The mom blogs talk about getting scratched and clawed by your baby during feeding. However, if you’re a dad, you may not actually think about the number of times that your baby will scratch your face and neck when you’re holding them.
You have spent your life hearing things like “take it like a man”, or getting bumped and bruised and letting it heal on its own. Well if I could go back to myself as a new dad and make sure I put skin care treatment, or topical ointment on those cuts, I would do it immediately. No matter how often you clip your babies nails, she can still find a way to scratch you. I was scratched by my daughter hundreds and hundreds of times (I used to wear a lot of V-Neck T-shirts while holding her, which was not only a fashion mistake, but a physical mistake that led to several scratches on my neck.) While those cuts healed, you can see the remnants of those marks on my skin because I did not address it and it truly annoys me.
As soon as I addressed the newer cuts with a mix of Neosporin and vitamin E cream, the marks did not stay and my skin healed properly. However, the older cuts have led to a minor discoloration on one spot on my neck, which is not very noticeable, but to be perfectly honest, it’s very annoying to me. This blog is not only about strategies that were successful, but also strategies that came from my mistakes. Take the few seconds to address the multitude of cuts you are likely to get while holding your child and you’ll be golden.
The day before Thanksgiving break, I asked my students what they were thankful for… several of them thought carefully and said that they were just grateful to be alive, breathing and happy. It was profound to hear that from 10 and 11-year-old fifth graders because it’s a message that so many adults (myself included) need to be reminded of.
Back to work:
I have not updated this blog since I started teaching again and it was weighing on me, but I am finally back with some semblance of normalcy in my schedule. To give you an idea, my day starts at 5:30 A.M. as I wake up, get ready and then arrive at school at 6:20 A.M. My day is completely focused on lesson planning, printing, teaching, grading and communicating with parents until I get home at 4:15, in which my day is completely focused on my daughter. I take a “break” when my wife gets home at 6:00 so I can go upstairs and work on more lesson plans. Then we make dinner and have family time until my daughter goes to bed at 9:00 P.M. (I know it’s late, but she sleeps through the night and often wakes up at 8:30 a.m., which is awesome on weekends.) After she goes to sleep, I usually do laundry and/or run errands while listening to podcasts… It’s a busy day but at this point in my life, waking up at 5:30 A.M. and working on tasks straight through until late night is surprisingly LESS exhausting than it was being a stay at home dad (even though I got more sleep when I was at home with my daughter.)
I don’t know how it’s possible, but it means that we need to recognize and value the hard work of other stay-at-home parents. I’m so happy for my family and I want to say that it’s essential we act as a community to raise our kids and make an effort for more family-friendly activities.
The Au Pair Transition:
As I decided it would be time for me to go back to work, we decided to try the Au-Pair program and have a live-in nanny in our house. Initially, It was a strange transition to be a part of this program as we had differences in communication and expectations with our first Au-Pair, but our second Au-Pair has been amazing and is like a member of the family. The value of an Au-Pair truly comes in when you have more than one child, since the cost is per family and not per child. While there can be a transition process to have someone living with you in order to take care of your child (Au-Pairs work a maximum of 45 hours a week), However, it can be major time savings, since you do not have to transport your child to daycare and can simply leave each morning and head off to work, without making an extra stop to drop off your child. The program has been essential for my ability to return to work.
I’m definitely not an expert:
Thinking back to what my students said about being thankful reminds me of what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for my family friends and for the ability to write whenever I can. As another day passes in which I fail to follow my own parenting advice (which my lovely wife always thinks is comical), I wonder every week if I’m making the right decisions and choices. I started this blog because I remember the initial weeks of being dad, where I was clueless. It seemed like I could have spent a lifetime reading mom blogs, but the rare circumstance in which I found a useful dad blog, it was often a collection of jokes or memes that were interesting but didn’t always offer useful and specific details. As I see dads navigating multiple kids and facing a variety of challenges and making it work, I recognize that I’m not an expert. I’m a dad with only one kid and I don’t face the same circumstances or challenges as everyone else. But I do know that for friends of mine who recently have had, or are having their first kid, it’s pretty fun to share advice based on what I’ve already written down.
I challenge you to do the same!
If you’re a parent reading this, I invite you to add your thoughts and insight to others. It can seem overwhelming initially, but sometimes all you need is another person to guide you in the right direction and tell you that you’re going to be fine. I wish I had more time to dedicate to this, but I am proud of the concept of sharing thoughts and answering questions that I wish someone had told me. It’s a different world since I’ve been back to work, but it’s one that I’m thrilled to live in.
Diapers and wipes run out, toys and snacks get moved from place to place. It’s important to refill the diaper bag to ensure you have everything you need before you leave the house. Make sure to also include a backup outfit for baby in case of spills.
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.
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.
When the family is preparing to head out and you are scrambling to grab the right toys, put the baby in the car seat/stroller, find the blanket, wipe up the unexpected spit up, it’s easy to lose track of time. In order to arrive at your destination at a reasonable time, plan for an hour of prep time before you leave.
