a smile. I am standing there, a muddle of warm tingly emotions, fatigue and exhaustion and I watch them sleep and my heart melts.

I count my blessings that I have steered them safely through another day. One of many in what I hope will be a long and happy journey.

I count my blessings that they are safe, that we live in a country of peace, where bombs do not drop, and warmth and shelter and love are a given.

I count my blessings that however exhausted I am come the end of days, the love I feel for my children is a constant presence in my heart.

This is the bed time routine.

I make for the landing and close their bedroom door behind me, the last stage in the process.

I check my watch and make a quick calculation. I can get through the tidy up process and still have an hour or so for myself. My shoulders relax and I breathe out a sigh of relief.

The cork comes easily out of the bottle of wine.

The last push is over. For tonight at least.


I originally wrote this post as part of an anonymous blogger feature on, go check it out, its a great blog. Or follow on Twitter @MyPetitCanard

Breaking Bread

"You know where you can stick your noodles!"

“You know where you can stick your noodles!”

Look out for the cup, if you keep tipping it you are going to spill it! Don’t tip it, it’s going to spill. IT’S SPILT!

Sit down please. Sit down please. SIT. DOWN. PLEASE! No, not on your face, on your bottom….”

Don’t throw the fish finger. DO NOT throw the fish finger. If you throw the fish finger…I TOLD YOU NOT TO THROW THE DAMN FISH FINGER…..”

Ah! Meal times with the family.

The stress.

The tension.

The chaos.


It’s not that I even like Cheerios (which is why it was so hard to explain to my co-worker that time I went into work with a phalanx of them stuck in my beard).

So why do I bother insisting on this anarchic routine twice a day (three times at weekends, goddamit)? Wouldn’t it just be easier to just leave a pile of food on a plate on the floor and let them pick at it like skanky hyenas over the course of the day?

Sure it would.

But there is something in that which goes against every fibre of my being.

And this is probably because both my wife and I come from families where food is a deity, and meal times are the closest to worship we will ever get.

My name is the Secret Father, and I’m a foodie.

There, I said it.

If it is not home grown, organic, fair trade and hand knitted I don’t want to know. And I expect this ethic to extend to my children too.

So you can imagine my chagrin when, having prepared a chickpea (organic), spinach (from the allotment) and garlic (organic, home grown) dhal, I have to sit there and watch as my son picks out all the spinach and all the garlic, and then painstakingly removes each damn chickpea, one by one, until he is left with nothing more than a bowl of dhal stained rice. 

Which of course because it is a starchy carbohydrate, with very little nutritional value, he adores.

And then the whinging starts. “Hungry. Hungry. HUNGRY!”

And this then leads to “The Discussion” between Mrs Secret Father and myself;

Mrs SF: “Well, we can’t let him go to bed hungry”

Me: “Why not? He needs to learn to eat what he is given”

Mrs SF: “But he will wake up in the night hungry!”

Me: “Just leave him. He won’t starve himself”

Mrs SF: “I’m going to get him something else to eat”

Me; (hissing) “Don’t! Don’t do that! Don’t. Do. It”

Mrs SF: *returns with a selection of yoghurts, garlic bread and Cheerios.

Me:*gives wife a Paddington Bear stare.

You get the picture.

Basically my wife comes from a family of feeders. She would be mortified if one of her brood went to bed one calorie short on their daily allowance. Because that would mean she is a BAD MOTHER.

And I come from a family where if I left anything on my plate, my father and brother would swoop like vultures within seconds and pick over the carcass of my leftovers.

And if I left it, I knew there was nothing else.

And I knew that feeling hungry was a rubbish feeling. And I learnt that when I was hungry it was harder to play football, harder to run and jump and harder to cycle so far from home that the Police had to be called.

And as a boy, that just wouldn’t do. So I ate everything I was given.

But now these days, after a long day at work, when everyone is grizzly and just a little bit short with the day, it is tempting some meal times to just give in. Because being out to work full time, there is only so much “quality time” that I can have with my children.

And sometimes, just sometimes, I don’t want to have to spend that “quality time” being strict and grumpy and stern at the dinner table. Meal times should be fun.

