This week on In Conversation With, we have the one with the Beard. Ross and his Beard (yes, it deserves a capital letter, since the Beard is as famous as Ross is and you will soon see why) are quickly becoming very popular in the blogging community. I was chuffed to have met up with Ross at the Irish Blogger Agency launch in September, having chatted with him on twitter for the last couple of months. It’s always great when the online world aligns with the real world and I’d like to think that we’re now blogger buds! Ross blogs at The Stented Papa, a fantastic and popular Irish Papa Blog. Ross has had an interesting route into becoming a Stay at Home Dad which he shares with us here. His values and opinions on parenting and fatherhood are refreshing and I just know you’ll enjoy reading his interview today.
Hey guys. I’m ‘The Stented Papa’ – Ross to those who know me. I’m a 38 year old Dad of two beautiful girls, aka ‘The Nips’. Nip #1 is Mia, who recently turned 4 and Nip #2 is Baby Elle who has just turned 1. I live in Dublin with my amazing partner of seven years, Mel – aka ‘The Missus’ who recently made me the happiest man in the world (again) when we got married.
Recently my life changed, big time. In November 2015, I was told I’d ‘Multiple signs of Heart Disease in both sides of my heart’. Bamb. I ended up needing 4 stents inserted into my heart. I went back to work but I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t focus. We needed to do what was best for me & my family and that resulted in me giving up work to become a F/T SAHD looking after our girls and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s also allowed me to become a Daddy blogger. Every cloud and all that 🙂
How many children do you have?
We’ve three. Well, truth be told, we’ve two actually. Two beautiful girls – Nip#1 and Nip#2 aged four and one who are best friends. It’s like poetry in motion watching them together. It’s three if you include our two year old dog who we’ve had since he was eight weeks old and believe me, it’s just like having a third child!
Are you a Working Dad, Stay at Home Dad or Work from Home Dad?
Since March this year, I’m a full time Stay at Home Dad and I’m loving it. It’s been a blast. To be honest, prior to becoming a SAHD, I actually worked from home with an Irish tech company called Pubble, so it wasn’t a massive shift of mindset for me which made the transition so much easier.
What are the most challenging aspects of managing your blog life and your family?
There are two aspects and they are both constant.
(i) Time – or lack thereof.
With two nips and one mut to look after, I need to add at least eight hours a day to get everything I want done. When I started blogging, I was on fire. Looking back now, it was like, ‘yeah, I’ll write a post now, no worries’ and then the summer holidays happened for Nip #1. She finished creche and in the click of a finger, my time and energy, just vanished into thin air! The difference to my relatively new routine was completely turned on it’s head. The gaff was in bits by 9am everyday, cushions/toys/teddies pegged literally everywhere. Man, I was thinking holy shit, what’s just happened??!!! So my time for blogging ended up being once the nips were asleep (8.15pm ish) and ya know what, by that time, I was bolloxed (excuse my French!).
(ii) The other for me is a Love/Hate relationship and they are linkies. I love them, I mean I love the concept of them and the benefit they bring. They really have helped me gain new followers and to promote my brand name but boy are they time consuming! When I spend time reading others and commenting, I find I’ve little to no time left for posting new content. And if I decide to write new blogs – which is kind of important when you are a blogger! – I don’t have time to read new content and comment which is a requirement on all linkies, agggghhhhhh! Further to this, when I don’t comment on others I get ‘the guilt’ !! Catch 22 or what?!
How do you overcome these challenges?
Right now, I’m struggling if I’m very honest. It’s frustrating. But with Nip #1 in big school now, I’m slowly getting back into a new routine with both fitness and blogging so I’m hopeful I can get back into the swing of things.
What do you do in order to maintain a healthy balance between blogging and family?
