15 Summer Movies of 2017

(The Twiglet’s Dad)

I love going to the cinema…so much so that I would say it is my hobby. Very rarely does a week go by where I don’t visit the cinema and it has been known for me to go 3 or 4 times in a week. I don’t like watching movies at home as I feel I don’t pay attention but at the cinema the movie has my undivided attention and I am not distracted by Twitter.

Naturally because of that I am probably going to blog about movies on a regular basis (but not all the time as I’m not Jonathan Ross) and this is one of them. It is now almost the end of May and we are in what us movie buffs call “Blockbuster Season”. So, without further ado I present to you my…

Top Fifteen Summer Movies That I Can’t Wait To See 2017”

Cinema

(These movies are all released in the UK between June and September 2017 and my opinions are based on pure assumption. They are in order of release as opposed to the order in which I want to see them. Movies released in May and earlier are not included…so if you haven’t already seen “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” then get your ass to your local cinema and see it! It is awesome!!! To keep it simple I will discuss these movie “Twitter Style” in 140 characters or less.)

Wonder Woman (June 2nd 2017)

Director: Patty Jenkins Starring: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Chris Pine

First female lead superhero movie in many years. Looks a lot lighter and brighter than the other DC movies. Gal Gadot is in it. She’s hot.

The Mummy (June 9th 2017)

Director: Alex Kurtzman Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis

First in the newly rebooted “Universal Monsters Universe” series of movies. Tom Cruise is in it so will probably be bonkers but fun.

Rough Night (June 16th 2017)

Director: Lucia Aniello Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Kravitz, Kate McKinnon

Touted as “this year’s Bridesmaids”…not a bad thing. Scar-Jo doing comedy for a change. Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell are funny too.

Despicable Me 3 (June 30th 2017)

Director: Kyle Balda +2 Starring: Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker

Gru and the Minions are back. This time Gru has a brother called Dru who tries to get him to be evil again. I’m sure the twins will love it

The House (June 30th 2017)

Director: Andrew J Cohen Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Allison Tolman

I love Amy Poehler. I like Ferrell too. They’ve teamed up to make a movie about an underground casino they open in their basement. I’m sold

Spider-man: Homecoming (July 7th 2017)

Director: Jon Watts Starring: Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei

Spider-man! ’nuff said!

War For the Planet Of The Apes (July 14th 2017)

Director: Matt Reeves Starring: Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson

Loved the 1st one. 2nd one was decent if a bit too serious. This one looks serious too but gotta see how it ends. Plus, you know, monkeys.

Wish Upon (July 20th 2017)

Director: John R Leonetti Starring: Sherilynn Fenn, Joey King, Shannon Purser

Horrors released in “Blockbuster Season” usually do well. This looks vanilla but will probably be a hit. I’ll go see it as I like horrors

Dunkirk (July 21st 2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan Starring: Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance

Christopher Nolan doing a war movie. You know it’ll be epic and well done. I’ll see this one with my Dad. Randomly Harry Styles is in it.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (July 28th 2017)

Director: David Soren Starring: Jordan Peele, Kevin Hart, Nick Kroll

This looks crackers! The twins want to see it and, I’ll admit, the trailer made me laugh. Plus I kinda like Kevin Hart.

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (August 4th 2017)

Director: Luc Besson Starring: Cara Delevingne, Dane DeHaan, Clive Owen

Torn with this one! I love Luc Besson! I am not a fan of that Dane DeHaan though! I don’t like his face! But this looks intriguing enough

Annabelle: Creation (August 11th 2017)

Director: David F Sandberg Starring: Miranda Otto, Philippa Coulthard, Stephanie Sigman

The latest in the “Conjuring Universe” series of movies. A prequel to the last “Annabelle” movie. Will probably be rubbish but looks OK

The Dark Tower (August 18th 2017)

Director: Nikolaj Arcel Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Katheryn Winnick

Stephen King’s epic book series finally gets an adaptation. A solid cast and good writers are on board so they could pull it out of the bag

It (September 8th 2017)

Director: Andres Muschietti Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard

King again. My favourite book by him. Genuinely terrifying and this adaptation looks like it could be creepy AF. Fingers crossed it delivers

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (September 29th 2017)

Director: Matthew Vaughn Starring: Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry

Loved the 1st one. Matthew Vaughn is a great director. Jane Goldman is a brilliant writer. I suspect this will up the ante and be great fun

And there you have it – 15 movies I think you should see this Summer.

