HOT: Paternity Leave

Well, today is the last day of my quasi-Paternity Leave period. It’s a cliché, but it feels like these first few weeks have gone by in a flash!

I didn’t really know what to do about Paternity Leave while Joyce was pregnant. Work was quite busy and I felt personally that taking too long away from the office would be slacking (this was very much an internal pressure rather than a work or family influenced one). I spoke to my manager about it and he offered some wise words of personal experience – that it would be a mistake to rush back to work too quickly, especially with a first child and that I should at a minimum, play it by ear.

So, on this basis I arranged to take one week of proper, phone off leave and three weeks of working from home with the option of coming in to work if it was proving unmanageable.  It’s turned out to be a godsend.

While I still feel very much like a third wheel while Joyce does the things that only a mother can do to care for NKOTB in the early days (despite the best of intentions, there are physical limitations to some aspects of parenting that I just can’t overcome!), she’s told me on a number of occasions that she’s appreciated having another set of hands around the house to help with the juggling. Having me on hand to burp, change nappies and settle NKOTB has also been useful in carving out solid windows of time for Joyce to be able to sleep undisturbed.

Not only that, but I know it’s built a good foundation for my relationship with the NKOTB. Not only have I been able to spend a lot more time with her that I otherwise would have early in her life, it’s been quality time too. I’ve noticed that NKOTB is at her most unsettled in the early evening (the infamous ‘witching hour’)… exactly the time that I would have been getting home from work and the only time that I would have been seeing her if I wasn’t at home during the day.  I know I wouldn’t love her any less, but it’s nice to know that I’ve been able to hang out with NKOTB when she’s just being cute rather than cranky.

The one downside of all of this attention that I’ve been able to shower on NKOTB is that she’s been going through a period during which she’ll only sleep during the day whilst resting on my chest. Cute, but highly impractical in the long term. We’re going to have to employ some tough love to make sure she doesn’t get too used to that….

So while I haven’t been as productive as I wanted to be in the period working from home (and have a bit to catch up on once I get back into the office), overall, it’s definitely been worthwhile taking the time. As they say, it’s time that you’ll never get back. It really is one of those moments that you realise how valuable it is in the scheme of things to have a flexible and enlightened employer.

NOT: Where’s The Aussie Dad Blogger Community

So I was going through my Parenting Blogs RSS Feed yesterday when I came across Be A Fun Mum’s post this morning about the upcoming Aussie Bloggers Conference in Sydney.

Clicking through to the Conference’s webpage prompted a bit of a realisation. While the organisers have definitely not made the conference exclusive to ‘mum bloggers’ and have explicitly invited ‘parent and personal’ bloggers too, I did notice that there wasn’t a single male face in their Australian blogger collage:

Which made me think that I didn’t actually know of another dedicated Aussie dad blogger.

My Parenting RSS Feed does actually have a number of dad bloggers in it (eg Dad-0-matic, DaddyTypes, DIY Father, Digital Dads and my favourite: Geek Dad) but they’re mostly American (with a few Poms thrown in). Which is a shame, because I really enjoy these Paternal Parenting Blogs as they have a noticeably different tone and subject matter to the mummy bloggers. Generalising from my reading, Dad blogs seem to bring a different perspective on parenting to the Mum blogs. For one thing, there’s less focus on fashion/design and more on road testing parenting gadgets (or ‘dad-gets’) which is fun.

Intrigued as to whether there was in fact an Australian dad blogger community out there that I just wasn’t aware of, I googled Dad Blogger and a few similar iterations to no avail. Of course, by using terms like Dad Blogger etc, you wouldn’t find me, as Tot: Hot or Not is very much a joint project rather than a Dad Blog per se.

So, given my inability to track down any fellow Aussie dad bloggers I thought I’d post a call out here – if there are any other Aussie Dad/Father/Pa Bloggers out there, give me a yell in the comments. I’m sure there must be a bunch out there and it would be nice to build our own online community…

HOT: Mini Monkey Baby Sling

While it’s been easy to let the hassle and anxiety associated with venturing into the outside world with the NKOTB in tow keep us close to home, we have made a few tentative ventures outside the confines of our home.

