Spotlight on The Fergusons

Tell us about the dads net, when did it start and how did it come about?

We started five years ago after I turned to the internet for support and found very little aimed at dads. I started writing a personal blog about my experience of miscarriage and pregnancy and I began to get emails from men all over the world telling me how much they appreciated having a little space on the internet for men to turn to. I realised that there was a huge lack of support out there and so I decided to try and provide a support network that could reach men far and wide. The Dadsnet has slowly grown to what it is today ; we now reach 1 million parents a month across our social media channels, have 14,500 members and 70 local communities that meet up offline. 

It’s the Fergusons has a huge Instagram following, did this come first and then the dads net?  

No. The Dadsnet came first but as our Instagram page evolved the followers wanted to see more ‘behind the scenes’ with Jen and the children. We changed the name to Itsthefergusons and set up a new The Dadsnet account that has many contributors, rather than just myself. 

I saw your instagram post about the lack of baby change facilities for men, this is a huge sore spot for me. I once got into a bit of a stand off in a restaurant as my husband was told he wasn’t allowed to change our son and that I had to as the only changing table was in the women’s. What advice do you have for dads when faced with this issue?

We’ve been running a campaign called #dadsforchange for 3 years now. Parents can add baby change facilities to an online map and label them as dad friendly or not. Users can then access the site to find suitable changing facilities. When my son Teddy was a baby I was horrified that so few establishments provided baby change facilities for Fathers to change their babies. Luckily the situation has improved massively and we’ve had some huge success stories with regards to changes made. For example, Strada restaurant added baby change facilities in to the men’s toilets almost instantly in Tunbridge Wells and then committed to providing them in all their restaurants nationwide.  

I watched both your instagram stories about having a personal styling sesh with Victoria Genevieve, (Jen I fell in love with your husband a little bit when he was saying how amazing you looked! ) Would you recommend a styling session for mums? 

Victoria is incredible.

As soon as I met Victoria I knew we would have much more than a client/stylist relationship. She looked incredible, but she put me at ease almost instantly & we soon felt like old friends. Victoria is really easy to open up to, which I think is a vital part of the styling and detox process. We spoke about how I felt about myself and my past. She made me excited about the possibility of change and about the process ahead. 

Victoria made me see that I had been hoarding clothes I didn’t need anymore. Clothes that made me feel self conscious, clothes that made me feel old, and unhappy with my present figure and clothes that held unhappy memories of the past. I had never seen my wardrobe in this way before but she was absolutely right - those items had to go.

Turning 40, with 9 past pregnancies and a chronic auto immune disease I had lost all self confidence & I hated my figure. I felt uncomfortable and old and I wore mainly loose fitting, black clothing. As a mum of 3, I have spent the past few years spending all my spare money on my children. They have absolutly incredible wardrobes and always look amazing. After them came my husband. I had always been bottom of the pile when it came to shopping. But Victoria completely changed my mindset. She taught me how important it is to place value and self worth upon myself. She taught me to see my body shape through her eyes rather than through my own highly critical ones. I don’t know how she did it but she made me feel less old, and happier in my own skin. 

Baby loss is something I’ve seen you post about a few times, what advice would you give anyone struggling to come to terms with it? Do you think there needs to be more support for dads as well when it comes to this?

We’ve sadly had seven miscarriages and we are now struggling with infertility. It’s a very difficult road and one that we struggle with on a daily basis. The only advice I could offer would be to try and communicate with your partner as openly as possible. You don’t have to be ‘the strong one’ and it’s ok to not be ok. I’d also recommend finding support. We provide support on The Dadsnet but there are other incredible support resources out there including Tommy’s and The Miscarriage Association. 

Whats next for the Fergusons and the dads net?

The Dadsnet was recently accepted on to the Facebook Community Leadership program which means we are one of 100 Facebook communities around the world that Facebook are supporting. This means that in 2019 we will hopefully be looking to employ our first staff member to help organise local dad meet ups nationwide.

Jen and I will continue to share our lives on Its The Ferguson’s. We’ve been lucky enough to have made some great friends online and Instagram is one of our favourite platforms. We feel extremely fortunate to love the work that we do and although it’s a 24/7/365 job that can be overwhelming at times the feedback we receive from Dads and their partners makes it all worthwhile. (An office wouldn’t go amiss though as I think Jen’s patience having me working from the dining room table for the past three years might be running out!) 

 

InterviewsHope Marshall