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The misadventures of a stay-at-home dad: "Got your hands full, there!"

It’s 10:30 am somewhere round the area where I live. Nap time. There’s two toddlers sitting side-by-side in the double pram, hunkered down for the mid-morning snooze. However the possibility of this ebbs, flows and eventually recedes with every curb I bump the weighty stroller over. Attached to my torso is one, upset baby. A baby that has refused to sleep for most of the past 2 months. Decked out in a pink pram suit with matching knitted hat, her rage only increases as I struggle to bash the pram up the next obstacle on the pavement. The pram is heavy by the way. It never used to be as heavy but inevitably the sheer volume of bourbon biscuits the boys have eaten recently is starting to make itself known.

It’s a fresh day, beautiful yellow rays illuminate the grey frosted suburban surroundings we trudge through. There’s a suggestion of dragon’s breath, and some occasional twinkles catch my (heavily bagged) eye as the sun hits a drop of dew on a frosty blade of grass. Then there’s me, the stocky, red-faced, sweaty, stressed father of the three insomniacs I pack mule around this morning. All windswept, but not interesting. Tired as well, the kind of tiredness where your eyes feel like they’re cracking the skin on your face just by opening. The papoose on my torso isn’t the usual one I use so I’m already fed up. It has these extra thick straps that wrap around my ample waist which has an unpleasant squeezing effect on my belly. If I had a tie on you could make sausages out of me. The shoulder straps are also too small, I almost have to push them forward like some grotesque Grendel interpretation from 2007’s Ray Winstone epic Beowulf, all hunched and gurning in pain. To get the arms through they literally need to be attached to the area on the edge of my nipples rather than the sockets they currently rest in. Because of all this my back has now almost completely seized up. Then, right on cue, my angelic 5 month old, attached to me so closely our heartbeats are almost in sync, decides to let loose with a throat clawing, blood-curdling scream.

My angelic 5 month old in a state of disarray

The kid has already had a bottle and her nappy was changed this morning, she refuses to fucking sleep so surely it can’t be that. What is wrong with her? I turned a deeper shade of crimson as a cold sweat trickles down my hot face. The yelling continues, like that monkey in Toy Story 3 but scarier.

Curtains are twitching now as the locals understandably start to be concerned this loud noise is indicative of some kind of warning system for a nuclear attack, think Threads but with pampers.

I realise that she must actually be tired, the self-inflicted lack of sleep she’s put herself through has finally taken it’s toll. I dislocate my shoulders from their sockets and in some incredible turn of acrobatic parenting perform a textbook 180 degrees swivel to fix her onto me so we’re now face-to-face. There's snot, tears, and spit is streaked across my shirt and into my beard, the baby herself is also not in the best shape. But, once the arms are back in their anatomically correct positions, I am again able to continue our morning constitutional.

As I crash the buggy up yet another curb and narrowly avoid a bollard, wheeling it through the entrance to the local country park, I see the boys are both asleep now. Bliss. The younger of the two has his ever present chocolate bourbon half-eaten and dangling from his mouth. The older one is lying straight almost military style, as he sleeps off last night’s squash. We’ve done it. The three kids are napping and we’re off for a lovely albeit painful traipse outside. As I cross the next road an elderly gentlemen walks the opposite way, looks us up and down and with a wry smile says, ‘’Ooh, you’ve got yer hands full haven’t yer?!’

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