Pa Patrol assemble! Last Saturday, in the heart of London, The Dadsnet held its fourth DadCon. It was an action-packed day featuring 100 dads, expert-led workshops, a stand-up gig, four freaky looking mannequins and some beer tasting.
DadCon tickets ranged in price, depending on how far in advance you booked, but mine cost £20 and I believe that to be good value.
Why? Well, I believe it partly because the goodie bag was stuffed with Panini FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 stickers and Organix products that provided a healthy and nutritious snack when I was a tipsy on the train home (sorry, not sorry). And partly because, in addition to the wide range of Fuller’s beer we got to taste, every dad received two free drinks (one in Wagamama and one in Mahiki). But mainly because it game me the opportunity to chat to my peers, listen to their stories and learn the following…
1. Dads are struggling under the pressure to do it all
Once upon a time being a “good dad” began and ended with providing for your family. Now, it involves providing for your family, going to baby classes, planning fun excursions, helping around the house, booking holidays, making time for your partner, making time for your friends, making time for yourself, updating social media and a number of other things.
Obviously, this isn’t solely a dad issue (a lot of modern mums are in the same boat), but judging by my discussions at DadCon it does seem to be something that 21st Century dads are really struggling with.
So what’s the solution? Fantastically, the Our Venture Beyond tribe have decided to close their business, sell their house, sign out of the rat race and travel the world. But if you’re not brave enough to do that, then I suggest crossing your legs, holding your arms in the air and shouting “sasquatch”.
Ha, made you do something silly. I actually suggest that you stop stressing and start talking to other dads. Why? Two reasons.
- Having aired my concerns to some of my fellow fathers at DadCon, I can attest that a problem shared really is a problem halved.
- You’re almost guaranteed to find out that they feel the same stress, helping you to realise a) that you’re not alone and b) that you’re not strange, weak or failing.
The next steps
Got that? Great, now either go and talk to one of your existing mates who is also a dad, or check out The Dadsnet. Along with having a closed Facebook group where dads can share posts privately, it also has local groups that meet up all around the UK. Find your nearest one, sign up, go to a meeting, open up and bish, bash, bosh. Your mortgage might not have come down, but the world will seem like a better place.
2. I’m known as “the dad who writes the songs”
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet – largely because I don’t own one and have the musical ability of a sleep-deprived walrus – but a couple of people at DadCon recognised me. Happily, it wasn’t because of my short-lived attempt to become an Eminem impersonator in the early 2000s. And even more pleasingly, it was because I was “the dad who writes the songs”.
3. Dads want to talk about sex, but find it difficult
The workshops at DadCon covered everything from blogging to fitness via den building, fussy eating and finances. But the one most dads were talking about in the pub afterwards was the Relationship MOT with Dr Karen Gurney (aka The Sex Doctor).
“For me, it sums up why this event is so good, as in no other place would dads feel comfortable enough to open up about their sex lives in front of other guys who they don’t know,” said one, while another admitted: “I said a load of stuff that I could have never told my mates.”
“You’re right,” added a third. “You can tell your mates about the good stuff, but the bad stuff is much more difficult.”
Conclusion? If you’re struggling to get your sex life back on track after having a baby, don’t despair. You are by no means the only one.
4. The Dadsnet is far more than just a website
It’s a living, breathing community of fathers who will go above and beyond the call of duty to support dads who are in trouble. And if you don’t believe me, here’s an example from this weekend.
Towards the end of the dads’ night out, one father was so overcome by the joy of the day and the difficulty of his everyday situation that he had a slight mental hiccup. At the time, The Dadsnet’s Al and Jen Ferguson and a couple of other dads took him for some fresh air, gave him a hug, listened to his issues and helped him to re-find his equilibrium.
Unfortunately, this same dad would later get lost on the London Underground and miss his train home. Worse still, his phone was out of battery, so he was unable to inform his partner, or anyone else, about what had happened.
When he didn’t return home, his partner feared the worst. Word got to The Dadsnet and it swung into action. Men who didn’t know the individual, suggested solutions, called hotels, comforted his partner and drove around checking train stations, bus stations, service stations and all sorts of other places.
It was an incredibly powerful display of #solidadity and it got the happy ending it deserved when the chap walked through his front door and into his partner’s arms (before charging his phone and writing a lovely thank you message to The Dadsnet and all of its members).
5. Sam Avery captures the comedy of parenting brilliantly
Stand-up comedian Sam Avery (aka The Learner Parent) provided the headline entertainment at DadCon. If you’ve seen this Liverpudlian laugh machine in action, you’ll know that he deals with hecklers assertively and captures the comedy of parenting brilliantly (special mentions to the “big boy” skit and the snail gag). If you haven’t, I implore you to try and catch him on his upcoming tour.
6. I need a haircut…
And possibly a new photo face…
Until next time…