Back into it | Kids homework

I’ve been absent from this blog for a while but things are starting to get serious here at home regarding homework and I thought it would be a good time to jump back on the daddy blogging band wagon!

Miss 7 has her first assignment from school. The task, create a report about a water creature and present it how you want

Well, something like that. My first thoughts, interpretative dance and as she wants to do the report on Dolphins, all I can think of doing is this.

So what do you put in a 7 year old’s first school project? I haven’t done a cut and paste project since year 11 where I needed to build a board game and to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember handing it in (must have been good!).

My wife seems to think that having a project where the parents need to help is a bit off the mark. Personally, I think it is okay because sometimes (myself included) time spent with the kids seems to be less and less because of work schedules, after school sports and professional development.

Sitting down together and cutting and pasting sounds like a good way to learn about dolphins. What do you think? Do you help your kids with their homework?

Our family tradition of watching movies together sees Frozen knocked off as number one

I’ve got mixed emotions. I can’t decide whether it’s a sad day or a happy one.

Frozen has been knocked off it’s throne as number watched movie. It’s replacement is:

We had a movie night on Saturday night, it was great. We threw a mattress on the floor, the kids brought out their blankets and we put on a movie that wasn’t Frozen! To say I was happy that Frozen wasn’t going to be on the TV would be an understatement. Popcorn was allocated, pop rocks distributed evenly and juice boxes were opened.

We all enjoyed it as we lay there and watched a stripe less Zebra on his quest for stripes. I think the kids enjoyed having Mum home at night for a change, normally a Saturday night is a work night for Christine. But that’s hospitality right?

These are the moments that count and they won’t last forever. We are lucky that at the moment, Miss 7 and Miss 2 like the same movies (most of the time) which means we can still have nights like last night. I don’t imagine it will last for too much longer as Miss 7 might want to start swapping animated movies for movies that fall in the Tween category (god help me if I have to watch Zac Efron tell me that we are all in this together).

No Zac, we’re not in this together.

I wrote a while ago about Family Traditions. This is one tradition that we love and man, we do it well.  I just wish my kids would stop fighting over who is going to be the bloody Zebra!

What are some of your most treasured family traditions? Christmas dinner, thanksgiving or maybe a simple Sunday roast with the family. Let me know in the comments below.

What’s your New Years Resolution?

Set SMART Goals this New Years to ensure your success

Set SMART Goals this New Years to ensure your success

Set SMART Goals this New Years to ensure your success

2014 is just around the corner and it’s that time to make that dreaded New Years resolution. But how are you going to ensure you make a New Years resolution that is achievable in 2014?

Set a S.M.A.R.T Goal!

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound. (Tweet this!)

(As featured in my Essential Holiday Survival Guide)

Using this formula will help you develop a series of goals or a goal that will allow you to be successful this year.

Specific – It’s no good making non-specific goals this New Years as it won’t give you a goal post. By making your goals specific (I’m going to run a marathon in 2014, follow me on Operation MOVE) it allows you to know exactly what you aiming to achieve.

Measurable – Is your goal measurable? “I’m going to get fitter this year” isn’t measurable. “I’m going to run a full marathon in November 2014″ is. This goal tells me exactly what I am aiming to achieve and by when I am going to achieve it.

Attainable – Are you going to be able to achieve your goal or is it wishful thinking? I hate running but I enjoy the challenge that it gives me. Having said that, I run 3 to 4 times a week and I try to push my distances each time. Having an attainable goal means that you can visualise yourself creeping closer to achieving that goal/s.

Realistic – Is your goal to make a million dollars this year when you have a career that pays $40,000? I wish you all the best and I hope sincerely that you achieve that goal but that isn’t very realistic. Your goal needs to be realistic so that you can work harder every day to achieve it. Some one wanting to loose 10 kilos is realistic if they work hard and diet!

Time bound – Under Measurable I specifically said, I am going to run a full marathon in November 2014. This gives my goal a time frame and it allows me to plan how I am going to achieve it i.e. training plans. Ensure that every goal you set is time bound, not only does this give you a measuring tool to see whether you’ve achieved it or not, it allows you to map your plan of attack.

So what goals are you setting in 2014? S.M.A.R.T Goals! Whether you want to improve your business, fitness or any other aspect in your live, follow these principles to maximise your chance for success.

A letter to my health

Dear Health,

I’m sorry.

I know I’ve been showing you little attention of late it’s just, I’ve had lots running through my head.

Between studying at university, running an up and coming business, playing with the kids and trying to spend time with my wife, you’re not the only thing that has suffered.

But I promise, things will be different this time.

We had a good run last year. For six months, you were the main focus of my attention. You kept me focused and operating at peak performance but I wonder if that was because you knew I was getting married?

Yes it’s true, we were close leading up to my wedding and I don’t want you to think that just because there is someone else in my life that you’re all alone.

The truth is, I miss you. I miss the delicious food that we shared, the sweaty sessions in the gym and most importantly the looks. Yes health, since our hiatus I’ve put on some kilos. My pants are tighter and my face is fatter.

