A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Here at Little Treasures, we often see parenthood from the mother’s point of view, but what about Dad’s side of the story? Three Kiwi dads, each in different stages of fatherhood, talk about the highs (and lows) of life as a parent
We talk to three dads about their experiences of parenting
As a father to four, including New Zealand’s most famous skateboarding toddler – Youtube sensation and Treasures nappy rep Wyatt (above) – Hadleigh Brown is no stranger to chaos. His home is constantly loud, overflowing with energy, and specifically caters to little people, with trampolines, lego, skateboards and bunk beds filling every corner of his Point Chevalier house. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. Here, he reveals what it’s like to be a dad to four very active (and cute) kids, all under the age of six. How many kids do you have and how old are they? Four altogether – Emmett, six, Mabel, five, Ray, four, and Wyatt, two. Did you always envision having four kids? We always wanted a large family, and we wanted to have them pretty close together. It may have been too close together in hindsight! When Emmett was four and a half we had four kids. It was a bit of a challenge but we had lots of family support. At four, we’re definitely keen to draw the line. A lot of people would say, ‘Well, you’ve got the boy and girl – why would you have any more?’ But you just roll with it. I don’t think you know what you can handle until you’re in the situation. You just adapt to the resources and the time that you have, and you somehow make it work. What is the most challenging part of being a father to four kids? The amount of one-on-one time you can give to each of them. We try our best to manage that wherever we can, even if it’s just reading a book or taking five minutes to talk about Pokémon cards, or Wyatt showing me his latest trick. When you work Monday to Friday, it’s always a challenge.
What are the best things about having a large family? It keeps you fresh and gives you perspective. You’ve got four different strands; to see how they evolve is really interesting. They’re all so different but the dynamic between them is really fun. Watching them look after each other in a big group is good. Yes, it’s semi-chaotic, but it injects a whole bunch of fun into your life. What is fatherhood really like, compared to what you expected it to be? It is a massive adjustment in terms of your personal independence and the amount of dedication that you have to apply to it, but it’s totally worth it. Casting my mind back [to before we had the kids], I was a vacuum of knowledge. I didn’t really know what to expect when the baby was on the way. You read all the books and you have all that theory, then the baby arrives and throws that theory on its head because it doesn’t work, or the advice is conflicting. The hardest thing for me was going from one [child] to two. That might partly be because Mabel had colic. Emmett was a breeze; it was very straightforward. As the dad, I took the charge with Emmett quite a lot and I was relatively hands on but when number two came along it went up another notch and I think, for me, the shock that suddenly you’re not outnumbering the kids is kind of scary. I’m normally not totally awesome with surprises and I like to know what’s coming; I had to let go of that and learn to adapt. It definitely took a lot of self-reflection. It’s always a work in progress – that’s what parenting feels like, and it probably will forever I guess. What advice would you give to a dad who hopes to have a large family? Embrace the chaotic environment and focus on what you can control; let go of what you can’t. And just remember that there’s always tomorrow.
Hadleigh’s tip: the chaotic Embrace environment