Daddy and Munchkin Blog
Encouraging Children to Read

Children often love to read without motivation but sometimes they need some encourgement. For example, statistics have shown that previously, only 58% of children enjoy to read and only 30.8% read daily (based on 49,049 children and young people aged eight to 18). I believe what we do to stimulate reading enjoyment in Munchkin will hopefully make him one of those 50%, be it making it fun, accessible or part of routine.

Make books visible and accessible

How many times do you want or need to do something but can’t be bothered because the thing you need is in a different room or upstairs? Its the same with reading. Keep books accessible and visible. Put them in their bedroom, and downstairs in their play room or share the bottom shelf of the bookcase so they are always on hand.

Once, we were trying to be more tidy and conseuqently, Munchkins books became less visible. We instantly noticed a dramatic decline in the amount he actively chose to read. We quickly realised that, as he would not see books he would therefore not be enticed to read them.

Make it routine

The easiest way to start reading with young children is to make it part of the routine. We have always let Munchkin choose two books before bed and offer them whenever he wants to do change activity. Sometimes one book leads two and then to a whole stack of them.

Incite their imagination

Incite their imagination by expanding on the story. Try asking ‘what could happen next?’ or ‘what noise would that animal make?’ or ‘what would your super power be? We find you can talk around the book for much longer than just simply reading it, and it adds much more value and learning to the story. I find it makes it much more interesting too, especially if its one of their favourites they have asked you to read on repeat.

Similarly, maintain your enthusiasm, no matter how many times you have read a certain book. Reading to children should always be approached with enthusiasm and emphasis, and this should be the case whether its the first read or the 50th.

Don’t restrict reading to books.

Reading shouldn’t just be with books. Engage in reading whenever the moment arises. For example, Munchkin likes to sound out letters on notices and road signs, when we walk, and we tell him what they say. Real life learning on the go at its best.

Let them read to you. Even before they can.

I got this little nugget from Munchkin himself. Sometimes he wants to take the driving seat and read to us, ‘Daddy read this one, (Munchkin) read this one’. Its a great way to see a book through his eyes and allows us to incite his imagination by asking around what he picks up, next time. It’s honestly surprising how much of a story Munchkin can relay at just two years 4 months old.

Get books related to their interests

Seems an obvious one, as no one likes to read things that do not interest them, but its essential advice. If they like peppa pig, she has books, if they love the ocean, you can get plenty about the sea, if they like being eco-friendly there’s books for that too and of course, Duggee has them (woof woof!).

It would be no surprise to you that Munchkin loves a bit of nature if you saw his book collection with ‘woods’, ‘under the sea’ and nature crossovers like ‘flamingo play’s bingo’.

Incorporate books into play

Consider setting up an activity around a book theme. For example, set up a nature play zone around ‘That’s not my hedgehog’, or get a book on trains and get the tracks out. The options are endless.

Talk around the written words

While its lovely to read the book word for word, it can stimulate their imaginations by adding extra details. Put simply, just say what you see.

Thanks for reading, enjoy reading more books!

Do you have any tips to encourage reading in your children?

Daddy and Munchkin

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Ways for Dads to bond with a Newborn

From the moment you enter the maternity ward, your world flips upside down. You used to be the decider of your sleep schedule and knew roughly what time of day it was by how you felt. Suddenly, as you appear from that sauna hot room of first cries, sweat and tears, everything has changed. Your now a Dad and so here’s some tips to help bond with that little ball of cuteness.

Rewind! Bonding starts with the bump

I got a little ahead of myself there. Bonding actually starts way before you even think about packing your hospital bag. From six months of ‘cooking’ inside Mummy’s belly, your little one can begin to learn. I’ll admit its weird at first, but then this is the time to introduce yourself, so they know who you are from day one. Oh and so they are used to your terrible singing voice from the onset!

Hello, little one

From day one there are many things you can do to build your bond, many of which are super simple.

Be present

No little one is going to bond with someone who isn’t there. Make sure you’re at home and engaged with the new arrival. Cancel some pub trips, sport or xbox time, get on the sofa, and have a snuggle. Share the feeds, where possible and get up during the night, and share the feeds and nappy changes. Sit by the bath and help at bath time. Read a book at bedtime. Just be there.

Do things babies enjoy

It may seem obvious. But engage with the new baby by doing the things babies enjoy. Pull faces, smile, sing, rock, snuggle, and be the general goof you know you are. You’ll be rewarded by looks of joy, later smiles and then giggles.