So I don’t want to have to spend that time repeatedly insisting, like some demented parrot, that a 2 year old child who is off their head on carbs and yoghurt, should “sit nicely at the table” for a few more minutes.

Because frankly, asking a 2 year old to just sit still is hard enough without complicating things by adding the “nicely” bit.

I don’t want to have to negotiate every damn mouthful of whatever it is that my children are refusing to eat that day. Because let’s face it, my toddlers are the SAS of negotiation and will have me waterboarding a bowl of Calpol in no time.

I don’t want to have to spend 25 minutes on my hands and knees wiping the floor clean, whilst simultaneously having leftovers poured on my head by a cackling child. Because whatever fashion is on trend at the time, squashed knee raisins and rice noodle hair is never going to be a “look”.

And I don’t want to have to keep hounding down an errant toddler who has breached the sacred perimeter of the dining room table for the 50th time in five minutes, just because they can’t possibly eat another mouthful unless Iggle bloody Piggle is sitting with them.

And because yelling “STOP twerking at the table!” is something I should never have to shout in my own home.

And so I frequently ask myself – why do I bother? Why not just feed them pizza, cake and fruit shoots and let them eat it all in front of CBeebies? Why not just let it all drop for an easier life?

Because I can’t.

And the answer is both profound and frivolous.

Frivolous because part of me (the weird-uncle-that-lives-in-the-loft part of me) actually enjoys the noise and vibrancy and chaos of meal times.

That’s not to say I enjoy having sausages squashed in my ears (because sausages are big and my ear holes are small), but there is something rather great about a noisy, colourful table, heaving with food, vitality and conversation.

Even if that conversation is just increasingly shouty, repetitive instructions.

And the answer is also profound because meal times are a celebration. They are a celebration of nurture, life and energy; of the family unit with all of its drama’s, weaknesses and foibles; and of the human condition. We may be weak and fragile and yet we are a social animal that craves company.

And what better company than those sitting around a table devouring a delicious meal together?

Food is what keeps us going, and mealtimes have been uniting people, families, tribes and clans throughout history, providing sustenance, company, rest and a chance to connect over the breaking of the bread.

Despite the tantrums, the persistent nagging and the occasional flare up, I am going to continue to teach my children the importance of eating as a family. However much they play up, my instinct tells me that this connection will be invaluable in years to come.

So that when my tribe eventually breaks up, which it inevitably will do, we will hopefully always have that one thing remaining in common.

The love of a decent family meal together.




To the power of two

The transition from a family of three to a family of four can often be extremely difficult. New bonds need to be formed, new patterns established and a new personality accommodated in the already complex dynamics of a thriving household. It is no wonder that two children can seem exponentially more challenging than one. But eventually there comes a moment when all the stress is forgotten.


Those first few weeks as a family of four were extremely difficult.

My daughter, who by now at 21 months had started to mellow, became very volatile again and her sleep was disturbed.

Regardless of the amount of care we put into carefully introducing my daughter to her new brother, jealousy still reared its very ugly head.

And while my son was a very laid back baby, going back to a few hours sleep a night was very difficult for me to do.

And my son’s crying used to wake my daughter.

And she became tired and cranky

And as a result we all became tired and cranky.

It was intense.


Every day was just a relentless process of giving. Giving every last bit of myself to little sponges of seemingly infinite need.

And the nights were worse.

No escape.

No respite. Night after night of bleary eyed wake ups.

A feed would finish and just as quiet returned to the house, and I began to feel the warm embrace of sleep, a whimper would start up and within seconds crescendo, jolting me into reality.

The days and nights merged into one feverish process of giving.

Giving to my children. Giving to my wife. Giving to my job.

And it was the depths of mid-winter. The joys of autumn and Christmas long gone, the promise of Spring not even signalled by a snow-drop.

The days short, dank and cold. The nights long and claustrophobic.

It was a harsh winter.

Barbaric temperatures and rain and snow kept us all indoors and behind bars.

The screaming and crying began to echo off the walls, a stereophonic reminder of the responsibilities of fatherhood.