Thanks for reading

The Twiglet’s Dad

Dad Talk: 4 – Questions

(The Twiglet’s Dad)

Kids, as you know, ask a lot of questions. Sometimes they ask so many questions that you forget what you were initially talking about or doing. I watched “The Addams Family” movie with the twins recently and they asked so many questions it was ridiculous.

“Why is he (Thing) just a hand?”

“Why does she (Wednesday) want to kill her brother?”

“Why is she (Morticia) cutting the roses off?”

“How do they know what he (Cousin It) is saying?”

“Why do they all look dead?”

And so on. It was constant. I think maybe it was a bit too early in their lives to watch it as the whole tongue-in-cheek humour was completely lost on them. They may enjoy the second one as it is more slapstick and they love a bit of slapstick – but I might wait a while before they watch it.

Quite often they will ask good questions that matter though. Like I mentioned in the “Dadsquad Interview” post I speak to my kids like I talk to adults. Because of this I use words that they might not understand and they will just ask what it means. I will explain and I can see their brains whirring away as they process it and retain the information.

Sometimes, however, Kids will ask questions that are just plain bizarre and you wonder where they got it from. My favourite one from recent times happened just the other day when we had this conversation in the car:

Ruby: “Dad?”

Me: “Yes?”

Ruby: “You know how we are in the car now going home?”

Me: “Yes”

Ruby: “Is it real life?”

Me: “What do you mean? Is this real life?”

Poppy: “Yeah – is this real life right now or is this a film?”

Me: “This is real life. We aren’t in a film”

Ruby: “So this isn’t a film that we are in? This is really happening? In real life?”

Me: “Yes, this is real life. Not a film”

Both: “OK”

And that was that! Who knows what was going through their heads or why they thought that we were in a film and that it wasn’t “real life”. It was so out of the blue and just an odd question to be asked. Funny though!

So – Dadsquad…what questions have you been asked by your kids that made you think “Where the hell did that come from?” Discuss…

(Daddy McDadface)

Wee Girl is nearly 3 and as such the questions are beginning to flow.

There appears to be two main types:

  1. The unanswerable
  2. Why?

Now the unanswerable questions are as follows:

“Where are the greenbellies?”

“Where is my *insert tiniest toy she owns*”

“I watch Foo Foo tv?”

Now we are masters at understanding the ramblings of our daughter but she perplexes us daily with these uncrackable codes.

The “why?” questions are a challenge.  They do not stem from the thirst of knowledge, oh no.  Merely Wee Girl’s realisation that this question can keep a conversation going and halt the oncoming bedtime/peas/hair brush.

I love talking to Wee Girl, it is literally my favourite thing to do.  But I cannot wait for the existential debates the Twiglet family undertake!

(askyerfather)

Right now, I have the 3yr old going through the “why?” phase and the older ones going through the existential stuff.  Both are wonderful and funny – and at times a little bit annoying. Especially when you are on the phone to the bank and your 3yr old is yelling “why is poo brown?” from the top of the stairs.

I’m getting the serious questions from the older boy too, alarming me because it shows he’s growing up.

Things that come out of the blue like:

” Dad, why was Hitler such a dick”?

“Dad, If the boys football team play the girls football team, one of the boys always ends up crying. Why does that always happen”?

“Dad, wouldn’t it be funny is this book was called ‘Fantastic Breasts and where to find them”?

“Dad: Why is  ‘Horse prancing’ an Olympic event?”

“Dad, why do men have nipples?”

Never a dull moment at our house.

(One Hull of a Dad)

“Dad: Why is your maggot bigger than mine?”

“Dad: Why does that kid at Karate try and lick me?”

“Dad: Can I punch you really hard in the nuts?”

Those are three questions I have had in the last 24 hours. Because I’m older and bigger than you, I don’t know some, maybe you taste nice and only if I can do the same to you (totes jokes, I just said no) are my answers to him.