Display affection with kisses and cuddles and have some skin to skin time. It works just as well for Dad just as much as Mum.

Have some one on one time

This has a double benefit. It gives Mum some time for some ‘me’ time and gives you time with your new child alone. Go for a walk, and get the satisfaction of all the smiles you get from passers-by. Or go one further, take your baby to ‘Rhyme time’ or ‘Messy play’ or ‘Baby massage’.

If you really want to go to town, and your other half doesn’t mind returning to work early, do we me and my Wifey did, and share parental leave. My wife Natalie took the first six months, and I took the latter. This meant I had 8 hours on one on one with Munchkin every week day and boy, did we have fun. You can read about SPL (shared parental leave) in this post.

And that’s as simple

Thanks for reading, do you have any other tips?

And if you are a new Dad, have a read of ‘Five tips for a New Dad‘ which echoes similar sentiments to this post with other tips for new Dads.

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Five tips for a New Dad

You are excited, but apprehensive. You make the most of those final full nights rest before being flung into a world of changing nappies, sleepless nights but magical moments. Everything changes, so here are my five tips for a new parent, from my experience.

Day one for me

1. Share the Responsibility.

This is 2021, and parenting isn’t the Mum’s job, so its time to share everything. Share the piles of baby washing, the feeding (if you can), the bath times and the bum changes. Chances are you are both equally knackered, so make it the best for you both.

Oh that note, don’t sleep through the night feeds (as hard as that can be). I would always wake, and ask if there was anything I could do or if Natalie wanted some company. This meant I’d usually do the bum change, then pass to Natalie for a feed.

2. Remain in the moment

I started blogging and my Instagram during time off with our Munchkin, but this is where time begins to fly. So pull yourself away from your devices and have some quality time with your little one. You can read about my realisation of this in ‘Living in the Present‘.

3. It can be overwhelming. Take some ‘me’ time.

This could sound like the opposite of points 1 & 2, but its also important to have some time to yourself. Make time for whatever helps you unwind, as all that play and baby books could send you a tad crazy. So make a deal with your partner to give an hour to them, and half one yourself.

4. Split all the jobs and always offer to help

Similar to point one, split all the other jobs. Take a 50:50 approach and see how it helps. My wifey and I split everything, from the cleaning, to the washing to the garden. As a result, there’s never a disagreement and with a little baby around, that’s more important than ever.

5. Make time for your partner

It’s easy to spend all your time on your little one and forget about each other. It may seem silly, but it can be good to schedule in a ‘date night’ or trip away (when permitted) while the Grandparents get some baby time. We had a spa night away in Munchkin’s first year. It was great to have some chill time and some ‘us’ time.

Do you have any other tips for new dads? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

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10 things I’ve Lately Learnt as a parent.

Last time I wrote one of these posts things were different (find it here). We were allowed out of the house for non essential reasons, Munchkin was a tiny 8 month old, and our biggest fears were feeding Munchkin the right things. So at two years old, here’s the latest things we have learnt.

1. Even as they sleep through the night the tiredness continues

You fool yourself that tiredness will improve as they master sleeping through the night. But no, the days become more demanding, and as a result you are equally sleepy.

2. They grow up too fast

It’s a line you’ve heard before and its true. One minute they stay still, the next they are running from room to room. One minute they giggle and ‘ga ga’ and the next they sing full lullabys and demand what they want, when they want it. Time flies when you are a parent.

3. Parenting (at this age) improves lockdown

I think we are lucky we have Munchkin in lockdown. We haven’t lost our minds with boredom or completed Netflix. Entertaining him keeps us entertained and consequently improves our lockdown.

4. They copy every thing you do

This thought always takes me back to that old smoking advert showing toddlers smoking crayons as they copy their parents. But its apparent daily how munchkin picks up little mannerisms or turn of phrase. Often surprisingly quickly.

5. If they like to climb, every household object is a climbing frame

We’ve got a climber in Munchkin. Every time he’s quiet he’s either mounting a dining chair or jumping on the sofa. The world is his playground, which means we need eyes in the back of our heads.

6. Nursery is amazing for development, albeit blooming expensive

We can’t fault our decision to use nursery, although it costs a bomb. He learns something everyday, grows in confidence and it gives him the opportunity to see and bond with others his age (especially important right now!)