And then I became sick. It was inevitable.

It was winter. I wasn’t sleeping. I was stressed

It was probably just a normal virus, the kind of winter sickness as a young single man I would have cast off within days.

But in this new state it lingered. For days. For weeks. For months.

I eventually began to shake the virus off and we moved into Spring, my son getting stronger, the night feeds becoming less, my daughter becoming more accepting.

It was still incredibly difficult, harder than I ever thought it was going to be. But there were signs that things were changing.

I once caught the two of them sitting and giggling at each other. It lasted a full four minutes. Four minutes of beautiful, unreserved joy.

I stood and watched and listened, daring not to move, lest the spell be broken, letting the beautiful and heart breaking sound of their euphoria break over me.

And this summer, a brilliantly tempting vision of a potential future has started to shimmer, mirage-like, on the horizon.

With the weather getting better and the back door frequently open they have both started piling outside together; a little crackling ball of fizzing energy, rampaging around the garden, pulling up flowers, eating worms, falling over, getting up, noses in EVERY corner.

No stone unturned.

Six months ago, they were screaming and crying and hanging off my legs and ankles, demanding attention, demanding time, demanding food, demanding love. Now there is occasionally peace.

They will be reading together

They will be in the sand pit together

They will be hunting for slugs together.

My daughter always initiating, my son the little wobbly accomplice.

And just this week an event happened that inspired this whole post. An event that is still as poignant now as it was all those days ago.

I was upstairs in the bathroom, facilitating the bedtime routine. It is easier these days.

But this night the kids disappeared. I heard joyful giggling. I called out to them to come.

Nothing. Just giggling. Lots of giggling.

I called again.

Nothing. More giggling.

I started to get annoyed. That familiar feeling of bedtime routines coming back, the knot of tension building in my chest. I strode into the bedroom ready to admonish.

I stopped in my tracks. I paused. And then I let out a huge belly laugh.

In front of me were my kids. They were both stood there, cheeky grins on face, staring at me, waiting for my reaction.

Because on her head, my daughter had her clean knickers, her pigtails sticking out of the leg holes. And on his head, my son was wearing his trousers, the legs of which were dangling down like giant dog ears.

There was something about this simple moment that levelled everything.

In my laugh, months of stress and tension had been unleashed.

And when my kids saw that I was laughing they both burst into hysterics. My son laughed so hard he fell over, the trousers falling further over his eyes. More laughter.

They had planned this together. They wanted to entertain.

That moment made me realise that the crying and screaming and jealousy and tantrums that used to echo around the hollow chambers of my mind, are gradually being replaced by giggles, laughter and squeals of delight.

I can see them every day, forming bonds, entertaining and looking out for each other. They are little buddies.


And that is why tonight I am sitting on the decking writing this post.

Both my children are bathed and washed and safely in bed. They sleep through these days.

And I am looking out over my garden. I am remembering the trousers on head incident and I allow myself another chuckle.

It is a warm, comfortable evening. The sun is setting and the smell of summer jasmine and honeysuckle is carried by a gentle breeze. The shrill cry of Swifts echoes overhead. A lawnmower burrs in the distance, providing a gentle backdrop to this perfect scene.

I have a cold beer.

Tonight I am happy.

Tonight I take a drink to the power of two.

This post originally appeared on the Daddy Cool Project website. The Daddy Cool Project (DCP) is a London-based voluntary organisation which aims to help diminish negative stereotype of dads in the UK. It also highlights the importance and positive impact of fathers and male-role models living and working in today’s society. They do some really great work – go check them out at and follow on Twitter @daddycooluk

Childbirth is painful, but have you ever been kicked in the nuts?

This penultimate #fathersdaymonth post comes from Stuart at @mvd_stuart. For those of you who dont know, he is one half of the dynamic duo that make up

With his wife @mvd_sarah they run a brilliant and innovative blog that provides a space for the often contradictory (and sometimes agreeable) mix of opinions between a mother and father which make up the rich tapestry of parenthood. 

If you need any more convincing, they were also BiBs finalists this year. Go check their blog site out and follow them on Twitter.

