The bravery of being a stay-at-home dad

I’ve regularly been called brave for being home with our child while my wife works. But is it really any braver for a father to be at home with his kids than it is for a mother?


It started early, before I even became a dad.

Saying my goodbyes at our final antenatal group session, the woman heading it up told me:

“What you’re going to be doing is so important. SO important.”

What? Becoming a father? Being a more attentive husband? Nope. Becoming a stay-at-home dad. SO important.

For various logistical and financial reasons, the plan was I’d likely be home for first couple of months, and then full time when my wife returned to work after 6 months.

I knew being a stay-at-home dad was far from the norm, but it didn’t seem that weird. So weird that people would say stuff like that. I grew up watching Mr. Mom, but that was over 30 years ago. It can’t so odd now, right?

Friends seemed to think it was cool. Turned out some of them had even done the same thing. I hadn’t paid attention, because, y’know, I didn’t think it was weird.

My parents seemed ok with it, but to be honest I didn’t see much of them at the time (we were living in New Zealand, they were not).

My MIL seemed ok too, but did relay to me that she had friends who didn’t understand why I (a man) was doing it (looking after his kid). But they were old, so I ignored them as young(er) people tend to do.

My aforementioned antenatal group was interesting. Before we became parents, my desire to be a stay-at-home dad was quite a point of difference with the Kiwi dads – many of them defined their impending fatherhood by how much time they were going to spend at work.

But afterwards? Barely mentioned. Some even told me privately how jealous they were. The mothers weren’t bothered either. I’d go to our regular weekly meet ups – usually the only dad in the room – and they’d happily chat cracked nipples and postpartum vaginas while breastfeeding their babies in front of me. I’d even be part of the conversation – well, as much as I could.

So far, so normal. But then it did get a bit weird.

The brave stay-at-home dad

Like our antenatal leader, people outside our immediate parenting bubble kept congratulating me. Praising me. Calling me brave.

And when I say people, I just mean random people when I was out & about the baby. Eg. one time in a bank, a female teller started gushing over us (after we moved on from her “Mums day off is it?” question), because I was home with the baby.

Similar story at a pedestrian crossing of all places, when a woman opened a conversation with another variation of the dad & baby assumption  (“Babysitting today?), and after I corrected her she was also full of praise – and awe – of my stay-at-home dadness.

But it wasn’t only about being home. Just being an engaged father was enough. One time in a supermarket, I made up a bottle of formula for my daughter and fed her, like you do when babies are due a feed. A passerby (also a woman) saw this and felt compelled to tell me “What a great dad you are!”

All this positive female attention was nice. But, c’mon. How crazy is it that I – a dad – am congratulated for feeding my daughter a bottle of formula? When have you ever heard of a mother being publicly praised for being such a great mum – for feeding their bay a bottle of formula?

Lol, right?

The brave parent (unless you’re a mother)

At-home mothers are not praised or congratulated for what they do. It’s expected, even derided. But when a man engages in it – wow, what a man to face all the challenges that parenting brings.

It seems parenting has a lowly status when undertaken by women.

It’s true that dads are still vastly outnumbered in weekday parenting scenarios, and sometimes treated with suspicion and isolation. So do people simply think men are brave for entering this female dominated environment of toddler groups, playgrounds, and coffee groups?

Or, is it considered ‘brave’ for a man to sacrifice his career for the sake of his wife and child. Again – have you ever heard of a mother being celebrated for staying home to be with their children? Doubtful. A man? I’m certain.

Or are expectations so low for dads, that simply showing up makes us good parents; being engaged makes great parents; and giving up work & dealing with all those women makes us brave parents?

If you want to call men who stay home with the kids brave, I can’t stop you. Or telling them how great it is what they’re doing. But you know what? We’re no more heroic than mothers in the same position.

If you feel stay-at-home dads are brave and heroic, and want to praise them for it – then I suggest you also find a mother to say that too as well. Because they deserve your praise just as much as dads, for exactly the same reasons.

Stay-at-home dads aren’t heroes – we’re just parents struggling to raise our kids the same as everyone else.


LEGO Marvel Superheroes – Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle (76057)

This intricate and imaginative LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle set exceeded all expectations.

We first saw this set at the London Toy Fair 6 months ago, and have been keen to get our hands on it ever since.

As I’m constantly searching for female superhero toys for my daughter, so I’ll admit the biggest draw for me initially was the inclusion of a certain minifigure.

But Spider-Girl aside, once we got into building it was very clear that this a brilliant, intricate, and imaginative set, and certainly the best Marvel Super Heroes LEGO set we own.

It was fun to construct, respected the source material, and has proven to be a great toy for imaginative play.

The Minifigures

The has a great collection of minifigures, 7 in total, that should please any Spider-Man fan.

