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Parenthood

The importance of taking time for yourself

I saw a great article the other day; it talked about how we should stop glamorising over-working.

It hit home, hard.

I work a full-time job, high-pressured and do all the hours…and extra hours…that come with it.

To be able to pick up Evie from school on the days that I do, I work crazy hours to catch the time back up.

Throw in exercise, managing an Instagram page, YouTube channel and website as ‘The Breaking Dad’, seeing my girlfriend, her kids, and making time for ‘me time’ and, well…the maths doesn’t quite stack up.

Matter over mind.

I’m ambitious, like many other people.

Driven by the desire to give my daughter the best life I can possibly give her, I try to use my time as effectively as possible.

Problem is: There just isn’t time for everything.

I don’t know about you, but I regularly over-do it.

Curiously, I don’t ever feel stressed. I like to think I’m quite a laid back chap, more so over the last few years – I certainly never used to be.

I know when I’m stressed because my body tells me before my mind does.

My eyes start flashing as if I’ve been staring at a light for too long. Warning bells go off in my head because that’s the first signal that a migraine is coming on.

My body goes into shut down, and I can do nothing but lock myself in a dark room until it passes. The next day always feels like a hangover.

100% attention, 100% of the time.

If you look up the job description for ‘parent’, it’ll tell you that stress is par for the course.

When we’re with our children, they expect (deservedly so) 100% of our attention, 100% of the time.

“Daddy, can you get me a drink please?”

“Daddy, I’ve done a poo!”

“Daddy, can you pass me the toy that is literally within arm’s reach of me?”

On top of this, you have the continual worry that your child will injure themselves. The moment you look away, they’ll slip, trip or flip over the only object in the room. It’s inevitable.

I don’t know about you, but whether you work, parent full time, or balance both…It’s bloody stressful.

Dealing with Stress

We all need to take time to recharge our batteries.

I can’t lie to you and tell you that this is something I’m good at, I’m not.

But over the last two years, I’ve tried to focus on my mental wellbeing. That’s because if I’m in a good place, I’m a better parent to Evie.

Meditation

If you haven’t tried meditation before, I can’t recommend it enough.

Meditation is a process that helps you to clear your mind of thought by focusing on the present moment.

I’ve used a few different apps and there are lots of great ones out there. I used to use Calm, which was great…but I’ve recently moved over to Headspace.

You can try both of them for free, and I really recommend them; meditation got me through some very low periods in my life.

Now I just use it help alleviate some of the pressure I tend to put on myself.

I often find that by the end of the day, my head feels really tight, like somebody’s squeezing it.

Meditating for 10 minutes every day helps me to slow down the pace and focus on what matters.

Exercise

Outside of the difficult circumstances we’ve faced surrounding lockdowns this year, I’d ordinarily use exercise as my outlet.

I won’t bore you with the science stuff, but there are tremendous benefits for your mental health, as well as physical.

Exercising releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals which help to regulate your mood – dopamine and serotonin (as well as others).

I’ve always struggled with body image and had an interesting relationship with food as a teenager – I genuinely believed that to look good, I needed to look as thin as possible from the side.

It wasn’t great.

As I got older, I discovered exercise and my relationship with how I viewed myself improved.

Now I find that exercise helps me in a number of ways.

  1. Self-esteem
  2. Stress
  3. Sleep
  4. Energy

Spending time with people I love

Being a Daddy is the biggest stress release for me. Whatever is going on in my work or personal life, my focus always falls squarely on Evie when I have her.

Really, it’s a form of mindfulness. I stop thinking about the past and the future and focus squarely on the now: Making sure my little girl is OK.

I love being with Evie, even though spending the day in parent-mode certainly does have its own challenges.

That’s why I try my best to make time just to switch my phone off and relax with my family and friends as often as possible.

As much as I love working, sometimes it’s important.

Make time for you

Overworking isn’t glamorous. There’s a subtle art, which I certainly haven’t mastered yet, to working hard.

It takes a more holistic approach than most of us are used to.

