Category Archives: Fatherhood

LED Display Shelf

Mr 5 loves lights! And I mean loves them. He has numerous night lights,

grow clocks, torches, lanterns and garden lights around the house. Every trip to Bunnings involves a stroll through the lights section.

A few months ago I thought it would be a good idea (my wife didn’t think such a good idea) to buy a remote controlled LED strip off Ebay.

We’ve taken a while to sort out what to do with it, but today at much insistence from Mr 5 we found a place for them. He has a 4×4 Expedit bookshelf in his room. So as an incentive we said if he tidied it up and made a display shelf out of one level, then I would stick the lights to the back of the shelf to light it up for him.

The results are pretty good, and he absolutely loves it! Total cost about $8 🙂

Weekend Project: Solar Powered Cubby Light

On the weekend, my son and I had some time to ourselves, so we set out to Masters to do a bit of hardware shopping. The goal was to find a birdhouse to hang in a tree, but we had a voucher so we spend some time looking around the shop a bit.

In the lighting isle, we found a solar powered shed light (approx $10) which looked to be perfect to use in the kid’s new cubby house. We had already setup some push button battery LED lights, but they go flat pretty quick if they aren’t turned off when the kids finish playing. The solar powered light (to recharge included batteries for those playing smarty pants at home) should get them at least a year of pretty good light.

The solar panel is on the end of a 1.8m cord, which we located on the norther side of the cubby to get plenty of light during the day. The wire was fed up under the tin roof and through a small hole in the ceiling where the light is mounted above the black board. Setup took all of 10 minutes, however the instructions say to let the light charge for at least 48 hours, which is pure torture for a 3 year old.

Only Dad in the Pool

This morning I took my 15 month old son to swimming for the first time (mine, not his). It was an interesting experience to say the least.

Last night, my wife went over all the finer details with me: Pack the bag, starts at 8:45, get him ready, get yourself ready etc…

“Oh, and don’t poo in the pool!”

I’d heard that from her before. Apparently if a baby poos in the pool, the whole centre is shutdown for 8 hours while the filter is cleaned. Ok, got it, don’t poo.

After getting up this morning, we got the poo out of the way – all good. About 30 minutes later my wife says, “I don’t know if he’s done another one”. We check, nothing there…

My wife left for work, we finished getting ready and off to the pool we went. We’re the first ones there, in the heated hydrotherapy pool. I started getting his stuff ready, towel, bathers, swimming nappy.

I took his clothes off, then his nappy and just as I’m putting the old nappy in the bag, I feel something against my foot…

He’s done a poo! Straight after the nappy came off this little thing dropped to the floor and rolled over to hit the side of my foot. AAAARRRGGGHH!!

Luckily, as we were the only ones still in the room I was able to retrieve and dispose of it without being seen! And it went no where near the pool, so we didn’t have to evacuate the centre.

That scare out of the way, it was time for class. This part went off without a hitch. He’s a confident little boy in the water, not phased by going under at all. He was distracted for a bit after seeing a Thomas the Tank Engine toy amongst the teacher’s props.

When the class finished it really hit home that I was the only dad in the pool. I obviously knew this intellectually, but the reality of it was apparent by the use of change rooms.

There are three change rooms in this particular section of the centre. One is a unisex, with a picture of a man, woman and child. One is female, with a picture of a woman and child. The one down the end looked to my like a male room, with a picture of a man and a boy.

Women went into all three!

They must be so used to only having other mothers in the classes that they take over the whole place! I’d been warned this might be the case, so I ended up just putting on a dry shirt and changing my son.

So all in all it was an eventful morning, so much so that he fell asleep on me on the couch after we got home 🙂


The Value of a Dad

Last Sunday was Father’s Day in some parts of the world. The guys at were chatting about this in the office the other day, when a bit an argument broke out over just how much our dads do at home, and just what they’re worth (in purely monetary terms).

They asked their life insurance guys to look into this, and they used some data sourced by their partners at Legal and General to produce an infographic containing this data – and it turns out that  dads do about £24k ($37,150 AUD) worth of household work a year, as well as their day jobs!


Why are Child Sleep Books So Extreme?

We’ve been having some sleep issues at home recently, so my wife borrowed a few sleep books from the library. One thing I have noticed is that they all seems so extreme! It’s basically all or nothing, with one book stating that you should leave your child to cry for up to 1 hour without comforting them.

We’re first time parents going through this with a 9 month old that has just learnt to stand in his cot, crawl everywhere and no doubt starting to get separation anxiety when put in his room alone. We don’t think that we need to be this extreme.

