My daughter always seems to want me instead of my wife. What can I do? Regards, Ben

Daddy + little man

Let me get this straight. Your Mrs is complaining about someone else taking the baby? Send her round, I'll have a word. 

It's probably very simple -your daughter loves you best. This is a great learning opportunity for your wife. Having children is a lottery and you can't go into it for what you receive but for what you give. She needs to find a way to look at parenting as a holistic and evolutionary process, may I suggest a 90 day meditation course? I'm kidding; I'm willing to bet my last rolo this isn't the case and that your assessment is right on point daddy-o.

Not to worry, children's tastes are a fickle fiend and this season daddy may be in but like distressed jeans mummy will inevitably roll back around again. Believe me there will come a time (and it will involve vomit) when the novelty of being the preferred parent will wear thin. 

So my advice for you is less about parenting and more about husbanding. That being, when a woman is speaking always listen the message behind the message. In this case I reckon it might be, 'Why do I get all the crap (literally) and you get the fun stuff?' So maybe you could help her have a break and create the scarcity that makes you so appealing with a mama mini break? If she can't get away you can create one with fresh linens, a bumper box of fudge and a subscription to Netflix. By the end your little one will be desperate for some mummy time and your other half will be so relaxed, she won't even care.

This question came from the perennially awesome Ben Wakeling, a writer that keeps it real at 'Goodbye Pert Breasts: The Diary of a Newborn Dad'.

Friday Frolics

What can I do if my toddler only likes sweet foods? My toddler has a sweet tooth and will only entertain food like fruit or yoghurt - Emma

Birthday Cupcake

The number one reason that people have children - vanity. We can dress it up as maternal instinct or the need to give, but the real reason is simple, ugly, old fashioned vanity. We want a teeny, weeny, cutesy version of ourselves to prod and mold and then throw into the world. As a result we project a lot of stuff onto them. We think their actions have greater meaning than they do. We start to believe that they think what we think, that they know what we know. He does not think what you think. He does not know what you know. He is not you. He wouldn't know an organic, free range lamb chop from a hole in the wall. You must remember at all times that he is not refusing to eat in order to spite you. 

Imagine if you found yourself on the planet Zog and was offered the lime green pips of the ding dong tree and then the purple pap of the wolffy bush, and one tasted like Baileys milkshake and the other like used dental floss. You'd go for the milkshake option even if your hosts on Zog were all head shaky and judgey wudgey about it. Toddlers do not know the abundance of things; they do not know that there are plenty more milky buttons at the Londis for their anxious mother to rush and buy and cram into their jammy, little fingers. Back to Zog, if your hosts, we'll call them Zogonians (they're a fierce but loyal nation), were like, 

'Look it's just the dental floss stuff now, that other stuff's not in season'. You'd be disappointed but you'd eat it eventually because you don't want to starve. Toddlers by and large do not want to starve. They have bigger things to think about like bouncing and diggers and sticking their fingers in tiny holes.

Toddlers are also very good at regulating their own calorie intake, you know, eating when hungry and not eating when not. If someone could develop a toddler based diet plan they'd be raking it in. Toddlers do not yet have all the emotional junk associated with eating that we do. They don't binge on rusks because 'In The Night Garden' reminded them of the time they played with the ball in the garden.

So your child has a preference for sweet things, it's probably not the end of the world. I know that as a nation we have become far too sedentary but I sometimes think we're getting a bit hysterical about obesity - the kids are obese! the cat is obese! that lampost is obese! Obesity is serious. I get that, you get that, we all get that thank you very much Dr Christian but have you heard that thing about racing drivers? If you look at the wall, you drive into the wall. If you focus too hard on what your child is eating, they will focus on what they're eating and instead of the outcome being - remember when you were one and you only ate biscuits - you'll be sending him to uni with a suitcase full of hobnobs.

I refuse to hear the argument against fruit, it's a banana not crack. If your child is eating with reasonable regularity, if your child is eating stuff that resembles actual food and not some money grabbin' multinationals representation of food stuffs and he also likes a bit of cake - then your child is a child and nothing more sinister than that. You can probably tell I'm a bit het up about this, so for a far more measured and informative take on picky eating check out the lovely Ciara of My Fussy Eater and the delightful Hannah of Mums Days, I've got to go reheat my kids kebab.

Brilliant blog posts on

Friday Frolics

How can I make time with my partner and I don't just mean sex, I mean time when I'm not tired and we aren't just childminders - Nina

Affectionate elderly couple hugs on the porch

When you say you don't mean sex, you do mean sex right? You have to mean sex right? Because you're a mum now and you need to multitask and sex covers a lot of bases (if you're lucky). It can be one of the fastest ways to reconnect with the person you were before a small human cannonballed head first into your placid coupledom. Sex is one of the few things you'll do in exactly the same way as you did pre baby; it's a double rollover, jackpot of connection, intimacy, support and cardio in twenty minutes, sometimes ten. 

So if I assume that what you're really asking is when do we get to have sex, this is what I'd say - Any. Time. You. Can. Not helpful? *shrugs*. What I'm saying is forget about the times you leisurely undertook intimate encounters with your other half. No one wants to get up before a baby wakes to do something that might lead to another darn baby! 

Go for it as soon as the baby goes to sleep at night. This is commonly experienced as the mummy power hour. You will be so elated that you have time to yourself you can probably work up the enthusiasm! And it also gives your spouse a positive sense of urgency e.g. I can't wait for you to get home as opposed to I can't wait another thirty minutes before I fall asleep. 

Alternatively there's the middle of the night. Sounds counter-intuitive but you have to be up anyway!? And you know you can get some more sleep after. Job done. 

I suppose there's a chance you didn't mean sex, that you and your other half are living it up 50 shades style and you actually want to know about how to get some more quality time together. To that I say, get outta here, go trouble someone else with your 'problems'.

Seriously, consider yourself lucky before you drown in your own hot tub of negativity, but if this quality time thing is really troubling you, it's all about planning. Did you know Barack Obama only wears blue or gray suits. Not coz he's cheap - he wants to limit the amount of decisions he makes in a day. Decision fatigue is a legit business and you don't need any more fatigue. Quality time is not about when you do it, but having exactly the right activity lined up for when the time is right. Have a great bottle of wine, a boxset you've been dying to watch or a board game you both love at the ready so if you find yourselves together and awake you've got your date night planned and you don't spend the whole evening channel surfing and bickering. Unless, of course, that's what you're into. 

The Dad Network