Putting in the hours at work or looking after your kids is a noble cause, there’s no doubt about it. HOWEVER, if you burn out, you’ll be grumpy, less effective and less valuable to the world around you as a consequence.

Take that work ethic of yours and spread it across your personal, parenting and work-life and strive for balance.

Only when you invest time in all three of those things, will you recognise your true potential, I imagine.

I’ll let you know when I manage it.

Lifestyle & Adventures

The next chapter: Blended family

Every now and then, there are days that stand out as ones you think you’ll probably always remember. Last Sunday was one of them. 

Life has a way of shifting in little phases like acts in a play or chapters in a book. Your story is unfolding and in no time at all, you might find yourself propelled into the unknown. 

Typical examples might include a change of career, the start of a new relationship, having kids or the outbreak of a global disease – these things can all thrust you into disarray as your mind tries to adjust to the new situation and find that ‘new normal’.

The last chapter of my life came to an end when Evie’s mum and I separated and I felt very much lost about what the future would look like.

Meeting somebody new 

Me and Rosie

I met Rosie after almost exactly a year of being single. I found the adjustment into being in a relationship quite difficult, despite the fact I had absolutely no doubt that being with her was what I wanted. 

Going through a difficult separation can leave a lot of raw and exposed nerves, so allowing yourself to let go fully into a new relationship can often feel tough.

We took our time and gradually, over time, our relationship started coming together. 

Rosie has two kids and I have Evie, so we were both very careful to make sure we were sure things were on the right path before we started to even think about making introductions.

Fast forward a few months and Rosie met Evie – they hit it off immediately. Zoom a little further along the timeline and I met Rosie’s kids, Tilly (5) and Liza (2). I fell in love instantly and, thankfully, they took to me.

Then, it was the big one: Our kids meeting each other, 

On their first meeting, Evie and Tilly decided they were best friends and we all had the most perfect day pumpkin picking together. 

Everything felt so natural and we spent the day smiling.

FINALLY, after years of things never quite feeling ‘right’ in the past, suddenly I understand what it means to be truly happy.

Finding a new normal (Featuring Father Christmas)

Evie and Tilly meet Father Christmas

This weekend we all met my mum, mum’s other half and sister at the Watercress Line for a day out meeting Father Christmas. 

The significance of the day was that it was the first time we were having a traditional family day out with what is gradually becoming our new ‘blended family’. 

You can see some of the pictures below, but I honestly can’t tell you what a lovely day it was. 

I was in awe of Rosie and how she raises her kids; she’s so attentive, hands-on and kind to all of the children, it blows me away. 

The children were so sweet to each other and there wasn’t a single temper tantrum or strop. We had nothing but smiles and laughter all day. 

Tilly, Rosie’s oldest daughter (5), even said to my mum as she said goodbye, “I hope you have a lovely Christmas!”. I mean honestly, what five year old do you know that’s that polite!? 

You can see a few of the pictures here: 

Before the separation, I always felt like I was accepting my lot. I remember speaking to a colleague at work about how miserable my home life was and the conversation going along the lines of, “Well, so long as Evie is at home, I won’t be going anywhere. This is the life I live until then”. 

Oh what a terrible decision that would have been. 

I look back now and realise just how much I was missing out on. My life is happier now than I think it’s ever been. I’m more emotionally and financially secure than I’ve ever felt and I’m with somebody I can call my best mate as well as my girlfriend.

We have three beautiful girls and, though I’m hopelessly outnumbered, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

When one chapter ends, another begins

It can be easy to feel trapped in an unhappy life for what you think are ‘moral’ reasons. I certainly did. I thought I was doing right by my daughter by not walking, 

Ultimately, the decision was taken away from me and it was the best thing that could have happened for Evie’s wellbeing. 

She now has two incredibly loving homes and as she transitions from her mum’s house to mine, she sees two glaringly different perspectives on life.

That’s great for her.

There was a time when I thought the end of the last chapter meant the end of any sort of meaningful future for me too. 

