Picniic App

Ok, I’ll admit it straight away, I am not the most organised of people!! Working full time, whilst having Heidi half of the time means that I struggle to know if I am coming or going!! This is one of the problems separated parents have to deal with as communication is not as easy as when you live together.

I was given the opportunity to review the “Picniic” app, which is a free app, but does have premium features* – to see if it was a way of helping my problem.

What is Picniic?

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Picniic is a simple app where you can share photos, have a mutual calendar and have a combined “to do” list. The premium version also allows you to add birthdays and anniversaries into the calendar on a recurring basis, have a meal planner with suggested recipes and a funky family locator section.

However, this video will probably tell you more about the app.

So why is it good?

Quite simply, the app is really easy to use. Yes, you can have a shared calendar on Google, and you can send photos on Whatsapp, and you can send hundreds of text messages reminding the other person to do something.

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However, this is all in one place.  You can control the information flow into one app which will make things a lot more organised and civil going forward.

Also, the app is so simple to use.  I found it hard to break the app to be honest because it is just neat and tidy. It sounds so simple, but it really is!!

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One thing that would be especially good for those with younger children is the meal planner, so both parents don’t give their child the same meal on 2 consecutive nights – it sounds so simple, but they are things that can happen now and again!

Why is it not so good?

Firstly, there are some features which is behind a paywall. However, there are no adverts within the app and so it is only fair that the good people at Picniic make a little bit of money!

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Secondly, there doesn’t appear to be a way of sharing videos within the app, which might cause a problem. You can happily share photos however

Conclusion

This app seems to do everything that you need it to do, to be able to get yourself organised. Life is hard enough – this app might make it a little bit easier to be separated parents who want to do the best for their child – and that is the only thing that really matters.

* Thanks to the good people at Picniic, if you use the code BLUKLD you can have a 30 day free trial of the product.


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“No More Worries” Kit

A gentle way to get your child to talk about their feelings

As a single parent, I do worry about how certain things affect Heidi now she has started school, especially around the fact her mum and dad live separately.

When I was offered the chance to review the “No More Worries Kit”, I jumped at the chance to see if it would help Heidi talk about any things that was on her mind.

The pack contains the following:

  • A “no more worries” plaque
  • Journal
  • Conversation cards

The plaque is a cool piece of kit where your child puts their thumb on it and it turns red to show that the fairies are listening (I did not verify whether the fairies did listen!). Once it turns green, the fairies have taken the worries away!! It is a really good way of trying to get your child to put aside their worries and stresses of life and keeps alive the magic of fairies! Best of all, it comes with a battery already!!

Fairy Plaque
Fairy Plaque

The journal is designed to allow your child to write down their thoughts and perhaps get an emotional release in that manner. As Heidi is only 4, this didn’t really work for us, but it did work well as an opportunity to draw the fairies which took her worries away!!  In truth, the journal is just a nice notepad, but a useful tool nonetheless.

Feelings Journal found within the pack
Feelings Journal

The final part is what I thought was the best part – the conversation cards. Without wanting to give too much away, these are questions that, as parents, we should be asking our child very regularly, such as “What makes you happy?” and “If you could describe how you feel in one word, what would it be?”

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The questions are quite simple to ask and answer (Heidi was fine with them) but they promote open answers and hopefully an honest conversation will follow from that. There are about 15 cards in the pack and generally you would only want to go through a couple at a time, so that it doesn’t feel as though you’re bombarding your child with questions. Using the plaque afterwards would be a good way to bring closure to the questioning.

Conversation Cards
Conversation Cards

After going through the pack, what did I find out about Heidi and her worries? Well, she seems absolutely fine with mum and dad being separate, and seems really happy with my new girlfriend.

So what did worry Heidi…..?!

Not being able to meet a real, live unicorn, and I am not sure that any type of product is able to make that happen for her!!!

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I need to find a real one of these!

You can buy the “No More Worries Kit” from the Irish Fairy Door Company – https://gb.theirishfairydoorcompany.com

Full Disclaimer: We were offered the product free of charge for the purposes of this post, although no influence has been made to alter the content of the post.

