In Singapore, mothers’ groups are highly popular. Women are gathering with their child or children to socialize with other mums, and let their kids have new playmates. There is already a great network of support groups for mothers throughout the community, and that made Danish father to a 5-year old daughter wonder: why not make a fathers’ group, too?
Mikael Nielsen, founder of BluePier and father to one, created Daddy Daycare in March 2016. The idea came from his quality father-daughter time, where his daughter will speak Danish with him and that way maintain her Danish roots. When she is together with her Japanese mother and her Danish father, all conversation is in Japanese, and both Mikael and his wife believe it’s important to let her have time with each single parent, where she can practice Danish and Japanese respectively. According to Mikael, father-daughter-time doesn’t have to be alone time.
“Originally, I wanted to start a group of Danish parents, where we would let our children play together and maintain their and our own Danish language skills,” says Mikael Nielsen. However, the idea of a group only consisting of fathers came up, because Mikael Nielsen believes it is healthy for the child to have both quality time with their father and their mother respectively.
Just like a mothers’ group, Daddy Daycare is created for fathers to meet with their child or children for social events, and have a great time together.
Making it casual without fuss
Since March 2016 Daddy Daycare has had weekly events, and the group consists both of Danish and international fathers.
“Daddy Daycare is not a ground-breaking idea, but I believe it’s healthy for the child to play in an environment without “a mother hen”,” says Mikael Nielsen. He remembers the differences of being with either both parents or with only one of them from his childhood. The child deserves to know the different environments.
”While mothers tend to fuss over their children, fathers can be more relaxed. There is also a difference in the activities from typical mothers’ groups compared with Daddy Daycare. For example, Daddy Daycare does fishing trips together with the children,” says Mikael Nielsen. The children can also get their hands dirty in the sandbox without a mother’s concern of mudded laundry. The fathers are more relaxed.
And according to Mikael’s daughter, the Daddy Daycare events are something she looks forward to.
“She thinks it’s really interesting to meet new playmates, and she thinks it’s fun to try something new. One of the upcoming events are prawn fishing, where we will make a barbeque together afterwards. I think that is a typical father-thing-to-do,” says Mikael Nielsen.
Daddy Daycare are not meant to be a permanent day of the week or month, but instead it is meant to be a platform for creating events and initiatives.
“The idea is to let others know about an upcoming event, and then it is up for the individual to join. For example, if I plan to go on hike at MacRitchie’s with my daughter on a given day, I will let others have the chance to come and join.” he says.
According to him, it’s easy and more casual this way.
“Daddy Daycare is not meant to be advanced. Often people are prevented to show up to events because of distance, why Daddy Daycare is a great way to gather small groups throughout the community.”
Focus is happy children
Based on the support from the other fathers joining Daddy Daycare together with positive feedback both from children and fathers (and mothers), Mikael Nielsen wants to promote Daddy Daycare, and is currently working to build up Daddy Daycare’s own website. At the moment everything is managed by the Daddy Daycare’s Facebook group.
“Daddy Daycare deserves to be more than a Facebook group. Both fathers and children are happy with the concept, and so are the mothers, too. They also deserve to have some time for themselves,” says Mikael Nielsen.
And even if you are a father not living in Singapore, there is a lot of countries in Southeast Asia who have already created fathers’ daycare groups on Facebook, tells Mikael.
But the overall goal is neither to maintain Danish, having fathers socialize, or happy mothers: the number one goal is happy kids.
“As long there is a playmate for our child, it is a success,” he says. He points out the importance of especially an only child having the option to play with other children, as they don’t have any siblings at home for playmates.
“And when the children are happy, everybody is happy.”
All photos are stockphotos.