Your kids respond to music and sounds and get distracted just like we do. Saying “stop” or “no” is not as effective if you have the TV in the background, nursery rhymes playing off a device, or your child is holding a stuffed animal that talks or makes noise. When your child starts moving independently and you’re trying to shape behavior and teach lessons, try turning the TV or music off before you do. A stern voice in silence beats yelling in noise.
Do you say the word “no” and then pick up your child, give them their favorite toy to distract them? Do you say “no” and then move them to their play area? You might not realize that you are unintentionally giving them rewards and attention for their problem behavior. When they are exhibiting bad habits, try picking them up and taking them to an area with no toys using slow, deliberate steps (so it doesn’t seem like a “fun” game,) or try saying “no” and then sitting with them for a few seconds in silence.
Think about this…
If your child grabs an object, such as your phone and screams when you take it away and your next step is to immediately give it back… what is that telling the child? That is telling them that SCREAM-ING will ensure they get what they want. Praise them for exhibiting positive behavior with words like “You let daddy change you so fast!” Or “You turned the page on the book!” Make sure to smile so the baby can recognize your body language.
While a large number of people have mixed feelings about these smart speakers, I find that they can help play a critical role in the process of communication with your partner. Imagine this. You’re in the baby’s room playing with toys and the baby is smiling and laughing. All of a sudden, you discover a poopy diaper. As the baby is laying on the changing pad, with diaper open and poop bordering the edges of the diaper core, you find out you are down to your last wipe. You call your partner to bring you the spare wipes, but she may not be able to hear you in the other room. When you’re stuck in place or not able to freely move, you can use smart speakers like a walkie talkie throughout the house. It’s a great option when your hands are full of spit up, poop or other baby fluids and you may not want to text or make a call on your phone to reach out to someone.
Now that I have a daughter, I am reflecting on happiness and hope. Growing up, I believed that society took the high aspirations of my generation and turned them into unrealistic expectations, but now I see that many of the challenges I’ve faced in life were from a lack of expectation setting. Some of the most important lessons I hope to teach my daughter are the things I wish I could have told myself when I was younger.
1) It’s OK if you don’t get into your dream school at 18:
It’s not easy to be a high school Junior and to spend the majority of your life focused on the tests, applications and the overall prospect of getting into college. Despite the pressure of seemingly all of your adult interactions asking about your future, it’s important to remember that your life is not “over” based on whether a committee decides that they should admit you into their university at the specific age of 18. Many of the top schools are highly selective, but allow transfer students to apply year after year. Some schools even give you a better chance of gaining entry as a transfer. At the end of the day, your future resume only says where you got your degree from. It does not say, “First-year spent here, Second-year spent there, etc.” Work hard, make the most of wherever you end up and remember this world is full of opportunities and that this will not be the last.
2) Find Internal Happiness:
If you listen to those who say that education is the key to happiness and success, you may graduate and not feel immediately happy, or successful. If you pay attention to the endless number of negative events and stories in the media, it can bring you down if you don’t have internal positivity. We often make it seem like wild levels of success can happen very quickly, but fail to realize that it takes time for many of the things that matter. If you are saying, once I get this, I’ll be happy, or once I achieve that, I’ll know that I am successful”, then you will be searching for the idea of external happiness, instead of the incredible accomplishments you can make each and every day. Write down a specific list of goals and try to look inward to define your true happiness.
3) Praise in your early career is very rare:
When you start your career, you are not likely to find immediate and worthwhile praise in your organization. In school, success is measured by report cards and by moving on to the next grade, but in the real world, even minor promotions generally take a minimum of two years, and rewards often go to employees who have truly transformed their organization over a sustained period of time. Additionally, even the most seasoned employees often receive marks like Successful or Successful plus, instead of Excellent on their performance evaluations. Workplace satisfaction is at a low for many in my generation, however, we must remind ourselves that there is always the chance to be an innovator who works on transformative ideas and concepts. In fact, many of the world’s innovators were rejected over and over. If you feel passionate about something, do it for yourself, not for the praise of others and you will see that what tremendous impact you can truly have.
