The next interview in my Universal Parenthood series is with Oli Reed – The Outdoor Dad. The first father on my blog, his feed encapsulates everything that I suspect my partner wants for our child! Oli is forever going on adventures, big and small, with his son who is under two, and his partner and, while we have done our fair share with our son, Oli and his family definitely put us to shame!
As his blog name might suggest, Oli is passionate about the outdoors. His blog post on the importance of getting our children outside shocked me with the statistic that he included from a recent study, reporting that three quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates. However, he also reviews lots of products designed to make getting outside that little bit easier, and lots of suggestions to encourage toddlers to get out too!
What I also find really refreshing about Oli’s feed and blog is the way he talks about his son. It could well be that I’m mixing with a particular type of undemonstrative male, but it’s not often I come across men that are so open with their absolute love for their children. It’s really lovely to read the captions and posts on The Out Door Dad because they radiate warmth for his son!
I really enjoyed interviewing Oli and seeing things from a father’s perspective – have a read of his interview and see what you think!
1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
There are 4 of us. Myself (a mid-30s out-of-his-depth dad), my wonderful partner Gemma, our crazy little 22-month-old boy Sonny, and our even crazier 12-year-old Jack Russell terrier Mario. And despite all the madness, we all still get on quite well.
2) If you could give one piece of advice for an expectant father, what would it be?
Take as much time off work as you can so you’ll be at home for as long as possible after the birth. Those first few weeks as a new family were without doubt the happiest of my life, and it’s just kept getting better ever since.
3) All of us parent differently and have different values. What is your most important parenting value?
I just want Sonny to experience as much as possible and try as many different hobbies and activities as possible until he finds what it is he loves doing. Whether that’s playing football for Barcelona and captaining England to World Cup glory (my preferred option), learning to play guitar, hiking up mountains, riding horses, taking dance classes, watching wildlife, spotting trains, learning to cook, or anything else – I just want him to see the world and experience lots of great things while he’s growing up.
4) What motto do you try and live by?
Great question! I just try to squeeze as many things as I enjoy doing into each day. Not always easy and I don’t always pull it off, but I try my best!
5) What are your hopes for your son?
Sounds cheesy, but I just want Sonny to grow up happy and active. When I was a kid my parents encouraged me to try so many new things, meet so many new people, and generally just see as much of the world as possible from a really young age. I’m planning to do exactly the same for Sonny and hopefully give him the best chance possible to grow into the coolest and most rounded little dude he can possibly be.
6) You grew up in the Pennines with an outdoorsy lifestyle and wish to recreate that for your son. Do you think children have less freedom in terms of adventure and exploration than we and our parents generation did?
In some ways yes, but in most ways definitely not. Growing up in a remote countryside location like I did meant I was able to roam around the hills and local woods on my own with our dog from a young age. And even though I know people are more reluctant to let their kids do that kind of thing now, it’s definitely still possible if you live somewhere rural. It’s less easy in towns, but then just look at the things we can do with our kids now that we couldn’t have done 30 years ago. It seems like there’s a great indoor soft play centre or outdoor adventure playground in every town these days, which are great places for helping little kids get more active and build their confidence. Even though Sonny’s not even 2 years old yet he’s been biking, canoeing, hiking, and swimming in the sea with me, plus he’s been on two foreign holidays! The world in general is a more accessible place and I think the opportunities for young kids to get out and explore are growing all the time.
7) your blog post about the importance of children getting outside shocked me with the statistics, particularly that three quarters of our children spend less time outside than prison inmates. With an ever increasingly technology driven world, do you think that we can change this situation?
It won’t be easy because technology is advancing at such a rapid rate (I work for a mobile app development company and see it on a daily basis) but that just means as parents we have a huge responsibility to show kids there is a world beyond tablets, consoles and mobile phones. Organisations like the National Trust, the RSPB and the Scouts do a hell of a lot to promote kids getting active outdoors – and I’m hopefully in the early stages of an exciting new project aimed at connecting more outdoorsy families. Still very early stages, but watch this space!
8) As an ‘instadad’ in a world full of ‘instamums’ do you feel a little outnumbered on social media?
Not so much outnumbered – I just wish I was better at it! I’m amazed by how well some people have mastered the various social media platforms and managed to build such strong brand identities. If anything, I’m probably just a little bit jealous!
9) You had two weeks paternity leave. Do you wish you could have had more? Do you see the need for a change in the system regarding paternity leave?
I should have read ahead to this question. See my answer to question 2! I wish there was a way for dads to get more time off but I’m not sure changing the system would help – I just think it’s down to each employer to figure out the best way for their staff to deal with the situation. If you work for a company with 10,000 employees it’s easier to take a long time off than if you work for a company with three employees. I can certainly see it from both sides.
10) Parenting is tough and beautiful all at the same time. Can you tell us about a tough time and a shining moment that you’ve had as a parent?
I can’t complain too much because we’ve had a great couple of years, but there have been times I’ve come to work off the back of around 2 hours’ broken sleep and felt very sorry for myself. My shining moment is the 2 weeks we spent on holiday in Mexico before Christmas. My favourite ever family holiday, summed up by this photo. What a little legend this guy is!
I hope you enjoyed reading Oli’s interview – find him here –
Instagram – the_outdoordad
Blog – The Outdoor Dad
Facebook – The Outdoor Dad