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International Father’s Mental Health Day

As a big advocate for the channels of communication always being open between dads and their families, friends and partners, I have been reading up on dads’ mental health. It has given me a new perspective on a subject that is certainly not talked about enough, especially when you consider the numbers involved. A survey by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in 2015 found that about one in three dads reported concern about their mental health. Yet there is no requirement for routine mental health screening for new fathers.

Postnatal depression can develop in parents after their baby is born and is a very common problem for new and experienced parents alike. For a very long-time postnatal depression in women went undiagnosed and unacknowledged. As a result, many women suffered through this challenge alone without any legitimate support from a doctor or support group, and perhaps not even feeling they could talk about it with their partner or friends. What a terrible situation. Let’s not continue to make the same mistake with dads.

The first thing we need to challenge is the assumption that dads can’t get postnatal depression because it is purely hormonal. It isn’t. It’s much more complex, based on an individual’s experience, psychology and history which come into play on top of the stresses of being a new parent.  There are multiple factors that can lead to it. For example, being a dad aged 25 or younger, having a partner that is suffering from it, having a history of depression and/or anxiety and not being in a relationship with the child’s mother are all potential factors – but this list is not exhaustive and you may have all of these factors and still not experience postnatal depression.

I believe that postnatal depression in dads needs to be recognised on a wider basis and every single dad needs to know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Everybody needs support.

And there is support out there.

Father’s Reaching Out is a website dedicated to dads and mental health, and the dad behind it, Mark Williams, has a powerful story, which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/vIUWWPIVyTM. His website is here: https://www.reachingoutpmh.co.uk/

The hashtag #howareyoudad is used to raise awareness and spark conversations about dad’s mental health in the period around childbirth.

The website From Dads to Dads offers informative articles and advice as well as forums and other support where dads can really have the opportunity to interact and talk to dads who’ve been through exactly the same problems. http://www.fromdadstodads.org.uk/

The NCT has a list of 10 things everyone should know about postnatal depression in dads:  https://www.nct.org.uk/life-parent/emotions/postnatal-depression-dads-10-things-you-should-know

Remember dads, we’re here to support each other. If you need help, ask for it. If you’re worried that another dad, or your partner, may be suffering from postnatal depression, reach out to them.  As parents, we’re in this together.

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D-Day: My Granddad Teddy’s Experience

76 years ago yesterday my granddad, Teddy Williams, took part in the D Day landings. A Guernsey man, he joined up in June 1940 with five of his colleagues from the Guernsey Press . They caught the Glen Tilt (it was ferrying men of fighting age to the mainland to sign up) to Weymouth , from where they were taken to Portland Barracks. My granddad joined the Cornwall Light Infantry, took the oath and received 3s and 6d.


By the time of the Normandy landing he had already seen action as a Desert Rat and the invasion of Sicily. In fact, he nearly never made it to Normandy at all as the American naval vessel that was carrying him from Folkestone to Juno Beach was accidentally rammed by a British destroyer, HMS Warspite. They lost one of the ramps in the incident, meaning my granddad and his fellow troops had to scramble ashore as best they could. In haste my granddad jumped in to what he thought was shallow water but it actually came over his head. He tried to swim up and couldn’t because of the weight of his kit. Then he felt a hand on his back and he was lifted up until he was able to find his footing and scramble up the beach. He never knew who helped him that day.
By this time, the troops in the first landing managed to fight their way up the beach and were penetrating inland. This gave my granddad and the other Pioneers the chance to establish petrol dumps ashore. The fuel was ferried by amphibious vehicles from vessels standing offshore.
Granddad and his unit landed on Juno Beach and were attached to Canadian troops who he followed through to Hamburg. Every night, Canadian trucks would travel to the front lines to recover the dead, and the bodies were brought to where the Pioneers had set up a moving base. The corpses were unloaded and the vehicles refuelled.
He later received a medal for being one of the thousands of troops engaged in the first 20 days of the invasion.


And how do I know such detailed information? Characteristically of those who served in the war, granddad never really spoke about it. In 2004 though, to mark the 60th Anniversary of D-Day, my granddad’s old employer, the Guernsey Press, wrote an article about him. He sent a copy to each of his daughters (my mum Ann and my auntie Barbara) and across the top he wrote “thought you might like to see this.” I am holding that paper in my hands now granddad and I just want to say a sincere thank you to you – and all of those involved on that day. You changed the world.