4) Create your own definition of success:
The world bombards us with the idea that we MUST seek out and attain major accomplishments quickly and it’s telling us to do it while we are YOUNG. You might fall into the idea that you must avoid being “off track”, but try to take a moment to think of the people in your life who you admire most and why you admire them. Is it solely because of what they have accomplished? Or it because of the time that they have spent with you? We often seek out the idea of being accomplished for the purpose of proving our success. But we forget that the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. If you maintain your hope, you can be special because of what you mean to someone else. As long as your heart is beating, you are never off track.
5) Dreams do not arrive on-demand:
The best way to get started running is not to try to “make a certain time” but to focus more on “beating your personal best”. Focus less on worrying about what everyone thinks and focus more on maintaining healthy relationships with those who matter. So much of happiness comes from accomplishing goals, but that requires that we set incremental goals that are increasingly achievable as you navigate your way through the process. You can’t save a dream, or replay it, or catch it next week. A dream is a story that must be experienced first-hand, with an ending that can only be ruined if left untold. We need to have dreams, because we need to have things in life that are not handed over with the expectation that one day, we will be able to obtain more. Whether you are living the dream, working to live your dream, or just daydreaming, the simple fact that you have the opportunity to dream at all makes life great.
Lifting things is an absolute certainly in Dad life. Whether you are picking up the car seat, reaching down to grab dropped items or holding baby in one arm, strengthening your back and hips will provide you with critical support for these everyday activities and reduce back pain. If you can’t make the gym, consider resistance bands, dumbbells or doing at home exercises like side planks. Consult a doctor, trainer or medical professional before trying new workout routines.
New parents spend countless hours looking for keys, toys and other items that have been moved throughout the house. Consider taking a little time to purchase and install a key holder right by your door and to find an exact place where you always put your wallet and other critical personal items. When you’re short on time, there’s nothing more frustrating than a delay because you’ve lost track of something you can’t leave the house without.
Photo by Becca Stanghelle on Reshot
My wife noticed that I had a habit of calling my daughter’s stuffed animals names like Mr. Bear, Mr. Bunny or Mr. Lamb, even though these animals weren’t specifically male. It was almost like I was expecting an animal to have have a particular color or “look” before I considered it to be female. Try to be aware of how you refer to your child’s toys so they can be accustomed to having friends from all walks of life.
Story time is almost often the most peaceful time of my week. You sit there with your kid bouncing on your knee while everyone sings wheels on the bus, the itsy bitsy spider, and the librarian reads a few books aloud. It’s a great way to get your child out of the house and it’s for me, it’s oddly relaxing. From my experience, the kids are smiling, fully engaged and the babies rarely seem to cry or fuss. At the conclusion of story time, they usually bring out a box of toys. The good libraries clean and wipe down the baby toys, but I still recommend using a baby wipe to wipe down your child’s hands before and after each session. Keep an eye out for the monthly event calendar as many of the libraries have family programming or story hour sessions during flexible times, including after work.
Family restrooms are generally ubiquitous in libraries, airports and many public spaces, but they can be hard to spot if you’ve spent your life ignoring them. Going into a family restroom allows you privacy and quiet while you change your baby at your own pace. Remember, even though it says family restroom, you can still enter if it’s just you and the child. The reason this is important is that since men’s restrooms often have changing pads, you might never think about using the family restroom. Family restrooms generally are less noisy and let’s just say… they have a more pleasant smell than a large public restroom. Additionally, family restrooms often have a seat that you can strap your toddler into if you really need to go yourself and have no other option.
Unconscious Bias Check: Look at the image above. Do you notice something off about the sign with the changing pad? Do you notice that it is showing the image of (only) a mother changing the child. I’ve changed my daughter dozens of times when I am outside of the house and I felt a major anxiety about it because it just seems like something men normally don’t do.
While this tip might seem obvious, I want you to think about it. If you are alone with your child and they need to be changed, which sign would you choose? With so much going on, how quickly would you process that the picture of a woman in a skirt changing her child is also a place that you can go to. While many family restroom signs feature a man, woman a child, sometimes you have to fight through those moments where the world simply forgets that you’re capable. I hope you remember this tip and that you have a great traveling experience with your child.