Given that we don’t have a car, when we do venture out, we’re more than usually reliant on baby carriage contraptions.

When we know we’re not going far, or won’t be out for long, we’ve generally used the Mini Monkey Baby Sling to move NKOTB around. In fact, as the picture above shows, we are such inner-city clichés that I actually used the sling to walk NKOTB home from the hospital when she was new born.

It’s early days, but it’s worked pretty well so far. While it looks a bit odd without a baby in it, it’s all fairly intuitively obvious.  After a little bit of experimentation, we worked out that the ‘Banana Position’ (shown in the video below) worked best for keeping NKOTB stable and secure.

Like most babies, NKOTB seems to like the feeling of being enclosed in the sling and will generally drift off to sleep after a few minutes on the move. In fact, we’ve been able to use the sling a couple of times to settle NKOTB when she’s been particularly disturbed. To this end, one really handy feature that we’ve been using quite a bit so far is the ability to unclip the cling and then reattach it  inside the cot as a kind of hammock. The benefit of this is that it enables us to get NKOTB to sleep in the sling and then put her down to sleep in the cot without the risk of waking her up by taking her out of the sling.

Very handy, even if NKOTB looks like she needs a Pina Colada while she’s reclining.

The only short-coming we’ve found so far is that the sling does put a bit of a strain on your back after a while. Maybe it’s our technique or posture, but Joyce and I have both noticed it. In light of this, we’re considering trying to pick up a Baby Bjorn carrier for longer distance distance expeditions, but I’m not totally convinced yet.

On the whole though, we’re getting a lot of use out of the Mini Monkey – so under the binary rating scale that makes it a HOT!


HOT: Cinch Wrap

People had warned me that if it takes 9 months for your body to stretch to accommodate a baby, it’ll probably take 9 months for your body to regain its shape.

I can’t wait that long. I have a whole wardrobe of clothes waiting to be worn!

Putting aside the fact that I still won’t be able to fit into many of my old clothes while I’m breastfeeding (my chest has ballooned to Mount Everest proportions), I have invested in a Cinch belly wrap to at least get some semblance of a waistline back.

Belly wraps have been used for centuries to help women recover after birth as the gentle compression helps with bloating and helps shrink the uterus to pre-pregnancy size. For me the clincher (pun intended) was the fact that it would help support my lower back in the early weeks of post-pregnancy. Unfortunately I have quite significant abdominal separation so I thought I’d purchase a belly wrap and alternate it with the Tubigrip, a large elasticated support bandage for my waist given to me by my physiotherapist.

After doing some research, I decided to purchase the Cinch. The most popular belly wrap is the Belly Bandit but I decided to spend the extra money on the Cinch because it is designed to shape to your body rather than just a big rectangular binder, it is adjustable as your waistline shrinks and it uses a zip enclosure rather than a bulky velcro fastening, so is less obstrusive under clothing.

I have found it very comfortable to wear for long periods of time and it is very effective at flattening my tummy. After a week of wearing it already my waistline has shrunk 2 inches. I’m not sure whether to credit the wrap or simply the passing of time for this effect, but who cares? (Naturally it’s also important to eat well and exercise, you can’t just rely on the wrap to shrink you back to size.)

I purchased my Cinch secondhand but unused on eBay for $80. In Australia there don’t seem to be many stockists, only Infant Essentials ($99) or Amazon. I reckon it’d make a great baby shower gift!

Week 3

So it seems that it takes 4 hours to transform Calmly Confident Mum to Wide-Eyed Harridan at the End of Her Tether.

To be precise, 4 hours at the end of the day and contending alone with an overtired, squalling baby, predictable post-feed streams of vomit landing on my clothes and hers, rapid-fire consecutive dirty nappies, putting her down in the cot, leaving her to cry, taking her out of the cot, walking around with her in a sling coupled with a slight ping of lower back pain, rocking her in a chair, constant ssssh-ing, patting and singing ‘Wheels on the Bus’.

