Posted in Uncategorized, tagged blanket, Buckland Hills, car seat, cold, CT, fleece jacket, library, lunch, mall, mall walking, Meriden CT, mittens, New England, Petco, playdates, recluse, stay at home dad, stay at home dads, story time, summer, swimming, Target, Wal-Mart, West Hartford CT, Westfarms, Westfield, winter, wool socks, YMCA on January 29, 2014|
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Lately I’ve been missing summer a lot. I miss hiking and going for walks outside every day. I miss taking the little guy to the playground and seeing his pure joy as he plays in the sand or swings on a swing. I miss the long days and swimming in the pool to cool off. I am not sick of the cold, snow or ice though. I am sick of this lack of time outside. It has been so cold lately that taking my son outside longer than a few minutes has just not been feasible. Now that my son is walking well on his own I am itching to walk with him to all these places that he used to only be able get to by rolling in his stroller or riding on my back.
Despite the cold and dreary winter days I have not fallen into misery. Instead I get moving! I go out with little man every day regardless of how cold it is. We are New Englanders and made of hearty stock capable of bearing the coldest temperatures for the ten to fifteen minutes it takes for us to be in the car and get it warmed. Cowering at home because of cold weather or flurries only brings on cabin fever and a mushing of our minds. It’s not always easy to overcome the inertia of sitting inside on a cold day so here are some things you do to make the process easier.
- Pack everything you need the night before: I wake up in the morning tired with a touch of warm and cozy thrown in. The last thing I want to do is venture out in ten degree weather. Anything that makes the process of leaving more difficult will make me more likely to say “F#@k this we’re staying in today.” Plan out what you will need and pack it in the most useful way possible. Here is a quick rundown of what I bring when I go to the YMCA to swim. I put his swim diaper and bathing suit on before we leave. He wears a shirt and pants instead of a onesie to make dressing and undressing him easier. I pack two towels, one for when he gets out of the pool and one for drying him off and changing him after his shower. I bring baby wash and a wash cloth so I can clean all the chlorine off. I bring a lunch and his cup so we can eat in the lobby when we are done. I have left out some items I always have in my bag but I think you get the gist. Having all this together ahead of time will make heading into the cold easier.
- Find easy regular places to go: It’s foolish to think that you are going to undertake an epic journey complete with meals and naps every day during the winter. If you can pull that off then you already have everything figured out and can probably stop reading this mere mortal’s tips. For the rest of us it’s important to have simple and close places to go that don’t require the kind of production I outlined above. A good guideline is that if you need more your diaper bag and a snack to go there then it’s probably not easy enough. I like to go to one of the three local malls to walk and take advantage of their play areas. Westfield Mall in Meriden CT and Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester CT both have play areas that are ideal if you get there early and beat the crowds. Westfarms Mall in West Hartford CT has no play area but it is my favorite to walk in and you can get in as early as 7 if your little one is having one of those mornings. Westfield Mall is my favorite overall because everything you need is close to the play area including family parking spaces, the nicest family restroom of the three, and a most excellent pretzel kiosk. Library story times are excellent options as well and in a pinch I will walk around the local Wal-Mart, Target and Petco. Petco is great because it’s like a little zoo where you don’t have to pay to see the animals.
- Don’t stress how you or your little one looks: Face it stay at home dads. We do a lot and sometimes it’s a miracle that we have the energy to get out of bed in the morning. Imagine if you woke up, couldn’t take a shower, all your kid’s matching outfits are dirty, and both you and your child have matching bead head. Yeah this was yesterday for us. Don’t stay in! Slap on some clean clothes and deodorant because who is really going to get close enough to notice? Grab whatever clothes will fit your kid and know that they aren’t what really makes them look cute and loved. Put on your favorite old hat and don’t stress over your kid’s hair because their winter hat would have made them look like they had bed head anyways. You aren’t a scrub because you didn’t have time to get you and your child looking perfect. Your smiles and evident connection will override any negative perceptions. Get out and don’t use appearances as a reason to become a recluse.
- Dress warm and light: That super heavy coat you got for your kid seems great right? Wrong! Check out Consumer Reports to learn why if you don’t know already. Unfortunately that coat is pretty much useless when go to put your kid in the car. You could put your little one in the coat, take them out of the coat, strap them in and then put over them like a blanket. I choose to use a fleece jacket that is warm but compact and a fleece blanket to keep him warm. When combined with mittens, fleece pants, wool socks and a warm winter hat this method is quite effective. I don’t usually have the luxury of warming the car up first but if this is possible for you go for it. Just remember that you probably won’t be able to do that when you are on your way home.
