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Why I Blog – guest post by James Tew of Raising3daughters

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james and girls

This week I’m delighted to be hosting a guest post for the first time and its author is James Tew, a dad blogger from Australia. Here’s a post where he talks about what being a parent means to him and explains why he started his blog Raising3Daughters.

Why I Blog by James (@james_tew)

A while ago, I asked Jonathan to write me a guest piece on why he blogs. Well it is time that I return the favour.

You see, in Jonathan’s post, he talks about the growing number of dad blogs popping up in the UK and wanting to join the conversation. But I didn’t start blogging because of the growing number dad bloggers here in Australia, I started because I wanted to become a better writer, tell my story and show people who aren’t yet dads, just how great it can be.

It all started while we were travelling across Australia, moving my young family to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory where we knew no one. Sure, lots of families have been in this situation but our was a little different to most. 3 weeks after we arrived, I left to undertake a course to change careers. Not only was I leaving my family in a new, unfamiliar city but I was going to be gone for 19 weeks.

Leading up to this I had been blogging for sometime. Trying to carve my piece of real estate in the busy social media marketing niche. I stood no chance. I was new to the field, no one knew me or wanted to know me and I was getting disheartened. But as we travelled across the country, my wife said to me “why don’t you start writing about being a dad instead of something you don’t know much about?”

Perfect I thought.

Before I met my wife, I never pictured myself as a dad, let alone welcoming my first child into the world at age 23. But something felt right when we found out that my wife was pregnant. Sure I was scared to death for the entire 9 months of the pregnancy but it was like this was meant to happen.

A year down the track we were expecting number three (my wife already had a daughter when I met her) and I began to lose commonality with the friends I had grown up with. I was in the military and spending months away from home, they were finishing degrees and working in powerful corporate jobs. I was also a dad whose life revolved around three little girls where as they didn’t have children.

No longer could I go down to the beach on a 40 degree day just to lay in the sun, kick the footy and drink some beers. Instead I was thinking about “when is the next episode of Peppa pig on” and “when is it nap time so I can use the toilet in peace!”. I felt like I was becoming more disconnected from my existing friends but we still caught up and had some great times but they were limited.

When I started blogging about being a dad, I didn’t do any research into dad blogging. I came up with, what I thought was, a witty name for my blog and just started writing. However, after a few posts, I searched the internet for guys like me who just wanted to tell their story. After all, that is what it is about isn’t it?

This was a thing, I discovered. Dad blogging was a thing, a growing niche.

Hundreds, if not thousands of men around the world just looking to share their stories with each other. From the UK to the US, New Zealand to Australia, I’ve managed to relate to hundreds of blog posts from dads around the world. That is what I truly love about being a parent blogger and is partly the reason why I continue to blog.

But I genuinely love being a parent. Despite what my wife would say about me being impatient and what this post says, I love being a dad. Blogging allows me to share that pride of being a parent and I maintain that there is NO better feeling that the one you will see in this video!

When I first watched that, I cried. I’m not going to deny it. It’s tough to watch because I have been in situations like that before. But do you know what I think the best thing about parenting is?

The unconditional love that you receive every day from your kids.

I love being able to share that feeling, or at least I try to convey that feeling to my readers.

Blogging allows me to connect to people around the world, like Jonathan, that I would normally never meet in my lifetime. I have now friends, that if I was in the US, UK or somewhere else in the world, I could email and catch up with them for a beer. What else gives you the power to do that?

That is why I blog and that is why I will continue to blog about being a parent.

If you have kids, what do you see as the most special aspects of being a parent? If you are a parent blogger, do you have a special reason why you started blogging?

Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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2013 – a year in review

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I was flattered to be mentioned in the ‘2013 – a year in review’ post by John Adams of DadBlogUK. It’s always flattering to receive this sort of compliment from a fellow blogger, especially one has so much to contribute to debates about what it means to be a dad and parent today.

Another reason that I was pleased to have been mentioned in John’s post is that it helped me to decide what  would blog about this week. This is what I am supposed to do as I have decided to participate in this ‘2013 – a year in review series’ (…if I’ve tagged you in this post, please feel free to follow suit or not as you see fit, I appreciate that you may have a whole series of other posts lined up for the next while):

1. In your post, be sure to link back and thank the blogger that previously tagged you

2. Answer the questions below and tag at least 5 other bloggers

3. Include the badge in your post

Right, here are my answers to the questions that the other bloggers who have participated in this chain of post have answered:

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1. Your top 5 new favourite blogs to read in 2013

 As I only started blogging in June of last year, I’ve gone for five blogs that were new to me even though they may have been up and running for a while:

– Stephen Greene’s Head of the Heard. Stephen is from England but lives in Brazil with his wife and son. His blog is full of fascinating insights on Brazillian life and culture as well as humour and reflections about bringing up their child bilingually. As a fellow bilingualparent, I find this last topic particularly interesting.