I miss you but things are going to change!

image

You have my word that from today, no more burgers for lunch (except on cheat days), no more Pepsi Max just because, no more ordering pizza at 10 o’clock at night because I’m hungry, no more 3 toasted sandwiches because I skipped breakfast and no more drinking half a carton of beer because I’m lonely.

But can I still enjoy a glass of wine?

But I want a promise from you too Health. I want you to promise me that you’ll make me run more, sleep more and eat less. I know that’s a two way street but at 5 am when my alarm goes off, make me get up and don’t let me convince you that sleep is better.

Let’s rising pet(s)!

Taking care of pets is an effective way to relax. I adopt 1 cat, 2 rabbits and keep them in a very large outdoor rabbit hutch – looks like a villas for pets.

We can do it health.

It starts today!

How did you get those bruises?

“I don’t know how I got this one!”

I think it’s time I put a stop to watching Arrow.

My wife is constantly covered in bruises and she claims she doesn’t know how it happens. I think she’s out on the mean streets of Canberra fighting crime. But a more likely story is that she’s just clumsy.

Normally when she starts acting ditzy, she’s pregnant but lucky this time she isn’t. I don’t think I could handle having 4 daughters in this house!

It’s a fun game really, “Where’d ya get that bruise?”

christine bruises

Because I care for my wife, I googled “how can I stop being so clumsy” in the hope that I can put an end to this madness.

Yahoo answers (like always) provided an ‘interesting’ answer. According to “Paul”, my wife could be clumsy because she can not see well. Paul, you might be on to something there mate because she struggles to see at night.

Now don’t go thinking, “James is so mean, he’s picking on his wife”, she told me to write about her bruises! Maybe she wanted me to write a post about her being clumsy to throw the police off her crime fighting vigilante scent.

I’m on to you Mrs Tew.

Either way, maybe it is time I start accepting the fact she might be making a few compensation claims against our insurance some time in the future.

 

Hey you! Want to join the Raising 3 Daughters family? Pop your email in here to receive weekly updates on posts and competitions!

 

Why I Blog with Jim from busydadblog.com

Why I Blog continues this week with Jim from Busy Dad Blog. Jim has been blogging for over five years and is one of the most experienced Dad Bloggers kicking around the internet. Let’s get going with the interview, but first, a little about Jim.

Jim Lin is a digital strategist by day and a dad blogger by whenever-he-finds-the-time. To the outside world, his blog is a repository of lighthearted parenting adventures; to Jim, it is a roadmap that helps him piece together where he’s been the past few days, when he suddenly wakes up drooling and disoriented in the office. He enjoys parenting, Scotch and training Muay Thai, all of which explain the above.

Jim, how long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging 5 and a half years. Like Yoda in internet years, equivalent that is.

How did you learn to blog and why did you start your blog?

I started my blog because I had a 4 hour round trip train commute to and from work. I tend to fall asleep when I read, which isn’t the best state of being when you’re riding the LA Metro, so I blogged to stay awake and alive. I chose to blog about my adventures as a dad because social media didn’t really exist back then and I needed an outlet to share 500,000 pictures of my kid and me building Legos. Prior to starting my blog, I had never read one, so I really learned by doing. When your only reader is your mom, anything you put out there about her cute grandson will of course be awesome.

Have you learnt anything specific from blogging?

I’ve learned that the internet is at once wonderful and horrible, so it’s best to stay open to opportunities but grow a thick skin. Remember folks, when you close that laptop, the internet stops existing. That’s the best part about it.

List 2 benefits you can see from starting a blog?

1) Connections: the best thing about the internet is that you can find all kinds of people on it (in fact, I met my girlfriend because of blogging – that’s kind of like the mother of all connections). I was the only guy in my social group with kids, so I didn’t have a peer network of people who could relate to that part of my life. Blogging enabled me to meet other folks who could relate to the day to day challenges, chuckles and triumphs that can only be had when you are physically, fiscally and emotionally responsible for other miniature human beings.

2) Voice: When you make connections, you find your voice. Having a voice and being able to “field test” it with an audience is one of the most satisfying things in the world. Face it, we ALL want to be heard. Having a blog gave me an avenue through which to achieve that. Of course there’s social media now, so you kids have it easy.

Do you have any specific tools that you use for blogging? i.e. plugins, evernote?

None whatsoever. I’m a very freestyle (read: lazy) blogger. I write what I feel like, when I feel like it… unless it’s part of a sponsored campaign or series, in which case I do some of my best and most timely work (hey, it’s beer money and I take it dead serious).  I use Evernote to organize absolutely everything in my life, but I actually use it very little for blogging.

Where can readers find you blog and how can they get in contact with you?

My blog is at: www.BusyDadBlog.com, you can email me at jim@busydadblog.com, and I’m most accessible via tweet at @busydadblog

Sometimes you need a break

I’ve been flat out recently. Today is one of those days where I just don’t stop! When I came home I just wanted to lay on the couch and close my eyes. The kids had other ideas.

Kids climbing on their dad

Our couches aren’t good enough for the kids to sit on

Up at 5:30am, off to university, in classes all day, rush home in peak hour traffic, kiss my wife, swap car seats, say bye to wife, put kids in car, drive to dancing, pick up Miss 7, rush home and serve dinner.

that’s not to mention bed time routines and the fight I have with Miss 3 over bed time!

