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Christmas is over, already.

When I was growing up, I never appreciated just how much work my mum put into making Christmas a magical experience. As children, we kind of think it all just…happens, right?

How wrong I was.

Since separating from Evie’s mum, I’ve always felt pressure to deliver a magical Christmas for my daughter.

It’s not that I view it as a competition.

I’m just mindful that I don’t want Evie to be disappointed when she comes to my house.

This year was also the first Christmas we spent with Rosie, Tilly and Liza – our first blended family Christmas.

Christmas Eve without the Kids 😢

Rosie and I have similar Christmas and New Year arrangements with our exes, which in some ways makes life a little easier.

We alternate each year, which means we’ll either have them from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day or from Christmas Day to the 27th or 28th, depending on how the days fall.

This year, Rosie and I spent Christmas Eve at our house with my step-dad, Paul. We spent the evening getting the house ready for them to come over, drinking mulled wine and watching movies.

It was lovely, but not the same.

One of the hardest times of the year as a separated parent is not putting mince pies in the evening.

That sounds daft, right?

It’s meaningful to me because, although it’s only a token gesture, represents all of that amazing build-up before the big day.

Christmas Day with the Kids 😁

Christmas Day came and the house was quiet…too quiet. We both counted the minutes until we could go and get the kids.

Off we went and amazingly, we arrived home at almost exactly the same time.

After our Christmas dinner, we started unwrapping presents.

It was chaos.

I loved it.

There’s nothing more magical than seeing the excitement on the children’s faces as they open presents.

Evie has a tendency to shout at the top of her voice what the present is as she realises, which is so cute.

The children went to bed very happy, which is what it’s all about.

Over for another year

Christmas 2021 really was such a beautiful day this year.

Our hearts are full and our house is wrecked.

The way it should be.

Merry Christmas.

Lifestyle & Adventures

Your Questions, Answered!

A few weeks ago, I asked you to send in questions on through our Instagram stories and, to be honest, I was blown away by the response. 

So first… I’d like to apologise for the time it’s taken to answer them! This whole ‘Parent Blogger’ thing takes quite a lot of time, apparently…

Thanks so much for taking the time to get involved. I’ve linked you all below.

If you see somebody you don’t know, check them out and give them a follow!

Has Evie ever asked questions about why you and her mum are not together?

Evie was only just about 2.5 years old when we separated and so she wasn’t really old enough to understand.

Even when I was with Evie’s mum, I had Evie every other Saturday on my own whilst she was at work, so it was never a really noticeable transition.

The way Evie dealt with the separation was fantastic, I was in absolute awe of her.

It’s amazing how resilient children are and how effectively they can adapt to new environments and surroundings. 

What’s your favourite film?

Oh, tough question. I don’t really have a favourite if I’m honest…

Before lockdown, I used to go to the cinema a lot with my brother and I like A LOT of films for lots of different reasons. I’m a sucker for a comic book or a Star Wars movie though…

*Coughs* Nerd *Coughs*

Have you ever dated someone who doesn’t have kids? 

Of course! I’ve dated a few people without kids, but one of the challenges I found was that they never quite understood how important Evie was to me.

I know it might seem like an obvious statement, but when you’re used to being the priority when you’re dating other people and suddenly you’re not when it comes to me, that can be a bitter pill to swallow…Unless you have children yourself. 

Dating somebody with kids is a balancing act because you always want the person you’re with to feel loved and special, but you also need them to appreciate that you only get a small window of opportunity to raise your kids – I don’t want to waste a second of it. 

What I love about Rosie is that she completely gets it. 

To give you an example, we went to hers a few weeks ago to make mince pies and to be honest, Rosie and I barely spent any time together at all. 

For both of us, the priority was and is making sure the kids are always having a nice time. It usually involves us splitting up between the two older girls and Liza, the youngest. 

When we do finally get a chance to be alone together, it’s all the more special. 

What’s your best quality (or something you’re proud of) as a dad?

I think my best quality is that I am absolutely unwavering in putting my daughter first.

I see my purpose on this Earth as making sure Evie has the most fun-filled, loving and memorable childhood that she can possibly have – Nothing relationship, work or otherwise will ever get in the way. 

Did you ever doubt a bit about having the account public or private?

