About Me

Here, you can read all about me, and learn a little bit about my relationship with Heidi. If you’re interested in working with me, or just want to chat about any of the topics I write about, my email address is [email protected]

This is a longer version that I did with the Yorkshire Evening Post and takes the form of a Q&A session. Hopefully it tells you a bit more about me and makes you realise that there is a real person behind the blog!! Here it is:

About me

Our family consists of myself, Matthew, 34 and Heidi, aged 5. We live in Birstall and I have been separated from Heidi’s mum since she was 8 months old. I am a chartered accountant who works in the NHS. In my spare time I run the Leeds Dad blog  where I write about days out, parenting and travel.

I initially set up the blog as a way of dealing with the separation from Heidi after amazing weekends. We have always travelled and explored and it was an avenue to reminisce. At some point, I want to be able to show the site to Heidi and talk about the amazing things that we did together. Unlike other bloggers, it isn’t about me, it is about “us”.

What are your top tips for getting children to do what you ask?

Bribery!! It’s very difficult to be rational with a little child and you have to talk in a currency that they understand. Usually that is lollies and extra play time!! On a more serious note, getting down to their level really does help and takes away some stress and anxiety.

What family task takes you the longest?

Definitely breakfast time.  I am often torn between letting Heidi have a bit longer in bed or making sure she eats all of her breakfast. If only she would go to sleep when I asked her to, we wouldn’t have that issue!!

What’s the weirdest thing your children have done/brought home/done to your house?

I think that it was when Heidi was toilet training and after seeing myself use the toilet a few times, she wanted to give it a go herself….standing up!!! She was quite insistent and it is safe to say that the results were not ideal!!

Have your children ever really, really surprised you? How and why?

I think the confidence that Heidi shows every day amazes me. I am not particularly outgoing in person but she doesn’t have any limits and is such a chatterbox. This probably comes from going out and about so much, and if I am being honest, I am a little jealous of her for it!!

What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids?

I don’t think I have said bizarre things, but more the bizarre voices that I have developed since having Heidi. She loves hand puppets and we have a small army of puppets, all of which have a different voice – including a crocodile which sounds very much like Boris Johnson!!

What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done?

We had been out all day with friends and were having tea in a pizza chain. The waitress asked the children if they wanted water and Heidi calmly said “I need plenty of water because I have a water infection”. As you can imagine, the waitress didn’t know what to say!

Mini moan – what really gets your goat?

Baby change facilities. Please make sure that they are in the men’s toilets as well as the ladies’ and generally make sure that they are clean, including the bins!

What’s your favourite family day out?

If we could only go to one place in Leeds for a day out, it would be the Rainbow Factory in Farnley. Heidi’s imagination developed so much from going there and I will happily spend all day in Heidi’s school holiday watching her do activity after activity with the staff. Sadly, she is getting so independent that she doesn’t want me to help!

What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately?

We love travelling together and love spending weekends in London – showing a young child round the capital city is a very special thing. Closer to home, we love doing science experiments, whilst it is a bit of fun, it is also very educational and Heidi is bit like a sponge – she takes in so much information

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?

I have been very lucky that Heidi has always slept very well so I can’t give the standard answer of a lack of sleep! For my circumstances, it is saying goodbye when Heidi goes back to her mum. The blog was born was a way of self-therapy to deal with the separation.

 

What’s a typical evening for the grown-ups once the children are in bed?

Usually it is either checking up on social media or doing a bit of blogging. I’m usually too tired from a full day at work to do much else!!

What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why?

It might be stretching the boundaries of Leeds, but Billy Bob’s Parlour is a really good restaurant in its own right, but the play areas are amazing. Additional bonus if you can get a table in the yellow bus!

What’s the best thing about weekends and why?

Freedom! We aren’t watching the clock about when we have to get up and go to bed and don’t have to rush. However, when we get up and dressed, we don’t stop until it’s bedtime.

What is your most treasured memory?

We had our first daddy-daughter holiday to Jamaica and I was carrying Heidi onto our connecting flight in Atlanta, the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds” was being played. It was an emotional moment as it had taken a lot of effort to be able to get into a position to go on an overseas holiday together.

Fun in Jamaica!!

