Sam Avery’s blog The Secret Diary of a Two Year Old is one of our absolute favourites and a must read for any parent. It will have you cracking up and probably looking at your toddlers in a very different way from now on.
He’s also just released his debut book Confessions of a Learner Parent that hilariously documents his first two years as a dad to twin boys. From being covered in poo to wrestling a baby to sleep. We caught up with him to find out why he did it and what he wished he’d known before becoming a dad.
D.A.D: Congratulations on the book – how did it come about?
SA: I do stand up comedy so I have always written anything funny or silly down for material; I’m always writing in my phone or my notebook and have been that way for over ten years. When the boys were born, I thought to myself there’s going to be some gold here but because I’ll be sleep deprived and genuinely confused I better start writing it all down.
I started writing down a few ideas and I thought to myself, if there’s some good stuff in here I could maybe use a bit of it on stage; optimistically I might get ten minutes of material or something.
Then I started writing it on my laptop and putting quite a bit of thought into it so I thought I’ll just stick it online and started the blog just as a bit of fun really. There was no plan!
Early on, when babies are first born you have quite a bit of time on your hands so I used that to write the blog. Before the kids, I would drive around the country for gigs but this changed when the boys were born to more regional gigs to make sure I was home and not missing anything so more time was mine. For the first three months, I was doing a blog every day which has tailed off dramatically now they’re older! But luckily, I’d managed to build up a small following and it has sort of escalated from there.
D.A.D: Have you attracted a different audience?
SA: Absolutely. A lot of the people reading the blog had no idea that I did stand-up – in terms of stand-up comedy, no one’s heard of me, I’m just a jobbing comedian that does comedy clubs! So the people I was getting on the blog just knew me from the parenting side and the humour.
D.A.D: What’s been the biggest shock about becoming a dad?
SA: The unrelenting monotony of the routine you’re in; it’s never ending. Obviously, in that routine there are some moments of utter joy that you’ve never felt in your life, but also there’s a lot of moments where you think this is never ending. And the sleep deprivation – that’s something else.
Those people that say to you, ‘I’m really tired today – I think I’ve had too much sleep,’ they really annoy me.
Also, there are other little moments such as rocking your baby to sleep. I always thought that getting your baby to sleep would be this calm, swaying while you’re looking in their eyes and they drift off but it’s more like wrestling an overgrown salmon. I remember at some points holding the boys and just saying ‘shut up, shut up!’ which made me feel bad, a bit.
D.A.D: What do you wish someone had told you before having kids?
SA: I got a lot of advice after having kids when I started writing the blog. I wish someone would have told me before they were born that there’s no right or wrong way of doing it and that’s the centre of everything. There’s no manual or destination – you don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going and that every kid and situation is different. You just have to trust your instincts and I still don’t do that enough.
D.A.D: Where did you go to for dad stuff (before you found out about D.A.D of course)?
SA: I used to go on Mumsnet a bit and there were several frantic Google searches in the middle of the night. With Mumsnet I just felt I was entering into this murky world of abbreviations and things that I wasn’t sure what they meant. I’m sure they’re very helpful but a lot was lost on me. Google was a saviour. How did people cope without Google or the Internet?!
D.A.D: Do you think dads need more support?
SA: The shared paternity leave is hopefully getting more popular with dads but we’re still a way away from equality sadly. I think women in general are more likely to ask for help which is wonderful and unfortunately, some men are still very much keeping things to themselves and having that pressure of being the breadwinner and not asking for help. Men’s mental health is struggling as they don’t talk as much so there’s a big issue there. This needs to be part of a bigger conversation where men are encouraged to ask for help or advice and admit they’re struggling; it’s a sign of humanity. For me, writing the blog was so therapeutic and to be honest I don’t know how I’d have coped if I didn’t have that as an outlet.
D.A.D: In what way was it therapeutic?
SA: The writing I was putting out there were, what I thought, my failures and things that were only happening to me as a dad. When I had people coming back to me finding my writing funny and getting enjoyment out of it, that felt amazing. I then had other parents getting in touch saying that these experiences were happening to them and their kids too and they were so relieved that it wasn’t just them and in turn, I was so relieved it wasn’t just me so it became almost a support and share hub.
What happened then was even when things were tough and I was covered in shit at three in the morning or something equally as traumatic I would think, this is going to make an amazing blog post and that really helped me.
D.A.D: What are your next plans?
SA: I would love to do some stand-up about the book as currently I’ll just do 20 minutes or so of accessible stand up to a mixed audience so to really focus on this material would be amazing. I have, I think, so much good material that’s not in the book that would work on the stage but I guess it all depends on how the book sells.
Sam’s book Confessions of a Learner Parent is out now and you can buy it here.