(Dad of Crazy Twins)

And there we have it. Random questions that we are asked by our kids. I am particularly looking forward to what askyerfather is experiencing when the twins are older and ask questions with a bit substance to them. Unlike yesterday when they asked me 13 questions about “The Smurfs”…13!!!!! And 4 of them were just the same question worded differently……

What random / crazy / unexpected / hilarious questions have you guys been asked? Join in with the discussion this weekend (May 20th/21st 2017) over on Twitter using #DadTalk

Until next time…

The Dadsquad

 

 

Dad Talk: Baddy Daddy?

(The Twiglet’s Dad)

About 2 months ago I started to get really active on Twitter and I connected with a whole bunch of parents who use social media and blogging as a platform to discuss their parenting. Dadsquad evolved from that with Rich, Adam and the anonymous Daddy McDadface (again, I know who he is, 1000 packets of space raiders and I’ll spill) and we have had some great conversations over the past couple of months and I can honestly say they have become my first “virtual friends”. One of the conversations that I got involved with at an early stage was when a female Twitter user, who shall remain anonymous, targeted a fellow Dad blogger and tried to tarnish his name and reputation. The support he received from the Twitter community of parent bloggers was amazing to watch and it was a community that I felt proud to be part of. This woman then made a sweeping statement in which she referred to “Daddy Bloggers” as “Predators”. I was horrified that one person could group together a whole bunch of people and label them as that. What the fuck gave her that right? It didn’t end well for her as in the end it was her against thousands and there was no way she would win that fight. I later found out a bit about her “story” and I genuinely feel sorry for her for what she went through but I don’t think it justifies her views on men and “Daddy Bloggers”. That was my first experience of what I would call “negative backlash” towards parents who blog. And then Anna May Mangan posted an article in the Daily Mail yesterday……

My wife told me about it last night when we were in the outhouse doing laundry. I didn’t read the article as I tend to avoid the Daily Mail but then Rich from the Dadsquad mentioned it and tagged me in it so I read it. She basically had a go at 4 successful “Mummy Bloggers” who have made a name for themselves, gained a reputation and had many successes by poking fun at their parenting techniques. She referred to them as “Slummy Mummies”. If you haven’t read it here is a link…

http://www.IRefuseToLinkThatPieceOfShitSoJustGoogleIt.Com

Initially I thought she had just missed the whole humour of it and was taking it too seriously. Then she sort of backtracks on it and states that she does believe the majority of it is elaborated on to make for good reading. So essentially what she does for a living, no? Anyway, ultimately she didn’t paint parenting bloggers in a very good light and, as I am one, that irritates me. I think she has missed the whole point that we do it to take the piss out of parenting. Parenting is a hard gig! I love being a parent and I love my kids more than anything but, man, they are hard work at times. They are just as frustrating as they are hilarious. They are just as irritating as they are entertaining. They are just as assholey as they are adorable. And you know what is great…that I know I am not the only one who thinks this. I love that I have connected with a bunch of people from around the world who are having the exact same experiences that I am having as a parent. And I love how honest everybody is. If everybody discussed and blogged and posted and Tweeted about parenting like it was a walk in the park and full of rainbows and glitter I think we would have a different article. I think Anna whatsherface would be writing about how parenting bloggers are painting a false picture of parenting and that it isn’t real. She would be saying that parents posting pictures of kids meals made from organic vegetables are not representing the truth that kids live on chicken nuggets and waffles. She would be saying that when parents say “It is 7pm and Timmy is asleep so I am crocheting a hat” is a lie as really Timmy is bouncing on his bed high on Skittles and Mummy is pouring herself a big fat gin. She would be saying that when a parent posts pictures of her kids doing yoga in a beautifully manicured back garden that it is bullshit as kids think yoga is a cartoon bear and no parent has time to make their garden look like it is from a magazine. Anna is full of shit! Anna talks shit! Anna is a journalist who writes what she writes to evoke a response…so job well done Anna! You evoked a response from me! Job well done! Bellend!

