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21 thoughts from my 21st month as a parent

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21 thoughts Food, football and France. Read about these and more in my latest monthly collection of thoughts about being a parent…

1. Our son has got increasingly polite and sociable recently. Only last week, he helped to put out some rubbish and then said ‘bye bye wheelie bin, see you later!’.

2. The best thing about borrowing CDs of kids’ songs from the library to play in the car is that it’s usually time to return them just when they start getting irritating.

3. I think our son has inherited my dress sense. Here we are wearing matching outfits:

2015-01-10 10.22.27 4. Within the last month, I’ve had a very proud moment as our son said ‘pêl-droed’ (football) for the first time.

5. Our son is still learning to play football, which probably explains why I won 15-0 in a recent game in our back garden. He is improving though, it was 28-0 to me the previous week.

6. Talking of football, one of my favourite things about being a dad is that it’s now a lot more acceptable to play football in the living room than it used to be.

7. Our son can make a bit of a mess at times, but is also very interested in using our hoover. IMG_20150120_173334862 8. It’s sometimes hard to know when our son’s saying ‘mamma’ and when he’s saying ‘banana’. I hope he doesn’t end up sending a Mother’s Day card to a piece of fruit.

9. However, our son has managed to recently say both ‘granny’ and ‘grandad’ on Skype.

10. Our son has been introduced to some elementary human biology in one of the books he’s been reading recently (see below). IMG_20150126_194318016 11. Our son is getting very enthusiastic about helping out with our two chickens. We’ll need to stop taking him out too early in the morning as he often ends up walking back across the garden towards the house shouting ‘look, eggs!’.

12. He is getting a bit more aware of noise though. When he comes back to bed after getting up during the night, he often shouts ‘QUIET’ just after coming back into the bedroom.

13. Not so long ago, I was somewhat disappointed that our son hadn’t really experienced playing in proper snow that I decided to make him a snowman out of play dough.

IMG_20150111_131152161 14. Thankfully, we did get some proper snow not long after I made the play dough snowman (…maybe there’s a link?).

IMG_20150202_074804849 15. As someone who teaches students French for a living, I was pleased to hear our son recently say his first French word. it was ‘voila’.

16. As our son is showing an interest in France at the moment, I’ve been telling him about how Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep a vineyard he owned in the south of France. It’s quite well known that he’d herd it through the grapevine.

17. Our son may not be two yet, but he’s already decided that it’s time he has his own house (see below).

IMG_20150119_214152745 18. Our son recently told me off for lining up all his toy animals in order of size. Apparently it’s because he doesn’t like me critter sizing.

19. I’m glad to see our son showing an interest in healthy eating. When I got home from work recently he was taking this to a new level by trying to feed grapes to his toy giraffe.

20. Due to his interest in animals such as giraffes, we recently decided to make our bathroom look a bit like a jungle (see below). IMG_20150204_081419011 21. Coming up with over 20 thoughts about parenting per month is getting quite challenging. I’m going to keep this feature going until our son turns two and will then be replacing it with a new format. Watch this space!

What do you think of this post and what do you remember from your first year and a half as a parent? 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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I have added this post the following parent blogger link-ups:

20 thoughts from my 20th month as a parent

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20 thoughts from my 20th month as a parent Read about baking, bilingualism and bicycles in my latest monthly round-up of some of my little highlights of being a parent…

1. Our son recently helped to prepare dinner but started crying when we put it in the oven. I think we’ll have to try to help him get over this as I don’t fancy switching to a raw food only diet.

2. Any idea what the following have in common: an Alan key, a bank card reader, a stone, a toy car, cuddly toys, a large piece of polystyrene packaging and a plastic spoon? They’re all things that our son has tried to take to bed with him in the last few months.

3. In the last few weeks, our son has enjoyed pushing a doll round our front room. However, it looks like he still needs to work on his baby carrying technique (see below). 2014-11-08 11.32.50 4. When picking up our son, I often count to three in Welsh (‘un, dau, tri’) and then say ‘whoosh’ as I lift him off the ground. He now seems to think that ‘whoosh’ is Welsh for four.

5. After cycling home from work, it was great to come in to see our son having fun on his new tricycle. He was moving around pretty quickly but I don’t think he’d be able to keep up with me on my trip to work on the cycle path yet. 2014-11-30 09.11.59 6. On the way to work last month, I saw a man who had painted his face purple. I think he was doing it for MAUVEmber.

7. When I bought a new bicycle recently, I decided to get one that had a horn on the handlebars. I tried to explain to our son that this was because I thought I might win the no bell prize.