- Make plans with other people: It’s very easy to stay in when you are the only person holding yourself accountable at the critical moment you decide if you are going out. Setup playdates. Arrange visits with family and friends. Tell the mom of your kid’s new best friend at the library that you will be at the story time program next week. It’s in you and your child’s best interest to do these things anyways but sometimes a simple thing like telling someone you will see them again can be the difference between braving the cold or catching cabin fever.
What works for me may not work for you but I hope you were able to take something useful out of this. It’s easy to stay in when it gets cold outside but you aren’t doing your child or yourself any favors by staying in. Being a recluse is a bad idea all year round. Winter just makes it easier to justify. How are you fighting cabin fever during these cold weeks? Is it going well? What do you struggle with?
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Posted in CT Stay At Home Dads Meetups, In the Apartment, tagged apartment, CTFD, loud, loud noises, nap, naps, noises, play, stay at home dad, stress on August 15, 2013|
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There is a great article that came out a while back the CTFD Parenting Method. CTFD stands for Calm The F**k Down and it is simple advice that I need to take to heart. In my quest to be the best stay at home dad I can be I have become too uptight in these areas and need to CTFD.
1. Noise: Loud or sudden noises sometimes freak O out including sneezes and loud coughing or throat clearing. I often hold in my sneezes or cough into a pillow as a result. I need to CTFD and remember that I am capable of calming him down when he is upset and that he has to get used to loud noises sooner rather than later.
2. Naps: My son’s nap time is my downtime/time to get stuff done and as such I want him to get a good nap in every day. That being said, I stress way too much about when and under what circumstances he goes down. I need to CTFD and realize that when he doesn’t go down right away for his nap it just means that we can go play more or do something else. Experience tells me that he’ll just pass out in the middle of whatever we’re doing so why stress about it?
3. Preparation: I have a pretty elaborate routine for when I exit the apartment with O. It includes many things like adjusting windows/shades and getting together an elaborate collection of baby related equipment that would probably allow little man and I to survive for a month in a fallout shelter . I need to CTFD and learn that all I really need when I go out into the world every day is a smile and the cutest baby ever. And diaper, lots of diapers…
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged cheese balls, Connecticut, CT, fluff, jelly, lunch, peanut butter, sandwich, stay at home dad, stay at home dads on August 9, 2013|
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One of the simple joys of being a stay at home dad is lunch. My son seems to be napping when I’m hungry which gives me time to indulge myself. Sometimes this means an egg sandwich or creatively using the previous night’s leftovers for an unintended but delicious purpose. My favorite lunches are random dishes that could only come from the mind of a tired stay at home dad who is driven by a combination of hunger and exhaustion. Today was such a day in my little corner of Connecticut. I found a way to combine three of my favorite things: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and burritos. That’s right folks today I had a peanut butter, jelly, and fluff burrito. I also had a handful of cheese balls as a side dish because the only thing that comes close to the majesty of my tortilla based creation is the yummy crunch of cheesy balls. My non-sequitur lunch was even better than I expected! You may think my creation is a little gross but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You might need to be tired and super hungry to fully appreciate the beauty of this gooey creation but I know you’ll love this burrito!
What’s your favorite random lunch? Do you think it tops this plate of deliciousness?
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged angst, CT, CT stay at home dad, identity, irritation, motivate, motivation, reflect, reflection, sahd, stay at home dad, summer camp, write, writer's block on May 1, 2013|
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As I write this I am sitting in front of a fireplace without my wife and son at a summer camp after spending the entire day working outside. I am tired, sore, mildly under the influence and content. I believe that it is important to temporarily remove yourself from whatever your day-to-day situation is so you can evaluate and appreciate what you have. Leaving CT and coming here to work all day with my hands surrounded by wonderful people has given me that opportunity. So what has this evaluation of my situation revealed? Exactly what this picture my wife took reveals. I have an awesome son who I get to spend every day with. I have a loving wife who supports my choice to be a stay at home dad. I love my family and get to spend every day taking care of them. What more could a dedicated father ask for?
I have not talked much about it but before I was a stay at home dad most of my identity came from my work. When I first became a SAHD I was unsure of myself. I felt like I was in limbo and while I publicly trumpeted my new role I still had a hard time letting go of my old identity. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with this change and I believe that the struggle to do so was what drove me to write this blog. These last few weeks it has been difficult for me to write and I have not been able to understand until now.
