“I like your dress, you look lovely,” Jeff Brazier says in his cheeky chappy Essex twang as I walk through the door. Looking tanned, relaxed and barely a day over 25, it’s hard to believe that fresh-faced Jeff, 32, is a single, working dad-of-two.
“Don’t tell me… it’s Primark isn’t it?” Jeff continues. He explains how the previous day he was dragged around the shops by his two sons, Bobby, 8, and Freddy, 6, where they cleared the shelves. “We hit River Island’s boys department hard. My boys now have a far better wardrobe than I have…”
The backdrop to our conversation is the Westfield London Shopping Centre, where Jeff’s fronting the new Disney XD Challenge, a free, inflatable activity centre touring the UK this summer. “Bobby and Freddy are having a right good summer holiday so far. It’s great that I can bring them to work with me, especially when it’s something they can enjoy too,” says Jeff.
So, how does Jeff manage to juggle a budding TV presenting career, life in the spotlight and two sons under 10? And how does he talk to them about mum Jade Goddy’s death, from cervical cancer in 2009? MFM finds out…
So Jeff, what’s your parenting secret?
“As a dad of two boys, it’s important that I keep them busy. So, that’s why I pack out their diaries with fun things to do, which let’s me combine my work and looking after them at the same time. I have to try and keep the balance – it’s hard but I think I’m starting to nail it.”
What are your plans for the school summer holidays with Bobby and Freddy?
“I’m working throughout the summer but luckily I have some amazing people around me who help me out, like my mum and friends with children. The parent power is a wonderful thing – it makes it all do-able. The boys will come with me when I’m doing fun stuff, like today, and I’ve arranged for them to visit the Emirates stadium next week, even though they are Tottenham Hotspurs fans!
“But mostly they’ll be hanging out with their friends and doing lots of fun things. They are always surrounded by their friends – they have more mates than I do!”
How do you keep your sons entertained?
“My boys enjoy the simple things, like riding their bikes, seeing friends and hanging out together. I think we spoil our children with the amount of things we take them to. I let them roam around the local area on their bikes – which they couldn’t live without! I like them to have freedom and sense of adventure I had as a child.”
Being a single dad, how do balance the mum/dad role?
“I am like the mum and dad, a ‘MAD’ if you like! Actually, I think I’m neither as I sit in between the two. I’ve created a new role. I do find that I have to sometimes detach myself from my more masculine side and learn to be more sensitive. I have trained myself to do it, especially when dealing with certain subjects and situations.”
As a young lad yourself, are you more relaxed with rules, routines and discipline than older dads might be?
“You’d be surprised! For instance, the other week, Freddy lost his bike. We looked everywhere for it but it just disappeared. I ended up buying him another one but instead of just giving him it, I told him he owed me 50 jobs before he could have it! He’s on 42 now and he’ll unload the washing machine, hang things up, but he’s very willing.”
Sounds like you’ve got Bobby and Freddy well trained…
“I want Bobby and Freddy to grow up as young, independent adults who can do all these things for themselves. I think Freddy learnt a very valuable lesson there, even if I had to bribe him!”
How are the boys’ characters developing? Are they like you or Jade?
“Freddy is an incredible character! He is so full of spirit and life, I do wonder what on earth he’ll become when he’s older. He amazes me everyday and sits in well between Bobby and I.
“Bobby is a Gemini like myself and can be very shy but is extremely loyal to his friends and affectionate. We do clash sometimes, but that all goes away when he smiles. When you have a child who smiles less than the other, when he does, it’s really lovely to see.
“Both of them get on well together, which is a relief.”
How do you help them remember their mum?
“We remember Jade in lots of different ways. The boys once had matching Links bracelets before Jade passed away, but unfortunately they didn’t make it to my possession later on. So, I bought them another set and one for me too, and told them that they were from their mummy. I told them that she wanted them to have them and whenever they wanted to talk or think about her, to put on the bracelets. They are really good for me because they don’t like talking about what is upsetting them and find it hard to open up sometimes. So when one of them puts on the bracelet, it’s a sign to me that they are thinking of her and want some extra attention from me.”
Jeff’s top tips for single, working dads
- It’s all about balance – it’s without a doubt the most important thing. Always answer to your gut instinct and you’ll find the right balance that suits you and your children.
- Remember that it’s not all about how much money you spend or how much time – it’s the quality and focus what counts. If you sit down with your children for one hour a day and you play games with them with complete focus – putting cooking, your phone and errands to one side etc – give them that once a day and they’ll be more than happy with that.
- Instill good health values. Remember that you’re preparing them for adult life. So provide them with good health basics, food, exercise and morals. Get it right now and you’ll give them the chance to have a long and happy life in the future.