Parenting Hacks & Tips

13 low budget activities for kids to do at home

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Whilst the majority of children are back at school now, let’s face it – Keeping them occupied whilst at home can be tough sometimes; particularly when funds are running a little low in the run-up towards Christmas!

I thought I’d share some budget-friendly ideas for activities for your children based on what Evie and I got up to during the first nationwide lockdown.

Enjoy!

1. Making Rainbow Rice

Rainbow Rice Sensory

Although the warm and sunny days of the first lockdown have long since passed, this is a great little activity for kids if you want to to keep them occupied.

The great thing about making rainbow rice is that it’s perfect for sensory play. It’s amazing how much fun you can have with some dyed rice as part of a sensory bin; Evie loved doing this as a two-year-old and she still loves it.

It’s great for developing fine motor skills too.

What you’ll need:
– A few bags of rice
Plenty of bottles of food colouring
Sandwich bags
A large container

Get yourself a sandwich bag for each different food colouring you have and fill them with roughly the same amount of rice (You can weigh it if you like, but I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle…).

Add a good amount of a single colour into each of the different bags and tie each one up. We ended up with one bag that was brown, one that was yellow, one that was blue, one green and so on…

Get your kids involved with squeezing the bag and distributing the colour evenly around the bag. Talk to them about the texture and get them to notice how it changes as the bag becomes wet.

Next, leave the rice to dry for around 24 hours and, et voila!

Rainbow rice.

Things you could try:
– Burying a small toy in there and giving them a pastry brush. They aren’t allowed to use anything but the brush to find it – Evie loves this game!
– Separating the rice into colours
– Burying your hands in there and really feeling the texture
– Using an empty metal coffee tin as a rice shaker to make noise

2. Cardboard Laptops

This is a great little activity you can do at home with a leftover shoebox.

You can take a look at our more detailed guide for full instructions, but here’s a quick summary:

What you’ll need:
– A shoebox
– A craft knife
PVA glue

Simply mark the laptop shape (A full diagram can be found here) and cut it out, making sure to leave a good solid edge on one side to help it stand up.

Glue on your screen and buttons and add a mouse for some extra flare!

3. Cupcake Case Flowers

Easter came and went during lockdown this year, so we used these fancy little copper cupcake cases and made Easter daffodils.

What you’ll need:
– Cupcake cases (Try these!)
– Paint pens (Get ’em here)

Really simple idea, but looks great and makes for a lovely little craft activity if you want to change it up a bit.

Just stick the cupcake down and encourage your child to be as imaginative as possible with the shapes they make.

It’s amazing how much enthusiasm and excitement you can create with your little one with something as simple as a cupcake case.

Things you could try:
– Using the cases as wheels for a car
– Using the cases as eyes for a monster
– Using the cases as the nose of a dog

You get the idea!

4. Sandwich Bag Painting

Evie absolutely loved this one because she was able to get really involved with the making of it! I still have remnants of the tape stuck to my window…

What you’ll need:
– Sandwich bags (I prefer this kind)
– Washable paints (Any will do)

Fill some ziplock sandwich bags with different coloured paints and stick them to the wall or a window.

We used ours to draw little pictures with our fingers, which is a great way to get them thinking about the formation of shapes and letters.

Evie found it particularly funny when the purple and orange paints merged together to form what she delightfully referred to as, ‘blood’.

It honestly looked like we’d hijacked a blood transfusion bag and stuck it to the wall.

Maybe avoid mixing orange and purple, actually.

What you could try:
– Depending on their age, practise forming letters
– Form shapes and lines in the paint
– Draw faces together
– Mixing colours in the bag and talking about how you made it

5. Pepper Science Experiment

This is s great science experiment for kids.

If you’re looking for educational activities for kids, this is great since it helps to reinforce the importance of washing your hands…

What you’ll need:
– Pepper
– A mixing bowl
– Soap
– Water

Just fill the mixing bowl with water and get your child to put plenty of pepper into it.