Nothing seemed to work and no amount of deep breathing could ease my frustration. I could feel it rising in my chest and as soon as Tim came home I rushed out of the room and handballed responsibility ‘You deal with it, I need to sleep until the next feed’.

NKOTB’s lack of sleep hasn’t been so much of an issue for me, as my body clock has adjusted naturally to sleeping no more han 2 hours at a time now, such that I will wake up after 2 hours of my own accord. Plus as I’ve mentioned before I’ve become adept at snatching sleep at all times of day, such that I can probably cobble together around 6-7 hours of sleep most days.

But a recent trip to the Maternal Child Health Nurse indicated that NKOTB should be sleeping more than she is at her age (somewhere in the region of 17 hours given that she has only been feeding for 15 minutes max) and her latest weight gain from her last measurement was only borderline ok. So it’s become imperative that we institute some tactics for helping NKOTB settle herself to sleep.

The routine suggested by the nurse does seem to work better than before, where NKOTB could spend the whole day sleeping for no more than 5-10 minutes at a time:

1. Feed.

2. Check nappy to wake her up.

3. Offer second side (which she’ll normally take for a short amount of time. Maybe the previous unsettledness wasn’tso much the Week 2 growth spurt but because we were denying her food!).

4. Put her down in her cot. Inevitably even if she’s desperately drowsy at the end of the feed she’ll wake up now.

5. NKOTB cries on and off, turning on the red-faced, gargled screaming. We let her cry for 15 minutes, anxiously checking the baby monitor which we’ve put on mute (Best. Feature. Ever).

6. If she’s still crying hard after 15 minutes, go into her room and ssssh/pat her for another 15 minutes but leaving her in her cot.

7. If after that she’s still awake, put in her a sling or pram and go for a walk. The motion often means she drops off within minutes.

8. Blessed silence.

We’ll keep you posted….




NOT: Bonds Baby Search controversy

Obviously, Tim and I think that NKOTB is the cutest thing ever. However, Tim doesn’t believe in ‘futile competitions based on subjective scoring’ (hence a lack of interest in rhythmic gymnastics, figure-skating and art prizes) so we won’t be entering NKOTB in any cute baby competitions any time soon. Even though I think this could be the only pathway for us ever being photographed with an oversized cheque.

The other reason we won’t be entering NKOTB in any baby beauty pageants is because of the recent controversy surrounding the Bonds Baby Search. This is a yearly competition where proud parents enter their babies to appear in a Bonds advertising campaign and what would be an ‘awww’ fest has turned into a nasty bitchfight.

It seems that:

The search for the ultimate cute baby has descended into nastiness after mothers angry at a voting glitch started to launch cruel and racist attacks on other people’s children.

Pippa Taylor was floored when someone posted a comment on a picture of her Eurasian daughter Lilli, saying “Bonds Australia not Asia”.

Another mum complained on the Bonds Bumps & Baby Facebook page that someone had commented on a picture of her daughter, saying: “A child only a mother could love”. Another baby was called an “ugly duckling.”

OMG. Can you believe it???

And closer to home for me, in this day and age in multicultural Australia what kind of person goes around making racist attacks (of a baby!) on a public Facebook page?

As a kid I was the subject of racial taunts but not so much that it’s scarred me. I figure that kids will always find a way to pick on other kids  whether because they’re fat, uncoordinated or Asian. My experience growing up Asian in Australia has been overwhelmingly a positive one and while it marked me as different as other kids as I was growing up, it barely registers on the radar in my life as an adult (except that I can order Chinese food with an air of authority).

I was hoping that by the time NKOTB goes to school that being Eurasian, Asian or any other colour or race will no longer be an issue of interest. NKOTB looks Eurasian as she has recognisably Oriental features coupled with fair Anglo colouring.  At this tage I have no idea how I’ll react or how I’ll teach NKOTB to react  if/when she ever becomes the subject of racist comments. But in my view, she’s the ultimate Aussie – a melding of first-generation migrant and generations-old Australian Anglo stock. So there!

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