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A dad's journey into health

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fatherhood

Parenting In The Time Of COVID and other stresses

Social distancing, working from home, home schooling and self-isolation are all notions that we have had to come to terms with over the last few months, they roll off the tongue as if they have existed in all our lives since day dot. It’s easy to forget that this isn’t the case.

The “New Normal” a phrase I loath, is on the lips of so many people, but what if your “New Normal” is filled with stress, anxiety and is damaging tour familial relationships?????

Both my partner and I, haven’t had the luxury of being furloughed, so that means that we are forced to work full time from home, oh yea, we also have three young children that need to be home schooled. Not to mention your usual parenting responsibilities and being cooped up with each other 24/7 is a recipe for disaster. Any support we did have, mainly grandparents can no longer look after them either.

I know this is the case for many parents out there and we are not alone, therefore others out there must be feeling like us, all the working week we are forced to be full time workers, full time teachers and full time parents. That’s three very separate roles (that do not belong together) that we are just expected to manage, and it’s impossible, however the guilt that you are made to feel forces you to carry on persevering…………… and failing, and stressing that it all needs to get done, and feeling guilty about letting down your children, their teachers and your employees. It never ends.

I hear parents saying that this time is wonderful and they are enjoying it so much. Well ask them if they are working full time and the answer is always a clear NO. I want that, I want to be the cool Dad I am (if I do say so myself, ha ha ha), I don’t want to be the Dad I am at the minute, screaming at them because they wont do their maths work, but when my phone is going all day and teachers are e-mailing out the weeks work, it’s so stressful.

Not to mention how difficult this must be for our kids, having horrid parents till the 5pm bell goes off and we can all forget about the hell day we just lived through and relax before it all starts again. How are they supposed to understand.

As parents our teaching shouldn’t be academic, it should be learning about life, handling problems and dealing with stress. It is easy to get education and schooling confused, but they are very different things. Schooling is an institutional system of passing on knowledge (something that people train a long time to do), not allowing for the emotional development of our kids, that’s where we step in. In ancient Greece young people had two teachers, a teacher of knowledge and a pedagogue, the latter dealing with the practical and emotional side of learning.

It’s wrong that we are expected to do all we are doing, but, we are not alone, it will end and things will settle down again. Remember, your kids wont forget everything they have learnt because of a few months on the sidelines. Keep your kids safe and keep yourself safe. When you are about to explode, walk it off, go for a run, have a tidy, do a family dance for twenty minutes, watch something that will make everyone laugh. Don’t make this time hell for yourself and your kids, that way everyone loses.

Tough times don’t last, Tough people do.

Say safe, stay sane and try and grab happiness when you can, no matter how fleeting it may be.

Back On The Roundabout

So it is about the time of my annual pilgrimage back to Healthville. Yep getting back on the healthy eating and exercise pony. We are old friends now, and it is the same old feeling, akin to that of putting back on a wet sock (back shivers). It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s also much needed.

I estimate that I am about three weeks away from talking about all this in a positive way, but that will come, once I begin to see the benefits (or see my feet again for that matter ha ha ha).

Until that day it feels like standing in front of a dark and spooky forest. I am reluctant to take my first step, but unless you do, you will never see what is on the other side.

Reluctantly my feet yield to my insistence and, that’s it, first step made despite their protests. It wont be long before I’m in too deep and the only way is forward.

So until then pray for me!!!!

Hopefully I will see you on the other side.

The View From Above

So I recently treated myself to a new toy, and learnt that it was possible to become even more of a geek! Therefore, unfortunately this post will be me Droning (pun absolutely 100% intended 😉 )

Yep, you guessed it ‘It’s a DRONE baby. I’ve gone full mid-life and splashed out on a, half-way decent, flying camera contraption. It was only a few hundred pounds, so that I could get used to it and see if I enjoy the pastime. Don’t panic, I didn’t go full on Mavic (insider quip about a range that can cost north of 1k, geeks out there nodding their heads in recognition right-about-now). The drone I bought was the JJRC X9 Heron.

In case you can’t tell, I do like it (I can hear the gasps of shock from each and every one of you). It feels like this is my, Geekvolutionary next step, as it were.