— Last Uploaded 6th June 2013 —

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Backup Support

Dads, we are living through challenging and unpredictable times; the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed what we consider normal. With social distancing and lockdowns, we find ourselves in uncharted waters both as parents and people.

At times such as these, it’s important to remember that backup support is absolutely vital. It can take many different forms but at the root of it backup support means looking out for each other. Whether your backup support is your friends, family or Commanding Officer – you need to be able to rely on those around you – and to be able to be relied upon.

It’s certainly true that a problem shared is a problem halved, and I think we dads should remember this advice, and pass it on to our troopers – however young or old they may be. It is hard when you’re going through problems that you don’t feel like you can share with anyone else. It’s isolating. It can even push those closest away from us, right at the time when we need them most.

 As a dad, it’s important to shield your troopers and, at times, put a brave face on. However you must keep the lines of communication open with your backup support and remember that you don’t have to put a brave face for them. Your backup is the people you can be completely honest with and who can be completely honest with you. That way, when problems arise – as they inevitably will – they can be tackled together.

It is critical that you continue to follow the government guidelines to maintain the health and wellbeing of your entire unit – and I am sure every Commando Dad is using his hour of exercise wisely, washing hands and only leaving Base Camp on essential sorties. However, don’t overlook your mental health, it is every bit as important as your physical health in order to be effective backup support for your Unit. If you do have concerns that you feel unable to share with your backup, there are support services out there that can help. I have included some of them below.

Being locked inside for weeks upon weeks can be incredibly mentally taxing for the troopers, so make sure they know that they can talk to you anytime day or night. An upbeat approach will do wonders for the Unit’s morale. If your troopers know they can come to you with any worries or concerns they’re having, it can really help make them more comfortable with their current situation.

Remember, we’re all in this together. You may be isolated but you’re not alone.

  • Hub of hope – Is a national mental health database where you can find the nearest help and support by entering your postcode. www.hubofhope.co.uk
  • Samaritans – Offer emotional support 24 hours a day, in full confidence. Call: 116 123. www.samaritans.org
  • Mind Infoline – Provides information on a range of mental health topics to support people in their own area from 9:00am to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. Call: 0300 123 3393. info@mind.org.uk
  • Anxiety UK – Runs a helpline staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety from 9:30-5:30, Monday to Friday. Call: 08444 775 774. www.anxietyuk.org.uk
  • MindEd – A free educational resource for children and young people’s mental health for all adults. www.minded.org.uk/
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Activities to keep the troops entertained during lockdown

A lot of things are quite difficult at the moment, since lockdown was announced on the 23rd March due to the coronavirus a lot of us have found ourselves at home with bored kids who are in dire need of entertainment. So, what can you do in these times to keep not just the troops but your whole unit entertained?

One of the upsides to being on lockdown is that you’re with your family in a very different situation to the norm. There are no school runs, no leaving for work but also no play dates or after school clubs which leaves a vacuum for entertainment as far as the troopers are concerned. One thing that we’ve been doing is several nights a week we will all sit down and watch a film together without any devices or other distractions which is a perfect way to spend a few hours between dinner and bedtime. If you have more than one trooper, alternate who gets to pick the film to prevent any arguing which we all know can come easy in times such as these!

As of writing this post www.gov.uk advises us all to “Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible” we have been following these guidelines loyally by leaving the house once a day for exercise purposes. We tend to keep each walk under an hour and a half so no one gets too tired or cold and keep it as close to home as we can, remember that it is vitally important to the safety of your entire unit to only leave the house with members of your household! If you come across other members of the public maintain a distance of at least 2m to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of your unit.

A good outdoor activity for younger troopers (and a personal favourite of mine) is going on a mini-beast safari! This is an ideal activity for our current situation as the only place needed is your garden or another small grassy area close to home. Brief your troopers on how to safely handle mini-beasts and make sure they know to ask permission before doing so as to ensure they don’t pick up anything that could bite or sting. Move carefully in the garden and adopt ‘David Attenborough’ tones in order to not startle any nearby wildlife, take this little adventure as an opportunity to educate your troopers about the world of mini-beasts and how every single one has its own job in the animal kingdom. Take photos and draw pictures to take back to base camp and talk about later, this will also come in handy for identifying certain mini-beasts in future safaris.