– Olga Mecking’s European Mama. Olga is another parent blogger who has moved from one country to another, being originally from Poland and now living in the Netherlands. On her blog, she discusses topics such as multilingualism, traditions and cultures around the world and also general issues to do with parenting.

– Dean Beaumont’s DaddyNatal. Dean is the founder of DaddyNatal, whose tag line is ‘practical, memorable and enjoyable antenatal education for men, by men’. He is also the first professional male antenatal educator in the UK. I first heard about him and his organisation after my mum mentioned that she heard him take part in a discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. I love his upbeat focus on what it means to be a man and a dad, and this really struck a chord with me around the time when I was about to become a dad.

– Tom Briggs’s Diary of the Dad. Tom has a real knack when it comes to writing humorous posts about all sorts of things with which a lot of parents will identify. The anecdotes that he recounts about being a dad often have me chuckling away in front of my computer. He has also discussed various topical issues to do with parenting, children and families.

– Leanna Guillen Mora’s All Done Monkey. In addition to running a lively and fun blog where she discusses bilingual and bicultural parenting, Leanna is also one of the main people behind Multicultural Kid Blogs, a group of bloggers who are interesting in topics such as raising kids to be aware of a variety of different cultures and languages. This group is always coming up with fun projects to do with parenting such as online book clubs and is also full of articles about all sorts of different traditions and cultures around the world.

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2. List your 5 most read blog posts of 2013

1. Being a Bilingual Parent. In this post, I talked about why my wife and I have decided to bring up our son bilingually using Welsh and English. We live in Wales and have found this to be quite a fun challenge as neither of us grew up speaking Welsh but we have both learnt the language since moving here.

2. It’s International Baby Wearing Week, so we went to Sling. My wife and I both enjoy carrying our sun about in a variety of different sorts of slings. We also live only a few miles from a small village called Sling. It only seemed right to go there to mark International Baby Wearing Week and take some photos of us with our son in a sling next to the Sling road sign. As well as this random silliness, this post contains some really interesting input from bloggers in different countries about attitudes to babywearing around the world.

3. Parenting clubs shouldn’t just be for mums. I wrote this piece due to my frustration at how the parenting clubs run by some big chains of shops in the UK seem to devote very little focus on the fact that dads are parents too and can play a positive role in the raising a family. I called for dads to be more visible in materials the ‘parenting’ materials produced by some such parenting clubs that focus almost exclusively on mums.

4. Baby ‘essentials’ – things that you’re told you need but could probably do without. In September of last year, a Saturday newspaper in the UK ran a feature entitled ‘The 50 best baby essentials’. I saw a lot of the items on the list as expensive luxury items that it is fairly easy to live without, so I wrote this post in response (…after counting to ten, sitting down and waiting for steam to stop coming out of my ears).

5. 6 things I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent. In this post, I took stock of what I had learned about parenting in the half year following the birth of our son. After writing this post, I really enjoyed hearing other parents let me know what they had quickly learned about parenting after their arrival of their children. I’m constantly learning all sorts of things about parenting as our son grows up and now do a post each month in which I reflect on the lighter side of being a parent. The most recent one is entitled 9 thoughts from my 9th as a parent.

3. Name one blog you wish you had found sooner

Scott Behson’s blog Fathers, Work and Family is one that I always love reading due to the way in which it combines being thought provoking, practical and highly engaging. Scott describes his blog as one that ‘is dedicated to supporting work-family balance for fathers’. So much of what he says strikes a real chord with me as I continue to try to do my best to balance work and family life. If you’ve read any of the posts that I’ve written on here about paternity leave, you’ll probably realise that this something that I see as a really important issue.

4. Your favourite blog post of 2013

If this means my favourite post from 2013 of those that I wrote here, I’d probably have to say that it’s one entitled What parenting and game shows have in common. It was quite a fun post to write, especially as the writing process involved watching YouTube clips of some of game shows such as Catchphrase, Going for Gold and Takeshi’s Castle that I used to love watching.

If I had to nominate the blog post that I most enjoyed reading as opposed to writing in 2013, it would have to be one entitled Dad, are we poor? from Aaron Gouveia’s blog Daddy Files. It provided a really poignant focus on striking a balance between earning money to support one’s family and spending time with one’s family.

5. What would you like to improve (if anything) on your blog next year?

I keep wanting to improve the layout and visual aspect of this blog. I think it’s improved a bit since I added the pictures under the title. I’m also trying to become a bit more focused when it comes to the types of posts I do. Each month, I plan to do a post about languages and cultures, one about what I’ve learned about parenting that month, a topical post and one or two others on whatever takes my fancy.