8. While eating yoghurt today,19 month old son stopped, put finger in air and said ‘potato’. Can’t think where he gets weird sense of humour.

9. On a visit to a butterfly farm recently, our son’s two favourite things were washing his hands in the sink and watching a member of staff use a hoover. He wasn’t as interested in the meerkats or the llamas. 2014-11-30 15.57.43 10. Our son met Father Christmas for the first time at the same butterfly farm recently. He enjoyed it even less that seeing the meerkats or the llamas. Still, he did at least get a little red football from the man with the beard.

11. Talking of Christmas, how did Mary and Joseph know that Jesus was 7lb 6oz when he was born? They had a weigh in a manger!

12. Our son said the word ‘funny’ for the first time a few weekends ago. I’m surprised it’s taken him over 19 months given the quality of my jokes.

13. Our son has shown an interest in some books more than others recently. A few nights ago, he quickly gave up on his Thomas the Tank Engine book before spending ages engrossed in a book of ice cream recipes.

14. In fact, he’s been so interested in reading that I’m thinking of employing him as a researcher for this blog. He’s been hard at work on this task recently (see below). 2014-11-15 17.18.12 15. He’s also keen to play a role in writing on the blog now… 2014-11-18 08.19.02 16. In fact, our son was actually on eBay when I took the photo above. He was trying to put in a bid for Rudolph and Blitzen. I had to stop him and tell him that we couldn’t buy them as they were two deer.

17. Our son quite enjoyed helping to decorate our Christmas tree recently. However, he also enjoyed starting to un-decorate it (see picture below). 2014-12-14 10.06.58 18. Our son seems to be looking forward to Christmas at the moment, although I’m not sure quite to what extent it is capturing his imagination. At a recent Christmas market, I thought that he was pointing up at the decorations but instead he started saying ‘seagull, seagull’. In some ways this is a good thing as seagulls are present in North Wales for a larger proportion of the year than Christmas decorations.

19. The floor of our living room in our house was recently covered with toys, as it often is. This apparently wasn’t enough for our son. He went into the kitchen and grabbed two leeks to play with. Leeks are very much associated with Wales but it’s not – as far as I’m aware – customary for toddlers in Wales to use them as toys.

20. Our son recently started trying to peel the labels off tin cans in our food cupboard. Next time we try to make a Thai curry, it might have coconut milk in it or it might have baked beans instead. 2014-12-15 19.06.09 What do you think of this post and what do you remember from your first two years as a parent? 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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I have added this post the following parent blogger link-ups:

Happy International Babywearing Week!

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babywearing week

Last year, we marked International Babywearing Week by visiting the nearby village of Sling with our son in a sling. A year on, we’re still carrying our now 18 month old son in a variety of different sorts of slings and we now live several miles closer to the village of Sling after a recent house move.

I’ve found myself blogging about babywearing several times over the last year, which reflects the fact that slings have come to be a lot more than simply a sort of ‘hands-free kit’ for carrying our son. As I’ve said here before, they have really helped me to bond with my son and helped to me to comfort him and get him to sleep on several occasions.

Here’s a look back at my own babywearing highlights of the last year:

2013-10-06 15.30.54

An obvious place to start is our visit to the village of Sling to mark last year’s International Babywearing Week. To add an international dimension, I also discussed babywearing around the world thanks to the input of a great range of parent bloggers who are part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs group.

Looking back a year on, I cannot believe how much our son has grown since the photo on the left was taken. We still carry him in slings from time to time, but this now officially counts as weight training.

2014-07-05 11.13.04

One of the places where I’ve often taken our son in a sling is our local supermarket and I wrote about this in a post earlier this year called Shopping with our son in a sling. It may seem like a mundane weekly activity, but it has also become a semi-regular weekend father and son bonding activity which allows my wife to take a break while we head out on a little expedition. I’m not sure if my parents took me shopping in a sling when I was a baby – the photo on the left seems to suggest that they tried to dress me in handknitted clothes that went with the shopping trolley.

2014-07-19 19.04.40Over the last year, I’ve also enjoyed sharing experiences of babywearing with fellow members of Sling Dads UK, a group that promotes babywearing among fathers.They also organized a Sling Dads Family Camp this summer, which led to me writing a post about Camping with a toddler. This post is the most popular one that I’ve written on this blog so far.

Over the last year, babywearing has really developed from being a way of getting out and about with our baby son to one which has provided a great form of bonding with him as he grows older and more aware of the world around him. Slings are a crucial tool when it comes to getting him to sleep in the evening when my wife is out. Finally figuring out how to get our sleeping son out of a sling and into his bed without waking him was one of my proud parenting moments. Most people probably manage to this before their child is over a year old, but I certainly wasn’t one of them.