Sometimes we need a break.

A while ago, I tried to change careers. I don’t have a bachelors degree and with no experience in any other field but the Australian military, no one wanted to hire me. So I told myself that I was going to make my own experience.

This was reinforced the other night when I went a careers expo (I like to keep my eyes open). When I was talking to some of the exhibitors and I told them that I was stilling studying at the undergraduate level, I was dismissed instantly.

It’s incredibly demoralising.

But since I have chosen to make my own experience, I’m that busy it is ridiculous. Today it just boiled over and I was going through the motions. You know how it gets, you’re tired, fed up, other things on your mind and you just go through the paces.

I was in auto mode whilst picking up Miss 7 from dancing and when I got in the car, I forgot to put the car in reverse and drove over the curb! Luckily I realised what was happening before I did any damage to my car.

Although, that would have given me an excuse to call Get Approved Finance and buy a new car!

Sometimes, I drive past someone doing a job like landscaping or delivering packages. I am sure people in those jobs work really hard, but sometimes I wish I had a job that required simple tasks.

That or go camping for an extended period of time and leave my phone at home!

[This post was in collaboration with Get Approved]

Want free stuff? Justice Professional Giveaway

Justice Professional loved my review of their products so much, they wanted to give one of my lucky readers over $65 worth of products!

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Not sure if these products are any good? You can read my review of them here!

So how do you enter?

It’s simple! Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what is the worst hair related disaster you’ve ever had!

This competition will run from the 19th of Feb to the 26th of Feb and is only open to Australian residents. This competition will be judged by my wife, who is not easily amused with funny stories, so make them extra funny!

What is the worst hair related disaster you’ve ever had?

Eat your bloody vegetables

I have vivid memories from when I was a kid, sitting at the dinner table and my sister balling her eyes out because she didn’t want to eat her pumpkin. I used to have chuckle because I wasn’t being yelled at for a change.

Fast forward 15 years and I am fighting the same battle with my own kids! 

Eddie Murphy in a broccoli suit.

A scene from one of my favourite movies, Daddy Day Care.

I’ll admit it, I love a pizza….. or two…. okay and some chicken wings. Food is my weakness, shut up!

But I also love eating healthy, when I can be bothered cooking and it’s not stinking bloody hot here in Canberra. My kids just love sticking it to me when it comes to eating healthy!

“I don’t like vegetables”

They’ll make you big and strong…

“I don’t like carrots!” 

You ate them yesterday…

“This tastes funny”

You ate the same thing last week and loved it…

“I wanted red rooster”

So did I but my metabolism isn’t as fast as yours and I’ll stack on 3 kilos thinking about it, thanks kids.

But I have to admit, I have had a win with apples. I cut the apples into “apple chips”. They love it but maybe it’s not the best idea naming something healthy after a food that will block their arteries and make them look like Honey Boo Boo. (If you don’t know who Honey Boo Boo is, save yourself and do not click this link!)

I just don’t know what else I can do, short of making them sit there all night and eating them. Sure I could hide the vegetables in their food but I will guarantee that they will sniff it out quicker than the drug dog that busted Schapelle Corby. I could make vegetable juice. They love juice but again I reckon they’ll figure out it is good for them and spit it back in my face. (Also check check the best folding table for picnic and family meals)

What’s next?

Do I give in? Do I let the little buggers win this round whilst I retreat licking my wounds and begin planning the next round? I don’t know. I guess I’ll just tough it out, shove a few pureed veges in here and there and hope for the best, well either that or I’ll turn into a vego and they’ll have to eat vegetables. I can’t back that up, I’ll never give up meat.

How do you get your kids to eat their vegetables? Share your magic formula and I’ll send you a lettuce. Only kidding, I don’t buy lettuce. My kids don’t eat it!

MH370 and explaining real world problems

For kids, life must be so black and white.

[Photo by flickr user Moritz Petersen]

You’re either good or bad. Naughty or nice.This morning, when I was getting ready for work, I had the TV on and watching the news. Miss 7 decided to get up and join me, a common morning ritual. As I was pouring the milk into my nutri-grain, the MH370 story came on.

They showed a clearly distraught woman being carried away by security. Miss 7 asks “what’s wrong with that lady Daddy?”. Now I normally would have gone with, “she’s sad darling” I had a feeling that explanation wouldn’t have cut the mustard.

“Well baby, a plane went missing and no one knows where it is and that lady must have had family on it”. The puzzled look I received in return spoke for itself. “The police think that a bad man turned the plane around and made it crash darling” to which I received “why?” “well, that is what they are trying to figure out”.

I’ve never really tried to explain a real world problem to her before, other than the old “he/she was a bad person and that is why the police take them to jail”. But there was something in the tone of her voice that told me she wouldn’t have accepted the standard answer.

Back to my original point. Life is so black and white for our kids. When is it a good time to start explaining real world problems to them? I guess there would be a lot of people who object to telling their kids the truth about the world and I agree to some circumstances.

