Monday, September 21, 2009

Haircuts for Preschool Kids

Haircuts for Preschool kids can always be a bit of a challenge. It seems that it does not matter what we do or say, they are afraid that it will hurt. Well, I have come up with a method that seems to work, & we both laugh ourselves silly. First, a little prior warning, there is not a lot of style here, & it probably only really suits boys.

Step One. I let Ed {my 4 year old son} know that we will both be having a hair cut later in the day, I tell him this first thing in the morning so that he has a little time to get used to the idea. I also let him know that it is both of us, & he will also be helping to cut my hair. This tends to place an element of trust in the deal & he seems to realise that I would not let him do it to me if I knew that there was a possibility of getting hurt.

Step Two. We both go to the bathroom & strip to our underwear. I set up the Electric clippers with a #2 blade & guard. We then both stand in the DRY shower recess {please ensure that the recess/bathtub is very very DRY}, and also make sure that the tap is very firmly in the off position.

Step Three. I use the clippers on my own head & take a few strokes just to remove some of the hair, while saying that it is fine & does not hurt at all. Ed is by now interested. I then ask him to stand very still and place the clippers on the front of his head. I do not actually move them, but he can feel the buzzing sensation. Ed tells me it kind of tickles. I reassure him that all is fine & he is a big boy now. I now give a couple of small strokes so that some hair will fall at his feet, then remove the clippers from his head. There is a reason for this. It is so that he can lean down & touch the hair that has fallen & learn that it really did not hurt.


The first few cuts accross the front
Ed proudly holding the clippers
Ed proudly holding the clippers
Ed doing the job on me. This was a surprisingly difficult picture to capture
Ed doing the job on me. This was a surprisingly difficult picture to capture
Doing the area around the ears on little Ed
Doing the area around the ears on little Ed
And then on myself.
And then on myself.
The final result, & we are both all smiles
The final result, & we are both all smiles

Step Four. I now give thanks to the great god of inventors & the person responsible for the clippers safety guard. I give the clippers to Ed and ask him to cut a little of dads hair. He gets a real kick out of this & then very carefully starts to cut the front of my head. Yes, I do have a mirror next to the tub, & I can see what he is doing. We do not want little fingers in the wrong places. However, I feel i have taught him responsibly, & he knows where to hold the clippers & where not to put his fingers. I think it comes back to mutual trust.

Step Five. We alternate for a while between each other, and get a few laughs out of cutting funny patterns in the hair. After a lot of the hair is cut I take over to do the remainder. I then brush us both down with an old soft brush that I only use for this purpose. I stand Ed on the bathroom sink cabinet, remove the guard from the clippers & trim around his ears, then do myself in the same area.

Step Six. We gather up as much of the hair from the tub as possible and place in the bathroom bin. We do this because it is so much better than blocking up the drain. It is now almost over, all we do now is turn on the shower & wash ourselves down, & clean the remaining hair from the tub at the same time.

Now I know that I am probably going to receive a bit of negative feedback about this method. However, it works for us. I have never had a crying child while trying to cut his hair. We have a good time and laugh a lot. Obviously I am very aware of all the safety aspects & ensure that there is no water at all in the room prior to starting the process. I also make double sure that everything is turned off & packed away before we get in the shower at the end. I never mix power & water, the results are just too devastating to even consider.

The final result of this method is that we both get a hair cut. I am the first to admit that it is not exactly the most stylish of hair cuts, but it is certainly practical. Because I am a single dad, I am always on the lookout for methods that get the job done with the least amount of potential tears involved. We have learned that if the idea is stupid, and it "works", it is no longer stupid. I have always said that the only difference between a good {and possibly expensive} haircut, and a cheap home done haircut, is about two weeks growth.

Sorry about the quality of some of these pics, but I'm sure that you all get the general idea. Smile & have fun with your kids, they grow up too fast to miss out & try to go back.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Single Dad Life Part 2

A Single Dads life is never dull or boring. Ed & I have a lot of fun together & he is now starting to learn that I am not able to give him 100% of my attention 100% of the time. This has probably been the biggest hurdle to overcome. As with all children, he just wants me to play with him all the time. It has taken a lot for him to learn that there are times when I have just got too much to do to spend all of my day playing. As A Single Dad, I also have the other challenges that other parents must face. I'm sure that most of you will be able to relate to some of them, so thought that it would be an idea to tell some of the solutions that I have found that work, and also how to do so on a budget.