What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds?

I would want the city centre to become even more child friendly, particularly at weekends. Child Friendly Leeds do so much good work, especially over this summer, and I’d love for them to be given the opportunity to make an even bigger difference.

What’s the children’s favourite food/meal?

Her favourite is Sweet and Sour Chicken Cantonese style from the local Chinese takeaway on a Saturday evening!

What’s your top penny-pinching tip?

The Friends and Family railcard is such good value for money. You can make your money back even if you just go on a family trip to London.

One family member’s proudest achievement?

Heidi got 100% attendance at school in her Reception year and whilst some of that is down to luck, it also shows her resilience and determination, which I am most proud of.

What one item can you not live without?

My phone! It is always right next to me and I probably use it a little too much.

Selfie Time!

What can your children not live without?

Her right thumb! Heidi has always been a thumb sucker and her right thumb has soothed her on so many different occasions.

Child’s favourite song/artist?

Heidi’s favourite song/artist, that would be any Bob Marley song. After our holiday to Jamaica, she gained a love for the reggae genre, but especially the song “Buffalo Soldier”.

Continue reading About Me

Why do I blog??

It is a slightly strange thing to do – to write about places you go and life as a parent. So, why do I blog?? Well, having recently “come out” as a blogger to my work colleagues, it felt like a perfect piece to actually write about.

Rewind back to early 2014, Heidi was 9 months old and her mum and I had just separated. Obviously heartbreaking in so many different ways.  I worked full time during the week and so I was fortunate to have Heidi all weekend at the time. It was like being a parent for the first time once again, everything was different, everything was new, all with a backdrop of great sadness and uncertainty.

However, we started going out and about, sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with my parents. We got more confident and as time progressed, trips to the local park turned into trips to playgroups, which then turned into trips to local attractions. We took hundreds of photos and had a great time.

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That great time, however, stopped every Sunday at 7pm when I dropped Heidi back with her mum. I’m not ashamed to say that Sunday evenings were spent crying and crying until there were no more tears. The drive back was awful and I used to lay on my bed looking through the photos that I had taken and reminisce.

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Our first time to the seaside

However, it came to a point where enough was enough and I wanted, no, needed, to do something productive. It came about from 2 reasons:

  • I wanted to have a diary to show Heidi all the brilliant places we had been to over the years so we could look back at it together when she was old enough to understand
  • If I could help just one parent who wanted to take their child out but didn’t know where to go, or wanted to read about other parenting problems, then I needed to help

This additional focus was somewhat misdirected at first – I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t have a Twitter or Facebook page for example, but that didn’t matter, I enjoyed what I was doing. It turned the tears into smiles and my online diary was growing.

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At the Scarborough Spa – one of our favourites

As I have being blogging for a couple of years now, I have got a bit better at certain things. However, in no way am I as good as some of the bigger bloggers out there. However, I am still working full time, I am still a single parent and obviously those things come first. I only blog because I want to do it and it is fun.

I have got to know some other bloggers quite well, as well as some of the attractions that I write about and that community is a really positive aspect of it all. Once, I even got stopped once at Oakwell Hall by someone and that was a rather cool and unexpected experience to say the least!!

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Fathers Day 2016

As a result, if you are reading this, and you’re going through a particularly difficult spell, my advice would be to do something different that you enjoy to create a “happy place” in your life. It doesn’t have to be blogging, it could be a sport, it could photography, charity work, anything.

By doing something positive, it helps alleviate some of the pain that comes with life. It will never make it disappear, but it will make it better.

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We’ll be on one of these soon!!

As for my situation, I am still a single dad, but I am planning our first overseas holiday together. Life is still tough, but it does get easier. I don’t think that I would have got to this stage without my therapy – blogging! Hopefully that answers the question of “Why do I blog??”


To read more of my blog, please feel free to:

“Like” me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/leedsdad (it will make me happy!!)

“Follow” me on Twitter @leedsdad

Email me at: [email protected]

Go onto my website: http://www.leedsdad.com

The Daddy Tag Challenge

I was contacted by @Frenchiemummy on Twitter about this and thought that it might be a good little idea, and supplement the “About Me” post that is pinned to the front page.

