2018 Review

Wow!! What a year 2018 has been!! So many positive things have happened this year for Heidi and I. Looking back, I think that it has been the best year for quite some time.

Holidays in 2018

2018 was the year when Heidi and I went on our first overseas holidays as just a two. Taking a 4 year old halfway across the world is both scary and exciting, but something that was long overdue! We went to Jamaica in February, and Spain in August and we have both got the confidence to do it again!

The highlight of the Jamaica trip was swimming with dolphins, which you can read here. You can read about our Spanish trip here.  If you’re thinking of travelling alone with a 4 year old, this blog post is ideal for you!

Swimming with dolphins
Amazing!!

Love in 2018

2018 was the year in which I started dating after separation. Whilst an extremely terrifying and stressful experience at start with, it does turn out that you can be happy after separation. Who knows what the future will hold. But right now, we are living in the moment, and enjoying being in each others company, when possible.

Having 2 single parents date each other is extremely difficult on the diary. We have had 2 child free weekends in the entire year!! However, both children love each other very much and get on really well. We will always put the children before the relationship and that is so important to us.

Best mates!
Walking together at Cannon Hall

If you’re thinking that 2019 might be the year of love for you, then these two blog posts might be just for you – Leeds Dad Starts Dating and An Update.

Sadness in 2018

Unfortunately, there was sadness in 2018, when our family dog, Jack, died.  Telling Heidi about his death was awful and probably the worst part of the year. You can read about how we coped, with some hints/tips to breaking bad news, in this blog post.

However, with most things, there is a happy ending to the story, and we have a new dog, Harley, and Heidi is besotted with him!

Heidi and Harley
Heidi and Harley

Days Out in 2018

Because Heidi turned 5 in 2018, it is a little easier to go on days out and be more impulsive. We did a random day trip to London, went to Chester Zoo, as well as Go Ape at Temple Newsam. I think the favourite was taking in the Operation Ouch stage show in London, where Heidi met her idols, Dr Chris and Dr Xand. I really hope that they bring that show elsewhere in the UK.

Heidi with Dr Chris and Dr Xand

Days Out are much easier now, and I hope that they give inspiration to those who have been in a similar situation. Life does get easier and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Blogging in 2018

I always said that the blog is an online diary that I will give to Heidi when she is old enough. That will always be the case. However, I have had more and more fun with it 2018. We have travelled across the country with National Express coaches, been on a podcast and been invited to be on TV.

Perhaps the coolest thing was being in the Yorkshire Evening Post and when Heidi saw her face in the paper, it was amazing! She is starting to pick up bits about what the blog is and that her daddy is “Leeds Dad”, but I try to keep it separate from her.

Extract from Yorkshire Evening Post

At some point, she might want me to stop, or want to join in, but until that day, it will always be about creating an online diary for her.

Work in 2018

Whilst some people do blogging on a full time basis, I am nowhere near that stage, nor would I want to be! However, this year I got a new job, with a new set of challenges to overcome! It provides more stability for Heidi and me, and I’ve taken the step to be open and honest about my martial situation, which was a great relief. Also, I have been open about the blog and so most of the office knows what we have been up to over the weekend before Monday morning!!!

What Next??

We have already booked to go to Florida in 2019, which will be amazing as always. However, I just hope that 2019 is just as exciting, positive and enjoyable as 2018.

A lot of people have read the blog this year, and to each one of you, thank you. Every comment really does make it worthwhile and I hope that there are loads more positive things to talk about in 2019!

Happy Faces!
Happy faces!
Continue reading 2018 Review

Mental Health at Christmas

Christmas can be such an amazing time of year. However, it can be stressful, it can hurt, and it can be the worst time of the year. This post is all about how mental health at Christmas is so important, and how you can get any help you need.

Mental Health at Christmas

Stresses at Christmas

It’s no wonder why our mental health at Christmas suffers. There are probably 3 groups of people at Christmas:

  • Those who have the seemingly perfect life, without any stresses or strains. They like to post about 100 pictures on Facebook of their activities on Christmas Day.
  • Those who make compromises at Christmas to try and make as many people happy as possible. This can include spending time with ex-spouses or distant relatives for which there is a reason why they are distant.
  • Those who are separated from their loved ones at Christmas. It might be that relationships have broken down, or other commitments have caused a separation on Christmas Day.

