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UNLIKELY DAD Blog by Unlikely Dad - 1w ago

OKAY... let me start off by saying I am all about the romance, 100%. (See my previous posts about date nights!)

But it's that time of year again! The sea of red in the shops, the cringey cards and the expectation to have the most un-spontaneous sex of your life (Yeh... i said it!) 

Over on The FMLY Man I am talking all about Valentines Day and why I don't really buy into it... does that make me a really grumpy, old git?! Check it out here!

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I am just a little bit amazed to be listed amongst such great bloggers in the Culture Whisper 'Best parenting blogs to follow' list!

Culture Whisper was launched by a small team of London insiders on a mission to share their knowledge about the capital’s culture.

Since they launched they have grown into a buzzing hub made up of a dedicated editorial, marketing, design and development team working alongside brilliant writers, artists, experts, photographers and curators.

They recently compiled their list of the top parenting bloggers to follow on Instagram and I am so pleased to have made that list, check out my feature below! And be sure to check out the full list here and get following, you'll be glad you did!

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UNLIKELY DAD Blog by Unlikely Dad - 1M ago

I think I hear every single parent say it every birthday... but I just don’t know how my son is turning four years old in a week. Honestly, time doesn’t stand still.

It feels like yesterday we walked into the foster carers house. Full of unimaginable levels of hope and fear and excitement. We heard you in the kitchen playing with your favourite magnetic fridge toy (it’s still on the fridge now!). You peeked your head around the corner and gave us the biggest grin. Your cheeky little face instantly lit up my life. And you slowly crawled up to your dadda and sat on his lap. There you were. Our baby boy. Fourteen months old. Everything we had ever wished for.

Fast forward almost three years and here we are. Planning your fourth birthday party. A beautiful, strong, happy, healthy boy. So full of life. So full of energy. So loud. So funny. So caring. So kind. How are you mine?

I recently watched videos from our first few months together. Helping you learn to walk, to go down the slide, tickling you til you burst. And it gets me every time how far you've come. How far we've all come.

As you turn four we have gone through so many changes in the last year since your third. I think it’s safe to say it’s been a biggy! But we wouldn't have changed it for the world. It's become a little tradition of mine that on the eve of your birthday I have a flick through your baby book that your lovely foster carer passed to us. And I am always instantly transported back to that time. Reminded of where you started your little life and where you are now.

For your birthday I wish you so much love, so many smiles and to learn so many new things in the year that lies ahead of you. I love you so much. Thank you for changing our lives.

Daddy x

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What a way to kick off 2018!!

I have been asked to join the team of ambassadors for the James Villas blogger programme for the year and I could not say "Yes"! quick enough! My little family and I will be getting involved in a trip this summer to experience all that James Villas has to offer and will sharing it all first hand with you across Facebook and Instagram, so get following if you don't already!

The guys at James Villas are teaming up with seven bloggers in total, who’ll be bringing their own insights into the world of villa holidays over the coming year. You can find out more about them here.

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A few weeks ago (which now feels like decades after the Christmas craziness!) I was lucky enough to be asked onto a panel at the Blogosphere Christmas Festival talking all about 'Finding your authentic voice online'. 

The event was held at the Tab Centre in Shoreditch on Saturday 16th December and was a chance for Bloggers to get together and learn from one another. The set up was beautiful and the room full of festive cheer (the free flowing Christmas themed alcohol was certainly helping any pre-panel nerves!).

I was on the panel with some wonderful ladies. (left to right) Vix Meldrew, Brogan Tate and Jessica from FOXXTAILZ . All big bloggers in their field. The lovely Albertine (centre) from Blogosphere Magazine fired the questions at us followed by some questions from the audience. I absolutely loved getting to meet so many cool people and hopefully offer some words of wisdom as to how I started the blog and how I found this voice. I really do believe it's all about being truthful, authentic and just yourself. Telling your story and being genuince to you. If you can do that, then nothing is standing in your way! 

Thanks for having me, Blogosphere! Same time next year? 

