Friday, March 14, 2014

10 Things I love about Parenting

There are some things that I hate about this job, but the secret I’ve discovered is to stay positive, keep the big picture in focus, and not to sweat the small stuff. And not to let the bad days get on top of you.

Here are 10 things I love about parenting:

1.    I love to see my three little sprites grabbing life by the horns and riding along as strong, independent forces of nature, capable of so many amazing things. They surprise me and knock me sideways every single day.

2.    I love that it’s not as bad as it used to be. Every day, things are getting a little bit easier. My youngest (at nearly three) is now thrilled he’s able to wear pants every day and is getting a buzz from family trips to the toilet when we’re out and about. The big two are thrilled to have him join them as a "big boy now".

3.    I love it when something finally clicks – and they start doing something that I’ve been asking them to do for years, constantly, ad nauseam. My six year old has started picking his things off the floor unprompted and putting his rubbish in the bin, which is a massive result!

4.    I love it that they’re finally getting less fussy about decent food, although they still incessantly ask for chocolate spread. I’m getting better at bargaining: “You can have that if you eat this first”.

5.    I love sometimes finding myself out of my comfort zone. Ok, so I don’t love it at the time, but once I sit back and see the big picture, I realise that we’ve all learnt something important from it, and that these challenges are part of my journey in life.

6.    I love it that they’re becoming actual real people. I took my 6 year old to the local shop earlier to buy milk and he astounded me by counting up some money in his pocket, working out how much he need to buy sweets and paying for them at the counter himself. He even said "Thanks." Cue proud, happy mum moment. My work here is done!

7.    I love that they don’t need me as much – which thankfully makes me feel less guilty when I’m away or busy with work.

8.    I love it when they come home from school with something impressive to tell me - that they won the class prize for Healthy Eater of the Week or scored 9 out of 10 in a Tricky Word test. I’m often using the phrase: “I’m proud of you, are you proud of yourself?”

9.    I love that they are starting to love the same things that I love: going for walks, bike rides, rollerblading, watching movies, fish and chips, and the pub. They adore the pub!

10. I love that I’m starting to be a more mindful parent. Today is the only day that I’m going to live in this moment with my kids being this small and cute. Now that I’m out of the eye of the storm (three kids in four years was tough), I can start to experience the wonder of life through their wide-eyed amazement. I’m starting to enjoy them more, to slow down at times, to cuddle them more at bedtimes and to really listen to their "story of the day" as I nuzzle into their soft, spongy skin that makes me go all woozy.

kids in playground
This post originally appeared on

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Becoming a Stay-at-Home Dad

I'm proud of my hubby for stepping up as the primary carer when I had to start work. Here, he tells his story of that transition. 

This article originally appeared on

“I’ve turned into a real bitch since becoming a housewife!” I joked to a buddy of mine last year. I had called curtains on an IT career that my heart had abandoned years back. Now I was in what I called the de-institutionalisation phase – letting go of the “unhealthy” and holding onto the “useful”. This is the story of my becoming a stay-at-home dad.

My wife had gone back to work full-time after we’d had three children in four years. For me, this was a dream come true. I grabbed redundancy and now I had the opportunity to spend more time with our kids, while developing a long-time sideline occupation into a real business.

But the dream was crumbling, and I was cracking up! After a few weeks of the incessant noise kids make, the mayhem and muck, I’d turned into a grump. I felt angry and tired and I was unpleasant to be around (I was told). The quality of all of my relationships at home had deteriorated. Life had turned chaotic. I had an enormous struggle on my hands. 

I had been used to pleasant, organised work spaces, fun and free-flowing conversations, coffee breaks and chats, loads of me time. I’d come home and be greeted by our three divine babies racing through the hallway, shouting, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” While I would hit the ground running to help my wife out, it was less than two hours before all three were asleep, stories read, tales told. I had been getting all of the good stuff.  There were mornings when I’d breathe a sigh as I left for work, saying, “Yo Hooo I’m away!” as I left the madness behind.


But I never ever anticipated the relentless demands of being a stay-at-home dad. I didn’t fully understand what had brought Amy to the point where she needed to get back to work outside of the home – for her sanity – until it all had brought me to my knees. I had relocated to Planet Chaos – where none of nature’s laws apply; where time is warped and energy fields zapped by random little creatures called children. Wave after wave of demands, requests, yells, tantrums, nappies, food prepping, cleaning, laundry, picking things up from the floor, wiping up, putting away, shopping, planning, school drops, play dates, more nappies, more screams, more tantrums, conversations continually derailed by kids on speed. I felt ungrounded, unnerved, and unavailable.