I guarantee to you that each group of people will suffer with their mental health at Christmas. All three groups hide it well, we are British after all! But it doesn’t need to be like that. It is good to talk about these things. If we don’t talk about our feelings, we can’t improve our mental health.

You are loved

There is a wonderful quote in the film, “A Wonderful Life”

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many others lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

I guarantee that every single person reading this blog post will have someone who loves, cares and thinks about them. A lot.

Despite what this blog might show, I have found the last 5 years, post separation, difficult. Life wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t. Perhaps it never will be. However, I know that I have the love of others to hold onto. Even though I may not see Heidi for a while, and it hurts, I know that she is there, and she needs me.

Whilst I know everyone will be in a different situation, it is so important to hold on. Hold on for when things do get better, conversations are easier and relationships better. I promise that fighting for a better day is the best thing to do, because better days do happen.

Dads are parents too
Happy times

Part of me writing this entire blog is to highlight the good times that can happen, eventually. A lot of people have gone through things a lot worse than me. However, I guarantee that those people can be stronger than I ever can be.

Public Campaigns

To be stronger, it is important to talk. Talking about mental health at Christmas doesn’t seem like the natural thing to do. We are programmed to talk about all the positive things about Christmas, gifts, family, holidays. However, if we don’t talk, we will never be able to reduce the stress felt at Christmas.

As such, it is good to see a public recognition of this by some companies and a realisation that things have to change.

Mental Health at Christmas

Virgin Trains have teamed up with the charity, “Rethink Mental Illness” to promote mental health at Christmas. They have a number of public initiatives, which include:

  • Painting the script of “A Wonderful Life” on the London to Glasgow route, along the platforms
  • A link will be embedded within the script to information, advice and support around mental health
  • “A Wonderful Life” will be available to watch on the BEAM app on Virgin Trains.
  • Volunteers from Rethink Mental Health will be fundraising in stations throughout December.

You can find out more by following this link: https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/its-a-wonderful-line/

Without such public campaigns, mental health at Christmas will continue to suffer and we won’t find it easy to talk about these things. Anything that makes it easier to talk is so welcome.

Why is it so important to  talk about Mental Health at Christmas … and every other time

Mental Health at Christmas

Want to read more?

Check out this post titled “It’s ok to ask for help”

Where to go for help?

Mental Health support can be difficult to find, but the following places can and will help:


Rethink Mental Health

Mental Health at Christmas

Tel:         03005 000 927 Monday to Friday (9.30am to 4pm, excluding bank holidays)

Email:    [email protected]

Web:     www.rethink.org

Samaritans

Tel:         116 123 Anytime and free. You don’t need any credit on your phone and it won’t show up on your bill.

Email:    [email protected]

Web:     www.samaritans.org

Whilst I am not a trained counsellor in any way, I am more than happy to help and support anyone who needs help.

Continue reading Mental Health at Christmas

Time To Read

As part of the Booktrust “Time to Read” week (17th September 2018 to 23rd September 2018), I have been asked to share our experiences of reading and how much it has benefitted Heidi so far in her life.

How and When We Make Time to Read

Our Time to Read can be summarised into two main categories; Reading for Learning and Reading for Pleasure

  • Reading for Learning

Usually school give us a book to read each week. We seem to be going through the Pearson’s Phonics Bug chart. Whilst some of the books are a bit strange (In a Pit, anyone?!) they are designed to be read with only a limited number of sounds.

When we are reading for school work and going through the intricacies of sounds and word formations, we tend to do that just before bath time on an evening. That way, Heidi is not too tired to read and is able to take things in.

Time to Read
The first school book Heidi read all herself

  • Reading for Pleasure

If we are reading for pleasure, we always do that in bed, before bedtime. Heidi will pick a book from her bookshelf and I will read it throughout.  Whilst at some point I know Heidi will be able to read on her own in bed, part of me hopes she will always want me to read to her in bed. Here, I try to be as creative as possible with the voices and actions, whilst being mindful that it is supposed to be settling down time!

What we Read

When we are reading for pleasure, I try to give Heidi as much freedom as possible. I feel as though it is important for her to want to read whatever story she wants to read, as opposed to forcing a book on her.

Time To Read - bookshelf
Heidi’s bookshelf

One of the promoted books this year is “Little Monkey” and this is such a good book for little ones entering school via Reception or into Year 1. This is because the child can relate to the world being seemingly so much bigger than before and being away from loved ones, for potentially the first time ever.

Time To Read - Little Monkey
Reception children will be receiving this book

This book is going to be given out to 700,000 Reception aged children in England this year!!

How it has benefited Heidi

For me, the highlight of Heidi’s ability to read was when she was in London as a 4 year old and could navigate her way to the correct Underground Line. Granted it wasn’t perfect, but she knew to look for the “P” for “Piccadilly Line”. It proved that it was all worth it!

Perhaps the best example of how Heidi has benefitted from all the reading she does are the following excepts from her Reception school report:

  • “She is becoming a fluent reader. She is able to confidently read and understand simple and more complex sentences.
  • “Heidi has enjoyed a range of book and can demonstrate understanding of a story when talking to others about what she has read, recalling main events and characters.”

Time to Read
We did the school reading challenge!!

How it has benefited us

Making Time to Read really does bring us closer together. The bedtime story is such a highlight, and not because I want Heidi to go to sleep!! It is a time when it is just us two. There is peace and quiet and no distractions. Whilst we are focused on the book, we are also close together having cuddles and getting relaxed before bed.

You may have noticed that there are no photos of us reading in bed. This is because I do not want the intimacy of the moment to be broken. Whilst blog posts are important, keeping that peaceful atmosphere is more important!!

Top Tips for getting the most out of Time to Read

Booktrust have kindly shared their top tips for reading with your child. They are:

Set aside some time – Find somewhere quiet without any distractions.

Ask your child to choose a book –  Sharing books they have chosen shows you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means they are more likely to engage with the book.

Time to Read
Don’t choose a HUGE book to start with!!

Sit close together – Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and turn the pages.

Encourage your child to talk about the book – Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships.

And lastly, above all – make it fun!  – It doesn’t matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together.

Time to Read

Continue reading Time To Read

It’s ok to ask for help

Whilst part of this blog is meant to celebrate all the fun and exciting parts of being a parent, it is also important that it is a difficult job, and it does have its effect on us. Being a parent is hard work. Being a parent does have an effect on us both physically and mentally. As a result, it is ok to ask for help. You can’t do “parenting” on your own.

Ask for help

Effect of having children

Remember when life was simple? Remember when you could go out without a care in the world? The effect on having children on parents’ mental health is massive. The stresses of having to look after a new person is huge. The stress that coping with bills, childcare arrangements and practicalities can be tough. All this is forgetting the part where you’re absolutely shattered because your child doesn’t sleep.

The vast majority of parents love their children to the moon and back and there is nothing denying that. However, it is ok to ask for help to give yourself a break. It is ok to ask for help to talk to someone. We can’t be parents in isolation; we need our support network in place.

How I have kept going

For me, the world of blogging has really helped me through some difficult times. Seeing the pictures of others, reading how parents were going out and about really helped me. It gave me a challenge. It gave me some hope that things were going to get better.

And they did get better. I would never say that I was near to having a breakdown. However, I was a new father going through a separation. Life was tough. Life still is tough. At times, I was close to giving up hope. But I didn’t, mainly due my support network as well as the fact that I saw other parents having a great time, and that gave me the strength to carry on.

Blogging is my release. Blogging is helping me get through the tough times.

We needed each other – both then and now…

Effect

Without going into specifics, I have seen the effects of someone who couldn’t ask for help.  It is horrible. Even years and years later, the scars are still there. Yes, they have faded, but they are there. Even if you are the loneliest person in the world, there are still people who love you, who care for you. It is ok to ask for help, either from them, or for them.

These people would be devastated if you left them. Even more, there will be people who are too young or who haven’t even been born, who will love you when they’re older.

Children provide so much hope in life. They need support and guidance. They need us.

Statistics

Doing research for this article, I found a couple of really telling charts. The first one shows that men are about 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women.

It is said that this greater risk is due to

  • increased family breakdown leaving more men living alone;
  • the decline of many traditionally male-dominated industries;
  • social expectations about masculinity

The second one is that divorced men are over twice as likely to commit suicide than married men.

Divorce increases the risk of suicide because the individual becomes disconnected from their domestic relationship and social norms. Also, there is a strong cultural emphasis on achieving a strong and happy marriage. Those who divorce may experience a deep sense of disorientation, guilt and emotional hurt.

