Family life of a blogger dad

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The Bancroft family consists of Matthew, 34, and Heidi, aged five. They live in Birstall and Matthew has been separated from Heidi’s mum since Heidi was eight months old. Matthew is a chartered accountant who works in the NHS. In his spare time he runs the Leeds Dad blog ( where he writes about days out, parenting and travel.

What are your top tips for getting children to do what you ask? Bribery! It’s very difficult to be rational with a little child and you have to talk in a currency that they understand. Usually that is lollies and extra play time!

What family task takes you the longest? Definitely breakfast time. I am often torn between letting Heidi have a bit longer in bed or making sure she eats all of her breakfast. If only she would go to sleep when I asked her to.

What’s the weirdest thing your children have done/brought home/done to your house? I think that it was when Heidi was toilet training and after seeing myself use the toilet a few times, she wanted to give it a go herself - standing up! The results were not ideal.

Have your children ever really, really surprised you? How and why? I think the confidence that Heidi shows every day amazes me. She doesn’t have any limits and is such a chatterbox. I guess it comes from going out and about so much.

What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids? It’s more the bizarre voices that I have developed since having Heidi. She loves hand puppets and we have a small army of puppets, all of which have a different voice – including a crocodile which sounds very much like Boris Johnson.

What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done? We were having tea in a pizza chain with friends. The waitress asked the children if they wanted water and Heidi calmly said “I need plenty of water because I have a water infection”.

Mini moan - what really gets your goat? Baby change facilities. Please make sure that they are in the men’s toilets as well as the ladies’ and generally make sure that they are clean, including the bins.

What’s your favourite family day out? The Rainbow Factory in Farnley. Heidi’s imagination developed so much from going there and I will happily spend all day in Heidi’s school holiday watching her do activities.

What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately? We love travelling together. And love spending weekends in London – showing a young child round the capital city is a very special thing. Closer to home, we love doing science experiments.

hat’s the hardest thing about being a parent? For my circumstances, it is saying goodbye when Heidi goes back to her mum. The blog was born as a way of self-therapy to deal with the separation.

What’s a typical evening for the grown-ups once the children are in bed? Usually it is either checking up on social media or doing a bit of blogging. I’m usually too tired from a full day at work to do much else.

What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why? It might be stretching the boundaries of Leeds, but Billy Bob’s Parlour is a really good restaurant in its own right, but the play areas are amazing. Additional bonus if you can get a table in the yellow bus!

What’s the best thing about weekends and why? Freedom! We aren’t watching the clock about when we have to get up and go to bed and don’t have to rush. However, when we get up and dressed, we don’t stop until it’s bedtime.

What is your most treasured memory? We had our first daddy-daughter holiday to Jamaica and I was carrying Heidi onto our connecting flight in Atlanta, the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds” was being played. It was an emotional moment as it had taken a lot of effort to be able to get into a position to go on an overseas holiday together.

What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds? I would want the city centre to become even more child friendly, particularly at weekends. Child Friendly Leeds do so much good work, especially over this summer, and I’d love for them to be given the opportunity to make an even bigger difference.

What’s the children’s favourite food/meal? Her favourite is Sweet and Sour chicken Cantonese style from the local Chinese takeaway on a Saturday evening.

What’s your top penny-pinching tip? The Friends and Family railcard is such good value for money. You can make your money back even if you just go on a family trip to London.

One family member’s proudest achievement? Heidi got 100 per cent attendance at school in her Reception year and while some of that is down to luck, it also shows her resilience and determination, which I am most proud of.

What one item can you not live without? My phone! It is always right next to me and I probably use it a little too much.

What can your children not live without? Her right thumb! Heidi has always been a thumb sucker and her right thumb has soothed her on so many different occasions.

Child’s favourite book and author. Heidi loves reading, but doesn’t have a favourite book. Each night, she picks her own book and every time, it is different! If I could answer a slightly different question about Heidi’s favourite song/artist, that would be any Bob Marley song. After our holiday to Jamaica, she gained a love for the reggae genre, but especially the song Buffalo Soldier.