We plan on taking in some of the advice common to most books, such as a defined and repeated bed-time routine of dinner, bath, story, lullaby, bed. But we’re not prepared to just let our son cry himself to sleep, but taking him into his room and preparing for bed and allowing him to protest and cry about being there while being held, then once he understands that we’re not giving in he tends to calm down and give in.

Once we’ve got to this point we will lay him down in his cot and gently pat an reassure him until he’s almost asleep.

Are we doing this all wrong? Is the all or nothing approach of these books the only way to go? Are we too nice as parents?

I’d love to hear your real life experiences in the comments!

Top 10 Things to Keep Your Kid’s Birthday Party Running Smoothly

Planning a kid’s birthday party is something we’ll all have to do at least once a year. Here are some of the things that will help you keep that party running as smoothly as possible:

1. Give your camera to someone (and make sure they know how to use it)

No doubt you will want heaps of photos to remember the day by. Giving your camera to someone else will ensure that you appear in lots of the photos as well as your kid. Photos are great, but they’re even better when they include your whole family.

You will also want to make sure the person using your camera knows how to use it. Make sure the camera is on full auto mode so you have the best possible chance of having something to work with later on. There’s nothing worse than finding out that all your photos are out of focus or too dark!

2. Sort out the music

Make sure you’ve organised the music well in advance to the party. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having the kids all playing musical chairs and a song with explicit lyrics comes on! 

For games that involve stopping the music make sure that you know when the music might stop on it’s own. As adults we all understand that these games are rigged, so to make sure all the kids get a go try and setup you playlist to continually play by crossfading songs.

3. Make sure your gift bags are age appropriate

If you’re giving out gift bags to guests, make sure they are age appropriate with no small parts for young kids. Also, don’t put anything in there that may cause problems for kids with allergies.

4. Remember the healthy snacks

We all love lollies and chips and fairy bread, but remember to include some healthy snacks for the kids. This allows parents who are trying to limit their kid’s exposure to lollies by giving them alternatives.

5. If you don’t want it broken, don’t bring it out.

If your kids have a favourite toy that may be fragile, or you couldn’t stand to be broken then put it away for the day. One thing you can almost guarantee is that someone is going to break something, so don’t give them the chance!

6. Always have a plan B!

If your party is going to be outside, have a Plan B in case of rain (or extreme heat). Let people know in advance what that plan is so that if they turn up to your venue and you’re not there they know why and where you actually are.

7. Hand out actual invites

Facebook invites are all the rage these days, and they allow for communication with your guests after you invite them, but also give out a physical invite if you can.

When your guests are rushing out the door (because they’re 20 minutes late already – they do have kids!), a physical invite is easy to grab off the fridge or pinup board for last minute reminders of where you party is and what they should be bringing.

8. Bake a trial cake the week before

If you’re baking the cake for the party and it’s some sort of special shape (Thomas The Tank Engine anyone?), make sure you’ve tried it out before hand. Last minute stress over the cake will throw all of your plans into disarray. Knowing that you have done it before will keep you calm, or you may find out that it’s better to just buy a cake if the trial is a complete disaster.

9. If you’ve got a Piñata, make sure that the kids will be able to break it open

We’ve all been to parties where the kids spend a good half an hour trying to get in the piñata piñata Some home-made ones are a little too well made, so make sure there is a weak spot somewhere that will get the kids their fix of sweets.

10. Remember it’s just a party

Chances are you kid won’t remember much about their birthday in the years to come. So relax and have a good time. At the end of the day, as long as the kids had fun nothing else really matters. It will be messy, it will be loud, and that’s just the way kids like it!

If you’ve got any party tips share them in the comments.

Fathers Just as Likely to Suffer Postnatal Depression

A new Australian study published in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Journal has found that new fathers are just as likely to suffer Postnatal Depression (PND) as mothers.

Fathers are at risk of experiencing postnatal mental health difficulties, which may persist across the early childhood period for some fathers. The results suggest routine assessment of fathers’ wellbeing should be undertaken in the postnatal period with mental health interventions and support provided across the early childhood period.

Fathers are often the forgotten parent in many different areas, and this is probably one of the most important. The screening for PND generally focusses on the mother in this country, in my recent experiences I don’t recall any questions aimed at my mental state. Luckily I haven’t suffered, but I don’t doubt than many men do, especially after going back to work after the short time off (if you’re lucky) after the birth of the child.