6. Name one blog you have a blog crush on

Hmm. Having a crush on a blog seems a bit of an odd notion to me, especially as I am now in my mid-thirties. I don’t think that there were anywhere near as many blogs around when I was of an age to have crushes.

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7. How often do you post?

When I started this blog in June 2013, I was planning to post twice a week but this swiftly became once a week so as I had more time to read other parent blogs and also make sure that I was being a parent in addition to blogging about it.

8. Share your first post of 2013

Despite being just under 9 months old at the time, our son was kind enough to write a guest post entitled Baby’s first Christmas in which he gave his perspective on what December 25th 2013 was like. I am hoping that he will do occasional guest posts on my blog during 2014 and will be bribing him with blueberries and apple rings.

9. Name one thing you would be doing if you weren’t typing this post right now

I’d probably be reading a newspaper.

 

10. What have you loved the most about blogging this year?

I was really flattered to learn in the last few days of 2013 that I’d made it onto the shortlist for the Best Newcomer prize of the Love All Dads blog awards. As the result was annouced earlier this week, I can’t really tell you about it was revealed during 2014. Here’s a link if you want to find out though.

However, I don’t see blogging as being just an individual thing. I really loved being part of groups such as the Dad Bloggers Facebook group, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Kid Bloggers Network, DadzClub and LoveAllDads. It’s great that they exist and provide a supportive environment for parents and parent bloggers. There are so many great blogs out there and I am delighted to have discovered so many over the course of the last year.

What do you think of this post and what were your highlights of 2013? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it 

 

Babies, books and blogging

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2013-12-11 19.17.13I’ve read many books about parenting since learning that my wife and I were going to welcome a new arrival. Indeed, parenting books that are specifically aimed at dads were the subject of my first post on this blog. I’ve also talked about books that have helped me learn how to talk about wind, throwing up and tickling in Welsh.

I also did a post where I responded to a newspaper’s list of 50 supposed baby essentials, and this led to some interesting discussion about the most and least useful things to get when you have kids. John S. Green, who blogs at Papa Green Bean, suggested that a library card should have been on the list of essentials, especially as it can make it possible to borrow both books and music.

I was thinking about these comments recently as our son now has his own library card at our local library, which also entitles him to use several other local libraries. Not only that, but also received a free bilingual book about animals in Welsh and English when he joined our local council-run library. Our son has actually been going to libraries since he was three weeks old, notably because one of our local libraries was the venue for a parent and child Welsh course that my wife went to with him and has written about on her blog Mindful Mam.

For me, the fact that libraries are about more than just shelves of books sums of their value as focal points for communities. It is for this reason that I feel that it’s a real shame that public sector spending cuts in the UK since the last election have resulted in many libraries closing. Our local libraries make available books, CDs, DVDs, the internet and books that can be read on e-readers.

My wife has often said that reading books on an e-reader is great when breastfeeding. It’s amazing how light a device that can store thousands of books can be. This is a good thing as it minimizes the negative consequences of accidentally dropping an e-book reader whilst holding a baby, not that I’d know of course… 🙂

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Our son’s arrival has at times influenced my own reading choices, and not just because I’ve read quite a lot of books about parenting. In the run up to his birth, and since then, I have read quite a few about Wales and Welsh culture. We live in North Wales, and I moved here in 2007 due to work. After getting the job for which  was applying I rang all the Welsh people I knew at the time. It only took about five minutes and two phone calls.

I’ve thankfully got to know a few more Welsh people since then and have also been busy learning Welsh, a language that I now use as part of my daily life both at work and when talking to my son. As I mentioned a while ago in a post that I wrote shortly after the death of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, my mixture of Scottish and Irish roots sometimes leaves me a bit confused about my own sense of identity and I’m not sure what our son will make of the fact that he’ll be eligible to represent Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at football.

Since I talk to my son in Welsh, I’m going to have fun discovering new kids’ books in Welsh at the same time as him. Even if this means that I won’t be reading exactly the same books to him as did when I was growing up, I’m looking forward to the challenge. We’re lucky to have a really good local book shop that stocks a wide range of titles in both Welsh and English.

As a multilingual parent, one aspect of running this blog that I have really enjoyed is that it’s allowed me to connect with other bloggers in a wide variety of different places who are raising their children using more than one language, and also parents who are raising their children to appreciate a variety of different cultures. One group that has made this possible is Multicultural Kid Blogs, who bring together a fantastic range of bloggers and coordinate a great variety of different activities.

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Going back to the theme of books, Multicultural Kid Blogs have run an online book club where bloggers such as myself recently read Ana Flores and Roxana Soto’s book Bilingual is Better and discussed it on our blogs. Each week, a different blogger would write a post about a specific chapter in order to start the discussion. Here’s a link to the posts about each chapter. As you will see, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to host a question and answer session with Ana Flores on this blog.

