As a ‘dad blogger’ you know Fathers Day is approaching when your inbox suddenly becomes swamped by Fathers Day gift guides. The cynical blogger in me reads them as a list of ‘things I was sent for free’, although to be fair, I’m just bitter that the best thing I was offered this year was a ‘Best Dad in the World’ tankard?! One email did suggest a £500 watch but sadly it was just that, a suggestion.
But it does raise serious questions, and not just ‘what child is buying their dad a £500 watch, and more importantly, how do I get myself one of these kids?’
Because when I think back to when I first became a stay-at-home dad, what I really wanted wasn’t a Top Gear toiletry set. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t appreciate the talc, it’s just I’m not sure what Jeremy Clarkson smells like but I’d hazard a guess at it being diesel and disappointment.
What I would have appreciated and benefited from though was help and support. Which is why I’m proud to support an amazing program called the Young Dads Collective and their Fathers Day campaign, #52DaysofDad, which includes 52 free and fun activities to do with children, one for every week of the year. There’s also a great guest post from one of their members, Ruben.
About the Young Dads Collective.
The Young Dads Collective (YDC) is an award-winning program that works to reduce the levels of isolation and poverty experienced by young fathers and at the same time develop their employability skills.
Why working with young dads?
Research shows that young dads are amongst the most isolated and economically deprived parenting groups in the UK. Many come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are more likely to have been excluded from school, brought up in care or lived in poverty.
What does the YDC offer?
YDC works with young dads aged 25 and under recruiting, training and supporting them to be agents of change. As experts by experience, their team works to highlight the issues of a community often regarded as ‘hard to teach’. The YDC aims to affect change and raise awareness of the specific challenges that young dads face.
#52DaysofDad activity 1 – Building a Blanket Fort
Hi, Ruben here, dad to a four-year-old boy named Thierry and member of the Young Dads Collective (YDC). The award winning YDC is a project co-run by young dads aged 25 and under who are among the most socially excluded parenting group in the UK. We employ a small team of young fathers, training, mentoring and enabling them to share their knowledge and experiences with professionals and policy makers to influence change in policy and practice. I was first introduced to the YDC when they were carrying out an action research project speaking to other young dads about their experience of fatherhood.
In the report, called Left Out, we found that young dads feel left out from some of the services that should be supporting them. All of the young active dads we spoke to were very much involved in their child’s life despite a lack of support from public services. Young dads also had limited access to information or support networks. This ultimately led to them feeling isolated and not having a way to address that.
With this in mind, I created a list of activities that could show young dads some low cost fun things to do with their children. The idea was extremely well-received by the YDC and went on to become our Father’s Day campaign #52DaysofDad.
As any dad will tell you, keeping your child engaged, occupied and entertained can be very difficult, and it’s made just a little more challenging as a young dad, not necessarily having the life experiences and skills to maintain and control the attention of a child. However, I recently found out that doesn’t always have to be the case.
On the weekend my son and I went to a children’s birthday party where he enjoyed all the perks of the sun, food, face painting and other children. As always, the sun, the party and my energy ran out way before Thierry’s excitement. Sadly, days out can quickly get expensive and like many families, I am on a budget. I went home aware that I still needed to entertain my young, energetic little monster.
We decided to try out the first #52DaysofDad activity, Build a Blanket Fort. My one-bedroom flat is minimalist to say the least! I like to accredit this to the modern age; it’s the best excuse if you don’t like buying furniture. This considered, I still went ahead and imagined a complex
structure that required loads of furniture. So it all started with me scratching my chin, thinking “How can I make this the most architecturally advanced den, with wide screen TV, WIFI connection and air conditioning?”
My design was really over ambitious and after the structure collapsed no less than three times and Thierry’s patience was starting to run out, I gave up on how I wanted it to look and just went with whatever made it stay up. I was a little disappointed but when my son saw the den with all his toys and books spread all over the place it made him jump for joy. It was clear to me that the simple, wonky, untidy space was to my son just as amazing as if I had designed the Shard in London.
The amount of play and fun you can achieve in a small space is extraordinary, even more so when you think the major difference is you have a duvet over your head and pillows for floors. We are looking forward to doing more activities from #52DaysofDad and seeing how much fun we can have.
How to get involved…
Dads and families wanting to take part in #52DaysofDad can do so by following us and sharing their activities on:
- Twitter ~ #52DaysofDad @YoungDadsCo @FamChildTrust
- Facebook ~ Young Dads Collective
- Instagram ~ YoungDadsCo
- Website ~ www.familyandchildcaretrust.org/52-days-dad
After that, activities will be released once a week across our social media channels. Keep an eye on our Twitter and join us for upcoming prizes!