Dadsquad…what are your thoughts on this piece of shit journalism? Discuss…

(askyerfather)

Yeah, she totally didn’t get that it’s humorous, they are showing the warts and all of parenting. It’s a backlash against the picture perfect instagramming of parenthood where all the kids are eating perfectly exotic meals and smiling while doing yoga, where nobody is stressed and the kids are enjoying a broad and balanced after school curriculum of horse rides in the sunset. Screw that. Life isn’t like that. It’s fake and an unneccessary guilt trip on parents who are made to feel bad that their life isn’t like that. All the ‘slummy mummies’ are doing is showing the reality. They do show a lot of good times and smiley days out, but they don’t sugar coat that sometimes they do drive you mad, sometimes you do need to slam fish fingers under the grill because you’re tired and that’s FINE ! Parents need that. None of them have ever said they’d change a thing or are ungrateful for their kids so i’m not sure why the DM felt the need to attack. I’m sorry that the Daily Fail didn’t get that.

I’m also really angry that they didn’t show the unmumsy mum’s sad face or mention how much her house is worth in that article. How very dare they !! Slipping DM, slipping !!

(Daddy McDadface)

To me this whole pile of shite highlights how insecure parent bloggers feel.  We are handing over our lives to the world and hoping someone likes them.

Hands up who would proudly, without any shadow of embarrassment, put their job title as “parent blogger” on Pointless?  Even it it was?  I think most people would put SAHM/D or something to do with any relevant training/education.

Why? Because this is all relatively new.  Most of us don’t have a bloody clue what we are doing (well I am hoping that’s the case, it is certainly my case) and we look to the likes of those attacked in that rag as the examples of what we could achieve.

Any attack on any aspect of parent blogging is a huge deal.  Huge because they are protecting the industry they are part of and a massive part of their own identity.   It wasn’t long ago some non blogging mums wrote some negative posts on some forum and my twitter feed was going mad for days.   Who cares about 6 people who don’t like what you do?  You have 100’s of people enjoying and sharing your writing and many strong connections on social media (well I am hoping that is the case, it certainly isn’t my case)

I have two summarising points:

  1. All people in the public eye are open to criticism.  It is not fair.  I don’t agree with it.  But it happens.
  2. Lets not give such a shit about what other people say.

(The Twiglet’s Dad)

Quite a good discussion there from the Dadsquad. Some good points made. I have just read back through mine and I think I got a bit irate…..FYI: I am over it now (I think).

Until the next time some random journo talks rubbish…

The Dadsquad

 

 

 

Dad Talk: Punishments and Rewards

(The Twiglet’s Dad)

If you are reading our blog you are more than likely a parent yourself. If you are a parent yourself you are more than likely aware that kids are REALLY F***ING IRRITATING! I think it is generally accepted in the parenting world that kids, especially your own kids, will really test you and push your buttons to test their boundaries. It is definitely a “parent” thing and my twins are good as gold for their grandparents and very rarely give them a hard time but as soon as they are home with Kate and I they turn into demons. The past few weeks has been hard work in our house as the twins have really ramped up their “button pushing” and we have well and truly been tested. They are basically doing 3 things:

1) Not going to sleep at bedtime but choosing to jump around and shout

2) Not listening

3) Not doing anything that they are asked to do without being asked 4 million times

Over the past few weeks, many punishments have been doled out. We have banned TV (which went on for 6 whole days!!! 6 DAYS OF NO TV!!! IMAGINE!), we have taken away “squirrel” and “hedgehog” which are their favourite teddy bears that they have had since they were 9 months old. We have taken away their box of newest toys which they got for their birthday just 6 weeks ago. This box of toys has literally been played with every day since they got them. We were taking them to see “The LEGO Batman Movie” on Saturday but we didn’t.

I then came up with a reward chart which is basically like a board game where they start at 1 and have to work their way up 10 spaces to land at “STAR” and then remain there. I made it bright and colourful and I let them design and colour in their own avatar to play with. We explained the rules to them about they move up the chart but also how easy it is to move down the chart. We explained that if they reach “STAR” they get a reward and we let them come up with the rewards that they would like (which range from a McDonalds to going to a Zoo). I really thought that having this visual and something to aim for would make them consider better choices….apparently not!