Then, get Them to dip their hands into the water and watch how the pepper sticks.

Evie declared that it was, ‘So gross’ at this point and immediately went to the toilet to wash her hands.

Next, get your child to put a little soap on their hands and rub it all over.

Make sure they’re paying attention as they put their finger slowly into the water and then marvel as the pepper dashes away to the sides of the bowl.

Being the nerd that I am, I Googled why this happens – It’s all to do with surface tension. Very clever stuff and worth a try.

6. Make Salt Dough Hand Prints

Making salt dough is a great activity for keeping the kids occupied at various intervals during the day.

What you’ll need:
– 1 cup of salt
– 2 cups of flour
– 3/4 cup of water

To make salt dough, just mix together your salt and flour in a large bowl, then gradually stir in the water.

As the mixture binds together it’ll start to form a doughy consistency which you can mould however you like.

I wanted to make something we could keep, so I got Evie to use the rolling pin and flatten it out before making two big handprints in it.

After that, you need to stick it in the oven at a fairly low heat and just let it dry out.

Because it takes a long time to cook, you can start off in the morning, go and play something else and come back to it later on in the day.

I’m sure you can do it more professionally than we did; we weren’t very scientific with out timings…We just kept checking every now and then, before eventually taking it out when it seemed done ?.

7. Use your Surroundings

Introducing ‘Cushionland’! This one regularly makes an appearance at our house because it’s fun, easy-to-do and safe.

What you’ll need:

– Cushions from the sofa
– Floor space
– A strong reserve when they’re jumping

I love creating a safe environment for Evie to just go wild; even if that means leaping like a lunatic across the room.

The beauty of using your surroundings, if you’re not too precious on keeping your sofa immaculate of course, is that you can create sooo many games off the back of it – ‘The Floor is Lava’ of course being one of the favourites.

Sometimes it’s nice to just throw caution to the wind and have some fun burning off some energy.

8. Make Stamps

Having fun at home doesn’t need to be expensive and you can quite often make use of everyday items around the house. There’s something so rewarding about crafts for kids and Evie always loves it.

What you’ll need:
– Washable paint
– Cardboard Toilet Roll Tubes
– Masking tape

We really love doing little arts and crafts, but sometimes children just need a little push to get creative.

This is great because it focuses on teaching control, whilst reinforcing a little creativity.

9. Make a Sofa Den

What you’ll need:
– A sofa
– A blanket or two
– Some cushions
– Your imagination

This is one of my favourite games as a Daddy. I don’t know why, but there’s something about building a den that I just never seem to grow out of.

I love anything that involves imaginative play because I believe that imagination is the route to creativity and, in my humble opinion, I believe that creative people are successful people.

I want Evie to grow up always thinking outside of the box and challenging the world that is presented in front of her.

As a strong young lady, Evie needs to know that she can change the world if she puts her mind to it.

I know it sounds a little grandiose, but by literally changing our surroundings to suit our games, Evie is learning an extremely valuable lesson – the world is what you make it.

We love building a den and lining up all of Evie’s teddies or Barbies in there; you’ll usually find us in here at some point over a weekend!

10. Make a Pirate Ship

What you’ll need:
– A sofa (or two)
– Materials for the sail (We used an old curtain on a curtain pole)
– A plate for the ship’s steering wheel
– A sword and an eye patch if available
– A phone or tablet (This will become clear)

Pirate ships are a common occurrence in the Betts household and one of my favourite home activities for kids.

We often push the two sofas together and wedge an old curtain pole and curtain vertically to make the sail.

Evie pillages one of her plates from the kitchen drawer as a steering we’ll and will often make me walk the plank if I’ve been naughty (A bench from our kitchen table).

This is a fantastic game for really spurring on your child’s imagination, especially if you use your phone or tablet to play ocean waves in the background.

Let the adventure begin!

11. Have a Bake-Off

Baking Muffins

What you’ll need:
– A muffin or cake making kit

So, you like baking? I’m happy for you. Unfortunately, this is not a skill of mine and it probably never will be.

