5 Minute Fun

We were invited to take part in “5 Minute Fun” via “Loved by Parents” and generally give it a go and see what we thought of it. This article was not paid for or anything like that. It was more an opportunity to write about what should have been 5 minutes of fun, but was rather 2 hours of fun!

The 5 Minute Fun Concept

So, what is “5 Minute Fun”? Well, 5 Minute Fun is made up of free and exciting educational activities and ideas for you and your little one to try out together. Generally they are quick and easy (sometimes!) activities which require little planning and little, if any financial outlay. They are meant to tie into the Early Years Curriculum and help develop the child whilst having fun.

5 min fun 2

The 5 Minute Fun Activity

We had 12 activities to choose from and without spoiling the other activities for you, I chose:

Ask your little one to imagine they’re a little chick hatching. Can they crouch down low, tap-tap-tap, then stretch up high and wide as they hatch?

Given Heidi’s flair for the dramatic (see the Pyjama Drama post here) I thought that this would be a nice and simple activity after a long, busy day at work. How wrong I was…!

So, after controlling the excited 3 year old for a second, I played teacher and tried to explain what I wanted her to do (which probably took 4 minutes out of the 5!) However, she was not playing ball and pretty much refused, although we didn’t have any paddying! In a moment of inspiration, I thought that I would demonstrate the activity myself. Using a hula-hoop (not the crisp!) as an egg, I acted out the activity and I thought that I did ok!

Clearly, I needed work as I was encouraged to do it again, on my own, but Heidi was seemingly getting more interested in the concept. However, the cogs in her brain were working in a way that only a 3 year old could. I asked her if she wanted to do it, and she said that she wanted to do it together, which was fine – twin chicks exist after all!

ducklings_1509217c

So I got into my egg and Heidi started to lay next to me. She then stopped, and started getting undressed in the middle of the living room, and the conversation went something like:

Me: What are you doing Heidi?

Heidi: Getting undressed Daddy.

Me: Why?

Heidi: Because chicks don’t wear clothes.

And just like that, I had a naked toddler pretending to be a chick!

We did the activity absolutely brilliantly, but then the seal was well and truly broken. The activity was done again, and again, and again. However, we took it on a step…

…the chick started to fly, and needed to be fed worms, and a nest building…however, the feathers didn’t seem to be growing too quickly!! Thank goodness we are well past the toilet training phase!

The Verdict

All in all, it lasted a couple of hours, and was certainly entertaining for all concerned. The activities are suited to be played anywhere. However, if your child has hidden exhibitionist tendencies, it might be wise to play somewhere a bit private! It was definitely an activity that stimulated Heidi’s mind and creativity. I am sure more normal children would have outcomes that you could video and take pictures of – clearly I wasn’t able to do that!!

To learn more about “5 Minute Fun” check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/5MinuteFun/ or their website at http://5minutefun.com

 


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]

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

or to read a bit about me, this page might be useful – About Me!!

Ten Things about being a Single Parent

So after reading about Seeing Rainbow’s blog post about being a single parent (which you can read here) I thought that I would do my own “Ten Things about being a Single Parent” – maybe from a dad’s perspective. This is where writing the blog acts as therapy!

1. It is the best job in the world

I think that is the quite self explanatory and goes without saying really, regardless if you a single parent or not. However, it still needs saying 😊

2. It is the most tiring job in the world

Again, every parent comes across this. However, when you work full time and come home from work and have to do everything on an evening without the support of anyone, that is the time when it is tough.

3. Where is the manual?

Again, one for all parents I think!!

4. Toilet problems

As a single dad of a girl, I have the decision about which toilets to use for her. Generally we use the men’s and hope/pray that it is quiet in there for everyone’s benefit, but ideally, we try to use the separate disabled toilet block. This way we don’t run the risk of having embarrassing toddler comments and there is enough room for me to go as well – normal cubicles are not big enough for 2 (and associated bags!)

When we were still in nappies, nappy changing facilities were sparse in men’s changing rooms, however, we only had one time where we had particular problems.