My writer’s block came from being too happy to write. I think that much of my motivation to write has come from irritation and general angst. I have not had either in abundance for a while because I have fully embraced my role as a stay at home dad. I have always enjoyed spending time with my son but these last few weeks have been extra special. He is doing lots of new stuff and has developed quite the little personality. While all this is true the biggest change has been in me not him. I was doing quite well in my relatively new role as a stay at home dad for the first few months but lately I have gone from being in a good place to being in a great place. I went from liking spending all day with my son to loving spending all day with him. Simply put, I am happier.
So how have I overcome this writers block? I took time to reflect on my life and I came away with a new appreciation for what I have and what I am doing. I discovered that if I focus on what is best in my life I can motivate myself to write more consistently. Here’s hoping it continues to work!
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Posted in In the Apartment, tagged apartment, Babies R Us, baby, baby safety, baby station, baby tub, balance, bath, bath seat, bath sponge, changing table, clutter, Connecticut, CT, diaper, diaper changing suppiles, Facebook, happy, play, re-purpose, splash, sponge, stay at home dad, storage, toys on April 2, 2013|
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I try to re-purpose our stuff for O whenever I can because we live in an apartment with limited space. Having too many items that serve only one purpose would turn our happy apartment into a miserably cluttered mess. The picture above is a great example of a re-purposing idea that I learned from a Facebook friend. The common solution to baby safety is a bath seat but I find that a laundry basket is much cheaper and it works better for a baby who can sit up. It keeps him from tipping over, gives him something to hold onto and contains his toys as he splashes and plays. He doesn’t need to lean out and try to grab them plus he learns how to balance himself in water in a way that he could not in a traditional bath seat. When he was younger we used a bath sponge that you can lay him on in the tub. It worked great and we still use it occasionally. When we visit family for any length of time we will re-purpose a couple of adult sized towels to reproduce the same basic function. If we hadn’t gotten the sponge we probably would have used the towel method instead. We also had a hand me down baby tub and found it to be a hassling space thief more-so than a helpful bath tool. When it comes to bath time there are clearly many opportunities to re-purpose stuff you already have instead of spending more money on single purpose items that will just hog precious storage space.
Another example of re-purposing is our baby station. The idea is to take any piece of furniture with a top roughly waist-high and turn it into a changing table by stuffing it full of diaper changing supplies and throwing an inexpensive changing pad on top. We went a step further and had my father in law build some custom shelves for the sides to create the ultimate baby station. I talk about our changing station in an older post “Diaper Central Command” which has an excellent picture of how it turned out. When we went out looking for baby stuff we were dismayed by the cost of specialize baby furniture. It was nice looking but we had a hard time with the idea of spending $100+ dollars on a changing table that we would use for only one purpose for a few years and then promptly try to shove into the limited storage space we have in our central CT apartment. Re-purposing has been the right solution for us and ended up producing a piece of furniture that is way better than anything we could have bought from a Babies R Us.
So that is how we have done a bit of re-purposing for our baby in an apartment. What kind of creative re-purposing have you done? Have any re-purposing tips that this stay at home dad could use? Share in the comments section below so we can all benefit from your experience!
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Posted in In the Apartment, Uncategorized, tagged bed, blog, blogging, blow off steam, cleaning, computer, computer games, connecting, dinner, dishes, family, games, late night blogging, making dinner, nap, naps, night owl, posts, SimCity, sleep, spring cleaning, stay at home dad, volunteer, wife, Wing Commander, writing on March 21, 2013|
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I have been doing much of my writing these last few weeks late at night after my wife and son have gone to bed. You would think that being a stay at home dad and getting up with the little guy would mean going to bed early but that has not been the case. Instead my natural night owl tendencies have been strengthened because late at night is the only time I can write in peace. There is nothing that can derail my train of thought and I can focus on what I want to say. He is much more consistent with his sleep at night than during the day so I don’t feel the “Holy crap he could wake up any moment so I have to get stuff done” pressure and I am much more relaxed and focused on my writing. I have also rediscovered the joy of playing my favorite classic computer games like “Wing Commander” and “SimCity.” I don’t get as much sleep but I can sometimes recover the lost sleep during the day. On days like this I sleep during his morning nap which is varies these days so there are no guarantees that it will help much. I then have less time to get my daily tasks done so I have to hustle to get all of the housework and dinner prep done during his afternoon nap which can be as short as 1.5 hours. It’s not a perfect way to address my need for time to blog and unwind but it’s better than the alternatives.