Eating

Yeah, right, get the child to eat the healthy food & leave out the junk food. Good luck with that I hear you say. Hey, guess what, I'm starting to have some success. A balanced diet for the kid is the key. A little bit of everything in proportion. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of junk food, as long as they get plenty of the good foods. OK, this is just like we adults have, but the portions are smaller. Now, how to get them to eat the good stuff. I went to the local supermarket & found a simmer sauce. It is supposed to be used with a whole chicken, but I had an idea. I put some precooked rice on a plate with some vegetables & a little meat {use any meat to make it interesting, just make sure that you have already cooked the meat}. Now put 2 spoon fulls of the simmer sauce over the meal. Put the whole plate into the trusty microwave oven on a medium setting for a few minutes. Bingo! A meal that he likes, & he eats the vegetables because he likes the flavour of the simmer sauce. The sauces are available in a wide variety of flavours. Ed's favourite at the moment is the Honey & Garlic however he is also quite partial to the Apricot & Mild Mustard.

I do a lot of precooking. I find it gives me a lot more free time. I can cook some sausages & store them in airtight container in the fridge. All I do then is reheat in the microwave when I need them. Now I am not talking about cooking a lot of them, only 6 - 8 at a time. This gives us a few meals & allows us to add them to whatever we feel like eating. We have also had success with a tin of Spaghetti cooked & added some meat that I had cooked the previous evening when Ed was asleep. Now I am also aware that fresh vegetables are the best for us. I am also fully aware that any vegetables are way better than no vegetables. So I am a great believer in the frozen variety from the supermarket. I get the packs with the small diced bits, because they they seem to mix better with the other foods that we have, & I get less complaints. I use the Keep It Simple Stupid principle.

I also get Ed to "help me" make the desserts. This is always a big hit with him. We have a rule that is if you do not eat your dinner, you do not get dessert. He wants to eat the dessert that he made, so he eats all of his dinner. The desserts that we make are really simple. We tend to go for packet custard, or packet jelly {the gelatin powder mix, add water & place in fridge}. These can be made very tasty with the simple addition of some canned fruit salad, or even a few spoonfuls of yogurt. I did learn that you add the fruit salad to the jelly mix after it has set in the fridge. If you try to add prior, the natural syrup in the fruit will cause the jelly to not set correctly & all you have is a sloppy watery mix in a bowl. Ed & I usually make these after our lunch so that there is plenty of time for them to set before the evening meal.


Household Chores

A single parent still has household chores that need to be done. All the cleaning, washing dishes, washing clothing etc. I get Ed to help me with these chores. Sure, it does take a little more time to get them done with his help than it would if I did them alone, but it is good for him. He is occupied & doing something constructive rather than looking at the TV, and he also gains a feeling of self worth because I tell him that what he is doing is important. I let him know that he is clever to be able to do some of these things. He feels clever, important, and most of all, loved. I have taught him to put all his dirty clothing in the hamper & not on the floor of his room. I find that this helps him to develop a sense of responsibility.

Cleaning the floors of the house is always good fun. I give Ed a small broom {it is "his" broom} and he sweeps all the hard to get areas like down between the fridge & cupboard, around the stove etc. We then sweep it all up & start to mop the floor. Ed also has his own small mop {an old squeegee mop with cut down handle}. He does make a bit of a mess with this, but it is not really a problem because it is only soapy water & it will dry eventually. Cleaning the Bathroom is always left till the last. We do it that way so that when we have finished we just jump in the shower & all the dirt from the tub {and from us} goes down the drain.

Pick up the toys from the living room floor. Oh my god, I can almost hear the laughter from here. OK, there are going to be toys all over the floor in the middle of the day. You will step on them, you will trip over them, they will hurt your toes {I hate Lego}. Get over it. The kid needs to play. We have got our little system where he knows that as I am making the evening meal he is packing away the toys. Our routine is we have our evening meal, we have our bath, then shortly after, it is his bedtime. I have explained that any toys that are out after he goes to bed, they go in the bin. He has seen me place 2 toys in the bin, I have not had to do it again. It was very hard for me to do, but I did it & he learn a valuable lesson. I have several boxes in an area that we know as his. As long as all his toys are in or on the boxes & the shelf next to them, that is good enough. As I said in part 1, the rules will be different depending on the age of the kids.


Sleeping

Trying to get a small child to get good sleeping habits is not easy as a single parent. It can be done. There are a few things that you must keep in mind and be very aware of. Your child feels as if they have been deserted. It does not really matter what you say or do, they will be afraid that they will wake up & find that there one & only parent has now gone as well. They are very afraid that they will lose you too. This is the main reason that it is difficult for them to willingly go to bed without you there. It is a battle that only time will heal. With time I have taught Ed that I will always be there for him.

At bedtime we lie on his bed together & I read him a bedtime story. He is a fan of Whinny the Pooh, so it is usually one of those stories that gets read. Before the story we have a little chat about some of the things that happen during the day. We also discuss some of the things that we have planned for the next day. I know that some of this may sound strange, but he likes it because we are chatting about the things that we have done together. He knows that I like to have him around me. We then read the story & I sometimes have to answer a few questions that only a four year old boy can think of about a simple story. After the story I give him a hug, tell him he is a good boy & that dad loves him very much. I also tell him that his mother loves him lots as well. Hey, just because we are no longer together does not mean that I do not respect her relationship with my boy. Ed also feels better because he knows that he is loved by many people, even though they are not all in the same house together. I then kiss his cheek & get up off the bed & turn off the light saying goodnight as I do so.


Miscellaneous

There is just so much as a single dad that could be written about. I'm sure that any single parents reading this would agree that we all feel at times as if we could write a book, if we only had the time. I can only tell of my experiences & the things that I have learned. I do not try to be an expert in any way, shape or form. If, like me you are renting a property, or about to rent a property to live in, I have a few suggestions that will make life a lot easier.
Avoid carpet at all costs in the living areas. Carpet is a massive dirt trap and unless you get it professionally cleaned on a monthly basis normal weekly vacuuming just is not enough. Another downside is that you will need to pay a security bond when renting. There is nothing worse than having most of the security bond disappear due to the carpet cleaning costs when you need to move out. Try to find a place that has tiles or some other type of hard surface. It is easily cleaned and your costs are reduced a lot.
Have the child's room next to your room. He needs to know that you are only on the other side of the wall. If you have lots of rooms to choose from {lucky you} also keep in mind that a child's bladder is not as good as that of an adult, so put him closer to the things that he will need.
Buy a light sensitive night light. These are great & you just plug them in. These days they are usually LED's so give off a great light & consume next to no power. I have one in Eds room, one in the hall, & one in the bathroom.
A little boy needs to learn how to aim when going to the toilet. a method that I have used with great success is to use a ping pong ball. Draw a face with a permanent marker on the ball & put it in the toilet {do not worry, it will not flush down in your average toilet}, little boys love the challenge of trying to get the face. Problem solved, no more pee on the floor.
Above all, remember to have fun with your child. He/She does not really want you to spend a lot of money on them, they only want a lot of your time. They do not really care what you are doing together, just as long as you are doing something together.
If you have your own desktop computer, get a web cam {they are only a few bucks at most electronic stores}. Kids love to see a recording of themselves. You can then also chat with the cam to other friends that have a cam. Those friends have kids, the kids see each other and also chat. Yes, with Windows Live & with Yahoo you can do a video call. This means that it is like a phone conversation with the advantage that you can see each other.
Along a similar subject, it is worth having a look at Skype. This is a free program that you download & install. It gives you free phone calls from one p.c. to another that also has Skype. as it is all free, why would you not do it. Some people have said that they can do the same thing with Windows Live & Yahoo, & they are correct. However I have found that these providers get very busy & quite often the cam gets disconnected, Skype does not seem to have that problem. Me, I run all three of them.


Finally

I know that there is just so much more that I could write about here, but I'm suffering from the old "Where do I start & where do I stop."
Please feel most welcome to ask questions, give feedback, or offer suggestions.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Single Dad

This started as an idea that I have recently had, so thought that I would do the modern version of putting pen to paper.

My name is Paul. I am a 44 year old {At time of writing} single dad of a 4 year old boy. His mother & I separated quite some time ago. I will not go into the details of why we separated, that is not the aim of this blog. The whole idea of this blog is to share a few things that I do to live as a single dad with my boy. If you are wanting to have a cry about your separation, please go to a different blog or web site. I am doing this to help myself & others like me to move on & get over it. Not to dwell on the situation & have my own pity party. So settle back, make a coffee & have a read. I hope that I can at least make you smile.

I have figured out reasonably quickly that the old fashioned ways of dealing with kids seem to work much better than most of the newer {politically correct} methods. As a single parent, you really do need to be firm with the rules, and follow up with what you say. I have had a bit of experience with kids, as I also have 2 older boys {there should be a pic around here somewhere} to a previous marriage. No. I am probably not going to go for third time lucky.

Edward has recently had his 4th birthday. A lot of the things that I say here will be relative to a 3 / 4 year old, however it can be modified to suit most kids ages. The first thing that needs to be done is to sit down with them & explain that there will need to be some rules. The rules will need to be dependant on the age of the child. Obviously it is just not possible to explain some things to a 2 year old that a 12 year old would find simple to understand. So try to keep it simple & relevant. The rules will also be based around your daily routine. Routine is very important.

I can not stress enough on how important routine is for kids. Routine gives the child some form of stability. Think about this for a moment. Your child has just had his/her little world turned upside down. They do not understand why everything has changed, and in a lot of cases do not know how to find out or ask. It is very difficult for a young child to get the answers that they need, when they do not know what question needs to be asked! Give your child a routine so that something in their life is constant. They can then build on this.

Build your rules around the Routine that you develop for them. As an Example. When Ed & I get up in the morning we go to the kitchen to make the breakfast. Ed will go to the cupboard & get his cereal while I get the plates & put the kettle on. We eat our breakfast together. I have learnt that it so much more easy to get a child to eat, if they can see that you are eating the same as them & at the same time. I might also add that it is also a hell of a lot more easy to prepare a meal once & not prepare 2 seperate meals.

After we eat breakfast we then wash the dishes. Yes, thats correct, WE wash the dishes. I let him "help" me. We have a small stool that he stands on to reach the bench. I have learnt that if he thinks he is helping me, he likes it. As a bonus, he is learning something. We then go to the lounge room & watch Sesame Street, Playschool etc. This is great, as I check my emails at the same time. Try to participate in the things that are happening on the show on tv, because you can also mention the subjects later in the day. Hey, it doesn't hurt to try to educate the kid a little. Remember, while your child is watching this wonderful program, you now have the opportunity to have that cup of coffee that you have been soooo wanting!!

Ed has learnt that I can not spend all of my day playing. Because of this I get him to "help" me with the household tasks. WE do the clothes washing, we put them in the machine, hang them up, & take them in. He also help me to fold & put them away. If you need to go to the shop for anything, try walking rather than drive. It is amazing the things that kids find to amuse themselves with. Ed & I very rarely drive these days, we usually walk, or use public transport. The other upside to this is that you save a small fortune in the running costs of the car, & do good for the planet we live on at the same time.

I talk with my child, not at my child. There really is a big difference. You will need to learn the things that you kid likes, and then actually listen to what they have to say. Personally, I now know a lot about Ben 10, Pokemon, Dinosores, and the list goes on. While doing this I also teach him about the things that I like. Ed now knows a lot about cars & boats etc, & is a big fan of Top Gear. As a single dad, there are a few people that you need to become friendly with.

