I miss the exciting days when the Internet wasn’t in every home yet, when we got our software updates as floppy discs taped to the front of computer subscriptions and when we would find out about the best new websites from the incredible Connect magazine.
As people swarmed to get connected, blogs started to pop up. They started as a way to document our lives. Blogging started out as ‘web-log’, where we would share our diaries, often completely anonymously, hoping that what we wrote online would have no connection to our real lives.
I remember reading one by a taxi driver who shared stories of her passengers under a pseudonym. There was another one about a woman who would go on dates in the search for love but never seemed to find someone who was just right.
Then came the travel blogs, sharing adventures and free advice for backpackers. I started my first one back in 2006 when I joined the staff of a cruise ship company and posted photos of the ports and a few funny stories about the passengers.
People with something to really talk about found a voice online. Parents began to talk about the unglamorous sides of giving birth and raising their kids. They talked about poop explosions, birthing scars, the really hard days when they didn’t think they could continue, and they found understanding with other people who have been, or are going through the same thing.
Then along came the money.
Ads started to show up on the tops of websites or down the sides. Brands found opportunities to sell their products through people who used them. While, for the most part this worked in everyone’s favour, as bloggers got to share their honest recommendations and brands found a new advertising stream, it muddied the waters of honest blogging.
Now every second post is about toothpaste or a cleansing face mask with smiling faces of the new ‘influencers’ showing off their rejuvenated features, happy that they were chosen to receive a free sample of something they’ve never heard of and won’t buy again.
The very worst of the worst are the ‘Income Report’ posts that share how they made thousands of dollars in a month. As well as completely losing sight of sharing meaningful content, they serve as ways to start people off on pyramid schemes with affiliate links, which the post writer will get paid for every time a new ‘blogger’ signs up to the scheme. They often appear on ‘Travel Bloggers’ who are travelling the world and sharing their adventures.
Of course they are, they’re given an income by selling the dream that anyone can afford to live off their own blog (as long as they convince enough other people to sign up through this particular link).
On the other hand, I look for, and value honest recommendations and reviews of products that I need or are related to my interests as long as we’re honest about what’s happening and why the content creators are talking about it. The brands that are supporting the blogging community are giving us the money we need to keep going. Web hosting isn’t free and the hours and hours of work that our sites and online forums need to be paid for somehow.
But where do we go from here?
Like I mentioned, I understand and value the real reviews and honest recommendations but what we really have to be is a group of journalists, asking important questions. We need to be the over-sharers of too much information or the support that people need when they have a problem that nobody talks about.
We need to give honest, uncensored opinions on issues that we’re careful about talking about to our friends.
As a Dad-Blogger, I work hard at mixing real, personal content that I worry about posting, with sponsored pieces that I’m both interested in the brand and have something useful to say about it.
We’ve all seen those videos featuring children’s toys being played with by what are clearly adult hands. Well, I was one of those pairs of hands and I appeared in over 400 of those films. You’ve probably seen my work and not even realised it. However, I chose to turn my back (as well as the backs of my hands) on the profession, and now I’m here to tell my story and expose the truth behind the mysterious world of professional toy playing.
I mean, who even wears a negligee to play with blocks?
1) I got noticed whilst out and about.
I was in the park with my kid, playing with the toy diggers in the sandpit, when I noticed a man watching us. Not just watching, but jotting down notes too. After a few minutes, he got out a camera and began filming us. It was at this stage I asked him what he thought he was doing, and he said he wasn’t some weirdo, which went a hell of a long way to reassuring me. He was a hand model scout and he said I had the hands of someone half my age. He gave me his card and urged me to call him, then dissappeared. And that was my way in to this strange and alluring world.
Both strange, and alluring…
2) He assured me he wasn’t some fetishist or pimp.
The 2 most common insults directed towards his profession, in case you’re wondering. He told me that hands were his life’s work, ever since he’d lost his own in a tragic game of’ Last One to Take Their Hands Off The Train Track is a Loser’. He simply wanted everyone to use their hands to the fullest potential, whether that meant playing the violin, sculpting political figures using bacon fat, or simply masturbating like a mad ape. And he’d represented some impressive hands in his time, but I can’t divulge who, as he practices strict confidentiality between all of his clients.
3) He gave me a regimented hand workout schedule.
