Graeme Mawson is one of our Dads group leaders, find out about his experience starting up Dads of Healesville and some of his tips and tricks about being a Dad.
You’re facilitating Dads of Healesville (DGI), tell us a bit about that?
In the months leading up to the birth of our first child I was really aware of how
Dads don’t get social support opportunities in the same way mothers do. Maternal and Child Health services connect mums together, but somehow dads are left out of the picture. Working in the ‘sector’ I felt challenged to somehow connect dads together in our community – especially since I now fell into the new dad category. I actually came across a work event flyer where Tom (Docking – Chairman of DGI) was speaking, so emailed him to find out more. It was great timing as I’d been doing some research and then discovered that lots of the work had been done! I headed off to ‘Man with a Pram’ with a mate and the rest is history! We started a monthly gathering in Healesville with some of the dads in my partner’s MCH mothers group. From there we’ve grown and connected with around 20 dads, through monthly catch ups in local parks and cafés. We also held a dads only night at one of our local breweries which just happens to be run by two dads of under 5 year olds!
What is your best dad tip?
Read to your child. Right from birth I’ve been intentional to read to my son, and he has developed a real love of books, plus it has really encouraged a lovely bond to develop between us.
Could you tell us anything fun or quirky thing you do with your kids?
Well I’m a coffee snob…so I’ve taken to showing my son how to make a coffee from quite a young age. As soon as he hears the coffee grinder we do our little ‘coffee dance’ and he sits up on the bench and watches. No…he doesn’t drink coffee yet, but he does know how to say ‘babycino’ when he hears the milk steamer! Family gave my son a great wooden toy coffee machine for his birthday, and his imaginative play has taken a step in a lifelong habit direction of lattes and espressos!
What do you do to have a fresh head space for your family / self / work?
This is an area I’m still growing in! It can be hard to switch from work and the demands of managing multiple projects to then come home and be fully present for my family. When I can I like to go for a jog with the dog, although the dog is usually more energetic than me. I do enjoy getting into a TV series that helps me escape a little. And I live in the Yarra Valley, so a catch up with friends over some local produce helps too!
What is the best thing and the most challenging thing about being a dad?
The smile on my son’s face when I come home from work is one of the best sights in the world. The opportunity to provide positive learning experiences and seeing the learning take hold in my son is amazing. From looking at animals in a book to him then seeing them in real life and naming them is amazing to observe. Broken sleep at night is the most challenging aspect of being a dad for me!
I heard you have been making up some DGI Dads Packs? Tell us a bit about them….
Who doesn’t like a freebie, right?! The DGI packs are about getting some helpful resources into new dad’s hands. Sometimes we don’t know where to look for information and the dad’s packs are about connecting dads with helpful organisations and ideas to support them in their parenting journey. They will have ideas of things to do with your child, resources to help look after dad’s mental and physical health, and of course info about local DGI groups! We’re hoping that the info in the packs will assist dads who might have been unsure how to look for help or even afraid to ask if anyone else is having the same thoughts or feelings as them.
What inspired the DGI Dads Pack?
I happened to pick up a few information booklets for dads and thought that more could be done to get this info into the hands of new dads. The packs given to new mums through hospitals don’t seem to include this information, so I figured the opportunity was there to do something similar for dads.
DGI is about helping new dads get together, can you say a few words to inspire other new dads to join or start a new DGI group?
We all need people to chat with in life who have gone through similar life experiences. There is wisdom in sharing learnings, mistakes and wins! DGI group provide a great opportunity to connect with other guys, have a laugh, and realize I’m not the only one who makes mistakes as a new dad! It’s great to connect with other dads who get the change in life circumstances, where late nights are no longer the best idea and don’t feel silly for eating dinner at 5:30 pm!
If you are interested in joining a Dads Group local to you – please get in touch with us here to discuss.
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