I have at times wondered where my love of babywearing has come from. In some ways, it’s definitely due to my wife being very keen on slings. However, a photo that I discovered at my parents’ house when preparing a blog post entitled Like father like son suggests that the true answer may be that it’s genetic. As the photo below shows, my dad also carried me in a baby carrier back in the late 70s and early 80s. As I’m fast asleep in the picture, it looks like I quite enjoyed it!

2014-07-05 10.56.59-1

What do you think of babywearing and is it popular where you live? Have you ever carried your children in a sling and did your parents use baby carriers when you were young? 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.

I’ve added this post to the following parent blogger link-ups:

Reading with baby on Fathers’ Day

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Fathers' Day

Despite being only fourteen months old, our son is already showing an interest in books. Sometimes this involves pulling them off shelves rather than actually reading them, but I still see such acts as small steps on the pathway towards literacy. Before he could walk, one of our son’s favourite activities seemed to be crawling into our spare room and trying to empty the entire contents of a set of bookshelves onto the floor.

He also tried a similar trick on a visit to a library event for toddlers and little kids at which I energetically tried to pick up books as soon as he’d thrown them on the floor. I think that this was a game that he quite enjoyed in fact. Indeed, he seemed to like it even more than playing with any of the many toys that the library had. When I was small, I also enjoyed messing around in libraries. I once left part of the bottom of one of my trouser legs in a library – it was a turn-up for the books.

wpid-wp-1396641417977.jpeg

As it happens, one of the first Christmas presents that I bought for our son was a book called Dilyn Dilys. The title is Welsh for ‘following Dilys’ and tells the story of a sheep called Dilys who goes for a walk and encounters various different birds and animals along the way. As someone who has learnt Welsh as an adult, I sometimes come across words in Welsh language children’s books that I do know. Indeed, I discovered the Welsh words for bees, thistles and fluffy thanks to Dilyn Dilys.

In addition to providing an opportunity to enrich my Welsh vocabulary, I also see reading kids’ books as being part of quality father and son time. My dad and my mum both read to me as a child and I’m sure that my wife and I will both read to our son as he grows up. We’re bringing up our son bilingually and this normally involves my wife speaking English to him and me speaking Welsh to him. By exposing him to books in both languages, I hope that our son will be able to take pleasure in the cultures and traditions that are associated with the Welsh and English languages as well as taking in the words (and pictures) in his books.

2014-03-01 19.18.11

As I started learning Welsh as an adult after moving to Wales back in 2007, reading to my son has meant that I’ve generally not been using the very same books as the ones I had read to me when I was small. In some ways, this might seem like a bit of a shame but it is also a source for me as I get to discover new books. Indeed, I’ve quite enjoyed looking through the kids’ books at a fantastic local independent bookshop that stocks a great range of titles in both Welsh and English.

Our son seems to be showing quite a bit of ambition when it comes to reading despite being very small. On a recent trip to a library with mummy and granny, he decided that the books for babies and toddlers weren’t all that interesting and instead kept grabbing books about things like dinosaurs and robots from the shelf for older children.

2014-04-20 16.03.56

I’ve also tried to keep ahead of the game when it comes to reading and parenting. As I mentioned in a post entitled Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes, I have been stocking up on joke books in both Welsh and English so as I can take on the traditional paternal role of sharing puns, one liners and other forms of rib-ticklers in different languages. Some might say that I don’t tell many good jokes in English so shouldn’t have trouble failing to tell decent jokes in Welsh. However, I feel that I would be failing in my paternal duties were I not able to tell dad jokes in both languages.

I’m not sure what’s in store this weekend for Fathers’ Day but I’m looking forward to spending some quality family time with my wife and son. Last year we went out for lunch and then on to a local pottery shop where we got our son to decorate some plates with paint footprints and handprints. He was so calm and relaxed about it all at the time, but I think things would be a bit different now that he’s walking and running all over the place. I certainly wouldn’t be relaxed taking him into a pottery shop anyway!

 

I’ve written this post as part of the #DadsRead campaign that is being run by the Zoobean blog and the Good Men Project. To see more posts on this topic, search for the #DadsRead hashtag on Twitter.

 

What are you looking forward to this Fathers’ Day and what books do you like reading with your children?  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.

 

OTHER POSTS FROM THIS BLOG ABOUT BOOKS AND READING

Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes

Happy World Book Day!

Babies, Books and Blogging

 

I’ve added this post up to the following parenting blog link-ups:

Baby showers: what about dads?