When the ad break comes on the TV and the news is about the Daniel Morcom case in Queensland, I mute the TV. No kid needs to hear about the murder of other kids but for something like the MH370 story, I’ll let them listen in.

Is that wrong of me to do? I spoke recently on the Life of Dad After Show about letting kids be kids so is them listening to the news complicating their lives or is it just feeding their curiosity?

I don’t have the answer, maybe you do? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts on explaining real world problems to your children.

Why I Blog with Dai from daimanuel.com

After a break last week from the Why I Blog series, I’m back and with a cracker of an interview with Dai from daimanuel.com. Where do I start? Dai is a dad, a blogger, motivational speaker, athlete and when he isn’t flat out doing all that, he is the Chief Operating Officer at Fitness Town. So with all that out of the way, I’ll let Dai tell us a little bit more about himself and then dive into the interview!

The following exert is all about “My Why” – full story can be seen at http://www.daimanuel.com/about/

My passion is to engage and challenge people in living healthy, more active lifestyles.  With increasing obesity rates and a lack of focus and education on preventive medicine, our country is facing a health epidemic.  The solution starts with parents modeling a healthy active lifestyle for their children to follow.  Everyone needs inspiration to change and someone to hold them accountable to their fitness goals.  It’s my promise to offer inspiration, education, equipment and training – specifically supporting families – so that childhood obesity is no longer an issue in our country.

Dai, your blog is filled with all sorts of health related tips, workouts and stories about your 2 daughters, how did your blog come about and how long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging since 2008 on and off. What started as an accountability tool for myself to diarize my workouts and ventures into the world of CrossFit has morphed several times over the past 5 years. As someone who has been in the health and fitness industry for 16 years, I’ve dealt with many differnt types of people. Many of the questions I’ve been asked (and am still asked today) have been responded to in the form of blog posts.

The underlying messages of my blog is to promote the benefits of healthy lifestyles, smart nutrition, and being active (moving with purpose). I prefer to SHOW rather than TELL people what to do, and much of what I write about is based on personal happening that my family and I experience throughout the course of our daily lives.

As busy as life gets, we can all make better daily decisions as fathers, husbands, friends, mentors and/or role-models and lead a life full of family, fitness, and FUN!

You are speaking at the Dad 2.0 Summit, has your blogging career lead you to this speaking engagement and how would you suggest aspiring bloggers reach the same level of success you have had?

I’ve had a lot of different opportunities present themselves to me over the last few years. Some of these include interviews with the media, inviations to special events/trade shows and conferences as well as speaking engagements. I truly believe that its best to be transparent in your beliefs, share these substantiated beliefs with confidence on the topics that resonate with yourself and your audiences. If you do so, they will seek you out eventually as long as your information, opinions and personal beliefs offer value, inspiration and knowledge. You blog it, they will come. 😉

Have you learnt anything specific from blogging on daimanuel.com? 

Yes, I’m learning continuously. Like many great philsophers have said before, “there is no better way to learn than to teach” (Tweet this!).

Many of the topics I blog about are on subjects that I have gained knowledge about over the years as a father, husband and fitness professional and through sharing this knowledge I only further my own understanding of the topics. I love blogging and find it very therapeutic as one of my creative outlets. You have a niche that is in your “go zone”, share it! You’ll only further your specialization and become an sought out expert in your field.

Can you list 2 benefits to starting a blog?

Benefit 1. Creating a living, breathing diary of “me” – DaiManuel.com – something that I can be proud of and share with my children when they get older. They’ll be able to look back and get an in depth understanding of who their dad is.

Benefit 2. Borderless! I’ve always been a big believer in helping others, but was contrained geographically based on the areas I worked. With my blog I can now connect, network and help people in countries around the world – not to mention make some great lifelong friends along the way.

Dai, you’ve got a large amount of content on your site. Is there anything specific tools that you use for blogging? e.g. Evernote, notepad?

I leverage my time well with the use of a number of tools and services. I utilize Evernote to save cool ideas, facts, snippets and the like for future posts. I also utilize the features of a responsive layout to better provide content to a larger spectrum of browsers and electronic devices. Aweber has been my preferred email newsletter service provider, and there’s a number of widgets I’ve found that assist with layout and functionality improvements to my blog as well. When it comes to getting the content out there – of course, like many, I love HOOTSUITE!

Where can readers find you blog and how can they get in contact with you?

The advantage of having a unique name, “Dai Manuel”, is I’m very search engine friendly. Type it into any search engine and you’ll find that the bulk of the first few pages are typically to me. My blog URL is www.DaiManuel.com or www.MooseIsLoose.ca – I’m also on Twitter at @daimanuel and Facebook at facebook.com/mooseisloose.ca — always eager to chat to people about my passions, so don’t be a stranger!

I hate doing the dishes

There I said it.

Show me one person that enjoys doing the washing up and I’ll stop whinging.

Get a dishwasher!

We had a dish washer and we didn’t like it. I always found that the dishes wouldn’t come out washed as well as doing it by hand.

Maybe I just needed to use some better detergent? Maybe I needed a better quality dishwasher? Maybe I was loading it wrong? Maybe I should just throw out the china and replace it with paper plates (every parents dream!)