A typical day for me would look something like this:
8am – Clap hands x 5, Stretches – 10 x per hand, Wiggle fingers – 5 x per finger.
12am – Wave to 10 people by lunchtime, give a thumbs-up to 5.
2pm – 20 minutes of playing catch (wear special gloves if outside).
5pm – Click fingers – 10 x per hand.
8pm – Pedicure, followed by warm (not hot) hand bath. Blow dry, not towel dry. Exfoliate/moisturise, before putting on overnight gloves.
Certain things were strictly forbidden, such as crossing fingers, or scratching of hair and genitalia, as they could lead to callouses, hangnails, whitlows, infections and even arthritis. Any of these would spell the end for a hand model. An HM with a broken nail is the same as a racehorse with a broken leg. They may as well take you out the back and shoot you.
Basically the same thing.
4) My personal life suffered as as a result.
My actual work schedule on top of the exercises I’ve just discussed was gruelling. I was up at 5am every morning to start filming and I wasn’t ever allowed to drink coffee (ages the skin, apparently. And nobody wants to see a pensioner play with toys…). Filming was long, and you may not think there’s many ways you can play with a toy tractor. Turns out you’d be wrong. Sometimes it was like working with Kubrick.
Then there were reshoots, studio interference, scheduling conflicts, the works. It took its toll on me – emotionally as well as physically. At the end of a long day, all I wanted to do was to to bed with a book (which I couldn’t do in case of paper cuts). My friends and family were beginning to notice the changes in me as well. Speaking of which…
5) I started to believe my own hype.
I always swore I wouldn’t, but when I was out in public I let it all go to my head. I’d take off my velvet gloves that I wore to improve circulation, and tell everyone that my hands were the hands of an artiste. When they pretended not to know who I was, that got me agitated. I’d then move on to ‘Do you know I am?’ and if I was in a shop I’d demand to speak to the manager, with them feigning ignorance the whole time.
Looking back, it was obvious they genuinely had no clue who I was, other than a crazy person. I played with kid’s toys on Youtube, I was hardly Rita Ora. It would’ve been far stranger if they had recognised me, to be honest, as in over 400 videos, I’ve never once shown my face. But that’s just what fame does to someone, makes them blind to the truth. And the truth was that I had become a massive twat. And it took an intervention from my friends and family telling me I was a massive twat for me to realise I had in fact become a massive twat.
I looked a bit like this massive twat.
6) I bowed out gracefully.
I always promised myself I wouldn’t do a Bob Geldof, sticking my stupid talentless face everywhere it wasn’t wanted for a few bucks, which is why at the age of just 34, I quit the hand modelling profession for good. My mentor and by now, lover, said that he had failed me, and that he only ever wanted his client’s hands to be used for good, not evil. He thought that I had shown so much potential, and there was still so much for us to do, but he understood and respected my decision. He had opened my eyes to a whole new world and for that I would be eternally grateful.
And now I’m back to what I was doing before, selling asbestos to inner city schools. Hardly hand modelling, but it’s an honest wage, all the same. I’ll always have my 400+ videos to look back on, and I still exfoliate daily.
I committed to growing a human for nine months. You committed to being there for me for the same amount of time following the birth. It wasn’t her that you left. You continued to be an amazing dad. It was me you left. Me.
WHAT BROKE US?
I still lie awake now questioning why? You have given me vague answers over the last 6 years but I still don’t feel like you truly know ‘why?’ yourself. Our relationship couldn’t be physical anymore because I was in a pretty bad way after childbirth.
Did that break us?
Being a mom was hard and I struggled. You admitted recently that you thought I had PND. You never told me this at the time. Did that break us? I was difficult to live with. I had anxiety and OCD that really peaked after having our daughter. Did that break us? I gained weight and didn’t have time to lose it. Did that break us? We couldn’t go out all of the time on a whim with extra cash. Did that break us?
I gave you five years before we had our daughter. Five years without all of the above but those five years weren’t enough to keep you hanging on for me to find my old self again. A relationship requires a commitment to be there for one another through the good and the bad. Things got bad and you left.