5. Nothing is ever perfect

It is a perfect storm of doing the best for your own child AND doing your best for someone else’s child. Generally the two are different even though the child is the same…

6. Stress levels rise beyond belief

Linked to the one above. However, with the stresses of looking after a child come the stresses of the fallout from a failed relationship and all that brings to the table

7. It’s like being a big kid

Going out and about and seeing the world through the eyes of a child is a wonderful thing. Make the most of it. It is special.

Being in control and being able to choose what to do and where to go is also very empowering!!

8. People want to help

Generally it is shop assistants and the more elderly members of society who want to help when out and about. If you get the offer for help, it will save you the little bit of energy you might need later on!!

Also, don’t be shy about saying you’re a single parent. Because we go to the same places/people and it came up in conversation, these places/people are more open to helping and even asking “How are you getting on?” – that little question means a heck of a lot and so if you know of a single parent, ask them. It will mean the world.

9. I am not daddy day care

I know it is a bit old fashioned but still…!!! The number of people who still say it and I really feel like saying back to them:

“Yes I am looking after my child. It is called being a parent. I also work full time and have her every moment that is available. I am not doing this because mum wants some time to herself, I am doing this because it is what a parent is all about”

Rant over…

10. I have my best friend

The bond between a child and parent is special. The bond between a child and a single parent is even more so, because you are close knit team:
You laugh at silly things.
The pair for you go through the down times together because there is no-one else to turn to.
You are stronger for it
You get your best friend in the world

Whilst I have written about “Ten Things about being a Single Parent”, I am sure that there are more. Please feel free to add some into the comments section!

image


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

“Like” me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/leedsdad (Please do this – it makes me smile!)

“Follow” me on Twitter @leedsdad

Email me at: [email protected]leedsdad.com

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

Fathers Day

It would be amiss for me not to make a special post on Fathers Day.

In truth, every day is Fathers Day. Every day I am responsible, care for and love the most precious little girl in the world, who in turn fills my world full of hope, laughter and play.

Being a Dad isn’t easy, I have written about that in the past. It will never be easy. However, the easy parts are when we are together, playing, laughing, teaching, cuddling.

The hard parts are when we are apart, or just about to be apart. Over the years, on the outside, this has got easier, but it still cuts me up on the inside. I am not afraid to admit that either. It shows that I care. It shows that I love. It shows that I love being a dad.

Have I improved as a dad over the years? I would argue that I was perfect already… Not because I am now better at doing plaits, playing at doctors or even looking after her.

I am a perfect dad because I love Heidi with all my heart, I always have and that will never change. Truth be told, that is the only thing you need to be a perfect parent. The rest will take care of itself.

Happy Fathers Day!!

Continue reading Fathers Day

Swimming with a toddler!

I have been meaning to write a blog post about swimming with a toddler for a while. However, after going swimming a few days ago to Sandcastle Water Park I thought that I would write a generic and hopefully humorous post on coping as a single dad with the trauma of swimming!!

image

I found swimming one of my biggest challenges as a single dad. This is mainly as I lacked confidence to do it. So if by reading this, it inspires someone to go and give it a go with their child, then it has worked! Also, if you laugh/smile, it has worked as well!

Getting Ready

My main issue was the changing room, making sure that I had packed everything, unpacked everything etc etc!  Dry space is your friend on this…who cares if things are not folded like a piece of origami – so long as it is dry!

image

I used to get us both ready in out swimming costumes before setting off to the baths as it is one less thing to forget. I tended to put Heidi’s swimming nappy on just before going into the pool. Don’t make my mistake of putting it on too early as they are not as easy to change and clean when they have been used!!!

So, getting into the pool is the easy bit, apart from playing the ‘how can I put all our clothes in the locker while entertaining a child?’ game?! Lockers are not designed for adult shoes, coats, bags or even baby items. It seems as though they only accept towels and money so you won’t be the first or the last to shoulder barge your bags, shoes etc in while holding your child in the other arm. Not glamorous, but just get the job done!

image

Swimming with a Toddler

The swimming bit is actually the fun part, except you have probably got a dead arm at this point. Remember though, a child in water weighs less so you can reminisce about how light your child was back when they were born as your arm recovers and you worry about if you put everything in the locker!!

