The Dad Diaries: Stuart Hall, freelance film producer – Day 1

Etta - daughter of Stuart Hall

The first in this new series, Stuart Hall – dad-of-one and freelance film producer  – shares five ‘days in the life’ over Easter weekend with his one-year-old daughter, Etta. There is laughter, tears and – let’s face it – poo. Welcome to fatherhood, day 1…

Alongside his role as a dad, Stuart Hall is a freelance producer in commercials and film. He just finished producing his first feature film The Man With Four Legs, which came out in March on iTunes and Amazon. 

The Dad Diaries: Day 1

A 2.30am wake up call to the smell of faeces is kind of a regular occurrence these days. Gone are the mornings when the sizzling sound and glorious aroma of bacon and coffee would wake me up. Now it’s the smell of poo.

I don’t mind though, it’s basically half my poo anyway and the smile I get when I wipe her little bottom more than makes up for it.

We are some of the lucky ones when it comes to sleep. I hate to brag, I hate to boast, but our little girl sleeps 11-12hrs a night. Without waking up. I know, I know. I’m sorry. Honestly I am. But saying that, we did have to go through 10 weeks in hospital as our 2lb (1kg) bundle of joy was born at 28 weeks. She was never sick, just early and little. What those 10 weeks did to her as a sleeper though was pretty incredible. Imagine sleeping in a room full of screaming babies, beeping alarms and constant movement from nurses, doctors and parents. The NHS has basically trained my daughter to be in that coveted 1% of babies that sleep through the night. THANK YOU NHS.

Fast forward a year and we now have a 10kg baby who well and truly rocks my world. As she was so premature, she still sleeps in our room. Unconventional I know, but we can’t quite bring ourselves to move her out. What it does mean though is when she isn’t waking me up with smells that are straight from hell, she is waking me up with the biggest smile ever.

My wife and I take turns to sleep next to her so if she does get a bit restless through the night, at least one of us has a pretty good night’s sleep. I then get up with her every weekday morning anywhere between 6am / 7.30am. This is Daddy time and I live for it. We cuddle, laugh, practice standing, sing ‘If You’re Happy And You Know It’ (which she claps along with immediately) and just have fun. It’s infinitely better than any coffee, any sugary drink, or anything else to set you up for the day.

The rest of the day consists of me going to work. Yawn. I then count down the hours until I’m back with our little family unit. I am fully and acutely aware that my wife and every mother has one of the hardest jobs in the world. Her day is exponentially harder than mine. Don’t get me wrong, she LOVES being a mum. She adores her time with Etta and can’t even think about having to go back to work in June. That being said, keeping a one-year-old entertained is hard enough, let alone trying to parent, develop, teach, instil the essence of right and wrong. It’s actually mental when you think about it. Which is why, when I walk in the door from work, it’s my job to give my wife a break. It’s my duty as a father and a husband to give her time off. Time to herself. Time to be a woman and not just a mother.

I take our little Buddha bellied girl and give her a bath. Watching her eyes light up as soon as the magic word ‘bath’ is mentioned is great. Watching her splash around, in her own little world, literally washing away the troubles and tears from the day is what being a Dad is all about.

Putting her to bed with the last bottle of the day and watching her take herself off to sleep makes me think, you know what, we aren’t doing too bad at this parenting thing. She’s survived another day and I wonder what wonders await us tomorrow…

Tomorrow, things aren’t so rosy. Come back to read about Day 2 – when it all suddenly turns to shit (though not literally)…