"I want Mummy!"
It can be tough being a Dad of small children. They can often be very clingy to Mummy, and if you have a "threenager" you will probably know what it feels like when your child suddenly develops a serious allergy to your Daddy-cuddles! It's easy to feel a little hurt, but how best to respond to their apparent allergic reaction? And how to make sure that you are doing your very best for your child, as well as for your own mental health? Read on for some of my very best tips, some fab resources, and for details of the UK's only Dads-and-kids festival!
Men are an Endangered Species in the Early Years!
Let's face it, small children really don't come across many men in the first few years of their lives. The Government reported in 2019 that a whopping 97% of Early Years workers (those working with children under 5) were female, and a study in 2018 by Direct Line Insurance found that in 64% of UK families, women were the primary carers for the children.
If the National Geographic covered the Early Years, men would actually be classed as a Endangered Species, or even a Critically Endangered Species! Surely the WWF could promote an "Adopt an Endangered Daddy" scheme with matching adoption certificate and fluffy teddy? Kids love that stuff!
But seriously, the outcome of this is that if you are a Dad of small children, you are a rare and unusual species in their world! (A man?? Whoah - that's a little strange!)!
Dad and Proud! Schedule in some serious Daddy Time! A few tips to improve your "Dadding":
Don’t let your child put you off – It may hurt your feelings when your child appears to be allergic to your DaddyLove, but be consistent, and keep your reactions neutral when they do appear to have a serious allergic reaction to your affections! (Try not to appear upset, angry, or even annoyed - kids love pushing your buttons!)
Daddy Time - Try to spend at least one morning or afternoon each week with your child having some quality 1:1 time. Try to think up an activity that both you and your child will enjoy! Again, don't let them put you off! They may find the initial suggestion of Daddy Time unappealing, but they will probably enjoy it a whole lot once you get into the swing of things!
Daddy Date Night – Send Mummy out for the evening, and have a night of fun with your kids. Junk food? Yes! Silly movies? Yes! Your favourite tunes? Yes! Staying up past their bedtime! Erm, yes (but maybe you can cheat by starting a little earlier!)
Dads on Dads – You might not know the other Dads in your child’s preschool very well, but see if you can get the Mums to organise a Dads-Plus-Kids playdate! This a great way to help your child understand that the other kids have Dads too! And that yes, Dads can be fun! Who knows, this might also spawn a Dads-Down-the-Pub evening too!
Share your Hobbies – Try to think back to when you were your child’s age, and introduce them to some of your hobbies. This will help you to reboot your "Play Mojo" and make playing with your child a more enjoyable experience!
We All Love Mummy! – If your child can’t stop talking about Mummy while she’s out, try not to get frustrated, try agreeing with them! Talk about how great Mummy is! (She is pretty cool...)
Dads need "Me Time" too - Regardless of the work/childcare balance in your family, it is very important that each parent gets some scheduled "Me Time" each week, and to be able to step away from parenting for a couple of hours, and do something completely different! Make sure Dad gets some "Me Time" too!
Practice your Positive Communication Skills!
Because Mums often spend more time with the kids than Dads do (although this is not always the case!), it goes without saying that Mums will usually have a little more practice honing their skills on how to interact with and get the best out of your little bundle of joy, terrible-two, threenager or four-going-on-fourteen! These little guys take a lot of hard work, patience, and a particular set of communication skills that are known to all those who work in the Early Years! If you feel that something is missing in your interactions with your little munchkin, read on for a few top tips on how to get down to their level...
Dad Mountain & Other Common Stumbling Blocks for Dads! - 5 Ways to Improve your “Daddy Status” with young children:
Don’t be “Dad Mountain” – Crouch or squat down to your child’s level when interacting with them! (Yes, Daddys can be pretty tall!)
Don’t use your booming “Police Daddy” voice – Try to use a softer, more gentle voice when interacting with your child! (Yes, Daddy often has a louder voice than Mummy!)
Be the first responder – Don’t hide cloaked under your “Dad-O-flage” (rhymes with camouflage!) when your child needs something, letting Mummy sort it, get in there!
Make the first move – Don’t always wait for your child to come to you for hugs and cuddles, don’t be shy, and surprise them! (Dads can be surprisingly reticent!)
Don’t be Mr Serious – Try to show your light-hearted, silly side with your child, they will respond better to smiles and a little goofiness every now and again!
DID YOU KNOW: HAVING BEDTIME STORIES READ BY DAD, AND ENGAGING IN LION-CUB STYLE “ROUGH-HOUSING” WITH DAD HAVE BOTH BEEN SHOW TO BE BENEFITIAL TO CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT?
Why Dads Matter - Fatherhood Mental Health
A lot has changed in the way we talk about mental health in the last 10 years, and our attitudes to fatherhood mental health have made some giant leaps. I recommend that all parents read international fatherhood mental health campaigner (and founder of the #HowAreYouDad campaign) Mark Williams' incredible 2020 report Fathers Reaching Out - Why Dads Matter, the culmination of 10 years of research into fathers' mental health. With recent research finding that 1 in 10 new fathers suffer from post-natal depression (very close to that of new mothers), this is definitely well worth a read.
More resources for great "Dadding"
Need a little Dad-spiration (rhymes with "inspiration")? Take a look through my carefully curated selection of useful and entertaining resources for Dads:
If you haven't already discovered Fatherly this is sure to become one of your go-to online parenting advice resources. I frequently post articles from Fatherly on my Twitter page, and always learn something new, or find myself thinking about something from a different perspective. Full of down to earth, informative articles, Fatherly aims to empower Dads to raise great kids, and live fulfilling lives themselves!
My fave Dad app is the Dad Pad - designed with the NHS to provide essential support and advice to new Dads. Download it for some essential tips!
For a fab podcast try Dave Berry's DadPod - Radio DJ and former TV presenter, new dad Dave Berry talks parenthood with a selection of other celebrity Dads!
For a good read and a few laughs grab a copy of Dummy: The Comedy and Chaos of Real Life Parenting by Matt Coyne, creator of the Man vs Baby blog, and hero to many parents!
Need some more Dad-related advice? I may be the "Mummy and Toddler Calmer" but I am full of practical support and advice for the whole family. Get in touch today and use the code DAD21 for a 10% discount on your first booking (valid until the end of 2021).
My upcoming blog posts will be featuring how to find you child's (and your own!) "Play Mojo", and how to follow a plant-based diet with your child, with my Registered Nutritionist Emma West! Sign up to my mailing list to get the latest, and read my summer newsletter right here! While you are here why not read some more great tips from some of my other favourite specialists: Midwife and Lactation Consultant Shelley Wilson, Sleep Consultant Alexandra Collingbourne, and Declutterer and Organiser Joanne Forde.
Check out my other posts for more info and advice on screen time, dinner times, fussy eaters, buying pre-loved children's clothing, decluttering before your new baby, and more. Visit the rest of my website to find out more about my parenting coaching services, child development, child behaviour, and positive parenting!
Get in touch for more information on any of the topics mentioned here or elsewhere on my site, I would love to hear from you!