I particularly like this #fathersdaymonth post because it is utterly tragic and brutally honest. And yet somehow, Stuart manages to work a thread of mischievous humour throughout. For this alone it’s a brilliant post. 


Before meeting my wife Sarah, I had never imagined that some day I would become a father. I was a lazy, childish and slightly mental teenager who at the time found kids nothing more than irritating.

Having children of my own was ‘never’ on my life’s agenda and for me nobody was going to change that. But apparently things do change.

I was 23 years old when I learned that I was to be a Daddy for the first time. Despite my reservations from years gone by, I was ready to step-up for what was to be my little girl – but other plans were made for her.

My first experience of a hospital delivery suite was the 13 hours 50 minutes delivery of my daughter, with my wife and I knowing we would be leaving the hospital empty handed.

On April 24th 2006 my first child Ryleigh Jayne was born sleeping, and to my shame on that day I made the horrendous choice to not look, and to not hold my daughter before she was taken from my life forever.

To this day I consider myself a bad father because of my decision that day. I may try my best for the children I have with me now.

But the fact remains the first thing I ever did as a Father was turn my back on my daughter.

Of course I wanted to see and hold her, but I did not have the courage or strength to do it. I will forever be disgusted with myself.

Ryleigh was delivered at 4 months gestation, after being given just a 5% chance of reaching full-term but then a 0% chance of survival at birth. Before our daughter began suffering we had to do what was right for her, as heart-breaking as it was and will forever be.

Ryleigh had Cystic Hygroma with Fetal Hydrops, and Turners Syndrome.

She will of course always be my first child.

Needless to say the issues we had with Ryleigh made the next pregnancy with our daughter Rhianna all the more stressful. Both me and my wife were always worrying that something may again go wrong. Instead of looking forward to every ultrasound scan, we feared them, as it was an ultrasound which first revealed Ryleigh’s problems.

In the latter stages of the pregnancy with Rhianna she was measuring quite small, which added to our fear that perhaps something wasn’t right – but thankfully our fears were without foundation.

First impressions of the delivery suite this time around were completely different. This time I didn’t arrive knowing I would be leaving again without my child, although at the back of my mind, a little fear of that remained. I was after all yet to be a Dad physically, so this was still all new to me.

I did my best to stay positive as it goes without saying Sarah had so much more to worry about. Yet I proved to be pretty useless to her.

It turns out that my usual cool, calm and collected nature didn’t apply within the walls of a hospital. The experience of child birth took me by surprise to say the least.

I’m not sure what I was expecting. As a man, by far the most common comment I see and hear about child birth is how lucky men are, and that I as a man could never imagine (or stand) the pain of giving birth. Of course the comments always come from women.

To those women my response is have you ever stopped for a second to imagine just how much more painful it would be for a man to give birth? Excuse my phrasing, but our holes are tighter than yours, so of course we consider ourselves lucky that giving birth isn’t our role. But rest assured we appreciate what you go through.

I must admit that I myself have in the past asked women if they know what a proper, full on kick in the nuts feels like and placed it arguably up there alongside child birth on the top shelf of painful experiences.

Although I have always said it in jest, but with a straight, dead-pan face giving the impression that i’m being serious. Just for my own entertainment, it never fails to get a reaction.

In reality the pain women bear during child birth is incredible without a doubt, and as the very proud Father of four (plus my angel Ryleigh) my wife has shown her strength time and time again, not that I have ever doubted her.

For the want of a better description she has seemingly breezed through each delivery and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

As for me though, and my role as her “birthing partner” I have been pretty useless and overwhelmed every single time which surprises me.

I am and have always been a super relaxed man, I take everything in my stride but upon arriving at the delivery suite I fall into a corner and have become almost invisible until it’s time to cut the cord. But I have always been there and at her beckoned call if ever she has needed or wanted me. So I did my bit, albeit a very small bit.

Do I feel I should have done more during the birth of my children? Most definitely.

Do I feel like my wife needed me? Honestly, no.

Because when she needed to be the one to take things in her stride she went head to head with that pain threshold and won comfortably

Although perhaps comfortably is the wrong word!

The whole experience of child birth from a Dad’s perspective was for me far less traumatising than I expected, but far more overwhelming if that makes any sense at all.

Before you become a Dad for the first time all you know is what you hear, or what you have been told by friends or family members who have children. And if the people you know are anything like my lot they will say just about anything to try to put you on edge.

If you are an expectant Dad I would advise against you reading any baby books or asking people what it’s like because there is no routine for child birth.

Your experience of it will be unique to you, so do whatever you can to enjoy and make the most of it because once that baby comes squeezing out (or sliding, depending on the size and shape of your partner) that’s it.

But you can forget about silence, and forget about doing things your way ever again!

Inside the delivery suite you will see your partner in a whole new way, however long you’ve known her. She will not only abuse you physically, but verbally too.

She will at times give the impression that you’re needed, but as soon as you step within reach she will be clawing at your arm like a f****d off raccoon. You will also hear all kinds of new sounds. Just pretend it’s aliens, it’s less scary that way.

And as for the smells… sorry ladies, there are new smells in there too – ask your partner and the look on his face will tell you that he wants to say yes, but is terrified of doing so.

Finally, I want to remind the dads out there that the delivery suite represents your last chance to prepare your partner for Motherhood. She may find these following things irritating at the time – but it’s for the best.

Firstly, do not be afraid to poop yourself and scream for some clean pants.

Secondly, if you feel a bit sick be sure to get some in her hair – she needs to learn to cope with this.

Lastly but not least, if you fancy a cuppa, and the midwife is refusing to make it because she’s delivering your baby, you are well within your rights to throw a tantrum.

One born every minute

It is actual Fathers Day! And this is the fourth in the series of #fathersdaymonth guest posts. This one is a second post from @dadvsthekids. You can read more from him on his new blog

It’s a post about childbirth. And I particularly like this post because it is funny. Really funny. But also that there is a great central message here. Kids dont play by the rules. Neither should you. Stick your hands out and get them dirty.


Hi. I’d like my coat dry-cleaned please. That stain? Yeah, it’s just my wife’s blood. Do you reckon you can you get that all out?”

Okay. Let me back up a bit.


Okay. Maybe I need to go back a little bit more. Because if you’re bringing a child into this world, you need to be prepared. But not prepared in the way you think you know right now.

This is the birth of our second child. I got this. I read all the magazines. I diligently attended all the birthing classes. I even managed to get in good with one of the staff on the maternity ward (ok, it was my mother-in-law) and secured a serene, private hospital room to welcome our latest ‘miracle of life’ into the world with the aid of the finest drugs the NHS has to offer. NAILED IT.

From the Dad’s point of view, as long as you’ve picked up the TENS machine, remembered the overnight bag, your ONLY job in the delivery room is to hold your wife’s hand, offering appropriate, positive commendation whilst resisting the temptation to take a hit of the gas and air whilst the midwife’s back is turned.

We’d been through this already with child no.1 – I knew the drill. I knew my place. So when the contractions started that summer afternoon in 2006, it was like the Rocky theme tune was playing in my head all over again. All those months of training has led to this.

 Mrs DvK calls her parents and we arrange to drop off our firstborn. Because who wants to traumatise a 2yr old child with shrieking contractions and profanities, right?

“Yep,” she breathes into her phone through the mild contractions. “We’ll drop him off to you Mum, and then we’ll go home and collect my stuff before meeting you at the hospital. The contractions aren’t too bad, so we should have plenty of time.” I make a mental note to pack myself extra magazines and maybe a Mars Bar.

An hour later, we’re back at home. Mrs DvK is on the sofa, wrapped up in the TENS machine, timing the contractions whilst I make the last few phone calls to friends and family.

Informing the maternity ward of our imminent arrival, I try my best to sound confident and jovial. Don’t be fooled – judging the window between “should we go in now” and “I can’t believe that moody cow sent us back home” is another rite of passage for all paranoid new parents. If you don’t sound convinced, then they won’t be.

“Did you call the midwife?”

“Yes hun”

“Did you put my slippers in the bag?”


“Have you put the car seat in?”

“It’s done.”

