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Returning To The Office: A Parent Perspective

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"Lord Sugar will see me now." Exciting news, I went back to the office! It's one day a week. But technically, I'm back, and it feels great. The day finally arrived, where Dad would battle henceforth in the city. My youngest son looked confused. Why was dad leaving the house? Are we going to war? Has mum kicked him out? No dear boy, this is how the world works! He was eighteen-months, in March 2020. We have a "lost" generation. Children who don't recall the pre-pandemic protocols, or their fathers in suits. But  "the times they are a-changin'" (Dylan, 1964) . Some parents are tormented by the "return to office" dilemma. Routines and childcare arrangements may change. I have colleagues, who don't share my enthusiasm. But frankly, I'm happy and this is why. The Commuting Experience Thumbs-up to commuting! Strangely, I enjoy my commute. To some, commuting feels unnecessary or unproductive. Or time that could be used better. Bu

Why I'm Ditching Amazon Prime

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Alexa, can I cancel Amazon? Recently I cancelled my Amazon subscriptions.  Amazon Prime went first, which was costing me £79.99 a year ($110). It's a premium service, offering next-day delivery and some streamed services. I also cancelled Amazon Music, their Spotify equivalent. This was £9.99 a month ($13). I guess I had an epiphany. I was struggling to find value, and without value, what is the point? Cancelling them saves me £200 a year ($270). It's your call, but consider your relationship with Amazon. What value are you getting? Is it laziness? Are you consuming too much? Would you miss it, if it went? Read on and I'll provide a bit more insight. Amazon Prime = Too Much Consumption Consumption is fine, in areas of necessity. But too often, we overconsume. Amazon make it too convenient and easy. Goods are cheap, particularly on sale days and "Black Friday" events. But Amazon aren't always cheapest. I prefer to support local business, in these post-pandemic

DIY: Building A Mud Kitchen

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Get out my (mud) kitchen! Last Friday, my son turned 3. To compliment his presents, the wife asked me to build a mud kitchen. " Absolutely darling, of course, easy...........no problem ". I always live on the edge, agreeing to things, then figuring it out later. In business, they tell you to " fake it, until you make it ". I'm sure it applies to mud kitchens? Yes, no? In fairness, I welcomed the challenge. After a brief look on  Pinterest , I felt confident. I'd give it a go, and see what transpired. This is a good project, for the aspiring DIY enthusiast. Fathers should embrace these creative opportunities. Flex your DIY muscles, and test your limits. You aren't a man, until you've attempted the mud kitchen! 😆 What Is A Mud Kitchen? In a nutshell, mud kitchens are outdoor workstations. They mimic a real kitchen, and are usually built from wood materials.   Mud kitchens help to stimulate your child's creativity and imagination. Children can spen

Cycling 52 Miles: London To Southend

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We are the champions, my friend. Recently I had the pleasure of cycling 52 miles, from  London to Southend. I say "pleasure" in the loosest sense. My ass felt so sore, I walked like John Wayne for two days. The whole event was a random occurrence. A  friend was planning to complete the circuit with his wife.  Unfortunately she pulled-out with injury, so he asked me if I fancied it (the bike ride, not his wife).  Without thinking, I agreed. I'm moderately fit, how tough could it be? I guess with hindsight, I jumped into it too eagerly. I didn't want to bottle it, and let down a friend. I resumed cycling, just last year.  Back then, my focus was to remain fit and fend-off the "dadbod".  If you've read my ' Cycling: Embracing The Bike, Tour de Dad ' post, you'll know my story.   My longest cycle was  20 miles; well short of 52 miles! It probably  screamed "mid-life" crisis. My wife certainly thought so. The good news is, I survived and

Showing Compassion, In A Scary World

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September 11th, 2001. A serious post today. Yesterday marked twenty-years since the 9/11 attacks. Thousands of innocents died that day. Imagine the family impact? Many mothers and fathers, did not return to their loved-ones. The world suddenly seemed cruel and brutal. Back then I was much younger. It was shocking and still I can't process it. It didn't make sense. For my generation, it felt like a significant period in time. Much like the JFK assignation or the moon landing, you remember where you were. Years on, as a parent and family man, I view it with further sadness. A generation of children were left without a parent, and are now adults themselves. For twenty-years, they have functioned through grief. Time doesn't heal everything. Their loss must feel as real today, as it did back then. Showing Compassion Sadly terrorist attacks still occur, all over the world.   And the world feels divisive, and in conflict. Terror attacks, wars, pandemics and climate change, only ra

5 Tips To Work From Home, And Parent

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Home-working, what a thrill, what a Buzz! The children returned to school this week, but there were no changes for dad. It's now eighteen-months, since I joined the 'working from home' gang. School closures, lockdowns, and Joe Wicks workouts, seem a distant memory. The world is (supposedly) returning to normal, but not for me. Imagine working from home for so long, ABBA have reformed, and put out new songs! In some respects I'm lucky. Being at home affords me time with the kids, and that's a blessing. For now, there's no alternative option. But I'm not fully onboard. I miss the office life, personal space and even the commute. Because, by default, I'm an introverted lone soul. Imagine working from home for so long, ABBA have reformed, and put out new songs! That said, I'm making the best of this situation. With planning, structure and boundaries; you can operate as worker and parent. So this is how I do it, for what it's worth. 1. Create A Dedica

Stay Young, And Invincible

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"Stop it dad! You're 40!" Don't get old, never get old! Always, maintain a youthful approach to life. Impart your wisdom, but stay young. Be mature, be adult, but never lose a sense of fun or adventure. It's a common trap, as we become adults (or parents). The aging body, transcends into an aging mind.  That's what I admire about kids. They attack life with youthful exuberance.  Life is there to be attacked with fun and purpose. Live by this philosophy. Be the cool mum, dad, uncle, aunt, etc. Don't get old, never get old! Don't Become Boring Life places expectations on us. Society has a template for adults, and we foolishly play along.  Society has a template for adults and we foolishly play along.  Too many people, approach adult life in 'mundane mode'. Sadly, for many, our best personal qualities disappear. I say screw the rules. Stay young of heart, and stick two fingers up to convention.  Maintaining A Youthful Mindset I read a book recentl

National Lampoons, Cornish Staycation

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Cornwall rocks! A little review, from our Cornish "staycation". Everyone is doing the "staycation" thing in 2021. In troubled times, I was happy to support British tourism.  Cornwall seemed the obvious and predictable choice. The fall-back option for disappointed "package holiday" lovers. Spare a thought for the Cornish locals, stuck serving pasties to twats, who'd rather be in the Mediterranean. Seriously, who'd go abroad? It sounds like hellish effort. This is the year for domestic pleasures. British holidays don't come cheap. But for this year, I took the hit. The Eden Project Inside the Eden Project. So the first trip, was the  Eden Project . Basically, it's 'Gardener's World' meets the 'Crystal Maze'. Two large domes filled with various plant species.  I saw a banana plant, which you won't see often. It's a surreal experience, as you wander around the place. The domes are kept warm to preserve the plants, it

PlayStation Parents, Move Over Kids

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PlayStation incoming, special delivery! Gaming is for kids right? Nonsense! Big news, we own a PlayStation 5. A couple of hipster parents, down with the youngsters.  It's becoming the evening ritual. When the kids go to bed, the gaming starts. It's glorious escapism. We also have online personas. 'Mayhem Mum' and 'Cyber Dad' are quite badass.  Our Gaming Past We last owned a console, about eight years ago, but we sold it. It wasn't getting used, I was studying and life was busy. Years later we talked about buying a new console. Then the kids came along and it didn't happen (again). I dabbled with emulators and retro gaming, but that was it. During my youth, I was over every gaming platform. At various points I gamed on a ZX Spectrum (Google it), Atari, Amiga 500+, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Game Boy, PlayStation 1, Xbox, PSP and Xbox 360. The launch of the PlayStation 5 (PS5), was a route back. As you can imagine, these things are popular. Fortunately we got

Schools Out, Surviving Summer

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More coffee please. To quote Alice Cooper , "schools out, for summer".  Imagine not knowing school without a pandemic? My son just finished reception class. These are unprecedented times.  Top marks to the parents, for navigating the farce. You earned the parent stripes, and some.  School closures, remote learning, facemasks, isolation, rapid testing, and more school closures. We'll look back and laugh some day. Challenge number two; the summer break. We've just done a staycation in  Cornwall, so five weeks left. That said, September seems a long way off. I warn you, this may be ranty. Summer Break, Six Weeks, Help! Who decided summer breaks were needed? Probably teachers! Fortunately I work from home, but it isn't without challenges. It presents many childcare issues. How do you juggle work and life demands, with kids? Netflix? Disney+?  The problem is, everybody is busy.  Even most nans and grandads still work. So this further limits childcare options. With reti

Parent Fitness, 7 Principles of Healthy Living

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You've got this dad! I just read a book called ' Total Fitness After 40 ' by Nick Swettenham. It blew my mind. It covers the seven principles of health. I was prime clickbait. A forty-year old dad, overcoming injury. My injury occurred in May, after I cracked a rib. During the recovery, I pondered my mortality. Where can I improve? What can I do better? Parent life is exhausting. Who doesn't what more energy?  I realised there were was room for improvement. Health extends beyond nutrition and exercise. As you age, you must cover all aspects of body health. Sadly, too many don't! Forty seems to be that age, where the excuses creep in. Parent life is busy, but find time to maintain yourself. Don't fall apart, sort it out! This is serious business, so I won't be cracking many jokes or ribs! Staying Healthy, As We Age I believe the impacts of aging are overstated. For men, our testosterone depletes a little, but we can still gain strength and muscle. It may be h

How To Make 'Dad' Friends

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Social Dad, up for a beer! Recently I've been trying to obtain 'dad' friends. That's right, what a loner! I have friends, but I don't have many 'dad' friends. As such, it can become difficult to relate to your friends. It's nobody's fault, friendships don't stay perfectly in sync. Today I discuss parenting awkwardness. How I overcame it, to win parent acceptance and dad friends. The journey began in September, when my son started school. I work from home, so school-runs are my job.  Soon I was surrounded by cliquey mums in the playground, sharing feminine anecdotes. "Samantha, can you make Zumba on Friday? You can? Oh brilliant!".  The school playground is a lonely place for dads. In fairness, I attracted the odd smile. Half-smiles, not the real McCoy. The type reserved for neighbours and strangers.  Perhaps in the early days, I exuded weirdo vibes? Who knows. But slowly I rescued the situation. This is my journey from shrinking violet

Why I Started A Blog, Six Months On

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Joe (Dad) Bloggs. Happy blogger-versary, six months in! Blogging works for me. I'm too busy for podcasts and YouTube, they take effort. It's a passive hobby, some fun, nothing more.  Not everything works in blog world. I'm learning that. Some posts hit, some do not. If you are reading this, I suspect you have some interest in me. Thanks for reading! Aside from last month, I've been consistent. I post weekly, no pressure. Sometimes it resonates, sometimes it doesn't. That's ok. I just get it done. Why do I blog? Let me take you on a journey. Why I Started Blogging When I graduated (in 2019), I stopped writing. I got lazy. When you study, you write continuously. In my final year, my prose were tight. Words flowed  like Angela Lansbury on Amphetamines ( click here, if you don't get that reference ) . Then I graduated, and the writing stopped .  Without deadlines and dissertations, the motivation went. If there's no incentive to write, you don't write! T

Dealing With Slumps and Regaining Motivation

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Demotivated dad! I seem to be stuck in slumps-ville. Slumps are destructive little buggers. They creep up on you, and before you know it, you aren't attacking life with the same zest. I blame my recent injury for this decline. A number of weeks back, I cracked my right rib, getting out the bath, dumbass. It was clumsy and stupid.  Weeks of soreness followed, on prescription painkillers. Exercise took a back seat, as I recovered. Ribs take around 6-8 weeks to heel, so I'm waiting it out. I feel like a wounded animal. A dad losing his edge. Fitness and health levels have declined. Never underestimate the importance of a healthy life.  Low motivation becomes a cancer. It can damage all parts of life. Now it's time to snap out and stop feeling sorry for myself.   Passions like music, reading, learning, blogging and fitness are taking a backseat. It's time to reset, recalibrate and get things going! Calibrating Body and Mind Slumps normally have a trigger. Low motivation doe

Private Tutoring For Your Children?