In the new year, I’m looking forward to the second installment of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club. This time round, we will be reading Family on the Loose: the Art of Travelling with Kids by Bill Richards and Ashley Steel. So far, my wife and I have been on just the one overseas trip with our son since he was born in April. We went to France in September, and I talked about this in a blog post entitled Our First Family Holiday.

I hope that September’s trip to Brittany will be the first of many that we undertake as a family, and I really look forward to reading more about the experiences of others who have been traveling with kids for a lot longer than we have. If you are interested in finding out more about the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club and how to get involved, just click on this link to see the schedule.

As our son grows up, I hope that he will develop a love of both travel and reading, and discover how both can broaden the mind and be a source of excitement and wonder.

What do you think of this post? What books were special to you as a child and what books are special to you and your children no? Feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it. Here’s the pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/428827195740258340/

Here are some parent blog link ups that this post is part of – check them out to see some great posts about all sorts of different aspects of parenting:

 

 

 

Why I’ve become a dad blogger

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My proofreading assistant

This article is an updated version of a guest post that I wrote for on James Tew’s blog Raising3daughters.

It seems like not long ago that I was reading an article about the growing number of dad bloggers in the UK. Within little over a week, I too had joined the craze and set up a blog entitled Dad’s the way I like it. I didn’t set up my blog because I thought that I had something to offer that was better and different from all the other blogs out there, but rather that I’d seen that there was an exciting dialogue going on and I wanted to participate in it.

Since becoming a dad in April of this year, and indeed in the months just before that, I’d thought a lot about what it meant to be a dad and how dads are represented in the media. I wanted to share my views on both of these issues and also talk about my own experiences of fatherhood.

Setting up the blog on WordPress before I’d even started to write my first post was in many ways the most challenging part as I spent ages trying out all sorts of different colour schemes. Selecting a name for the blog was almost as challenging as trying to decide upon one for our son. It was, however, a bit different as I decided that I’d not wait to see what my blog was like before giving it a name and our son’s names don’t form a slightly corny sounding pun.

My first post was about preparing for fatherhood and the books that I’d read about this while my wife was pregnant with our son. It certainly wasn’t read by massive numbers of people, but I was pleased to just get it out there and get my blog up and running.

Since my first post, I have blogged about topics such as representations of dads on televisionmy experience of paternity leave and the ‘blue for boys, pink for girls‘ mentality. In recent weeks, I have also talked about what happiness means to me as a parent and why I think that dads have an important role to play when it comes to supporting breastfeeding. I have deliberately tried to strike a balance between giving my views of topics to do with representations of dads and parenting and talking about my own experiences.

One of the most satisfying aspects of running the blog has been interacting with fellow bloggers and interacting and parents from around the world. Over the last few weeks, I have had discussions with parents who live in the UK, US, Australia, the Netherlands, Brazil and Singapore. As we’re bringing up our son bilingually using English and Welsh (as I discussed in a recent post), it’s been great to share experiences with other bilingual parents. The Multicultural Kid Blogs group on Facebook has been a great source of interesting ideas and posts from fellow bloggers from around the world – here’s a link to their website.

What I have found is that there’s a lot of solidarity among blogging parent bloggers, even if understandably there is not always agreement on all aspects of parenting. It’s been fascinating sharing different perspectives via Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in addition to discussing things on the blog itself.

There are so many groups for dads or parents who blog on Facebook and Google+ and I’ve particularly enjoyed being part of the Dad Bloggers Facebook group. This group is great for sharing posts, discussing fatherhood and issues to do with running a blog. Although I blog about being a dad and initially mainly interacted with fellow dad bloggers, I’ve enjoyed being part of groups that include dad and mum bloggers in recent weeks. I really like the way that the Parent Bloggers Network holds Twitter chats on specific topics on Sunday evenings from 9-10pm UK time (see @pbloggers and search for posts tagged with the #pbloggers hashtag).

One of the main challenges with blogging that I have encountered is striking a balance between posting regularly and not spending too much time posting and reading other blogs. I’d initially planned to do one post at the weekend and another one mid-week, but have decided to stick to one a week so as not to give myself too much to do on top of a full-time job and spending as much time as possible out of work just being a dad and husband.

Another reason that I’ve decided to stick to doing just the one blog post a week is that I keep on discovering so many other dad and parenting blogs that I want to read. Some of these are fairly general, whilst others focus on more specific issues such as work-life balance or bilingualism and parenting.

As our son is just under four months old and this blog is about half that age, I’m clearly fairly new to both parenting and blogging and feel that I still have a lot to learn about both. I wouldn’t say that I feel that blogging about parenting necessarily makes me or anyone else a better parent, but I would say that it has helped me to think about what it means to be a parent and what is important in life.

If you are also a parent blogger, why did you set up your blog? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below. There’s also a dialogue going on at the pBloggers network about why people start parent blogs, so why not participate in that as well. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen.

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