7. You will eventually get bored of certain programmes

Don’t worry Dugee, there’s always room for you, but move over Teletubbies and In the Night Garden, if I never see a Ninky Nonk or Tubby custard again it will be too soon.

8. The last stage always seems easier

When they progress through the developmental stages, you are always eager for the next stage. But when they come, you always miss the ease of the last. The important note here is to live in the moment, moving on from the past and not looking into the future. Just enjoy the here and now.

9. You shouldn’t feel offended when they don’t choose you

As they find their voice, they start to make choices, and this includes which parent should do what. Munchkin went through a 100% Mummy phase, to a 100% Daddy phase and now its mostly 50:50 again. It is believed that when your child begins to choose, its because they feel safe and secure, so it should never offend as saddening as it may be.

10. There is no parenting manual

This needs no explanation. All our children are different and therefore there’s no manual or rule book that dictates when things should happen. If there was, Munchkin would have been late for all the gross motor targets. But now hes running about like an Olympic runner so all is good.

learnt as a parent

Thanks for reading,

If you want to see what we learnt at Eight months, check it out here.

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Living In the Present

When you start to gain followers, or you are even simply posting or chatting to your friends, its easy to be hooked to our devices. Even before having Munchkin, I’d use my phone as a comfort blanket, allowing me to avoid conversation at ease when I felt uncomfortable.

However, I have recently had the realisation, when I think about Munchkin’s future, that while having a phone may be essential for him one day, we want him to prefer to play a game with us, read a book or get outside.

It is also stark when you have a look at that bit in your settings which monitors your app usage. I’m not going to say a number of hours I saw in mine, but, I can tell you I was shocked. Oh instagram, you are rather addictive.

One thing I realised, it that even if I put put only three to five stories in a day, I’d do them as they happened, then respond to responses instantly. This could take a lot of time, and that was time I was not then spending with Munchkin. It made no difference to take the photos and videos, then post later when I’m not missing the next thing. Particularly, when with a child, that next thing could be their first word, or first steps or any of the thousands of little but exciting developments they gain in their first two years.

Also, notifications don’t expire. You don’t miss something because you didn’t pick up your phone when it just buzzed. The notification will be sitting there later waiting just as it does when it comes through the first time. And 99 percent of the time, that message can wait, as the point of instant messaging is, messaging, not constant conversation-ing.

If you really need help avoiding you device, see if your phone has a built in focus mode, or download an app such as Freedom, or Forest, which let’s a hypothetical forest grow for all period of time you’ve saved. I found my phones focus mode has helped working from home.

So, I guess I’m sort of writing this as my pledge. To be the best Hubby and Daddy I can be all the time and stop Instagram (other social media devils are available) stealing me away from being in the moment.

Thanks for reading,

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Montessori Methods at Home

Montessori play is something I’d never heard about before becoming a parent but is something so great for development. What it means to me is giving Munchkin that freedom to choose what to play or do, making those choices accessible, learn through play and learn life skills.

Here’s a quick what to do to set up Montessori style at home and how we’ve done it, some of which by chance.

1. Designate an accessible place for everything

This comes down to making things easy reach for your child. From toys, to books, to arts and crafts and snacks and drinks.

For us, we have all toys in low drawers and shelves, clothes for nursery days in bottom drawers, books under the TV for little hands to grab, and Munchkin level snack shelves so he can choose when he’s hungry and what to eat (within reason!).

2. Emphasize Life Skills

This swings on how even young children are capable of pitching in around the house in one way or another and by helping, it sets them up to be considerate and capable adults.

With Munchkin, this occurred naturally. Start to clean, he wants a cloth to join in too. Approach the dishwasher, he wants to help empty it. Hang out the washing, he would help ‘sort’ and pass the items to be hung. I always take him to show him jobs like watering the plants. I’m just too scared to give him a watering can indoors just yet!

3 .Teach Concentration

This is one I could question, but when you read, its about identifying your child’s interests and setting things up to keep them concentrating and thoroughly exploring for a period of time.

We know Munchkin loves the outdoors and a good sensory play activity. So we set up some time and some space and try to make the activity evolve to keep his interest and therefore concentration. For example, we set up an ice play activity, then introduced bubbles and coloured water later to evolve the play.