I was totally wrong, the next chapter has already brought more romance, excitement and laughter than I could have ever imagined, and it’s only just getting started.

Lifestyle & Adventures

Our first vlog on YouTube!

So I’ve been thinking about creating a YouTube channel for quite some time, but never made the time to just get it kicked off!

Today’s the day. We’ve made the leap and posted our first vlog on YouTube…

You can expect to see things like vlog posts talking about the ups and downs of parenthood and being a daddy, as well as lots of videos about what we get up to.

If you’d like to keep up with what we’re getting up to, make sure you subscribe to our channel; we’d love to see you there!

Daddy and Daughter
Parenthood

Facing into Parental Self-Doubt After Separation

There’s no manual for parenthood. It’s harder than most people imagine, but infinitely more rewarding. 

I’ve learned in recent years that parenthood is one of those un-winnable games. 

Once you think you’ve mastered one level, you’re onto the next – each level with harder puzzles to solve along the way. 

Throw separation into the mix and quickly you’ve got two players trying to help one character win, each with conflicting strategies and objectives.

I have Evie on a two-week split timetable and there’s a gap that I don’t see her every two weeks of about five days.

It sucks.

It’s always been this time I’ve struggled most.

Thankfully, children are malleable little creatures and they adjust so quickly; Evie certainly does.

She fully relaxes back into her routine with mum and when she sees me again, it always takes her a little while to warm back up.

Considering I see Evie seven out of nine days that break after seems like a long time indeed.

That’s not to say we don’t always have a great time together, we do. It’s just that the difference is noticeable.

It‘s this time that causes me to question myself most.

Does Evie want to be here? 

Am I doing a good enough job?

Is she really happy?

It plays on my mind a lot.

More recently, I’ve tried to remind myself that we all succumb to that self-doubt from time-to-time as parents.

Instead of suffering like I used to, I try to think of self-doubt as not only healthy, but useful. 

Questioning myself forces me to continuously examine my behaviour and re-evaluate my approach towards parenting to ensure I’m doing what’s right by my little girl. 

There’s no one size fits all strategy for bringing your kids up.

What matters, and what they’ll remember, is that you tried your damned hardest to fill their lives with love, security and laughter.

So keep smiling.

Daddy and Daughter
Lifestyle & Adventures

10k Instagram followers for a Breaking Dad and his beautiful daughter.

10,000 followers on Instagram. Wow. Well, at the time of posting this photo, 10,116 followers.

I had no idea what an unusual year was in store for both of us; for all of us.

I’d toyed with the idea of starting this Instagram page for a while and kept bottling it for fear of failure. I thought nobody would be interested.

On 27th January earlier this year, I bit the bullet and just went for it.

The goal was simple: To show a real separated dad’s journey, complete with the ups and downs that come along the way.

A year ago, I was in the lowest place I’ve ever been in my life.

Knowing I wasn’t going to have a ‘proper’ Christmas with my daughter was utterly heartbreaking – It was the first one since the separation.

I didn’t want to put decorations up because it just made me sad and was in a worrying amount of debt from solicitor fees and mediation.

I’d go to work, put on a brave face, come home, cry.

Christmas came, and all of the stress had been for nothing.

It was the best Christmas I’d had in so long, and it solidified in my mind just how broken my previous relationship had been.

I realised that what mattered above all else was the relationship I have with my little girl, and that co-parenting WAS going to be best for her in the long run.

If I can look back in years to come and feel proud of the fact that I’ve given Evie the best childhood I could, then I’ll be a happy man.

That’s why I started the Instagram page.

I wanted to make myself accountable to my daughter.

Not all dads just up and walk away. Some of us have to fight tooth and nail to be ABLE to take an active position in our children’s lives.

I talked to my friend, @rewilding_dad on the day I created the account and we joke, saying I was aiming for 10k in twelve months.

It seemed ridiculously unachievable.

Yet, just over nine months later, here we are.

So from a Dad that was on the verge of breaking, who can now honestly say he is the happiest he’s been in such a long time, I wanted to say thank you so much.

