Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Parent of the Week: Leo

Last week we had our first Dad Parent of the Week and this week we have our very first international Parent of the Week! I'm so proud to introduce Leo from the United Kingdom! Read on as he tells you about his life as a stay at home dad to two precious kiddos. Then go visit him at Dad's Nursery.

As always, if you'd like to be a Parent of the Week or would like to nominate someone, email me at deluna.jamie@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tell me a little about you
My name’s Leo and I left my job in June 2008 to be a full time stay at home dad. Up until that point I’d spent 15 years in the transport & logistics industry which involved a lot of long hours and time away from home so it was quite a shock to the system at first! I quickly realised that my new job involved considerably longer working hours and my new boss was even more demanding. It was also evident that all those jobs around the house I thought I’d get done would have to make way for more fundamental tasks like washing the dishes and doing the laundry. For the first 15 months our daughter wore reusable nappies and so there was a lot of laundry…

With the arrival of our son 9 months ago, any spare time I have has pretty much evaporated, I’m a musician and still rehearse with my band but our basement is still full of things I intended to sell on Ebay, I haven’t updated my blog since April this year, and my ‘DadsNursery’ website is still very much ‘work in progress’. One of my New Year’s resolutions will be to find more time to do these things, although I’m not quite sure where I’m going to find the time from.

I don’t dance in the car but I do sing which annoys my daughter immensely and she’s often heard to shout “Daddy, please stop singing!” from the back seat. I can’t help it, having watched The Little Mermaid for what seems like 300 times I can’t help it if I know all the words to all the songs!

Tell me about your children
Lily will be 3 years old in February. Our little ‘Blondie’ is a constant ray of sunshine. She’s outgoing, sociable and ever since she could mumble a few sounds she hasn’t stopped talking. She shares my silly sense of humour, I guess that’s what you get for being stuck at home with dad all the time, although this makes it difficult to tell her off sometimes, we just end up laughing at each other! She recently started Pre-School and we’re almost home and dry (excuse the pun) when it comes to potty-training. The ‘Elmo’s Potty Time’ DVD was an excellent purchase, helping her to understand the situation and building her confidence, I’d definitely recommend it to others. Lily has quite an artistic streak and loves drawing, dancing and singing. My wife is a very good singer and belongs to our local amateur theatre group, I think Lily’s inherited some of her mum’s talents. Time will tell though, we’re certainly not going to do the ‘pushy parent’ thing, I hate that. Whatever makes her happy is just fine. She loves reading too, Dr Seuss, the Mr Men and anything Disney related is always well received.

Michael is 9 months old and was a bit of a surprise, albeit a very happy one. My wife had been diagnosed with PCOS and, as with Lily, we naturally assumed that it would take a long time to conceive our next baby, we were wrong! Not only that but our little dude could not wait to put in an appearance, arriving 7 weeks early and weighing just over 5lbs. He spent a week in the special care unit but made great progress and was allowed home soon after. Michael’s now caught up in every sense and it’s hard to believe that the chunky chap crawling around the floor is the same person as the little bag of bones in the special care unit. I remember the first time I changed his nappy when he was in the incubator, I was so scared I was going to break him, he seemed so fragile.  Personality wise he’s very different to Lily, maybe it’s down to the difficult start he endured but he’s certainly more ‘needy’, although now he can crawl he’s finding his own little bit of independence and enjoying it a lot. He gets on very well with Lily, we’re very lucky that (so far at least) there have never been any jealousy issues and they play nicely together. Lily has to be reminded to share her old toys every once in a while but I guess it’s a learning curve for both of them.

What surprised you most about parenting?
On a personal level, it’s enabled me discover a patient and tolerant side of me that I didn’t know existed, and probably a person that a lot of my old work colleagues wouldn’t recognise. I’m going to sound like one of those sad celebrities on a reality TV show but it really has been ‘an amazing journey’. I’ve learnt that no matter how much you read beforehand (and on reflection, I think I read too much beforehand), nothing can prepare you for the reality of it. I can draw a comparison with playing in a band, you can rehearse as many times as you like but it all comes down to what happens on the night. My wife and I read the books, did a birth plan, prepared ourselves for the non-interventional ‘natural delivery’ that we wanted and after all that, Lily was born a week late by emergency caesarean after 44 hours labour and an epidural. Similarly, Michael was born 7 weeks early by emergency caesarean after many complications. But I think the main surprise, and the most pleasant one is that no matter what kind of bad mood I’m in, however sleep deprived or grumpy, one little smile from either of my kids snaps me out of it straight away!

How have you had to be Avant Garde as a parent?
I’ve never considered the ‘stay at home dad’ role as particularly unconventional, although others might see it that way. I’ve dealt with being the only dad at playgroup, our doctor’s badly stifled surprise on finding out that I’m the stay at home parent, and the large number of establishments that only have baby change facilities in the ladies toilets, etc… All those obstacles and minor irritations don’t really matter to me, the ‘mission statement’ is to raise a couple of happy, confident, well adjusted kids and that’s what I’m aiming for, and I’m having a lot of fun in the process.

Leo and Past Parents of the Week: Feel free to grab the Parent of the Week Badge:


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