I introduced this on Friday. By Friday bedtime they had both moved up to number 2. During bedtime, they moved back to number 1. On Saturday they both moved up to number 2 then they stayed at my parents on Saturday night. My parents said they were “good as gold” so they moved up to 3. During Sunday Poppy moved up to number 4 and Ruby moved back to number 2 but then did something good so went back to number 3. Bedtime came around and within an hour they were both back at number 1. Now, I know it is early days as it has only been in place for 2 days, but I honestly expected this to work better than it has. I am not giving up on it and we will continue to play “hardball” until they learn and move all the way to “STAR”. Hopefully, this will not take too long….but probably will!

So…Dadsquad…I am curious. What do you have in place for your kids with regards to punishments and rewards? Do you have anything that has worked really well for you that you would like to share? Or perhaps something you tried that was a total disaster (but a good story)? Discuss….

(askyerfather)

Well, Twiglets dad, I can reassure you that your twins are the right age for entering this new and especially irritating phase, It will pass in about….oh I don’t know. I’ve yet to see the other side. It starts with the Stroppy sevens (which apparently is the worst age ), improves again for a few years and then you get the teen years. I’m pretty sure our parents would say we are all still irritating.

We’ve tried all the things you have. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Mostly doesn’t. Most of the rows my wife and I have ever had has been how to get the little darlings to behave. Consistency is key, between all parents and caregivers. They will play you all off if they can. Sometimes it’s all too easy to give in because the punishment will be more hassle for us than for them. God knows I’ve shot myself in the foot a few times but yeah. Just keep on it, just when you think it’s not working, it tends to start working.

My other tip is: DOG TRAINING!! I’ve been training the new puppy and applying it to the kids (shhh, don’t tell them). Obviously, I’m NOT leading them around the house on a short lead saying ‘pick it up. Good boy’. That may well work but I think that kind of thing is frowned upon. I’m talking about positive reinforcement which is what the reward chart is about (although I am considering carrying a treat bag around me and tossing them a cookie when they do something good).

(One Hull of a Dad)

I’m going through what Twiglets Dad is going through with my son, he just doesn’t listen. Tonight I have had to ask him at least four times to do things as he isn’t listening at all, even his mum has had to say, “do what your dad says” to him. My little girl is 18 months and is starting to do a few naughty things. I tell her off or raise my voice to let her know I’m angry and she looks at me and laughs! I think that is more infuriating than ignoring me.

Punishment wise, currently nothing works. We have tried a chart, taking toys away, removing his TV from his room and taking the tablet away but it doesn’t seem to work. He will say sorry, cry, tell us he wont do it again etc. Then do it again five minutes later.

I know that I need to spend more time with him and try to have a conversation with him about why his behavour is so wrong but sometimes it is hard when they push those buttons so much.

(Daddy McDadface)

Wee Girl has just turned 3, or is it 14?  If you give her an inch she ends up taking the circumference of the globe.  It doesn’t give me much hope for the “stroppy sevens” @askyerfather refers to…

Sleeping is an issue. It always has been.  She goes to bed like an absolute start every night, teeth, story, asleep.  It’s in the night when she turns into a monstrous machine intent on driving us to absolute breaking point.  We have Gro Clock.  We bought one when every day started at 4:46am.  To be honest it has made a big difference, we now start the day at 6:10am which is a vast improvement.

That said we can be up 5/6 times a night:

“My feet are sticking out!” (of her duvet)

“My top is out!” (Untucked from bottoms)

“I need Calpol!” (May have a slight problem with that)

“There’s a Smurf in my room!” (she loves Smurfs so I don’t know why this is an issue, also…there wasn’t)

So the other night, the night after her 3rd birthday after being up 7 times in the night, we abducted Chase.

Chase

This had a big impact.  He was held hostage until she slept well.  The following night she slept soundly throughout the night.

We felt bad but she wasn’t getting enough sleep, we weren’t and she was waking Wee Man up.  So we didn’t feel that bad…

I wrote about this kind of thing here…although that works way better with the children I teach than it does with my own daughter.  My main strategy I’ve learnt through years of teaching small children is you always have to win.  You don’t want those shoes?  Ok well that is unfortunate but those are the shoes you are wearing, I didn’t offer you a choice.  All well and said when you have all day at school but when you are trying to get to some stupid party…she sometimes ends up winning.

How do you manage in your house?  Leave a comment or hit us up at @hashtagdadsquad or using #DadSquad.

Guest Post: Armani, Gucci and The Dad

The Twiglet’s Dad here – Dadsquad has been up and running for a little while now and we have been toying with the idea of having guest posts from other Dad Bloggers but we were unsure who to ask. Daddyness Blog saved us the ball ache by asking if he could put a post on Dadsquad and this is one he has chosen to share…

Fashion.  Where to begin with fashion these days.  If its not models walking down the catwalk wearing a bread bin on their head, its Lady Gaga wearing a meat dress.  How does an average, run-of-the-mill dad compete with these stylish motherfuckers?  Simple, he doesn’t.  I mean, whats the point?  Its only going to end up covered in some form of bodily fluid, or a food based product which seems to cling to fabric, like Spiderman to the side of a building.

I used to be that guy who never wore anything without a brand.  I had all those fancy designer jeans and chinos, not to mention to amount of shirts I paid £50 each, naively believing this was ‘cheap’.  I did pay stupid amounts of money for clothes, because I could.  You would if you could, right?  Instead of saving money for a mortgage (boring) or investing it (more boring), I wanted the brand new shoes that some random celebrity wore to the Oscars, because nothing screams style more than vanity and denial.

However, when you become a father, you soon realise that a pair of jeans are good to wear for four days straight.  And surviving a day without getting last nights bolognese sauce on your T-shirt, is a bigger accomplishment than Einstein’s theory or relativity.

I put together a list of what I did wear, and what I now wear:

V-Neck T-Shirts:

I had at least 20-30 of these body boys, and boy, did I look suave!  I used to strut about town feeling like Tom Hardy, but probably looking like John Candy.  The problem with wearing these tops around children, is that they have the tendency to pul them down, exposing my pale chest and the little bit of acne between my man-tits.  I never was a gym freak and I’ve always had ‘moobs’, but back then I was an A cup – now I’m easily a D cup.

Now: Thanks to my saviours such as Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, I have replaced my trendy designer V-Neck’s for cheap and cheerful T-shirts, with novelty prints on the front.  In short, my tops used to have a designers name stitched into them, now they have a picture of Papa Smurf and the occasional food stain on them.

Levi’s Jeans:

I am very much a wearer of jeans.  They go with anything, they are super comfortable and they hardly never need ironing – perfect! Levi’s were once my denim of choice.  I wouldn’t think twice of paying £70+ a pair, and they never lose shape or colour fade.  I was had a 32″ waist and those beauties clung to me in all the right places.

Now: I have no desire to step foot in another Levi’s shop ever again.  For some reason, my waist has ballooned two sizes up and I haven’t the slightest clue as to why. Those once perfectly snug jeans now fold over at the top whenever I sit down, my belly acting as a fat, flabby trouser press.  Again, my trusty supermarket of choice gives me my £20 pair of jeans now.  No shame here!

Shoes and Trainers:

I used to have an array of footwear.  I tried to wear a different pair every week and I normally succeeded.  Most pairs of trainers were white and immaculate.  I had a couple of pairs of shoes also, both the pointy type.

Now: I have had the same pair of pumps for about 2 years, if not longer and they have so many stains on them its unreal.  They were once black in colour – now they have bean juice, ketchup, brown sauce and gravy stains on them (thanks to my kids).

Shirts and Jumpers:

I had soooooo many checked shirts and designer jumpers, I don’t think I wore half of them.  They are the jeans of the torso and go with pretty much any bottoms you wear.

Now: I actually have a couple of designer shirts in my wardrobe, but I’m terrified of wearing them around my monsters.  On the plus side, checked shirts seem to hide stains pretty well because of the patterns.  Not to say that I actually want remnants of Noah’s chicken tikka dinner on my collar.
I have stuck to my original, crazy-priced look but on a budget.  I still wear jeans and chinos (no pair over £20) and I wear checked shirts (no shirt over £15).  They are covered in food and bodily fluid trophies, of which I am weirdly proud of. They remind me of my monsters and if it means standing in queues with the naive teenagers behind me, giggling at the sight of dried broccoli on a my shoulder, then so be it.

