Parenting

There’s an unnerving moment when, as new parents, you leave the hospital to take your baby home for the very first time. You went there as a couple - you leave as a family.
 
Surviving the first few days with your newborn baby

Surviving the first few days with your newborn baby

Home Time

Everything about this time seems new. For 1 in 5 new dads it’ll be the first time they’ve ever held a baby. If you’re going to be driving new mum and new baby home then you’ll need to have a car seat for an age 0 child fitted.

Those first few days can be daunting, exciting, surreal and filled with anxiety. Some parents find the first night especially tough. They’re exhausted, but they struggle to sleep, instead spending the night constantly wondering if their baby is ok. He or she is almost definitely fine - it’s their parents that need to relax! New dads should take advantage of parental leave options – it really helps your partner, you and your baby if you can be there as much as possible in those first few days.

Live Feeds

For new mums, breastfeeding can be especially challenging. Despite being the most natural method of giving your baby a decent dose of milk - along with immunity boosting antibodies and essential growth nutrients - it’s really not as easy as it looks.

There’s good research to show that a supportive partner (that’s you, dad) who adopts a positive, encouraging approach can make a tough task a lot easier. Basically, don’t see it as an opportunity to head out of the door because:

•          Feeding sessions can last an hour or more – it can be boring for her so your company will be welcome.
•          You may be needed to change the nappy before your partner starts feeding, or to fetch a pillow, drinks or snacks during it.
•          You can literally lend a hand to help your wife get your baby to latch on to her breast - especially useful if your wife has had twins.

Your role at this time isn’t simply one of a supporting cast member though. Thanks to a variety of methods – including your partner expressing her breast milk into bottles via a pump – you can do the feeding too.

Babies feed pretty frequently - every 2 to 3 hours – so get into the knack of preparing the bottle, finding a comfy position that you can hold for at least the next 30 minutes (TV remote nearby?) and taking your turn.

All Change

Another rude awakening during those first few days at home with your baby is the nappies. We’ve covered the technique for this topic elsewhere (https://www.thedadclub.co.uk/dad-tips/post/the-dads-guide-to-nappies/ ) needless to say it pays for new dads to get hands-on from the start and share the burden as much as you can.

Another vital role a new dad plays at this time is that of gatekeeper - controlling the crowds of well-wishers who want to come and see the new baby. Well-intentioned friends and relatives – often bearing gifts – should be welcomed with open arms. But be sure to:

Talk to your partner about who can come and see the baby, when and how long for.
Create a secret ‘exit code word’ that your partner can use to initiate an evacuation of any overstaying guests.

Remember the priorities are your partner and your baby right now - no-one will really be offended if you herd them out of the door when the time is up.

And The Rest

4 hours and 20 minutes - according to one survey of 3000 new parents - that’s how much sleep you average a night during the baby’s first few weeks at home. Many new mums and dads will tell you sleep deprivation is the toughest part of new parenthood. As your baby develops its own feeding and resting routine – and you build one around it – getting a decent night’s kip can be a rarity. Some couples take turns to cover feeding and changing through the night – depending on the other’s needs. Grabbing naps through the day – whilst the other is holding the baby – becomes an art that new parents master too.

As tough as it all sounds, those first few days can be truly magical too as the past nine month’s dreams and aspirations become a reality. You’ll start bonding with your baby and begin introducing him or her to your world. It’s an exciting time – and one not to miss.
 
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Have you ever considered home schooling your children?

Have you ever considered home schooling your children?

Making the choice to educate your children 'otherwise' than in school is called elective home education. I'm a full time working dad in London and our family have been home educating for many years. We made a positive choice to make the most of London. We felt we could offer our children an exciting and alternative education making the most of the opportunities here.

In term times, if you dodge the school trips, the museums and playgrounds are pleasantly calm. While most children are in the classroom, we have the choice of interesting places to go to. Home educators rarely spend a day at home. If we want to study an area of science, history or art, we can get firsthand experience in front of the actual artefact of interest. Stephenson's Rocket here we come!