The people that you need to become friendly with are wide & varied. Now I do not mean that you need to be best friends with them, just known to them & friendly with them. The people that own & opperate the local Nightowl Store are fantastic. I also always have a quick chat with the people at the local paper shop. The girls on the checkouts at the local Coles supermarket have also got to know Ed & I as well. You may think to yourself why do you need to be so friendly with these people. The answer is actually very simple. They all say hello to your child & call him by name. Sometimes they even say hello to me!! The good thing about this is that Ed does not have any bad things to say when I say we need to go to a shop. He knows that people are going to be nice to him & say hello. All kids love to be the centre of attention. As a bonus, I quite often get FREE stuff. Nothing big, only a icecream or similar, but hey, it is free! Seriously though, the kid ikes going to the shop & I have never had a screaming child in the shop, he enjoys it too much.

Another great idea is have a look on the local notice boards. You will usually find something along the lines of a local group of mums that have a coffee morning/afternoon. Now these groups are great. They are set up as a chance for all the kids get to play together in a supervised area, while you get to sit, have a coffee & a chat with other adults. As a real bonus you will usually be the only male there. You just never know, some of them might even have single friends!! Yeah, I am a really positive thinking person.

All of these suggestions do several things. They increase the "other things" to think about & do. Also they increase the number of people that you can talk with. Believe me, I know what it is like to only talk to a 3 year old all day every day. It sounds great at first, but after a while you really do need something resembling semi intelligent conversation. In this modern world that we live in, it is very easy to only chat with people online. We as humans need more than that. We need actual conversation.

Having said all of this, I would not change the fact that I get to spend so much time with my boy. There is nothing quite like the look on other peoples faces on a train when he decides that he wants to chat about bums. Especially when he decides that we all need a bum because we need it so that we can fart! Do not be concerned or embarassed when this happens. Just have a quick look around & notice that there are a hell of a lot of other people that are trying so hard not to laugh.

How about in the supermarket. There we were in the fresh fruit section. "What are those things Dad?" I explained to him that they were cherries & very tasty. "Mummy said that only girls have cherries" I thought the old dear looking at the grapes was going to choke! So, I learnt that a child will repeat everything that they hear, but usually when it is when you really do not want them to say it. Did I also mention that children have beautiful clear voices that carries so well, even in crowded & noisy areas.

I'm not going to give instructions on how to bath a child. There are plenty of other web sites that can tell you this. Nor am I going to going to tell how to do nappy changes. The way I figure it, You the reader probably know all that anyway, so I will not insult your intelligence. I'm just sharing a few things that I have learnt. I have figured out that it does not really matter if the house is a little untidy. There is going to be toys laying around the house. There is going to be some clothes laying around the kids room. Do not get upset about it. There really is a difference between untidy & dirty. My home is a little untidy, I'm the first person to admit that fact. However, it is clean. If something gets spilt, it gets cleaned up. Floors get mopped / vacuumed every week. Benches in kitchen get cleaned daily {at times, several times daily}. Bathroom / toilet get cleaned weekly. You get the idea I'm sure.

video

I'm a lucky man, as I work from home online. I know that this is not possible for a lot of men, and I can really relate to how difficult life is when you have to juggle work and babysitters / child care etc, I have been in that situation. I do not have a lot of spare cash. I earn most of my cash online & a little from some wise investments that I made many years ago. The positive side to this is that I get to spend most of my time with my little boy. The negative side, I get to spend most of my time with my little boy ! I choose to think of it as a positive.

As I mentioned previously, I do have two older sons to a previous marriage. I keep in touch with them on a very regular basis. We send text messages, & emails. Now here is a real tip, join MySpace. Both of my boys have a MySpace profile, & they are both on my friend list. Now I admit that this may sound a little strange, but there really is a good reason for this. I learn more about the interests of my kids. I also learn more about the interests of their friends. The days that we do spend together, I know what they are talking about & do not need to have long explanations to bring me up to date. Most of their frinds also think that it is kinda cool to have their friends dad chatting with them as well. I have met some of these kids when I have met up with my boys, & they are all great kids. It might not be MySpace that your kid uses, it might be Facebook, or Friendster. There are so many of them. Find out what it is that your kid uses, & join up. If it is MySpace, please feel welcome to add me up while you are there. You will find me here. You might also be interested in the other blogs that I have here, and at Hubpages.

As a footnote to this blog, since it was originally written Ed now turns on the kettle in the morning & puts the bread in the toaster.....