Friday, 28 June 2013

Awww or aaarrggghh?

The secret to happiness is to know yourself and be comfortable with who you are. This is our core philosophy at Hapless Dad. I, for example, am a complete nob head. This is something I realised many years ago. I have tried to change this many times. I have worked extremely hard to live the life of a competent, socially capable individual. But this ended in tears (mostly mine). As a middle aged man I am now completely at ease with the fact that I am a nob head. It still results in tears but now they are mostly other people's. Result!

The same applies to parenting. Here at HD we want to help you to find your parenting style and, most importantly be comfortable with it. So take our interactive quiz to find out what kind of parent you are. When I say interactive, I mean you need a pen and paper.

Read each statement and identify which response would be your natural reaction. Remember there is no one watching you so BE HONEST! Next to each option is a number of points. At the end of the quiz add the points together to receive the gift of self knowledge.

Are you an aww parent or an aaarrrggghh parent?
1. Why did you decide to have children?
a) Having kids would make your life truly complete. (1)
b) A relative or friends had a baby and it looked just wonderful. (2)
c) You were drunk and your partner put you under pressure (3)
d) You wanted to be allowed to 'keep it in' for a change (4)
2. What was your birth experience like?
a) Wonderful and natural (1)
b) The most incredible experience of your life (2)
c) A bit of a nightmare but worth it in the end (3)
d) A cross between the exorcist and animal hospital but with drugs and without Rolf Harris (4)
3. What was your experience of having a new born?
a) You never ever wanted it to end (1)
b) Your favourite thing was the night feeds as you got a chance for an extra long cuddle (2)
c) It was hard but it brought you together as a family (3)
d) If you'd wanted something that did nothing but sleep and shit you'd have rescued a greyhound (4)
4. How would you describe the toddler years?
a) Every new day was a joy as our little man achieved each little landmark (1)
b) You enjoyed seeing progress and comparing achievements with other parents (2)
c) Physically and mentally exhausting but fun at the same time (3)
d) What the fuck was the point of coming out for a meal? If I'd wanted to spend my time pushing something round and round a car park while everyone else enjoyed themselves I'd have got a job as a trolley boy at ASDA. (4)
5. You come downstairs to find your child has spread poo all over the wall.
a) I couldn't possibly be without my child long enough for that to happen. I love him so much (1)
b) You and wife laugh hysterically at this comedy situation. Post on facebook and twitter and write in your childhood memories journal. (2)
c) What a nightmare but just one of those things. I'll get cleaning (3)
d) Fucking, fuckety, fuck arse!! From now on it stays in it's cage when we are having a lie in! (4)
6. You are considering a nursery for your child. What factors are important?
a) The one with best reputation. That's why we bought an extra house in this catchment area (1)
b) Somewhere your child will be happy and looked after. (2)
c) Somewhere recommended by a friend and not too expensive. (3)
d) Anywhere that will take them from 7.30 till 6 and aren't too diligent on checking the mobile number you give them.
7. It's time to start school. How do you react?
a) Devastation. I've lost my baby for good, lets have another one quickly. (1)
b) A few tears (from you) (2)
c) Not easy to let go but you are very proud of your little man. (3)
d) Thank fuck for that. "Can I have an form to enrol in breakfast club and after school club?" (4)
8. It's a rainy day. Which activity are you most likely to indulge in?
a) I love rainy days. We'll spend all day baking and then curl up together on the sofa. (1)
b) Get everyone in their wet weather gear and head outside looking for 'textures' (2)
c) Soft play with a group of like minded parents (3)
d) Staring out of the window cursing god while your kids watch telly all day. Let them play the Wii every now and then for variety. (4)
9. Which of these phrases are you most likely to say?
a) I just love being a parent. It makes me whole. (1)
b) The kids have really made our family. (2)
c) It's hard work but I wouldn't have it any other way. (3)
d) Unless you learn to change your own nappy I'm putting all your toys in the bin!
10. When are you completing this quiz?
a) When the kids are in bed and my partner is out. I don't want to waste any chances for time with any of them. (1)
b) When my partner is having some quality time with the kids. (2)
c) When the kids are occupied doing something fun. (3)
d) When the kids are locked in a sound proof room, trying to strangle each other whilst fighting over the remote. (5)
That's the quiz over. Once you have answered all the questions as truthfully as possible, add up your scores:
10 points: You are officially an aww! parent. Keep taking the Prozac!
11 - 20 points: You have definite aww traits! Something to keep an eye on!
20 - 30 points: You do like your kids but you understand parenting is hard work!
30 - 40 points: You are in the aaaargggh zone!
40 points: You are officially an aaaarrrgggh parent! Don't worry they'll be out of your hair in 18 years. But you'll still be paying!!
I hope our interactive quiz has been of use. It may have told you something new or confirmed what you new already. Either way be comfortable with what you are, its the secret to true happiness. Unless of course you scored 40 points in which case a life of never ending misery awaits.
Hapless Dad
If you have been effected by any of the topics covered in this quiz our online counsellors are available to chat through your results.