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Hey teacher, leave those kids alone! So recently, my son started receiving private tutoring. I know what you are thinking; pushy middle-class parent, leave him alone. I don't blame you, I'd think the same. My son is five and doing well at school. The basics are there and we are proud. Our concern was his handwriting. He knows the letters and numbers, but struggles to write them. A common trait in boys (we're told). In fairness, I don't possess great handwriting either. Perhaps it's my fault? Anyway, nearby, this local tutoring firm launched. We saw the opportunity to support a new business, and our son's learning.  Is Private Tutoring Worth It? It is hard to put a value on your child's education. I pay £20.00 for a half-hour tuition, on Saturday mornings. I thought extra learning would be a hard sell. He does five days of school, then dad springs this nonsense on him. Surprisingly he bought into it. This is 1-2-1 tuition, with no distractions from classmates

Broken Hearts and Broken Bones

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Breaking Dad, Breaking Bones. Nothing like a bit of physical and mental pain. First my wife's grandfather passed away unexpectedly, which was really sad.  I then went and cracked my rib, ouch. More on this later, but my sides are sore and I'm on prescription pain killers! I try to remain upbeat, when life throws out these challenges. Finding the motivation to write blog posts, becomes tougher.  But that's life, full of unpredictability. The route out of every hole, is always up.   Dealing With Loss Her grandad Robin was a fabulous guy. He could talk forever, but he had the stories. That's the tragic part of loss. You never get to hear their stories, in their words, from their perspective, again. You never get to hear their stories, in their words, from their perspective, again. All loss is tough, but unexpected loss is worse. You aren't prepared for it, and then it comes. But you always have the memories. There's a famous scene in Blade Runner, when Rutger Hauer

Travel: Family Glamping, At Lee Wick Farm

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Daddy, Glampion Of The World. So last weekend, we went glamping. What is glamping? Ah, let me explain. Glamping is the posh version of camping. Basically, camping for tarts. Designed for those who need home comforts. Last weekend we got away. Granted, it wasn't far, or even out of Essex. 'Lee Wick Farm' was the destination, a small farm outside the area of Clacton. Apparently it's one of the UK's top 20 glamp sites. We booked it months ago, and for a while, I doubted it would happen. Then the lockdowns were eased, and Jurassic Park, we were on! Read on, for my glamping experience. What Is Glamping? Glamping means 'glamourous camping'. Unlike a tent, you typically sleep in a cabin (see picture). Facilities vary, but toilets, running water and cooking equipment are common. Glamp David. We had a small microwave, which was useful. Although proudly, I managed to cook dinner on a BBQ. The site provide BBQ starter kits, for around £10.00 ($15.00). The term 'gla

Five Podcasts For Dads & Podfathers

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Are you a Podfather? Make no mistake, podcasts are big business. Everyone is listening to podcasts (it seems), it's a growth area. Big media corporations have spotted the trend. Spotify for example, have spent fortunes buying podcast content. The likes of Joe Rogan, Michelle Obama and Dax Shepard have all joined the stream giant. All tastes are catered for in podcast land. It's niche after niche. We even have podcasts about podcasts.  Today I'll discuss the phenomenon and share my favourite 'Dad' podcasts. Brief History of Podcasts Let me take you on a journey. I've been listening to podcasts since 2004, welcome to the party. In 2004, my favourite podcast was the 'Daily Source Code'. It was presented by former MTV presenter 'Adam Curry'. His podcast was slick and ground-breaking at the time. He revolutionised podcasting, earning the title 'Podfather'. He still podcasts today, on the satirical show ' No Agenda '. Curry is a podcast