Father's Day: Dubai resident on his Instagram journey as a dad
Simon Hayhurst tells us about making the most of turning a first-time dad in the city in the midst of a pandemic.
For first time dad Simon Hayhurst, starting a ’Gram to showcase the giggles and the tantrums of his newborn daughter Ada Grace was a no-brainer. Since Ada was born during the onslaught of Covid in 2020, and his family couldn’t travel to see the young one, Instagram became the impromptu album for the new dad to show the adorable baby to the world.
Simon moved to the UAE full time 6 years ago to manage a lifestyle and passion project in water sports. Dubai being the land of opportunity, his interests quickly diversified into other areas. Today “being a dad is a job”, so now that is his main priority. Simon says there was a gap in like-minded sites for first time dads to seek support, which is what drew him to the medium. “As a new dad, there was no content I could relate to on social media, and with Covid I knew my inexperience as a new dad could definitely bring some humour to other dads stuck at home! My Instagram (@disasterswithdad) is also a great way for me to journal our life with Ada, and is our memory book. She will look back one day, and either love it or hate it!”
Simon credits his wife, Gemma, a nursery manager (“helpful when having your first child!”) who he met many moons back in Turkey, as his personal photographer. “As for the Instagram,” he admits, “I regularly get a disapproving headshake!”
On the occasion of Father’s Day celebrated in certain parts of the world today and others, including the UAE on June 21, Monday, we catch up with Simon to find out about his journey in fatherhood.
Your Insta is different from other parenting accounts, since the focus is on dad and not mum. Unfortunately, we are a society that lays the onus of bringing up kids on mothers and rarely on fathers. Your thoughts?
That was one of the main reasons for dabbling on the social media scene. It seemed there was a big gap to share my experiences as a new dad. It is daunting having your first child. I wanted to provide a dad’s perspective and space to see/discuss things that mums might not.
You are in essence the manager to a little diva! How does that feel?
I’m definitely not at manager level yet!!! I would title myself as her assistant, supervisor or health and safety coordinator…
Take us through a day in the life of Simon and Ada...
I supervise until midday, then work in the afternoon. As Ada is fully weaned, breakfast consists of a double espresso (for me) and some form of cooked egg. Followed by a kids’ session and dance with my brother in the UK who does music classes for kids (musicwithmike) on YouTube. Ada has also taken a real liking to Little Mix (mum’s influence), and then a few days a week a swim – however, that’s becoming trickier as it gets hotter and hotter earlier in the day.
How do you manage the Insta posts? Is there a lot of planning that goes behind the scenes to ensure you get ‘instagrammable’ content?
Zero planning in reality. One of the perks of running a dad account is not everything needs to be perfect; therefore, capturing the moments is easy. I also don’t feel pressured to post every day.
For most Instagram influencers, this is a full-time job - how do you manage to make it look easy?
It’s not work if you’re having fun….
Many parents are wary of posting images of their kids on social media. Did you have any such qualms?
Not really, but I am, of course, careful with what I post. I started the account during Covid. Ada was a newborn, and no family could visit or meet her (still the case to this day). Ada will be able to keep those funny memories forever……
You make parenting look so easy! You took her out four days after she was born to a pool party…
People don’t need to follow me if they don’t like my content. I think it’s refreshing for people to look at profiles and think “actually, why not” or “I could do that”.
Ada’s first swimming experience was at the Bvlgari – they don’t do pool parties (perception can’t be controlled). I was told it was tradition to wet the baby’s head and brought Ada along for the ride.
Things I’ve learnt so far; you can take newborns swimming, women are pregnant for 10 months, not 9, and that not breastfeeding is also OK. A happy baby is a fed one. In short, she’ll grow up to make her own life choices, and we will support her in any way we can. Naturally, life changes when you become parents but it doesn’t need to stop.
Simon’s golden rules of parenting:
*You should never run out of baby wipes!
*Locals are always incredibly friendly and attentive with small children.
*Having small children allows you to jump queue!
*Babies are resilient in the heat, but artificial grass gets hotter than the sun…
*There’s always a hidden gem available on the kids menu, which is not available on the adults menu!