4. Give them their best learning environment


Discover where your child likes to learn and provide that space. Some children prefer solitude where others like the middle of the room. We have two spaces, a playroom and a play space in the lounge. Munchkin chooses where to go to play, and whether or not to ask for our hand to lead us to join him.

5. Focus on Inner Motivation, Not Reward

This Montessori method is about rewarding behaviour and progress with verbal feedback in moderation, over physical rewards such as stickers or sweets.

This is an easy one and one that we do naturally. Say well done, that’s great, we are proud of you and clap with him at big moments.

6. Use Child-Sized Furniture

For this one we have a tuff tray for floor messy play fun and a mutable for Munchkin sized table activities. We use the high chair when baking to bring the mixing and making to floor level.

If you’d like to know more about Mutable, see my review here.

7. Make Their Bedroom Child-Friendly

This echoes some of the previous points by giving them a play space, so if they wake early they can move from bed to play on their own.

Munchkin rarely uses it, but we have always had a third play space in his room ready for when he moves from cot to cot bed.

Future Montessori plans for Munchkin

One idea we’ve had to expand our Montessori offering at home is to create seasonal nature trays and more role play tuff tray activities, such as making a farm or zoo.

Do you have any tips or things you do at home? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

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The Constant Lessons with a Little One.

Everyone knows that parents either learn a lot or just constantly wing it. So now Munchkin is now a toddling, more communicative, more hilarious, ever lovable ball of pure joy, there’s a few more lesson’s I have learnt on the journey called parenting.

1. Weaning them = changes in mealtime expectations for you.

If you are a big fan of eating your toast hot and your Weetabix crunchy, you may have to adapt how you make food for yourself. By the time I have breakfast ready for the Munchkin, then for me and my wife, Munchkin in the highchair and styling in his Bibado then there’s no chance everything is in that perfect condition or temperature. Luckily, I’m not too fussy so all is good.

lessons with a little one
A little smiley one at breakfast

2. There isn’t a word in our language for how tired you are.

Its true, you can get to places beyond tired, but it doesn’t stop you developing that little human into whatever big human they one day will be. Role playing with his kitchen, singing and dancing to the Wiggles, or in sensory exploration through bubble time, splashing fun or painting with those little hands, tiredness stops nothing.

3. Welcome to repetition, repetition, repetition…

Munchkin initiated reading time in the mornings after his milk by passing a book to me. What a lovely idea I thought. We read five books, one by one. Well, when I say read, I more mean something like:

‘That’s not my fox its tail is too….that’s not my….The End’. As he rapidly skips through the pages.

By day three on that selection of books we had chosen a favourite. And that book needed to be read over and over and over and over. Again and again and again.

4. With increasing development comes increasing hilarity.

With ever developing language come ever funnier moments. Whether it be a perfectly timed giggle or squeak or a slightly imperfect pronunciation when copying us, there are daily moments Munchkin has me in absolute stitches. And, of course, he laughs along with me.

5. You learn a new meaning for the word Love.

We all think we know what love means. I love my family and I love my wife. But every day you experience a different type of love for your little Munchkin. It’s the same squishy mushy feeling you have for your partner, but at the same time, something different. Its inexplainable but perfect.


So with every new day we learn something new which only just adds to the marvellous job of being a Daddy.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin

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Avoiding the Lockdown Lows

I recently wrote a post about staying sane with a one year old (you can read that here). I read it back and realised that while that was great for how to stay happy with all the dirty nappies and early mornings, it didn’t really focus on me, the adult.

So here five ways I have avoided the lockdown lows myself.

1. Streaming (what the internet was born for)

Disney plus came into exisitence bang on the right time, coinciding with the start of lockdown, saving us from boredom by letting us catch up on the latest releases we had missed but also reminincing with the golden oldies.

Other streaming services do exist however, so its important to mention while not dreaming about living at DisneyWorld, we’ve also been dying to save the big cats watching ‘Tiger King’, been is utter disbelief with ‘Suriving R Kelly’, and beyond furious with ‘The Trials of Gabriel Fenandez’.

2. Getting out

We have used our daily exercise hour to get some fresh air and vitamin D, whilst also giving Munchkin a change of scenery. This gives some goodness for all three of us.

3. Project house

Being furloughed has been a great kick to get all the house jobs done.

I finally got around to finish filling some holes in the house and kick started the garden ‘renovation’. Me and Natalie have no real garden experience yet we’ve (somehow managed to) put up a fence post and two panels and most recently prepared the soil by hand and laid some turf (we bought our house with a low-maintainence fully-slabbed child-unfriendly garden).