Yes, for sure. I toyed with the idea of creating a public Instagram account for almost a year before I actually did it. I spent a lot of time researching parenting accounts and realised that SO many people were doing it. 

I’m very careful about the information I publish on the account and take our privacy seriously; it’s something I think about often.

What’s the best thing about a blended family?

Seeing the bond between Evie, Tilly and Liza forming has been absolutely lovely. They already behave like they’re little best friends and play so nicely together – It’s the most rewarding dynamic to watch.

It helps to add an extra dimension to Evie coming over because she gets social interaction with children of a similar age, as well as just time with her old man. 

I also love that Rosie and I have quite a similar approach towards parenting, which is very hands-on. I’ve been able to learn a lot from Rosie and I’d like to think she might have been able to learn from me too.

I think the fact we can work together like that can only enrich Evie’s perspective on life as far as I’m concerned! 

Would you start a podcast too or just focus on YouTube for now? 

You may have noticed recently that I’ve been dabbling with a few different platforms aside from Instagram.

I’m working on developing this website, as well as gradually getting to grips with YouTube; expect more in ’21!

I’d like to ultimately film a YouTube series that can double up as a podcast too, but I’m also conscious that I don’t want to spread myself too thin. 

At the moment, the battle is that I work full-time hours and have Evie just short of 50% of the time…On top of the Instagram, blog, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook etc… I don’t sleep much.

What is the best thing you love about the bond between your new partner and your daughter? 

Oh, I absolutely love it when Evie gives Rosie a big old cuddle when she sees her.

It’s lovely to see how at ease Evie’s become and what a great addition Rosie’s made to both of our lives. 

I recently mentioned in this Instagram Post how Rosie would never try replace Evie’s mum and just love that she sees her role as adding value to Evie’s life, not pretending to be anything she’s not. 

Do you have a goal for the future?

I’d love for Rosie and her girls to move in with us towards the end of 2021.

We’re not in any rush at the moment and, right now, are quite happy to take things slowly.

I have a lot of things I need to do in order to get the house ready for them, so 2021 will be a year of saving and prepping. 

Aside from that, I’d like to keep working on the blog as well as the Instagram and hopefully grow it!

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a dad? Did you feel ready? 

I was so excited! All I wanted since I could remember was to be a Daddy.

When I found out Evie was on the way, life changed instantly.

I remember feeling surprised at how real she felt already, even though Evie’s mum was only two weeks pregnant.

Evie was the first name that came to mind and although we went through just about every name in the book, Evie always just felt right.

Nothing in my life ever felt more like it was supposed to happen.

Although I never saw separation and co-parenting in my future, my role as a Daddy in Evie’s life has only become more important to me I’ve watched that little lady grow.

If you could give one bit of advice to co-parents, what would it be?

I’m actually in the middle of writing a blog post on co-parenting tips from the lessons I’ve learned; watch this space!

The biggest piece of advice I can give to anybody from personal experience is to strip out all emotion from the situation.

Separation and co-parenting are incredibly emotive subjects. It’s so easy for that delicate parenting balance to be thrown out at the flick of a switch.

If you can take a step back and look at the situation empathetically and truly put yourself in the other person’s shoes, you’ll realise that EVEN IF you think they’re being nasty, they’re probably doing it for the right reasons.

Focus on the intent rather than the outcome and remember that no matter what, your child(ren) MUST come first.

Since making your new relationship public, do you feel that men are judged/criticised more for moving on after a relationship breakdown?

100%! On the day I posted the first picture of Rosie and me, I lost 200 followers overnight.

Every time I share something involving her, along with the fact we’re happily building a life together, I get some sort of message or comment that suggests that I shouldn’t post about it.

The thing is, I totally get it.

Lots of mums wouldn’t like it if their ex were to post pictures of their new partner with their children, particularly those who are newly single and haven’t yet been through it.

My ex knows all about Rosie and I was as respectful as I could have possibly been.

I involved my ex in the decision to introduce Evie to Rosie, I took the process very slowly and we placed absolutely no pressure on it whatsoever.

We all have to move on at some point and, so long as Evie is happy, I’m happy.

How do you make sure your child’s education isn’t affected by co-parenting?

I don’t see why co-parenting would impact a child’s education if I’m honest.