But I am looking at dishwashers on the Good Guys website. They range from $399 to $2,167 so what level do I go for?

One thing I found with our last dishwasher was that we always had to use dishwasher cleaner other wise it started to stink! We came to the conclusion that this was because we weren’t rinsing our dishes first.

So having said all this, when Finish Australia wanted to work with me on this post, I jumped at the opportunity to see if it was really worth buying a dish washer and using their products.

I guess I am just hoping to can free up more time to blog.. or make the dishes easier so my kids can take over!

To help me write this post, I borrowed a friends dishwasher. But before we washed any of the dishes, we had to make a mess, enter Mexican Night. We all brought plates, covered in Mexican style food goodness, cheese melted on to plates, salsa sauce everywhere.

So we made our mess and loaded the dish washer. Quantum dishwasher tablets, the ones with the little red balls in the middle, are designed to give you an amazing clean and shine every time you use it.

They worked well, in fact, really well. The sticky cheese and salsa was gone, without rinsing! That’s what I like to see. But what about all the left over food that is sitting at the bottom of the dishwasher?

No need to worry about manually cleaning, Finish has a product for that!

As the product page says, just because it looks clean, doesn’t mean it is clean. The dishwasher cleaner targets those places that are hidden from view. So how often do you run the cleaner?

I guess that depends on your usage. We are a family of 5 so we have lots of dishes meaning that we probably need to clean it more often that a family of 2 or 3. So I believe it is situational and how often you use it.

Do you use a dishwasher? or do you prefer to wash your dishes by hand? or maybe you make your kids do the dishes?

Want to win a packet of Quantum Dishwasher tablets? Simply leave a comment below telling me how much you hate doing the dishes and the funniest one will win! Competition is open to Australian residents only and will be drawn one week from date of publishing.

(This was a sponsored post)

Why I blog with Mike Cbay of YDad

Keeping up with the weekly Why I Blog post, this week Mike from YDad joins me. Mike is an 80s-born dad with two young sons based in Sydney, Australia. A massive fan of turntablism, family wagons and coffee, Mike is also a fellow Aussie Daddy Blogger and an all round top guy. Let’s get into the interview!

How long have you been blogging?

I’ve been dabbling in blogging for a few years, starting with a music-related blog (I was somewhat of a DJ in my past). However, I changed my blogging focus from music to my experiences as a dad just before the birth of my second son.

How and why did you start your blog?

I was mentally preparing myself for my second son’s birth, and wrote down what I was thinking and feeling at the time. What I came up was a little piece that turned out to be self-reflective: I gave advice to my past self, about becoming a dad. I saw value in sharing it for those who may be going through the same thing.

Have you learnt anything specific from blogging? 

I’ve learnt that blogging requires a higher level of planning and strategy – not just to grow but also to maintain your readership. It’s also something that can push you and keep you on your toes, mentally speaking.

A great piece of blogging advice that was passed down to me in terms of dealing with brands is to never compromise your personal ‘voice’; if a brand wants to work with you, then they already know what they’re in for.

List 2 benefits you can see from starting a blog?

– I believe a blog is a great self reflection tool, and there’s a certain freedom that it brings.

– Blogging is an excellent way to exercise your creative brain-muscles as it doesn’t only have to be based solely on written work. You can incorporate graphic design, photography and video to tell your story.

Do you have any specific tools that you use for blogging? i.e. plugins?

This is an area I’m currently exploring to try get the most out of blogging. WordPress SEO by Yoast is what I can recommend from my experience. I recently stumbled upon a web service called Dashfolio that connects to your Google Analytics account which I’m in the process of sussing out.

Where can readers find you blog and how can they get in contact with you?

You can find YDad at ydad.com.au and facebook.com/YDadAU, and also on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as @mikecbay.

Parenting Fail

I did something horrible.

Parents accidentally hurting their kids is a nightmare.

Bored? Play with your kids! [source: loldailyfun.com]

As parents, we never imagine hurting our children. The other day, I did it. I hurt our youngest daughter, Miss 1.

Miss 1 has been teething of late, poor girl. Between smacking her head on the coffee table whilst trying to walk and having a large amount of teeth coming through, she can’t seem to catch a break. When I was putting her in the high chair for dinner, she was wriggling, I pinched her with the clip (Also check the best foldable table for picnic and coffee).

Parenting Fail.

I don’t like hearing my daughters in pain on the best of days, let alone because I caused it!

In my opinion, having seen two children go through it, teething is up there on the pain scale. Some days it seems there is nothing that you can do that provides them relief. Enter Nurofen, which is exceptionally good for those teething symptoms, especially when a fever is present. No Nurofen? I’ve used a pack of frozen peas for relief before, that’s how much I hate seeing them in pain.

It must be hell (like watching the Young and the Restless) for our kids when their teeth are coming through. Let alone when their mean Daddy pinches them with a high chair clip.

I’m sorry.

I see it as sort of a right of passage for new parents. Obviously we do not intentionally hurt our kids, but there are times when it just happens and then we spend the next 30 minutes wondering why anyone let us leave the hospital with a human being.