Ways to Ask for Help

There are many, many avenues for support out there. For some, local parents/child groups are ideal, however, they tend not to work well if your child is school aged, or you work. For others, NCT work well.  If your child is school aged, then your child’s school will be able to provide support and advice.

However, if things are much more pressing, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and Republic of Ireland; this number will not appear on your phone bill), email [email protected], or visit the Samaritans website to find details of the nearest branch.

My virtual door is always open if you need support. If you’re a mum, dad, or just someone who cares about another human being, it’s ok to ask for help, from myself or anyone else. Just make sure you ask for help before it’s too late.

Continue reading It’s ok to ask for help

Single Parent Holidays

After being on our second daddy-daughter holiday since the separation, I thought that it would write a post on how single parent holidays are different to “traditional” family holidays. Whilst they are different, they are probably twice as fun, but twice as tiring! As such, if you know someone who wants to try single parent holidays, make sure you get them a nice big bottle of something nice upon their return!

  1. It is impossible to suncream your own back!

No matter how well you try to train your young child, they want to go swimming in the water rather than help you out. This usually means trying to face the sun all day!

  1. Family photos are “selfies” only

Selfies are all well and good, but sometimes you want a picture of you and your child in the middle of an incredible view … that’s not going to happen unless you really trust that stranger with your expensive camera phone!

Single parent holidays
Overlooking the Costa Brava coast

  1. You have no-one else to fall out with

Obviously family holidays are stressful and can often bring out the cracks that have been papered over. However, there is just you and your child – no more adult fallings-out.

Single parent holidays
Although children can be grumpy!

  1. You have full control of the memories

You can claim ownership of the amazing memories and culture that they pick up on. I was so proud that Heidi loves reggae music after our holiday to Jamaica. Not because of the music, but more of the fact she has developed as a person because of the holiday

  1. You get to eat all the melting ice cream!!

Unless it is in a tub, or bubblegum flavour – yuk!!

Single parent holidays
No to bubblegum flavour ice cream!

  1. Adult conversation is limited

You may find the perfect holiday buddy when you get there, but you might not. Bonus if you find others on single parent holidays! As a result, it can be quite a lonely experience when your child is making friends on their own.

UPDATE! There is a company called Melon Holidays (https://www.melonholidays.com) who specialise in holidays where single parents with children go on holiday together.

  1. Airports and aircraft are stressful

They are bad enough at the best of times, but having to worry about 2 sets of electronic devices and how to entertain a child on your own for so long is difficult. See here for a blog post about keeping a child entertained on a plane.

  1. Passport Control can feel like interrogation

I fully understand the reasons behind the questions, especially if you have a different surname to your child, but it’s very stressful! If they don’t quiz you, you wonder why they haven’t! Also, make sure you have a passport for both of you. Check out this blog post on applying for a passport.

  1. You build an even closer bond with your child

If you have shared care with your child, you feel as though you miss out on things. However, having just you and your child for company helps you bond and grow that relationship into something even more special.

Single parent holidays

  1. It’s really good fun!!

Perhaps the most important one of all! Going on holiday is meant to be fun for you and your child. You’ll have memories that last a lifetime and they are down to you as a parent and a person. That is something to be really proud of.

I’d love to hear more ways that single parent holidays are different to traditional holidays. If you are nervous about doing a single parent holiday, there are companies who specialise in them. However, I have been halfway round the world with Heidi, and it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Therefore, don’t be scared!!

Continue reading Single Parent Holidays

Leeds Dad Starts Dating … An Update

In January 2018, I started dating, and you can read about how that came about in this post here, and it felt like an opportune time to give a little update.

Well, after going on the first date back in January, we had a second, a third, a fourth etc. It has generally snowballed into us having a really happy, stable relationship. Whilst 6 months seems a long time to be dating, in some respects it feels like early days still. This is because we aren’t seeing each other every day and spending every waking hour with each other.

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Kim’s first appearance on the blog!

The Children

The priority for both of us is our respective children, and nothing will change that. Kim has a now 2 year old boy and given that Heidi is also a single child, we are mindful of how well they interact with each other, with each of us together and each of us separately.

With Oscar being a bit younger, we felt that it was easier to get him involved into the changing dynamic to start with. As Heidi was 4 at the time, we took things much, much slower with her. (and still are). We are basically saying that Kim was just a few friend and it was good to hang out together at certain points. We have NOT mentioned that we are dating!