To summarise, all new dads or soon-to-be-dads – I would recommend that when it comes to your fashion sense, don’t bother with expensive mankini’s or posh boxer shorts(oh… just me?). Expensive trousers and shirts are a no go, and don’t bother with accessories.  Buy the cheap stuff.  You’ll be surprised how long it actually lasts.  One last bit of advice: baked bean juice will NOT come out, even on a 60 degrees deep wash with the strongest cleaning products on the planet.

If you enjoyed that please let us know in the comments or send us a Tweet. Check out more great posts from Daddyness Blog over at:

www.daddynessblog.wordpress.com

Until next time…The Dadsquad

My mental health playlist.

Music is powerful ! It’s for that reason, I usually have a positive playlist with me for when times get tough. Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment, exams or just a mountain of housework, it’s good to have a pocket full of tunes with you.

This is mine and if you like it, or want to borrow it, be my guest. Just head over to Spotify and grab it. p.s. Don’t forget to share your happy songs in the comments below.
Adam.

How to thrive when your mental health is pulling you down.

It’s hard to thrive sometimes.

As Russell Watson sang in the theme to Star Trek Enterprise:

“It’s been a long road,
Getting from there to here”.

If you’d seen me a year ago, utterly depressed, full of despair, with high anxiety levels, pretty much avoiding my noisy, misbehaving family (which mean so much to me), you’d be surprised how much I’ve turned it around and begun to thrive like never before.

So how did I do it and why couldn’t I thrive before?

First of all we need to examine the context that got me into a mess in the first place.
There’s no ONE reason I have suffered from poor mental health and although for many people it’s purely physical, genetics or due to an overwhelming trauma, I believe for most of us it’s a combination of these things, that tips the balance. It’s why some people thrive and other’s don’t. Developing a mental health condition can happen to any of us if the right buttons are pressed.

For me it was a combination of many things:

  • Having some truly horrific experiences in hospitals as a youth (I’m looking at you Alder Hey children’s hospital).
  • Persistent bullying at school because I was really small, because I was the copper’s son, because I stood out because I was regularly taken out for hospital visits (and therefore the freak), because I was academic, because I wasn’t good at sports.I could go on but you get the picture. My patience, resilience and tolerance for bullies was worn down before I even got to adulthood.
  • Genetics. There’s definitely a tendency towards depression down one side of the family.
  • And then you get to adulthood and parenthood, with all the stresses, parental guilt and sleepless nights piled on.
  • No time to unwind. Parenthood is stressful. I love all my kids individually but together they can be a stress-fest. Remember when you weren’t a parent and after a bad day at work you could come home, unwind and get a good night’s sleep? Well if you’re stressed at work, come home and feel the stress there and you can’t even get a proper night’s sleep, YOU WILL START SUFFERING!

All the while, life, employers, kids, families and even the state demand more and more of you while giving less and less. I’m not alone in this. It’s happening to us all. We are being treated increasingly badly and most importantly not afforded sufficient time to unwind. 24/7 culture is killing us. It’s no wonder mental health is now the West’s number one health issue.

So how did I turn it around?

I realised I had to get help and I had to step out for a while. There was no longer a choice. There are support networks out there but you can’t rely on woefully poor NHS mental health provision. Talking to your gp is a good place to start but you need to find your own network for support and ultimately find your own faith in yourself.

  • Ditching the shit jobs.

At the end of last year I realised I wanted some control of my life back. A few years earlier i’d repeatedly been the victim of physical violence by a female work colleague and it was that, that really made me realise just how screwed up life was getting and how unhappy I was. I was in no position to leave for a while though.

Luckily, last year my wife started to work full-time so I was able to ditch the low pay, crazy hours job and spend more time with the kids, to see friends and family again, which retail hours constantly demand you sacrifice. It’s been great (mostly).

Now self-employed; I do what I love. And let me tell you what all self-employed people will tell you. The further away you get from working from big corporate monoliths, the more you realise how dysfunctional they are. It wasn’t me, it really was THEM. It does wonders for your mental health to realise this. The pressure on you to succeed as self employed is massive but YOU are in control.

  • Spending quality time wisely.

I’m no longer earning that much money but curiously the bank balance is hardly any lower than it was before. Which makes you realise just how much money is spent on merely going to work. Travel fare, work wear, childcare, food. We spend so much of our earnings just going to work to earn those earnings. For the privelage we are treated like fools, with hardly any money left to go towards bills at the end of the month. It’s totally mad.