On the side of the heroes we have the original wall-crawler Spider-Man, the aforementioned Spider-Girl, and the Scarlet Spider – who fans will recognise from the infamous Spider-Man Clone Saga. These web warriors come with LEGO webbing and web blasts.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057 hero minifigures

We also have Peter Parker’s Aunt May, presumably to add some distress.

pider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057 Aunt May minifigure

And of the villains, we have three classic Spider-Man nemeses – Kraven the Hunter, the Green Goblin & his goblin glider, and the Scorpion.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057 supervillians minifigures

Kraven looks every bit his comicbook counterpart, with a spear, leopardskin leggings, and a Lion’s head waistcoat with a mane for his collar. The Goblin has a pumpkin bomb and a satchel plus his glider has stud shooters. The Scorpion has his distinctive stinger tail.

The Ultimate Bridge Battle set

With over a thousand pieces, in 8 numbered bags, this is a big set.

Recommended for ages 8-14, this was a great one to make with my 4-year-old daughter who remained engaged throughout the construction process.

The set is a section of a New York bridge – most likely the Brooklyn Bridge, but could be inspired by one of the others. It’s an evocative design, reminding me mostly of the Gwen Stacy/Green Goblin classic Spider-Man story.

But the real genius of this set is just how many features and details are packed into it.

The bridge sits on two hollow pillars (with graffiti and flyer style stickers).

One has a space where Spidey has webbed his camera, so he can take the selfies and other snaps he sells to the Daily Bugle. The other contains a hidden lair for Kraven the Hunter – the entrance is covered by lichen and a ladder, but inside is a spear holder, a computer tracking Spider-Man, and even a hiding place for a crate full of diamonds with a pop out door.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057 secret lairs
Left: Spider-Man has webbed his camera ready fro snapping; Right: Kraven the Hunter’s secret lair where he tracks Spider-Man

The road of the bridge is constructed with a series of black tiles and pieces – but this is not a simple road. There is a trapdoor the is activated by a lever, that drops villains into the space with Spidey’s camera – another photo op to sell to the Bugle perhaps?

Another hidden feature of the bridge is a hinged wall that swings out to stage a vehicle crashing through the side.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057 taxi

You get two road vehicles with the set – a distinctive yellow New York taxi, and a police quad bike with accessories. No drivers however.

Also on the road there is a kind of see saw that launches debris at the action (such as the included trash can), and road signs that can be staged in various forms of damage. It also indicates it’s only 6 miles to the Daily Bugle – a nice touch for the fans.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057 details
The set has some nice details for fans, such as this date stamp (1962, the year of Spider-Man’s debut appearance) and a sign post to fictional newspaper the Daily Bugle.

Another nice touch was a printed date plaque for the bridge – 1962, which is the year Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s webbed hero made his debut (in Amazing Fantasy #15). It seems clear that this set was created by a fan.

Moving up to the tower, it has traffic light indicators – the levers of which also trigger two collapsable walls. The top of the tower has a Green Goblin flag, that also functions as a lever to release a Spiderweb net. There is also a mechanism to launch and swing a minifigure.

There are then two suspension tethers connecting the tower to the bridge – and these like the rest of the bridge are covered with exposed studs, that enable you to position your wall crawling web warriors wherever you like.

The sheer level of features and detail in this set is amazing. The designer has packed so much into it, that this is definitely one of those sets that far exceeds the sum of its parts.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057 packshot
This intricate and imaginative LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle set exceeded all expectations.

As a Spider-Man and LEGO fan I can’t recommend this set enough. My daughter is a big fan too 😉

LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057 playing


LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle set (76057) has an RRP of £89.99.


Disclosure: We were provided with this LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle set free of charge for the purposes of this review.

The British Royal Family and the problem with Princesses

We were watching an event on TV recently, and I noticed William and Kate, aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, our future King and Queen, in the audience. Continue reading The British Royal Family and the problem with Princesses

Grand day out: Visiting the London Eye and SeaLife London Aquarium

I had a revelation recently. These last few weeks before schools break up for summer will be the last chance, in weekday term-time, I get to go on day trips with my daughter.

Oh sure, there’ll be sick days, inset days, and the like – but with playgroups winding up, and pre-school graduation this definitely feels like the end of a parenting era.

I was also keenly aware that I had not taken full advantage of the chance to visit London family attractions – without the crowds of families at weekends and schools holidays at least.

So I moved swiftly to rectify that, and in recent weeks we have made a few trips into London. This day, we went to the South Bank and visited the Sea Life London Aquarium and The London Eye.

Visiting the Sea Life London Aquarium

A London attraction since the late 90’s, it has had a refurb since I first visited in the last decade.

Set in County Hall, the home of the old GLA, the aquarium is a great way to introduce your child to all sorts of sea life.

As you enter, you walk across a glass panel that reveals a shark tank below. It felt like you were entering a classic Bond villains lair. It was a cool way to start.

Completely unplanned, we had just seen Finding Nemo the day before, and there were at least 3 tanks that had the distinctive clownfish in them.

While it was a little contrary to the themes of the film (Nemo is trying to escape captivity after all), it was to be expected, and kids loved it.

The tanks rage in size from the small to the very large. My highlights were the tanks containing the larger creatures – Rays, Turtles, and – yes – Sharks. These sharks ranged in size, but some were pretty big. So big that my daughter found them a bit too scary.