The most important thing is that Evie has a supportive and loving environment, whichever home she’s in.

If anything, I think co-parenting benefits Evie because as parents, we each have less time with her for things like reading and homework, so we want to make the most of it! 

As far as Evie’s development goes, seeing Evie progressing and reading her first books fills me with so much happiness. She’s an incredibly bright little lady and all I try to do is reinforce that curiosity to learn with lots of praise.

I have no doubt that Evie’s mum does the same. 

What did you want to become (career-wise) when you were younger?

When I was growing up, I really wanted to be a journalist. I think deep down I just wanted to be Superman but settled on Clark Kent. 

I did some work experience for a newspaper and I HATED it.

I’m sure it’s not all bad, but I didn’t like the way the people stepped on each other to get a story or exploited others for coverage. 

I’ve always been into the design as well as copywriting (the focus of my degree) and I told the Editor at the newspaper that I wanted a career that would allow me to do both.

He told me categorically I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) find a job like that.

I now run a marketing team, take a hands-on approach and routinely get involved in writing, as well as design…every day.

Being able to roll my sleeves up and muck in with the design as well as copywriting has proven one of my greatest career assets.

The joke’s on him. 

How did you know when the time was right to introduce Evie to your girlfriend?

We really took our time with it.

Rosie’s separation was far more recent than mine, so we knew that meeting her children would be much farther in the future.

I wanted to be sure that Rosie and I were going to be staying together. I talked to Evie’s mum about it to make sure she had no issues with it. We’d both agreed early on in the separation that we’d leave it a minimum of three months and from there, we just gauged it. 

First, Rosie came for a day out with Evie and me and took a deliberate back seat (although Evie loved her almost immediately). Then, over time we just gradually increased the contact here and there. 

This whole process took a good few months and we still take it nice and slowly, making sure Rosie and I both get lots of one-on-one time with our respective kids. 

How did you and Evie’s Mum split Christmas?

We alternate each year.

Last year, Evie’s Mum had her on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day until 14:00, at which point I picked her up,

This year, I had Evie until Christmas Day at 14:00, when I dropped her with her Mum. 

Evie’s mum has been great this year and really helped to facilitate a good amount of time with her between us – I really can’t fault her actually.

What did you want for Christmas?

I’m very easy to please, I don’t really need anything.

As cliche as it sounds, it was just the fact that I got to see Evie’s face when she woke up on Christmas Day this year.

That made me a very happy man.

That said, Rosie did surprise me with the most INCREDIBLE present for our first Christmas together.

I’m a bit of a boxing fan and I have a signed picture of Muhammad Ali on my office wall.

I mentioned when we first started dating that I loved it and hoped to get one of Mike Tyson one day.

Rosie remembered it and got me a picture of Mike Tyson’s first Heavyweight Title win against Trevor Berbick.

It was the most thoughtful and generous present I’ve ever been given!

Do you have any festive traditions? 

I wouldn’t say we have any festive traditions outside of the ordinary really.

Of course, the mince pies go out on Christmas Eve and Evie always has some new pyjamas and a little cuddly toy on Christmas Eve in a little Christmas box (This year I had a matching pair…), but otherwise, I’d just say it was all the standard stuff! 

What made you want to start blogging? 

Well, I work in marketing for a living and have written articles for commercial blogs for over 10 years now.

I ran a small blog when I was first starting out, which helped me get my first job and had never really done it since. 

I just love the idea of growing the website to be a platform of information and support for other parents.

Lifestyle & Adventures, Parenthood, Parenting Hacks & Tips

Grow Your Parenting Instagram Account to More Than 10K In Less Than 12 Months

Want to grow your parenting Instagram account? It’s easier than you might think. You just need to show up.

With a little bit of time, effort and consistency, you’ll get to 10k in no-time.

I couldn’t believe it when we hit 10k followers on Instagram. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that we’d get to that point in less than a year, but here we are!

There has been SO MANY things I’ve learned along the way when it comes to managing an Instagram account along the way and it can certainly feel like a bit of a minefield when you start out.

With so many ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ of Instagram, it can be difficult to know how to grow your account for the best.

I’ve broken down some of the key tips and tricks we used to be able to grow our account to more than 10k in less than a year.

Want to view it directly in YouTube? Click here.

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
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.

The Breaking Dad

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