Having less money, has made me realise just how much we don’t need to spend. It’s made me appreciate things like taking my kids to the local park, making a blanket fort and just going to the beach or watching a DVD. All FREE, all the things we remember as pleasant memories from our childhoods. We don’t need the ‘stuff’ (although we do like it), Stuff is not what I want my kids to be thankful for.

  • Getting a dog.

Now this is one of those things in hindsight that we probably shouldn’t have done as she’s a massive drain on finance and I still don’t get to spend enough time with her but boy do I love this dog. I’d always wanted a Springer Spaniel since spending the spring/summer of 2003 in Maine USA with a fabulous dog buddy called Miles. He totally sold me on Springer’s. So last year, knowing I’d have more time and probably over thinking the idea of a therapy dog, I went for it. Ellie has been a messy, barky, chewy, joy; has given me lots of smiles and forced me to get out and exercise.

  • Exercise.

We are constantly told that exercise is not only good for our physical health but our mental health too. It’s true but can be hard to fit in around our mostly sedentary but busy stressed filled life. Changing my lifestyle has allowed me to see the benefits of a good walk. You don’t have to join a gym.

  • Gardening.

I love gardening. It’s an art, it’s creative and it’s really good for your health. Everyone should garden. It teaches, patience, perseverance, self-reliance, critical thinking skills and totally appeals to my nurturing nature.

  • Spending time with your family and accepting them for who they are.

It’s not always easy to enjoy your family when you are ill and shifts mean you never see them – especially when they are adding to your worry or stress. Whether it’s an unthinking partner or child (hint: you’re probably doing the same to them too), the noise of a busy, bustling family – which can sometimes feel like finger nails on a blackboard to somebody with depression or anxiety) and it’s even worse if you have a child with any kind of special needs. Your kids always come first and you can put your own needs, further and further back until you are totally used up.

I’m learning to let it go. To hum and smile over the tantrums. My kids are lovely at school so I am their safe space to vent their frustrations and questions. It’s not personal. My house is a mess and I don’t care. It’s lived in, it’s played in, there’s love here !! Judgey Mc Judgers can go pick holes in somebody else’s life (or maybe start with their own).

  • Medication and therapy.

At my worst, last year I had to try medication. It just made me feel worse physically but luckily I’ve been able to conquer my depression (for now) with CBT and mindfulness techniques. Therapy as it is currently used on the NHS is completely broken. It does have it’s uses if you learn to apply it on your own time and for yourself. Similarly, if you need medication and it works for you, don’t be ashamed to try it. If it helps you thrive then go for it.

Conclusion.

I’ve managed to thrive in the face of adversity because I’ve been able to adjust my life and start living it in a pastoral way. To have ‘some’ control, to do things the way I believe in. It’s precarious and I couldn’t have got here without the love and support of my family. Because of a combination of my lived experience and genetics, I know I’m going to slip again. I know the economy and our broken systems could change my new life in a second and this brings me to why so many people DON’T THRIVE.

We are humans. We are not all about money, but society is now so bound up in it, to the exclusion of the things we do need to thrive.
Our 24/7 culture, terrible economy, terrible job security, terrible jobs, the terrible cost of housing, bills and childcare is meaning that we never rest, never have security, always have to look over our shoulders at looming danger. If we’re not worrying about ourselves we are worrying about our kids. From birth to death we are now tested, examined and used. The need to strive to keep our heads out of water, and pursue the next thing has meant that we’ve had to jettison, family, friends, community and our own welfare for things that we don’t really believe in. We have to fit all the good things in around the edges, when it should be the other way around.

Ask most people these days and you’ll hear a majority of people feel TRAPPED in circumstances, they’re not happy with. Trapped is the key word to our mental health crisis here. It’s no wonder our mental health is collapsing, completely understandable that anxiety levels are through the roof. Throw in a genetic disposition and you don’t stand a chance.

And me?

For now, I thrive. I’ve wrestled back control and I’m enjoying myself, my family are happy, fed and have a roof over their heads, the sun is shining, the dog is laying on my feet. That’s enough for me.

Find your sweet spot. If you can’t, YOU HAVE TO, before life changes you.

Adam x

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