Tip #18 – If you’re going somewhere, plan for one hour before you leave the house

Time goes by quickly with a new baby in the house.

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.

July Parenting News Recap:

Article: Dads now spend 3 times as much time with their kids than previous generations


For some people, bashing millennial’s has become a running joke. It’s really popular to call us lazy and unmotivated and to say that we’re afraid of hard work. To those, I point out this article and say that so many of the people in this generation are committed, dedicated and caring. “Back in 1982, a whopping 43% of fathers admitted they’d never changed a diaper. Today, that number is down to about 3%”

The title of this article speaks for itself. This new generation of dads may not be perfect, but in many ways, we rock.

Baby Food Has Too Much Sugar And Is Marketed Wrongly, WHO Says


My wife and I often make our own baby food using fresh fruits and vegetables in a baby cook, but we still rely on purchasing baby food from the grocery store. It’s critical that parents have truth in advertising and it’s sad to see that according to a new World Health Organization report, “Baby food often contains too much sugar and is incorrectly advertised as suitable for infants under 6 months of age.” Baby food has been one of the most important things that I’ve worked to research and it’s vital that parents have a healthy option that is not overly reliant on sugar. It can be a challenge to know what to feed a child after the six month mark, but if the community of parents put pressure on the major food companies, they will work to provide better labeling in baby food.

Father tries to grasp how he could have left twins to die in hot car

The reality is that no matter how tired, exhausted, or if you’re running late, always check the back seat. This is one of the most tragic things I could ever imagine, but it’s important that we don’t simply say “that would never happen” and instead, put some onus on ourselves to save these children.

What you can do: Write or contact your congressman and ask them to support The Hot Cars Act of 2019. According to this article, this act, “would mandate the installation of technology that at a minimum would remind drivers to check the back seat.”

We have had four straight years of summers with record heat and the data shows that July is the worst month for child hot car deaths. This data shows that the problem is getting worse with rear facing car seats and as “Stress and sleep deprivation can make these memory lapses more common,”. Parents are feeling stressed in raising their children and these mistakes are happening far too often. “Since 1998, about 440 children nationwide have died of heatstroke after being forgotten in cars, generally not because of a lack of love… but because of how human memory functions.”

We must address this issue because there are 440 kids who should be smiling, learning to walk, playing catch with their parents, learning algebra, volunteering their time, writing a college essay graduating from college or entering the workforce. One child is too many, but 440 is something that MUST allow us to have a broader conversation. The memories of these kids can save lives in the future. We must act now to prevent the next hot car death.

I’m not an expert/1 percent better

Every day I wake up and ask myself “how other parents do it”. There are parents out there who have children with special needs, complicated family and/or housing relationships, have a variety of other parenting challenges, but they persist and make it work. Their situation does not compare to mine, I have the luxury of time, a loving and supporting partner and only one child. I also have family and friends who take their time to provide support. Despite all of this, I am still tired and I do not know what tomorrow brings. From the daily stress to the challenges of finding quality childcare, parenting is not easy in general. I have tons of bad days.

I write these tips as if I “know” what I’m doing, but so many of the things I’ve put together are a combination of what I’ve stumbled upon, or what other people have shared. I just decided to sit down and write them out… and the truth is, there are times where I forget my own advice…

True Story: Our daughter is moving around the house and shouting, with her arms straight back “Naruto Run” style. My wife is putting away the food as I leave my plate on the table.

My Wife: Can you grab your plate and wash it
Myself: I’m watching her. She’s going to run into something. How am I supposed to watch her and get the dish at the same time?
My Wife: Oh I don’t know, didn’t you write a tip about this?
Myself: (thinking that she’s making fun of me) – Ha. Very Funny.
My Wife: It was the first piece of dad advice you ever gave.
Myself: Oh dang. I can use the baby carrier to hold her.
My Wife: You literally made that tip number ONE.

I make mistakes all of the time and my daughter keeps me busy and it can be hard to keep up, especially when we’re traveling and she decides to stay awake for the entire plane or train ride.

I suppose the one thing that works for me is that when I am tired or stressed out, and I feel like my energy level is low and that I just can’t take it anymore, I calmly say , “I’m going to make this 1 percent better.” It sounds dumb, but I feel like making that moment just… one percent better with a smile or playtime, or a game can have a snowball effect that leads to future calm. Even if that moment to relax is in the form of a more restful night’s sleep or one less headache, or a momentary reduction in stress. Focusing on the ability to become slightly better can be the self-fulfilling prophecy of happiness. It doesn’t always work, but in a moment where I feel like I have no answers, I feel like it gives me a chance to take control of uncertain situations.

What strategies do you use when you’re facing parenting stress?

New Dad Tip #15 Expect the Unexpected

Man looking off into the distance
Parenting can be a search for answers.

Oh they didn’t tell you that your newborn daughter would have a bloody diaper during the first week of her life when she has a mini period? Don’t freak out. All parents have questions and experience new unforeseen challenges. If you experience something new, reach out to family and friends with kids who can answer your questions.

And remember: Dude it’s cool.

New Dad’s, expect the unexpected.

Tip 14: Invite a friend or family member to come along on your next vacation:

If you plan to rent a house for a long weekend or take a trip to the beach, consider treating a friend or family member who would like to get away for a few days. Your guest should be familiar with your baby, and can go with the flow when it comes to helping out. Friendly help can also give new mom and dad a chance to take a dinner out.

Photo by Deanna Ritchie on Unsplash

Tip #12 After 3 months, remove or hide all baby items from the living room (if possible):

At least one place should be “baby free”.

