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Donning the DAD hat

With his humorous and witty nature, who better to approach about fatherhood than Upper Highway’s award-winning dad blogger, Don Dinnematin.

Known better as The Don Father for his experiences, thoughts and random musings about parenthood which are written in an honest, light-hearted way, Don’s quality content – and photographs – has a fresh approach to the usual parenting blogs. Little wonder he scooped a laurel at the South African Parenting Blogger Awards in 2019.

With appearances from his gorgeous wife , Milly, he blogs about his adventures of being a dad to his three beautifully busy children, six-year-old Gia, three-year-old Koah and Tayo who is just one. Don strongly believes that being a great dad need not be defined by your past.

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Photo: Silver Lining Photography

“Growing up, my dad was hardly around, and when he was, he wasn’t actively present in our lives. I never witnessed what it was like to have a completely dedicated father figure around. I had a lot of self-doubt and worry about the ability of being a dad as I had no reference to learn from. All I could do was give it my best. I never dreamed that starting a blog and talking about parenting from a dad’s point of view would be so well-received. I am continuously humbled and grateful.”

Don started blogging when Gia was just four months old and says it has been an adventure-filled past few years, working with local and international brands – the likes of one of top South African natural health and wellbeing brand Pure Beginnings, innovative travel systems brand Noola, and Nokia Mobile South Africa –  and meeting many incredible people along the way.

Always being a dreamer with big crazy ideas, he says sometimes his ideas are really good and sometimes Milly has to step in with her logic and wisdom.

Photo: Silver Lining Photography

“I’m lucky to have her by my side as not only a wife but also as a best friend, business partner, proof-reader, sometimes photographer and generally the one who always has the answer. When it came to us having kids and me questioning how I was going to become a great dad when I didn’t understand where to start, Milly instilled direction in me. She helped me realize that I didn’t need a male role model to look up to or to learn from, all I needed was to believe in myself and know that we are not always handicapped by our past. I realised that whatever I went through as a child with my father, was an opportunity for me to know how I didn’t want to father my children.”

What makes a great dad? “Don’t be content with the fact that you’re simply a dad. Be actively present. Play your role in teaching and guiding your children through life. Love and respect your wife and allow your kids to witness this. As dads, we are hugely influential in the eyes of our children. When it comes to our three, they have such vastly different personalities and I love how Milly and I get to experience each one. As a father, I need to make sure the foundations are in place to pave the way for them to explore, learn and tackle life. As parents, it is our duty to always be there, cheering them on from the side, and reassuring them that some mountains may seem difficult to climb, but patience and perseverance always prevail.”

Photo: Silver Lining Photography

A few tips from The Don Father …

Get hands-on from the beginning: Getting involved in daily activities from the beginning is the best way to build your skills and confidence as a dad. These everyday activities also create lots of one-on-one time. Confidence is the keyword here.

Recognise your children are different: Children adopt different roles within families and that is fine. It is good to understand that and to accept, encourage and celebrate each child’s individual role.

Enjoy what’s precious about each stage: By the time you have three kids; you realize how fast it all goes. By the third, there is no real nervousness and worry about if you’re doing it right. You get to simply love, enjoy and celebrate that little life.

Become a master of efficiency: Give parents-of-three 30 minutes and we’ll have a family of five full-bellied, dressed, bags packed and ready to hop in the car. It’s a mastered skill, but it’s possible.

Learn how to simplify: With three kids, the stuff can really pile up. We’ve learnt that life is better with less. If something does not add real value to our lives, we set it free.

Stay flexible: There’s no magical system that will work for every family, so try different options to find one that works for yours. Even when you find your own special method, try to remember that it won’t work every time and some days will be tougher than others. However, if you’re a little flexible, you’ll soon find a way that works for both you and your kids, where everyone is getting things done most of the time.

Find your own quiet corner: Not everyone is lucky enough to have a spare room they can use as an office. But if you work from home and you can, try to set aside somewhere in your home to be your work area, and let the kids know that this is a no-go area for them. Make sure you are comfortable and there are not many distractions.

Protect your time: Try and stick to a schedule, as if you were in an office. Make sure everyone in your family knows that your work time is for work. This will help make sure that your long bursts of dedicated work time are uninterrupted.

Get outside: Our well-being needs to get plenty of time outside. Improving mental and physical well-being requires some fresh air, sunlight and time away from the screen. Join the kids outside and zone into play for 15 minutes.

Details: IG and FB: thedonfathersa or thedonfather.co.za

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