4. Had some ‘me time’

I thought ‘me time’ would come in the form of the xbox one, but then I discovered that you can play board games online. This was a revalation.

So nap times and the odd evening has become virtual board game times with my work crew, university mates and my Mum, Sister and Wife.

For this we have been using boardgamearena (Here’s the link), which for private play, requires one premium member at only £22.80 for the whole year or you can play other players worldwide for free.

5. Appreciation

I think what has really kept me chirpy is spending some time thinking about and appreciating the benefits of lockdown.

Whether that be being a key worker (woo to all of you) and feeling and seeing the value of your continued sacrifice, having reduced work hours (woo!), or working-from-home commitments (so you can do a day’s work in your PJ’s), or for me, spending time seeing the development of my Munchkin.

I hope you are all staying sane and safe in lockdown.

Thanks for reading,

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Covid-19 Self-isolation and Staying Sane with a One Year Old.

When we came to self-isolate we knew this would be hard on Munchkin. His usual week changed suddenly. One moment it was nursery for three days and each Nanny covering one day each. At weekends we would see friends, or his Grandparents, Great Grandparents or his Auntie and Uncle. There would be a weekly swimming lesson and a weekly sensory and play group and then suddenly it all changes and you don’t know why.

It changes to just one day at nursery. But not normal nursery. The first day since the schools closed we arrived to just us in the car park and only two members of staff inside. Then for the rest, he just at home with us. Six days per week of just Mummy, or Mummy and Daddy, and they can’t really tell you why.

So what is important…

Routine. We decide for Munchkin’s, and our, sanity to create a new routine. One to keep things fresh and engaging but also to still differentiate between weekend and weekdays. So we made sure meal and snack times and types were set, and we would have slots for sensory play, reading time, play time and a walk.

And there is the next one, walks. Using the one time to get out of the house to go for a long walk. I realised the importance of getting out the house every day during SPL (shared parental leave) and know what it can do for your well being. Further to that, just getting some regular fresh air, outside those four walls in the garden, does a world of good.

Finally, its sharing the workload; the nappies and changes; the routine and the household normalities like the dinner and cleaning. Though I am sure most mothers will agree, sharing the workload should happen regardless of whether there is a pandemic or not!

I hope you stay sane during your self-isolation everyone.

Thanks for reading,

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An average week of Daddy and Munchkin

After a lovely weekend, which of course every weekend is, that dreaded Monday comes around again. Mummy leaves early in the morning and we are left to our own devices again. When I say dreaded though it’s just that we miss her, not that we aren’t looking forward to a wonderful week of Daddy and Munchkin time again.

Monday starts with a lovely 30 minute stroll then half an hour of rhyme time and 15 minutes of play with all the other cute local babies. This covers (with associated actions of course) everything from ‘Five little ducklings’ to ‘Hickory dickory dock’. It also acts as a lovely little morning arm workout with ‘I’m a little baby, I fly high’ amongst other songs which involve lifting a Munchkin who’s getting heavier and heavier by the week. With the walk and the baby lifting during the rhymes it’s a perfect start to the week with a little exercise for Daddy. Its also a great place to make some parent friends and for Munchkin to meet other little dots.

Walking to Rhyme time



The only other regular activity is on Thursday with baby swimming. We leave in the morning for our 50 minute drive. There were closer courses, but not at this price making it worth the travel. Baby swimming not only gets Munchkin into swimming itself but also teaches important safety skills such as spitting out water, how to turn and how to climb out if he accidently fell in water. We had done plenty of kicking when playing at home but now we are kicking in the water too (one of the firsts that Daddy got to witness) 😊.

Ready to swim

That leaves us three other days. We make sure get out on at least two of them. Usually once a week we go with Nanny G to see Munchkin’s Great Grandparents. Then on the other days I either take Munchkin into work to see my work mates, to our local friends or his Guardians, or just on a walk around the local area. We fill the rest of the time with playing on his play mat and activity gym, practising sitting and crawling, and reading.

Munchkin loves a ‘That’s not my…. ‘ book.



As hard as it can be to get out nearly every day it’s important for both of us. One week I was so exhausted I spent two days at home in a row and it just made me fall into a miserable state. So even if it’s just a short walk, it can make improve the most difficult days.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin.