Penguin’s very own Joel Rickett has taken the time out of his busy day to create the modern parent guide to ABC…isn’t he lovely?

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Read more of Joel Rickett’s top parenting tidbits for father’s day…

“What’s that? You’d love to have the grandchildren for the weekend? So kind of you. After all, Mummy and Daddy need their spa hotel breaks to keep sane….”

Us new parents rely heavily on the grandparents to share the burden, and there’s nothing better than dispatching the kids to stay. It works for everyone. We may sometimes joke about “free childcare”, or even “dump and run”, but we’ll be toasting you with our first glass of Prossecco.

Here are five tips for a smooth weekend, free of trips to the local A&E (or perhaps just the one):

1. Before the kids descend, make sure your kitchen is stocked with the exotic, luxury items they expect. These have changed greatly in one generation. We had jars of baby food; they have organic purees (Ella Kitchen or Innocent, please). We had Weetabix; they expect at least five menu choices for breakfast (Spelt Muesli, Granola, Waffles…). For emergency meals, always have a pan of Pasta Pesto on the go. On no account stuff them full of chocolate, ice cream and Haribo – they’ll refuse to eat a vegetable for a month.

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2. Sleeping routines are to be religiously observed. Follow the list that Mummy provides and adhere to it carefully, however absurd it seems (“At 10.12am, Lola has a 39-minute nap, and as soon as she wakes up she needs 30ml of organic full-fat milk warmed to 13C… Charlie will be fine if he goes to bed by 6.59pm, but any later and he’ll be FERAL tomorrow…”).

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3. No, they won’t be happy with a sheet of paper, a pencil, and “their imaginations”. And pretending cardboard boxes are cars or dens will not fool them for a minute. They expect iPads, loaded with addictive apps and games such as TempleRun and FruitNinja. Be warned: trying to part them from their digital device (to eat or sleep) usually results in a temper tantrum: an “iPaddy”.

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4. TV is fine, but they’ll demand a menu of digital channels (they learn to work the remote control before they say their first word). If you haven’t got Sky+ On Demand HD or similar, then stock up on DVDs. Not Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or The Railway Children, which will bore them to tears – it has to be Despicable Me 2 or anything from Pixar.

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5. Leaving the house with them? Brave move. Here’s a few essentials to pack for a short trip: Nappies, Nappy Sacks, Milk, Change of Clothes, BugaBoo, Drinks (smoothies and water), Wet Wipes, Raincoats, Swimming Costumes, Rash Cream, Plasters, Tissues, Car Seats, Booster Seat, Bibs, Spoons, Toys, Games, Books, Singalong CD, Hairbands, Gloves, Scarfs, Wellington Boots, Snacks (Yoghurt Raisins or Organix Carrot Cake Bars please – not “just an apple”).

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And if you take them to the park, don’t forget the Mini Micro Scooters. These rocket-powered little beasts can take them over 70 MPH on a downhill stretch. Rather than try to chase them, simply stand in the centre of the park and watch them complete endless circuits – until the inevitable pile-up.

Finally, if in doubt, refer to a modern parenting bible by the likes of Gina Ford or Annabel Karmel. or even better to our new version of the classic ABC book: H is for Hummus!

Alternatively you can break all the rules and enjoy yourselves. They’ll learn the joys of messy play, banned sweets and un-PC nursery rhymes. You’ll collapse the second they are collected – comatose but happy.

H is for Hummus is all the pain and joy of modern parenting is packed into this delightfully silly, beautifully illustrated ABC.

From Active Birthing through to Zumba, H is for Hummus is a refreshingly honest read for sleep-deprived parents everywhere.

H is for Hummus: A Modern Parent’s ABC by Joel Rickett and Spencer Wilson is published by Penguin, £7.99

Buy H is for Hummus on Amazon

#penguinfathers

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