Junk Mail Please

From being a rejecter of junk mail to a desperado for its delivery, I have made it a fundamental part of my role as stay at home dad to save the family money.

I don’t claim to be an expert. But I am. I have some rules for shopping that are not negotiable for the successful family shopper.

Rule 1: Tame the toddler in you

Toddlers have zero patience. When they want something, they need it now. Waiting, patience, and time itself: these concepts have no meaning. So don’t be a toddler when you shop: you’ll pay whatever they’re asking. Shop before the tank is empty. Be able to wait for a better price. Your patience will reward you.

Rule 2: Don’t be a brand snob

Is the bread Helgas? Does it really matter? Buy the special, not the name. If you need to be a brand snob, or if you buy a more expensive product for other reasons (no cage eggs in our house), refer to Rules 1 and 3.

Rule 3: Buy in bulk

If you have the storage space*, you have no choice but to take full advantage of a crackerjack special. Breakfast cereal 30% off? Buy four cartons. Half price toilet paper? Buy 40 rolls. With a kid toilet training and a wife that uses a roll a day, we’ll get through it. Note: toilet paper is the exception to Rule 2. Avoid the really cheap stuff. Rectal scratching is unsightly and uncomfortable.

Rule 4: Play dirty pool

If you use the self-checkout, only scan every second item** and save a fortune. If you get caught, just blame the kid.***

Rule 5: Don’t fear the use by date

If you are after steak to eat that night and it is marked to clear but looks fine, buy it! You can save a fortune. The occasional bout of gastro is a small price to pay.

Rule 6: Safety in numbers

If you can shop somewhere that has more than one supermarket or fresh food outlet in close proximity you will be saving money immediately. Competition brings savings. And variety. And more chance of available trolleys to put the kids in so you don’t need to use the pram. It’s the small things that get you through the day…

Rule 7: Embrace junk mail

Even if you object to the paper stuff, catalogues are all online now – there is no excuse. Don’t pretend you don’t have time: you’ll get more rewards from price comparison websites than you ever will from Facebook. Maybe with the exception of that video of the dog being attacked by its own leg.

Rule 8: Don’t pretend your rewards points are valuable

Your points are worth a fraction of what you think they are so don’t be sucked into the bonus points offers. In other words, don’t buy twelve packets of puff pastry unless you need to make a shitload of pies.

Notes:

*Use your head. Lack of storage space means the response you really deserve (“Well done on a great shop, sweetheart, what can I cook you for dinner?”) is replaced with a very disrespectful “Where the f&#@ are we going to put all that, tightarse?”.

 **I don’t ever do this and don’t actually recommend it. Just testing to see you are paying attention.  

 ***Good Parenting 101

 Happy scanning.

SAHDscrimination: Discrimination against stay at home dads (SAHD)

Please join me in welcoming to society the newest type of discrimination (drum roll): it’s SAHDscrimination! (round of applause).

Nine out of Ten mums who use Nurofen for Children would recommend it to a friend”. So says the ad. But what do dads say? Can’t dads use the tricky orange syringe? Don’t they have friends?

Mum-targeted advertising reflects a similar view on the street. As a SAHD I have been made to feel temporary, as if I am just holding the fort until my wife is back from lunch. I have come to accept that most people are not yet accustomed to dads as the primary parent nor can some accept that dads can perform routine tasks associated with caring for children.

On a recent family trip, I was handling the check in with the attendant and she then turned to my wife (some metres away) for the Medicare card to ID our youngest. A little offensive to presume that I couldn’t be carrying this…well I have the chemist, supermarket and Baby Bunting discount cards, and the beeper for the childcare boom gate too… How do you like them apples? In all fairness, women have been copping it for years when men are approached to pay the bill in a restaurant or tradespeople always address the male. We are probably just getting a little of our own medicine.

Another example came when I was chatting to a mum about my son’s insect bites. She suggested my wife put some cream on them. Yep, because dabbing cream on the kid’s face is something only a mum can do. Especially when she’s at work and I’m at home with the kid and the cream.

It’s also the small talk. “RDO today?” and “Playing Mr. Mum?” are typical queries that irk. First world problem, I know, but SAHDs are proud and sensitive and we don’t really want to be grouped with the traditional beer and thongs view of dads.

Others have been victims of SAHDscrimination too. At a kid’s birthday party I got chatting with a guy who was a SAHD. His baby was a bad sleeper, but this guy wasn’t allowed to participate in the local sleep school. They told him the presence of a male might be intimidating for the mums. This meant the mum, who had just returned to work, had to take leave to attend sleep school, while dad stayed at home.