I wonder all the time, “How did someone ever trust me to be a parent?”

Even though I have a 7, 2 and almost 1 year old, I still look for practical parenting tips on a regular basis. Not only does that give me inspiration for this blog, but makes me feel less like an idiot.

But the good thing, or the bad thing depending on which way you look at it, is that parents, mother-in-laws, grandparents and everyone else who has ever had kids, seem to have a never ending supply of advice when it comes to parenting.

Perks of parenting, eh?

While you are here, why not join the Raising3daughters family? I’ll send you a weekly update of posts and when I run a competition, you’ll be the first to know about it. 

[Part One] Buying the perfect family car

This is a two part series, the first of which I will have a look at factors affecting purchasing a car for your family and the second will examine several options that fit the bill.

A picture of a family buying a new car

Buying a new family car is a big task. Lots of different factors to consider. [source: dreamstime.com]

In Australia, there are currently 6 million families with school aged children. Families need to get to places therefore, they need a car. At the moment, we are a two car family however Christine’s car has been riddled with problems and it’s worth two fifths of stuff all, so there isn’t any reason to fix it.

As some people would put it, I drive a woman’s car.  I bought my Ford from John Hughes in Perth, (second hand, which would normally mean it would be a horrible experience) however, it was actually an amazing buying experience. Not only was the buying experience awesome, but so is the Focus. It is small and with three growing girls, it won’t be long before we need a larger car.

Picture this.

You decide to not once, not twice, but three times drive across the country in a car that is made for midgets. Not only is it tiny and when you have 5 people in it, it’s insanely tight and the close proximity of three girls who love to have a whinge (more than the English cricket team), it well…  it drives you up the wall.

So why not sell “Fanny Focus” and buy a bigger car? Good point, except I still owe money on it and we are not in the position to borrow money for a car just yet. Why doesn’t Christine drive it then? Well good citizen, she is as stubborn as a rock and refuses to learn how to drive a manual. Many an argument has been had over this topic. She always wins.

Okay, so what makes a perfect family car then James?

Well first off, it needs to be practical. Practical enough that I can take a sleeping bag and sleep in it if the kids drive me up the wall, or if I’m in the doghouse! I’ve never wanted a family van before, until recently when we hired a Kia Grand Carnival. We had 5 adults and three kids in it and we still had enough room to kick the footy. It’s huge! Drives like a bus but it sat beautifully on the road and was comfortable.

So we’ve got practical as the first requirement. Next in my list of requirements is, budget friendly. Like a lot of families, we are a one income family so we can’t afford to spend $90,000 on a Land Cruiser. I’m not talking just budget friendly in the price tag, but in fuel consumption and service costs as well. Last thing we need is to have a beautiful new car and no money to fill the bugger up!

Practical, budget friendly are the first two requirements in my list and for the third I am going to say, future proof. By future proof I mean that if you choose to/accidentally have more kids in the future, there is room or if you are playing car pool, you can fit other brats in the car. Also, if your kids are getting close to that age where you’ll have the lovely experience of teaching them how to drive, you want a car that is going to be good for them to learn in.

– Practical,

– Budget friendly, and

– Future proof.

As a family man, safety is top priority. So when looking for a suitable family car, a good safety rating is a must. Here in Australia, we use the ANCAP (Australiasian New Car Assessment Program) ratingwhich is determined by an independent vehicle safety advocate. Boldly on their website, ANCAP states “ANCAP recommends 5 star rated vehicles. Accept nothing less”. So I’m going to add the ANCAP safety rating as one of my requirements because when it comes to those little devils, you can never be too safe.

– Practical,

– Budget friendly,

– Future proof, and,

– 5 star ANCAP safety rating.

With these four requirements I am going to begin my search! But before I do, these are a few nice ‘must haves’ in my opinion.

– Cruise control,

– Tow ball,

– Bluetooth, and,

– A proper spare tyre not a space saver.

Now, I also asked my Twitter followers the following question to see if they had similar views when buying a car as me.

 

A couple of my wonderful followers took some time out to answer the question, some seriously and some not so much. Amongst their answers were, bullet proof panels (never know when you’ll find yourself in the hood having a shoot out), boot size (for stuffing bodies in from said shoot out), how easy it is to get the kids in/out and how easy it is getting a double pram in and out (won’t need this when you’re in a shoot out). All relevant answers in my opinion, especially the bullet proof panels! You never know what’ll happen in the future or in the hood.

Everyone is going to have their own requirements when buying a car and that is dependent on their family situation. Obviously a single bloke like Justin Bieber could drive a lambo, hopefully whilst not hyped up on cough syrup.Where as a the Brady bunch would probably need a 12 seater bus. So don’t take my requirements as gospel, adjust them as you see fit to your family’s situation.

But come back next week, where I’ll examine a few cars that I think will fit the bill (for my family) and tick all my boxes . In the mean time, I’d love it if you would sign up to join the Raising3daughters.com family where you’ll receive emails from me each week detailing my top posts and in the future, I’ll work to bring you exclusive content and giveaways.

You can sign up here!

What is something you look for when buying a new car? Let me know in the comments below!