Of course as I am working, the bulk of the educating is taken on by my wife. She happens to be a teacher who taught full time for around ten years. However, she is adamant that anyone can do it. School teaching is about managing large groups of children and ensuring that each child has suitably targeted work. With your own children, you know them so well, you can be sensitive to their needs and interests and tailor the education to each individual child.

It is great as a working dad to come home and find my children engaged in activities they enjoy. There is no real start and end to a 'school' day. If they want to draw, paint, code, play board games or write stories, no bell stops them. My weekends and holidays are built around adding something extra and being part of lively family life. My dad things include swimming and explaining historical and environmental concepts around the built environment.

Socialising and exams are the two things people suggest may be problems. That's not our experience. We have several families within walking distance who also home educate, as well as more groups than there are days in the week. Groups include meet ups at parks, sports centres, community halls for art, drama, project work and socialising. We even have our own sports days. People connect through Facebook or yahoo groups.

Many private exam centres accept candidates. Using the site, www.home-education-exams.org.uk you can find out how to organise this. However, the cost is completely the responsibility of the family. There is no help from government. Generally you need to find exams with no coursework component.

Exams can be expensive but the actual education and quality of family life is beyond value. It is not for everyone. It is a full time commitment and one parent needs to be at home unless you find a way of sharing, or buying in help. 
For further information look at edyourself.org This website has lots of information, facts and figures. There are many blogs. One of the most informative is rossmountney.wordpress.com From these you could find links to national and local groups.
Colin
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Are your Kids Obsessed with Fortnite?

Are your Kids Obsessed with Fortnite?

From Fortnite fears to Fathering Fun

Even for dads who grew up playing video games, the latest Fortnite craze of their sons and daughters can be a bit of a head scratch. Games have moved on since the original PlayStation and Nintendo 64, and with the WHO adding Gaming Disorder to its list of health issues and the NSPCC warning of Fortnite child predators, it’s easy to think we should ban them altogether.
 
However, if parented properly, video games offer children all sorts of benefits.  Whether that’s extending friendships and conversations from school, learning empathy about other cultures or just enjoying the wonder of exploring a new world, video games can be amazing for children. The key is understanding the appeal for your children and being in a position to offer guidance and a watchful eye. 
 
To enjoy your child’s Fortnite sessions with them, you first need to know what makes the game so popular. Like many playground crazes, there isn’t really anything hugely new in Fortnite. However, it brings together a number of existing game play mechanics with some attractive cartoon visuals, quirky outfits and dances (yes we did say dances).
 
The popular mode in the game, Battle Royale, is played with 100 people in an online island. You parachute down at the beginning and must shoot it out to be the last person standing. All the time a damaging storm is encroaching and making the playable area ever smaller.
 
While you play you need to harvest materials for building, as well as collect the best guns to gain the advantage. When players encounter each other they use a variety of techniques to win. It’s not always the fastest draw, but the quickest builder, who wins an encounter.
 
The game is free to play on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC and smartphones. However, to access the outfits that signify how well you are doing in the game you must purchase Battle Passes. These don’t improve your player’s performance or stats, but do grant access to hard-to-earn clothing. Not having these can be seen as the modern equivalent to turning up to school in a pair of Dunlops rather than Nike Air Jordans.
 
Although there are countless headlines about the addictive nature of Fortnite, or how children have spent hundreds of pounds on it, the majority of families find it a positive experience, with the main challenge of getting kids to stop when it’s tea time.
 
It’s rated as PEGI 12+ for cartoon violence. However online interactions with other players are not covered by this.  Its online nature could expose younger players to offensive language from random strangers via the voice or on-screen text chat.  A good way to enable children to talk to just their friends in the game is to set up a lobby of friends before they play. This enables them to mute other players.
 
Other games more suitable for younger players include Minecraft (PEGI 7+), Roblox (PEGI 7+), Stardew Valley (PEGI 7+), Splatoon (PEGI 7+), Lovers In a Dangerous Spacetime (PEGI 7+), Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 (PEGI 12+).

Andy Robertson - Editor of Geek Dad
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