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Finding a Work/Life/Me balance

I’m writing this blog post in bed on my phone on a Sunday evening just after putting Heidi to bed. In truth, I should be going to sleep because I’m tired. However, after attending a Q&A held by Honest Mum (who can be found here) and The Rainbow Factory (who can be found here), I felt inspired to write…

I’m tired

I am physically and mentally tired… it is very difficult to be a single parent. It is very difficult to have a high pressured job. It is very difficult to keep up communications with your ex for the sake of your child. It is very difficult to start a new relationship. And I am trying to do all of these!!

And this isn’t a “Look how bad my life is” post (I have money, I am healthy and have a roof over my head – life could be worse). This is a self reflection on how I can make things better for myself and Heidi and hopefully give some ideas how you can do the same.

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What we should all be aiming for,,,

Priorities

Being an accountant and previously the main bread winner in a nuclear family, I’ve felt the responsibility to make sure money comes in. Sadly, money is important and I have made sacrifices to get better jobs. Should I keep on doing this? I don’t feel as though I have any option, so I might be spending more time in the car travelling to/from work than at home in the near future.

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This is how I feel most days!

Being Myself

Four years ago, my life fell apart after separation and my life was work and Heidi. That was it. This blog was the first step of me becoming me again. The next step was dating. However, it is so difficult. It is so tiring.

At times I want to curl into a ball and rest. However, I want to be my own person. I need to be my own person. It is a slow process and I sometimes feel guilty for going out without Heidi. However, a happy daddy will be a better parent for Heidi.

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I felt guilty for going to London without Heidi…

Going Forward

So how am I going to make things better? Here are a few things I’ve come up with…

– Be Organised. I’m pretty organised as it is, but there are still times when I don’t know where I’m meant to be in the morning or what time I’m finishing work. That’s not good!

– Say no! This might mean saying no to date night, no to people at work, no to blogging opportunities. I need to learn to say no and be confident to say no.

– Look after myself. Doing my first ever boot camp session this weekend has hopefully given me inspiration to better look after my body a bit better! I could do to lose a couple of pounds!

I’d love to hear your comments on how you manage all the pressures of real life and hopefully other readers will be able to use some of them in the future!!


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Travelling with a 4 year old as a single parent

The thought of travelling as a single parent is a scary prospect.  That is not a bad thing – it shows that you care. However, having been to Jamaica (with a connection in Atlanta) with just myself and my 4 year old, I thought that i would give some hints and tips which might make it easier, especially (but not specifically) if you’re a single parent.

Plan your bags

Chances are that you’ll be in a cramped seating area with your beloved child and they will want everything out of the bag at once – tablet, sweets, drink etc!! The best way to avoid a meltdown is to organise your bags – sweets in one section, travel documents in another, spare clothes well away from the sticky lollies!! That way, you can quickly pick items out of the bag without disrupting where everything else is!

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Food always helps!

Travel and Legal Documents

Might sound a straight forward one, but make sure you have your tickets, travel vouchers for the hotel/transfers and your passport. Make sure your passport is in date, especially as some countries require you to have 6 months left on your passport when you enter the country. Also, make sure you don’t need any additional Visas or injections. (My guide to applying for a passport can be found here)

Also, if you’re a single parent, make sure you have a copy of your child’s birth certificate and correspondence from the other parent that you have their permission to go out of the country. I never got asked for these, but I have heard of people who have been asked.

Oh and take copies of the documents and put a set in a different bag, a set with someone at home and ideally an electronic copy as well.

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Security

Airport security is perhaps one of the worst things in the world to do as a single parent.  One tip is to look really stressed and tired and hope that an airport employee takes pity on you and helps you through the process a little!!

However, when you know when you’re going to be going through it, take all your electronics and fluids out and either carry them, or put them in a carrier bag so when you get to the x-ray machine, you can easily put them on the conveyor belt and disregard the carrier bag if needed.  Different countries have different rules about children taking their shoes off, so either ask before you get to the x-ray machines or just get your child into the habit of taking them off.

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Hopefully the destination will be worth it!

Take pictures

Part of this is to look back at the brilliant time you have had. However, it is useful to take pictures of your bag so you can remember what it looks like when you land. Also, take pictures of your child so that if the worst happens and you lose them, you know what clothes they have on.