Max Brenner Belconnen

What do you do when you need to go to Coles after dinner?

Take the whole family to Max Brenner in Belconnen and fill them full of chocolate of course!

The family at Max Brenner

Now I hear you saying, why so silly James? I know, I know, but we thought it was time for a treat with our girls. So we loaded on up and headed out to the shops and up to Max Brenner for a spot of dessert.

However.

cookie masterpiece At 7:22 pm I ordered a toffee choctail, two make your own cookies and waffle sundae. I reckon there was 5 tables and 4 staff members on and yet we had to wait over 30 minutes to receive our order! For a long time, the make your own cookies were sitting on the serving bench with the drink waiting for the sundae to be finished.

After a while (yeah I’m that guy), I went to the bench and asked if the kids can have their dessert. You know how kids get, the excitement overcomes them and we struggle to keep them under control.

Finally, old mate brings the cookies and drink, slaps them willy nilly on the table, not in front of the kids who were waiting for them and storms off. Shortly after, a repeat when it comes to the sundae, she slapped it on the table love and ran off. (Also check check the reviews on best folding picnic table)

kids and their cookiesTo say I was pissed off would be an accurate assumption.

Struggling to contain my temper, the manager must have picked up on the vibes. He came over, apologised profusely about the wait and the staff then he offered some extra decorations (more chocolate) for the kids cookies.

Well played Sir. tahnee cookie

The sundae, my choice of dessert was delicious. Banana, waffle, caramel, chocolate and some nut like chocolate balls. It was rich and sickly but delicious at the same time.

What would I give Max Brennen in Belconnen out of 3 sugar high kids? If the manager hadn’t of taken the time out of his day to apologise and offer some compensation? I’d give them a 1 out of 3 sugar high kids but the fact that he cared and apologised, I’ll give them a 2 out of 3.

Would I go back? Expensive, long waits and with impolite staff members, I don’t think I would go out of my way.

 

I need Daddy

“I need Daddy!”

Three sweet little words that make my heart skip a beat. I love hearing them. Especially at bed time, when she is sleepy and all cute.

I used to spend so much time away from home, my relationship with my daughters were strong back then but no where as strong as they currently are. When we found out that Christine was having our second daughter, and our third daughter, naturally I began researching about raising girls. I had read that my influence in my daughters life will help shape her self-esteem, self-image, her confidence and her opinions of men.

I hope she dislikes all of you who seek to date her.

Apparently, the relationship we have with our daughters shapes their self-esteem, self image, confidence and opinions of men. I hope she is disgusted by them!

According to an article on the Australian, “A man’s best and worst traits will be represented in his daughter’s taste in men”. Well I’m up the creek without a paddle, mainly because I am perfect, just ask my mother-in-law.

In the same article, Annie Gurton, a counselling psychologist, claims that “women whose fathers have told them that they love them, that they are beautiful and wonderful, will have stronger, more robust self-esteem”.

I tell my girls that I love them and that they are beautiful, but when they fart like a miner, I tell them they stink! Does that mean I have ruined them?

It’s no mystery that men have been trying to understand women for many decades. Hell, I can never remember what Christine likes from Subway! When she orders something that doesn’t ring a bell, I need to stop in at woolies for a piss test to make sure number 4 isn’t on the way. If all this information is true, maybe we need to understand ourselves before we can understand our daughters. Again, I’m up the creek without a paddle because I’m a bloody basket case.

Why I Blog with Tom from ideas4dads.net

Here comes another instalment of the “Why I Blog” series where each week I sit down with a different Dad Blogger to find out how they got started, what they’ve learnt from blogging and whether they have any special tools that can help you become a better blogger. This week, I sit down with Tom from ideas4dads.net, but I won’t take up any more of your time, here is a little bit about Tom!

I am a 35 year old chap whose life just over three and a half years ago changed forever – I became a Dad!

Parenting for me is the final frontier in terms of the life challenges and the one that I really want to succeed at above all others. I am married to my beautiful, supportive (and very patient) wife High Command, and together with our 6 year old chocolate labrador called Millie who is as mad as a box of frogs, I am also the proud owner of two daughters No 1 aka Trumpet (aged 3 and a half) and No 3 aka Digger (aged 1 and a half) with the final addition, No3 aka Tilly, due in March of next year……….so to say I have my hands full would be an understatement.

Tom, how long have you been blogging?

I first set up my blog 2 years ago after my second daughter was born on wordpress.com. I got it up and running and wrote a couple of posts but at the time my heart wasnt in it.

Fast forward 18-months and I revisited and thought I’m going to give this another go and set up a self hosted wordpress blog last September and the rest as they say is history.

How (i.e a friend showed you how) and why did you start your blog?

I set up the blog myself and with the great telephone support from GoDaddy hosting.

I decided to start the blog to share some of the helpful hints and tips I had picked over the past couple of years on my quest to be the best parent I can be.

In doing this I hope that it will provide dads with lots of ideas and tips on how to make the most of their time with their kids. Because as we hear time and again ‘they grow up quick’ and parenting, just like life, isnt a dress rehearsal.

Have you learnt anything specific from blogging?

Its been great fun.

