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February 2021

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Guest Posts

Guest Post: Making the Most of Family Time

This week’s guest post is written by the amazing Emma from @CoverMyBubble. Emma was one of our earliest followers on Instagram and has been supporting what we do since the very beginning!

With us all spending more time with our families recently, maybe you have realised that sometimes the simple things can make the best memories. For the ones of us who normally spend more time than we would like away from home, or do shift work, this last year may well have been the best opportunity to have valuable family time with your bubble.

What have families being doing during lockdown?

Apart from getting stressed with home schooling and getting under each other’s feet, 2020 and the start of 2021 have taught us that we can entertain our children, and ourselves, without having to spend lots of money. Doing home activities, experiencing the outdoors and connecting with each other more has hopefully made us value ‘bubble time’ more.

Below are a number of fun things to do if you’ve run out of ideas.

  1. Build dens with furniture, sheets, pillows and fairy lights – or make a forest den outdoors with branches, near to your home
  2. Make wallpaper people – use leftovers to make a full-size version of yourself, or a monster. Why not use it to educate kids on the human body?
  3. Shadow drawings using sunlight, toys and paper to cast shadows for the kids to draw round and make amazing pictures.
  4. Make a family tree – not only can you make it colourful, but you will need to chat to your whole family to find out your history and the kids will love it.
  5. Crafting & baking – the ideas are endless; cutlery characters like Forky, cress-heads, pottery, sock puppets, cardboard robots/kitchens/animals/shops etc, cakepops, biscuits…
  6. Make outdoors more fun – scavenger/nature hunts, find rocks to paint, make flowerbed or vegetable patch, explore what’s on your doorstep.

Why is family time important?

Everyone experiences big changes in their lives, but no one knows when it is going to happen to them. As parents we’re going through stress, anxiety, frustration, and other negative impacts. For the sake of ourselves and our children, we need to make sure our minds, health and attitude are in the best possible place. If we keep positive and pass that onto others by stimulating the senses, we’ll re ready for whatever dreams and goals we have set ourselves for the future.

Make sure you are there for others and keep in contact with friends and family. Share your feelings with your loved ones, so they know what you are going through, good or bad. Its ok to be not ok but share it so we can watch out for one another.  

How to make the most of family time

Time with your family bubble can be very different depending on your circumstances. That’s why we need to make memories for our future, so we can look back and remember the good times. We may go through the loss of a loved one or experience poor health, which will sometimes make us look back with sadness. That’s why memories are so important and the variety of them, will keep us remembering them for many years to come.

Record your times together by taking plenty of photos and videos and sharing them with your extended family and friends. You may not think it’s worth it at the time, but when things don’t go to plan later in life, you’ll value these memories.

Protecting for your family’s future

Your bubble is very important to you, but if a sudden event like serious illness or death was to affect you, are you protected? Are your children covered? A long-time off work ill or injured or the loss of your partner, will have a direct impact on your finances. Cover My Bubble are a family business who have experienced not being insured when they lost their daughter, Lillie. They don’t want other families to go through financial hardship like they did and want to raise awareness about the affordable family insurances suitable for you. If you want to make sure you are protected properly or have some questions, please contact Emma at @CoverMyBubble

Cover My Bubble Ltd. don’t charge any fees and can compare policies with all the top UK insurance companies. Imagine them as a friendly, flexible, real-life comparison site, but an actual insurance broker with your family their priority.

You can reach us direct by calling 01254 460880 too!

man holding crying baby
Parenting Hacks & Tips

10 Common Parenting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. There’s so much more to parenthood than I could have ever imagined; something I talked about in ‘5 things about parenthood NOTHING can prepare you for’. 

Sometimes it feels like whatever we do, we’re competing against the Jones’, their perfect social media feed kids and their faultless way of doing things.  

Try as we might, we’re bound to get it wrong from time to time – it’s part of the journey. Relying on our ‘Parenting instincts’ just isn’t enough and, more often than not, we’re too proud to ask for help or advice when we need it because it feels like we’ve failed. 

If you can learn to overcome these 10 common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the best parent you can be. 