One of the alternatives to staying up late is to blog during his naps. I put a lot of time and thought into my posts so it is not uncommon for a single post to reflect 3 or more hours worth of writing, editing, link creation, picture selection and research. Sometimes I have tons of time on my hands because O decides to take longer naps but lately he hasn’t been doing that. Between dishes, cleaning and making dinner that usable nap time disappears pretty quick most days. So I might be left with an hour or two to blog on any given day. Doable, but it takes me much longer than that to produce a post of any length or depth. I also have a hard time finishing a post from a partially written draft so I end up taking longer per post and producing lower quality content. I could write quicker but I do not want to churn out a bunch of short crappy posts written quickly while I stress over how much else I have to do that day and worry when my son is going to wake up from his nap. I did this the first couple of months after I started this blog and did not like it.
Another alternative would be to write after we eat family dinner each night. This would address my need for uninterrupted writing time but it creates other problems. The evening is when my wife and I can talk and spend waking time together. It’s also the only time during the work week when we can all hang out together as a family. It would be easy to use my computer in the other room for hours on end and write but I would miss out on connecting with my wife and son everyday and that would not be worth it.
The final alternative would be to do all my blogging on the weekends. There’s plenty of time on the weekends right? I could write multiple posts and schedule them to drop throughout the week! My wife could take O when I need to blog and we would still have time left as a family. Wrong again! Both of our families and many of our closest friends are roughly 3 hours away so we are often out and about visiting them. Don’t forget big projects and events like road races, spring cleaning, volunteer commitments, etc. These types of things generally take away 2 weekends a month once you consider the time commitment involved. Still think the weekends are a good option?
And so we come back to late night blogging. I sacrifice some sleep so that I can get posts written and play computer games to blow off steam and unwind. Is it a perfect solution? Certainly not but I will take the occasional day making due with spaceyness and a short nap during the day over the alternatives. Which would you choose?
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Posted in Milestones, tagged 6 months old, anxiety, anxious, apartment, baby, baby proofed, baby proofing, continuous roll, dad, developmental milestone, emotional, fear, first tooth, joy, milestones, parent, parents, practice, pride, proud, rational, scary, sitting up, son, stay at home dad, stimulating environment, teeth, upright without assistance, worry on March 18, 2013|
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When my son was 6.5 months and still couldn’t sit up, wasn’t mobile, and didn’t have any teeth I was a worried. ” Why can all these other children his age do these things and he can’t?” “Are we doing something wrong?” “Have I done something to screw up his development?” “Am I a horrible dad?” The rational part of me knew none of this was true but the emotional part of me couldn’t help being anxious about my son’s development. We are loving parents and I work hard to provide my son with a fun and stimulating environment every day but it is easy to doubt one’s ability as a parent. After all, I’ve never done this before right? How should I know what is best? I’ve just read a few books and talked to friends and family about how to raise a child right? When a milestone is finally reached it is truly amazing but the implications of that achievement can be quite scary. For example once a child can move around the room on their own it opens up a whole new world of potential injuries and necessitates significant room layout rethinking and hours of baby proofing work. I call this phenomenon “Joy in a fear sandwich.” The sandwich’s meat is so tasty but that bread can suck sometimes!
There is a lot of fear surrounding developmental milestones, but it’s amazing how quickly all of that disappeared the first time I saw my son stay sitting up on his own. In my years with the YMCA I taught 1000+ children how to do everything from swim, to kick a soccer ball but this moment topped them all in terms of how proud I was. When it comes down to it I probably had little to do with him figuring it out, but I felt proud as though I had directly created the nerve connections and muscle capacity that enabled him to do it. Perhaps some of that pride was because my anxiety about him not sitting up yet was gone. I have to admit that it was getting the best of me when I started practicing sitting up with him much more than I had when he first reached 6 months old. I was so worried that I hadn’t been working with him on it enough! At that time I was thinking, “He’s just turned 6 months old he’ll figure it out in the next couple of weeks.” Those weeks passed with no real improvement so I began practicing more with him but I still did not see him getting any better at it which only fueled my anxiety about his development. O ended my anxiety and fear about his development in one joyful 24 hour period during which my now 7 month old son got his first tooth, mastered the continuous roll, and managed to stay upright without assistance. It’s like his little brain and body reached the point where they were ready and he started doing all sorts of new stuff all at once.
I know my role as a parent is important to his development, but I think sometimes I worry too much. I am a stay at home dad and my entire day revolves around the well being of my son so I think this amplifies my natural parenting fears. I don’t mind because the added anxiety is far outweighed by my joy in witnessing these incredible moments that will only come once in his life. I have a sneaking suspicion that these amazing moments will almost always be book-ended by some degree of anxiety and fear but I know that the pride and joy I will feel will be worth it.
The fear about his development is gone now but it has been replaced by the terror of a mobile baby in an apartment that is not baby proofed. I’m sure I’ll have a post coming soon about that journey, but in the meantime please share your baby proofing suggestions or stories below in the comments section!
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