Dad Tips

Don't you just wish someone had told you that before....? Our Dad Tips are here to help guide you through the ups, downs and tricky periods now that you are a dad. 
Back to School guide for Dads

Back to School guide for Dads

Back to school survival tips
by Tom Hodgkinson - Editor of the Idler and Author of The Idle Parent
 
 
“I don’t know which is worse,” my mother, not the most naturally maternal person in the world, used to say. “School holidays or school term.”
 
It’s a confusing time. On the one hand, your children are going to be out of the house till half three or four, leaving you with oodles of blissful hours for doing the stuff you consider to be important, like work.
 
On the other, it is heart wrenching to watch your beloved offspring leave you and walk to school or up to the bus stop with their shiny shoes and neatly done tie. They are quitting the cocoon of home for the brutal world of playgrounds, parks, traffic, teachers and other children. You will be sobbing for half the morning in your clean but lonely house or as you make your forlorn way to your place of work.
 
That’s why you want to make sure that you’ve got the basics sorted out, the practical stuff, as you don’t want to be panicking about PE kit while undergoing a severe emotional trauma. Here are a few pointers from my many years’ experience.
 
 
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Easy mince pies to make with the kids

Easy mince pies to make with the kids

Ingredients
  • 225g cold butter, diced
  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 280g mincemeat
  • 1 small egg

1/ Rub 225g cold, diced butter into 350g plain flour, then mix in 100g caster sugar and a pinch of salt.
Combine the pastry into a ball and knead it briefly. The dough will form a firm ball. Lightly dust a clean worksurface and you can then roll this out to about 1/4cm thickness on to it.
2/ Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C.
3/ Cut out 12 circles from the rolled out pastry using either a round cookie cutter or a glass rim and place these into greased patty tins ( Yorkshire pudding tins are good)
4/ Spoon the mincemeat into the open pies( don’t overfill as they will leak when cooking).
5/ With the leftover pastry, remould into a ball and then roll out again  and cut 12 more circles ( slightly smaller if possible than the last ones)  to make round lids for each pie. 
6/ Top the pies with their lids, and press the edges together to seal.
7/ Beat 1 egg and brush the tops of the pies to help them to brown nicely and sprinkle a little more caster sugar over the top. Bake for 20-25mins until golden.
8/ Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins, then remove to a wire cooling rack
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Why we love Autumn

Why we love Autumn

The long, hot days of summer (just wanted to write that phrase because, for once, it was bang on) are fading from memory and all the autumn clichés are queueing up in the mind like anxious commuters as the train rolls into the station. Yes, it’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (what actually is mellow fruitfulness?), surely No 1 on any list of seasonal bingo. But aside from early morning moisture and ODing on vitamins, there are loads of reasons to love this most romantic time of year. Not least because it brings out the romantic in us…

Start of the football season

Ok, ok I know it all kicked off in August but who can take football seriously during the phoney war before the first international break. Even Harry Kane doesn’t bother lacing up his scoring boots till September, though he managed to let the side down this year. Now autumn’s here we can all look forward to long months of cold, rain, scalding tea, hot pies, savage tackles and the occasional glorious goal – whether you’re on the terraces or in front of the telly.

Start of the Rugby season

A game which properly eschews summer. The Southern Hemisphere giants can try to woo us with all that fancy footwork and furious recycling, but we know Rugby is at its best in the mud of midwinter, with two packs of forwards doing all they can to keep the ball from straying into the backs, and just a couple of kicks deciding the result. It’s enough to have you rubbing your hands in anticipation (or is that just to ward off frostbite?).

Conkers

Force the kids to set aside those hi-tech gadgets, stand under a chestnut tree and wait for a spiky object to drop on your head, leading to copious amount of blood pouring down your smart new jacket-coat thing. Once you’ve mopped up, help to gather the conkers, shove them in the oven, then soak them in vinegar, bore a hole in them with a bradawl (yes, that pointy thing really does have a name), thread with string and off you go! God, it’s a lot of effort isn’t it, but well worth it. The childhood memories will come flooding back as you swing and miss, only for your six-year-old to smash your 16-er into tiny pieces with a well-aimed shot.

Blackberries

More outdoor activity. Grab a container, head for the nearest bramble bush and emerge covered in scratches and looking like an extra from Zombie Flesh-Eaters. What a great feeling, though, to head home with a big tub of juicy blackberries and the prospect of pies, puddings or even a bit of jam-making looming large.

Apple Day

In the absence of scrumping (more likely to end up with a criminal record than a kick up the backside nowadays), we can get our appley fix at the various jours du pommes nowadays. National Trust properties, village communities, inner-city markets – they’ve all bought in to Apple Day and it’s generally more fun than you could imagine having with a green or red spherical fruit. Always loads for kids to do, plenty of tasty products to buy and the chance to make an idiot of yourself in the apple-bobbing events which seem to have been appropriated from Halloween.

Autumn Colours and Falling Leaves

A fabulous array of orange, red and brown leaves can lift even the heaviest heart and you don’t need a heftily-priced trip to New England to join in. Just walk out of the front door and head for the nearest broad-leafed tree. Forests, woods, parks, tree-lined streets – any of them is worth a second, third and fourth glance at this time of year. And as for the leaves … it’s a joy to kick up piles of them with only the smallest chance of coming into contact with that hidden heap of dog poo. Worth the risk – you can always clean the wellies.

Autumn mist

Old Keats and his ode – everyone’s romantic reference point. But if you’re up early enough (and, thankfully, by now that doesn’t mean in the middle of the night) the swirl of mist above the autumn ground or hanging over streams and rivers is a thing of beauty. You could just wait till November, when you might find yourself engulfed in a three-day fog.

Longer nights

There’s a particular pleasure in drawing the curtains on the gathering darkness and knowing a warm cosy evening awaits; even better if you happen to have a fire or wood burner. And, best of all, there’s 100 per cent more chance of getting the kids into bed before the 10 o’clock news because, well, it’s dark so it must be bedtime. Uncork that wine; here’s to a long winter!

Halloween

Whatever you feel about us having embraced the American ‘trick or treat’ culture, it’s here to stay. So you may as well don that Frankenstein mask, hope that someone notices the difference and head out into the night in pursuit of your over-excited offspring. If the kids are veterans they’ll know which houses to skip, so the pain won’t last too long and there’s always the prospect of sneaking the best of the haul once the little darlings are snoring.

Bonfire Night

Hot on the heels of All Hallows’ Eve is this glorious celebration of, er, the death of someone who plotted the death of lots of other someones. Still, that was all a long time ago and gives us the chance to pick up second-degree burns by standing too close to the fire and risk a cricked neck as we watch the ever-more spectacular firework displays. Some might argue it was more fun when bonfires were unrestricted, you could cook your spuds in foil in the flames and your dad was the one with a slow-burning match who couldn’t quite get that Catherine Wheel to spin properly.

Comfort food

It’s goodbye endless weird salads and endless pieces of burnt – sorry, barbecued – meat and hello fabulous cold weather meals: casseroles, soups, roast dinners, curries, pasta mounds – excuse me, I’m off to the kitchen.

Better TV

Everyone knows summer TV is rubbish because no-one watches it, and everyone knows the networks throw massive amounts of cash at the autumn schedules. Result = excellent drama series and loads of great documentaries for adults and kids. If you like ballroom dancing and making cakes, this is definitely your time of year but you’re on your own there. Or maybe I am.

Extra Hour in Bed

It may be only 60 minutes long but it’s something to be cherished. Yes, the daylight fades ridiculously early as a result, but that’s nothing compared to the glory of a late October Sunday morning lie-in. Shame no-one told the kids.

Rain, damp, cold

So we’ve had a record-breaking, sub-tropical summer. Forget all that and say hello to your true self – lover of drizzle and downpours, wet feet and sub-zero temperatures. Admit it, you were dreaming in July of those frosty mornings. Well, here they are and you won’t get sick of them till well into the New Year, when SAD will leave you yearning for the sub-tropical summer.

Autumn mini-breaks

What’s half-term for? A few days away from the hustle and bustle etc. Center Parcs or a seaside chalet (really?), a cheeky trip to southern Europe or a bracing jaunt to the uplands of Britain … it’s a great way to stoke the fires before winter and it wears out the kids before you pack them off to school again for the pre-Christmas mania. If you’re unbelievably fortunate you’ll have well-disposed relatives prepared to pick up the reins so you and your Darling Partner can sneak off somewhere for a quick break. Just don’t expect them to do it again next year.
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The Dad's guide to Nappies

The Dad's guide to Nappies

Whoever said that ‘babies don’t really do much’ obviously hadn’t seen the contents of a newborn’s nappy

Nappies and the changing thereof is the experience expectant parents least look forward to. Deciding whose turn it is to change a nappy is also the most common cause of arguments among new mums and dads – 33% of 3000 new parents in one survey fell out over their baby’s fallout.
 
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Helping your children to cope with Bullying

Helping your children to cope with Bullying

With most kids now back at school, the spectre of school bullying starts to rear it's ugly head once more. When your child is being bullied it can be very distressing and you can feel powerless to protect them. We hear from many parents who don't know where to start and there are many sources of conflicting advice. Talking to your child's teacher is always the best place to start, and problems can often  be quickly resolved at an early stage once they are highlighted to the school. However, there are things that you can do to empower your kids to make them feel more in control of the situation. 

These 8 steps developed by Kidpower, can help to equip your kids with the confidence to deal with bullying early on, and possibly even prevent it from developing. Click here to access the 8 Steps 

 


 
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Our Top Family Board Games

Our Top Family Board Games

Days are getting shorter, evenings are getting longer and the kids can no longer be banished to the great outdoors till bedtime. Time to get creative. An eight-hour Minecraft shift on the computer is probably not advisable, and you won’t be able to interest them in your prized Blackadder boxed sets on a daily rotating basis. So why not go back to basics and the oldest pastime known to Man?  We’re talking board games. Remember them? Those things you used to play before Pacman/GTA/FIFA took over your life. Surprise, surprise – they’re still around and, among all the old favourites, there are some excellent newer ones. And some really bad ones – but we won’t bother with those.

So, in no particular order, here are our Top Board Games.

Good luck, and happy squabbling:
 
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Dad Dancing

So the school dance is nearly finished and you are lingering in the hallway waiting for your cherished baby to emerge, exhausted from hours of trying to look cool on the dancefloor perimeter without ever actually dancing.......when Beiber's duclit tones suddenly float out into to the hallway. You want to boogie, you really do....... but there is the potential embarassment in front of other parents lingering nearby to consider and, worse,  some of your kids schoolfriends are already spilling out of the school hall and may see you.....what to do? It's the inevitable connundrum faced by all dads sooner or later. 

We want to hear your tips and experience to help your fellow dad clubbers to glide effortlessly through the Dad dancing minefield. Send us your clips and links. 
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From Fortnite fears to fathering fun

From Fortnite fears to fathering fun

Even for dads who grew up playing video games, the latest Fortnite craze of their sons and daughters can be a bit of a head scratch. Games have moved on since the original PlayStation and Nintendo 64, and with the WHO adding Gaming Disorder to its list of health issues and the NSPCC warning of Fortnite child predators, it’s easy to think we should ban them altogether.
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