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UNLIKELY DAD Blog by Unlikely Dad - 2M ago

I love to look back, reflect on the year gone by and think about everything we've been through, how it's shaped me and what the year ahead can bring into our lives. Life is going at light speed. I sometimes can't keep up and then every now and then i'll flick to a video on my phone from the early days of being a dad and see my son's chubby, little legs taking their first steps... and then it hits me. How far we have come since the beginning of it all.

I am massively sentimental. If you've read any of my blogs before you probably know that. This time of year is without a doubt my favourite and I take any opportunity I can to look back and give myself the opportunity to have a good cry.

Life as a dad, mum, carer... it is relentless at times. No scrap that, at ALL times. I always heard how you are literally firefighting, doing, planning 100% of the time. And it's true. But I never understood it til I became a dad. Not so much in the beginning because it was so new and we were so fresh to it all. But now, almost three years in I really do feel it. And I only recently thought, how am I doing? Am I okay? Are we doing a good job? That's crazy that I haven't really thought about it before now. We've just been so busy DOING LIFE!

This year was probably the year of changes for us. It all started shortly after my son's third birthday. Before then we were lulled into a false sense of security. He slept like a dream, 7pm til 7am. Napped a couple hours from midday every day. It felt too good to be true. We would say how lucky we were and the terrible twos? Nah, they don't exist! But then it all went a little bit 180!

We moved him into a big bed on his third birthday. And he took it in his stride, he didn't ever get out and he'd still wait for me to go into his room before even jumping out of bed. We had it nailed. But a month or so after this... something new happened. He decided that 6am was a good wake up time. Okay, that's not so bad. My alarm would usually go off at 6:30am anyway. But then that soon changed to 5am. And then 4am. I swear one day when he woke, the clock started with a 3. I try to forget that day.

This wasn't an "Okay, back to bed now" type of wake up. He was WIDE AWAKE. Ready for the day. Still to this day we don't know what caused this change in him. But like clockwork, everyday it'd happen. We found ourselves slowly dying after having two years of full nights sleeps. Suddenly we experienced a little sleep deprivation. And it was not good. It was by no means as bad as it could be and is for some parents... but getting into work and trying to function like a proper human being was hard. Now? A new routine of waking at 11pm and then again around 4am/5am seems to be the thing. But now he settles back to sleep and isn't so wired when he wakes. We've taken to forming a make shift bed next to his and just laying with him when it's those early starts now and we all get a little bit more sleep.

He'll grow out of it, but for now... I just want to get as much shut eye as I (we) can!

Another change was nursery. It terrified me. But it really didn't need to. He proved to us he had it nailed within days. It broke my heart to know he wasn't being looked after by family anymore, but he took it all in his stride and LOVED it. Saying new things every day, knowing what we were asking, dancing, singing, learning his colours overnight... it has all been so amazing to see as his dad.

Let's not forget potty training. He was trained. Over night. Day one. We couldn't quite believe it. But we waited til he was ready and wanted to try it. And it worked.

He's becoming his own little person. In some ways so dependant on us for the smallest of things and in other ways wanting to do it ALL himself. Teeth brushing, pouring his own milk... even wiping his own bum. We're seeing changes all the time. My favourite? Has to be seeing his language develop more and more, having conversations with him and just hearing his thoughts. Oh, and the dancing. I love the dancing. 

We ended the year with his first ever nativity show at nursery. He sang along to a couple of the lines, swayed a little bit during the dance. My little three year old on stage in front of hundreds of grown ups. Just chilling, sitting with his friends. My eyes didn't leave his face for the whole show. I've never been prouder. 

This year has shown me that as comfortable as you think things are, these threenagers will come in and prove otherwise. Nothing stays the same. It's been a big learning curve this year. Maybe more so than when we first became parents... but if anything, it's built us up to be able to handle whatever this young man throws at us next.

Maybe for 2018 we just drop the night time wake ups? That'd be great thanks, son! x

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This has probably been written a million times before, by many a father and many a mother. Christmas with a child is like no other. For so many wonderful, contradictory reasons... Last year i wrote about surviving Christmas with a toddler. Pretty much everything still applies. But this year, i feel a little bit more manic. There's more lists. There's nursery commitments. Work hasn't wound down for the holiday season (annoyingly). And we're already in mid-December!! Luckily the gift shopping is done, but now the lovely job of wrapping it all needs to begin. The cards have been written and posted (even for the entire nursery class!) Let me check my list for what's next to be done...