YOU MADE ME
You made ‘me’ in every sense of the word. You made me face my demons. You made me see that I had to do this alone and I had no other choice but to find a strength I never knew I had. I got through the days. It was the night times that I crumbled. As she would wake again shouting for you and there was nobody there to share the load with, there was no you. I would lie awake. Alone. Crying into my pillow. I had never experienced heartbreak. It is such an appropriate word ‘break’. It was agonising. To see her face every day, the spitting image of yours. To pack her tiny clothes into an overnight bag because it was ‘your weekend’. You broke me. You completely and utterly destroyed me. But in doing so you made me build myself back up again.
Just as I had found my strength and got to grips with being alone. Just as I had got used to sleeping alone. You saw me. You saw that the old me was back. And so you came back.
I had to let down all of my walls that you made me build. I had to learn to trust you again. I had to believe that if things got tough you wouldn’t run. I had to rediscover my self-confidence and convince myself that although you left me you also came back to me. We worked. We worked hard on every aspect of our relationship. I didn’t do it for you. It wasn’t an overnight decision. But I saw her face. I saw you within her eyes. I did it for her.
Some months later you found a letter I had written to you. It was something I googled ‘How to deal with heartbreak’. It said to write down your feelings in a letter to the person who broke your heart. You were never meant to see it but the look on your face when I found you reading it will be forever ingrained in my mind. You were so shocked. Did you leave and think that life just carried on? You were so unaware of the disastrous mess you left in your wake. You honestly didn’t realise how you made me question every characteristic of my personality.
HAPPY EVER AFTER
Our story got its happy ending. Five years on. A marriage. Another baby. A new house. We made it!
I am thankful to our daughter because without her I don’t know where we would be today. We are the strongest and happiest we have ever been. I wake up every day and wonder how I got so lucky to have you. I adore you. I always did it just took you a while to feel the same back. I will always question why and every now and then I have moments when you look at me and my eyes are brimming with tears. It is these moments that I remember.
I WISH I COULD FORGET
I remember that it wasn’t an easy ride to get where we are. We earned the right to finally be happy. We had to work damn hard for this happiness. We still do. Because marriage is a constant work in progress. It is two people working to keep a promise. It’s then that I remember despite all of the pain and heartache love can conquer all. Love can make you forgive someone. Love, however, cannot make you forget.
So in the moments I sit and stare at you. In the moments my eyes fill up and you ask if I am okay. Know that I am and always will be okay because you leaving taught me that I will always be okay. It taught me that my love for you is fearless and never-ending. But it also taught me that you can never forget such pain. I am truly sorry that I remember that breaking agony so well and that the smallest of things can bring those memories back.
I forgave you the moment I decided to give us another chance but I can’t make myself forget.
This is the face you make when you get to marry the man of your dreams.
Can you remember going to your grandparents house after school or on a weekend and all they seem to do is feed you biscuits and cake?
Ah, the good old times!
The only time you got away with eating bad food.
As a child, you think it’s the best. But in reality, did it do us more harm than good?
Does it still happen now? Or was it a thing of the past?
Well, it definitely happens today – I saw an article the other day on the BBC News website and it made for an interesting read.
To be honest I don’t think it did me any harm. Yes, my grandparents fed me all sorts of rubbish and when my gran was baking, I always made use of the leftovers in the bowl. But growing up in the 90’s when there wasn’t any real technology you were forced you to be outdoors more anyway.
Climbing trees, playing football, going on ‘Stand By Me’ style adventures – I was always on the move! Which obviously helped to burn off any fats I was eating. These days my love of food now has taken it’s toll on my bod. I have an excuse though – I’m a dad and dad bods are cool!
But I do worry for children today. There are too many distractions in the home – iPads, TV and games consoles. And not much physical activity happening. For the kids that do consume a lot of sweets and cakes, then to just want to sit in gaming or watching TV all night isn’t doing them any good. I guess it’s how you control it, just because gran fills your kids with rubbish it doesn’t mean that a child will automatically become overweight. It’s what you do do after.
Recently I’ve been having issues with my 3 year old. All he wants to do eat sweets despite the fact that I am quite strict with sweet food and previously we have always had sweets under control. It makes me wonder where has he learnt the behaviour from…
We always make homemade meals from scratch at home which he loves, he has always eaten the food I have cooked but over the past few weeks, he wont sit at he table and just screams for sweets. So now we buy pots of mixed fruit as a treat or yogurt with honey on as a treat. The first few days were hard but it has helped. Thankfully, we are quite an active family but I can see how problems arise today.
I would like to start this post by saying I am one of those statistics.
How long have I had depression?
Honestly, I have no idea.
At 18 when my first son was born with complications, was the first time I looked for medical help. I was prescribed some antidepressants but decided against taking them.
I wasn’t going to put something in my body that can cause constipation and diarrhoea. It’s one or the other. Anyway, I’m young I can beat this thing without any help, I’m not a weakling – I’m a man.
So throwing myself into work and exercise was the solution, or so I thought. It did work for a while but a pattern began to emerge. I’d get obsessed with a sport – running, cycling and even triathlons. Around this time I’d become frustrated at work. On the surface, these two things aren’t connected but what I was doing is searching for joy. That thing that makes me happy.
It is hard for me to distance myself from work, I have a tendency of taking criticism very personally which affected my working relationships with people. Which I now know is the start of the cycle.
So jumping forward a couple of years and I now have a lovely little girl who adores me, a decent job and a partner who manages to put up with me.
So why did I feel so empty?
Nothing, just a void.
Was I a psychopath? Had I forgotten how to love? Was I just going through the motions? Is my family actually better off without me?
These questions and many others left me staring at the ceiling or just not coming to bed. Pushing me further and further away from the people that love me. My little girl no longer adored me like she used to, my partner had given up even arguing with me about things.
I was no longer a dad, no longer a man.
I was weak and things got very close to hitting the fan. But one question stopped me in my tracks. As I sat on a country lane, traffic flying by and tears rolling down my face. I asked myself “how can I tell my little girl I love her with all heart and then abandon her?”
The realisation hit me, I can’t do this on my own. After 27 years of looking for joy, I had no idea what it was. Depression taints everything, your experiences, memories and relationships. Not in an obvious way, no, no. It’s subtle, the seeds of doubt sprout over the years and turn in to full-fledged fears.
Those fears grew slowly, so while now they are completely irrational and make no sense, at the time they were very real, very powerful and hard to ignore. So when you sit down and write “what makes me happy is…” It’s always followed by “but does it?”. Those three words make you question whether that joy was real or fake. Holding your child for the first time? Their first steps? Dada?
So how did I learn to dad again, to be a man?
Step one was listening to the doctor and taking the meds. They didn’t change who I was, although some days I do wish they were the ” happy pill”. They just let me be myself. The one without all the fear and doubt.
Step two was talking therapy, as a bloke, it is not easy to articulate the way you feel. I was and still am a grumpy daddy – it’s an ongoing joke that all dads are miserable. The reality is we have a limited range of emotions and that is ok. Once you one your mouth and say “I’m not doing great” everyone will ask why. At that point is when you start to discover how crazy the stuff that brings you down is. I have tunnel vision when it comes to emotion. If I am happy then I’m open to opportunities, if I’m sad you’ve got no chance of making headway with me.
Step three is simply keep making progress, depression won’t stop you from being a dad. It just makes it a touch harder.
After step two, I found my joy and I currently have another little one baking in the oven. The hardest part of having depression is asking for help, once you have reached out you can be a better person, a good man, and a great dad.
Woodlands School in Essex has decided to offer parents the opportunity to take their children out of school for one week in July. But there’s a catch…
The trip/holiday must be ‘enriching’ for the child.
The school has dubbed this opportunity as “enrichment week” and is available to students in years 7,8 & 9. The plan is designed to reduce the number of unauthorised absences during term-time and enables parents to have a more affordable holiday.
Head teacher Simon Cox spoke to the HuffPost UK and said that the week (15-19 July 2019) was approved by the government this week.
Cox said, “We’re the fifth most deprived school in Essex and children are much less advantaged. We are finding our young people are not able to access cultural activities.
“Given the severe deprivation of our school, we had to try and do something affordable for our families so that when the children go to university or get an apprenticeship, they are able to talk about their opportunities.”
The school is ranked second highest in Essex for unauthorised absence, with a rate of 2.9%. They’ve made this an opportunity for all, though, because if parents don’t choose to take their child away for the enrichment week, a full schedule of enrichment activities will still be available at the school; children not going away are still expected to attend school as normal.
For any parents looking to opt in for the option of taking their child out of school, they are required to fill out an application form setting out how their child’s holiday away will be enriching. The form covers whether the trip will be spiritual, cultural, moral or social and what enriching activities they intend to complete and the children are also required to complete an educational booklet.
