Our Christmas Present Is A New Baby

The Mulrooney family meeting Father Christmas who has come on a sleigh to local streets.
Noah is quite clearly thrilled to meet Father Christmas! This is part of a mini Christmas parade that comes through our area every year. They collect money for Pendleside Hospice and hand out presents (Selection Boxes) to children. It was worth freezing our arses off!

Christmas 2022 was pretty uneventful for the Mulrooney family, which, at my age, is the way I like it. We did the usual stuff; Noah opening his presents, the Christmas day meal at the in-laws, being lazy on Boxing Day while also attempting to build Noah’s new toys. We did other stuff around it too, such as going for Christmas Eve breakfast at a local pub. Although, this turned out to be a bit of a nightmare thanks to the impatience of a three-year-old. It was standard stuff, but that’s perfect in my book. 

At the same time, Christmas this year felt unique. While we’ve spent time ensuring that Noah has a magical time, much of our focus has been on what comes after Christmas. Because, a few days from now, our new baby will have arrived.  

It’s odd knowing the exact date your baby is going to arrive, providing everything goes like clockwork. Because Alex has chosen to have a C-section, the hospital assigned us a morning slot in which to turn up. As long as we don’t get bumped down the list due to any emergencies, our baby will be into this world without Alex having to go through the stress of a natural labour (which didn’t happen with Noah either, not through lack of trying on Alex’s part). We’ve heard that a planned C-section is much calmer than the emergency C-section that happened with Noah, so we’re looking forward to the process being a lot smoother. Fingers crossed. 

Are we ready for our second child? I don’t think anyone is ever fully ready. We didn’t feel ready for our first child, but we coped and he’s a now a healthy little boy who often drives us up the wall! People keep telling me that a second child is a whole different ball game. While I’m looking forward to the challenge, I know that the job of being a parent is about to get much harder.  

Thankfully, my work has allowed me to extend my two-week paternity leave by letting me tack on two weeks annual leave so I can have four weeks off work. When you add that to the week I’ve had off for Christmas, that means I’ll be having over a month away from work.  

I wanted to do this for a few reasons. First, it’s going to be a lot harder to look after a new born when you’ve already got a three-year-old causing chaos around the house (he won’t be going back to our childminder until the second week of January). Second, Alex is going to struggle to do things while she recovers from a doctor slicing her open (she can’t drive for six weeks), so I want to be there to help as much as possible. Finally, I want to have as much time to bond with my new child as possible without the distraction of a daily job. I only had two weeks off when Noah arrived, and part of that was taken up by studying for an exam I’d been going to classes for. The plan is to be more present this time around. 

I know I’m in a fortunate position to be able to take so much time off work, and I’m super grateful to the company I work at for letting me do this. We’ll be hit on the financial side for a bit, which isn’t the most ideal situation when it feels like everything is going up in price, but we’ve worked it all out and we can get by on less for a while.  

It won’t feel real until I’ve got our new baby in my arms because, right now, I’m still a bit unaware of how much our life is going to change for the second time. I never thought we would be here again, especially after what happened the first time, but here we are. I’m over the moon about growing our little family, and so excited for what’s to come in the future. Although you may have to remind me of that when I’m attempting to survive the day on two hours sleep! 

If you want to read Alex’s thoughts on this, head over to her blog post.

The Dreaded First Holiday With Your Child

If you’re a parent but you haven’t yet been on holiday with your child or children, then let me tell you this. Dispense with any fairy-tale notion that you’re ever going to have a relaxing holiday when you go away as a family. Yes, maybe they’ll be a little easier once they hit their teens, especially if you only ever have one child, but those days of going on a chilled holiday as a couple are long gone. 

We were probably a little naïve in thinking it wouldn’t be too hard with a two-year-old. I mean, he throws a little paddy simply because a toy car won’t fit under a wooden bridge that’s about three sizes too small for it. So, why we thought he’d be ok I’ll never know. At least we didn’t have the stress of going abroad, as it was just a two and a half-hour drive to a Haven holiday park known as Primrose Valley in Yorkshire. 

It’s technically not our first holiday, as we went to Spain for a family wedding when he was only around 5 months old. But that was relatively easy, as he was still in the stage where he slept for most of the day. This holiday was our first trip together where Noah could now take part in activities and enjoy himself, although he had many moments that just made us want to pack up and head home.

Trying to get a family photo when a two year-old is wriggling around in your arms and refusing to look at the camera is hard. This was our best attempt in Scarborough.

But I’m probably being a little too harsh, as we did have fun moments on our holiday. It is, after all, mostly about your child having fun. Yet, we were utterly exhausted by the end of it to the point that we travelled home a day early on the Sunday (we were supposed to be out of our accommodation by the Monday) simply because we could have a day off from work to recover once we were back.  

That Lockdown Hair

The WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. My son, Noah, wasn’t even one on that date. 

Here is Noah just a few days before that.  

Noah in his Burnley FC shirt with his Burnley book.

Here is Noah on the Sunday just gone. He’ll turn two next month. 

Noah and his long hair.

You can sort of chart the course of the year by looking at his hair, which has obviously grown a lot since the pandemic began over a year ago. It was whispy and thin at that age. It’s now longer and thicker, and he has the most magnificent bedhead every morning.

We’ve had few opportunities to get it cut, with hairdressers being open for a few weeks before having to close again. Cutting it ourselves just makes it look like we’ve put a bowl on his head, so we’re content to keep it as it is for now.  

But you can also see how much his face has changed. He’s now a little boy who can run around and say over 50 words. I’m constantly amazed by every new little thing he does, and he has a cheeky little character that always has me in fits of laughter. 

It’s a shame that the majority of a year of his life, which is a long time in a child of his age, has been spent being cooped up within the same four walls. We try to go for walks or go to the park when the weather is fine, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re limited to your local area and lots of activities you can do with your children are still closed.  

He still gets to the go to the childminders, so at least he has the social contact that he is mostly being deprived of in other areas right now. 

It’s the effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on children that worries me the most. Maybe not so much Noah, as he’s still very young. But all the kids at school and the amount of learning – or simply just being able to be a child – that they’ve missed out on.  

It’s been hard for us all, mentally and physically, but I hate that children have had to miss out on chunks of their childhood. It’s something they’ll never get back.  

Lockdown Day 5167: Noah Gives Up

Noah is a now a human snail.

As the UK lockdown goes on and on (although hopefully, it will end in a few months) Noah has had enough and has now decided he wants to live inside a basket.

I don’t blame the kid, life stuck in this little house has got very dull. If putting a basket on his head is his form of entertainment, then I’m all for it.

I’m tempted to have a go myself. At least it’s something to do.

3 Photos That Show A Child Has Taken Over Your Home

Everything changes when you have a child, including every room in your home. You’ll even find a sign of their presence in the rooms they never go in (at least that’s what they want you to think). You’ll find a random object that’s on the other side of the house from where it’s supposed to be. While the back of the sofa is apparently a good place to store your toys.  This is their home now, you’re just a guest who happens to feed them and change their dirty nappies.

Here are three photos that show a child has well and truly taken over your home. 

I see those Paw Patrol dogs whenever I close my eyes.

The bath is no longer a place to relax after a long day at work. It’s now a place where you have to peel off various bath toys that are stuck to the surface of the bath, or completely give up and kiss your relaxing soak goodbye. That’s if you even get the chance to have a bath, because you’ll inevitably hear your child screaming about something downstairs while they’re with the other parent. Bath bombs and candles cease to mean anything.  

They say that this is the War and Peace of toddler literature.

As I said yesterday, we fill our home with books so that we can encourage Noah to be a big reader as he grows up. My child must be super advanced for his age, because he’s suddenly giving me book recommendations by deciding to carry one of his books from his bedroom and popping it on top of the stack of books that lies next to my side of the bed. Either that or he thinks I’m socially inept and I struggle to say hello to people. 

I truly hope that my sons future child isn’t left face down in the middle of the floor.