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Multicultural Kid Blogs - Virtual Baby ShowerAs our son is swiftly approaching his first birthday, I am today joining with fellow members of the Multicultural Kid Blogs group who are co-hosting a blog hop about baby showers and becoming parents. Last week I blogged about the day that I learned I was going to become a dad, and this week I’ll be talking specifically about baby showers. If you have written any posts about similar themes, please feel free to link them up to the blog hop at the end of this e-mail.

I’ve generally seen baby showers as being a bit of North American thing, although I have seen articles in the UK press suggest that more and more baby showers are now taking place here in the UK. As it happens, my wife and I didn’t have a baby shower. We did, however, go for a nice weekend away to Liverpool a few months before our son’s arrival on what I believe is sometimes known as a ‘babymooon’. We stayed on the edge of the city centre and enjoyed eating tapas, going on a Beatles tour of the city, taking in a comedy night and eating one of the best ever vegetarian roast dinners we’ve ever had.

Rightly or wrongly, I normally see baby showers as being mainly mum orientated. However, it’s good to see that there is information out there about how to make baby showers more men-friendly. I think that it’s great to celebrate the impending arrival of a child with friends and think that it’s ever better when dads are either involved in this or find a way of marking this too. After all, if you’re going to bring up a child together then it makes sense to prepare for it and celebrate it together.

Magical Mystery Tour: a good name for a Beatles tour of Liverpool and possibly a metaphor for becoming a parent?

A Magical Mystery Tour: a good name for a Beatles tour of Liverpool and possibly a metaphor for becoming a parent?

While preparing this blog post, I asked some fellow dad bloggers what their views on baby showers were and found it fascinating to hear back from several who had either been to this sort of event or knew people who had. Several, such as Mike Crider (The Father of Twins), suggested that baby showers could and should be more inclusive. Australian dad blogger Darrell Milton (Modern Father Online) mentioned that he and his wife had a joint baby shower for their first baby that was based around a barbecue, and several others shared similar experiences.

Michael Bryant (The Purposeful Pappy) argued that as he and his wife do most things together, they decided that this should mean jointly hosting a baby shower. Michael mentioned that their baby shower was attended by both men and women, as did others such as Micah Adams (Big Boned Biker). Mark McNulty (The New American Dad) reported being the only man at the baby showers that were predominantly focused on his wife but that his work colleagues organised a baby shower specifically for him. Mark added that including a dad-to-be in a baby shower could make him ‘more excited or comfortable with the coming change in his life’ and also ‘have a positive impact on preparing him for his new role’.

Several dads talked about enjoying baby showers that were specifically for dads-to-be or that had been planned with dads in mind, and several of these seemed to have a lot in common with the sorts of Dadchelor Parties that have been discussed on the Life of Dad website and podcast. Brian Marks (Dashing Dad) talked about enjoying being able to hang out with male with friends while drinking beer and watching baseball, and Craig Fortner (The New Age Mister Mom) enjoyed a similar type of event that his sister organised for him. Chris Daddio (Buff Daddio) and Spike Zelenka (Double Trouble Daddy) shared similar stories. Just as dads value different aspects of baby showers, Jeff Tepper (Ay yo, be a father) pointed out that his wife hasn’t keen on having what he termed a ‘classic women’s only baby shower’ and that their event didn’t feature any baby games.

We may not have had a baby shower, but we wasted no time before getting a baby bath.

We may not have had a baby shower, but we wasted no time before getting a baby bath.

Reading these tales led me to wonder if I’d missed out on something by not having been involved in some sort of baby shower prior to my wife and I becoming parents. Although it’s hard to come up with a categorical answer, I think that it’s fair to say that we both benefited from discussing parenthood with friends who’d already had kids. Just as my wife found it useful to have talked things through with friends who were mums, I also feel that I really benefited from discussing all sorts of things to do with child birth and parenting with friends who had become dads shortly before I was due to become a parenting.

What I think this boils down to is the need for both mums and dads to be present in discussions about parenting so as to get an idea of what to expect and face up to concerns, challenges and whatever else together. As a blogger, I know that I’ve gained so much both from being in groups for dad bloggers and also from groups for parent bloggers than are made up of mums and dads.

What about you? Did you have a baby shower? What do you think of baby showers and whether they should be made more of an event for both mums-to-be and dads-to-be?

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.

 

The co-hosts of this blog hop, listed below, have each written posts related to baby showers or more generally about becoming parents, plus we’d love for you to link up yours below.

Also be sure to visit our Facebook page to leave your advice and well wishes for our guests of honour!

Co-hosts

Multicultural Kid Blogs

the piri-piri lexicon
Vibrant Wanderings
Creative World of Varya
La Cité des Vents
Spanish Playground
Dad’s the way I like it
Tiny Tapping Toes
All Done Monkey

 

 

 

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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.

Time to talk about mental health

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Mental health can be a serious issue and it’s a real shame that it isn’t always easy for individual people to talk about it or indeed society as a whole to face up to it. February 6th is Time to Talk Day here in the UK and it is hoped that this date will be one on which people begin conversations about mental health in order to help raise awareness and demonstrate that mental illness and talking about mental illness are not things to be ashamed of. Here are five aspects of mental health and talking about mental health that I feel are really important:

1. Mental health problems affect lots of people every year. It is estimated that in any one year, one in four people in the UK will be be affected by a mental health problem. When you think that this could mean one quarter of your friends, one quarter of your family members and one quarter of your colleagues, this shows how big an issue this is. Although statistics on their own do not necessarily suddenly make life a lot easier for those affected by mental health issues, these figures do show that such people are far rom alone in terms of the issues that they face. I also feel that these facts should mean that society – whether that be the government, workplaces or individuals – has a duty to act in a sensitive and proactive manner to face up to the scale of mental health issues by being both tolerant and supportive.

2. I have real respect for people who speak of their own experiences of dealing with mental health issues, although I appreciate that not everyone will want to talk about these sorts of issues publicly. Just this week, I watched a very moving YouTube video of fellow dad blogger Lorne Jaffe talking about his experience of battling anxiety and depression in a very moving speech at the recent Dad 2.0 conference for dad bloggers in the US.

What I found very moving about Lorne’s speech was not just how he described his own experiences but the way that they clearly touched everyone at the event who was listening to what he had to say. A climate of empathy and support is something that I am sure benefits everyone and helps to make it easier for people affected by mental health issues to face up to them and talk to other people about them. Lorne Jaffe’s blog is called Raising Sienna and it’s well worth checking out.

3. I’d like to see the notion of ‘mental health first aid’ become more widely recognised. Mental health first aid wasn’t a term that I was familiar with until I attended an excellent two day training course last year that focused on different forms of mental health problems and ways of supporting people whose lives are affected by such issues. It’s fairly common for people in all sorts of different work places to train as first aiders so as they know some basic skills to apply if someone suffers an injury, but why isn’t this sort of approach extended to recognising and dealing with mental health issues? As the Time for Change campaign points out, it is likely that we all work with someone who is experiencing a mental health problem. Although attending a course on ‘Mental health first aid’ won’t suddenly mean that you’re able to identify, treat and resolve all the mental health issues that people around you may be facing, it will provide a lot of information and tips about how to approach mental health issues in a sensitive and supportive manner.

4. I really don’t like the phrase ‘man up’ and the sort of values that it implies. As I said in one of the first posts I did on this blog and also a more recent post about men’s health issues, I strongly dislike the way that the phrase ‘man up’ is often used in a way that discourages men from showing or talking about emotions. As mental health issues affect large numbers of both men and women, members of both genders should be equally free to talk about them and receive support. On a positive note, I really enjoyed reading this blog post by Carlos Andrés Gómez that seeks to re-appropriate the term ‘man up’ and put it to better use. I also identified with the sentiments expressed in the poem ‘Ten Responses to the Phrase “Man Up”‘ that is performed by the poet Guante in the video below (please note that the video contains some strong language).

5. As a dad, I hope that our son grows up in a world where he and all his friends will be encouraged to talk about mental health issues no matter what their gender or background. This may sound somewhat idealistic but I really do hope that initiatives such as Time to Change and Time to Talk Day will help to raise awareness of mental health and to change misconceptions. Even if you are busy today, it’s well worth clicking on this link and spending a few minutes reading over the statistics, facts and myths about mental health that it details. If you click on the link, you will find other links to additional information and sources of support at the bottom of the page. When it comes to dads and mental health, this blog post by the The Secret Father is also well worth reading.

What do you think about attitudes to mental health where you live? What needs to change and are there any positives in terms of approaches to mental health that you are aware of?  

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.

 

 

Parenting clubs shouldn’t just be for mums

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In the run up to becoming a dad in April, I joined several ‘parenting’ clubs run by big brands that provide special offers for parents. However, I’ve been dismayed to see that some of these clubs could be doing a lot more to engage dads as well as mums. Reading an article that Darell Milton (a.k.a. Modern Dad Online) wrote on his blog back in July of this year made clear to me that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I’ve written twice to the supermarket Tesco about this issue but have not received a reply. Here’s an extract from one of my e-mails that summarizes the issues that I have with their Baby and Toddler Club:

I recently joined the Tesco Baby & Toddler club as my wife and I are expecting a baby in April. Having just been on to the website link accessible through my Clubcard account, it seems that the Baby & Toddler club is very much focused on mothers and babies and largely ignores fathers. I find this disappointing and believe that it represents an overly stereotypical and outdated attitude towards parenting. I intend to play an active role in bringing up our child along with my wife, but feel somewhat excluded by the limited focus of the Baby & Toddler club. Such an approach both fails to acknowledge that men are increasingly playing a greater role in parenting and does little to encourage men who may feel reluctant about doing so. There needs to be a focus on Parents’ choice and not just Mums’ choice.

I would be most grateful if you could explain why the Tesco Baby & Toddler club fails to focus on fatherhood (or parenthood in general) as well as motherhood. I would also like to hear what steps you intend to take in order to make the Tesco Baby & Toddler club more inclusive and less gender-specific in the future.


To be fair to Tesco’s Baby Club, they do appear to be taking some steps in the right direction when it comes to including more features about or by dads. There is now a brief article entitled ‘How to be a good dad‘ and a longer and more useful looking one entitled ‘Top tips for dads-to-be‘. However, the section of the Tesco Baby Club entitled ‘Your family entitlements and benefits‘ makes no reference to paternity leave. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that paternity leave is a topic about which I feel quite passionate; I’ve given my views on the UK paternity leave system and talked about what I learned when I was on paternity leave.

One of my other main gripes is that the Tesco Baby Club offers section features the slogan ‘Making mums’ lives easier’. Whilst I fully appreciate that childbirth and pregnancy can provide many challenges that are felt most acutely by the mother, I’d have preferred to see a phrase like ‘making families’ lives easier’. Although some of the products on offer at the time of writing included shampoo and shower gel that one would most likely find in the women’s toiletries aisle, it also included different sorts of products in the categories ‘baby’, ‘toddler’ and ‘family life’. The ‘family life’ section included items such as razors and deodorant that would be found in the men’s toiletries aisle.

Recently, I thought that the Boots Parenting Club (Boots is the name of a well-known UK pharmacist) had started to turn over a new leaf when it came to trying to engage dads. The letter to me that accompanied their free magazine, began with the following words before talking up a variety of promotional offers:

What a thrilling time to be a dad.. All those experiences, all those ‘firsts’

However, the focus of the accompanying ‘parenting’ magazine was somewhat disappointing, and not just because it featured the slogan ‘making life easier for mum’ as the main tag line on the front cover. In the 52-page magazine, there was one picture of a dad and a mum with a baby compared to 22 pictures of mums with babies or young children. There was not a single picture of a simply a dad with a baby or child. In addition, there were many features where women talked about their experiences of being mums but none where men talked about their experiences of being dads.

When I see the sort of narrow focus on parenting that I’ve described here,  I feel that I – as a dad – am effectively being excluded. I may be working full-time while my wife is taking charge of more of the childcare, but I’m doing my best to achieve a work life balance that allows me to be as committed and involved a dad and a husband as I can be. I just wish that more big companies out there would realise that I am one of a great many dads who are striving to do this.

In addition, I am also aware of quite a few stay at home dads who are taking the lead with childcare whilst their wife or partner is out at work. Their experiences also need to be more prominent within materials about parenting. The same goes for adoptive or foster parenting and same sex couples who are bringing up kids.

To end on a positive note, I am glad to see that some companies are reaching out to dads and demonstrating a decent level of sensitivity and understanding where fatherhood is concerned. Within the last month alone, I’ve read articles from Huffington Post, The National Fatherhood Initiative and Scott Behson’s Fathers, Work and Family blog that discuss companies that have made commercials that provide positive and empowering representations of dads. I hope that it won’t belong before more brands follow suit by also focusing on the role that mums and dads play in parenting.

What did you think of this article? Are there in companies that are particularly good or bad when it comes to reaching out to dads when it comes to either their advertising or materials about parenting that they produce? Please feel free to share your thoughts 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!

I’ve linked this blog post up with the ‘Something for the Weekend’ parent bloggers link-up hosted by The Voice of Sarah Miles and Diary of the Dad, and also the #PoCoLo link-up hosted by Verily Victoria Vocalises.

Being a dad: celebrating the little things

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IMAG0943This post is a light-hearted look at my first six months of being a parent. I’ve been reflecting about all sorts of things since our son recently turned six months old, and this inspired my recent post 6 things that I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent. This time, I’m looking back at some of the lighter moments.

Some of these are reflections that I have already mentioned on my Twitter feed or on the Dad’s The Way I Like It Facebook page. A fellow parent blogger, Ute Limacher Riebold (who blogs at Expat Since Birth), suggested a while ago that it’d be a good idea to record these experiences so as my wife and I could share it with our son when he’s older. I guess that’s the sort of thing this blog is going to provide (as long as I back it up!).

All of the thoughts below come from between when our son was three months old and when he recently turned six months old, and I’ve arranged them in chronological order starting from the things that date from when he was three or four months old. I hope that you enjoy reading them. Let me know if they remind you of any similar experiences that you’ve had!

1. Making silly noises to get our three month old son to smile is now one of my favourite hobbies, especially when it also stops him from crying.

2. Have cold and our 4 month old son has cried twice due to noise of my sneezes. Now trying to go to another room when I feel a sneeze coming.

3. I’ve used becoming a dad as an excuse for buying several Muppets DVDs. We’re currently watching The Muppets Take Manhattan and really enjoying it!

4. I’m glad that our car’s central locking is now fixed. The alarm started going off a few months ago when I was getting into our car outside outside a hospital maternity ward at 5am. Our son was about five months old by the time I got round to getting this sorted!

Campsite

5. Thank goodness for YouTube and campsites with WiFi. So helpful when you’re struggling to put up a travel cot on your first family holiday! Here’s a link to the blog post where I talked about this holiday.

6. Got slightly excited about buying our five month old son his first ever toothbrush yesterday – is this normal parent behaviour?

7. Two highlights of today so far: brushing 5 month old son’s teeth for first time and watching our chicken jump in the air to catch flies.

8. When my wife and son were coming home from hospital three days after he was born, I put up some balloons in the front room along with some streamers and a home made welcome home banner. Just over five months on, they’re all still there! He reached the six and a half month mark before we took them down. I thought that we should have waited until we moved house but was unfortunately over-ruled.

9. Last night mistook the noise of a sheep going baa on a television nature programme for the sound of our five month old son crying. He’s was still fast asleep, phew!

10. Just fed my son some food for the first time. Not sure my wife was impressed when I looked at the sachet of apricot and banana porridge and asked ‘so do I just squirt it into his mouth then?’.

11. Our son, who is almost six months old, has discovered a new game. It involves picking up a toy or piece of paper, waving it about, dropping it on the floor and waiting for mummy or daddy to pick it up.

12. Our six month old son is definitely getting cheeky. He blew a raspberry last night when we asked him if it was time to go to bed.

13. May soon have to start wearing full waterproof clothing while bathing our six month old son in his little bath. He’s the one who does all the splashing, not me, before anyone asks.

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14. Saw this picture (see above) in one of our son’s books. Thought it was quite a good likeness really.

15. Our son has started weaning recently. We’re still trying to persuade him that bits of carrot are something to eat and not something to just throw on the floor.

16. I’ve been enjoying watching our 6 month old son starting to eat solids. It’s mainly baby rice at the moment, hope we’ll soon be able to give him baby curry. Within minutes of tweeting the comment above, a Welsh vegan group replied with a link to a vegetarian curry recipe suitable for babies. I love it when this sort of thing happens on Twitter or Facebook!

17. Our son’s definitely improving two key skills at the moment: giving high fives and blowing raspberries. I’ve told him to make sure that he puts this on his CV.

18. Dear son, I know you’re only six months old but please remember clocks go back tonight & let us have extra hour in bed tomorrow. Thanks, Dad.

19. Six month old son ignored advice about clocks going back and having extra hour in bed, glad I didn’t stay up for Match of the Day last night.

20, I used the word moron several times when talking to our 6 month old son yesterday. Don’t worry folks, I talk to him in Welsh and moron means carrot!

After he grabbed the remote control recently, we've been trying extra hard to make sure we get out and about with our six month old son recently :-)

After he grabbed the remote control recently, we’ve been trying extra hard to make sure we get out and about with our six month old son recently 🙂

21. Looks like I’m not getting a say in what we’re going to watch on television tonight!  (see picture above)

22. Stroller we got for our son has a brake but no clutch or accelerator. I think that we might have to take it back to the shop.

What do you think of this post? Have you had any similar thoughts about being a parent? If so, 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!

 

Similar posts

6 things I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent

7 thoughts from my 7th month as a parent

8 thoughts from my 8th month as a parent

9 thoughts from my 9th month as a parent

I’ve linked this post up with the ‘Something for the Weekend’ parent bloggers link-up hosted by Diary of the Dad and The Voice of Sarah Miles.