Sunday, 23 June 2013


This week the independent ran a story to warm the hearts of dad bloggers everywhere. It appears that the revolution has started. There has been a 150% increase in the number of dad bloggers in the last year. Approximately 250 of us are now using writing as an excuse to get away from the kids. A trickmums have known for some time - clever bastards!
There are many reasons why we blog. Some dads use it as therapy, some are trying to make it as writers, some, like me, use it to pretend we have a job and as a feeble attempt to get over a crippling addiction to alcohol and internet pornography. Whatever the reason we salute your efforts.
There are two distinct types of dad bloggers. For further information and to help identify yourself and your competition read my post 'The definitive guide to parent bloggers'

The second piece of news this week is the fantastic success of BritMumsLive 2013. Twitter and the blogging community has been alive with excitement. I say alive: I mean as alive as any of us can be after 3 hours sleep and a day spent with the toddler version of the Taliban. Hundreds of sexually starved blogging mums, and one blogging dad (lucky sod) spent several days enjoying each other's company and furthering the cause of bloggers. All this was achieved through a comprehensive list of guest speakers, expert opinion, networking and gin based cocktails.

Now is the time to capitalise on this success. Now is the time to create an event specifically for dad bloggers everywhere. So I take this opportunity to announce:

BritDadsLive 2014
Date: I'll let you know the day before. Dad's don't need time to plan as child care is already sorted.
Venue: Back room of 'spanks' lapdancing bar and snooker hall, Darlington.
Program for the day
Arrival and refreshments
As it’s morning, tea, coffee and cider will be available. Lager is an afternoon drink.
Chairman’s address
Opportunity to remember we haven’t elected a chairman yet.
Election of chairman
Small, uncontested group of control freaks with too much time on their hands put themselves forward. Lets be honest, we know it will be one of the posh dads.
Chairman’s address
A motivational, highly informative and hastily planned address from our new chairman.
Group text
All members text partner to say they miss them, ask how the kids are, pretend they didn’t want to come and that they are looking forward to coming home.
Confiscation of mobile phones
Self explanatory
Guest speaker:
Hairy Dave
Dad and self employed builder talks about his love of power tools, the Daily Sport crossword and 19th century impressionist art.
Girls from ‘spanks’ hand out tequila shots and Marlborough lights.
Guest speaker:
Chief Petty Officer ‘Salty’ McTavish RN
Royal Navy veteran and submariner extols the benefits of spending 6 months of the year away from the kids in a metal tube resting on the seabed off the coast of Gibraltar. He will also touch upon the latest trends in body art and the concept that ‘it’s not gay if it happens in a submarine’.
There is a Greggs round the corner. If you require vegetarian, you are at the wrong conference. BritMums was last week.
Unexpected delay to afternoon proceedings
This will give all delegates a chance to finish their fourth pint.
Toilet break
Chance for 14th piss for those delegates stupid enough to ‘break the seal’ before the afternoon session.
A Bridge Too Far
Showing of Second World War Classic to allow delegates to have a snooze.
Delegates can choose between the following:
1.       Bloogin for the iliterart
2.       Legal implications of perving on mums at playgroups
3.       Arm wrestling for the international traveller
4.       Cross dressing: the future of parenthood
Headline Speaker:
Sebastian Fanshaw
Successful blogger, freelance writer, architect, father of 10 and zen practitioner, talks about the joy of fatherhood and how dads should ‘man up’ and be the best father they can be. He will also be showing a slide show of his recent family skiing trip.
WARNING: All glass items will be removed from delegates at this point and replaced with plastic. Mr Fanshaw will be speaking from behind a protective mesh. Abusive behaviour will not be tolerated, much.
All broken items to be removed in preparation for next speaker.
Chairman’s closing address  
Our newly elected chairman will sum up the highlights of the day and offer thanks to our guests for their outstanding input. This will be followed swiftly by a vote of no confidence in the chairman and a resolution to replace him before next year’s conference.
Social and networking event
Proactive dads will take this opportunity to return home to help their wife make cakes with the kids. The rest of us will retire to ‘spanks’ to discuss the issues of the day. Our guests at this point will be a number of very attractive, ludicrously young and scantily clad, single mums showing various methods of earning extra money to support the family.
Rest our weary heads after a long, informative and exciting day. Already looking forward to next year.