You are also petrified about not being in contact with your child for the fear of drowning in an instant. You also start to mentally design about some kind of swimming harness to make sure it never happens…

There is a serious note on swim safety here and there are many better resources than me to advise on that. However, always listen to the lifeguards, they are there for a reason!

However, you quite like this swimming with a toddler lark.

The Lockers

So after going round the same bit of pool for a what feels like an eternity, you get feeling back in your arm and decide to get out of the pool. Then you wonder how you are going to get everything out of the locker that rammed full of all your worldly possessions whilst looking after a child…

Some places have pens to put children in, so ask where it is before you go into the water in the first place. It is optional to have to take them out! However, you are probably going to try and have to use your newly recovered arm to yank the mis-shaped items out of the locker.

I probably should have said beforehand to make sure all the zips of your bags are closed before you put it in the locker. As if not, the contents will fly their way into someone else’s changing cubicle!! You then suddenly turn into Michael Caine and think that the only solution is to blow the bloody door off…

image

The Changing Rooms

However, changing rooms are magical places and then you evolve from Michael Caine to a hybrid of superheroes.

You have 8 arms because you are carrying a tired child and your worldly possessions. Most importantly is the £1 coin from the locker as you promised the child something from the vending machine if they stayed in the water for more than 5 minutes.

You also turn into a hawk trying to look for a suitable changing room. For this,  size means nothing. Just make sure it is dry!

image

You also turn into Usain Bolt realising you have to leave some things in the changing room to get everything else out of the locker. As such, you rush to make sure no-one will steal your underwear and worn down trainers (hint, they won’t!)

You also curse the hawk for not spotting a free changing room right next to the locker…

Getting Dressed

So you are tired, wet, cold and your superhuman powers have disappeared. Your Everest is in front of you – your child needs changing into normal clothes again! You forget everything you have ever learnt about dressing a child as you fear that hypothermia is just around the corner. (Hint, it isn’t. Although you need to get them dry as soon as possible)

This is has a difficulty level 9 and so it is ok for shortcuts to be made.
Clothes inside out? Not a problem. Shoes on with no socks? Not a problem.
Vest back to front? Be proud that you have got the vest on in the first place.

image

But they you realise that you can do it, and you have done it. You have got your child dressed and not managed to break them! You’re in a changing room so no one else can see your joy. However, no one else can see your celebration dance, so go for it!

However, there is a problem. You are still in your swimming outfit, freezing cold and wondering how to get out in one piece. If your child is a baby, you are on easy street. Just give them a toy and you have bought 5 minutes. Trust me, they won’t mind!

Bribery

With a toddler, this is much more difficult. They want to get out of the changing rooms. They also know how to open the door. You panic about showing the whole world everything as your toddler escapes and you having to run and catch them wearing only a smile. But then you remember one of the keys to parenting – bribery. You offer the lure of the vending machine to keep them sweet for 5 minutes as you get dressed. You also wonder why you wore skinny jeans as opposed to baggy shorts.

And then you’re ready to leave, having spent more time out of the pool than in the pool. But you know that you have completed an important mission with SAS style efficiency and you have a happy child.

Until you realise you have forgotten to pick up the coin from the locker and the vending machine will have to wait until next time!

Continue reading Swimming with a toddler!

Toilet Training – (part 4)

Is the light at the end of the tunnel?! Quite possibly so after 3 very, very successful weeks.

As a prelude, part 1 of the adventure is found here, part 2 here and part 3 here

I remember starting this mini-series in a bit of despair really… Heidi knew what she needed to do, but also knew that she was only 2 and thought that it would be far too boring to do things easily!! However, we are getting there, rather quickly.

I managed a long weekend away to the North Yorks Coast without needing to change her once, and this included, for the first time, going without nappies in bed. So, have we finally cracked it and I can get rid of all the nappies and pull-ups that are floating around the house?

Logically, I would say yes. I haven’t changed a nappy in weeks (woohoo!) However, there are still times when there is reluctance to go, but she has never wet herself for me and she is happy to use public toilets and knows when she does and doesn’t want to go.

However, I am now the dad to a child and not a baby – and that is a weird feeling…

While it is seemingly long overdue, I know that a little bit of Heidi’s innocence is gone. She is no longer only having to think about being herself, she has to think about looking after herself as well. My little girl is growing up. Quickly.