What’s the most important thing about being a parent?

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IMAG0942As you may have noticed from my last blog post 6 things that I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent, I’ve recently been thinking about what it means to be a parent. During this reflection, I recently read an article on the Mama Natural blog that fellow blogger Dominika Tracy from Back to Roots Baby mentioned to me on Google+. The title of the article from Mama Natural was as follows:

‘Why is this quote controversial? “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

An answer that I would give in fairly general terms is that making categorical statements about topics such as parenting or marriage is liable to provoke a range of different responses. I think that it’s good to have a reasoned dialogue on these sorts of topics and to try to respect the views of others.

Going back to the original quotation, I think that any attempt to identify a single aspect of being a father that is more important that all others is quite challenging. Having read the article, I can’t help feeling that the author might be overly extrapolating based on their own experiences. I would also like to know more about the context that gave rise to the original quotation from Theodore Hesburg.

I can’t help wondering if the quote was deliberately selected as part of an attempt to fire up debate. Even if the author of the Mama Natural blog post did not think that the quotation was controversial, did they really think that posting it would result in unanimous agreement as opposed to debate?

I’ve said before that one of the reasons that I decided to become a parent blogger was because I wanted to participate in the interesting dialogues about fatherhood and parenting that take place. Maybe the blogger who posted the debate-provoking quotation that I cited at the start of this post was simply doing the same.

One of the specific issues that I had with the initial quote was that – in the form it was cited – it focuses uniquely on the notion of the father having a duty towards the mother, and not vice versa. If the quotation, had talked about a mother having a duty towards the father then perhaps it would have been criticized for implying that women should be subservient to men. Ultimately, I think that being in a couple is about being mutually sensitive to the other person’s feelings, needs and general well-being.

That said, the author of the blog post does acknowledge this in their own article to a certain extent. However, I did feel that their whole article seemed to be overly restricted by focusing largely on biological parents, married parents and male-female couples. It didn’t really take into account issues such as adoption, fostering and adoption by same sex couples (be they married, united in a civil partnership or in another form of relationship).

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Promoting IT skills from an early age – an important part of being a modern parent 🙂

Going back to the quote itself, I see being a father as involving a complicated balancing act (or series of balancing acts) rather than a single priority. In my case, it’s about working together with my wife in order to find a way of trying to meet each other’s needs both individually and collectively. I’ve talked on this blog about how men can play an important role in supporting women who breastfeeding. I’ve also said more than once that the casually thrown about phrase ‘man up’ can often be unhelpful when it comes to the expectations placed on men and boys (see here and here for links to the relevant posts).

This is something that I mean in relation to being parents, being a couple and just being people. It is also, of course, about trying to do so with a view to focusing on what is best for our baby son. I’d not like to try to prioritise between all the types of needs in that mix as I think that it’s important to take a more holistic approach.

As parents, I think that it’s important to transmit positive values to our kids. I feel that part of this is about respecting people and behaving towards them in a way that is polite, fair and sensitive. Within the context of being part of a couple raising kids, loving each other is part of this. As to whether it is the most important part of being a parent, I’m not so sure.

As I’ve already hinted, I feel that it is important to take a nuanced and holistic approach here.  I can see that kids may well end up taking on values that they associate with their parents’ approach to life and relationships. The relationship between their parents is one part of it, but it is not the only part. Relationships with other family members, friends and people in a school or work context are also important.

Ultimately, I think that being a couple with kids involves focusing on each other’s needs and the needs of the kids both collectively and individually. It may sound like I’m sitting on the fence here when it comes to responding to the quotation that I mentioned at the start of this post, but there’s a reason for this. What works for one family isn’t necessarily going to work for the next family.

Attitudes to parenting and family roles are evolving and I just don’t think that there’s really any such thing as a ‘typical’ family. For this reason, I’m generally suspicious of those who seek to talk up a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Ultimately, I think it’s great to be able to read and learn from fellow parents wherever they live and whether or not they have the same take on issues like what constitutes the most important thing about being a father or a mother. This, to me, is definitely one of the most important things about being a parent.

What do you think is the most important thing about being a parent? Do you agree or disagree with the quotation that I mentioned at the start of this article? I’d love to hear your views on these questions and this blog post in general, so please feel free to let me know your views via the comments section below. 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 and also follow this blog via BlogLovin.

 

I’ve linked this post up at the ‘Something for the weekend’ parent blog link-up run by Diary of the Dad and the Voice of Sarah Miles.

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