Credit: Woodland School
In the booklet, there are sections to fill in covering topics like English, Maths, Science, History & Geography. When they return to school, they will have the opportunity to show and tell about their trip.
“The reaction from parents has been overwhelmingly positive so far,” Cox added. “I’ve had emails from parents from other schools who have told me it’s refreshing to hear. It’s been great.”
One of the best past times that you can have with your family, especially when it raining or snowing outside and the kids are stuck in the house, is exploring virtual worlds of utter amazement together.
Video games have come a very long way from the likes of Pong or Pac-Man, with expansive worlds and beautiful locations to explore. However, it can be hard to know how to get your kids to sit down and enjoy gaming – especially since all of the big, blockbuster video games are for adults.
So today I wanted to look at ways that you can get your kids to sit down and play video games, enjoying themselves when they can’t go outside.
I think it is important to say that video games are far better than TV, as they are active entertainment, rather than passive. Passive entertainment, like sitting down and watching TV, doesn’t really stimulate the brain – you absorb the information from the TV, but don’t really get to interact with it. With gaming, your kids exercise their brains by actually controlling what is happening in the game.
SNES Classic Mini
Probably the absolute best way to get started with gaming for your kids, especially if they’re young children, would be the SNES Classic Mini. The console is seriously small, fitting in the palm of your hand. That means that you can fit it anywhere in your living room without issue. On top of that, it uses HDMI cables, so it will work with all of the modern TVs.
In terms of games, it comes with 21 built-in games including Super Mario World, the original Mario Kart and Star Fox. This means that there’s a great amount of variation for the kids, so if they get bored of one game, there’s a host of other choices available.
The video games themselves are incredibly fun, but because they are all classic games from the original Super Nintendo era, they are really easy to pick up. Therefore, you and your kids can sit down and enjoy some classic gaming, spending some enjoyable quality time together.
AT Games’ Sega MegaDrive
Whilst the AT Games’ MegaDrive isn’t the best re-release of a console, as the sound can be a bit funny, and whilst it says it can play original MegaDrive cartridges, it’s a best hit and miss. However, it does come with an astounding 80 games already built-in. This includes the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog and other major MegaDrive games.
Therefore, as with the SNES Classic Mini, it offers a quick and cheap way to get a host of games that you and your kids can play. Also, because the games are also from the same era, they are easy to pick up and don’t rely on your kids figuring out the more complicated modern controllers.
Individual Video Games
Okay, so that covers two micro-consoles, one absolutely amazing and one that is pretty average. So, let’s take a look at some individual, modern games that are great for playing with kids and spending family time together.
One of the best modern games to get started on has to be Journey, a work of art that relies on striking visuals and a beautiful soundtrack, with simple controls and a world that will keep your kinds transfixed. Journey is a majestic game of travelling across a fantastic world, and whilst online multiplayer is a major aspect of the game, communication can only be done through sounds in the game, and it is entirely cooperative in nature.
If you’re looking for a great way to just spend some fun time together, then Everybody’s Golf on the PlayStation 4 could be a great option. You and your kids can spend time exploring the virtual golf course, or take to the holes and play a few rounds in one of the most hilarious golf games to date.
What’s better than working together with your kids to reach some amazing fantasy goal? How about competing against them in one of the most exhilarating and downright hilarious cooking games to ever have been made? From streetside kitchens to spaceships, you and your kids will be laughing like crazy as you try to cook the best dishes in the outrageous family game.
And That’s All Folks
Believe it or not, gaming is far better for your kids than just watching TV. They’ll exercise their brains whilst enjoying themselves, and if you are playing together, it can be a wonderful bonding experience. Personally, I would recommend getting the SNES Classic Mini if you can, but they notoriously run out of stock very quickly.
So, if you can’t get ahold of one, then the other games on this list can make some great family experiences together!
I’ve been a dad for 3 years 7 months and 20 days. In that period I have been surprised every day.
Every single day.
Sometimes it is small little surprises like picking up on phrases we commonly say and using them in the appropriate places. Other times it’s learning a milestone achievement and then watching the achievement and the pride.
Simple basic play
This week when I went to collect the Bear from his Granny and Oupa’s (South African for Grandad), I walked in on the Bear playing with his Oupa. They were playing a simple game of catch with a sponge football.
The Bear was learning to catch, and to be honest, he’s getting there, a good majority of the time he was catching the ball from various distances.