Very cathartic. Have learnt lots of geeky stuff about websites (not that I have to need to know it but rather I find exploring that sort of thing fun).

But by far and away the best thing I have learnt are lots of useful tips from other bloggers on how to be a better parent.

List 2 benefits you can see from starting a blog?

– a hobby to help you switch off from work and benefit your family

– embracing something that encourages you to reflect on yourself as a parent and steps you can take to improve

Do you have any specific tools that you use for blogging? i.e. plugins?

– I would be lost without my Android WordPress app which allows me to write posts and manage my blog using my Smart Phone or Tablet

Justunfollow is a great app for managing and expanding my twitter followers

– Would be lost without my Hootsuite app to schedule and manage my social posts.

Where can readers find you blog and how can they get in contact with you?

Come on over and have a look at my blog at www.ideas4dads.net and if you like it please leave a comment

You can also find me on twitter @Ideas4Dads

My Life of Dad experience

If you haven’t listened to it yet, shame on you! But here is the link!

 Listen to me!

aftershow I was recently on the Life of Dad After Show podcast with Art and Ryan from Life of Dad. Man was it cool.

It all started a while ago when I had heard about the after show on a live Google Hangout that Tommy Riles (another amazing guy) hosted (which I can’t find anywhere!!). I immediately opened iTunes and had a listen.

I was hooked and I let them know about it.

Art and Ryan have this chemistry that just kept me wanting more. Another episode down and after a while I decided, hey! I’ll join the Life of Dad network.

I did exactly that.

The first post I wrote on Life of Dad was called “Dadstruck”. I wrote it because it was almost like I had been welcomed into a long lost brotherhood. I could relate to what most people were saying, enjoy the jokes and even join in on the conversations.

But the reason I called it “Dadstruck” was because I had been listening and reading all this content from these great guys and then all of a sudden it was like I was one of them. It was and still is a great honour.

So I told Art and Ryan how much I loved their podcast and Art invited me on the show! I was stoked. I couldn’t tell my wife enough about it.

The day came. I f**ked up the time. Little did I know when we arranged the time, EST was not on daylight savings. Fast forward a month, it’s day light savings in the states.

So here I am, eagerly waiting for 11:30 to come. “Art should call me any minute now…”. 11:34 “Surely he hasn’t forgotten, we spoke this morning…”. 11:40 I send Art a message after figuring out that they had just kicked over to daylight savings, “Hey mate, is it 8:40pm there”. “Yep, still good for 9:30?” which was 12:30pm our time..

Idiot.

I was okay with it, but it was going to be tight. I had an Information systems lecture to get to at 1:40 and the podcast usually goes for 30-45 minutes plus I needed to add on 25 minutes travel time.

I’ll be right, I told myself.

12:30 on the dot, Skype calls. It’s always awkward when you speak with someone you don’t know for the first time. Especially when you sort of “know” them from having read a lot of posts and listened to them on podcasts.

But to me, it felt like we had known each other for a long time. Art, Ryan and myself chatted for a bit, went through some details and it was on to the podcast.

The rest they say is history.

I’ve written before how many great opportunities Dad blogging has given me. I’ve met a huge amount of great people, some I’ve been lucky enough to interview in my “Why I Blog” series. But it’s also given me the confidence to strike up conversations with random people about anything.

Don’t ask me how but it has.

So if you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, do it now! Plus while your at it, go and show the guys at Life of Dad a bit of love especially Art and Ryan. Those are two top blokes and guys, if you’re ever in Australia, my house is your house!

Changing careers

Changing careers can be difficult but can also be very rewarding

[source: www.business2community.com]

Finding a new job can be hard for some people. A while ago, I tried to change careers but I found it impossible to land a decent paying job that would support my family. Unfortunately, the ramblings of a little Australian Dad Blogger doesn’t make enough money to fill my car let alone support a family of 5!

Jobs in Australia  have been hard to come by in some particular fields. In my case, I didn’t have enough experience for an employer to hire me. I wanted to jump across the desk and tap them on the forehead, “how am I going to get experience if you don’t give me a chance mate!!”. Instead, I walked out, demoralised and wondering what I should do next.

Career changes are hard. It can be demoralising if your applications are constantly rejected but it can also be a very exciting time. One thing I found when I was considering a career change, I was scared. I had spent a decent amount of time in the military and that was all I knew.

“What if I get fired? How am I going to look after my family?”

Christine was just about to stop work and have our third daughter. I was scared that we would be stuck not able to pay rent, feed the kids and have to live in our cars. I had the comfort of a fortnightly pay check, a roof over our head and food on the table (also check the reviews on best folding table for picnic, meal and coffee). 

As a father and a husband, I feel it is my responsibility to look after my family and this added to the internal confusion that I was having. Should I go, should I stay, it was a battle in my head that was driving me insane.

What did I do?

I stayed. It wasn’t the right time for me to leave the military. I do have big dreams, some involve my current employment, others don’t. However, the experience has taught me a lot about looking for a new career. For example, in my search I discovered that 83% of jobs are never advertised online! I guess this is why everyone always says “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

Are you thinking about a career change? Have you recently changed careers? Let me know about it in the comments below.