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Deputy PM Nick Clegg: 'Family Mealtimes Are Sacred And You Have To Sit Together’

The Deputy PM may be the second most powerful man in British politics, but that doesn’t mean his children will get off the games console when he asks

When you are second in command in Westminster and your wife is a top lawyer, it’s no surprise that making time for your three children is a challenge. But so long as Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam spend enough time ‘doing’ diaries, they make it work with their three sons (aged 12, nine and five).

‘There’s endless comparing of notes about who’s doing what when, who needs to leave the home when, and we try to be very disciplined about one of us taking them to school and one of us putting them to bed,’ he tells M&B in an interview to discuss his latest childcare policy that will give parents 20 per cent of their childcare costs (up to £10,000 a year) for each child in tax-free online payments.

‘I can’t pretend we’re anything other than lucky because we’ve both got very well earning jobs, but in another sense we confront very similar dilemmas to other working parents.’

‘There’s endless comparing of notes about who’s doing what when, who needs to leave the home when...'

So, what do they argue about? ‘When things come up which are not expected and then you suddenly can’t take them to school or you suddenly can’t pick them up for football or a playdate,’ he says.

Nick also admits he’s not very good on the food front, he’s more of a sports dad. ‘With three boys, they’re very physical... I’m forever inventing things for them to do to keep them busy and amused, physically strong and happy.’

But it’s not all fun and games chez Clegg. At mealtimes, the boys must sit with their parents and not get up until they’ve finished their greens. ‘I have a slightly old fashioned view that families that eat together stay together,’ he says. ‘Particularly at weekends. If you don’t do that, you’re never sat together without gadgets or television.’

It follows that he's tough on screen time, limiting it during the week until Friday afternoon - not that his children take any notice. ‘When I left this morning, my nine year old was covertly operating his Nintendo DS,’ he says. ‘We had a short Nintendo DS spat before I left home.’

Next week we’ll be publishing Nick Clegg’s answers to the questions you sent in on Twitter.

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