So, what is the point of this blog post? Well, a little bit of self reflection on the journey we have been on (read back for the time she only wanted to stand up!) and also offer some reassuring words for others going through what I did go through…

I know it is a well worn saying, but it will happen in its own time. Heidi was at least 6 months behind her friends and naturally, I did worry and I wanted her to progress because you want your child do do the best in everything. However, you cannot force it. You can try and force them to go to the toilet, but if they don’t want to go, they don’t want to go!!

Would I have done anything different? I wouldn’t have worried as much, for sure, and I would have just gone with the flow. I never did the whole ‘staying in’ to train Heidi – perhaps I should have done. However, she found the whole thing slightly entertaining and her mischievous side took over at times! One thing that I would have done is run down my supplies of nappies and pull-ups! I have some artistic plans up my sleeve for those when the time is right!

 


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

Toilet Training – (part 3)

This has turned into a fortnightly update on the potty training saga and it appears as though we have turned a corner!

Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.

So, somewhat remarkably, Heidi has been dry for the last week or so. Not quite sure how, and not quite so sure why, but it has happening! Heidi has been dry overnight for quite some time and now it is working during the day.

The main reason for this post is to talk about public toilets and how impractical they are for toilet training. Firstly, I think that it is pretty much awkward for everyone seeing a dad bringing his 2 year old daughter into the gents. For this reason I try to use the disabled toilets, although for most, you need a special key to get into them (quite rightly too…)

Secondly, the space in the cubicle is very much limited and trying to fit a toddler and an adult into that space is very difficult! Previously, Heidi was seemingly claustrophobic and thankfully, that has passed. However, practicalities remain and I end up leaving the door open, but crouching in front to make sure all is well…the glamorous side of parenting!

So Heidi has been out of day time pull ups for a week now and we went on our first test this weekend, going on a mini break with a 2 hour drive (to Filey for my UK based readers). All in all, it went very well. Going, we stopped off as planned for a quick snack and timed it well so it was very smooth and was pretty much perfect.

On the way back, we didn’t have a break planned, as I was hoping that she was going to have a nap, but I got the “I need a wee” call after 90 minutes. As a result, I pulled into a residential street and used the potty on the pavement! Classy, I know but I wasn’t exactly sure what else to do! Any ideas are gratefully received!

Having said that, given that it was our first big challenge without pull ups, things went really well. Looking back at the previous posts in this series, I realise how far we have gone and now I am wondering if I will ever need to buy nappies ever again…!!

To read the final part, check out the link here: Toilet Training – (part 4)


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

Dads are parents too!

So this “Dads are parents too” post is a bit of a follow-up to my previous ‘reflective’ piece titled “Dads Involvement in Parenting” (link here). It is somewhat inspired by the “Dads don’t babysit” t-shirt that has been doing the rounds.

Dadstastic

When I wrote my previous piece, I felt somewhat alone as a single parent, and as a dad. I reflected on the fact that most of the time I went to groups etc, I was one of a handful of dads and I did feel as though dads should be doing more.

I still feel that is the case in some instances. However, thanks to the power of the internet, there are pockets of dads who do go above and beyond. There are the “main carer” (I hate that phrase!) and are the ones taking their child here there and everywhere.

Yes, the stereotypical view by the population as a whole that mum should be the main one caring and nurturing the child will remain for some time. Miracles don’t happen overnight.

However, there are groups out there of like minded dads out there. Some of whom will be in a similar position to myself. The fact that these groups exist give me great comfort and support, even if it is just reading the posts and smiling, knowing that I have been in that particular situation. Yes, being the only dad in a parent/toddler class of 40 children will never be easy. However, I know that the support groups are there. They are just a bit harder to find for dads than for mums.

Happy Heidi = Happy Holiday!

Also, it does get easier as time goes on. Confidence grows and as babies turn into toddlers, they make friends. That makes going out as a group so much more interesting and turns into the highlight of the week.