But the range of sea life here is incredible, and she got to see so many other creatures for the first time too, such as octopuses, sea horses, alligators, eels, and so many more.

The aquarium is fairly linear as an experience, and entry is staggered every fifteen minutes – so while it is a very popular attraction, the crowds were fine. There were a few bottlenecks, such as the Shark Tunnel (as cool as it sounds), but nothing troubling.

Our trip was slightly truncated as everyone was evacuated because of an alarm. While we had seen most of the Aquarium we didn’t see the penguins – which was a shame, because it was the hottest day of the year!

The whole aquarium was a pleasant cool temperature though, but once we were evacuated into the harsh midday sun we decided to have an early lunch instead of baking in the heat waiting to get back in.

So we found a nice shady spot nearby for our picnic.

Then we cooled down with an ice cream before our next attraction.

Visiting The London Eye

Another attraction that was opened in the late 90’s, the former Millennium Wheel has become an internationally recognised London icon since then. Anyone who has walked past it cannot have failed to have seen the hordes of people wanting to go on it.

My daughter has spotted it from afar – and close up – many times, so I was glad of the opportunity to go on it with her. She frequently asks when we can go on the big wheel, so she was incredible excited about finally being able to do so.

We were fortunate to have fast track tickets, and with a moderate amount of guilt  on my part we bypassed that mass of people via the special fast track entrance. If you feel comfortable paying out a little extra for your ticket, it probably is worth it for not baking in the sun like the rest of the crowd were.

Thankfully, the pods are fully air-conditioned, important given this was the hottest day of the year.

The ride lasts about 30 minutes, which is plenty of time to walk around the spacious capsule and take in the sights.

The experience was exactly as expected – wonderful high views of the city, and the chance to talk about various landmarks with my daughter. Previously, I had lived in London for over a decade, so it’s wonderful to be able to share my love of it with my daughter.

After our 30 minute trip, we ambled back to Waterloo station enjoying the entertainments of the South Bank along the way.

All in all, a grand day out. 🙂

Tickets for both the Sea Life London Aquarium and The London Eye can be booked in advance. If you’re travelling by train into London, take advantage of the National Rail 2 for 1 ticket offers.


Disclosure: We were provided with fast track tickets to both attractions for the purposes of this review.

Disney Life: Streaming Service and App review

Disney movies and TV shows are available on many different streaming services. So is there a place for DisneyLife, their very own streaming service?

So, you decide it’s time to finally show your kid Sleeping Beauty. You then search your subscription streaming services, which all have Disney sections, and it’s nowhere to be found. What to do? Enter, DisneyLife.

If there’s one brand that dominates childhood, it continues to be Disney. As well as films, they also have TV shows, books, music, and now apps. All of that comes together in DisneyLife.

For £9.99 a month, the (UK only) app not only allows you to stream their films and TV content, you can also stream soundtracks, as well as access interactive books. Limited content can also be  stored on your tablet/smartphone. You can download one free Disney app per month as well.

The big draw for me was the access to movies. While some are available on the other streaming services we have, it’s not complete and subject to the whims of whatever deals are made. Here, you get (as far as I can tell) all classic Disney (including our sought after Sleeping Beauty) and Pixar movies.

I admit, without doing my research, I just assumed I would be able to download the app to my PS3 or Apple TV and stream content to our TV that way. However, the app is only for compatible Apple and Android tablets and smartphones.

So I downloaded the app to iPhone and iPad – and it turns out I could stream content to our TV via the Apple TV. It was a bit more fiddly than I would have liked, but ok.

Settling down to watch a movie, you get a decent quality HD stream. Playback was mostly ok. It didn’t buffer into a low quality feed like others do, however it was a little buggy – we grew to expect a handful of picture freezes during a movie (sound always continued).

While this was annoying, I’ll be honest and say that this could be down to the ageing iOS devices we have. I own an iPhone 4S and iPad 2, which are older than our 4 1/2 year-old daughter.

Tablet screen time with my daughter is pretty limited, but this had so much content that she was (a little to easily) immersed in this. There are simple age restrictions if desired, so that was no problem.

Content can be navigated via various sections, such as categories, characters, or brand. Disney Classic and Pixar were well populated. Marvel had lots of books and cartoons, such as 3 seasons of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Star Wars Rebels only has the first series of the show but plenty of other media such as BTS videos and best of all the Early Reader books. There was a Disney Princess section that was full of everything I dislike about Disney.

I think these kind of apps come into their own when travelling. I know from experience how much of a lifesaver these can be during long haul travel, when coping with endless flights and jetlag. The ability to store content to the device, when access to wifi can be limited and/or expensive, is a great option to have.

Is it worth £9.99 a month? Well, that will depend on how much Disney you have – or want – in your family life.

For me, I was glad to be able to show my daughter the likes of Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella during the free trial – without us having to own them, as I hope I never have to see them again.


Disclosure: We were given a 6 month subscription to the service for the purposes of this review.

DisneyLife © Disney. All rights reserved.
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