The game then evolved to playing hand ball. The pair were sat at either end of the room with their legs open as the goal. The aim was to roll or throw the ball to the other person and try and score. A standard game we’ve probably all played.
However, all of a sudden the Bear got up with the ball and walked out. I feared boredom had set it.
Alas, I was wrong, the Bear walked back in the room with a tea towel. Placed the tea towel a foot away from the door, turned to his Oupa and said;
“Roll the ball on to the towel to win Oupa’
So being the obedient Oupa he is, the ball was rolled and stopped on the towel.
‘No Oupa, not like that, that’s easy! You have to roll it, hit the door and get my ball to stop on the towel. Then you’ll win.” Came the response.
Now, I was expecting the game to be the roll and stop on the towel, when that happened I was expecting cheers and adulation for Oupa, not criticism and a game straight from Takeshi’s Castle.
The game was played for a long while with the new rules.
About half way through the Bear’s Granny came in and gave me the silent loom that read:
“Did you teach him the game?”
I shook my head, another look:
“Pre-school?” whispered Granny,
A shake of the head, we were both shocked.
A pretty complex game had been thought of from a three-year-old, my three-year-old. Now I know this isn’t the invention of Monopoly nor will this game probably be played again.
The surprise hit me again, I just watched a juvenile brain design a game, increase the difficulty without the Bear realise what he was actually doing.
My surprise isn’t the fact the Bear has the ability to do this, my surprise is from watching this first hand and underestimating this.
This game evolution has shown me by letting a young brain investigate, analyse and implement the thoughts it is having at that moment, new experiences, games and learning can take place which will allow further understanding of the world.
I feel a great privilege to have been able to watch this process take place and have nothing to do with it at that moment.
We as parents and wider family members teach, guide and lead the path for our little ones to understand and learn about the world from our perspective.
By not being part of this experience I have been shown that whilst this guiding is important, the path of self-education is equally important so that the world can be understood from the little one’s perspective.
In the end, the Bear managed to stop the ball on the towel more times than me!
“No, you’re doing it all wrong! Just give the baby back to me!”
It rarely takes a new dad long to hear these words, and sadly, some of us don’t push back. Instead, after repeated put-downs, we retreat to the sidelines, believing mum is the parenting expert who always knows best. The reality is, it’s to the benefit of everyone (mum, dad and baby) if dads see themselves as equal partners in the raising of their child rather than the ‘substitute teachers’. It’s probably a lot easier for someone like me, a dad who is heavily involved in raising his children, to say that but lots of parenting experts including the female ones agree.
Being out and about I often see both mum and dad trying to parent the best they can and it strikes me how differently men and women do the same thing. For example, when I see parents swing their child, generally speaking, the mums will do it slowly and gently while the dads will swing them much higher and faster. Chances are you’re the parent who hurls your baby up in the air and chances are your partner freaks out when you do. They’re not being irrational when she’s freaking out over this stuff. She is simply playing her own role and trying to protect baby from injury.
However, you are playing a valid parenting role too. All that rough and tumble is teaching your kids self-control.
Exploration vs nesting
Next time you’re looking out and about, check out how men and women hold their babies differently. As you can probably guess by this stage, both approaches are worthwhile.
Fathers, uncles and grandfathers will hold the baby so that it’s looking out in the same direction they are. In contrast, mothers, aunts and grandmothers will be holding the baby facing them to make eye contact.
It’s a This is the world, you should take an interest in exploring it vs You’re safe in this closed circle of the family.
Discipline vs nurturing
It may be the mum who is engaging in what’s traditionally regarded as a ‘masculine style’ of parenting. Alternatively, the dad may be parenting in what’s commonly seen as a mum-like manner.
This is nowhere more apparent when it comes to the strict vs indulgent parenting style
If you think back to your childhood, you’ll probably recall there was one parent who was given to laying down the law. Up until recently, the father was expected to be the disciplinarian and the mother the nurturer.
Like all those parenting books you never got around to reading say, children, need both love and discipline to thrive.
Embrace parenting diversity
It’s amazing how people will talk to their partners in a critical, shaming manner that they would never think of using with anyone else. Both men and women would benefit if, when they did need to raise an issue around parenting, they did so in a nicer way rather than declare, ‘You’re doing it the wrong way.’ I try not to get into partner bashing when one person is having a moan about the other. I am trying to simply reply your partner isn’t doing something wrong, they are just doing it differently. Sometimes it’s easy to get worked up about a comment your partner has made that seems to question your skills or commitment as a father. Believe me, I know, I’ve been there.