20180527_113301.jpg
Oscar-only date day…

We try to make sure we don’t overdo the interactions as well, knowing that there is no rush to any of this. The last thing we want is to have children not wanting to see each other or see each of us.

20180324_182758.jpg
Heidi only date night

All of this has meant that the children get on really well together and are seemingly best of friends. Oscar looks up to Heidi so much and gets really excited when her name is mentioned. Heidi looks after Oscar so much, whilst also enjoying playing with all his toys as well!!

IMG-20180210-WA0026.jpg
Walking together at Cannon Hall

The Dates

As both of us are clearly very involved with our children, most “dates” tend to involve either one or both of the children on a weekend. If you’re a regular reader of the blog on on Instagram/Twitter, chances are you’ve read about where we have been on a date with the children.

As the children enjoy each other’s company, it makes going out on trips a lot easier.  However, they can get too giddy and get carried away a little!!! The fact that we don’t get child-free weekends too often doesn’t affect us (apart from early morning wake ups!) as we both knew the childcare arrangements before we even met.

However, if we do have a child free weekend, or even just a day, we try our best to make the most of it. We had our first (and only!) weekend away in April, to London, which was lovely. However, it was also extremely strange to spend child free time with someone else! We did have a brilliant time and we tried our best to see as much as possible, just as if we had the children.

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Aysgarth Falls

There are times when dates have had to be cancelled at the last minute because of childcare arrangements. Even this week, Heidi wanted to stay at mine even though she was supposed to be with her mum, which meant a quick dash home from date night. It happens, but the pair of us knew all of this before we started. We both know that the children come first – that is the main thing to both of us.

The Future

Who knows what the future might hold going forward. The dating game is still in its early days, but it feels as though it is stable and has excellent foundations. We always said that the children come first and that is more true than ever. If truth be told, they are the ones who will decide how far the relationship goes. If either one is unhappy with it, then the relationship doesn’t go any further, and we are ok with that.

Fingers crossed it that is a bridge we never have to cross…

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Quite true – take from the Disney Store on Oxford Road, London


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

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Happy 5th Birthday Heidi!

I’m writing this as Heidi has just gone to sleep on a baking hot June evening after enjoying her 5th birthday. We have just been to Wagamamas with Heidi’s mum, mainly on the back on Heidi going there for a review. You can read here (who says kids don’t remember!). Then we had a good hour tonight spending time opening presents and having fun before going to sleep.

20180628_182121.jpg
Heidi at Wagamamas

Birthdays are a time for reflection sometimes and one of the reasons why I started blogging was so that I could write down in words what I was feeling. This was to help me through the darker times which comes from being separated with a child. Today has been a bit rough because it was the first birthday where Heidi was at school and I didn’t see her until the evening. Waking up this morning without seeing her was not good!

However, looking back at the last 12 months, a lot has happened, both good and bad, and it’s safe to say that Heidi’s age 4 year has been remarkable!!

The Good

Heidi has settled in really well as school and seems to be doing really well. Her reading is wonderful and it is such a pleasure to hear her read without having to help her much at all. I’m sure that she will develop in other areas going forward, but after doing the school Race for Life, I’m not sure she will be a long distance runner!!

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Chilling out before school

If I asked Heidi what her highlight would be, I am sure that it would be going to Jamaica. It was such a big thing to take her all by myself and at times, I did have self doubt.  It was hard work, but hearing how she talks so passionately about the experience makes it all worth it. Having a week together was amazing and help us bond even closer. She now has a new love of reggae and Bob Marley music!! You can read my open letter to Heidi about the holiday here.

zip_5168.jpg
Swimming with Dolphins in Jamaica

Heidi seems to have coped extremely well with me getting a new girlfriend. I am not sure how much Heidi knows and actually how much she cares about boyfriends/girlfriends, but she has taken to my new girlfriend extremely well, and vice versa. It was always going to be tricky and Heidi will always come first in anything, but I think Heidi is glad that she has got a new friend. You can read about me starting dating here.