Yes, it is still difficult, yet life is difficult. Life as a single parent is more difficult, and I realise that I am very lucky to be in a better place than others. Times change and it might mean that those starting on the journey will find it easier. I know that I am now, even though I am 2 years down the path…

If after reading this and you don’t know where to turn I would try two groups:

If you’re a fellow Leeds Dad, join the Facebook/Twitter for the Leeds Dads group. They meet once a month in Leeds (although I have only been once due to sleeping toddler!), a really informal group and the WhatsApp chat group is a source of great comedy!

If you’re further a field, “The Dad Network” is an excellent free flowing Facebook group where dads around the world post thoughts on parenting (or parenting to be) and interesting discussions flow from there.

Dads are parents too
Selfie Time!

I would be foolish not to conclude the “Dads are parents too” post with a link to the “Dads Don’t Babysit” t-shirt page  (for UK dads). It is for an excellent cause so you’re doing more than just buying a t-shirt

https://teespring.com/dadsdontbabysitEU

Continue reading Dads are parents too!

Toilet Training (part 2)

So it has been a couple of weeks since the last update (found here) so it felt like an appropriate time to revisit and reflect…

Well, it is safe to say that progress is being made and it is also safe to say that it is slow going! There are times and days when it works perfectly, there are days when doesn’t happen … at all!! This weekend being a case in point, Saturday was a nightmare, part of it was Heidi having too much fun with her friends and subsequently not being “into” it.

However, a slight positive was when she was playing in a washing basket (as you do!) and realised that she had wet herself in there. The downside to this is that it is very difficult to clean the bottom of a 3ft high washing basket with holes in!

Sunday was a much, much better day, without a wet nappy all day. We were out and about in the morning and while she didn’t go while we were out, when we got back home, Heidi felt comfortable enough to go. She went a couple more times at home in the rest of the day although I am slightly concerned that she isn’t drinking enough because she doesn’t want to go to the toilet.

The “standing up” phase appears to have passed and using a small table to support her feet seems to have helped quite a lot. However, there are times when Heidi seems scared to go into the toilet, although this might be her way of saying that she doesn’t want to go.

Either which way, things are very much slow going, but things are slow going.  One thing is for sure, this is probably the hardest part of raising Heidi so far!!

To read the next update, check out the link here: Toilet Training – (part 3)


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

Fashionable Toddler

After we went to a junior fashion show last weekend, my thoughts wandered to the issue of dressing Heidi, and making her look her best and making her a Fashionable Toddler.

image

The initial thought was that it doesn’t matter and it didn’t matter whether Heidi was dressed as a girly-girl or a bit of a tomboy. This was particularly true for my first few months of weekend-parenting. Pretty much what was clean, ironed and fit was fair game!

However, as I have developed as a parent, my confidence has developed. I have started to think about it a bit more. As Heidi is becoming her own person with her own thoughts, I have tried to match what she wants and particularly, what she doesn’t know she wants until it’s too late!

Every parent wants what is best for their child although I am a bit behind the game on this one as I am

a) not interested in fashion

b) a dad!

So what do I do? I don’t know the answer….

As with most of parenting, there is a lot of experimentation aka trial and error! Do I put her hair up, down, pig tails, pony tails or plaits?! Or will she actually let me comb it in the first place…?! I’m proud to say that I have attempted and somewhat succeeded in doing a plait…once. However, it is so hit and miss! (Dad tip: wet the hair well and watch YouTube videos!)

image

As for clothing, I am completely out of my depth! My approach was that anything in big-brand supermarkets would do as it was a safe choice. Whilst can’t really go wrong, I am not sure if they are the most toddler friendly clothes out there.

I have started looking at more “unique” shops online in order to get something a bit different, to tip my toes in the water and gauge the reaction. I bought the ones below from Funky Rascals and they are bright, funky designs. These are what I was looking for to see how both of us would react to them!

image

image

However, the overarching sentiment behind this somewhat rambling post is that I don’t have a clue what I am doing in this regard! Heidi is happy and looked after in terms of the clothes she wears now. Is she bothered about being a fashionable toddler? Not really. That is obviously the main thing, although I dread to think the conversations that we will have in a few years time!

In some of my sillier moments, I do wonder if fancy dress is the way to go…

image

But as with most things in this parenting roller coaster, I seem to be making it up as I go along, and having a blast doing it!

Continue reading Fashionable Toddler