Well, I try to not let my blogging take up any unnecessary family time. The girls come first and once I’m satisfied we’ve had plenty of fun and fresh air, then I’ll blog. Every now and again, I’ll let them watch a movie so I can get a sneaky blog started or finished. Or on the rare occasion when I’m alone – like right now actually as Mamabear has the nips with her over at their cousin’s house – and I have the headspace to happily blog away! It’s fair to say, alone time is a luxury these days 🙂
What is the best part about being a Dad?
At the top of the tree, it’s the overwhelming feeling of joy, happiness and love I experience every day. It’s phomenonal. It’s only something a parent can comprehend. Playing with my girls, tickling them until they can’t take any more, bringing them to the park, going running with them, reading for them while they sit on your lap, brushing their hair, teaching them things (like Nip #1 learning to ride her bike and Nip #2 practising how to walk), getting them dressed, hearing how Nip #1 got on in school today, watching Nip #1’s imagination develop as she plays with her toys chatting away to herself in whatever little bubble she happens to be in at the time, listening to Nip#2’s mumblings, watching the relationship grow and develop between my two girls is just beautiful. Hugs and kisses, watching them sleep (love this one), hearing ‘You’re the best Daddy’ and ‘best day ever’, watching them both play with Noodles (our dog), the fact that my girls have not only made me a father, but they have made me a man – all these things are what makes being Dad the best job in the world.
Do you think it is easier or harder to be a parent now than when you were being raised?
Ohhhh, that’s a toughie isn’t it?!! I’m gonna have to say today. Two immediate reasons spring to mind and they are (i) the role technology & social media plays and (ii) the ‘always on kids tv channels’. When I was being raised, they simply were not an issue. I love tech and social media but I am very concerned about the current younger generation and the effect it will have on them as they grow. I’m concerned about the following – online bullying, the ability to become anonymous online, the art of conversation, ability to talk to real humans, the amount of screen time, constant cartoons on tap non stop, toy ads bombarding their tiny minds among other things. When we were young, we played outside all the time, fresh air filled our heads. When cartoons came on the TV, it was a treat and we loved it (Jayzus, I sound really old now haha). I’m sure parents had many (different) issues for us when we were growing up but I think today’s issues pose a very different proposition.
What is your biggest fear as a Dad?
Believe it or not, I was once a young boy and I know EXACTLY what young boys want when they fancy young girls! It’s natural of course and it will happen but yeah, that part of the future scares me even if it is a long way away! Also, the day when they don’t need or rely on me. That will be a bitter/sweet day as I’ll be so proud of them when they are all grown up and independant yet deep down I’ll know that they won’t need Dada in the same way as they once did. Lastly, I’d hate to get a call telling me they are in trouble because they’ve drank too much or have taken something. You hear stories about it and my heart sinks. Being the optimistic, I’m hopeful that’ll never happen.
What is the one thing you would have done differently as a new Dad?
Well, I still consider myself as a new Dad even though Nip #1 is 4 !! I’d have to say bottle feeding. Both our girls were breastfed for ages and it’s really benefited them. Nip #1 just wouldn’t take a bottle whereas Nip #2 loves hers. So, I guess I missed out on that bonding experience with Nip #1 so if anything, I’d have tried more to get her use to being breastfed and taking a bottle. It would also have giving Mamabear a break! We got it right with Nip #2 and did exactly that.
If you could share one piece of advice to other soon-to-be Dads, what would it be?
Be as hands on as possible. Don’t shy away from anything, get involved with everything from the first second. And enjoy the journey lads, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn as you go.
What is your favourite way to relax when the kids are all in bed and out of your hair?
Nice glass of wine, great conversation with The Missus and some good food. Oh yeah and blogging of course! Agh, the family life – it’s just the business 🙂
Thank you so much to Ross for sharing his insights into the wonderful world of parenting with us. Ross can be found at his fantastic blog, The Stented Papa and is definitely one to watch. You’ll be hearing a lot about The Stented Papa in the future I reckon. Check out Ross on Twitter and YouTube where you can find out more about the Beard.
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