Part of the reason that so many new parents feel like the entirety of their life is taken over by Baby is because walking into your house can resemble a baby warzone. When a “minefield” of bibs, Boppy pillows, toys, spare diapers and baby clothes are piled on the sofa and coffee table and scattered on the floor. This can impact your mood. With a new baby, space is certainly at a premium, but parents need to use the living room as an area for entertaining friends, or a space to chill out after baby is put to bed. Home furnishing stores can offer ideas and smart options to de-clutter the house. As an example, ottomans with storage to quick-hide all baby items when guest arrive unexpectedly. This does not mean the living room is off limits for books or stuffed animals, it simply means that the items should be put away when playtime is over, or baby is napping.

Tip #9 Keep your wife hydrated:

Make sure to hydrate!

New moms are often stuck in place while nursing and rarely have a free hand to hold a glass. If your baby has had a restless night, your wife might have gone hours without replenishing her own fluids. Hand her a glass of water and remind her that it’s essential to her health to keep hydrated.

A buddy of mine said that his wife literally reacted more enthusiastically when he brought her a cup of water while breastfeeding, than when he gave her a pair of earrings while they were dating. While you’re at it, drink some water yourself.

June Parenting News Recap: Dad Shaming, No Kid Fantasies and Cell Distractions.

1) NY Times – The Damage of Dad-Shaming

My thoughts after reading this:
My Dad-Shame came on a chilly winter day at the library. My child’s full diaper could not wait and she tried to roll off the changing pad of the family restroom. As we got ready to head to the car, I struggled to put on her jacket and get her into the stroller. Just then, a young woman walked by, smiled at my frustration and condescendingly said, “Dad’s day with daughter.” The “Dig” implied that I was struggling due to inexperience and it hurt because I was a stay at home dad who was with her all the time. If the woman saw the exact same behavior with my wife, I suspect the comment might have been “oh she must be hungry,” or “she must be tired.” It was something that stuck with me, but it also made me appreciate the countless people who have had kind words and positive interactions with my daughter.

Key Article Takeaways –
* When Dads are criticized or shamed for their parenting, it often leads to them wanting to be less involved.
* There can often be a double standard where dads get an undue amount of praise for doing things that moms are simply expected to do.
* Dad’s want to be involved but often have a different parenting style.

2) Wall Street Journal – It’s okay to feel ambivalent about your children

My thoughts after reading this:
The article references several examples of parents who are struggling with the notion of their own individuality, including a reference to a dad who feels like his kids have kept him from leading the life he wants. This makes me think of an important quote from Pastor Stephen Furtick: “We Overestimate what we could do with an opportunity we don’t have and underestimate what we could do with an opportunity we do have.” It seems like in society, there’s so much focus on “What If” as opposed to “What now”. I feel sorry for the father who questioned his decision to have kids, but I think that it’s important to remember that kids don’t have to get in the way of our dreams, they can make us move mountains to accomplish them. Before my daughter, I used to write in-depth analytical pieces about politics, race and the challenges of growing up as a millennial. I literally used to wake up some nights, stressed out about what I was writing about, but now I am enjoying every moment that I get to write about parenting. My child hasn’t stolen my individuality, she’s enhanced it.  

Key Takeaways –
* The article begins with a dad struggling with his decision to have children and wondering what his life would have been like if he never had them.
* Studies are paying more attention to depression in fathers and parental feelings of ambivalence (having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.)
* Ends with an intriguing quote “You can love your kids and still want to flee from them.”

3) Thrive Global – Parenting While Distracted

My thoughts after reading this:
I’ve been hearing a lot about distracted parenting in the news and recently downloaded an app to track my own screen time. I think it’s incredibly important to put your phone down and focus on the moment when you are with your kids. Play is the business of children, and it’s important that we help facilitate their learning with our attention.

* The article cites a phenomenon known as the “Still Face Paradigm” in which infants grow weary if their parent is physically in the room but expressionless and emotionally unavailable.
* References a Global study surveying children, who believe that their parents checked their devices too often and felt “unimportant” when they did.
* States the importance of being wary of where we focus our attention.

Thanks to the family and friends who have shared news and information with me. Each month I plan to highlight relevant articles and share them.

New Dad Tip #5. Never work on more than two tasks at once:

Take a moment to think of the times when you were happiest, and most relaxed after accomplishing your goals. Perhaps you met all of your deadlines at work, and the house is completely clean, and you just finished washing your car. You are free because you now have absolutely nothing that you “need” to do. But as a new dad, there is almost always something you “need” to do. While you are washing the dishes, you stop to help your wife find a burp cloth. If you’re cleaning bottles, you might stop to hear if the baby is crying. As a new dad, three simple tasks might take as long as it once took to complete five or six chores. We may feel like the baby is “taking over” and that we can’t get “anything done.” But we need to accept that the baby is an ongoing task magnet. And we’re setting ourselves up for failure by trying to accomplish too much at once.

It’s better to work on only one or two things, and feel relieved when you’re done. Then work on one or two more. Taking on multiple tasks will stress you out. Your mind will begin to associate any task with stress and frustration, and your body language will reflect negatively the next time your partner asks you to help with even simple chores around the house. Next time you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, politely say that you want to be attentive and that you are happy to help out with everything you can, but you work best if you can only do a few tasks at a time.

“My phone does what?”

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:

  1. Customer service calls
  2. Wasting time

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.

Picture of an iPhone
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”.

Accessibility Options

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. 

Let’s keep the conversation going.

– Guy