My only advice I would give you just consider your partner’s mindset.
This week is Men’s Health Week, Sunday is Father’s Day and Monday is International Father’s Mental Health Day. Mental health affects us all, regardless of gender. Believe it or not, 1 in 10 new dads will suffer from postnatal depression.
We want to encourage all men to find the path to a healthier, happier version of themselves so ultimately, they can be the best fathers possible.
Here at The Dad Network, we’ve decided to bare all (quite literally) to raise awareness and tackle the issues of men’s mental health, especially amongst fathers. The #FatherFigures campaign aims to both increase knowledge and awareness of mental health in dads and highlight the link between our mental well-being and body perceptions.
#FatherFigures encourages dads to celebrate their bodies, whilst breaking down societal stereotypes of what a ‘normal’ body should look like. We want to promote positive body confidence amongst fathers and encourage men to open up about their mental health and provide much-needed support.
When you look at some of the stats out there, you’ll see why it’s much-needed:
1 in 4 men is affected by mental health problems or illness. And 1 in 8 men is diagnosed with a mental health illness in the UK.
1 in 10 new dads will suffer from PND.
Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales
Around 3/4 of suicides in the UK were male.
Men suffering from severe forms of body dissatisfaction has increased threefold in the last 25 years.*
More than four in five men (81%) talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body image by referring to perceived flaws and imperfections, compared with 75% of women.**
80% talk about their own or others’ appearance in ways that draw attention to weight, lack of hair or slim frame. **
Body image not only affects how we see ourselves, it affects how we interact with others and how we behave. It affects our physical and mental health and it can impact on our children.
The #FatherFigure campaign isn’t just about raising awareness that many fathers suffer from mental health issues and recognising when our stress levels are increasing, identifying what is causing the stress and trying to find ways to manage this.
It’s also a to call to action for those that are suffering:
You’re not alone – stay connected by joining a safe community of dads like The Dad Network. (13,000 members, that’s at least 1,300 who’ve experienced PND!)
Talk about your feelings – find someone you can trust – a close friend, a family member or someone you know will be supportive. It is not shameful to have these feelings, everyone experiences emotions; it’s a normal part of being human.
Eat well – evidence suggests that good nutrition is essential for our mental health
Stay aware of your alcohol consumption as this depressant can have a negative impact on mental health.
Take time out – relaxing gives your mind and body time to recover from the stresses of everyday life.
Appreciate your body as it is – we come in all shapes and sizes and we do not have to conform to societal stereotypes.
Keep active – physical activity is beneficial to your mental well-being.
Ask for help – It is courageous to recognise and ask for help if you need it.
Read more about mental health – to help understand what others have been through and what can be done to help.
Dr Emma Hepburn, Clinical Psychologist says,
“Men’s, and Dads’, mental health is an important area where we need to increase knowledge and awareness, and reduce stigma. Research suggests that Men are less likely to seek mental health support or disclose their concerns to friends and family. For dads, parenthood presents a number of challenges to mental health and research show there are higher rates of mental health conditions in the early years of fatherhood. Increasing awareness and knowledge of men’s mental health, and ways to seek help and support can help break down some of the barriers men face when they experience mental health difficulties”.
Dr Andrew Mayers, a psychologist at Bournemouth University who specialises in perinatal mental health, says,
“The causes of mental health problems, such as postnatal depression, are every bit as relevant for dads as they are for mums. Often, the perception is that postnatal depression is hormonal, so could not possibly affect fathers. But hormones only play a small part. Environmental and social factors, such as social support, poverty, relationships changes, education, and stigma, are a much better predictor. These equally apply to dads. We need to encourage more dads to seek help”
So what now?
Well, you can join the many dads and demonstrate your support for the campaign by uploading a photograph of a part of your body with #FatherFigures written on it using the #FatherFigures. And if you’re a mum, and you’d like to show your support, you can do the same or write and photograph your children’s dad!
Father’s mental health is important for their own well-being, their offspring’s health, and the stability of the family environment. Dads are rarely asked about their mental health and few services are available to them making campaigns like #FatherFigures even more important.