50 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Father.

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Time has a way of sneaking up on you.  I have a hard time believing I’ve been a parent for over year and a half.  Spending time with friends recently reminded me how much my life’s changed in that time.  I love my son and being a dad, but it’s a lot of work.

This list is a public service to anyone thinking about starting a family.  Take a good look, this is required reading.  I invite any parent to add anything I missed or to share what lies ahead.

    1. Did your better half’s pregnancy hormones make you look forward to your next prostate exam?
    2. Did picking a baby name remind you of Congress trying to agree on immigration reform?
    3. Let’s work on the nursery means she plans layout and design and you move furniture back and forth again, and again, and again.
    4. Did your wife’s friends use possessive terms like our baby?
    5. Did you call them up at 3am because our baby was screaming like a banshee?
    6. Did you carry your newborn son around like Mufasa carrying Simba at the beginning of the Lion King?
    7. Did you show the baby to everyone on the maternity ward, including security guards and the maintenance staff?
    8. Was putting the baby in your father’s arms for the first time the best gift you ever gave him?

      Dad holding Cristian. He was the best gift I could have given him.
      Dad holding Cristian. He was the best gift I could have given him.
    9. Did it take you at least 45 minutes to figure out how to install the car seat correctly?
    10. Did you put the baby’s car seat into the car gently like you were handing a carton of eggs?
    11. Was driving your wife and child home from the hospital the slowest you’ve driven since you took your road test for your driver’s license.
    12. Was your first night home alone with your baby the scariest night of your life?
    13. Did the first few days of childcare make you feel like a sequestered juror on a high-profile trial?
    14. Friends and family will want to see the baby. This isn’t a bad thing.
    15. Remember when friends ask what can I bring, think big. It’s a limited offer so think surf and turf not chicken nuggets.
    16. I’ve spent many a sleepless night wonder at the logic of giving a baby with a well-functioning digestive system prunes.
    17. How long did it take to you to learn, babies will pee on you?
    18. Have the words onesie, boppy and binky become part of your vocabulary?
    19. Do the words Butt Paste make you giggle?
    20. I’m convinced anyone advising sleep when the baby sleeps, never took care of a baby.
    21. Things are easier if you know a good Baby Whisperer
    22. You will be required to take your child on a Baby Tour for the benefit of family members who couldn’t make it to your home.
    23. The dog or cat who was your child before the baby was born will go back to being a dog or cat. Sorry Chico.
    24. Don’t expect to sleep through the night for a few years.
    25. Why are the baby wipes and diapers always at the bottom of the diaper bag?
    26. Few things in life change your mood faster than a diaper blowout.
    27. Are you the only Dad in Mommy and Me class?
    28. Am I the only Dad whose nipples were sore after Mommy and Me class?
    29. Mommy and Me class will make you channel your parents.
    30. Do you wonder who is more annoying Daniel Tiger or Caillou?
    31. Competitive parents suck.
    32. Don’t be too anxious for the baby to start walking. Trust me.
    33. It’s okay to look silly in front of the baby.
    34. Your home will look like the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy.
    35. Does Netflix and Chill mean you actually sit on the couch and watch a movie?
    36. How long did it take you to learn there are no quick trips to pick up anything for the baby?
    37. If you think babies don’t throw tantrums until they are two-years old, I have a surprise for you.
    38. Is getting your toddler to sleep a Darwinian Survival of the Fittest?
    39. Have you thought of putting a Fitbit on your toddler to see how many steps he takes in a day?
    40. Do you compare notes with other parents on the strangest places you’ve found poop and puke?
    41. Do you remember when being awakened at 3am meant you were getting lucky, now you hope the baby rolls over and goes to sleep once you’ve given him a bottle.
    42. Are your iPhone and iPad high-tech pacifiers.
    43. Have you told people, “Don’t let his smile fool you?”
    44. Do you flood social media sites with pictures of your child?
    45. Have your family and friends planned an intervention because of posting too many baby pictures?
    46. Have you chased a twenty-something working in GNC around the store with your screaming child to reinforce the importance of birth control?
    47. Do you think sitting in cramped airplane seat with a screaming toddler in your lap should be used as a fraternity-hazing ritual?
    48. Your child will soon crawl in and out of his crib with ninja-like efficiency.
    49. When you are singing Elmo’s Greatest Hits or humming the Pepa Pig theme, it’s time for a night out.
    50. Everyone is an expert.  You will get lots of unsolicited advice from all sides.  Get used to it.
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Guest Post – Tips for the Comparing Mom

I’m excited to announce I’m Not Grandpa’s first Guest Post.  Please allow me to introduce my new friend Lisa E Hill, a Child Development Consultant and Blogger.

It’s in our nature as human beings to always be comparing. It’s what we do every day in a myriad of situations and environments, we compare. Technology and the wonderful world of the Internet, has given us the ability to quickly read reviews on products and restaurants, thus comparing.

Is it not assumed that when we become mothers that we will continue to compare? It happens, but it is rarely something we will think about the months leading up to the delivery of our tiny humans. Oh sure, we will compare what breast pump to buy or what stroller to register for. We will compare child care centres and mini vans. But, the unspoken truth is we will compare the development of our babies to our friends babies and the babies we meet along the way. We will enter into the anxiety ridden, Google searching and Doctor calling comparing mom.

How do we get a hold of ourselves and take control over our constant comparing and worrying?

 

TIP #1 – IT’S NATURAL

Always remember that comparing is natural. It’s how we weed out the bad and focus on the good. It’s how you ended up with your sports car edition of the mini van.

Comparing Moms - No 1

However, it’s important to get a grip on the amount of time you spend comparing. Although it’s natural, it’s not natural to be completely overwhelmed and focused on comparing. If it starts to affect your ability to be present and involved with your child, you need to stop, take a breath and focus on why you are so worried.

TIP #2 – YOU WORRY FOR A REASON

Yes, you are now a mom. You have committed to an entire life of worry. You will worry about tiny things and bigs things.
I’m not telling you not to compare, I’m here to educate you on how to compare especially when it comes to your child’s overall development. You will compare, but if you have a worry then it is valid! It’s called your gut.

As my best friend was getting ready to leave my house the other day, she was talking out her worries that came straight from her continuous comparing. She finally said to me, “I need to just stop comparing!” Yes and no my friend! Comparing is natural yes, but if your worried and you continue to be worried, act on it.

TIP #3 – EDUCATE YOURSELF

There are developmental check lists available to you online, at your doctors office and various children’s centres. Take the checklists, use them and either ease your mind or call your doctor if you’re still concerned.

Whatever you do, do NOT take a bunch of “symptoms” and plug into the Google search engine! I mean it, do NOT do it! Yes, it’s easily accessible and there are SO many forums with other moms with the same concerns, but every story is different with different outcomes! Unless your googling developmental stages and expectancies, do not Google symptoms!

Education is the key to understanding and fostering your child’s development. Comparing your child’s development to children around you is natural yes, but educate yourself first. No need to get worried if you don’t need to! You have to remember that children grow and develop at varying rates!

TIP #4 – TALK IT OUT

Do not keep it all bottled up inside of you, this comparing and worrying business. Talk about it! Talk it out with your partner, your friend (yes even the ones whose child your comparing), your mom, community partners. Heck, talk it out with yourself. You have to take control of your anxiety now before it takes control over you. Talk to your anxiety and hash it out.

Comparing Moms - No 2

The more you talk about your concerns or worries, the more information you will receive. If you have talked about it, read about it and your still concerned, call your doctor. Again, go with your gut. Your still unsettled for a reason!

TIP #5 – SOCIALIZE

Do not sit in your house and analyze your child’s development over and over again. Get out and socialize. Go to community drop in’s. Visit a friend. Time and time again I have found many children who are behind in their development will flourish when consistently socialized with other children around the same age.

Getting out and socializing your child also provides them with varying environments to explore and expand on their exploding development. Not to mention it builds relationships for both you and your child!

TIP #6 – GO WITH YOUR GUT

It’s tough being a mom. No one said it would be easy and who even warned you that you were signing up for a life long sentence of worry?!

The one thing we are all equipped with is this little aching feeling that lies at the pit of our stomach and rears it’s ugly head when something feels wrong. It usually goes hand in hand with that voice in our head that also tells us that something could be wrong.

My point is, after you feel like you’ve talked about it a million times, you’ve Googled it (yes, I know you won’t listen to me and NOT Google it), you’ve provided ample opportunities to socialize and you feel like your fairly educated on it AND your STILL questioning and comparing and worrying… LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!

Remember, you compare because it’s natural, you worry for a reason and you act because you know you have to! Welcome to motherhood!

 

Lisa E. Hill is a Child Development Consultant who works with families who are struggling with everyday parenting issues and parents of children with Special Needs. Lisa strives to Simplify Impossible Parenting by offering strategies and suggestions, resources and 1:1 support to families worldwide.  You can follow her blog Loud Parent here.
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The Life of a Stay at Home Dad

Cristian with some old guy.
Cristian with some old guy.