I’m never going to be Paul Hollywood and my muffins certainly won’t pass with ‘showstopper’ status, but do you know what? I’m not really fussed!

It’s easy to lose sight of the spirit of the activity, which for me is spending quality time with my daughter.

Mixing a few ingredients from a packet is a little lazy on the baking front, but my four-year-old certainly has no concerns about a soggy bottom and to be quite honest, never eats them anyway!

Taking the time to spend time with your munchkin whilst they’re learning that they make things (even with the aid of handy packet-based shortcuts), is a perfect way to encourage curious little learners.

To me, that’s what counts.

12. Get ’em thinking

Himiku Blocks Tower

What you’ll need:
– Himiku Blocks (Get ’em here)

In my opinion, kids learn best when they’re playing. Evie absolutely loves to be challenged and I try my best to encourage a curious, problem-solving attitude.

Himiku Blocks are little wooden shapes that can be stacked high and really get those brain cells going.

Evie will often sit for ages whilst she tries to work out how she can build the tallest tower possible and, to be honest, I quite find myself mulling it over myself!

13. Put ’em to work

What you’ll need:
A sponge
– A bucket
– A dictatorial mindset

Kids these days, huh? They just don’t understand the value of hard work anymore. Evie’s four – It’s about time she learned to contribute to the household…

OK, I’m kidding. I don’t believe in putting children to work, unlike many well-known household consumer brands and their unethically-managed sweatshops, but I do like to involve Evie in activities around the house from time-to-time.

In life, we all have to do things we don’t want to do; whether it’s going to work, doing household chores or for me, exercising.

I believe the secret is finding enjoyment in whatever you do, however much you don’t want to do it.

This is an attitude I’d like to instil into Evie, so we try to think up little games and challenges to make washing the car or doing the gardening more exciting!

Keep checking back! I’m going to add to this list over the coming weeks!

Nawal Houghton Divorce Coach
Guest Posts

Guest Post: Is Narcissism All That Bad?

This is an exciting one for us this week, as Nawal Houghton from Your Divorce Coach has kindly written our first ever guest post on TheBreakingDad.co.uk on a subject I think many people will be interested in – particularly those who are going through separation.

If you’d like to feature as a guest blogger drop me an email.

Ah yes this word “Narcissism”, it’s everywhere isn’t it? And certainly for me as an expert at divorcing/separating from narcissists, it’s the main reason my clients come to me seeking clarity and strategy in their divorce process.

Some of you may have heard some horrific stories about people having narcissistic parents, members of family, co-workers, bosses and even partners. I am willing to bet that for the most part, all you’ve heard is the bad stuff, I mean all you have to do is Google Narcissism and it’s all bad, bad, bad.

Just in case you don’t know what we are talking about here, Narcissism is a personality disorder where a person has an exaggerated sense of self, a deep need for attention from others and a total lack of empathy amongst a long list of other traits.

I am going to pivot slightly here now.

Narcissism isn’t always bad. There is ‘Healthy Narcissism’.

So hear me out and this may shock you. The vast majority of us are Narcissistic to some degree.

If we weren’t we wouldn’t brush our teeth, go to the hairdresser, go clothes shopping for the latest trends, and other run-of-the-mill daily tasks that we have come to accept as perfectly normal.

This is good, healthy Narcissism.

Healthy Narcissism is related to self-esteem and self-worth.

Narcissism needs to be identified looking on a spectrum.

On one end, you do have the malignant, covert Narcissists who will manipulate, gaslight and abuse you in order to achieve total control over you.

At the other end, there is healthy Narcissism. This is what we need to be conscious of when we talk about Narcissism.

We need to be careful about branding the word around and really try to understand what arena we are talking in and where on the spectrum this Narcissism that you are experiencing is falling on.

We almost need to be Narcissistic in everyday life.

Let’s talk real life. We are currently living in a pandemic. After a shocking rise in mental health cases around the world, the need to feel good is key.