 I hope the program for the event meets your discerning requirements. If you have any suggestions about content or some points you wish to raise before the event you can email me at:

I look forward to seeing you all on the day. Lets start the Dad's revolution!!!

Best wishes,

Hapless Dad

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Top 5 tips for dealing with sibling rivalry

Today's blog topic was suggested by @evansmeryl. Thank you!
Judging by the tweet I received, I think she was locked in the bathroom at the time while her two kids staged a reinactment of the battle of Stalingrad. She needed immediate, useful advice to deal with this issue. Sadly, I only just got round to writing this post and I've had no more tweets. Therefore I have to assume she is still locked in the bathroom and her phone's battery has run out. Her kids have now started eating out of the kitchen bin and have created a crude system of government based on extreme violence and jelly babies. Hopefully she'll escape soon and my valuable advice will insure this situation never rears it's ugly head again.
First things first. Our unofficial moto at HD is 'prevention is better than cure'. Our official moto is 'it's not what you've got its where you stick it' but that doesn't seem relevant in this case. So if you are reading this post and you are living a blissful existence with one child read my post lies, damned lies and siblings. This should prevent you from letting nature con you into having another. Remember, insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result!
For some of us it is too late. We've already succumbed to a few minutes extra sexy time and the tantalising thought that siblings will entertain each other. Or maybe nature has taken the decision making power away from you and given you twins. All I can say to that is, damn your partner's super strength sperm and your extremely hospitable ovaries!
Note of caution: Whatever you do, do not try to treat both siblings fairly with equal attention, praise and love. This will not work!! Sibling rivalry comes from an acute desire for mum's affection so while there is still breath in your alcohol ravaged body, sibling rivalry will exist. The solution to the problem is to take the completely opposite route.
  1. Punish both children for one child's misbehaviour. This will develop a team ethos and feeling of unity against a common! If possible link the children to some crude electrocuting device. This will ensure that both children can be punished even if one is staying with a relative.
  2. Enrol one child in a yoga class whilst letting the other take martial arts lessons. This will ensure there is physical and technical dominance so any fights won't last that long. It will also give the illusion that you are a good parent by involving your kids in physical activity.
  3. Buy one child's clothes from Hackett whilst kitting the other one out at the Army and Navy store. Sending your weaker sibling to parties dressed as a second world war Japanese General will lower their self esteem even further. This will ensure they give up without a fight. Suggest to other parents that your weaker sibling is 'quirky'. This will explain his unusual dress sense without alerting social services.
  4. Construct a reward chart weighted towards the strengths of the child you wish to promote. If you have a boy and a girl this is easy. Rewards could be given for, doing your own ponytail before school or keeping your dress clean. It is trickier of siblings are of the same sex but not impossible. Give rewards for people born in a certain year or with particular letters in their name or a certain eye colour.
  5. Only have one television. Many parents foolishly think the solution to arguments over TV programs is to have more than one telly. Don't fall into this trap is as it still wont work. There will be five tellies on at once and the kids will still fight in one room over Peppa Pig v Ben 10. First thing every day stage a mock MMA style physical battle between the kids, with a hastily constructed ring if possible. The winner gets the TV for the day, the loser has to clean the attic.
If you follow this advice you can guarantee that sibling rivalry will be eradicated. One child will develop an innate feeling of self confidence and superiority which will render attention seeking behaviour null and void. The other will be so crippled by self esteem issues that they wont even try.

On a final note remember that sibling rivalry, at its core, is a competition for mum's affection. Mimic the behaviour of your partner by ignoring the kids as much as possible, shouting for no apparent reason and giving overly severe punishments for minor infractions. After a while the kids will avoid you as much as they do your husband.

Good luck and god speed!



Monday, 17 June 2013

Top tips for surviving labour, for dads

Following on from last week's extremely successful guest blog topic type feature I have been given another excellent suggestion from the world of twitter.

Many thanks to @muckyshroom for this little gem.
Get involved in the birth experience, but not too much
I wrote a post last month which included a description of our first ante natal class. To cut a long story short, at the start of the meeting the stunningly attractive midwife (by now I would have shagged a lamppost) wanted to go round the room to get introductions. The expectant mums gave their names, a brief background, their hopes for the future and their concerns about birth and early motherhood. The men in the room were not asked to contribute. 
This pretty much summed up my experience of pregnancy.
I suspect any dads reading this will also have experienced the 'foreskin at a Jewish wedding' feeling during scans. Was I expected to be there? yes! Did the medical staff actively include me in the process? no!
At HD we don't want this situation to continue. So this post is specifically for all the dads out there who are about to enter the birthing room with no information other than what their partner has given them. And we all know how selective that can be! Mrs Hapless only informs me about 1 in every 8 pairs of boots she buys. So you have to assume this ratio applies to all partner generated information. Your partner will tell you that 'it was all in the booklet'. That's just cunning female trickery as she knows full well you don't read instructions.
So here we go. HDs top tips for surviving labour:
  1. Whatever you do, don't have your baby at the Heath Hospital in Cardiff. It would be much less stressful to give birth in a crack den on an Albanian housing project. It's a nicer environment and there'll be less chance of developing infection.
  2. At some point prior to the birth, observe your partner having a poo. Seeing this in the comfort of your own home will prepare you for the inevitable evacuation when pushing.
  3. Do not under any circumstances attempt humour. Medical staff have heard all your jokes before, however well constructed, and they have no sense of humour. When my first child was born I told my wife he had 11 fingers like the rest of her family. This resulted in a flurry of counting.
  4. Before the birth your partner will make you promise certain things. Agree at the time but under no circumstances carry them out. Suggesting quietly that "you said you really didn't want an epidural" will go down like a mug of sick.
  5. Get some DVD box sets from the library. These days you can't go in to hospital until the baby's head, shoulders and arse are visible. Your partner will be much happier if she knows you have something to do while the contractions get closer together. I got through two series of The West Wing.
  6. Take several books. On telly, babies fly out like a canon ball. In reality, labour can equate to at least two John Grishams or seven Jeffrey Archers.
  7. Check the credentials of the medical staff. During my son's birth the clueless midwife handed proceedings over to a student doctor who happened to be passing. It was only afterwards that I considered the possibility that he was in fact an escaped mental patient. Although he did do a fine job.
  8. Avoid certain phrases during the process. These include "what in the name of Christ is that?" and "nurse, is this normal?". I would also suggest staying away from "hurry up love, the Welsh game is on in an hour".
  9. Make sure you have input on the birth method. If your partner wants a home birth you will be the one who has to tidy up before everyone arrives, and clean your cream rug afterwards. If you go for a water birth you will see your perfect little baby rise majestically to the service. However, she will be accompanied by blood, urine, placenta and poo. If there is a choice I would suggest a c section. Your partner may feel she has missed out on the experience but it will preserve pelvic floor integrity for when she finally agrees to a bit of sexy time three years later. 
  10. Take out a bank loan. People tell you having kids is expensive. To this day the most I have spent was at the hospital. A cot and pram might seem steep but believe me it is nothing compared to the cost of a week's hospital parking, coffee and pasties the price of gold.
So there you have it. HDs top tips for surviving labour, for dads.
One final tip. Under no circumstances film the event. It might seem a good idea at the time but where exactly are you planning to show the recording? No one else will be able to see it without vomiting and you and your partner will spend the rest of your life trying to block the experience out of your mind.
Good luck!


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Definitive guide to parent bloggers.

There are a lot of parent bloggers out there. Many are doing it for fun. Many are trying to make it as writers and want to get their stuff 'out there'. Many are using blogging as a desperate attempt to recover from the inevitable bipolar disorder caused by having kids. Many, like me, use blogging as an excuse to pretend I'm doing something productive rather than admitting I am a work shy sofa monkey. But which ones should you read? When you enter the blogging/twitter world you assume you are joining a community that thinks as one, based purely on your interpretation of what parenting looks, feels and smells like. You could not be more wrong.