Before becoming a Stay at Home Dad, I had no idea of what to expect.  It was so bad I did a Google search to find out what SAHD meant.  Working without a road map the first months were a bumpy ride but its gotten smoother along the way.  Taking care of Cristian is the toughest job I’ve had, multitasking and improvising are only two of the skills needed for the job.

Since little information exists regarding Stay at Home Dads I decided to share a few details on the glamourous lives we lead.

Taking care of him was easier before he started walking
Taking care of him was easier before he started walking

Start Me Up – I’m up at 6:30 every morning.  Jumping or staggering out of bed depends on how the baby slept.  He’s usually up once a night.  He rolls over and goes back to sleep after snatching the bottle from my hand—on a good night.  Teething and ear infections have a way of throwing things out of whack.  I start my day with a cup of coffee and some quiet time with Esther as we straighten up the baby’s toys.  How Cristian slept the night before determines how strong I brew the coffee.

All the tools needed for starting the day off right
All the tools needed for starting the day off right

Daddy’s Wardrobe – This varies from dad to dad but it’s not business casual.  Most parenting books don’t offer wardrobe suggestions.  Since a lot of my day is spent chasing him around the house, the playground, and keeping him out of the bathroom, he loves bathrooms, I wear the same gear I wear on training runs, a tech t-shirt and sweats.   They’re light-weight, comfortable and washes easier than a cashmere sweater, because you will be drooled, spilled and pooped on.

No more CNN Daddy, I want to watch Sesame Street.
No more CNN Daddy, I want to watch Sesame Street.

Is TV the Babysitter? – Everyone thinks Stay at Home Dads binge watch Netflix while the baby plays.  In addition to being a Stay at Home Dad, I’m also a Work from Home Dad.  Working as a consultant and freelance writing gigs keep me busy while Cristian watches Sesame Street or Baby Genius.  That doesn’t mean he spends all day in front of the TV.   I read to him, we play in the park, and he comes along on my daily errands. That said Cristian’s watched more CNN than the average toddler—we both agree HD isn’t doing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton any favors.

Sleep When They Sleep – I mentioned this before but it bears repeating.  I’m convinced anyone offering this advice never took care of a baby. Maybe they had a nanny or they’ve forgotten how demanding babies are.  A baby’s nap time is like hitting Lotto.  Here’s your chance to do a load of laundry, take a quick shower, or catch up on whatever you’ve fallen behind on.  Use the time wisely.  I’ve written and published blog posts during Cristian’s naps.

Everyone’s An Expert – Stay at Home Dads are still considered an oddity—much like caged animals at the zoo.  On any given day, I’ll hear comments and receive unsolicited advice on all things baby.  Everything from it looks mommy dressed him today, to how cute you’re babysitting, to he looks hungry.  Okay that last one was from Grandma who thinks everyone looks hungry but you get my point.

Multi-Tasking Required – Most job descriptions these days require strong time-management skills and the ability to multitask, they’re also prerequisites for any SAHD.  One any given day I’m chauffeuring Cristian to playdates, My Gym classes, or the park for an hour, while maintaining a full work-load and finding time to write. Am I babysitting or parenting—maybe a little of both depending on the day.

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Seven Things to Know Before Having Kids

Esther and I BC - Before Cristian
Esther and I BC – Before Cristian

Parenthood is a life-changing experience, I love being a Dad.  That said any parent, or more specifically this parent is letting you know your life is going to change because you WILL make sacrifices along the way.  I knew this coming in—at least I thought I did.

If you are thinking about starting a family this is a must read—it will give you some insight on what lies ahead.

Pregnancy – You want a sneak peek on parenthood, pregnancy is a good place to start. There’s weight gain, sleepless nights and moodiness—and that was just me.  Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of Lamaze Classes, baby registries, and unsolicited advice from all sides.  I don’t know what was rougher dealing with my better half’s hormones or agreeing on the baby’s name.  Don’t worry about the sleep deprivation—you’ll catch up once the baby’s born.

What the first week feels like.
What the first week feels like.

New Baby/Clueless Parents – The first days are a blur of, baby bottles, dirty diapers, and caffeine (mine not the baby’s).  Bonus points if you survive without getting peed on.  After a week of this your friends and family will want to see the baby.  Hopefully they will do more than post selfies with your child on Instagram.  Helpful hint, don’t be shy when someone asks, “What can I bring.”  It’s a limited-time offer so forget the chicken nuggets and go for the big ticket items like surf and turf.

The Baby Tour – Once the baby’s older you’ll be required to take him on tour.  This is done for the relatives who couldn’t make it to your home or were afraid of the cranky old man, otherwise known as me.  Packing the car with the baby bag, separate clothes bag, laundry bag, (all stuffed with individually packed zip lock bags), stroller, playpen, and hopefully the baby is time consuming.  I’m an experienced logistics guy who coordinated corporate events in every major convention center and hotel in North America, it was less stressful than loading the car for a twitchy mommy wanting to show off her pride and joy.

Air Travel – Is the Baby Tour on steroids.  Imagine packing everything listed above in addition to your own luggage and spending at least three hours in a cramped airline seat with a squirming toddler in your lap.  Sure the baby flies free but would it hurt the airlines to throw in a few free drinks?  When things get rough go to the parents’ secret weapon–Benadryl.  Travelling with a baby makes you long for the days when you travelled with just one backpack.

Before, the toys are neatly stacked while the baby sleeps.
Before, the toys are neatly stacked while the baby sleeps.

House Looks Like a Natural Disaster – Do you like an orderly home?  Does your bathroom have cute little soaps and towels only guests are allowed to use? Does your living room come straight from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens?  Toddlers change that in a hurry.  Once they start walking you’re immaculate home will look like the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy.  If you’re lucky you may qualify for a FEMA reimbursement.

After - The baby wakes up. Imagine what the rest of the house looks like.
After – The baby wakes up. Imagine what the rest of the house looks like.

Sleeping the Night – Scratch this one off the list for a few years, there’s no rhyme or reason to a baby’s sleep patterns, don’t try to understand it, just manage it–like a pregnant woman’s hormonal outbursts.  Haven’t you been reading this blog?  If you’re lucky the baby only wakes up once a night.  Of course teething can change that quickly.  Don’t worry, you’ll learn to function on four-hours sleep.

Lazy Sunday Mornings – Sunday mornings used to be about selfish pleasures, a morning run, an IHOP breakfast or lying in bed with Esther reading the Sunday paper.  A baby changes this and those simple pleasures become luxuries.  Sunday mornings are now about watching PBS Kids and chasing the baby around the living room.

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Five Signs You Need a Night Out

Esther and I before becoming parents. Notice the smiles on our faces.
Esther and I before becoming parents. Notice the smiles on our faces.

We all love our kids but being locked up with your little booger monster takes a toll over the long haul  A blizzard, ear infection, and daily bombardment of the Donald-Marco-Ted three-way is enough to make the strongest among us scream for a night out.

If you aren’t sure if you a night away from the baby I created this guide.  Helpful hint nicknaming your pride and joy Godzilla thins out the baby sitting pool quickly.

Playdates Dominate Your Social Calendar– Playdates and Children’s Fitness Centers like Gymboree and MyGym are great for socializing your child.  They also let new parents compare notes on sleep patterns, developmental milestones, and the strangest place you’ve found poop and puke. As helpful as they are an evening spent with a different circle of friends will make a huge difference. Suggestion – Double date with another couple.  Bonus points if their child is old enough to babysit.

Hamming it up at his MyGym Class
Hamming it up at his MyGym Class

You’re Watching Too Many Kiddie Shows –When PBS Kids and Nick Jr are your go-to channels it’s only a matter of time until you get caught up in Elmo’s latest adventures.  Waking up humming the Pepa Pig theme is a sign you need a night out.  Suggestion – Beer and Wings with the guys at a Sports Bar.

The Last Movie We Saw Was Um…– Having young kids in the house means they determine what’s on TV.  It makes you long for the nights when you and the wife battled it out for the remote.  If the last movie you saw was the first Hunger Games you’re overdue for a movie night.  Suggestion –Dinner and a Movie.

Playdate in the park
Playdate in the park

Funerals Become Date Nights – It’s gotten pretty bad when attending a wake or sitting shiva is the highlight of your social calendar. Although wearing something other than the stained sweatshirt and pajama pants will score points with your better half, sharing a meal of brisket and rugelach with your fellow mourners is not a date night. Exceptions may be granted for an Irish Wake.  Suggestion – Make Reservations for two at a steak house because nothing says love like porterhouse.

Some Private Time Please Keeping up with a toddler requires the patience of a monk and the energy of an extreme athlete—sometimes that’s not enough. Working all day and trying to outlast a wired baby late into the night is exhausting—usually resulting in one parent falling asleep before the baby.  You know it’s gotten pretty bad when you start comparing who’s better looking Wilma Flintstone or Betty Rubble.  Suggestion – Call in a huge favor and have someone to watch the baby while you book a romantic weekend, a three-day weekend if possible in case one of you passes out the first night.

Disclaimer- No Cartoon Characters were hurt during that last joke.

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