Depending on how old your troopers are they will have their own interests and hobbies whether it be gaming, reading, football etc. Now is a good time to have a trooper debrief, ask about what they’re up too and find out more about their world, if it’s a game then ask them to show you how they play it, a book? Ask questions about the characters or the plot. Really whatever comes to mind, I have had a very interesting few weeks finding out about what my kids get up to to entertain themselves during this time.

If you decide to embark on the mini-beast hunt, print off the handy help sheets below as well as the ‘Mission Accomplished’ one to go with your troopers photos and drawings!

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We're Back!

After a long period of radio silence, we have recruited one of our troopers to take the reins as our social media man, trooper Samuel Sinclair!

We’ve achieved a LOT since our last blog post: the release of: Commando Dad Basic Training (Pocket Edition), Commando Dad Raw Recruits, Commando Dad Mission Adventure and we’ve another on the way: Commando Dad Cookbook. We’ve been very busy!

With trooper Sam at the social media helm you can expect a lot more coming your way. Watch this space for regular blogposts from the Commando Dad HQ.

In the meantime, I can still be reached via my various social media pages: Instagram (commando_dad), Facebook (@MissionBrief) and Twitter (@CommandoDad)

The New CDHQ Social Media Man!
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D-Day: My Granddad Teddy's Experience

69 years ago yesterday my granddad, Teddy Williams, took part in the D Day landings. A Guernsey man, he joined up in June 1940 with five of his colleagues from the Guernsey Press . They caught the Glen Tilt (it was ferrying men of fighting age to the mainland to sign up) to Weymouth , from where they were taken to Portland Barracks. My granddad joined the Cornwall Light Infantry, took the oath and received 3s and 6d.
By the time of the Normandy landing he had already seen action as a Desert Rat and the invasion of Sicily. In fact, he nearly never made it to Normandy at all as the American naval vessel that was carrying him from Folkestone to Juno Beach was accidentally rammed by a British destroyer, HMS Warspite. They lost one of the ramps in the incident, meaning my granddad and his fellow troops had to scramble ashore as best they could. In haste my granddad jumped in to what he thought was shallow water but it actually came over his head. He tried to swim up and couldn’t because of the weight of his kit. Then he felt a hand on his back and he was lifted up until he was able to find his footing and scramble up the beach. He never knew who helped him that day.
By this time, the troops in the first landing managed to fight their way up the beach and were penetrating inland. This gave my granddad and the other Pioneers the chance to establish petrol dumps ashore. The fuel was ferried by amphibious vehicles from vessels standing offshore.
Granddad and his unit landed on Juno Beach and were attached to Canadian troops who he followed through to Hamburg. Every night, Canadian trucks would travel to the front lines to recover the dead, and the bodies were brought to where the Pioneers had set up a moving base. The corpses were unloaded and the vehicles refuelled.
He later received a medal for being one of the thousands of troops engaged in the first 20 days of the invasion.
And how do I know such detailed information? Characteristically of those who served in the war, granddad never really spoke about it. In 2004 though, to mark the 60th Anniversary of D-Day, my granddad’s old employer, the Guernsey Press, wrote an article about him. He sent a copy to each of his daughters (my mum Ann and my auntie Barbara) and across the top he wrote “thought you might like to see this.” I am holding that paper in my hands now granddad and I just want to say a sincere thank you to you – and all of those involved on that day. You changed the world.

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By Royal Commando

Prince William is preparing for Fatherhood with Commando Dad

BREAKING NEWS: Prince William has swelled the ranks and is using Commando Dad to help prepare him for fatherhood.
wills
Wow.
You can read the article from The Daily Mail here, and The Telegraph here.
 
It was always my intention to get this book into the hands of every new dad and dad to be. The fact that Prince William is using the book – and enjoying it – makes me very, very proud. I am also hopeful that it will help get the message out there to even more dads that there is a no nonsense,straighforward guide to all the practical skills you’ll need to be a great dad.
 
I hope Prince William knows that all of us Commando Dads are ready to give him back up support when he needs it – before or after the Royal deployment – he just needs to log on to the Commando Dad forum.