So remember to ask a new dad how he’s going next time you pay them a visit.

How To Work From Home and Spend More Time With Your Kids

I am lucky that my job allows me to essentially work anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection. Sure there are times that I need to be in meetings and on-site with clients, but most of my work involves sitting in front of a computer and typing code.

This allows me to work from home from time to time. This basically gives me an extra 2 hours every day with my family that I would normally be stuck sitting in peak hour traffic driving to and from work.

You don’t have to be a programmer to have this kind of freedom either. If your work involves sitting at a computer, typing emails, writing reports, talking on the phone etc… then you can work from anywhere too!

Using Your Computer

The first step to working from outside the office is either connecting to you computer on your desk, or connecting your laptop to the corporate network when you’re not there.

Option 1: Remote Access

If you have a desktop computer at work, then it’s  not practical to be lugging that home every time you want to spend a day working from home.

There are a number of solutions to this problem though. They involve installing some software on your computer and then you are able to connect and remotely control it from any web browser on any computer.

LogMeIn Free – This is free for personal use which basically allows you to see your screen and use it as if you were sitting at your desk. You can buy a paid account that allows you to do more, such as transfer files between your work computer and your home computer, but there are other services like Dropbox,, SkyDrive etc… that allow you to sync you files between any number of computers.

GoToMyPC – Essentially the same thing as LogMeIn, but developed by the guys that did the remote desktop features found in Windows (so apparently better). This service has a small monthly fee and has many of the same features as the paid version of LogMeIn.

Option 2: Laptop

If you have a work laptop then your already well on your way to working from home. Pick it up at the end of the day and take it with you. Without needing anything else, you have access to all the files on that computer and can finish off your reports or anything you’ve been working on.

Most companies have their email accessible to the outside world (to allow you to access email on your iPhone etc). This means that if you’re using Outlook or similar, it may just connect from your home internet connection.

If you need to access files on a shared drive, or internal websites like SharePoint, then you will probably need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This technology connects securely to your corporate network and your computer is basically connected as if you plugged in the blue network cable at your desk. You will be able to access file shares, email, internal sites, and even corporate printers. Talk to your IT Manager about setting up a VPN connection.


Ok, so you’ve got access to your work computer or connected your laptop to the VPN, now what about that phone on your desk? You can make is so that someone calling you (even a person down the hall) doesn’t even know that you’re not sitting at your desk in the city.

Option 1: Call Forwarding

The easiest way to set this up is to forward all incoming calls through to your mobile. The downsides to this is that when someone calls you, the forwarded call to you mobile may cost money depending on your company’s phone contracts. Also, if you want to call out you will need to make the call from your mobile (which will count against the plan).

Option 2: Voice Over IP

Voice Over IP (VOIP) sends your voice call over the corporate network (or the internet). This means that if you are connected via a VPN you can run a VOIP client (similar to Skype) that connects to your corporate phone system. All you need is the software (3CXPhone is a very good free client) and a USB Headset. Look for a headset that has a noise cancelling microphone as you don’t want a whole lot of room noise coming through on the call.

Depending on how your corporate IT is setup, you may even have external access to your phone system. This will allow you to connect a physical phone handset on you home desk to the corporate phone system. This is one of the best options, as you still have the physicality of a handset to just pick up when it rings (instead of quickly fumbling for the headset before the person hangs up).

Both of these options allow you to make and receive phone calls like you were at your desk. You can even transfer calls to colleagues just like you would at work!

What are you waiting for?

So we’ve gone over some of the technical hurdles to get you working from home, but what about the boss? This is probably the hardest issue in the whole setup (people always are aren’t they?).

My advice is baby steps. You’re not going to be working at home full-time next week, or even next month. Start by getting the technical steps setup, and if asked why you want to have these things setup mention that you might like to get that report finished over the weekend without the need to come all the way in. 

Once you have the technology setup and working in the case of occasional weekend work, you can then start to mention things like your kids have a school assembly item, and in order to not miss any work time you’d like to work from home for the day, pop down to the school, and then back to work in your home office. This way you’re doing the full day of work rather than taking a half day and still having to drive if afterwards.

Once you have been able to prove that you are at least as productive (or even more productive) at home as you are at work, you will be able to start arguing the case of a day or two a week at home to get your “busy” work done.

Now you have an extra couple of hours with the kids a week and you’re still getting the same, if not more, work done.

I’d love you hear in the comments about your experiences working from home, the technologies you use and the methods used to convince your boss it’s a good thing.