If we are able to experience feeling joyful at these difficult times, then this is an example of when Narcissism is a good thing.

People have come to realise that Narcissism is acceptable to some degree in most aspects of our lives. For example, the need to big ourselves up a bit when we are in job interviews; my goodness we’ll even do this on a date.

Does this mean we are narcissistic? Again, it’s all about where they fall on the spectrum.

If Narcissism allows you to be more self-confident about certain things then again depending on how it is being used, that’s no bad thing.

We can spend hours scrolling through images and videos on the likes of Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, is everyone on there Narcissistic?

No, not everyone.

Yes, their selfies are exhausting, the display of perfect faces, bodies and lives hitting us at our core and causing us to come to realise the difference between Real life vs Insta life.

But, what do we know of their stories?

What do we know of their struggle?

There are so many factors we need to consider.

Perhaps what you may consider Narcissism is someone’s personal battle with their self-esteem and what you are seeing is their expression of gratitude.

Maybe if we were grateful about ourselves, would we have the ability to see their actions for something else other than egoism?

So how do I tell the difference?

If we think that we are dealing with someone narcissistic, what do we need to ask ourselves when we are trying to identify if we think we are dealing with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Consider the traits that you are looking at.

When trying to identify whether someone is Narcissistic, look at their behaviour.

What are the traits that you are seeing?

  • Are they verbally abusive? Are they mentally abusive?
  • Are they unable to understand the consequences of their actions?
  • Do they project?
  • Do you feel manipulated?
  • Do you feel unsafe?
  • Do you feel controlled?
  • Does it feel like you are walking on eggshells all the time?

These are all strong red flags and warning signs that you are dealing with a narcissist – And this where I help my clients.

Divorcing a Narcissist is harder than being married to one.

If you need help divorcing or separating from a toxic personality and/or Narcissist, then please feel free to contact me at [email protected]

Nawal offers a free 15 minute discovery call and you can check out her Instagram for free daily content.

You can also download of her ‘Top 20 Phrases to use when communicating with a Narcissist’ on her website: www.yourdivorcecoach.org.uk.

Parenthood

Raising Strong Daughters: Here’s what you must do

It’s no secret that I love being a Daddy. I see raising strong daughters as more than a goal, it’s my responsibility. You should too.

Since having a daughter, I’ve realised that us Dads can play a fundamental role in helping our little girls become the fierce women they deserve to be.

Contents:

1. How to Raise a Self-Confident Daughter
2. Be a Strong Male Figure in Her Life
3. Highlight and Acknowledging Sexism
4. You’ve got a battle on your hands

We’re surrounded by white male privilege. By my very race and gender, I’m a beneficiary. It doesn’t sit quite right with me.

Nothing could have possibly opened my eyes more than the birth of my baby girl.

I love my daughter more than life itself. Becoming a parent taught me the value of family.

More importantly, being there for my daughter has shown me the importance of raising a strong daughter in a world of imbalance.

Kids learn how to view the world from those closest to them. In their early years, it predominantly from their parents.

Meg Meeker’s article, ‘How to raise strong and confident daughters‘ got me thinking.

I want my daughter to grow up with the confidence to challenge society, break down boundaries and be who she wants to be.

Here’s a simple guide on how to raise a daughter for dads.

It’s by no means extensive, but it should start you off.

The motivation?

Helping you teach your daughter to be strong.

To raise a girl who is happy in herself.

To show her that she can be what she wants to be.

How to raise a self-confident daughter

As a father, I don’t want my daughter to be defined by superficial values.

Of course, we all want to look good and liked to be complimented from time-to-time, but it’s not everything.

Women are under more pressure than ever to look good, perhaps even more so than men.

Social media amplifies this obsession even more and creates a kind of ‘en mass peer pressure’ that of ideals they feel they need to abide by. I want my little girl to know there’s more to life than looks.

Kindness, decency, resilience and courage should be the yardstick of success when raising a strong girl.

This great article, ‘10 Compliments to Give your Daughter That Have Nothing To Do With Looks‘ is perfect.