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Eating horse meat? Why the long face? If you really want to know what's in your food, you need to cook it yourself

The headlines here in the UK are dominated by stories of horse meat ‘contaminating’ British meat products. I have no real problem with eating horse, in fact, now I know it is cheaper and apparently indistinguishable from beef, if anything, I want to eat MORE of it.
I think the real problem here is how little we know about what is in our processed foods. I may not have a problem eating horse, but do I want to eat a horse that was killed six months ago in a country far, far away? No I do not.
It is for that reason that, in general, I eat little or no processed foods. My family eats home cooked dinners most nights (and as my wife and I are both out working, this is mainly thanks to a bumper cooking session on a Sunday) and yet I spend less than almost any one I know for food. How? I think mainly because I try and eat what is in season where I can, buy (and cook) in bulk, eat cheaper ingredients where I can and where I can’t, make the most of the food I do buy. I never, ever, cut corners on meat and buy all of it from my local butchers.
When I make burgers (which I do often, as the kids love them) I make extra and freeze what’s left. Then it is just as quick for me to cook as it would be if I’d bought frozen burgers. But I know every single ingredient that has gone into it. Have you ever stopped to see how many ingredients are in some processed foods (which is worrying enough, but when you can’t pronounce them, you know you’re really in trouble)?
Any way, I am aware that I am now running the risk of preaching. I’m not. But if I can cook home cooked food, any one can. And home cooked food tastes better, is better for you and your kids and in my experience is also cheaper.
Here’s a tried and tested burger recipe if you don’t have one already:
Burger Recipe – makes about 10

  • Minced beef (2lbs)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp Worcester sauce
  • a chopped onion if you like it (but chop it finely as it does make your burger fall apart when you’re cooking it)
  • any herbs you particularly like (start with teaspoons of dried herbs if you’re not sure how they will effect the end result, and a tablespoon of chopped fresh)
  • a tablespoon of mustard (if you like it)
  • beaten egg or some ripe avocado (as the purpose is to bind it together)
  • salt and pepper
  1. mix all the non meat ingredients together
  2. Add to the meat and mix it all together. The best way to do this is with your hands, and kids love this bit as it’s so squishy. Do make sure hands are clean before and after.
  3. Make into the size burgers that you would like (avoid making them too thick as it can make them difficult to cook through)
  4. Cling film the plate with the burgers on, put it in the fridge for at least half an hour
  5. If freezing, I just wrap them individually with cling film. If not,
  6. Cook (I prefer grilling or baking)
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Dial 111 for fast medical help

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Mission Mumsnet Blogfest – Mission Complete.

Commando Dad Mission Brief:
Mission Details: Mumsnet Blogfest – Millbank Towers, London
Mission Date: Saturday, 10th November, 2012
Mission Status: Mission Successfully Completed.
Mission Debrief –
I had an amazing time at the very first Mumsnet Blogfest Event in London last Saturday. Having never been to an event like this before, I was quite apprehensive, but I needn’t have been. Everyone I met, from the Mumsnet Team, to the members of the panel I was part of, to the people I spoke to during the one-to-one sessions, were all fantastic.
I also picked up an ammo box full of ideas from the event. In his Social Media Session, Paul Armstrong from Mindshare provided me with some great tips on how to make Social Media work harder for me, rather than the other way around. I will, however, not be taking one piece of advice from Paul.

I don’t think that my Bombadearest (my lovely wife Tara) would quite approve of this!
I then went straight into my one-to-one sessions, where I had the opportunity to meet some really great mummy bloggers and hopefully offer them some useful advice on their blogs. At the beginning of the session my blackboard (worryingly) didn’t have a lot of names on it but things soon picked up. Many thanks to Katherine, a wonderful member of the Mumsnet team, for playing such a convincing bad cop to my good cop.
Then I dashed down to the Lecture theatre, was man-handled by a sound technician trying to mike me up, and then went straight into the Getting Published Session. One word – BRILLIANT. I really enjoyed listening to the other panellists, having the opportunity to share some of my own experiences, and answering questions from the audience.
Then it was time for more one-to-one chats in the Blog Clinic, again a great experience. At this point I was starting to get a little hoarse!
Finally, I got the chance to get a few pictures of the stunning view from the top of Millbank Towers.

Thank you to all of the Mumsnet team for giving me the opportunity to be a part of Blogfest 2012. You all did an amazing job. And many thanks to all the mummy bloggers who attended the event and made it so special, some of whom have already been in touch on Twitter. Already looking forward to next year!