So here at HD we have decided to produce the definitive guide to parent bloggers. There are only four variations of the species. Read the guide, learn to recognise the signs. Choose carefully

Type 1: The Stepford mum:

Appearance: Practically perfect in every way. Gets up at 4am to achieve this flawless look.
Profession: Gave up highly paid career in PR to be a stay at home mum.
Number of children: However many is on trend. 3 seems to be the number de jour.
Diet: Doesn't eat, in order to keep svelt figure and prevent husband running off with the top heavy Swedish au pair.
Alcohol consumption: 400 units per day to retain fixed smile. Selects drink appropriate to function but drinks gin continuously when no one is looking.
Habitat: Home counties, cafes that sell posh coffee, PTA meetings
Birth experience: Natural and wonderful
Typical blog post: How to make muffins with your wonderful kids
Typical twitter post: Pic of me and Olivia with our lovely muffins.

Type 2: Trailer park mum

Appearance: Rough, but also surprisingly hot.
Profession: Tabloid journalist or sales manager turned stay at home mum due to breakdown after returning to work. Don't think this woman is working class. Working class people don't blog.
Number of children: One or two but certainly no more than absolutely necessary
Diet: Pizza, curry, Chinese and whatever is left on the kids plates
Alcohol: End of the isle Chatuex Thames embankment. First drink secured when kids get home from school
Habitat: Soft play, psychiatrists office
Birth experience: Aaaaaaarrggghhh! Give me fucking drugs you fucking bitch! You are never shagging me again you selfish wanker!
Typical blog post: Motherhood gave me a fat arse
Typical twitter post: My fucking daughter has just fucking crapped on the fucking carpet

Type 3: Proactive dad

Appearance: Handsome in a friendly and approachable kind of way. Attends the gym regularly.
Profession: Architect, interior designer, freelance writer, stay at home dad.
Number of children: As many as his sperm count can cope with.
Diet: Eats extremely healthily in order to have energy to enjoy the kids. Presently in to Moroccan
Alcohol: Shares bottle of expensive red with partner when kids are staying somewhere else. Wouldn't feel right about drinking when the kids are at home.
Habitat: Playgroups, expensive gyms, Milan on business.
Birth experience: The most incredible experience of his life. Fulfilled his role of birth partner with perfection.
Typical blog post: Why your kids deserve the best dad you can be.
Typical twitter post: Today I'm teaching Sebastian how to ski. I love him so much.

Type 4: Reluctant Dad

Appearance: Boyish good looks have faded due to pent up anger, smoking too much and getting no sleep. Muffin top.
Profession: Teacher turned oil rig worker after having kids ruined his long holidays.
Number of children: Depends on category of wife. Persuaded to breed in order to have some extra sexy time and thought that in 17 years time he can get lifts to the pub.
Diet: Steak and chips, eaten in shed as wife is on diet.
Alcohol: Has significant problem but thinks all is well as he doesn't touch spirits.
Habitat: Rugby club, football club, local pub, mostly after work to delay home time as much as possible. Kids parties when all female relatives, friends or casual acquaintances are unavailable.
Birth experience: Arrived late. Spent a lot of time saying "Jesus Christ what the fuck is that? Nurse is this normal?"
Typical blog post: 10 ways to secure a job abroad.
Typical twitter post: I think my son might be retarded.

So there you have it. HD's definitive guide to parent bloggers. Make sure you spend time identifying the different variations of the species to make sure you find your spiritual home. Making the right choice can offer comfort, support and a feeling of community. Making the wrong choice can make that massive vein on your forehead bulge like you are a short taxi drive away from a heart attack.

You have been warned!!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Do the Daddy Wars exist?

This is a first for Hapless Dad. We've toyed with celebrity guest bloggers before. Well, once until I ran out of celebrities I knew. But we've never had blog content suggested by someone else. Well here it is, a milestone in the HD world. A blog post inspired by one of my ever plateauxing band of followers on twitter.

Thank you @OverHonestMumma for the inspiration.

So, the daddy wars! My first challenge when writing this post was to find out what in the name of arse 'the daddy wars' are. After literally minutes of top level research on a range of unsubstantiated web sites I have the answer. I'll put this as simply as I can as I know the readers of HD are simple minded folk. At least I hope so, otherwise there will be lots of very disappointed people reading this blog.

Imagine, if you will, a stay at home dad. Thrown into the situation by redundancy. Or the fact that his partner earns substantially more than him. Or the fact that he has some kind of weird perversion for new mums and wants a good reason to hang out in playgroups. A perfectly common situation in today's modern parenting world. There are many thousands of stay at home dads who perform all domestic and child related tasks with great success. Does he want to be there? No, of course he doesn't. I went to a playgroup once. I'm not sure who felt more uncomfortable, me, the mums or the toddlers. However circumstances dictate that, instead of flying to Monaco on a private jet full of glamour models, he must clean up a range of bodily excretions, wash pants and make dinner.