“Did you pack the baby vests?”


“The green ones and the white ones?”


Apparently no one cares if I packed my Mars Bars, but whatever. I take charge of the conversation. “Right, I’ll get everything in the car.” I slip my hands into my coat, help Mrs DvK up from the sofa and march ahead for the front door. “Let’s go!”

The first scream of pain hits me with brute force. I’m not supposed to hear that until we’re in the delivery room am I?

I turn around and for the first time, I see paralysing fear in my wife’s eyes. By the Power of Greyskull: THE LITTLE GIT IS COMING NOW.


“I can’t move! I can’t move! I have to push!” she screams. The sheer ferocity of the contraction is too much and Mrs DvK, in a hysterical panic starts to remove her clothes.

“NOOO! Not in the living room on the carpet!” My cry falls on deaf ears. But Mother Nature has taken over and gravity is the first to say hello. With one push, her waters break, spilling out onto the floor.

Imagine what you’ve seen in light-hearted romantic comedies and hilarious TV sit-coms.  But without the canned laughter. Nobody is laughing now. It’s EVERYWHERE.

“WIFE IN LABOUR! BABY COMING! SEND AMBULANCE!” My adrenalin fuelled stuttering to the 999 operator reveals I am way in over my head. This is uncharted territory.

My wife and I are alone, with no medical professional, no drugs, and no way out. There isn’t an app for this. Mrs DvK is about to endure childbirth cave-man style, and I didn’t even get to start thumbing through my fresh copy of GQ. Typical.

Despite all the odds, she’s still on her feet. Everything is a blur. The second push is more dramatic than the first.

And then it happens.

I can see my son’s head.

My stupid brain frantically tries to recall anything from the birthing lessons that can help in this situation. Nope.

One thing I can guarantee, new Dads: Time will slow down when you see your child for the first time. I don’t remember the exact moment I dropped the phone and extended my hands to catch my son. That primal need to protect him at all costs is something that you can never fully put into words. This tiny child is fighting for survival from his first breath and he’s relying on you to step up.

The umbilical cord is still wrapped around his neck. But he’s crying. That’s a good thing right? “Yes, yes that’s a good thing you idiot”, I think to myself, “that means he’s breathing.” Unwrap the cord dammit, unwrap the cord.

Mrs DvK finally crumples to the floor in a shock, tired heap. I remember I’m still on the phone to the 999 operator. “THE KID IS IN MY HANDS WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?!?!?”

“Get blankets. Keep them comfortable. Another midwife and an ambulance are on their way sir.” The reassuring tone of the disembodied voice make me think this is definitely a more regular occurrence than I’ve been led to believe. Did she just call me Sir?

Your child will shock and surprise you from the second they are born. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they’ll blindside you with an emotional uppercut and you’ll be left wondering why you weren’t prepared and begin to doubt your ability to keep another human being alive.

To those who have such trepidation, I say USE that. Use that fear to fuel that primal maternal/paternal bond, not shy away from it.

The books and the classes and the well-meaning (but sometimes conflicting) advice from family and friends have their place.

But you’ll be surprised what you’re prepared to do for your child when you use them as the measuring rod of your success as a parent, not the photo-shopped magazine version we all find ourselves aspiring to.

If catching my son mid-delivery taught me anything, it’s that kids don’t play by the rules. And neither should you. Stick your hands out and get them dirty.

The real professionals arrive less than 10 minutes after the delivery and do their thing.

Actually, one of the ambulance paramedics, built like brick house, and who’s probably seen more than his fair share of multiple car pile-ups, confesses he is squeamish at the sight of women giving birth. Outstanding.

He offers to make himself useful by putting the kettle on and making the bed. 

Mother and baby are eventually given the all clear by the midwife and within an hour they’ve gone, and our new son is already asleep.

Aside from the stream of text messaging well-wishers, the eerie quiet is a stark and bemusing contrast to the heart-stopping moments that preceded it.

I look at my blood-covered watch. It’s nearly 8:30pm.

“Fancy catching the last few minutes of Eastenders?”


This was originally a guest post for @ministryofmum. Go check out her superb blog at