Compliment your daughter on traits that really matter.

  • Resilience
  • Courage
  • Intelligence

Make sure they have the confidence to tackle the world around them without being afraid to fail.

Girls are strong.

I’ve been surrounded tough women my whole life. They taught me how to be respectful as a man, as well as how to raise a strong girl.

One of my favourite compliments to give Evie is this:

“You’re so kind.”

Kindness is currency.

A warm heart is a vital foundation in the making of a good parent, an effective employee and one strong little girl.

Of course, kindness can be taken for granted. Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith in order to share a happy and fulfilling life.

Be the strong male figure in her life

As a Dad, if you ever finding yourself asking how to raise a strong daughter, there’s a simple answer: Lead by example.

This article for PsychCentral covers the subject perfectly.

I’ve summarised a few of the key points for you:
1. Love her mother

I separated with Evie’s mum a few years ago. Since then, we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs.

One thing I’ve NEVER done is criticised my ex in front of Evie.

A little girl needs to learn from an early age that a man should treat a woman with respect.

2. Don’t be afraid of attachment

Don’t underestimate how important it is for your daughter to form an attachment to you.

Spend quality time with them, play games and let them know you love them often with words as well as physical affection. Evie rarely tells me she loves me back and I never force her to.

To me, those gestures of love are investments into an emotional bank account for the future, which hopefully Evie will be able to reinvest into her own children one day.

3. Celebrate her mind

We’ve covered this topic above, but I can’t stress the importance of it enough.

Be honestly enthusiastic and interested in the things she tells you and take time to understand the way she thinks.

For example, Evie’s latest thing is to go,

“Daddy….guess what…”

This is Evie’s little precursor to telling me something that happened in her life that she wants to share with me.

No matter what, I respond with the same enthusiasm and excitement, whether it’s the first time of the day or the fiftieth.

4. Treat all adult women the way you want your daughter to be treated someday

If you want to know how to raise strong daughters as a Dad, there’s something incredibly simple you can do: Treat women the way you want your daughter to be treated.

Your attitude towards women is a direct reflection on how your daughter will come to view herself.

Take every opportunity you can to SHOW her that she deserves respect, support and love.

Highlighting and acknowledging sexism

There are so many confusing double-standards in today’s society.

For example, assertive men are considered favourable, but assertive women are typically dismissed as rude or abrasive.

This study showed how most of children’s literature was dominated by male figures when it comes to fairytales and children’s literature; something that just reinforces gender stereotypes.
. No surprises there.

What was more concerning was how the girls were “portrayed as acted upon rather than active”. Objects or supporting roles, basically…Not aspirational role models.

The message: Adventures are for men, not women.

I hate that.

Where are the female role models? Who will teach girls to aspire to something more?

Our children should be ready to take on the world and be whatever or whoever they want to be.

Telling stories that continually emphasise these gender roles is a recipe for disaster.

Don’t get me wrong…There has been a definite shift.

Let it go.

Disney’s Frozen definitely helps to dismantle some of these traditional damsels in distress stories.

They deliberately steered clear of power-hungry evil witches or relying on handsome princes to save the day.

That’s a lesson on how to raise daughters in my book.

Take this point with a pinch of salt.

What I’m NOT doing, is telling you that your children CAN’T read classic tales.

Just be aware of those gender roles and remind your daughter to challenge them.

It’ll pay dividends in her development.

Raising Daughters Meme

You’ve got a battle on your hands

If you really want to know how to raise a good daughter, you need to encourage them to be themselves, right into their teen years and beyond.

A good man should know how teach girls that they can be the person they want to be unapologetically, unconditionally and unwaveringly.

If we ever hope to bring genuine gender equality, then men need to take action too.

I’m going to share some bad news with you though…

If you get it right, she’s going to push your buttons, test the boundaries and challenge the rules, particularly during the teen years…so I’m told.

Perfect.

Your little girl needs to understand that her opinion matters.

She needs to know her voice is heard.