What is lovely is that this year my son is just that little bit older to actually understand it all a bit more. He's even saying "Merry Christmas" to everyone and singing Little Donkey. My work is done...

The Christmas season, with children, completely renews the magic you experienced yourself as a child. Those feelings all come back to you, and you want to make it just as special for them, if not more so! But you also realise you have no time to actually have those days mooching the shops picking gifts for all your friends and family. Stopping to have mince pie and ice cream, a coffee... Amazon becomes your new best friend.

Even without kids, it's usually a manic time of year. You've got to think about seeing all your friends before December 25th (why do we do that? I can see them on December 27th i'm sure), the gifts, the planning, the baking, the food, the drinks... add a child to the equation and i feel this increases the anxiety levels ten fold. Babies sleep more often. Four to five year olds are that little more independent and get even more excited about the holiday (i hope?). But THREENAGERS? Hmmm. They are like small, drunk people with no real regard for the Christmas tree, the pretty decorations, no desire to go into any shopping centre, they want to unwrap everything under the tree (no concept of waiting) and the meltdowns and standard end of day behaviour don't stop just because it's Christmas. Don't be absurd! They don't even know when it's your birthday let alone Jesus's! I remember last year taking K to get the Christmas tree. Literally one of my favourite days of the year. He couldn't give a toss and was running around the farm hiding from us the whole time! I think this year he'll want to get involved a little more.

There is no doubt that Christmas is beautiful but it's also very busy. And the amount to accomplish can sometimes be overwhelming. So why the hell do we do it to ourselves? Because if we didn't we'd be sat alone at the happiest time of year not sharing the process of putting on a stone of weight with anyone, that's why!

Below I'm sharing my five top things i do every year to help us all get through the holiday season with minimum fuss. As a working dad i need to be this organised. But it applies to the single parent or even a stay at home parent. Because whatever way you tackle Christmas with a child, it ain't like it used to be...

  • PLAN AHEAD. Ok, it's really obvious but no one likes a last minute Lucy. I try to start shopping in November, just so you can spread the cost. I don't think i could start any sooner, i like Christmas to last a good few weeks, but not starting from the summer! This year the majority of my gifts were brought before December! #organisation
  • LISTS. I am the biggest believer in lists. I have them for everything and Christmas is no exception. I have my Christmas Card list and the 'Who to buy for' list saved on my laptop that i pull out each year and just add names as necessary. It just means you don't need to start from scratch every year. We've hosted Christmas Day the last two years and the food plan was so well done by The Chef (aka my husband) that we've typed it up too just so we can edit the amount of food by the number of guests (Wow... reading this back i literally am Monica Geller). 
  • DON'T DO IT ALL. Seriously, we've all seen the mums and dads achieving EVERYTHING on social media. These parents have already had a magical Christmas party for all the kids, someone dressed as a Father Christmas even turned up, last week they popped to Lapland for a few days and this week the Elf on the Shelf has had a better social life than you. Oh, not forgetting the mountains of presents they bestow upon their children. Newsflash, no one likes a insta-bragger! Don't try to reach these crazy levels of Christmas. It does not matter. I was freaking out the other day that i hadn't had labels printed for my sons presents. You know the ones, personalised with cute pictures etc etc but then i thought 'Hang on... he can't read... i'll just use normal tags like every year, I'm sure he won't mind...!'. Think about what you want for your child and make that dream achievable. Don't overstretch or kill yourself trying to achieve this magical Christmas you've built up in your head. It WILL be magical just having the family together with a few lovely gifts. Trust me! Plus, WHO HAS THE TIME??!! Even as a stay at home parent, do your children sleep for four hours a day or something to allow you to accomplish these levels of crazy Christmas? Or do you just not sleep at night? Well I'm telling you now that i need my ZZzzz's.
  • SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY. If you are a couple, you both need to pull your weight. Usually couples have their roles nicely defined at this time of year. I hear about so many wives/girlfriends/mothers and how it all get's left to them (a big stereotype perhaps?) but share the load i say. You buy gifts for your side of the family. Your partner does it for theirs. Job done. For your children, work together. For the food, work together. My husband cooks food and i bake the treats. Perfect compromise.
  • ENJOY. Yes, it is really all about your little bambino at this time of year... but don't forget, you work bloody hard 24/7 365. This is a time for you to enjoy just as much as them. Any excuse for a mince pie and some mulled wine. A Christmas movie and some snacks on the side. It is the ONE time of year we can get away with doing little (usually when you get the chance after Boxing Day). I usually find the time off work between Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to let go... eat... be merry and forget what it's like to set the alarm. That's why we've already gifted ourselves a day at the spa in the Christmas/New Year limbo. We deserve it!

