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Striking the right family balance

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Hayley and Andrew Dodsworth, of Bardsey, have three girls - Emma, aged 14, Anna, 11, Olivia, nine.

Married since 2001, they also have two budgies, two guinea pigs and 10 pet gold fish. Hayley is the creator of a healthy eating concept for kids called ‘The Super Food Fight’, with co-author and business partner, Donna Harrison. Hayley is also a marketing consultant. Andy has worked for Unilever for 30 years when he joined them at 16 on an apprenticeship, currently as Process Safety Manager.

What are your top tips for getting children to do what you ask?

Treat them as equals and ask them, don’t tell them what to do. By having realistic timeframes and making sure everyone already understands the house rules/expectations works in our house.

What family task takes you the longest?

Definitely sorting out bedrooms as we are a family of hoarders and everything has sentimental value so accumulates.

Have your children ever really, really surprised you? How and why?

I am surprised by my children regularly. It’s usually in something kind they’ve done for someone else where I receive a thank you for them unexpectedly and reminds me how lucky I am. Cushions to cushion the blow is a good example. They made a cushion out of my Dad’s old shirts for my mum after he died.

What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids?

As a child I was a fussy eater myself, like my daughter Emma was. In Emma’s early years, when I struggled to get her to eat her meals, I would repeat the things my mum said to me in frustration.

What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done?

My daughter Olivia is a real character, often repeating what she hears. She impersonates people we know, picking out their mannerisms, and I think will eventually make the stage.

Mini moan - what really gets your goat?

I like to plan ahead, especially as there are five of us to take consideration, and hate last minute changes.

What’s your favourite family day out?

Favourite family day has to be Whitby. I love walking from Whitby to Sandsend and back along the beach, playing football, splashing in the sea, eating freshly caught fish.

What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately?

Andy plays crown green bowls for Bardsey. He is secretary and captain of the 1st team, while he also plays for Harrogate county. He started when he was 13 and is constantly promoting the benefit of bowls locally to encourage kids and families to join. At 46 he is still one of the youngest members.

Hayley started a local social/exercise group in 2011 called FitNFun, Walk . Jog . Run, to encourage locals to get exercise, meet their neighbours and use the local Bardsey Sports Club. The whole Dodsworth family take part in FitNFun including Emma (14) who has encouraged a group of teenagers from Boston Spa year 9 to join. We encourage our members to take part in lots of fundraising events with us like the recent Race for Life, Pretty Muddy at Temple Newsam where 10 of us took part. Anna plays football for Clifford Under 12’s girls football club. We walk, cycle and go camping as a family at the weekend and love the Yorkshire Dales and coast.

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?

For me it is to remember I am also an individual too. Everything for me revolves around family, my husband, my mum, my kids, with me last on the list of priorities.

What’s a typical evening for the grown-ups once the children are in bed?

I love drama on TV so at 9pm I make time to finally sit down with a cup of tea and watch something for an hour before going to bed. Andy often gets out his laptop at that time and catches up online.

What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why?

We love Piccolinos in Collingham. It’s where we go with my Mum to celebrate special events. We love the food and staff there who make you very welcome!

What’s the best thing about weekends and why?

Everyone has lots going on with birthday parties, sleep overs, football training, etc so I like it when we have a camping trip planned and we can be together as a family without wifi. We walk a lot as a family so if we don’t camp we still make time for a day out in the Yorkshire dales.

What is your most treasured memory?

It has to be my wedding day, which was very traditional church service at East Keswick Methodist Church, on a bright and beautiful summer’s day with my Dad at my side, Grandparents, and all my family and friends there to help us to celebrate.

What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds?

I’ve only ever lived in Leeds and I have always loved it.

What’s the children’s favourite food/meal?

My kids love greek food. We love holidays in Greece and enjoy cooking using authentic greek recipes at home. Emma loves lamb, Anna loves bbq chicken and Olivia loves halloumi cheese.

What’s your top penny-pinching tip?

I have loads of these: - we reuse everything, nothing goes to waste where possible. Smoothies using fruit like overripe bananas and kiwi gives the kids an essential boost of their five a day while using up fresh foods past its best.

One family member’s proudest achievement?

Hayley and Donna’s book being published. Everyone in the family was proud of the amount of time and dedication plus the fundraising element, which was in memory of Hayley’s Dad Nigel Ward, who died from cancer in 2015.

What one item can you not live without?

Hayley cant live without a notepad. As a writer I am constantly having mad moments of inspiration and have to keep a note of them.

What can your children not live without?

Cant live without seeing/hearing from friends and family.

Can you also tell me your child’s favourite book and author.

Hayley and Donna’s book, Emma Bright and The Super Food Fight. This was written for Emma to encourage her to eat better. Anna’s having her own book written at the moment which is due out this summer to continue the adventure, and tackle a new problem on the Island of Plenty.