Rising COVID in Europe, UK lockdown that looks set to last and the US attempted coup. Stressful times that will sap your patience, suck you into social media, make you stay up later than is good, sleep worse, and take your attention away from your children. That’s what’s happened to me at the beginning of this week. I felt bloody awful.

After catching myself, I returned to what I call my oxygen mask routine — all the things that I know help me get back on a better track. Went for a run, had a bath and thought about what…

I’m writing this at 6:20am on a Friday in January 2021, before anyone else is up. I realised on my way downstairs, as I passed his room, how proud I am of my eldest son. Last night when I was putting him to bed, he asked me what thing made me happy today and what thing I was looking forward to tomorrow.

I told him and then asked why he’d asked.

‘It’s so boring at the moment’ he said.

‘We’re living in lockdown, again. If I don’t think about good things, I just think about how boring everything is. …

What with Biden in and Trump out, and various vaccines making their way into the veins of many millions, it feels like maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start looking forward a bit further ahead in life.

It feels like when you’re out in nature, on a long walk, and you crest a hill, or emerge from the woods. Suddenly everything opens out, your world expands and you can see the horizon. I always stop and look around in those moments. …

Rising COVID in Europe, UK lockdown that looks set to last and the US attempted coup. Stressful times that will sap your patience, suck you into social media, make you stay up later than is good, sleep worse, and take your attention away from your children. That’s what’s happened to me at the beginning of this week. I felt bloody awful.

After catching myself, I returned to what I call my oxygen mask routine — all the things that I know help me get back on a better track. Went for a run, had a bath and thought about what…

I don’t know about you, but for me, everything feels so bloody hard at the moment.

Lockdown, governmental madness (unless you’re in NZ, lucky you), WFH, shorter days, longer nights and no end in sight.

But, but, but, but. BUT.

Like my old rugby coach used to say, if you look at the opposition in front of you, you’re not going to hit the gap, you’re going to get tackled. If you look for the gap, there’s much more chance you’ll get through it.

That’s the thing with parenting, it’s a struggle all the time, whether we’re in a pandemic…

Bar breathing, very few things come naturally, without effort. Our children teach us that. We get to see up close that everything needs to be learned — to roll over, eat, walk, talk — everything.

It’s a steady structural construction. We learn how to pull ourselves up before we can learn to walk. We have to learn to walk before we can learn to run. One thing on top of the other. Slowly but surely.

But modern life moves fast. It shifts our expectations higher and higher. My kids and I have been watching the Mandalorian series. My youngest, 9…

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Confidence.

Too much makes us arrogant and liable to take too much risk. Too little dooms us to never achieving because we never try. Getting the balance right has a huge influence on how our lives pan out and our satisfaction in life too.

Confidence is how much trust we have in ourselves. Parenting is a huge challenge to our confidence. We face it with no preparation or training. But, if approached right, parenting is a deep and rich way to build confidence.

The real basics, like nappy changes and pre-journey ‘have you gone to the loo’s?’ we pick up…

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“It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

Sherlock Holmes — A Scandal in Bohemia

We’ve been away camping, which gave me thinking time. Especially compared to life at home, with its phones and games and school and TV and work and friends and families. Holiday life is simpler.

One morning, we were planning the day, a walk down to the beach, picnic lunch then a longer walk up along the coast in the afternoon. Over the years we’ve learned that while one son won’t go in the sea, because he hates the feeling of dried salt on skin, the other will be in the sea for as…

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From Death of a Working Hero, one of Grayson’s tapestries.

Grayson Perry is a remarkable man. In 1964, aged four, his mum had an affair with the milkman. His dad left. The milkman became Grayson’s stepdad. He was violent. Grayson talks about hiding from him in the garden shed, where he’d play an imaginary world with his teddy bear, Alan Measles. He describes Alan as a surrogate father, rebel leader, fighter, pilot and undefeated racing driver.

Grayson went on to art college and is now one Britain’s most celebrated living artists and broadcasters. His wife is Philippa. She is an incredible woman. She wrote The Book You Wish Your Parents…

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Me and my boys.

A friend of mine is expecting his first child. Becoming a parent is a huge life event. For him it’s even bigger, because they’ve been trying for a long time. He asked me what it’s like being a dad.

I’ve spent eleven years as a parent and five years deeply exploring fatherhood through BeingDads. I’ve spent lots of time thinking and writing about what being a dad means, how to be a better one, how it changes you, why it’s amazing and what makes it hard. But until he asked, I’d never thought about describing it. Which is strange, because…

David Willans

Working out how to be the best dad I can be at www.beingdads.com | @Being_Dads.

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