The Ultimate Dads’ Play Date
Dads’ Play Date – Dads Go Wild In Worthing
Being a Dad comes with a ton of benefits but on the downside it has one or two disadvantages and trying to sort out having a dads’ play date is definitely the latter.
Trying to sort a play date out can be a bit of a nightmare and fraught with potential obstacles. They seem especially hard if your little one hasn’t started school and established proper friendships. First, you are up against the mums mafia of the school gate gangs that have been set in stone. As a bloke, it seems almost impossible to infiltrate them. You are seen as a bit of a weirdo or a slacker because you haven’t got a ‘proper’ job.
There’s a mindset that thinks because you want to work part-time or become an SAHD so you can help raise your kids that it isn’t useful time spent or ‘normal’ man behaviour. Worse still, you can be seen as some ‘Playground Predator’ stalking the school gates for illicit encounters in a ready-made Daily Mail headline.
Fortunately, not all school gates are like this; I am on pretty good terms with some of the neighbourhood mums who have taken me under their wing. But it would still be nice to have some bloke-time. Share some stories, exchange the pressure points of the baby-raising game in between telling crap jokes and discussing why music is shit since the ‘Stones Roses’ split.
I’d been mulling that over for quite a while, thinking what I can do. I’ve talked it over with some other SAHDs I’ve met on Facebook, and they all seem to be in the same position.
What else can you do without looking like a desperate ‘Billy No-Mates?’
Put a request on some local Facebook page and hope it come to something?
But the scaredy-cat on my shoulders says it’s opening up a can of would-be worms. What happens if you have absolutely nothing in common apart from that you happened to have got your better half up the spout at roughly the same time?
I can be a bit socially awkward at the best of times; I don’t want to spend time talking about nothing but ‘kid’ stuff. It would be so nice to meet some other dads that are interested in similar things while the kids run riot down the local park. Most of my friends work standard 9 to 5s, and aren’t around during the day, so I was a bit stuck.
Recently I started working with a gift company that makes gadgets for people like Marvel and Disney. I mentioned that the lack of dads’ play dates was a common problem and why didn’t we have some fun and try and solve it? So that’s what we did.
I sketched out some ideas for what was turning out the be the ultimate ‘DadsPlayDate.’ I reached out to some of my SAHD’s mates and got them to come down to Worthing with their kids for the day and have some adventures.
Dads’ Play Date in Worthing
Last year, the tennis player Andy Murray was famously compared to a ‘Wet weekend in Worthing’ at the ‘Sportsman of the Year Awards.’ Charming, but a bit unfair. So I set out to prove that, despite the rain, you can have a good time in a town written off by people that have never been there.
We took the best of a traditional day out with dad and mixed it with some bacon sarnies, superheroes, a trip to an old a beautiful old fashioned cinema that offers ‘Saturday morning pictures’ at £2.50 a pop. Try getting that down your soulless local multiplex.
Then it was on to the Lido on the seafront. Over a hundred years of history encased in an old beachside ‘entertainment’ centre that hadn’t changed since the 1970s.
It was a bit like stepping on the set of ‘Life On Mars’ but going back in time didn’t seem to faze the kids at all. Jumping about on trampolines and developing gambling habits via the flashing lights of the 2p slot machines is a timeless pursuit, it seems. After a feeding session that resembled an explosion in a sarnie, fruit and Pom-Bear orgy, it was time for the highlight of the day.
As we entered a pristine showroom, stocked floor to ceiling with gadgets and gizmos, it was enough to turn even the most ‘Grown-up’ amongst us into a quivering Christmas Eve of a child with anticipation.
— DontBelieveTheHype (@DBTHSocialPR) April 16, 2016
“Here you go”, said Alex, the Paladone Marketing Manager. “Open anything you want, play with anything you want”. It was like a scene from a more middle-aged Tom Hanks in ‘Big’. We gorged on a mass unboxing session of over 400 gadgets, including some very cool virtual reality headsets.
Four-year olds ran around wearing the latest virtual reality headsets while chucking ‘Slinkies’ about. Boxes got ripped open to squeals of delight, then tossed aside as they went one from one shelf to another. But it didn’t matter as three seconds later they were picked up by another pair of small, sweaty palms eager to see just how durable they were.
Some of the dads sat quietly on the floor next to their offspring making cardboard cutouts of the Batmobiles or battling Rubix Cubes with all the determination of their 1982 selves. In the background, a medley of ‘The Stones Roses’, ‘Madness’ and Dad-flavoured greatest hits wafted through the air (check out the tunes here).
It was a bit like being handed the keys to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory’ except this hopefully had a better overall health and safety record when it came to children and foreign workers of diminutive stature.
The kids then got put to work. Well, we can’t have the freeloading beggars having everything their way. We split them into teams, gave them a load of craft materials and got them to come up with some ideas for the latest gadgets, ready to pitch to a panel of experts in a swanky boardroom.
Picture the scene. Imagine ‘The Apprentice’ crossed with ‘Dragons Den’ and then fuelled by ‘Mister Maker’ off his tits on Acid and you would be halfway there. I’ve been in countless brainstorms in my 20-year career, but nothing like this.
— DontBelieveTheHype (@DBTHSocialPR) April 16, 2016
I now recommend if you ever get a creative block, give the kids the problem to solve. They don’t do ego or politics and aren’t held back by any sense of decorum. They just explore, create, re-imagine, speak their minds and wave pairs of scissors around dangerously at the crotch and eye-gouging level.
The results of their labours came in the shape of an ‘Incredible Hulk’ fist egg-cup that smashes itself. Some very weird-looking Star Wars related beauty gifts for blokes, niftily-entitled the ‘Face Awakens’ and a virtual reality board game called ‘Baddie Blaster’. It crossed ‘Top Trumps’ cards, some ‘Jumanji-type’ animation and an app. Well, all baddies need blasting don’t they? I used to use a stick to shooting villains when I was a nipper, now they use an app. Says it all.
What was surprising was how the kids got right on board and played happily with each other. No tantrums, no meltdowns or squabbles.
Mainly I think because they were kept fed, watered and constantly on the go. The trouble starts when the kids get bored and the dads get bored, imaginations don’t get fired and patience gets worn thin. But there wasn’t time for that on a wet Saturday in sleepy old Worthing last week.
Now the only problem is how to top it, and find some local dads to enable me to it regularly.
What’s your recipe for a perfect dads’ play date?