Believe or not there is genuine reasoning behind my motives. Growing up I always had a taste for adventure, I loved exploring and traditional boys type stuff, like: camping, fishing and general outdoor pursuits. Couple that with my love for tech, gadgets, video games and super heroes you have one complete (and somewhat chubby) little me. My parents always accepted me for who I was, but these sides of me were never nurtured by them. My mum was busy being a mum and doing practically everything in the house for everyone. My dad on the other hand was into sport (and drinking), and whilst I liked football, I could take it or leave it really. I did however manage to talk him into taking up fishing later on, and spent many great weekends learning the ins and outs of course fishing. I loved spending time with my older brother, playing video games and the like, some of the funniest and most treasured moments in my life stem from spending my youth with him, he was cool and caring (in his way), but he was never the outdoor type.

What I’m taking so long to say, I guess, is that I don’t my kids growing up standing on the sidelines wishing that it was them that had the RC Car or that they have to explore their own interests on their own. I want to get them interested in things early on so that they have things in their life to invest in and have a great excuse to meet like-minded folk. And ultimately have a give-it-a-go attitude.

As I’m writing this it occurs to me that I may be exercising some long held, deep rooted issues about my youth. Oops. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining about my youth I had a great time but I do feel like I could possibly have had more adventures. But I do also believe it’s a lot easier these days and I may have more opportunities and easier access to things than my parents had.

All in all I can tell you that, droning (if that’s even a word) is great. It helps you feel like a big bloody kid whilst at the same time giving you a sense of exploration, seeing things from an angle you normally can’t or seeing/finding new things all together. I can certainly recommend it as a hobby. But that’s it, urges satisfied as far as remote control gadgets are concerned. All I need now is erm……. a more expensive drone, a racing drone and an RC Car, then I am definitely done (Shhhhhhhh 😉 ).

Hope to bring you more from drone-world soon.

So till next time peeps XXXX

Hope Vs Reality

Is there a place, do you think, where your hopes and your reality cross?

Iv’e been thinking about this quite a lot at the minute, I know what I want in my future and it’s not naively outlandish or unrealistic. Everything I want is possible, achievable almost. Yet I still have doubts that these things will ever come to pass. It seems that there are powers out of my control that always seem to block my path or know the right time to descend on me like a heavy thick fog.

I know that people will be reading this thinking that I am the one seeing barriers or perceiving these as reasons not to push towards my future. This may well be the case, though I don’t fully believe it. I may be the last person on earth that can see it to be honest. It seems that there are always grey areas to think of, there is nothing cut and dry when it comes to making decisions. Mainly, for me, because decisions about my future effect people other than me…………..it’s so confusing.

I am more than aware that the only option for me is to rip the plaster off and just deal with whatever happens. It’s almost as if it’s harder to make a decision, than have it done to you, then you have no choice but to deal with the fallout, and start again.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that money (or lack of it) is such an inhibiting factor. Money isn’t everything, but it certainly gives you options and the confidence to act. It is easy to see why so many domestic abuse cases have one partner in control of the finances, making it almost impossible for the victim to start a fresh.

Is it even possible to achieve your dreams? once you do, do you not just acquire new ones? OR is that folly? should you just be striving for the next step in the journey. The next life chapter, and many other cliches and platitudes that just roll off the tongue.

I have done a lot of work with people and have always used goal setting as a way help them move forward. But it has become more apparent to me as time goes on that goal setting can be quite damaging and if not achieved can be used by the individual as further reasons to punish or hate themselves.

But with me………who knows, difficult times, difficult decisions and a future for yourself you know you will probably never get to experience. What will be will be…..

We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality. Iris Murdoch

A Night Of Weird Dreams

So last night was a tough one, my daughter got up several times in the night crying for me. She was fine, I settled her and got her back in bed, but as a result of this I had the most bizarre dreams. There was two that stood out, the first for it’s ridiculousness.

