Aw, dads. Bike-stabilising, spider-catching, DIY-(debatably)-doing, monster-chase-awaying dads. They taught us things and made stuff up that we thought was brilliant. They helped us with our homework, and ended up doing it themselves. They gave us advice, which was sometime actually right.

So in celebration of Father’s Day, we asked the nation to reveal their best bits of undiluted, delightful dad-ness over the years. Dad… this is for you.

We caught up with adventurer and super-dad, Ben Fogle, to find out his top tips when it comes to winning over the kids.

Master the art of den building. Den making is one of the simplest things to do with the kids. I used to love constructing my own secret dens and very much still do – it brings out the big kid in me. Use pillows and lots of blankets to make it extra cosy and for those who want to take their den building to the next level, we use old army tarp for the outdoors which acts as a great addition to your fantasy hideaway and (most importantly) keeps you camouflaged!

Make a tree house. Building your first tree house is something you never forget. My late grandfather made me my first tree house, complete with pulley, ladder and table. I loved it. I have adapted a shack at the bottom of our garden into a sort of tree house, made out of pallets and complete with turret, secret trap door and pirate flag to get imaginations going!

Get a signature dish. There’s always a ‘Daddy’s special’ in every family. Whether it’s your legendary spag bol, pancakes, cookies or simply toasting marshmallows make sure you have a signature dish. I have to admit this is usually my wife’s expertise, but my secret hobby is baking bread and my children love it, so learn how to make a loaf of bread with your children and remember bread baking machines don’t count!

Practice makes perfect. I have taken part in plenty of sand castle building competitions over the years. We all love sand castles. It’s the perfect excuse for us dads to regress to being kids ourselves. Make sure you dig on the right texture of sand. You don’t want the sand to be too dry or too wet.  If all else fails – give in, do your dad duties and let them bury you in the sand!

Embrace the rain. Half term or summer holiday plans can soon be scuppered due to the great British weather but as the old saying goes there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. A pair of wellies, a waterproof coat and a change of clothing ensure you’ll enjoy your day out regardless of the weather.

Know your ice cream. Ice cream will always provide a brief respite for mum and dad, so knowing how to create the perfect ice cream sundae is a skill worth having. I can draw on my year as an ice cream scooper when I was 18. Vanilla is a pretty safe bet as it can easily be transformed with chocolate sauce, sprinkles and cream. What’s not to like?

Perfect the paper airplane. Kids love discovering how to make their own paper airplanes and having competitions with each other to see who can get the furthest. It’s all about weighting and wing span. Think of the science behind real planes. Propulsion with negative and positive pressures on the wings.

Be brave (or sometimes pretend to be). I’ll admit it. I don’t really like spiders. Who does? The best way to remove a spider without showing your nerves is take command. With positivity comes calmness. If you are jumpy, the spider will be too and it will cause much hysterical shrieking that will perpetuate our fear of arachnids.

Learn how to survive with toddler tantrums. Of course, this is easier said than done. We’ve all experienced what I like to call the ‘total meltdown.’ My advice is to use distraction tactics. Use all your imagination to take attention to something else. Never give up…or in.

Be creative. Turn old socks into puppets. All you need is some extra fabric and material and you can create any number of animals or creatures. It’s also a great creative activity to do with the kids. Why not also use all the kitchen foil to turn yourself into a space alien. See also loo roll to turn into a mummy. Guaranteed to provide laughter and entertainment.

  • Comment by Angela Madden

    My husband just needs to book some concert tickets and his job is done! He is a Scout Leader and I am proud to say he has ticked these boxes for my son and daughter and for many other people’s children too. Support your local Scout group and enjoy making a difference.

  • Comment by Sue Pinder

    My husband has ticked most of the boxes (not the coking, unless its over an open fire in the woods) for our boy, but their favourite time is in the woods with a stick, a pair of binoculars, some of our dogs and a river. They can spend all day – some real quality time and not a screen in sight.

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