You definitely won’t always agree with her.

In fact, she’ll probably drive you up the wall.

Be patient, it’s a sacrifice you’re going to have to be to make.

What do you get in return?

You’ll have guided your little lady through her life, imbued with the sense of self-worth that she deserves.

Want your daughter to take a leap of faith and be who she wants to be? Y

You need to be there to catch her.

No matter what.

That’s what I plan to do with Evie.

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Parenthood

My top 10 parenting rules to live by for 2021

Nobody’s perfect. It doesn’t matter how hard you try; you’re probably going to get it wrong sometimes. ⁣⁣⁣

If you’re anything like me, you’ll second guess yourself when you see how other people choose to bring up their children too. ⁣⁣⁣

Let’s stop just a minute. If you remember one thing today about good parenting, it’s that you can only try your best. ⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣I try to stick to some rules when it comes to bringing up Evie. 

Full disclosure: I haven’t always been good at these, it’s taken a lot of practice and I’m STILL learning every day.

⁣⁣⁣Parenting is a journey, and using these rules is great for setting limits and making sure I can be the best possible role model for my little lady.

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Be patient; they’re just testing boundaries⁣⁣⁣

I wanted to start with this one because trust me, if there’s one thing you’re going to need as a parent of young children, it’s patience! 

Most parents find that their darling little bundles of joys are incredibly skilful when it comes to testing your patience. Your child is growing and learning about the world around them. 

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that your little one just doesn’t quite understand how to interact with the world around them, so what you think is bad behaviour could be their little way of learning what is acceptable and what isn’t.  

I’ve certainly learned that in order to get good behaviour out of Evie, I need to be patient – very patient. 

The more patient I’ve been in terms of my parenting style, the better Evie responds to me. 

Struggling to be patient? Read this great article from EmpoweringParents.com.  

Use positive and supportive language⁣⁣⁣

When it comes to discipline, finding a balance can be tough. We all want to be relaxed parents, but after a stressful day, that all-important patience can start to dwindle. 

Using negative language, phrases like “Don’t do this”, “Stop doing that” can actually have a negative impact on your child’s behaviour too. 

In this great article from Parenting from the Heart Blog, Alana talks about how you can swap some common negative language for more positive ones: 

Instead of:Try using: 
Don’t run Walk, please
Stop touching your sister Hands to yourself
Don’t throw toys Please keep your toys on the ground
Stop interruptingI can see you want to talk to me. Wait one moment, please. 
Leave him alone Come over here and play.
Don’t hitOnly gentle touches, please
Stop yellingQuiet voice, please. 

What I like about this approach, and try to take with Evie, is that you shift your focus toward teaching your child how they should behave, rather than chastising them for how they shouldn’t. 

Be tirelessly enthusiastic⁣⁣⁣

I’ve never been a big believer in speaking to your children in a different way to how you would speak to an adult. I’m never going to be one of those dads who speaks to his children in baby voices or uses silly words for things; it doesn’t help your child learn. 

With that in mind, something I will always do is show boundless enthusiasm towards Evie. It doesn’t matter what she’s telling me, I’ll always consciously make an effort to sound as interested and excited as possible, irrespective of the day I’ve had or how stressed I’m feeling. 

There’s a reason for that…

To me, good parenting skills come from the ability to build a great relationship with your child. I often see parents when we’re out on days out barking orders at their kids or only half listening and I imagine how that parent would feel if the same thing happened to them at work or when they’re talking to their friends. 

Single parenthood has really helped me to hone that skill. Since our traditional family life came to an end, it’s helped me to appreciate and cherish the time more than ever because I understand that our time together is always on a countdown until I have to take Evie back to her mum’s. 

Taking a step back even further, our children grow up so fast. The bottom line is that they won’t be little forever. As they grow older, they’re going to face more complex and challenging issues with school, relationships and work. 

I want Evie to be able to always come to me and know that  I’ll be enthusiastic and interested.