I wouldn't change this time of year for anything. Spending it with my beautiful boys is all i could ask for... now pass me the prosecco! 

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When Clemmie Telford asked me to write a list for her website, which is all about parenting and beyond, i said "Yes" in a heartbeat. I love her blog, it's basically a place to brain dump an experience, a journey, a story... but into a simple to read list. 

I actually thought it might be quite hard for me because if you've ready any of my blogs, especially my adoption journey, then you'll know i like to ramble on! But i somehow did it. Check it out here! Thanks for having me, Clemmie!!

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UNLIKELY DAD Blog by Unlikely Dad - 3M ago

There are so many things that make me happy. My life completely changed when I became a dad. And I can honestly say I have loved and continue to love every single minute. Even the more difficult, testing times… it’s all part of this crazy journey. I am a big believer in the power of gratitude and giving thanks. I do it often... be it in my head, verbally, face to face, via meditation, or you can do it to a God of your choice. It’s all the same.

"Gratitude is an immensely powerful force that we can use to expand our happiness, create loving  relationships, and even improve our health" says the Chopra Center.

I don't want to get all 'new age' on you, but practising gratitude has been amazing for me. It kind of puts everything into perspective. If you're reading this then you probably have SO MUCH to be thankful for. You have internet connection allowing you to communicate with the world, you probably also have a child, a family or you are on your journey to achieving that.

I made a list of everything I am thankful for. From the smallest things that may seem insignificant to the everyday things we take for granted.

WHAT AM I THANKFUL FOR?

1.       That first sip of coffee in the morning (preferably being drunk in peace whilst my three year is old is still in bed)

2.       Having a roof over our heads that we have slowly made our own.

3.       Being away from the norm. Usually meaning the feeling of sand underneath my feet and the warmth from the sun on my face. Seeing my little boy run back and forth into the sea.

4.       Resting my nose on my son's head and sniffing his hair for as long as he lets me.

5.       Having a soul mate who has seen and experienced so much of life with me and still to experience so much more.

6.       Having stocked cupboards full of food.

7.       Payday.

8.       Getting lovely messages from followers of the blog.

9.       Friday. Home time.

10.     When my son decides to stay in bed til gone 6am.

11.      Hot, running water.

12.     My bed and the thick, lovely winter duvet.

13.     That feeling after a workout AND you’ve eaten well all week (a rarity).

14.     Seeing how my family love my son.

15.     Having our health for however long the universe allows.

16.     A True Grace fig candle. (Seriously, you need this in your life)

17.     When I am feeling lavish and make a purchase from Reiss.

18.     Doing a huge online order from Zara Kids.

19.     That first bite of a Chinese takeaway (not so much the feeling afterwards!)

20.    Dancing at a concert (most probably Lady Gaga) and absolutely losing my shit and forgetting who I am for 2 hours.

21.     Hearing my son say “Daddy cuddle…” in his silly, little, perfect voice.

22.    Knowing what an impact my husband has on the kids he works with at school.

23.    Having dreams and hopes for the future.

24.    My friendships.

25.    Coming home from work and having my boy run to me shouting “Daddy, daddy, daddy!” Or him running AWAY from me wanting me to chase him and wrestle...!

What are you thankful for? Make a list. You'll be pleased you did :)

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