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Dad of the Month – DIY Daddy
Nigel from DIY Daddy is our Dad of the Month! His raw and honest posts help so many of his readers. He is a twin Dad and has a very unique experience raising twins and older children. He is kind, hard working and really cares about his audience. This is all about Nigel! Learn more about the man behind the popular blog, DIY Daddy.
Nigel, tell us a bit about yourself, where you from are and when you started blogging.
I’m a dad of five children aged 24, 22, 20 and 7 year old twins. I’m married to Emily who is also a blogger over at Twin Mummy and Daddy . I’m from Wales in the UK and I started blogging just over five years ago. Im also a painter and decorator.
Blogging started as a hobby, which to some extent it still is, but it gradually has become a part time job. I started my blog by accident in truth. I fell from a ladder while at work and broke my wrist in four places so I was unable to do my regular job as a painter and decorator. I got very bored at home and consequently the birth of DIY Daddy Blog was born.
Why did you choose the name DIY Daddy?
Choosing the name DIY Daddy was very easy because I’m a painter and decorator by trade and I also do many other DIY jobs for my clients. It seemed a very logical name to call my blog. I still try to write blog posts that have many DIY hacks. It was just a play on words of being a dad and my job as a painter and decorator.
Nigel, you have created this incredible site for parents everywhere, but you also created it for your family as something you could look back on. Tell us how the blogging journey has been.
My blogging journey has been a rollercoaster ride and I never in my wildest dreams expected that anybody would read it, let alone that it would give me the fantastic experiences it has given me along with the success it has achieved. The journey has been brilliant. I have never felt anything but love from people and I have been lucky enough to feature highly in dad and parent blog lists. I have won the occasional award too. It is easily the most enjoyable experience of my life where I have been able to write about many aspects of my life. The fact that people actually take the time to read my blog posts is very satisfying. Finally long after I have gone it will be there for my children to read. It will hopefully be my legacy to them.
Tell us about the moment you first became a father.
My eldest child is now 24 years old, but I will always remember the moment she came into the world. Becoming a dad fulfilled me. It was what I always wanted to be and I knew in that moment I had found my purpose and destiny in life.
Being a twin Dad is a whole other journey that many parents tip their hat to you! Tell us about the moment you realized you were going to have twins!
Haha! We found out very early we were going to become parents to twins. Panic was my initial thought. How could I possibly cope with two babies at the same time? It seemed an almost impossible task. After a few minutes of the realisation that we were going to have twins, I thought about how special it is. Two babies at once and I then felt very blessed and instantly knew that we would survive twins and be ok!
What is your most hilarious #dadlife moment?
There is always one moment and that’s when we were on holiday in Menorca. I was sitting on a sun lounger taking in the sun and my twin girls came up from behind me and poured a cup of ice water all over my head and it was seriously cold!
My wife managed to take a photo as the girls were running away and the laughter and excitement on their faces is something to cherish forever. I couldn’t do anything but laugh!
We’ve noticed unlike other Dad Bloggers you have a special section for mental health. Why is mental health an important part of your site?
Throughout my life from my early teens I have suffered from depression and over my adult life I have been in some very dark places. When I first started to experience depression it was not even considered an illness, but it was very real to me and help was simply not available. You were quite often just sent away from your doctor with medication and told to get on with life. I eventually got therapy and that started to put lots of things in place in my mind and help me identify when I was going to suffer a bout of depression. I was able to see the signs, the triggers and this allowed me hopefully to stop spiralling into a dark place.
When I started blogging five years ago, I already had it in my mind that I wanted to write about my journey of depression and if being open and honest about my experiences and how I learnt to cope with mental illness would help anyone else after reading one of my posts then I felt I had done a good thing. We need to still be more open about mental illness and remove the stigma surrounding mental health completely so that people seek help before it is too late.
Why is society always telling Dads to “toughen up” and to “hide their emotions?”
Society and attitudes towards men and their emotions is deep rooted in history and like so many things it takes generations to change. The world has moved on but unfortunately inherited attitudes have not caught up with the world today. Men are still seen by many as the strong breadwinner of the family and no matter what happens in life to them they must never show a weakness by crying or showing any emotion.
This is changing, but very slowly and like many inherited behaviours and attitudes it will take time. Thankfully many men are now saying no! Enough! I have an emotional side to me and if I need to show my emotions I will. You have removed the stigma behind the issue and allowing men to cry if they want and stop them bottling it up all inside as this will have a detrimental effect on their well being.
What is your message to anyone feeling like they’re breaking inside but do not have permission to express themselves because of society’s constraints?
My message is very simple. I have learnt from my own experiences not to hide away in silence but to open up and talk even if initially it is only to loved ones. If you need help don’t let society dictate your next move. We can only change society’s constraints if more and more of us speak out and simply say I am not coping with life and I need help!
DIY Daddy is all about promoting other Dads as well. You are always giving back to others. Tell us about the Brilliant Dad Feature!