If you find yourself saying “I’m just picking up something off the floor,” or “It’s OK, he doesn’t know how to roll,” or “I have her strapped in the car seat, I’ll just put her over here while I wash my hands”, please keep in mind that babies are constantly learning and making new movements. If you need to put the baby down, make sure it’s safely in a crib, pack & play, or on a low, steady and flat surface.
A half-finished job isn’t helpful. Don’t pull out five loads of laundry if you only have time to complete one load from crumpled to closet. Don’t start making food if you leave out all of the plates and have unwashed pans on the counter.
With your attention moving in so many directions, it’s easy to get distracted, but remember this phrase: There is no later. Starting multiple tasks and leaving them unfinished makes you feel increased anxiety and leads to resentment with your partner. Consider completing several small tasks and then waiting until you have a block of time to get other stuff done. Don’t wait for the “later” that will never come. Do it now!
My daughter had just started to crawl and was having a very wiggly and cranky morning. Did I mention that she was also teething? We had just taken a stroll around the neighborhood, and I put her down for her nap. This gave me a chance to make a customer service call that I had been trying to make for a few days. Now, there are two of the things I truly hate in life:
It took me several minutes to reach an operator, and when I did, I was sent back and forth to different departments. About halfway through the call, my daughter woke up from her nap, much earlier than normal, and started crying for my attention. I continued the call as I picked her up and changed her diaper.
When I finally reached a supervisor who was ready to resolve my request, my daughter began to crawl into the kitchen. I ran to catch her, with the phone in my hand. That’s when she used her baby ninja skills to reach up and press the bright red “End Call” button on my phone.
I was ready to scream
I was ready to scream, as I realized that I had lost over 30 minutes without getting my service issue resolved. Looking around my cluttered living and dining rooms, I thought how I would have to be “on” again, with no parenting breaks. I put my daughter back in the crib, let her cry, and called my wife. I told her that I didn’t think I could do “this” anymore.
Thankfully, my wife talked me off the ledge, and the rest of day was fine between my daughter and me. But that singular moment was the only time that I’ve ever regretted my choice of staying at home with the baby. I shared this story with another parent at a public library Story Time session. This wise and experienced parent mentioned a feature on my phone called “Guided Access”.
Guided Access simply means that you can disable the touch feature on your iPhone (there’s a similar feature called “Touch Lock” on android devices). It not only prevents touch from being enabled, but it can also be customized to block out specific portions of the screen, and not others. In other words, this feature could have modified the phone controls and prevented my daughter from ending my customer service call.
I’ve come to realize the importance of having these conversations with other parents and how sharing our experiences and guiding others can save us time, stress and money. I found the solution I was looking for, because a Guy Did Ask.
Here is a link to my YouTube walk through about how to prevent your child from ending your calls by using this feature. And here is an article with overview of how to enable Guided Access.
This past year I had the opportunity to be a stay at home dad with
my daughter. When I began, I had no clue what I was doing and found it
challenging to find clear and concise tips about how to navigate the sudden
change in our relationship. When a new baby enters your home, it saps nearly
100% of your wife’s attention. Even if you are doing everything you can to
help, the sleep deprivation, stress and new family dynamics can often lead to
arguments—and a lack of passion. For many new couples, romance can fade for
reasons such as:
like there’s a never ending “to-do” list.
You respect everything this amazing woman has done to bring your
child into this world, but there’s just not much you can do about the physical
pain. However, when it comes to exhaustion, poor communication and that to-do
list”, there are a number of steps you can take to change the game and look
like a stud in the process
1. Use a
baby carrier in the house to accomplish tasks: As a new
dad, I found that there are few things more satisfying than the look on your
wife’s face when she sees that you’re inside the house, taking care of chores
with the baby in a carrier, strapped to your chest. The baby is bonding with
you, while listening to your heartbeat and feeling calm, as though the little
tyke is back in the womb. This is your moment! Your wife sees you accomplishing
tasks—and caring for the baby. She might begin to search for other things that
need to be done around the house. Just tell her “I got it.” Then maybe she will
spin around to make sure that everything is okay, and that’s when you say
“Babe,” pause and stare into her eyes, wait a few seconds and say the following
words in your most legit voice: “Babe…take
some time to yourself. If anything comes up… I’ll get you.”
2. Never run an errand without a list: When you walk into the baby aisle, make sure
that you are equipped with a list of specific items that are pre-screened by
your partner. You might think that all “size 1” diapers are the same, but your
partner is likely focused on leak guards, wetness indicator strips and a
preferred brand. Before you walk out the door, check the items on your list and
ask the magic question: “Honey, should I look for a specific brand?”
3. Surprise your wife with an occasional spa
day: After a few
months of total infant care, encourage your wife to leave the house without the
baby. Gift her with a mani/pedicure, massage or another spa treatment. Pick a
random Saturday and call it “Daddy and Baby Day.” Tell her in advance that it’s
just you and the baby for a few hours. She can choose to go to the spa, have
lunch with friends, or just sit in a coffee shop and have time to herself. Find
a day that works, and schedule it.
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tips that will be posted frequently.