If you want ultimate parent points, just go for matching clothes – it really does work!!!

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This combo got amazing comments!!

Have fun!!

Life is about having fun and chances are you’re going on holiday and will have a great time. Relax and it’ll all be fine!

I have blog posts on Flying with a toddler and Flying with a 3 year old if they are of interest too!!

If you have any other hints or tips, please leave them in the comments below!


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Our First Holiday – an open letter to Heidi

As you may or may not know, I just took my first overseas holiday with my 4 year old. It was the one thing that kept me going during the dark times of stress and separation – it was the one thing I fought so hard for. And it was worth it, totally worth it.

I wrote this on the way home, whilst Heidi was asleep on me. I have to admit that I shed a tear whilst writing it, but it was a tear of happiness (and maybe a bit of fatigue!!). Anyway, enjoy….

———

Dear Heidi

I am writing this somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, on our way back from our first overseas holiday with just the 2 of us.

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It could have been the most horrendous holiday ever full of stresses and strains and not at all enjoyable for either of us. There were times running up to it where I thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I was under so much pressure to cancel it.

However, my trust and faith in you was so strong, I didn’t give in and I didn’t give up. I have dreamt of this holiday for a couple of years and I have to admit almost every day of our holiday, there were tears of unbridled joy that we were free and enjoying new adventures.

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Heidi – you have been an absolute star. I always say that I can take you anywhere and you have proved it so much this holiday. We have had fun, made friends, done new things and been living in each other’s pockets for just over a week and we have never got bored or fed up of each other.

So many people have said how well behaved you are or how they think you’re 6 years of age or older because of the way you hold a conversation. You make strangers smile in your company and most importantly, you make me smile so, so much. There were times when you were tired when travelling, but so many people said that you were such a good traveller and they were right.

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I am proud to be your daddy. I am proud to be your travel buddy. I am proud to be one of your best friends.

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Matching T-Shirts!

As you lay asleep next to me, I know these adventures won’t last forever, nor these moments of childish joy. However, let’s enjoy them whilst we can and live life to the fullest.

Time to look for the next adventure….

I love you Heidi
Daddy
XxX


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Leeds Dad starts dating again!!

In what is possibly the best timed blog post ever, given that it is being published on Valentine’s Day, I thought that I would write about my first proper date since my separation almost 4 years ago.

** Full disclosure – this has been shared with the (un)lucky lady before publishing **

It all happened by accident really. I wasn’t looking for romance, I was quite happy with Heidi and work and plodding on through life. Then, I received a random, yet nice message on the blog and we started messaging and after a while, we decided to meet – oh my word, I was going to meet a single woman for a date!!!

What started out as innocent, playful conversation suddenly turned real!! What would I wear, where about we meet, what day would we meet?? Worst of all, what on earth would I say?!?! How long can you string out “Hi, I’m a single dad, an accountant and I am a geeky blogger”?!

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However, I knew that I had to meet her. For far too long, I have been in my shell, played it extremely safe, and not been my own person – so I went for it.

The day of us meeting, I was a nervous wreck. People at work were amazing and while they playfully took the mick out of me, they also helped me so much. However, I didn’t eat after lunch (we were due to meet at 6.30pm) because I was so nervous and I went straight from work so I didn’t have to think about what clothes to wear!!

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I thought that I would feel guilty – as if I was cheating on Heidi. However, nothing would ever take my attention and devotion away from her. Going on a date wouldn’t change that. It would just allow me to be me again, even if it was just for one evening.

However, the one evening has turned into a few weeks now – so the first date must have gone well!! We talked for 4 hours – I was STARVING at the end once the butterflies died down. There were small bouts of awkwardness (how do you say goodbye on a first date?!) but the conversation flowed, without any assistance of alcohol and half an hour after we said goodbye, we both said that we wanted to meet up again!!

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Who knows where this will end up, but if you’re a single parent reading this thinking about getting on the dating game again – go for it!! Your children will always come first – a few dates will never change that – but it might help bring a smile to your face when times are tough and it will help you feel like you are an adult, rather than just a parent.

It is scary, but if a socially awkward geeky accountant can, anyone can!!


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