Saturday, 2 July 2016

Making a start

Kicking off this blog has been something I’ve thought about for the best part of the year, but now it’s here by popular demand (I think two people suggested it).

I don’t know if it will be any good or entertaining but I do feel like, as a stay-at-home dad to twins now for around eight months, I might have a story to tell. Indeed, when your children enter the world via emergency caesarean section to the strains of Leave Right Now by Will Young, it feels like you might have something to share (more on that at a later date).

Starting at the beginning is, I’m reliably informed by showtunes, a very good place to start. To introduce myself – in the vain belief anyone who may not actually know me could read this – I’m Rob and I live in Leeds with my wife Ana and 17-month-old twins Oscar and Isabel.

I also look after Oscar and Isabel full-time, as my wife Ana and I agreed at the end of her maternity leave in November that she would return to her job as a primary school teacher and I would leave my PR job at a law firm to take over the reins.

Isabel (L) and Oscar (R) with their motors running, ready to head out on the highway

To make things clear from the outset, I am an infuriatingly cautious, overthinking type, so to decide that I could keep two children fed, clothed and content for about nine hours every weekday was always a hell of a step. And to be fair, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have moments when I seriously questioned what on earth I thought I was doing. I still do.

But bizarrely, I felt not only up to the challenge but also confident that this was the right thing to do. What an opportunity to spend time with our twins (twins - Ana and I still can’t believe we got two in one go) and watch them as they grow and develop. Dads play a part in their children’s lives in so many ways and I certainly would never say any approach is better than another, but for me this was a chance to be there for them directly everyday. So much has changed in just this short space of time and I’ve been able to watch it all unfold.

It’s not always been plain sailing of course – my well-worn phrase to anyone who asks is that we have ‘good weeks and bad weeks’.

A good week rolls by easily with little fuss. We’ll make playgroups and coffee mornings, as well as maybe have the car and head to the park on other days. Naps will be long and relaxing for all three of us and time spent playing is full of smiles and happiness. Bedtime will be straightforward too and sleep easy to come by. Simple. All is well in the world.

A bad week can be the exact opposite. They will be ill – probably not at the same time, just to make it worse and stretch it out longer – and eventually pass it on to me. You probably wouldn’t think that would be an issue and for Ana and her developed primary teacher immune system it isn’t. For me, it meant days quarantined in bed and a close and intimate relationship with our ensuite bathroom. I had a two or three month run earlier this year when I was pretty much constantly ill – beyond a joke.

Other common issues in a bad week will be them not sleeping well and being unsettled, teething, bad weather keeping us confined to the house and a failure to get out to groups or see neighbours. The latter is so important for my sanity and just to ensure the kids are out and interacting with others their age.

Another factor I perhaps didn’t think too much about before taking over was how life isn’t just looking after Oscar and Isabel. With Ana also bringing home marking, planning or other work most days, her busy evenings mean I have had to pick up a lot of other stuff in the house – particularly cooking most days and trying to keep a handle on clothes washing.

I’ve also had the pleasure of discovering how one of the best parts of home ownership is that something is always broken and needs fixing – stairgates coming away from walls, storage units needing to be fixed to the wall, blind cords coming off their pulley, water leaks in the house. I’ve easily done more DIY in the past few months than I’d managed in the past 31 years.

So it is busy. Very very busy. I’m only writing this now as it is the weekend so Ana’s home and the babies are napping. In fact, if this was a weekday, I’d probably be trying to snooze on the sofa right now in an attempt to reclaim some of the sleep I’ve still not caught up on from the past, well, 18 months.

I always knew it was busy and did ignore some of the sarcastic comments which have come my way in the past. Yes, I do occasionally get to play FIFA. Yes, I’ve managed to watch my fair share of Euro 2016. But claiming that time amid all of the jobs and the need to actually speak to my wife before 10pm - when I really start thinking I should be in bed in anticipation of a possible 2am wake-up call - is the hard part.

Working with people who have kids in the past, I always found it a little amusing how they might not have seen certain TV shows, films, heard music or whatever. I always thought I wouldn’t lose a grip on stuff like that, but there’s simply not enough time in the day to keep up anymore.

And yet….unbelievably, despite losing my grip on those things and enduring those bad weeks, it’s fine. I’m actually very happy.

Because, ultimately, I’ve had the chance to watch two little people turn from babies into toddlers and it’s been brilliant, entertaining and often very funny. I’d be hard-pressed to think of any other responsibility which could be such a joy.

My aim with this is to share some of my stories from the past few months – to relay some of my experiences to the outside world in the hope it could be a reasonable read. If anyone finds even a hint of advice or wisdom in there, that would also be good (if not an enormous surprise).

I think the next one will probably look at the start of this entire twin journey, so hopefully you’ll be back to have a look at that one too. BYE!


  1. Love reading this, so honest, great job Rob, keep it up x

  2. A great read, more please!

  3. Great honest read! Love it, looking forward to the next installment :-)