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Céad míle fáilte

Living

Diary of First Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

It’s hard enough being first-time parents and looking after our baby. But Frankie is not the only girl entrusted to our care.
My wife is a bean an tí for Colaiste Acla in Dooega, and so summer means chaos in the form of 16 teenagers staying in our home.
Yes, you read that right, 16.
From the June Bank Holiday ’til the end of August, our home has been a home away from home for teenagers down in Achill looking to improve their Irish.
For two weeks at a time, they arrive, mostly from the east coast, and move into Teach Aisling.
Previous summers where we were housing students were never straightforward, but it is suddenly much more complex and stressful when you add a baby in the mix.
I’m gone to work during the week, so it’s my wife who has to endure the worst of it. A fair amount of skill and patience is needed to keep sane.
When I’m home in the evening it is all hands on deck. Dinner is served for the students who head off for a disco or céilí at 6.30pm. Due back just after 9pm, that’s our window for getting Frankie fed, bathed, changed and to sleep.
Once the students are back, there would be far too much noise to be able to even contemplate putting a baby to sleep. Just think about the noise volume of 16 teenage girls returning from a disco.
Virtually every night we’ve succeeded in having Frankie down and asleep in time before the madness starts. And, to our baby daughter’s credit, once she is down, she’s hard to wake.
But we’re always on guard too, making sure the girls keep the noise levels to a reasonable level. We have them warned that if the baby wakes, nobody in the house will get any sleep for the night. A bit of a mistruth that one, but it seems to work and move the noise levels from ‘OMG I just saw Ed Sheeran’ levels of excitement to merely boisterous.
The girls themselves have to be in their rooms and have the lights out by 11pm.
The next day starts whenever Frankie wants it to and we’re on the carousel once more. This last week it has been 5.30am or 6am, and it’s a long day from there on.  
During breakfast and dinner time, Frankie sits in her entertainer and has great fun looking at all the girls. For a baby who loves people watching, having 16 teenagers in her presence is a dream.
Thankfully, the summer hasn’t turned into a nightmare for her parents. Yet.