I loved watching TV as a kid. Some of my earliest memories are of dragging my Dad out of bed, way before the sun had risen, to come and watch Sesame Street on the sofa with me. As I got older, trips to the local video store to rent a VHS for the evening were a treat to be cherished. My consumption of these TV shows and movies are to what I mostly attribute my love of American culture – the things that have prompted me to make many trips across the Atlantic to be a part of the fantasy land I have been fascinated with for so many years.

Back in those days though, these programmes were, for the most part, exactly that. Fantasy. With the exception of learning numbers with The Count from Sesame Street, there was little in the way of education on the box (at least in the shows that I watched). However, I don’t ever recall my TV time being restricted or dished out as a reward or anything like that. It was just something I did because I liked doing it.

Anyway, I digress. My point is that these days I hear so many parents saying that they don’t allow their kids to watch TV, or that they are never given the opportunity to “play” with any technology. Before I continue I have to say that I do genuinely respect differing opinions on how to raise your children. One of the first things that I learned as a Dad was not to judge other parents. That phrase springs to mind… “Everyone is fighting their own battles – try not to be a…”. You get the idea. There is though, a distinct difference between disagreeing with an opinion, and disrespecting it. I have no problem whatsoever with Thea watching the television or using one of our many devices that we have in the house. She already knows how to access her own folder on my iPhone home screen, select the apps she likes to use, and repeat the process when she wants to switch between them. The difference is that almost every single app she uses or TV show she watches has an educational benefit. Dave and Ava Nursery Rhymes on Apple TV (which she can already access herself using the Siri remote!) have helped her learn her ABCs from start to finish ahead of schedule. Her speech is coming on so well, thanks in part to reciting her favourite songs and rhymes along with the TV. This, combined with other things like the great work that the team at Snapdragons Nursery do with teaching her all sorts of stuff, is really helping our little girl develop her intellect and independence.

Yes, there are also games that we play that have very little educational value. Unless that is, you count being able to catch a Pokémon (or Poképon as Thea calls them) as a life skill! Sometimes though, fun and Daddy/daughter bonding supersedes the need for a learning goal.

Proof that we go to the park! :p

For those parents reading that disagree and are probably muttering “Why not read a book? Go to the park!” or something similar, of course we do all that too. I strongly believe though, that the world in which our children will be adults, will be so heavily reliant on technology that learning these skills from an early age will play a crucial part in their later success. Restricting them from this now would be the same as if we were prevented from learning another language when we were at school. Technology will be one of the most important languages they will need to be fluent in as they move into adolescence and beyond.

I’d love to hear any thoughts on both sides of the argument. Leave them in the comments below if there is anything you’d like to share. If not, then just enjoy this picture of Thea, ecstatic in her completion of a game which required no screen of any description! This girl just loves to learn…


Anyone with a child will almost certainly remember the first time that child was left alone with someone other than Mum or Dad for more than a few hours. For one reason or another, it took us until just after Thea’s second birthday before we took the plunge and booked a grown-ups only long weekend trip to New York. The fact that we never really got to jet off somewhere exotic for our honeymoon, combined with my recent big 4-0 birthday guided us towards doing something more adventurous and bigger in scale than a nice little weekend in the country.

We’d always talked about visiting New York together as a couple, so that is where we set our sights. The decision to go as a two, rather than a three, was a difficult one – probably in part due to how long we had left it before making our first trip sans baby. However, you can’t really go to the city that never sleeps and end up back in the hotel room by 7pm each night with a beaker of warm milk now can you? The 86th floor of the Empire State Building would have surely been a more anxiety-inducing experience with a toddler charging about and climbing the rails and the logistical nightmare of navigating a buggy around the marauding masses in Times Square was also not a challenge we relished. You get the general idea.

As we tucked Thea into bed on the Friday evening that we left, the reality that we were going to be more than 3500 miles away for the next 5 days suddenly started to sink in. I had purposely booked a non-refundable hotel room so we didn’t have the opportunity to chicken out – which would have been so easy to do! We pulled out of our cul-de-sac and began the drive up to Heathrow. A few tears were shed, but for me, the fact that we had started our journey made it somewhat easier. The build-up to this moment had actually been pretty stressful. The days and weeks of see-sawing decisions… should we? Shouldn’t we? The weight of these choices had now been lifted from our shoulders and we could now head off and enjoy ourselves (or at least attempt to!).

One of the hardest parts was being out of contact completely while we were on the plane. With all the luxuries of modern technology that we take for granted these days, for 90% of the duration of our trip we could see Thea within a matter of seconds via FaceTime. However, having no Wi-Fi on the plane (at least none we could access without selling a kidney), meant that we were totally out of reach for a few hours. Once we landed and checked in with Thea, and of course saw that everything was totally fine, it set our minds at ease somewhat and we headed to Manhattan, desperately trying to remember how to function independently as adults.

We had an incredible holiday, managing in 3 long days to cram in the must-see monuments of the Statue Of Liberty, Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, the incomparable Broadway version of The Lion King, a lengthy walk (Pokémon hunt) around Central Park, the obligatory samplings of NYC’s finest pizza, bagels and other sundries, as well as a once-in-a-lifetime evening with my adolescent idols Temple Of The Dog at Madison Square Garden.

When we finally got back and picked Thea up from nursery her response could have been so easily predicted. She ran across the room and threw her arms around Gemma for a huge hug. It took her approximately 5 seconds to turn around, exclaim “Cake!” at the top of her voice, and march back over to her friends around the lunch table. Miss us? I’m not sure she even knew we had gone!

Sometimes, no matter how much you love your kids, you have to do something just for you – as a single parent or as a couple it is so important to not lose touch with who you are. Yes you are a Dad, a Mum, a parent, but you are still you. Getting away for a few days together for the first time since Thea was born allowed us to do just that – some things for ourselves. It gave us an appetite for adventure, a taste for travel that we are committed to repeating… we’ll just take her with us next time 😉