Welcome to Dad Rules!

This is a site / blog specially for
single dads trying their best to
bring up children and run a
household - all while trying to do
the jobs of both mum and dad.
Single dads just like me in fact.
There are hundreds of thousands of
single dad households in the UK,
but sadly there is very little help
and support available. All too often
single dads can feel frustrated,
lonely and struggling in a world set
up for families - and mums. I want to
change that - or at least give single
dads a voice and let them know
they're not alone. I will shortly be
adding to this site with a blog and
help sections, but do feel free to
get in touch at dad@dadrules.co.uk
if there's anything you want to see.

On Father's Day millions of dads across the country will be getting an extra hour or two in bed. Maybe a homemade card telling them they're the best in the world. Perhaps also breakfast - a runny egg and lukewarm coffee - brought up on a wobbly tray by keen little cooks with far more enthusiasm than ability. All set up and overseen by a watchful mum; capable, kindly, caring and armed with a warm smile and a raised eyebrow.

But not for me. Nor for many of the hundreds of thousands of single fathers who have to be both mum and dad, every day. No special time of rest, relaxation or simply being cherished for us. It's just another day running home and family. In that sense, I sometimes joke that for me, every day of the year is Mother's Day - when traditionally the dad gives the mum a rest by taking the kids off her hands. Death, divorce or just life can all conspire to create that rarely acknowledged phenomena: the single-dad household.

I was widowed very suddenly five and a half years ago when my wife collapsed without any warning and died soon after, leaving me alone with our three young children aged five to eight. Life as I knew it fell off a cliff face. My wife and I had fairly traditional roles, which worked well for us - she cooked, shopped, sorted the cleaning and did the bulk of the school runs and childcare while I took care of the bills and mortgage.

I always thought I had the bargain of the century in that setup, and luckily I think she thought she did too. But it did mean I was utterly unprepared for when I had to take over all her jobs - while simultaneously trying to understand and work through both my grief and that of my children.

I'm a fairly hands-on chap - I can fix a boiler, change a car alternator and build a computer. But I found washing the kids' clothes an almost impossible task. Not to mention doing the school run twice a day, putting a reasonably healthy family dinner on the table every night and trying to prevent the house from disintegrating into something out of Steptoe and Son.

I know those are all tasks that millions of mums - and yes, many dads - can do in their sleep without barely a pause. But I'm just built differently, so I had to learn these jobs from scratch. Painfully and slowly. I had lots of help family and friends but ultimately I had to forge my own path, and be prepared to stick to my guns even when it was difficult or I faced disapproval.

It's been tough. A rollercoaster ride with some very big lows, as well as surprising highs. One of the greatest sources of reassurance came from a charity group called Widowed and Young - for people aged 50 or under when their partner died - whose members helped me realise I was far from alone. Many of these fellow widows and widowers have become great friends, bonded by a shared experience of tragedy.

I think I do a pretty good job now in most respects. I've become a half-decent cook, and while my house isn't a show home it's usually vaguely presentable. But most importantly, my kids are happy, well adjusted and normal. They laugh, bicker and suck up technology like all other children their age - and become indignant when I turn the wi-fi off when it's time for chores. Of course, like many parents I still worry that in so many ways I'm still not quite good enough.

As a family we face challenges that most don't have to, and I know that even on the brightest of days there'll always be a dark cloud tucked away somewhere in our blue skies. But that's okay, and we all have futures despite our sad and difficult past. My relationship with the children is now very close and we've all grown, both emotionally and in our capabilities.

The kids don't have a mum with them anymore, but they do have a father who loves them very much and has been dragged - albeit kicking and screaming - into trying to be the best mum and dad he can. So today I raise a lukewarm coffee to all the single dads who are desperately trying to be just good enough. Take it from me, you really are - and much more.
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