The Bad

Going to court to try and sort out arrangements and get permission to travel overseas was not easy, but it still feels like it was something that had to be done. Through it, I lost time with Heidi, but gained certainty, security as well as overseas travel. Whilst I hate being away from Heidi, a little “me” time is much appreciated. If you have to go to Family Court, this little guide might help, which can be found here.

jack 2
Heidi and Jack the dog

Heidi’s pet dog, Jack, died as well. I had a love/hate relationship with him, but Heidi adored him and having a pet probably helped her develop somewhat. I remember breaking the bad news to Heidi on a snowy January day. At first she thought that I was kidding, but when she realised, the hysterical cries went through me. However, after 45 minutes, she was fine, especially as she had a new toy “Alexa” to play with! This guide to breaking bad news is useful!

To Heidi, an open letter

Heidi,

People say that their children grow up too fast. Whilst you’re a chatterbox on the outside, sometimes, you still need to suck your thumb when going to sleep and have a daddy cuddle when you’re scared of the dark.

You’re getting less interested in talking on the phone and more interested in watching the phone. Whilst it hurts a little, it also means that you’re developing your own independence and you are comfortable that I will always be around.

It’s hard having 3 or 4 days without you. That just makes me more determined to make the most of the time we have together – have fun, see new places, do new things, bond even closer.

img-20180414-wa0002.jpg

I know you’ll grow up even more in the next 12 months. You’ll be wanting to spend time with your school friends on an evening and weekend and you will further develop your independence. However, I will always be there for you, even when times are tough and emotions run high.

Heidi, you’re my best friend now and forever and no-one will break that bond we have between us. You’re an amazing girl and whilst you’re proud of showing me off to strangers, I am even prouder to call you my daughter.

I love you Heidi

Lots of love
Daddy

PS Onwards forever, backwards never!!


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Hidden Difficulties of Being a Dad

Difficulties of being Dad

So on the run up to Fathers’ Day (I will happily accept random presents!), I thought that I would do a post as to the specific ” Difficulties of being Dad “, which are problems that mums don’t have to cope with!

Being the only dad in playgroups

A main reason why I started to blog was a time when I was the only male adult within a playgroup containing 40 children. It was a horrible experience and certainly made me question how inclusive society was. It wasn’t a regular playgroup for us, but it was very uncomfortable for me, and I felt as though I was on show somewhat. I wrote about it here. As such, if you come across a situation, smile, say hi, and it will make a huge difference.

On the plus side, the queue for the toilets was non-existent!!!!

Fortunately, as time as moved on, we have both developed our confidence. Nowadays, at least 1 of us can put some moves on the dancefloor at raves!!

Fun at Boomchikkaboom
I bet you look good on the dance floor!!

Are you babysitting?!

Arghhhhh! No, I’m not and I’m not Daddy Day Care either! I’m trying to play an active part in my child’s development, just like virtually every single mum does in the world! I felt so strongly about this, I got a t-shirt with the message on it… Funnily enough, I got the most compliments from when I was in Florida wearing it.

Dads don't babysit
Dad’s don’t babysit, it’s called parenting!

Toilet trips

As you can probably guess, male toilets are grim at the best of times. They are much, much worse when you have a toilet training girl who likes to talk!!

In truth, nappy changing facilities were never too much of an issue as they were looked after quite well. However. when you have to take a curious little girl into a cubicle, you just hope that she doesn’t ask any questions or make any comments!

I tend to find that finding a disabled toilet is the best solution to this problem. Although in certain places, they are secured by a radar key and as such, they are not possible to use!

Workplace Attitudes

Somehow, dads tend to feel guilty for having time off because our little one is ill and needs looking after. Sometimes a child needs both parents, or just wants their daddy.  Whilst workplaces are generally accepting of the fact mum needs to head off home in an emergency, this hasn’t passed over to the need for dad to do the same.

There was a time when I had “the phone call” to say Heidi was on her way to A&E with a suspected broken arm at 4pm. As such. I raced to hospital (after telling my managers). The next day, no-one asked how things had gone or how either of us were, they only asked why work hadn’t been completed in the evening!!

Hopefully this is something that can change to help both mums and dads.

Happy face
Happy times!

Finally…

Whilst the point of this blog post isn’t a “woe is me” moan about being a dad, after all, it is the best job in the world, it is just to point out some of the hidden problems dads face. Having said that, we certainly don’t have to deal with leaky boobs, stretch marks and all the things Mum has to deal with!!