It was the middle of the night, I was walking downstairs, in the nude (obviously) and I could feel the cold and I knew the door was open and that we were being robbed………..incensed I ran down screaming random things, but for some reason in a Scottish accent (like a pathetic Braveheart). I bust into the living room (still nude remember) but the backdoor’s open and everything has been taken. Then I woke up. Interestingly when I awoke I was freezing cold as the covers had been commandeered and I was led there exposed, still nude (obviously). Think that explains this one 🙂

The second was a completely different affair it was calming and serine.

I was led sideways on my bed and I could see out of the bedroom door in front of me.  It opened straight outside and it was lovely and sunny.  From my door there was a path that led straight up a grassy hill.  About half way up  the hill led a deer.  It just led their looking directly at me as if weighing me up.It stayed there, still, for what felt like hours.  I could feel that I was getting a little anxious and the deer began to stand up and slowly walk towards me, as it did it began to transform into a tiger, it wasn’t angry or  aggressive it just kept coming slowly and methodically. It eventually reached me and jumped up onto my bed and just led next to me, (much like my old dog Gus), I started to panic (about the future, I think) but the tiger just lifted it’s head and rested it on my legs. It had the desired effect and calmed me down, I had a sense of wellness and inner calm………that whatever was to come, things will work out okay.  I stroked the tigers head and drifted back off.

So that was my night time brain wanderings. I am sure any
Oneirocritics (had to google that) amongst you would be able to interpret that.

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” 
― Edgar Allan Poe

Till next time….

Hallo-Whine

What do I think about Halloween.  I am totally on the fence about this one, on the one hand I really don’t like the fact that us Brits have adopted this American tradition, of, let’s face it dressing our kids up to beg for free sweets from strangers, something I spend a lot of time telling my kids not to do.  This must confuse them.

On the other hand, I love it.  I’m a father of three small devils and they get so excited about dressing up, scarring people and being allowed out in the dark (supervised of course).  And let’s be honest, anyone with kids know it’s an easy win to wander round the streets for an hour and do very little with great results, what was it Gino said, “minimum effort, maximum results”.

However, there is one thing about Halloween in the UK that really upsets me, that’s right I said it, upsets (and I’m nearly a 40-year-old blokey).  It’s the fact that hundreds, possibly thousands of young people in each town or city across the country get dressed up and head out on candy adventures only to find 90% plus of all the houses in absolute darkness.  What, like Halloween is the only night that everyone either goes out or is in bed by 6pm, do me a favour.  What other event in the calendar actually gets young people out into the community like this and what’s the result……… Miserable buggers ignoring them, yea great message to send to the young n’s,  come on out into the community and nearly all of us will just pretend you’re not there.  It is a direct representation of our communities at the minute in the UK, ‘I’m alright Jack, so sod the rest of you’.  This needs to change, we need to change.  This is definitely one thing that the US gets spot on.  I didn’t realise it till I saw an Insta post from Everlast off of House of Pain (by the way you should really listen to his music it’s quality).  Loads of kids and parents mingling and experiencing things together as a community.  OK so it might not be a proper representation of all of America but you get the gist.

The UK seems so insular and down that we are too scared to care about each other anymore.  It makes me worried about the future especially when I see my kids skipping and singing past 25 dark houses to go and knock on the one house with their lights on.  They might be too young to notice but they must pick up on it subliminally.

Okay – rant well and truly over.

Next year why not just grab a bag of sweets from the supermarket and answer the door, what’s the worst that will happen?  There may be a few idiots out there but mostly you will make small people very happy in the short term, but in the long term you may help them (and yourself) become more caring about each other.

Peace and Love.

My Soundtrack

For me music has always been there in the background, but as far as I can remember it’s never been front and centre in my life. I have always loved music and the culture (90s indie kid and for that matter also a rocker and hip-hopper, I like to experiment) but I never thought it defined me, I always focused more on books, games and friends for that.

It’s only recently, whilst revisiting these songs (looking for old favourites to attempt on the guitar) that it has occurred to me that music has always followed me, like a soundtrack in the background elegantly framing my experiences. Without realising it music does define me. It plays out like a map of my life. Each and every song sending me right back to a specific time and location and all the thoughts feelings and experiences of that place, good and bad, light or dark, young and old.

