What is life like on the other side of the hood? Four dads share their insights into fatherhood – their challenges, dreams, loves and life.

Simon Leysham - Fatherhood Insights

Simon Leysham

Simon is a stay-at-home Dad living in Brisbane with his partner Holt and daughter Olivia. He loves travel, design, style, spending time with his family and excellent champagne! You can find him blogging over at Champagne Dad Style.

If you could go back to the day before you became a dad and tell yourself one thing, what would that be?

I would tell myself to get someone else to take photos on a good camera of Holt and I welcoming Olivia into the world. The ones we took were on an iPhone and a bit blurry from us shaking!

What is the most difficult conversation you have ever had to have with or about Olivia?

A mum at kindy didn’t know what to say to her daughter to explain that Olivia doesn’t have a mum so she told her Olivia’s mum died! We are very open and honest with our daughter about how she came into the world and she knows no different but to say her mum was dead was hard! Olivia has two dads but does call her surrogate mother her ‘tummy mummy’, which is something she came up with herself. So to then have to talk about death and try and explain all this was quite hard when Olivia was only 3!

What would you tell other dads who are exploring surrogacy for their family?

Be prepared to be patient and RESEARCH as much as you can, as it’s a long and complicated process. Talk to other families who have gone through the same process as they will have the best information for you.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

We love France! We cant wait to go back and bring Olivia their for the first time hopefully next year.

What do you wish you had done more of before you became a dad?

Nothing at all. Growing up we didn’t have much money and my parents who came from a small town and married young would always say I wish we had done this etc.. So I always said I would not have a kid until I felt I had done anything and everything I wanted to do for me! I travelled for 6 years living in different parts of the world, had different careers, friends, partners, drank too much , slept in, So many cool experiences. When I met Holt I felt ready. Kids don’t stop you from doing anything either. I’m addicted to travel and have so many places to go its just different with a kid.

What is on your Father’s Day wish list this year?

Breakfast out (we eat at home lots these days lol) together with Holt and Olivia and maybe some champagne too.

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Danny Katz - Fatherhood Insights

Danny Katz

Danny Katz is a newspaper columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and the author of The Modern Guru column in the Good Weekend. He is the Author of Little Lunch (Black Dog Books), three highly illustrated, hilarious stories about a group of kids and their adventures during the fifteen minutes of Little Lunch.

What is the biggest change you found in yourself when you became a dad?

I think I became nicer. Before kids I was a bit of a miserable git but kids made me stop thinking about myself, made me start focussing on others, and I became a loving and happy man. Then my kids grew into adults and I’ve gone back to being a miserable git again. An even gittier one. You don’t want to spend any time with me. I repulse myself.

What are the words you live by?

Never be clever. I tried it once. It did not work out. Also, shut up now and then and try listening to people. Also, don’t do the forced smile when you get nervous, you just look gummy.

If you had one extra hour in each day, how would you spend it?

I’d like to say I’d spend it wisely by enriching my soul with good literature or calming mindfulness or the joyous company of loved ones, but I think I’d just watch more eps of Get Shorty on Stan. So I’m not sure I’d need that extra hour, I would not use it productively.

What do you want your daughter to say about you at your 100th birthday?

I hope she says something nice about the wonderful qualities I passed down to her; a love of music, a gift for cooking, a passion for words, and an ongoing issue with over-pronated flat-feet that require pricey customised orthotics. I won’t hear a thing of course; I’ll be completely deaf, grinning like an imbecile.

What do you wish you had done more of before you had kids?

I was financially poor in my pre-kids years, so I wish I’d had a bit of money so I could do all that fun stuff that other young singles seemed to be doing – hanging around on maxi-yachts in the Whitsundays, slamming down tequila shots from each other’s lint-free bellybuttons. I never got to do any of that. Everyone else did. Not fair.

What’s on your Father’s Day wish list this year?

I don’t want any pressies: I’m not a pressie kind of guy. Maybe a Yum Cha brunch in Chinatown with my family. I like Yum Cha: you never know what’s going to appear in a bamboo steamer. It comes from the Chinese word “Yum” meaning “Yum”. And the Chinese word “Cha” meaning “and sometimes not.”

Andrew Hansen - Fatherhood Insights

Andrew Hansen

Andrew Hansen is a comedian, actor and musician, best known as a member of Australian comedy group The Chaser. His debut children’s book, Bab Sharkey and the Animal Mummies: The Weird Beard, was released in May by Walker Books Australia.

What is the biggest change you found in yourself when you became a dad?

Apart from sleeping 50 less hours a week, I suddenly became all emotional and wussy. I now find myself blubbering over human interest stories in the news, when before I would have gone ‘Pfff!’.

What are the words you live by?

“Anyone who’s so certain of things that they have words to live by can’t be trusted.”

If you had one extra hour in each day, how would you spend it?

Fixing the clock.

What do you want your daughter to say about you at your 100th birthday?

“I suppose he isn’t TOO bad.” I’ll be pretty happy if I manage to get that.

What do you wish you had done more of before you had kids?

Have kids. I should have done it sooner. The curse of not having a kid is you don’t know how much fun it is to have one. So it never occurred to me that the sooner they appeared, the more time there’d be to hang out with them.

What’s on your Father’s Day wish list this year?

I wish for knowing what date Father’s Day is. I never know when the damn thing comes around. At least with Christmas or birthdays, they’re on a certain date and they don’t move about all over the place. It seems to drift around like one of those hairs in the bath you can never grab hold of. So if anyone out there does know when Father’s Day is, please drop me a line and let me know. My own dad would really appreciate it for one.

Shane Roberts - Fatherhood Insights

Shane Roberts

Shane is a dad of two girls and the Director & Founder of Funky Monkey Bars, a family business about bringing back the fun and resilience that comes from active outdoor play.

What do you wish you hadn’t wasted so much time worrying about as a dad?

I think before kids you worry a lot about your ability to be a parent and certainly question yourself on whether you will be a good Dad. The reality I think is that you can only be true to who you are, not become someone else. The most important thing is to always give your love and to not be scared to show your kids that, at times, you too can be emotional and vulnerable.

What dreams do you have for your kids?

My greatest dream for my kids is that they lead a healthy and happy life and continue to be active and learn. Whatever path they choose, I hope they are continually challenged and that they never simply accept the status quo.

What is the biggest change you found within yourself when you became a dad?

Growing up in a male dominated family, with only a brother, I now find myself with three girls in my life; my wife Tracey and our two daughters Maia and Lila now 15 and 13.

Perhaps this has brought about a softer side to me that I never really knew existed. I have certainly become more patient as a Dad and I am continually learning to be aware of my emotions and feelings and those of my girls as this is really important in building strong and understanding relationships with my daughters.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

I’d love to be camping with my family back in my homeland, New Zealand – looking down on a right hand point surf break. Surfing all day with the kids and then chilling at night around a fire, eating great food and enjoying the region’s red wine with Tracey.

What is your favourite thing to do with your kids?

I love being in and around water with my kids; swimming, surfing, water-skiing or paddling. I grew up learning to love the water and this is something I really wanted my kids to be passionate about and thankfully they are. I love seeing my girls challenge themselves – they’re really in to their local surf club, swimming and water polo and I just love watching them have fun.

What’s on your Father’s Day wish list this year?

To be honest – nothing. I just love that each Father’s Day the girls always go out of their way to make the day special, with hand-made cards and gifts, helping me out and just hanging out with them at home is awesome. However a cheeky ticket to an Indo surf camp would also be well received!

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