I think that the main point is that regardless of if you’re mum or dad (or some other variation), being a parent is really hard work!! The difficulties of being a dad are not harder or easier to those of mum.  As such, if you think someone you know needs a hand – offer and show that you care. I think that we all need that little bit of help and understanding along the way. We cannot do it alone.

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Best buds!!

However, no matter if you’re mum or dad, no matter how many challenges are in your way, so long as you love your child as much as is humanly possible, you’ll be the best parent in the world in the eyes of your child and that is the most important thing.


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Finding a Work/Life/Me balance

I’m writing this blog post in bed on my phone on a Sunday evening just after putting Heidi to bed. In truth, I should be going to sleep because I’m tired. However, after attending a Q&A held by Honest Mum (who can be found here) and The Rainbow Factory (who can be found here), I felt inspired to write…

I’m tired

I am physically and mentally tired… it is very difficult to be a single parent.

  • It is very difficult to have a high pressured job.
  • and very difficult to keep up communications with your ex for the sake of your child.
  • and very difficult to start a new relationship.

I am trying to do all of these!!

And this isn’t a “Look how bad my life is” post (I have money, I am healthy and have a roof over my head – life could be worse). This is a self reflection on how I can make things better for myself and Heidi and hopefully give some ideas how you can do the same.

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What we should all be aiming for,,,

Priorities

Being an accountant and previously the main bread winner in a nuclear family, I’ve felt the responsibility to make sure money comes in. Sadly, money is important and I have made sacrifices to get better jobs. Should I keep on doing this? I don’t feel as though I have any option, so I might be spending more time in the car travelling to/from work than at home in the near future.

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This is how I feel most days!

Being Myself

Four years ago, my life fell apart after separation and my life was work and Heidi. That was it. This blog was the first step of me becoming me again. The next step was dating. However, it is so difficult. It is so tiring.

At times I want to curl into a ball and rest. However, I want to be my own person. I need to be my own person. It is a slow process and I sometimes feel guilty for going out without Heidi. However, a happy daddy will be a better parent for Heidi.

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I felt guilty for going to London without Heidi…

Going Forward

So how am I going to make things better? Here are a few things I’ve come up with…

– Be Organised. I’m pretty organised as it is, but there are still times when I don’t know where I’m meant to be in the morning or what time I’m finishing work. That’s not good!

– Say no! This might mean saying no to date night, no to people at work, no to blogging opportunities. I need to learn to say no and be confident to say no.

– Look after myself. Doing my first ever boot camp session this weekend has hopefully given me inspiration to better look after my body a bit better! I could do to lose a couple of pounds!

I’d love to hear your comments on how you manage all the pressures of real life and hopefully other readers will be able to use some of them in the future!!


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

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Our First Holiday – an open letter to Heidi

As you may or may not know, I just had our first holiday with my 4 year old. It was the one thing that kept me going during the dark times of stress and separation – it was the one thing I fought so hard for. And it was worth it, totally worth it.

I wrote this on the way home, whilst Heidi was asleep on me. I have to admit that I shed a tear whilst writing it, but it was a tear of happiness (and maybe a bit of fatigue!!). Anyway, enjoy….

———

Dear Heidi

I am writing this somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, on our way back from our first holiday with just the 2 of us.

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It could have been the most horrendous holiday ever full of stresses and strains and not at all enjoyable for either of us. There were times running up to it where I thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I was under so much pressure to cancel it.

However, my trust and faith in you was so strong, I didn’t give in and I didn’t give up. I have dreamt of this holiday for a couple of years and I have to admit almost every day of our holiday, there were tears of unbridled joy that we were free and enjoying new adventures.

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Heidi – you have been an absolute star. I always say that I can take you anywhere and you have proved it so much this holiday. We have had fun, made friends, done new things and been living in each other’s pockets for just over a week and we have never got bored or fed up of each other.

So many people have said how well behaved you are or how they think you’re 6 years of age or older because of the way you hold a conversation. You make strangers smile in your company and most importantly, you make me smile so, so much. There were times when you were tired when travelling, but so many people said that you were such a good traveller and they were right.

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I am proud to be your daddy. I am proud to be your travel buddy after our first holiday. We are best friends and I am proud of that.

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Matching T-Shirts!

As you lay asleep next to me, I know these adventures won’t last forever, nor these moments of childish joy. However, let’s enjoy them whilst we can and live life to the fullest.

Time to look for the next adventure….

I love you Heidi
Daddy
XxX


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

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