1. Fighting your children’s battles for them

It goes without saying that your children mean everything to you, right?

Of course they do.

But, sometimes you just need to take a step back and your kid learn that their actions have consequences

For example, if your child does something that has a negative impact on others, it can be tempting to jump in and protect them if somebody points it out.

The thing is, fighting your child’s battles will teach them that three is no consequence to their actions and that they don’t need to be accountable for their decisions.  

Take time to be constructive and remind them using positive language what the correct behaviour is and why we should do it, rather than ignoring it or always coming to the rescue.

2. Letting technology rule the roost

In the last decade, the way we consume and use technology has evolved massively. Smartphones, tablets, connected technology…You name it, we all have it. 

Technology is an important part of most of our lives and it gives us access to entertainment, communication and connection – particularly during a pandemic! 

It can be tempting to let your children sit on YouTube Kids or watching Netflix because of a few reasons:

  • Your child enjoys it
  • It gives you a moment of peace to get household chores done
  • You can do it together

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of streaming here and there, but try to create quality memories by doing other activities too.

Go for a walk, think up an activity to do together (Looking for inspo? Read this!) or read a book. 

Limiting the time kids sit in front of a screen will not only help you form an unbreakable parent child relationship, but it’ll teach your child some invaluable social skills at the same time. 

3. Not leading by example

So many parents know all the best parenting techniques and can talk big about the right parenting style for every situation, but their behaviours don’t mirror what they say. 

For example, I walked out of a supermarket last week and saw a mum with her child. Not only did she tell her daughter to get off of her phone, whilst simultaneously glancing at her own device, but when the girl raised her voice at her mother in frustration, the mother yelled about how she shouldn’t shout. 

I mean, seriously…

The phase, “Do as I say, not as I do” does not apply to parenting, trust me. 

Remember, you’re the ultimate role model for your child – the hero of their little story.

To be an effective parent, you need to model the behaviour you want to see in them. They’ll be more likely to mirror you than to listen to you.

4. Not dedicating enough quality time

Life is hectic, right? I often talk on our Instagram page about how trying to keep on top of parenthood, finances, household jobs, relationships, friendships and more can feel like spinning plates.

Sooner or later, one of them drops. 

With all that on your mind, it’s not uncommon to feel distracted when you’re with your kids whilst you’re busy thinking about everything you need to do.

Parents feel an immense amount of pressure, particularly with young children; it’s so difficult to keep on top of their own mental health and keep everything else afloat. 

It’s easy to get lost, though.

Remember, your children crave your attention, whether they’re being little angels or playing up. Try to spend as much quality time with your children every day because, outside of telling them you love them, being present and in that moment shows them that you love them. 

Try to make the time you spend together as ‘high quality’ as possible. Put that phone in a drawer, turn off the TV and give them 100% of your attention for as much time as you can. 

5. Not spending enough time on your relationship

Becoming a parent is a wonderful experience and that little person will instantly become your entire universe. Be careful though, your child shouldn’t replace your relationship with your partner, only add to it.

Whether you’re a nuclear family or a separated, blended family, always take the time to focus on your relationship as much as you can. That strong foundation will help you work through some of the natural struggles that come with raising a child. 

I know from experience that if you’re unhappy in a long term relationship, it’ll project into the way you bring up your children. Remember to nurture your relationship with your partner and your child will be so much happier for it in the long run. 

6. Not spending enough time looking after yourself 

With all of those important things to focus on on top of this beautiful little munchkin to raise to raise, we often forget to take the time for ourselves; I’m certainly guilty of this. 

We burn the candle at both ends, which means we become overwhelmed or frustrated at the relentless nature of parenthood and well, life in general. 

Make sure you factor in some ‘me time’ to gather your thoughts where possible. Allocate a little block of time into your routine, perhaps when the kids are in bed, to meditate, write in a journal, exercise or have a bath. 

I struggle with switching off and always feel like I should be doing something. My girlfriend will often remind me that it’s OK to just relax sometimes and she’s right – recharging your batteries will save you from burnout, making you a better parent in the long-run. 

7. Being controlled by your emotions

As our children grow, they’re still learning to rationalise their thoughts and deal with their feelings. They may act up, misbehave or whinge for seemingly no reason at all.

Children have evolved to elicit a response out of their parents because, unlike many other species on this planet, us humans and our big brains take a long time to develop. 

It’s perfectly normal to feel a sense of frustration or anger if your child keeps pestering you, misbehaving, crying…or anything else for that matter.

The important thing is to try not to let your emotions take hold. 

Remembering that children are impressionable little things and will mirror your behaviours is important. If you react emotionally or get visibly angry, your child will think this is the appropriate way to behave in future. 

If you’re feeling stressed, try to take a quick time out. So long as your child is safe, leave the room for a minute and take a few deep breaths, count to ten and get ready to go again. 

8. Doing everything for your kids

We all adore our children and we want them to be happy. If you’d have told me 5 years ago that I’d be bringing my daughter breakfast in bed every time she stayed with me, I’d have laughed you out of the room. 

It’s perfectly normal to feel a sense of responsibility to our children, but it’s important that you don’t do everything for your kids. 

Children need to learn to appreciate the value of what you do for them rather than expect it. You don’t want to set expectations for your child because they’ll grow up without any sense of ownership of their own lives. 

9. Not listening to your children

As I mentioned earlier, children can be irrational little devils sometimes. They’re still developing and their perception of the world has been shaped by a very limited experience of it. 

When a child is talking to you, parents can often shoot them down without even knowing they’re doing it. 

In the brilliant book, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber, she explores the concept of really listening to your children.

She uses this example:

CHILD:Mommy, I’m tired
ME:You couldn’t be tired. You just napped. 
CHILD:(louder) But I’m tired. 
ME:You’re not tired. You’re just a little sleepy. Let’s get dressed.
CHILD:(wailing) No, I’m tired!
Excerpt from ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk’ by Adele Faber

Adele explains, “I was…telling my children over and over again not to trust their own perceptions but to rely on mine instead”.

Instead, encourage them to talk to you and hear what they have to say. 

Rather than denying your child’s feelings, try acknowledging them instead, even if you know the outcome will still be the same.

I’ll share an example of what I mean.

Last week we were getting ready to take my daughter, Evie, back to her mum’s house. 

EVIE:Daddy, I don’t want to get dressed
ME:Oh I don’t want to get dressed either! I wish we could stay in our pyjamas all day and play. 
EVIE:Me too! We could bounce on the bed ALL day! 
ME:That would be SO MUCH fun! I’d love that! We do need to get you back to Mummy’s house though, so maybe next time we can do that?
CHILD:(big compliant sigh) Okayyy then. 

This example is what Faber describes as ‘giving a child their wish in fantasy’. By acknowledging that Evie didn’t want to get dressed and understanding what she wanted, we imagined what that would be like to give Evie the outcome she wanted in that moment before coming back to the original task at hand: Getting dressed. 

Evie proceeded to get dressed beautifully and didn’t mention it again. 

10. Being inconsistent 

Part of being a child is testing boundaries (Man, part of being an adult for me is testing boundaries!).

Children have an amazing sense of what they can get away with and they’ll try their best to push their luck at every given opportunity. 

One of my absolute musts as a parent (and in the workplace for that matter!) is consistency. If your child knows exactly how you’ll react and that you’ll always do what you say you’ll do, parenting becomes infinitely easier. 

For example, if you tell your child they can’t watch the TV one day whilst they have their dinner, but the next day you give in and let them because you’re stressed and can’t face the argument, guess what they’ll do the next day when you say no…

They’ll keep pushing until you give in or they’ll get upset when you don’t.

Children feel safe and secure when they know what the rules are and how to stick to them.

Some days you won’t want to stick to your rules, but trust me…those small ‘in-the-moment’ battles will be far easier than the on-going arguments when they challenge you on everything!  


It’s important to remember that no parent is perfect. We all have good days and bad days and nobody expects you to get it right all the time.

Guess what? The fact you’re even thinking about it shows you’re an amazing parent already. 

If you have an off day, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just take a moment, reflect and see if you can improve the next day! 

You’ve got this! 

Dan holding a copy of The Sunday Telegraph
Coparenting & Relationships

Featured in the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine!

On Sunday 21st February, we were asked to contribute in a feature for the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine called, ‘Being brought up by a single dad was nothing like people expect

It’s a fantastic piece in which Zeena Moolla explores what it was like to be raised by just her father, along with some of the stereotypes she faced as a consequence.

We’re all so used to the idea that women just are the nurturing parents and the carers of the house, despite the fact that this stereotype is archaic and outdated.

Zeena found people couldn’t quite get their head around the fact that she was being raised as a man and the limitations they thought this would present to her life…

“…We lost count of the number of people who inferred that as a man, he couldn’t be as caring as a woman. ‘Do they not miss having a mother around?’ was the impertinent question often posed to him. It drove me inwardly mad. It felt as if my dad was being undermined.”

Although family dynamics are definitely changing, I was asked to comment on how I feel men are perceived when they take a nurturing approach to parenting…

“Blogger Dan Betts, founder of, says that after he and his partner separated in 2019, and started sharing custody of their daughter Evie, now four, he was struck by the reactions of strangers. ‘People are often very surprised by how dedicated I am to Evie,’ he says. ‘It tells me there’s a very clear perception that men can’t be “maternal”. [But] as men, we’re just as capable of being nurturing parents.’

His time as a single father has, he says, taught him that there is no such thing as ‘mum jobs’ and ‘dad jobs’. ‘Being responsible for everything to do with Evie’s care, 100 per cent of the time she’s with me, has helped me to appreciate the difficult balancing act many mums face every day. And it’s not about being perceived as “good for a dad”; it’s about stepping up and being there for your child, because that’s what a parent should do.’”

I was so proud to be able to contribute to such a progressive article; it’s so important to challenge the way we view fathers in the UK.

Society is changing and the stereotypical, ‘Dad who sits on the sofa with a beer and watches sports, whilst the mum does everything else’ just doesn’t fly anymore.

At least, not in my book.

Just as in the workplace, we’re challenging long-standing and historic unfairness when it comes to the gender gap, we need to be confident to do the same at home too.

We were so grateful to be involved in this article and, perhaps one day, Evie will read it and know that I did everything I could to be the best father I could be.

Blended family photo together

Featured on Family Action this week!

We love what the good people over at Family Action do and we were featured in a guest post just before Christmas last year (You can see the article here).

As lockdown CONTINUES with seemingly no end in sight, they kindly reached out and asked us to share our perspective on what life is like as we try to establish the beginnings of our new ‘blended family between two households.

I loved writing this one because it gave us a platform to share some of things we’ve learned.

You can read it here!

couple after separation

Effects of parental separation on a child

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There’s a stigma that surrounds separation; it feels like we’ve failed. With around 2.4 million separated families in Great Britain, what are the effects of parental separation on a child? 

If you haven’t been there yourself, I’m sure you’ve known somebody who has. Separation is a tough emotional experience for grown-ups, let alone children.

My parents divorced when my twin brother and I were young children, so we have first-hand experience of the psychological effect of separation and divorce from a kid’s perspective. 

Honestly? For me, there wasn’t a great deal of lasting impact (at least, conscious ones!), but the long term effects are almost entirely dependant on your circumstances, the arrangements that are made between the parents and how they’re carried out. 

This is a topic I researched a lot when Evie’s mum and I first separated, so let’s break it down. 

How are children affected by parental separation?

Even between adults, parental separation can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. As grown-ups, we’ve got the luxury of fully developed brains and a contextual understanding of the situation and why it’s happening. 

For a child, particularly at the beginning, it can often feel like trying to put together a puzzle and only having half of the pieces. 

The immediate aftermath of separation is when a child is typically most unhappy.

It’s very normal for a child to want their parents to remain together and that unhappiness can transfer into behavioural problems.

It’s understandable when all-of-a-sudden the life your child has always known has been ripped from underneath them – not just their physical home, but their entire way of life.

It’s likely that your child will be feeling:

  • Guilt at the thought that it might be their fault
  • Anger at the parents for letting the relationship fail
  • Fear about what the future holds
  • Upset at the loss of the life and family they knew
  • Torn between both parents 
  • Confused about all of the changes

This whirlwind of emotions is often compounded even more by the changes that are going on around them. Parental separation often means the division of assets and, at least in the short term, money is usually tight, stress levels are high and everybody is just a little out of kilter.

Our experience

This wasn’t a particularly pleasant phase of my life and I remember my debt spiralling rapidly out of control after Evie’s mum walked out. I had to find the money to cover the house, child maintenance, rising credit card bills, solicitor and mediation fees and everything else that life throws at you.

On the plus side, Evie was only two-and-a-half years old when we separated and Evie’s mum had worked every other Saturday since her maternity leave had finished. This meant Evie was used to being alone with me regularly, so her transition was fairly straightforward in that respect. 

Emotional and Behavioural Problems 

If you’ve lived through separation yourself, you’ll know there’s usually a phase of re-adjustment. Somebody that has played such a fundamental part of your life is suddenly not part of it anymore and you need to ‘unlearn’ the life you’d become so accustomed to. 

The same goes for your children too.

It’s not uncommon for children to become very insecure, which can often trigger a whole range of behaviours that you’d associate with them being much younger. 

If your child is struggling with insecurity, research has shown they can regress. You might find they start wetting the bed all-of-a-sudden or that they become incredibly clingy when they’re around you – they may even channel that energy into anger and stroppiness. 

Here’s what you need to remember: It’s totally normal

Our experience

Evie dealt with the separation fantastically but I definitely noticed that she became more clingy in the first few months. She’d always want to be carried and became very reliant on her dummy as a comforter.

Given all of the changes going on, Evie had her dummy and blanket later than she would have done if her mum and I hadn’t separated. Wee felt it was important for her to have some consistency and to minimise the number of changes going on until she’d adjusted to her life with both newly single parents.

What can you do to help

Like I said earlier, it’s almost a given that there will be some difficult feelings between you both as parents and probably the extended families. 

The most important thing to remember is that your child will pick up on this

You need to do everything in your power for the sake of their mental health, to make sure that you don’t project any of those feelings of anger, sadness or bitterness onto your child. 

Instead, you need to do all you can do to help your child emotionally through the separation, whilst quashing any feelings of guilt, confusion or unhappiness they might be feeling after the split. 

You can support your child by: 

  • Speaking as positively as possible about the other parent as possible in front of your child
  • Being honest about the situation, but being mindful of not putting them in a situation that makes them feel like they have to choose sides
  • Remind them that they’re loved by both parents
  • Encourage them to speak openly and honestly with you about how they feel and listen to them. It’s OK for them to be hurting, just hear and try not to advise
  • Keep your daily routines as normal as possible 
  • Be patient, these things take time

Our experience:

I struggled immensely with guilt following the separation, as well as parental self-doubt. I genuinely felt like I’d failed as a parent because Evie’s mum and I hadn’t worked out.

It felt awful knowing that Evie was having to move between households because it as all new to her.

I’ve always been a passionate advocate of consistency when it comes to parenting (and adulting for that matter!).

I made it my life’s mission to make sure that I gave and continue to give Evie the most enjoyable experience possible when she’s with me.

If I say, “What’s Daddy’s house for?”, I can guarantee the answer she’ll give you will be…


I try my best to do always do everything I’ve listed above. I’ll be honest, some days I’m better at it than others.

We all are.

The important thing to remember is that we all have off days.

Being self-aware enough to notice when you could be better is half the battle.

All you have to do then is act on it.

Putting your child first

Separation and divorce is not something anybody wants to go through and it certainly isn’t something to ever be ashamed of.

Parental conflict can have harmful effects on children and the most important thing is to take a child-focused approach every step of the way. 

Research has shown that it’s in a child’s best interests to have a healthy relationship with both parents, except in cases of abuse.

That means that establishing a solid co-parenting relationship should be the number one goal for you and your kids. 

If you’re struggling to get anywhere because one side is digging their heels in, seek professional support. 

You don’t always have to go to family courts.

Mediation is designed to help you come to a fair agreement and shape a Parenting Plan which sets out the terms of what will happen in future, helping you to both maintain a solid parent child relationship.

Our experience: 

Since creating ‘The Breaking Dad’ on Instagram (And recently passing the first anniversary of the account), I’ve been blown away by how few Dads take an active role in their children’s lives after separation.

When there is a high level of bitterness between ex-partners, I’ve experienced two things happening:

  • The mother can often weaponise the children and making it as difficult as possible for the father
  • The father can not bother or be inconsistent, often not doing what they say they will, or not taking an active interest

Of course, there are many, many more cases of parents working tirelessly to make sure they’re kids are happy too.

Let’s be clear: Every situation is different so it’s impossible to generalise. 

There have been points in the separation with Evie’s mum that I didn’t feel like I could keep going anymore. 

The only advice I can give either side, mums or dads, is to just keep pushing forwards

It gets better and if having a bond with a little person or people you brought into this world isn’t enough of an incentive to keep on pushing, I don’t know what is! 

If you’d like more on this subject, one of the most powerful books I read was, ‘The Guide for Separated Parents: Putting Children First’ by Karen and Nick Woodall. If you’re going through separation, make sure you pick it up!


Cardboard Crafts: Fish Tank

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Following on from last week’s guide on ‘How to make a cardboard laptop‘, Evie and I decided to take it one step further.

This week, we made an interactive cardboard fish tank complete with fish and I have to say, we loved it!

Here’s a quick preview:

You will need:

1. Cut your fish tank

The fish tank shape is nice and simple – all you need to do is cut a little window in the front of the tank so you can see in.

Keep a reasonable amount of card on the surround to help the box keep its strength and rigidity.

We stuck down the edges to create a simple little frame too.

2. Draw your fish and seaweed

It’s entirely up to you how many fish you do; we chose to do four.

Using your different coloured card, just sketch the outline of a different fish onto each piece of card (Stuck for ideas, just do a Google search for fish templates for some inspiration!).

3. Let ’em loose with the paints!

The beauty of this next stage is that it doesn’t matter whether your kids stay in the lines or how they decide to paint the fish.

Evie got totally creative here with her paint pens and I think she did a fantastic job!

4. Give ’em some personality

Get yourself some googly eyes and stick them on as you see fit.

I mean, I think this part is relatively self-explanatory, but if you need some help as to where the eyes go, Evie will expertly demonstrate…

5. Get cutting

Now then, grown up…Time for you to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

Take each of your wonderfully fishy little shapes and cut them out as neatly as you can.

Evie expertly filmed me doing this, just in case you were wondering what cutting an object out looks like…

I know, right? We’re so helpful.

Well, would you look at that?

You’re a regular ol’ fish expert now.

5. Prepare your fish tank

Now you’ve got all of your fish ready and waiting for their new home, you need to get your cardboard tank ready.

We used blue card at the back of the tank and glued a few pieces of seaweed to the bottom.

These work really nicely for giving the tank a really three-dimensional feel.

6. Hang your fish

To hang your fish from your cardboard fish tank, you’ll first need to make a hole on each one somewhere near the top.

We did this by rolling a piece of plastercine into a ball, placing the fish on top and then piercing a hole using a golf tee (You could also use a ball point pen).

You’ll need to pierce a hole in the top of your tank, although grown ups…I’d suggest you do this bit yourself.

Next, you’ll need to connect a length of string from your fish through the top of your fishtank from the underside and out the top.

It’s a good idea to use something larger than the hole here that can be easily gripped by little hands…

This will give your child the ability to move your fish up and down in the fish tank for a truly interactive, sensory experience.

Et voila! You’re there.

Great job!

For other kids activities that you can try at home, have a read of this article, or for another great little cardboard craft, make sure you have a go at making a laptop too! Super simple and lots of fun.

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