The Brilliant Dad Feature came about very early in my blogging life, the reason was actually quite simple. I was always reading what it was like to be a mum, but I rarely read what it was like being a dad.
Dad bloggers were becoming more common five years ago and I thought why not highlight dad bloggers on my blog every week and ask them what was special about being a dad to them. The feature ran for about 130 weeks and it never ceases to amaze me how different the answers were to the same six questions. It is without a doubt one of the proudest features that I have done on my blog.
We LOVE your Gender issues section where you highlight double standards that are right in front of us every day. Tell us about some of the many things that need to change from what you have found.
I never really thought about this until my twin girls were born. Prior to them being born my older children were growing up in a world where gender was simply pink or blue, never to be questioned. Looking back this was ridiculous but society just refused to accept change at that time.
When my twin girls were born, and as they grew up and developed their own personalities and characters I found that they were so different. This was highlighted even more because they were twins. In fact I called them my superhero and princess. That’s how different they were and still are.
Society needs to change the way we look at boys and girls. We need to realise they are all children and irrelevant of gender they will have their own tastes and likes. Shops need to stop dividing the children’s departments. I consistently have to go to the boys department for one of the girls because she doesn’t do pink and frilly. She likes superheroes and Star Wars which are rarely found in the girls department.
Society simply needs to allow children be children and stop putting them in gender specific areas. It will take years to change, but I believe this current generation of children will change it and the children being born now will be able to be whoever they want to be.
Twins say and do the funniest things! What are some of your favorite moments?
Oh my goodness, there are so many but a couple that spring to mind are when my wife was at playgroup with the girls a few years ago. M burped very loudly and then said I burp just like daddy. A priceless moment.
We were out for Sunday lunch and I said to R you should drive home, to which she replied I would drive home, but I don’t know how to start the car.
What is it like having children who are both young and young adults? Many parents are in the same boat but it is not spoken about too often!
It some ways it’s like having a family twice. After having my first three children I never thought for a minute I would go back to having babies again.
So when the twins were born I thought this will be easy, I’ve done it all before. What I didn’t realise was twins is a totally different ball game and so much harder, but this is where the older children were invaluable in helping out.
The most difficult thing for me is you are dealing with different ages and that is always a minefield. Trying your best to access the demands or needs of children of different ages so you can help and guide them through life.
Tell us about your wife, Emily and Twin Mummy and Daddy!
My wife Emily is my blogging hero. She started her blog, Twin Mummy And Daddy, probably about eight years ago and her dedication to it has never ceased to amaze me. She encouraged me to start my blog and has always been hugely supportive of my blog and never once has had a problem helping me.
My admiration of my wife Emily is massive. She is so determined to make sure our twin girls are happy and will do anything for them. She is also the best role model the girls could ever have. Once she has set her mind to do something she will achieve it which shows the girls that anything is possible in life if you just want it. For me she is the perfect mum.
Hard question… what has been your favorite blog post to write?
This is difficult because I wouldn’t call them my favourite posts to write. They’re more my most satisfying posts to write because they allow me to get my feelings down in words on my blog.
There is one post that will always stand out for me. It’s a very personal post about my relationship with my father. The relationship was always very dysfunctional and I went many years without seeing him from my childhood to his eventual death.
On the day before he died I received a phone call to say he wouldn’t last very long and was close to death. It had been about 15 years since I had last seen him. After a lot thought I decided to go and see him. He was in a coma type state but seeing him gave me closure over a pretty messed up relationship. A few days later I wrote a post called, Do I see my father before he dies. By writing it down it helped me process a very difficult moment in my life and move on.
— NIGEL: DIY DADDY (@NigeHiggins4) January 24, 2020
Hard question #2- Happiest family memories that you are willing to share.
Being a dad is in itself a happy memory for me. I have been so lucky to have five children. The happiest moments will always be when all five of them are together in the same room. Watching sibling love is such a special love. Nothing quite compares to it and it happens rarely so I always savour those moments as my happiest family memories.
What would be the advice you would give a new Dad? What advice have you heard in the past that you would you tell him to ignore?
I was told when I became a dad for the first time not to listen to everybody when they are giving you advice on how to care for your new baby so basically ignore the vast majority of what is usually well intentioned advice and do it your way. Trust your own instincts because they are usually right. It’s your child and you will know what’s best for them even if you don’t think it’s right at the time.
What would you like to say to your audience who has followed your journey through blogging?
A huge big thank you is really what comes to mind straight away. I have been so lucky that my blog posts have been read and that so many people have passed comments on so many of them. If anything that I have written has helped anybody then I will be eternally grateful.
Without all the support and kindness that people have shown me from all over the world my blog would probably have been long forgotten. I have loved every single second of my blogging journey and without the readers it would never have been as successful as it has become. I am at a loss for words to describe how that makes me feel.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Baby Spot CA for featuring me and also supporting my blog over many years.
Find Nigel on Social Media and like his pages!~