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Dancing through family life

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Our Family of the Week is Julia Grantham who is a single parent and lives in Horsforth with sons Bruce, six, and Rufus, five. The 37-year-old mum runs a funky preschool dance class Diddi Dance which offers classes, nursery and preschool sessions and birthday parties throughout North Leeds.

What are your top tips for getting children to do what you ask? I tend to say things like I’m going to count to three and if you don’t do it, you won’t be able to watch TV after school! This usual only happens when we’re in a rush to get out the house and I don’t have time to try a few other calmer approaches! It works though. At the moment!

What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids? I suddenly find myself saying the exact same thing my mum or dad would say to me as kid that I’d totally forgotten ever hearing: usually “I’ve not even taken my coat off yet and you’re all talking at once”! When arriving home. It’s like I have morphed into my mother for a brief second. Very weird!

What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done? It was 9pm on a Friday night and my eldest, then aged two, was having a tandrum while his baby brother was fast asleep. I was shattered. He was crying and beside himself so I left him safely in his baby proofed room and stair gate in place for a few minutes to see if we would calm down and I needed a few minutes break! All went quiet, so after about 10 minutes I assumed he’d fallen asleep, but no. He’d found a tub of sudacrem on the changing mat and had taken his pyjamas off, and nappy and covered his entire naked body in white cream. I couldn’t get angry. He looked totally bemused and I laughed so hard. The shower did little to remove it, being water soluble, so we removed it with a flannel but it stayed in his hair for a few days. I’ll dig out the photo at his 18th birthday party!

Mini moan - what really gets your goat? Having to ask 85 times at least everyday for them to get their school shoes on and brush their teeth.

What’s your favourite family day out? For a treat we love Alton Towers and Cbeebiesland. Something for us all and we always stay in a hotel nearby and make a proper mini getaway of it! Locally, Golden Acre park is our favourite place. It’s free, you can dress up in wellies and splash in puddles or sit and have a picnic in summer. The perfect place.

What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately? Bruce does martial arts, and Minecraft, Rufus does Rock juniors (climbing classes) they both have swimming lessons and as a family we love swimming at my health club, going to the cinema and local parks. I love music: you’ll find me at an open mic night in Horsforth, a gig in Leeds or Manchester. I write for a Manchester music website ‘eventhestars.co.uk’ and I’m taking Bruce to his first festival ‘Cotton Clouds’ in Oldham next year.

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent? The relentless to do list and the worry: have I remembered to wash their PE kits? Have I played with them enough today? Am I a good mum? I think we all give ourselves a hard time about this don’t we? I do my best.

What is your most treasured memory? My most treasured memory is each of their births. That first touch and physical contact of a brand new little human that I made with my body. Nothing can compare with the moment you meet your baby for the first time. It’s a beauty like no other.

What’s your top penny-pinching tip? Limit the days out to once a week, do museums, parks and bake/colour/dance at home. Recycle clothes with friends and set budgets for birthdays and Xmas. I put a certain amount aside each month to cover birthday and xmas. I never go over budget.

One family member’s proudest achievement? Mine is running a successful business that keeps us all afloat and gives me a great work/life balance. I only work during school hours or when my boys are asleep or with relatives. I love my job and I’m there for my children everyday. I’m very happy with our life and grateful for it.

What one item can you not live without? I can’t live without my smartphone. I use it for business emails, personal use, its my diary. I never go anywhere without my ipod either. I’m always listening to music!

What can your children not live without? My boys are so energetic. Water and snacks are with me to give them everyday at the school gates and every weekend too.

Child’s favourite book and author: Both my boys love Roald Dahl. I remember loving him and his books as a child and it’s wonderful to state that with my own kids too.

A typical evening when the kids are in bed: Folding washing, texting friends, having a dance while I clean up, glass of wine, social media, bath and bed.

Longest family task: School run.

Leeds most family friendly restaurant? Pizza Express. Great food, fun activities for kids, good value for money.

Kids’ favourite meal: Pizza. We have a weekly pizza and movie night every weekend in my house.

What would you change about Leeds? A city centre park would be amazing.

Best thing about weekends? No timetable, brunch, lazy mornings, getting to do our hobbies and being together.