There’s recognition of changing times. My wife has participated in two “new parent” groups, re-named from the old “mother’s groups”. But all the parents attending both groups have been mums, so it’s still a difficult environment for a new dad to break into. There are (rightly) several points at which people formally check on the mental health of new mothers. None of them checked in with me. Granted, women need a forum to openly discuss cracked nipples and shoe-sized haemmorhoids. Believe me, I don’t need to participate in that. But there needs to be more support for dads to establish their own parenting networks – it’s a new, life-changing and difficult time for fathers too…and who knows, we may want to talk about our nipples as well!

I am not really offended by all of this but I need a new cause so I am taking a stand against SAHDscrimination. I am capable of putting ointment on my child. I have the family Medicare card. And it’s not my day off – this is what I do. So the next time you see a Dad in the supermarket on a Tuesday morning, be gentle. Show some respect: he may even know which children’s medication to use or the lowest allergenic brand of nipple pads.

Thanks for reading

daddylonglegs

*Have you any friends that may like to follow this blog, please let them know. I am very lonely

**Below is an opportunity to make comments on the blog or constructively abuse me

The Recliner

It’s time for our annual visit to the in-laws.  Flying with two little kids is not for the faint-hearted. We’ve done it before but still plan carefully for the turbulence ahead.

We were up late packing so we’re exhausted and we haven’t even left home. Off to the airport. True to form, 1yo passes out after three minutes on the freeway. A 15 minute drive becomes a sleep cycle of cow spotting around Tullamarine. (It’s quite pretty if you ignore the heavy industry and cult-like legion of plane spotters getting their fix).

As usual, we’re last to board. We lumber in with two kids, three bags and purpose. As my wife looks for our seats, I enjoy forcing eye contact with other passengers desperately hoping our laboured walk doesn’t stop at them.

After an incident free take-off (bottle for the youngest, crackers for the oldest) the thoughtful guy in front fully reclines his seat. I’m 6’4” (okay, 6’3½”) with baby on lap, and my “ample” legroom has become considerably unample. I put one knee in the aisle and wedge the other as far into his coccyx as I can. The 1yo starts whining. He gets louder and I lean him forward… two can play this game.

Up in the air and routine descends: it’s dinnertime. I dig out purees, spoons, pre-prepared sandwiches and bibs and for the next half hour we are lost deep in the “feeding zone”. We’re also hungry, but all we can handle from under the debris are Pringles and a Jim Beam & Coke. “The Recliner” orders a meat pie but they are out and have nothing else he wants. Karma at 30,000 feet.

A phantom poo by 1yo (just a fart in the end) means I have to squash us both into the toilet but we survive. The remainder of the flight goes smoothly.

I’m still exhausted but my sanity is intact when we arrive in Townsville.  The 3yo launches an over-excited shrieking run along the exit ramp to catapult himself into his Nonnie and Opa. The trip is already worthwhile but the journey isn’t over. Six of us and our bags in the one car for 90 minutes. I thought I was tired before…

We finally arrive at 9pm, empty but alive; crumpled but whole; messy but sane. We’ve made it. Now we can start planning the trip home again: an 8pm departure with a post 11pm arrival. It’s going to be epic.

My top five tips for flying with young ones:

  1. Bring something for the babies to suck during take-off and landing. This is for the babies’ ears.
  2. Bring a cheap portable DVD player. And a kids’ DVD. This is for everyone else’s ears.
  3. Don’t rely on the in-flight menu – unless you’re happy with Pringles and Jim Beam for dinner.
  4. Preparation and routine are key – unless you’re happy to feed your babies Pringles and Jim Beam for dinner.
  5. Encourage your children to actively “socialise” with people who recline their seats.

Happy travels.

Just Hangin Out

“Because the mail never stops! It just keeps coming, and coming, and coming, there’s never a let-up, it’s relentless. Everyday it piles up more and more and more, and you gotta get it out, but the more you get it out, the more it keeps coming in! AND THEN THE BAR-CODE READER BREAKS, AND THEN IT’S PUBLISHER’S CLEARING HOUSE DAY!”* 

This is classic Seinfeld. Newman (US Postal Worker) explains why his colleagues have a reputation for losing it.

I’m not ‘going postal’. Well, not yet. But I am alerting you to one of the hidden but serious side effects of becoming a stay at home Dad.

It’s the washing. It never ends. I didn’t sign up for this.

What do you call ‘going postal’ when it’s the laundry making you crazy? ‘Washing out’? ‘Getting rinsed’? ‘Unspinning’?

It’s the constant stream of bibs and singlets and undies and socks and trackie pants and bibs and towels and flannels and sheets and bibs and smocks and jeans and t-shirts and bibs and breathe and breathe. Then there’s separating the delicates and ensuring the Velcro is together so it doesn’t de-thread the other stuff. Meanwhile the socks need to be de-sanded, the pockets de-tissued, and the bibs de-fooded. Must not forget the soaking onesy with poostain… (yes, it’s a word). Whatever you do, don’t use normal washing powder: the eldest will get a rash and the wife will know. Almost there. Choose cycle (short), choose temperature (40°), close door (check youngest is on the outside) and press start. PHEW!