Now, take this on a stage further. Imagine a stay at home dad who is not reluctant. Imagine a stay at home dad who handles the kids and the domestic chores out of choice. Unusual? yes. Impossible? no. Some dads do actually like their children. They actually welcome the chance to be involved in their early upbringing. A chance to cement that special bond between father and child.......... and to perv on mums at playgroups.

Here is where things get a little scary. Imagine a stay at home dad who competes and argues with his spouse about who gets time with the children. Imagine a stay at home dad who, despite his higher income, demands his right to stay at home leaving his wife to put food on the table. Imagine a stay at home dad who actively voices negative opinions towards dads who go out to work. Imagine a stay at home dad who indulges in school car park politics like he was born for it. Crucially he does not do any of this for the chance to perv on new mums. This my friends is 'the daddy wars'. It is the hot topic on American parenting websites, blogs and in the press. The male equivalent of the battle raging between working women and stay at home mums for the moral high ground.

The question posed was do the daddy wars exist? Or is this just another fairy tale dreamed up by circulation hungry newspaper editors? Like the Loch Ness monster or water retention?

Well, in the six years I've been a parent I've never experienced such a phenomenon. I have friends who are stay at home dads for reasons beyond their control. They battle on courageously and alone. They don't want to access the support network enjoyed by mums, because that would be weird.

I did once meet a guy who came close. In my one solitary excursion to a playgroup there was another man there. He hadn't bought a book like I had. He was, what can only be described as, 'chatting' to the mums. He was interacting with children that weren't actually his. He even came over to introduce himself to me in some sort of attempt to make me feel included. I definitely did not want to be included. I questioned my wife about this later. Apparently this chap was a stay at home dad who attended all local parent, toddler functions. The mums were friendly and inclusive towards him although they secretly thought he was there to perv.

What I have noticed however, is a definite difference of attitude between men of different classes and social groups. I am from a very working class background but I now live in a very affluent, middle class area. When I attend functions with my kids in my posh town the dads are very hands on and, dare I say it, jolly. They shop at Boden and they behave in a very interactive way on bouncy castles. They buy flats in certain streets to get into the right school catchment. They claim to have taught their three year old Sudoku.

Back in my home town things are very different. I went to a kids party there recently. It was held in a pub, of course. The kids ran riot with a myriad of mums, grans and aunts in tow. Meanwhile men of all generations stood clinging to the bar in an all round defensive position. A look of sheer terror on their faces. The most common phrase uttered was "this is a fucking nightmare". When viewed from a distance it was reminiscent of a group of sailors clinging to a life raft in shark infested waters.

A broad generalisation? Of course. But it is my experience in the area I live. I'm sure things are very different in that posh London like.

So, from what I've seen 'the daddy wars' is a myth. Certainly in the provincial towns and cities beyond the Bermuda triangle type effects of the M25. However, we all know that what happens over the pond will happen here eventually. It'll start in the posher bits of London and work its way out, like some sort of infection riddled crop circle.

I have to assume that in a generation's time my son will be actively and vocally belittling dads who go out to work. Either that or feeling intense guilt at leaving the house every morning to head off to the factory.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Post natal depression in men

The irony of a room full of men who hadn’t had sex in months surrounded by women whose boobs had never been bigger was not lost on me. However, something happened in that first ante natal session which was a source of amusement at the time but has shaped my experience of early fatherhood.

The staggeringly attractive midwife (by this time lamp posts were starting to look attractive) began the session by suggesting we ‘go round the room’ so everyone could introduce themselves. With that in mind I rehearsed my answer. The ladies introduced themselves and talked about birth plans, worries and hopes for the future. The men weren’t asked to contribute.

According to a recent study more than two men in ten suffer from post natal depression. The study, conducted by Eastern Virginia Medical School, looked at research from 43 countries and concluded that it can affect up to 25 percent of men. Most at risk are those first time dads or those whose wives are suffering.

The media would have us believe that men are succumbing to the combination of tiredness, extra responsibility and a lap full of sick. I think the reason is much simpler than that. Modern man is required to operate in an environment for which he is unprepared, technically or emotionally. As are new mums I hear you cry! But crucially the world of the new parent is still just as unprepared for the intrusion of men.

A friend of mine is a fire fighter, whose wife has a full time job. Due to the nature of his shift pattern and his wife’s working arrangements he spends his four days off with his baby daughter. Where does he take her to spend that quality daddy daughter time? Does he attend the local church playgroup with all the other dads? Does he catch up with his stay at home dad friends over a vanilla latte? No he doesn’t because, whilst nobody says dads can’t go to playgroup, and many do, it just doesn’t really sit right does it? I went once. I’m not sure who felt more uncomfortable me, the regular mums or the toddlers.

There is a chance that the lack of support for new dads is an urban myth, like water retention or Ed Milliband. There is the possibility that my experience was unique and that all the other new dads in my area were practically swimming in organised, professional and informal support which really helped to get them through that first unforgettable, magical time the whole house had stomach flu.

A quick internet search for “support for new dads” reveals a number of articles about post natal depression in men and some self help guides. They all suggest that if men feel a tad grumpy, or want to launch the baby out of a moving car, they should definitely seek help. They don’t suggest where to look.

Unfortunately, we all know men won’t seek any help. We don’t ask for directions, we don’t look at instructions and we certainly don’t go to the doctor, not until we are at least 85 or we can’t sit comfortably to watch antiques road show because we have a prostate the size of a basketball.

And herein lays the real irony. Men are the least likely to seek help or support and yet they have to work hardest to find it. Women are presented with countless opportunities to develop those real, personal support networks that help them through the early years from the moment they are peeing all over their hand in the toilets of a 24hr Tesco whilst reading the instructions on the box.

So how have the early years affected me? Well, I’m a man so clearly I don’t suffer from depression and I don’t know any man that does. It appears however that I have at some point exhibited all the symptoms. I have had moments when I can’t sleep at all or have slept 15 hours. I’ve gone days without really talking to anyone. My children have had to deal with the sharp end of a short temper and a complete lack of joy in any activity involving them. Friends, family and work colleagues have voiced concerns. The manager of my local off licence pokes me on facebook.

In the absence of ready-made support my coping strategies have been many and varied. I exercise, alot! I’ve also been lucky enough to occasionally discuss the stresses and strains with female friends, colleagues and family. I even once tried to talk to a mate. We’d been in the pub all day, I told him I was a crap father, he cried, we’ve never mentioned it since.

I am not suggesting the early years are harder for men than women, far from it. The stress affects everyone. It can ruin lives and destroy families. The key is to have a support network, whether professional or informal, to help you through those difficult times. It won’t guarantee you get through things unscathed but your chances are much better.  Women are able to tap into this vital resource, men, on the whole, are not. This distinction was evident right from that first ante natal meeting.

A generation ago my response to the stresses of a baby would be to let my wife deal with it while I spent many hours in the shed with a gallon of home brew some well thumbed pornography and radio 2. The noughties man has to do so much more, to be so much more. To do that, and avoid the destructive power of depression, our support network needs to start keeping pace with us.


Monday, 10 June 2013

Fantastic Father's Day Ideas

It is that time of year where mums and kids all over the world show their appreciation for the wonderful dad in their life. You know the type: successful, handsome, proactive, probably wears a gillet and can often be seen cavorting on a bouncy castle. If you have a dad like this in your world there are so many ideas for gifts. Racing days, flying lessons, aftershave, expensive whiskey the list in endless.

However, what do you do when the dad in your life is shit? That's where Hapless Dad comes in. As the spiritual home of crap dads everywhere we have come up with the essential guide to Father's Day. You have to do something but let's be honest, both you and your kids think he's crap so you don't want to overdo it. Otherwise he'll get above himself and his already mediocre efforts will get even worse, if that's possible. Plus, you want a chance to get your own back for his years of chronic ineptitude.

  1. Make him breakfast in bed. Men only eat in bed in 'Sex and the City'. Try to make something which produces a lot of crumbs. This will maximise annoyance. Or even better get the kids to make it. A three year old girl's effort will be infinitely worse than yours.
  2. Get the kids to chose the presents. Only proactive dads like it when the kids choose. Kids can't get served in any of the shops that good presents live in. Fact!
  3. Arrange for a special day out with the kids. I don't think this requires any further explanation.
  4. Take him out for lunch. Nothing is more guaranteed to hit your message home than by spoiling his favourite restaurant by cramming it with miserable blokes and their odious children.
  5. Buy him a present which highlights his shortcomings. Gardening gloves, a new drill, cookery lessons, a book entitled "aren't kids just the bestest thing". Decide on the weakness you wish to focus on and choose accordingly.
  6. Buy gift vouchers. Nothing says "I can't be arsed" more than buying a gift voucher. Try to get one for somewhere he doesn't want to shop, like B and Q.
  7. Get the kids to make him a card. Dad's don't read cards anyway so a feeble effort covered in glue and a picture of your son's favourite skylander will hugely diminish the gesture.
  8. Get him 'something for the house'. Since you got married every single anniversary present has been 'something for the house'. Take it a stage further and do it for Father's Day. Choose something you've wanted for a while, like some more cushions or a complicated piece of furniture he'll have to put together.
  9. Get yourself a saucy costume or some fancy underwear. You know he wont go near you for fear of pregnancy but you can honestly say you made an effort.
  10. Arrange for him to have a day out with his dad. This is the holy grail of crap father's day presents as you get to ruin two father's days at once.

So there you have it. A veritable feast of Father's Day ideas for the woman who just wants to say, "you're shit!"

Friday, 7 June 2013

Laura Kemp

They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Today Hapless Dad welcomes the enemy right into the flabby middle aged bosom of manhood. In the first of our guest blogger series HD Welcomes Laura Kemp.

Anti-yummy mummy, journalist and author, Laura's first book 'Mums like us' is available from all good bookshops, and a couple of shit ones. Her new book 'Mums on strike' will be available from 2014. She writes extensively on parenting issues and can often be found filling, previously un-fillable bits of the Daily Mail, Parentdish, Grazia and many, many more. She writes a weekly column on Walesonline. You can follow Laura on twitter @Laurajanekemp or visit her website Failing that, hang around your local off-licence. You'll bump into her eventually.

Anyway enough of that malarkey! Lets get on with who's the crapest parent! A series of randomly generated questions designed to assess the ineptitude of guest parents V Hapless Dad. You decide who wins!

Have you ever sworn in front of your son/kids?
LK:  Only when he's getting on my tits.
HD: I don’t use the C word. I don’t consider anything else as swearing.

What's the worst thing you've done as a parent?

LK: Either the other week when he woke up at 6am and I dozed off until 9am, when I found him slumped in front of the telly, complaining "my tummy's a bit rumbly". Or the time I turned up CBeebies to drown out the sound of me vomiting thanks to a hangover. 

HD: Having a second child in full and total awareness of what an arsehole of a father I already was.

Do you let your son/kids sleep in his/their clothes?

LK: I wish I could get away with this but he's too much of a livewire at bedtime to pass out in his day clothes. Bedtime is such a palaver, I agree to him taking something - anything - with him. That includes the iPad, his Trunkie and felt tips. I couldn't care less when he writes on the walls - I'm that desperate to have some peace. 

HD: Whenever Mrs Hapless is out. When she once stayed away for the night I let my son go to school in the uniform he had slept in.

How long did the, giving my son/kids healthy food, phase last?

LK: This is the one thing I'm obsessed with. My friends call me The Broccoli Nazi. But as long as he's had his fruit and veg he can eat as many sweets as he can stuff in his gob.

HD: Child number one had better food than I did. Child number two was given liquidized McDonalds

What made you have kids in the first place?

LK: Stupidity.

HD: The promise of daily sexy time safe in the knowledge that “it might take years to get pregnant”

How much TV do your kids watch?

LK: Put it this way, he is on intimate terms with Barry Scott of Cillit Bang fame. 

HD: TV runs from 5am. My son even knows the theme tune to TJ Hooker off of the 80s. Annoyingly my daughter is not interested preferring to ‘interact’ with us.

Have you ever used phrases your mum or dad used?

LK: When asked where something is, I use my mum's favourite of phrases "it's under my left armpit".

HD: “ I’ll give you something to cry about now lovely boy!”

What lies have you told your kids?

LK: I prefer to tell the brutal truth.

HD: That when you hear the tune of the ice cream van, it means they are out of stock.

What time do you start on the vino?

LK: When it's five o'clock somewhere.

HD: What she said!

What's the hardest thing about being a parent?

LK: The fact there's no lunch hour or holidays

HD: The fact that holidays are now always shit.
So there you have it. You make your choice. Who is the crapest parent? You can post your verdict here on the blog or tweet me @haplessdadblog.
Our weekly guest celebrity feature is set to run and run. Next week's guest will be Dot Davies, the thinking man's Gabby Logan, TV presenter, face of Sport Wales, and mum of two. It might get tricky after that as I'll have run out of famous people I know but I'm ever hopeful.