Traditionally mums are seen to shoulder a lot of the burden of caring for children, but that doesn't mean we should discount the work dads do. In fact, fathers are often written out of the story – and this is something Joe Swash wants to change.
The ex-Eastenders actor and presenter is part of a blended family: he has a baby son with partner Stacey Solomon, and together they have three kids from previous relationships.
"We're not saying that mothers get too much praise – because they need more praise – but dads really do get sometimes ignored in the process," says Swash. The statistics back this up – new research done by Pampers has found over half of mums think the UK media and society could make dads feel more valued in their caregiving role, and nearly half of parents think dads should get more encouragement.
Swash's partner, Solomon, wasn't surprised by these stats. "A lot of the time – and rightly so – mums get so much praise and are always encouraged to carry on… which is true," she says. "But I think actually the same doesn't apply to dads; a lot of the time they're not celebrated in the same way that mums are."
Referencing her own dad and Swash, Solomon says: "I know fathers play such a pivotal role in raising a child, and I think that should be more of a big deal."
Swash also speaks from personal experience in knowing how important a father can be – he lost his dad when he was 11. "I know what I missed out on and how important he would've been in my life. Now I'm a dad as well, it's doubly important that you appreciate dads and celebrate dads, and make us feel as important as the mums – which we are."
Becoming a father has made Swash reflect upon the role of dads. "As a person you never know what I'd have become if my dad was here, but I had him for 11 years, and I wouldn't have swapped those 11 years for a lifetime with another dad," he reflects. "I learnt so much from him: how to love, how to be a dad."
Even if they didn't have long together, Swash has carried on the lessons his dad taught him to his own kids. "I love them, I kiss them, I want to cuddle them – my dad was a big softie, he was affectionate, he wasn't a man's man – and I try to be the same with my boys," he says, with a laugh.
Toxic masculinity is a persistent problem in society, with men feeling like they can't show their emotions for fear of being seen as any less of a man. However, Swash is teaching his kids from a young age this doesn't have to be the case – hugging and kissing doesn't have to be emasculating.
"Hopefully when they get older, they'll have no problem with giving me a cuddle or giving someone else a cuddle – there's nothing wrong with showing your affection," he says.
So how is Swash being celebrated this Father's Day? "It's a hard one because we can't do anything really," says Solomon. However, she still has plans to make it a memorable day for her partner: "Maybe I'll do a special meal for Joe because he often gets all of the healthy stuff, which isn't his favourite but he goes with it," she says with a giggle. "We'll try and celebrate the best we can."
Pampers are urging UK parents to show their support for all the Fathers in their life, this Father's Day, using #HappyFathersWay and tagging @PampersUK_IRE.