Washing and its associates (hanging out, folding and putting away) are made even more complex during winter because I’m too tight to use the dryer. The bad part is clothes dominating every surface. The good part is proving that this Dad can multi-task: hanging washing and watching TV. Sounds excellent in theory but being a stay at home Dad means the TV is under the kids’ control. Gordon is not getting along with the steam engines and Thomas has been diverted onto the wrong track…Jemima is having a big adventure in the fairy garden. I have never felt so desperate to hear the words “Judge Judy is ready to rule”.

Or maybe I’ve just gone completely laundro.

daddylonglegs

*Season 4, Episode 18

 

End of Probation

Dear Son,

Congratulations! It’s your first birthday. We have now reached the end of your probationary period in the position of “youngest child”. We trust you have enjoyed the position to date and believe you have shown some terrific strengths, including:

  • your single dimple and that gap between your teeth;
  • your contribution to family sanity by (mostly) sleeping when you are supposed to;
  • your willingness to accept unnecessary trips to Bunnings as “family time”; and
  • your handy habit of falling asleep in the car.*

We have also noted areas for improvement, including:

  • your annoying habit of falling asleep in the car;*
  • your failure to understand that fruit puree is not a meal;
  • undermining my reputation by falling off the bed onto your head on my shift; and
  • your continued failure to follow directions (specifically, “no”).

We are willing to offer you a permanent position within the family** on the following conditions:

  • you take on the role of littlest brother (aka punching bag) to your older brother;
  • you acknowledge that as second child, your achievement of milestones like walking and talking are impressive but a little bit “yesterday’s news”; and
  • you take full responsibility for:
    • injuries sustained through my lack of attention;
    • systemic use of iPhone apps when Mum’s not home; and
    • the fact that you choose to remain in the car when I pay for petrol.

We reserve the right to create a further position within the family, relegating you to ‘middle child’.

The position comes with tools of trade including second-hand toys, pram and parents. You will continue to wear a uniform of clothes too small for your brother.

Finally, you are now entitled to enter into our bonus scheme, which provides regular gingerbread-man-shaped rewards for satisfactory performance, or as a bribe.

We have loved having you as a part of our team. I hope you will be very happy here.

Yours sincerely,
Dad

*Car time is not always sleep time.

**Technically you were always going to stay here but the letter works better this way.

Hi, I’m Russell and I’m a SAHD

One legged unicycle riders, drinkers of Sunkist and Stay At Home Dads. We all belong to minorities of some description and mine just happens to be the latter.

Traditionally, the woman has been the stay at home parent and – at least in my networks – this is still very much the case.  Women have learnt far better ways of socialising and organising activities around their parenting, which has resulted in a range of support mechanisms for them in their ‘at home parent’ role.

This blog, as well as informing and hopefully entertaining you, aims to provide a forum for any dads (not just the stay at home variety) to share ideas, challenges, failures (particularly the ones involving poo) and successes.  I also hope it will provide the opportunity for local dads to meet and form groups in your areas to assist and support each other as you go through one of life’s great challenges.

Men, in general, are incredibly bad at sharing emotions, opening up and admitting they need help.  Even if there were an instruction manual for babies, I can guarantee blokes wouldn’t read it.  Women have it all over us in this regard and mainly because they had to as the job of bringing up the rugrats was largely left to them… but not anymore.

Men are now expected to take on a more active parenting role and we need as much support as our female counterparts.  But we need it delivered in different ways.

Why do I give a shit?  Because I am living it and feel we are still largely in a world set up for mothers and not fathers (especially stay at home ones).

It is a tough gig and so far it has challenged me in so many different ways.  It has been the greatest thing I have done in my life and in many ways what I feel I was born to do.  But it’s also the most frustrating and exhausting thing I have ever done.   How do I get both kids, plus all the shit they come with, from the house to the car without losing anything or anyone? How can I check the footy scores without the 2 year old wanting to play the Baby Karaoke app? How do I answer the girl behind the counter that this isn’t my day off…..buying nappies and squeezy fruit is my day job?

Believe me, these are big questions when you are a Stay at Home Dad.

This is not a ‘show you how to be a good father’ blog. Even if I knew, I wouldn’t patronise you. In fact I am hoping that comments from readers will provide far more intuitive ideas than I can. That is my evil plan, I pose the hard questions and you guys answer them for me.

I aim to post once per week, assuming the poo and snot disasters are kept to a minimum.

I hope you enjoy.

Word.

Russell