It’s no surprise that Olympic and World Gold Medallist Greg Rutherford is keen to get his 9-month-old son Milo loving the outdoors. The champion long jumper is probably eyeing up the possibilities of a sandpit for Milo as we speak.
And he’s not the only one – no, not thinking about a sandpit, but wanting to spend family time outdoors. A study by outdoor toy company Little Tikes of 2,000 parents, shows that parents feel guilty for not spending enough time with their children – especially outside.
Greg is supporting Little Tikes’ Little Trikers campaign and spoke exclusively to MadeForMums about Nugget (Milo’s amazing middle name), when parenting goes wrong, playing outside (even when it’s raining) and whether we may see Milo in a distant Olympics following in his dad’s long footsteps…
How are you taking to fatherhood? Is it easier than you thought – or harder?
No one can prepare you for the initial lack of sleep, the routine; changing nappies, winding… The good things outweigh the bad, it’s the greatest thing.
I’ve always been ‘maternal’ and always wanted children. It’s been easier for us than most I think because my parents live locally so we’re very, very lucky. However, I wouldn’t say it’s been easy but it’s so much fun!
Why did you choose the name Milo for your son and how did Nugget ever become a middle name?
We went away for 5 days relaxation period after an intense competition and we opened up a magazine in a hotel, and the name [Milo] was listed there and we really liked it. It was an instant thing and for about 6 weeks before he was born, we just kept referring to him as Milo. It just felt right.
As for Nugget, he was called Nugget from the first scan and the name just stuck. We’re going to have a lot of fun with that when he’s older that’s for sure!
What’s the funniest moment you’ve had with your son?
There was a really funny moment when we were coming back from The Baby Show and we were on a packed tube. Milo was standing on me and puked all over my top and trousers. I was wearing head-to-toe black and I was then covered in white sick. It looked horrific. This is part of parenting that all new parents can relate to, I’m sure!
Have you ever got it wrong as a dad?
Plenty of times. In fact I felt really bad afterwards this one time. I didn’t realise for half a second that babies couldn’t breathe through their mouth properly before 3 months and I was squidging his nose, trying to get the rubbish out without realising he couldn’t breathe. He looked shocked and I felt terrible. It wasn’t the brightest of ideas but thankfully no damage was done. As a first time parent you are pretty much clueless and you get things wrong all the time, you just learn as you go.
Do you get up in the night to feed or comfort Milo?
Susie is still breastfeeding and Milo dream feeds but we do co-share. Initially for the first 3 to 4 months he would cry, Susie would feed him and I was the chief-winder. It was a learning curve, that’s for sure. We would feed, change, wind then we would do it all again about 30 minutes later. We really were sleep deprived! Co-sharing worked for us really well and I felt really involved.
What do you wish you knew about being a dad, before you became one?
To be honest, he was born at the perfect time when I wasn’t training or competing and I think I’ve had it very easy as a dad. For example, he sleeps through the night. I think I’m exceptionally lucky as we have a well-behaved baby, people will be jealous!
Susie is a fantastic mother and I have as much involvement as I can; nappies, winding, I love it! Hands on is most important. Dads worry but they should just get completely stuck in, it’s a great bonding experience.
Has anything caught you by surprise?
People were always saying once you have a baby your life will change but in actual fact Milo fitted in with our life amazingly well from around 5 weeks. We were prepared for it to be really hard when he slotted in really nicely, so if anything that was the surprise.
How has having a baby affected your career – is it more difficult to focus, or are you more focused?
If anything, it enhances it. He comes to my competitions and I look up and see him watching, it gives me a reason to succeed and win. It’s great to have Milo there, if anything I’m more hyped.
Whatever job you do, you shouldn’t do it and be obsessed. I get to come home from training and if I’ve had a bad day, I forget about it with Milo smiling. I’m more focused now because of Milo, if I’m honest.
How would you feel if Milo wasn’t interested in athletics?
If he’s not, it’s entirely up to him. I’d like him to be keen on sports but I would like him to steer clear of track and field. The sport isn’t in a great place and by the time it’s his job, it will be declining as a profession, which is a real shame.
I’ve also heard that it’s hard for a child who has competing parents – through people whose parents had a high level of sports – there’s the comparison. Even if they’re 100% better, it will be ‘well your dad did this…’ It’s the hardest thing to have to deal with.
If he doesn’t want to do sport, it doesn’t matter. As long as he’s fit and healthy. He can be a lawyer, an architect or a bin man. As long as he’s enjoying what he’s doing, that’s all that matters to me.
You’re currently supporting the Little Tikers campaign. Why is it important for children of all ages play outdoors?
Fitness is hugely important. The problem is kids don’t play enough outside anymore. Children generally are playing games in the house. It’s good for their growth and development – playing outside is hugely important for keeping them healthy. I am a huge fan of health and fitness and that’s why I’m promoting this cause because to be fit and healthy is a must.
What do you do when it rains or it’s cold – like our typical British summer?
If we relied on the British weather, we’d never leave the house. We all have coats, you can go outside but I appreciate, it’s not always possible. Sometimes parents don’t want their kids out in the cold and having to get them dry, but you can exercise anywhere.
In small spaces you can jump around and play. Although playing inside is slightly more controlled – you can hardly run around at a hundred miles per hour – but you can still be active. You can play different ball games and move around and play with toys, and interact without having iPads taking over due to time and convenience.
Based on the Little Tikes survey, parents feel guilt every day. Do you feel you don’t spend enough time with your son?
I am very lucky I spend a lot of time with Milo and my training is local but I will be overseas in August for three weeks, for the world championships in China, which will be hard.
You really need to interact day to day with your children, of all different age groups. If you have a chance for your office to be away from the office, you can push the buggy and be on the phone!
To be honest, it’s easy for me, I’m lucky that I am at home more than other dads but when I go away it’s tough. I miss Milo.
Greg’s top 5 tips for making the most of the great outdoors this summer
Get out together as a family – You can walk and talk at the same time and enjoy exercising and spending time together. This is a great idea for meeting up with other family members as well as friends.
Count your steps – It’s recommended you walk 10,000 steps every day. Use an app or a pedometer to measure how many steps you do. Going out with your child in a Trike, you will probably find you are surprised by just how many steps you’ve taken!
Look up – It may sound obvious but it’s important to take stock of your surroundings, feel inspired the nature all around you.
Walk tall – Walking is a great gentle exercise and if you walk tall and pull your tummy you can help improve your posture too.
Mix it up – Don’t do the same route all the time, you will lose motivation and give up. Go to the park, walk around the block or in town. Check out walks from other parents on the Little Tikes’ interactive map and on Twitter and Instagram with #toptriketrails.
Little Tikes is giving UK families the chance to win one of 50 4-in-1 Sports Edition Trikes. All you need to do is say what type of Triker your child is. Full details can me found on Little Tikes website.