Guest Post: Dean Edwards, dad to Indiana 7, (his other day job is as resident chef on Lorraine), opens up about life as a single father.
“When people hear the words ‘single mum’ this can bring about negative connotations about men – almost like us Dads don’t want to play a role in the upbringing of our children. Every situation is different but I knew I was always going to play a very hands on role. I’m sure there are many men out there that are happy to play a part time father role and I do blame society for that mind set. It’s too often deemed that a mother should take a lead role in parenting, so many fathers hide behind this. I’ve had to adapt and learn new skills like doing Indie’s hair (okay, that’s a guilty pleasure of mine). It’s up to us Dads out there to play an active role and be a role model to our kids and that starts by showing respect to the child’s mother whatever the situation.
For me it’s been possible to have an amicable relationship with my ex and this makes things a lot easier. Lets be totally honest about this, the only ones that suffer when parents are at each other’s throats are the kids. I’m in the fortunate position where Indie’s mum and myself are great friends. From the outside I know it may look weird that not only can we be great pals but I can also socialise with her partner. So many times the parental dynamic can be set by how society looks on a certain situation. And it also takes a great person to come into our situation and realise there is nothing to be threatened by our friendship. I’m very lucky that Lou’s partner Nick is a fantastic bloke, we are all like minded and he knows that he can also play a very substantial role in helping Indie grow into and become the person we all hope she will turn out to be. Lets be honest it makes things so much easier that we all get on.
‘Mum Plus Ones’ talk about how bereft they feel on the weekends that they don’t have their children but dads feel this way too, when I don’t have Indie I feel lost, and I know her mum feels that way too. A lot of the time I sit there thinking, “How have I become so reliant on a 7 year old to fulfil my life?” I really do miss her when she is with her mum. It does make me focus more though as I really try to smash as much work as I can in when I don’t have her, that way when I do have her with me we can concentrate solely on having fun.
My approach to food has changed since becoming a dad, gone are the days when I could spend all my spare time, planning, shopping and cooking. These days time is of the essence so more often than not I put together food that is quick and easy and that we will both enjoy. I’m very lucky that Indie is adventurous when it comes to food but she loves the classics; cottage pie being her absolute favourite or a good old chicken korma from our local Indian, with poppadum’s and mango chutney – god help me if I forget the mango chutney ha ha.
My daughters favourite meal, believe it or not, is a good steak cooked medium rare but if I wanted to involve her in making a meal we’d cook something simple at home, we would knock up something like a chicken pesto pasta. I love to get her involved in the kitchen, as I’m a firm believer that if you get your little ones help cook the meal they are more likely to enjoy the meal. I’d suggest parents start with something simple, pizza, pasta or cupcakes are always a good place to start.
If your child is a fussy eater I’d suggest not being too hard on them, I always say to Indie “try it and if you don’t like it I will never make you eat it again” 9 times out of 10 the hardest battle is to try and get the food into their little mouths and more often than not she enjoys it. Regardless of this the buck stops with us parents, we do the shopping, we do the cooking and if we are filling our fridges and cupboards with crap then its obvious what the kids are going to gravitate towards.
My job as resident chef on Lorraine means an early start but it also leaves the rest of my day free to catch up on my other work, I think people assume that I only cook on TV for 5 minutes a couple of times a week but the reality is that I’m constantly working in-between, and then throw into the mix keeping a household up together, doing the school runs, cooking, the day goes before I know it. I am very thankful for the flexibility in my work life though especially around school holidays.
My perfect weekend with Indiana would be spent exploring new places or spending time with family and friends. More often than not this will always involve going out for some great food. Being in the west country we have so many incredible places on our doorstep, but I wont lie we do love a trip to London, especially when I can take her into work with me so she gets to experience the same incredible things that I do.
My priorities are different now that I’m a dad, Indiana and work come first and I have to sacrifice my personal life, whether that’s dating, relationships or a social life. My work takes me away from home a couple of days a week so when I am home my time is dedicated to her. I find it hard to put my personal life first so ultimately that does suffer. I know its crazy but I actually feel guilty putting myself first, one day I’m hoping that will change, probably around the time Indie hits her teens and decides she doesn’t want to know me anymore ha ha.
Dating as a single dad is different to dating as a single man, first off I’ve been out of the game for so long how do you even go about meeting people these days? Ha ha. Times have changed dramatically, so much now is social media based. The likes of tinder are absolutely not for me, so I actually do find it hard to meet people. Anyone that does come into my life in the future will have to understand I come as a package, for this very reason I do find it hard when it comes to dating, its almost like I’m worried I might fall for someone and that would change the dynamic between me and Indie. So if I’m honest I don’t really put myself out there. My Dad always tells me I’m going to be a lonely old man, we never know what’s round the corner for us and I am open to the thought of meeting someone but they will have to realize that Indie will always be my first priority.
The most rewarding thing about being a single dad is… the closeness I have developed with my little girl. If I’m brutally honest with myself I found it really tough when I split from Indies Mum due to the thought I wasn’t going to be able to play as big a part of her upbringing, there were so many factors involved and my biggest worry was that I wasn’t going to get to see my girl as much as I wanted or needed. Strangely enough I actually feel now that I spend more quality time with her, even more so than when I lived with her 7 days a week. I make sure that the time I do have with her is dedicated to her, ok I do spoil her but I’m also aware that she will never be able to say to me I wasn’t there for her, she is my world and if one day she can look up to me and say that I did a good job bringing her up that will make all of the sacrifices I have made in my personal life worthwhile…”
About Dean: Dean Edwards’ likeable persona and family friendly cooking style has made him a firm favourite on ITV’s ‘Lorraine’ since 2010 but he first made his debut on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ in September 2009 where he featured in a weekly cookery slot, creating dishes for the ITV audience. After coming second in BBC’s Masterchef Goes Large in 2006, he sought to change his life radically by leaving his career as a “digger driver” to pursue his love of cooking and food.
Deans’ ethos on food is that it should be achievable, simple and above all taste fantastic, after all food doesn’t have to be complicated. Dean’s inspiration comes from across the globe but always using ingredients familiar to us all. His passion for food is infectious, inspiring home cooks up and down the country to get back into the kitchen.
Other shows you may have watched Dean cooking on include ‘Take On The Takeaway’ ‘Market Kitchen’ ‘Saturday Cookbook’ ‘Good Morning Britain’ and ‘The Big Eat’ In recent times he has also worked as a brand ambassador for ‘British Eggs’, ‘Kikkoman’ soy sauce ‘British Asparagus’ ‘Bacofoil’ ‘OXO’ ‘Burts Chips’ and ‘Philadelphia’ He has also been a regular contributor to ‘Fabulous Magazines’ recipe pages since 2010. A well known face on the foodie festival scene for many years Dean is the author of two cookbooks entitled ‘Mincespiration’ and ‘Feel-Good Family Food’ Dean also has a very successful blog www.deanedwards.co.uk/blog
You can find Dean here: