“A couple of days or just a few minutes is all it takes to change the path of a young person’s life. How often do we break up our time, step out the front door and give our children one of the few gifts they’ll remember, a special memory made so simply with the people they’ll love.”
There’s a lot of guilt that comes with being a working parent. Modern life is so fast-paced and frenetic, with seemingly endless demands weighing on us all each and every day and taking us away from the one thing we really crave and know we should be doing – spending quality time with our children.
Our always-on culture means that it’s very hard to disconnect. Even when I’m in the midst of my ‘free time’, it often doesn’t feel like that – I’m only ever just a click away from another email, tweet or breaking news story. All of these tiny distractions add up, and can stand as a barrier to creating valuable memories for our children and positively shaping the way that they view the world.
So yes, fatherhood brings with it a lot of responsibilities, and it’s far from easy. That’s why it was so refreshing to read Alex Gregory MBE’s honest and humble account of his own experiences as a father-of-three in his newly-released book Dadventures: Amazing outdoor adventures for daring dads and fearless kids (Harper Collins, 2018).
As a two-time Olympic Gold medallist, five time World champion and World record holder for the Great Britain Men’s Rowing team, it’s safe to say that Gregory has quite the impressive resume. But it’s clear from reading this book that his greatest accomplishment, and point of pride, is his children and the experiences that he shares with them.
Dadventures is an inspiring call to arms for Dads and children alike to get away from screens, kick open the door and embrace the great outdoors, whatever the weather.
Filled with bonding activities that can take anything from just half an hour to an overnight expedition, Gregory is realistic that time is not always on our side as parents, and also doesn’t shy away from the difficulties and frustrations that can come with raising little people (“How many of us pick our children up from school and ask, ‘How was your day?’ only to get the single word ‘Fine’ back? It’s like getting blood out of a stone sometimes.”)
But his book also challenges us, as fathers and as role models for our kids, to be inventive, creative and have fun together, eschewing the easy option of yet another children’s TV viewing session and instead going outside of our comfort zones.
With outdoor activities divided into a host of categories – from after school walks and half day experiences to pushing away from the land, Gregory’s suggestions range from the simple to the surprising: there’s everything from blackberry picking and den building, right through to building an ancient bridge and a snowless igloo! I personally cannot wait to build a bat box with my little person, and each suggestion comes with a step-by-step guide of the materials needed, how to approach the adventure, and this rather helpful visual guide, making it perfect to dip in and out of.
But what truly sets Gregory’s book apart is the personality and warmth that he injects into it, offering personal accounts not only of his own experiences as a parent, but also of his memories of his father and grandfather who clearly influenced his love of nature.
His stories took me back to simpler times; an era before 24/7 news cycles and binging on Netflix.
An inspiring, fun, warm and highly personal book – illustrations from the author’s young children bring to life many of the activities in delightful fashion – this really is the perfect gift for Father’s Day and beyond.