Listen, don’t lecture⁣⁣⁣

By the time most of us come to having children, we’re lucky enough to have been on this earth rather a few years. I’ve now had almost 32 of them and in that time I’ve made many, many mistakes that have helped me to become the person I am today. 

We have to be able to allow our children to do the same. If Evie is anything like me, which she certainly is this far, all that’ll happen if I was to slip into ‘naggy parent’ mode is that she’d push back and do exactly the opposite of what I’d told her to. 

Children need to be able to learn and, even if there are behaviour problems, they need to be able to express their feelings so that you can guide them supportively rather than dictate.

Be consistent ⁣⁣⁣

There are very few aspects of life in general in that don’t benefit from consistency. Whether it’s training at the gym, performing at work, keeping in touch with friends – You name it, people just like reliability. 

I harp on about consistency all the time when it comes to parenting because nothing is more crucial when young people are learning the boundaries than knowing what the expected outcome is. 

For example, imagine if day to day you’re nice and calm when your little one decides they don’t want to eat their dinner, but one day you’re in a bad mood and lose your temper, they won’t understand. 

Likewise, if you have rules in place at home and you sometimes relent on them, they’ll always try their luck. A good example of this might be bedtime – If your child cries when you put them down to bed one night and you go to get them, they will no doubt try it again another night to get the same response…just in case

Shower them with love ⁣⁣⁣

As parents, we all want our children to feel as safe, secure and loved as possible, right? Having a solid foundation helps to instil a sense of confidence in our children, as well as a feeling of self-belief. 

I don’t know about you, but I certainly love to feel loved and I want Evie to feel that too. 

There are so many ways you can show your child some love, but I think this great article explains it far better than I can. 

Create clear rules and expectations⁣

I covered this a little earlier when I talked about the importance of consistency. Setting very clear rules and boundaries is crucial if you want to help your child develop into a well-rounded little human. 

Very often you’ll see parents swerve on a pendulum between either trying to be their child’s best friend or being the military disciplinarian. We’re all guilty of making mistakes on that front – I certainly have. 

You can look at rule setting in terms of 5 Cs: Clarity, consistency, communication, caring and creation. 

You can read this great article from Psych Central for more detail here, but in summary: 

Clarity
Being clear when you set rules, limits and boundaries for your children

Consistency
As we talked about earlier, being predictable in your response so your child knows what to expect

Communication
Talk about the reason why certain rules are in place to help them to understand

Caring
Use positive language and reinforcement to encourage good behaviours

Creation:
Encourage your child to feel that they have a responsibility for their own behaviour

Don’t take things personally ⁣⁣⁣

Trust me, there will be times when your child is downright brutal. Don’t take it to heart, they just haven’t learned how to filter out their thoughts yet. 

As they grow, it’s our job to teach them the social skills to be able to realise that saying, “You look really fat today” probably isn’t a good idea in the long run.

Show rather than tell ⁣⁣⁣

Effective parenting is about demonstrating how to behave, rather than telling. One of the greatest gifts for me about raising a child is getting to be the person who teaches Evie how the world around her works by spending time with her

There’s a great quote by John C. Maxwell that says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”. 

As a parent, it’s time you take the lead.

Celebrate effort, not just success⁣⁣⁣

In life, we’re not always going to win. To be honest, that’s not even the important part – The effort is what counts. Fear of failure is something we learn as we get older and become more mindful of silly feelings like embarrassment or pride. 

The beautiful thing about children is that they don’t have any of those problems because they haven’t learned them yet. 

If they fall, they get back up and try again and if they make a mistake, they move on. 

I believe that embracing and learning from mistakes is the secret sauce to success in everything you do

Nothing is more damaging to a person than holding on to the past, dwelling on mistakes and being bitter about what should have happened. 

I believe in encouraging children to embrace their mistakes and move on. It teaches them resilience, which is great for their mental health.

⁣Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post! If you think I missed anything, drop a comment below and let me know! 

Whilst you’re here, why not read some of our popular posts:

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.

Daddy cuddling with daughter
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.

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