Over the weeks and months, I persisted. I organised some support for myself. Also, I got lots of good stuff from Amy, her parents, my extended family, friends, and peers. I started a men’s group. We meet weekly. Not in the pub but sometimes afterwards, yes. We each have a creative project we’re working on – like career or direction change. We discuss the hurdles – sometimes practical, maybe self-imposed or imaginary. We bitch, moan, gloat, laugh, joke, take the mick, give out, give feedback, give advice if required, cry (yes, it’s happened – in joy and despair), and all really good stuff. Also, I write a lot. I read when I get a chance. I did a mindfulness course. I get on my bike more regularly. I’ve attended a few training courses for my growing counselling career – one that I feel I’ll still want to do when I’m eighty. I’ve got better at managing my time, the chaos, and my inner life. 

I reckon I’ve grown to meet the challenge. Today I’m much happier. I’m more available to Amy and our three smallies – because I’m more emotionally available to myself. It’s taken me nine months to process the life change at a deep level. I love that I’m more likely to smile when they do something crazy. Now I’m getting the deeper significance of their random acts. It doesn’t matter that much when there’s a spillage or a scream. They’re my babies, this is family. They’re on their way. I’m sharing the early years of this unique journey, and it’s precious. I’m getting a laugh out of it all. I’m playing with them lots. I’m holding and cuddling. I’m being creative, compassionate, and loving. Yes, it still annoys the hell out of me at times, but it’s not overwhelming any more. I enjoy the spontaneity; I see the beautiful and the profound.
I find that I regularly use a tiny mental gem from Dr Colm O’Connor, a fellow Cork-based therapist. He uses a cross-shaped diagram (see below) to describe what he calls our “horizontal life” and our “vertical life”. The horizontal line represents the daily grind, the mundane repetitive stuff. The vertical line represents life’s journey from birth to death. The point of intersection is the present moment, and what he calls the “burn point”. This image helps me to see the beautiful, deeper significance in the most mundane task. It eases stress and makes me smile when I see the boring stuff in this richer context.

burn point

A big winner has been our youngest. He’s nearly three. I didn’t have as close a relationship with him in his first two years as I did with the older two, because life was less stressful and chaotic when they were little. Lorcan’s arrival meant there was an unmarked player on the pitch at all times, which escalated stress levels massively. But today we’re over those humps. We play and we share and cuddle. I’m able to slow down to his pace. It’s a gift – for me and for him. Becoming a stay-at-home dad has been an enormous gift to me, one that I’m deeply grateful to Amy for affording me.

Just like for mums, looking after our mental and physical health is utterly important for us stay-at-home dads.


Tom Evans is a father, hubby, writer, counsellor, and psychotherapist based in Midleton, Cork.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014


Because We Said So

I am honoured to be involved in a brand new website hoping to shake up online content aimed at parents in Ireland. is a new take on parenting websites, covering a wide range of topics relevant to real Irish parents and the highs and lows of raising children in 21st century Ireland. covers topical and trending parenting-related issues as well as advice, opinion and
lifestyle pieces, sometimes with a nod to politics and often with biting humour and a dollop of culture along the way.

Caitriona Redmond, our hard-working supermum, founder,
designer, editor-in-chief and blogger at, said: “As a diverse group of parents tackling everyday family life in Ireland, we found that there wasn’t really anything out there that catered to our needs and provided relevant content that we both read and share with our friends. And so was born to address that gap in the market – where pregnancy and babies are well covered. There’s life after babies, in fact that’s when things really start to get interesting.

“ embraces all forms of parenting and provides a safe place where parents of all walks of life can feel accepted for their choices. If you’re looking for an alternative view, not only will you find it on, you’ll find many more twists on topics you never even considered before. Whether you’re sitting down for a much needed cuppa, joining us during your daily commute or checking in during the wee hours while feeding your baby, will have something for you.” is an Irish website for Irish parents featuring some of Ireland’s biggest parenting bloggers. You can find us a, on Facebook at, on Twitter at @parent_ie or you can email us at

Come and share a pot of tea and a scone with us! - Because We Said So

Here's our launch team:

Amy Vickers @MammaDynamite

Caitriona Redmond @wholesomeIE

Christine Doran @AwfullyChipper

Deborah Hadley @Debaliciousblog

Deborah McCarthy @TheClothesLines

Emily Rainsford Ryan @RainsfordRyan

Jill Jordan @jillajordan

Kate Gunn @katetakes5

Lisa Healy @mamadotie

Niamh O'Reilly @nurserydublin

Sylda Dwyer @MindTheBabyBlog

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