Finally, your living room will go from looking neat and tidy to a complete bomb site within the space of 5 seconds. Because your child also has an attention span of about 5 seconds for each and every toy that they own. Once everything is out on the floor, they’ll inevitably get bored and wander off to try and play with something that they shouldn’t be touching, leaving you to accidentally step on one of their toy bricks for the 50th time.  

Oh, and that carpet you spent a small fortune on? Milk stains, milk stains everywhere. Admittedly, giving him a bottle of milk to run around with isn’t the best idea we’ve ever had. We should now be fully aware that a toddler will simply throw their bottle once they’ve had a swig from it.

My wife also wrote about the final point and used the same photo. While it looks chaotic, it’s actually been worse, and that photo only shows a small slice of the living room. He also appears to be watching TV in that photograph, completely ignoring the chaos he’s caused around him.  

If you’re about to become a parent, just be prepared to deal with every object in your home being suddenly sticky and you have no idea why. There’s little point in trying to keep the perfect home, especially when it will be all torn apart as soon as they wake up or walk through the front door. Just deal with the fact that this is your life until they’re old enough to fully comprehend what tidying up means. Of course, by then they’ll probably be refusing to do chores, but that’s something we can look forward to having to deal with in the future. 

World Book Day 2021 & Why You Should Read To Your Children

Today is World Book Day 2021!  

This is a fantastic initiative that I’m 100% behind. Its mission is to promote reading for pleasure to kids around the world, saying that it’s ‘the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income’.  

I completely agree with this and I believe it’s important to start reading to your child as early as possible. While it may feel a bit silly to read aloud to a 4-month-old who isn’t understanding a word you’re saying, it gets you in the habit of doing it for when your child is older. Plus, their brain is already developing the fundamentals of language before they can even speak. The more words they hear, the more words they’ll ultimately start to learn. 

Reading has always been a massive part of my life and I want the same for Noah. I vividly remember when I was first learning to properly read, lying in bed with a Biff, Chip and Kipper book and suddenly realising that I understood the words. When a child finally learns to read, it opens up a whole new magical world for them. Until then, parents should take the time to read to their kids. We do with Noah, and while it may not seem like he’s always listening, he’s definitely still taking in the words (and he’s getting pretty good at words too, as I wrote about in this post).  

As the years rolled by, I’d be that kid who tried to read with a light under his covers, frantically turning it off when I heard one of my parents coming upstairs. I fell in love with the worlds on the page. They allowed my imagination to run wild while also teaching me a hell of a lot about life. I was always baffled when a friend would say to me that they never read books, other than what they had to for school. Reading for pleasure was a foreign concept when TV and video games existed, and I imagine that maybe their parents didn’t read to them much as a child. While I love TV and video games things too, one of my favourite parts of the day was climbing in bed with a good book at night – and still is – even if it cost me a couple of hours of sleep.  

To help Noah develop a love for books, we’ve made sure that our house is filled with books. We’ve got three bookcases upstairs and a bookcase downstairs, which is a feat considering that we don’t live in a large house. One of the bookcases is a smaller one in Noah’s room, and it’s now rammed full of books. Some of the books may be for kids a few years older than him, but we’re planning ahead. Just look at him getting a book from it here: 

Noah reading a book in his bedroom.

Whenever he goes into his bedroom, he’ll always run over and grab a book off the shelf (ok, usually more than one!). He’ll then flick through it to look at all the pictures, and we’ll read it to him on the floor or when he’s in his cot.  

When the lockdown is over and our local library opens to visitors again, I can’t wait to take Noah there to browse through the children’s section. Hell, I can’t wait to go there just for myself. I love the library and regularly have around 4 or 5 books out at a time. It’s a great way to read without spending a fortune (which I end up doing anyway, as I still buy books) and also supports a valuable institution that should be a part of every community. 

I’ll write more on libraries in the future, because I really want to stress how much we should support them. For now, remember to read to your kids. It will expand their minds and help them develop into a well-rounded, intelligent adult. Plus, you may just unlock a passion that will be with them for life, and you may just catch them reading a book instead of watching mindless YouTube videos of people unboxing toys. 

My wife, Alexandra, also posted about World Book Day on her blog. You can read it here.  

You can find out more about World Book Day 2021 over on the website