The rules to the game are here (linked to save a huge long post) so without further delay, here it is:

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  • Are you a Stay at Home Daddy or a Working Daddy? Very much a Working Dad – all in all, work takes about 45-50 hours a week. However, it is Monday to Friday which means weekends are very much protected time. I am very lucky to have Heidi all weekend and also an evening or 2 during the week, but it is hard work
  • Would you have it any other way? Yes. I would love to be a SAHD or a home working dad. However, my current job is remarkably stable compared to others and it helps us do the nice things in life.
  • Do you co-change dirty nappies? Even the very smelly ones? Being a single dad, there isn’t much choice. However, even when things were different, I wanted to do everything and give everything a go. However, we are past the nappy changing phase.
  • A little fairy gives you the possibility of breastfeeding? Are you going for it or do you run away? This little fairy gives me boobs?! I want this fairy in my life forever!!! Seriously, yes, I would give it a go, but wouldn’t lose any sleep over it if it didn’t work out, or it wasn’t comfortable. 
  • What is the one must-have item for a daddy? The ability to go into a room full of mums and not be intimidated. There was a playgroup on a Tuesday and I had the day off and so me and Heidi went, and out of 40 kids, I was the only male. It was a “moment” for me as it was the first time I felt in such a minority but the important thing was that it didn’t stop us having a good time (oh and the queue for the toilets was short!) I think I wrote about it here and is a post that I am particular proud of.
  • How many kids do you plan on having? Very much one and done
  • Lads’ nights? How often do you have them? Never. Weekends are for me and Heidi and I’m not going to pass away the opportunity to do bedtime or miss an evening with her for a few drinks
  • Your children’s favourite achievement? Making friends. While it sounds a bit soft, as she doesn’t go to nursery, it is always a bit of a worry. However, she is unbelievably social and has made 3 really good friends and on the back of that, I have made really good friends too – the perfect wingman!!
  • What is your best memory with your kid(s)? It was probably at the Rainbow Factory in Leeds which is a story/education/theatre childrens venue (read about it here) and Heidi and another girl acted out Little Red Riding Hood with the aid of the members of staff. Heidi was 2 and obviously needed help, but she was completely at ease being on a little stage, acting out the story in front of a couple of parents.
  • Name one thing you miss since being a daddy? The time to be able to exercise/play football as generally it is work and Heidi...
  • Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now? And we mean YOU DADDY, not the mummy! I probably put on half a stone after birth. The difficult thing is trying to keep it at that!
  • Dream holiday with your kids? Florida, Disney. (enough said really!)
  • Dream holiday without your kids or even without the other half? (You’re allowed to dream) Maybe the other side of the Florida coast – there is a beautiful area between St Petersburg and Clearwater on the West Coast of Florida, which is so relaxing. Either that or a city hopping/sports watching holiday
  • How has your life changed since having kids? Beyond recognition… Currently going through divorce proceedings and generally everything has changed. Some for the better, some for the worse, but what has happened in the past has happened and you can only move forwards
  • Finish the sentence “It makes my heart melt when…” When Heidi is out and about with me and she will say to someone “That’s my daddy” so proudly. It also makes me slightly embarrassed!
  • Favourite beers brands and football team? I don’t drink (see the question re weight gain!) Used to follow Leeds United, but this is certainly one thing that has fallen away simply due to lack of time, as well as the fact we do kiddie football training on a Saturday afternoon
  • Huggies or Pampers? Pah! I’m a Yorkshire Accountant – it was Tescos when we were going through that stage…
  • Have you always wanted kids? Yes. It wasn’t a burning desire because I knew I needed to do my accounting qualification, and all the other time consuming parts of my life first, and then things would be set. It did happen at the perfect time and wouldn’t change it
  • Best part of being a dad? It is probably going out and about and being a kid once again. We have gone to so many more places than I ever knew existed and had so many new experiences. Yes, it is hard work, but it is worth it and I know that I have only one shot at it and so I am going to take every opportunity with both hands

To read more of my blog, please feel free to:

“Like” me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/leedsdad

“Follow” me on Twitter @leedsdad

Email me at: [email protected]

or go onto my website: http://www.leedsdad.com


the Frenchie Mummy Blog