Your Health is important too, so we will ensure that we bring you the latest guidance and support for mental and phyical wellbeing. 
The Change Curve

The Change Curve

You might have been planning to have children for ages or maybe it was a surprise.  Either way it’s likely you experienced a range of emotions on discovering you were about to become a Dad.  Maybe joy, possibly excitement or apprehension, or even downright terror! Or most likely, a combination of all of those over the course of the pregnancy.  

Then comes the day and the baby is born.  Nothing quite prepares you for the transition to becoming a Dad.  You might have thought that nothing will change and life would carry on as before or maybe you had an inkling things would be different with an extra person to think about.

Perhaps you were in denial about what having a child would mean to your life, the impact of sleepless nights and having to pack for an army in order to have a simple walk to the park.
Maybe you experienced fear – how do you look after a tiny baby?  I remember thinking surely I couldn’t just walk out of the hospital with this tiny bundle tucked into his car seat, surely there must be more checks that I had some clue what I was doing before he was allowed to come home with us?

During those early days when everyone is adapting, you may have noticed that things which normally took no time, now take AGES – for instance, leaving the house - it becomes a mission to ensure you have everything packed and ready to go to fit around the continuous cycle of feeds, sleeps and nappy changes.

Eventually, though things settle down.  We get quicker and more adept at packing for outings and may even develop a love of soft play to keep our small folk amused and active so we can enjoy a drink whilst it’s still hot and wear them out so they sleep for a good part of the afternoon!

Having a child and becoming a Dad is a massive change and the stages we go through and the associated emotions we experience, as well as being completely normal, tie in with the Change Curve.  This is a model of change where in every change, good and exciting or not, planned or not, we go through five stages to transition from our old norm to our new one.

The model, which is actually based on Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s 5 Stages of Grief, allows us to grieve for our former lives and transition to our new one.  It’s not just applicable to having children though, but to all aspects of our lives. It can be helpful to know, in any change, that the stages we go through and the emotions we feel are perfectly normal.  Knowing this can help us work out what we need to progress as quickly as possible through the stages to get to the Moving On phase.
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Hello Chaos

How do you cope with the influx of baby gear and then all the plastic items which infiltrate your house as soon as you so much as announce there’s a baby in the offing?   Goodbye neat, minimal, grown up living space, hello chaos!

Nothing really prepares you for all the changes children bring to the home, and at Happy Mandays Simon and Tom, who both work away, were discussing the challenges they’ve faced when returning home, and are greeted by a scene resembling the aftermath of a hurricane.
Recognising their somewhat harassed partners have been fighting a losing battle all week, they’ve got involved in the tidy up mission to restore order, quickly finding, however, that almost as soon as they’ve finished a job that it’s undone faster than it was completed.  One example experienced was of a good few minutes spent cleaning a full-length mirror only to turn around, literally seconds later, and find a sun-cream smeared child laughing joyously as they danced against the mirror and smeared the cream all over it…

At that point it’s likely you find yourself getting cross and screaming “Do you know how long it took me to clean that?!” but let’s face it, chances are they won’t understand or care.  In their eyes it was fun, a weird sensation of body on glass, not a deliberate attempt to sabotage your attempts to make the house sparkle.
That got us thinking, to save our sanity, is there another way of approaching such incidents?  Can we take off our adult glasses and see things through the eyes of our children? Is there a way to change our expectation around what clean and tidy means when you have children?  

Yes!  The conclusion we came to is that you can, with practice, identify what your underlying thoughts and feelings are.  Doing that helps us to understand what’s actually going on for us. Then we can decide if that’s what’s needed right now.

One technique based on the Mindfulness 3-step process is, when you find yourself feeling cross or behaving in a way which you’d rather not, pause and:
Gather up all the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing and notice where you feel them.  You may notice that what you thought was the issue is not the actual underlying one.

Concentrate on your breathing, taking deep breaths and bringing the airdown into your belly.
Finally, as you exhale, use that breath to push out all the negativity.

It might sound like that takes some time but, with practice, it can become a quick way of giving you some headspace to see what’s really going on and help you prioritise.

After all, when all is said and done, as Tom perfectly summed it up, “Stuff isn’t important, people are”.
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Happy Mandays

Happy Mandays

The discussion at Happy Mandays this month turned to dads adjusting to being back home after working away.   Ian is a Marine Engineer and is away from home, his partner and their two children for half the year, as he works 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. 
He shared that the single best piece of advice he ever received was from a senior engineer when he joined his first boat, who asked “What’s the first thing you do when you get the black light of doom and the engine fails?” After rattling off a list of possible options, the senior engineer answered: “put the kettle on and have a cup of tea.” 
As a solution focused bloke who loves fixing stuff and gets fully involved in any situation arising, initially that was a challenging idea to get his head around, what, just walk away and have a cup of tea?!  What does putting the kettle on have to do with solving the problem….?  Well, it gives you time and space to think. 
Our brains are wired in that first moment of drama to react instinctively, reverting to the older more emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, and our fight or flight response kicks in and we go into overdrive. 
Five minutes out allows time for that first, emotional response to subside and the rational part of our brain, the neocortex, to kick in.  This is better at logical thought and creating solutions to a problem.  Ever had that experience where something happens, maybe a child spills their drink over you and you lose the plot?  Then a few moments later, once you’ve calmed down, your view changes and you recognise it was an accident and no actual damage was done?  We’ve all had those. 
Taking a moment to recognise that your first response to a situation might not be coming from the rational part of your brain is handy.  Once you’re aware of that, you then have a choice of whether to react or just give yourself a moment to take a breath, literally take a step back from a situation to be able to see it more clearly, giving yourself time and space for rational thought to return.
So, those wise words, back in the day, make total sense onboard a boat and in turn also for all us experiencing our own form of engine failure in our everyday lives.  
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Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K is a running plan for absolute beginners supported by the NHS. It was developed by a new runner, Josh Clark, who wanted to help his 50-something mum get off the couch and start running, too.

The plan involves 3 runs a week, with a day of rest in between, and a different schedule for each of the 9 weeks.
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