So I am going to create my own album here, a snapshot of me and my life, each song belongs on the album for a reason and has a special memory, they may not be my most favourite songs but they certainly are justified. I am going to limit it to ten tracks as I could literally be here all day.

1. Guns n Roses – Welcome To The Jungle. I think this was my first steps in having my own musical personality, rock on.

2. Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills. This is a nod to my brother and a thanks for introducing me to so much great music, Prince, Stone Roses and many more, far too many to mention.

3. Ice-T – Home Invasion. My first steps into the world of Hip-Hop. So much followed this. A new way of expressing yourself and story telling. Thanks Iceberg.

4. Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman. This is an acknowledgement of my parents taste in music and I am eternally grateful for them introducing me to Soul and Motown. This was the first soul song I remember loving.

5. The Charlatans – Just When Your Thinking Things Over. This fires me back to sixth form and reminds me of when I started dating my good lady wife.

6. Oasis – Cigarettes And Alcohol. What is there to say, they exploded onto the music landscape encapsulating the feelings of the UK youth at the time. They did for Britain what Nirvana did for the US. They will always be the epitome of Rock And Roll for me.

7. Bob Dylan – Just Like A Woman. Heard this for the first time whilst working in a shop. Fell in love with the voice of Dylan (after previously dismissing it) and how he changes from adoration to hatred in the space of one song.

8. The Pogues – Sally Maclennane. My friends and I playing pool on a Friday night before heading into town for teenage ladishness. Great Days.

9. Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop That Feeling. This is just a great tune that reminds me of all the kids just dancing round together having fun.

10. The Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love. Thus one is easy, simply the best song ever written.

So there it is. I am sure that I will soon be releasing a Vol II.

What would be on your soundtrack?

Stay lucky people, kisses.

Those Damn Barre Chords

So I am about six months into my rise to rock stardom. I just need to get younger by about twenty years, lose 5 stone, grow my hair back and develop some form of musical talent, but other than that I am right on track.

My most recent problem is getting my hands and my head in the right place to tackle them aforementioned ‘damn barre chords’. I get them in theory, it’s just my brain can’t translate them for my hands.

Don’t get me wrong I am definitely getting better at them than I was, just making quite slow progress. I have watched endless YouTube clips on the best way to execute them, and because of these I have developed my own theory on Barre Chords and to my mind the most accurate. It’s called the Enoughseneough model: and the gist is this; shut-up get on with it, it will hurt, and sound bad for a while till you start to get it. If you still can’t do it just practice more. This is my Mantra when learning Barre Chords, it seems to work for me and I think should be adopted by more teachers.

OK maybe not as harsh as that but from what I can see there are no quick fixes, just tweaks to improve technique.

Wow that feels better having a good old rant.

I will get better at guitar, with luck, fingers crossed, and touching wood (but actually touching my head in the comical, time honoured tradition)

Keep trying folks, we could all be on top of the pops next year, that’s still a thing right?

It’s a Me Day

So yea it’s a me day, or more accurately its a Paul Day, the very first of 2018.  I can hear everyone’s intrigue getting giddy.  A Paul Day consists of me taking a days leave from work….there’s more.  It also involves some skulduggery on my part.  I also pretend to go to work so that my family are unaware that I am sneaking back home, to bed, to game and generally laze around (let’s hope that he missus doesn’t read this today).

Today has been pretty good on the whole, I have well, gamed, dozed and watched some awesome.  Managed to watch the most recent Blade Runner, and may I say it was bloody good, if long.  And as I write this, the last hour of my Paul Day, I am watching Electric Dreams, a very Philip. K – Day indeed.

I suppose that I should feel guilty, that I am sneaking but I don’t, I feel a little rebellious and a little bit like I’m owed it.  It’s not a day of excess and luxury it’s a day to rest and re-centre yourself.

I encourage you all to have Me Day or You Day……whatever.  Especially if you have a hectic life.  It give you back a little bit of freedom and the chance to catch up again on the things that I like, the things that make me, me.

I don’t have much of the day left to enjoy soon it will be back to the grind but for now I will just keep on keepin’ on.

What would your Me Day look like

Go on……Treat-yo-self

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