Thank you for every follow, like, save and comment.

It means so much.

You’re the best.

Dan
The Breaking Dad

Parenthood

10 things you should start doing for a happier life


We’re all human, right? If you’re anything like me, you have good days and bad days. ⁣

The sooner you accept that it’s all part and parcel of the process, the sooner you’ll sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. ⁣

Here are ten things you should keep (or start doing in some cases) immediately if you want to be happy: ⁣

1. Be grateful and appreciate the people around you⁣
2. Be brave and risk failure⁣
3. Focus on on the positives⁣
4. Give yourself a pat on the back once in a while; you’re doing great.⁣
5. Look at how you can help others, as well as yourself⁣
6. Stay focused on your goals⁣
7. Create a plan and stick to it⁣
8. Keep trying…don’t give up⁣
9. Avoid making excuses⁣
10. Don’t take the easy way out⁣

It can be easy to lose sight of these goals sometimes…God, I’m terrible for it. ⁣

The important thing to remember is that we’re all just works in progress.⁣

Are there any I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments….⁣

Parenthood

You can’t pour from an empty cup

Evie’s hair salon was open for business today.⁣⁣
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I look good, right?⁣⁣
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…Right?⁣⁣
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I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and re-evaluate things recently.⁣⁣
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I’ve realised that I spent so much of my last five years surrounded by toxicity. ⁣⁣
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I read an article recently about toxic relationships. ⁣⁣
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How many of you have experienced a relationship or friendship that takes far more than it gives?⁣⁣
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In this article, it described a good relationship as one that holds, ‘a shared understanding of the value of the resources that are invested into the relationship’ and how each person honours their side of the bargain. ⁣⁣
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Put simply: You look after each other.⁣⁣
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Right now, I can honestly say that I’m in the happiest place I’ve been in YEARS. ⁣⁣
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I’m surrounded by the most supportive, kind and caring people and I have to say, I’m so happy.⁣⁣
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It feels good to say that after suffering and feeling so low for so long.⁣⁣
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Why’s it important?⁣⁣
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That’s simple. The happiness that these amazing people give me spills beautifully into my relationship with my little girl.⁣⁣
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My message is simple:⁣⁣

You can’t pour from an empty cup, but if you fill it with poison, you’ll do yourself damage too.⁣⁣
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Pause once in a while and be thankful for the people who had real value to your life. ⁣⁣
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That’s the good stuff. ⁣⁣
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Parenthood

A world full of opportunity

We all face highs and lows from time to time. Life has this funny way of changing when you least expect it.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Humans don’t do well with uncertainty, and more often than not, we’ll sit there and stress about all the ‘what ifs’. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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If you’re a parent, you’ll probably feel like that’s feeling has been magnified a million times. It certainly has for me.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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When faced with uncertainty, people have an uncanny way of slipping to one of two attitudes: ‘Optimism’ or ‘Pessimism’. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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The approach you take will DRASTICALLY change the way we deal with negative events, as well as having a lasting impact on you as a person. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Optimists will approach a situation with a positive mindset, whereas a pessimist will expect the worst. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Which are you?⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I’ll let you into a little secret: I’m an ex-pessimist. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I used to worry about things that were beyond my control, spend too much time comparing myself to others and feel like I wasn’t good enough. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I’ve been through some incredibly low times, and questioned myself right to the core. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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During those lows, I realised something essential to my happiness.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I have the power to influence the way I look at situations and re-frame them more positively. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Better still, so do you. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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If you do these three simple things, you’ll feel better, honest.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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1. Meditate: Take time to allow your brain to process your thoughts. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
2. Write: Extract those thoughts into a journal often⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
3. Play: Get out, have fun and learn to be ‘off’ from time to time.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Society places too much pressure on us to be on 24/7. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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If you feel like you spend too much time trying to be a people pleaser rather than looking after you, I challenge you to think about the damage you could be doing.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Once you do, you’ll see a world full of opportunity, rather than a landscape scattered with obstacles.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

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