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  • Paul 1:39 am on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Half Days on Wednesdays 

    I am lucky enough that I have the freedom to decide my own schedule. I’m a grad student, which despite how it may sound, IS a job. I get paid (not much, but some), I have work to do. If I don’t do the work, I don’t get the pay. But (right now anyway) the work is almost entirely product-based, which means nobody cares if I do it from 9-5 on Monday to Friday, or if I do it all in a 30 hour spurt on the weekend. As long as it gets done. So my schedule is flexible.

    But since I want to finish my degree quickly I pretty much think of myself as having a 9-5 job. I go to my office (or study room) every morning, and come home at around 5 every day. I try to put my studying away when I get home so that I am really home and present for my family when I am home, not distracted.

    My big exception to this is on Wednesdays, when I take a half-day and let my wife go off on her own. Sometimes she goes out in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter. I look forward to Wednesdays. Although I really love my work, Wednesdays are great for a lot of reasons.

    Firstly, it makes me feel like a good husband, which is always nice. I love how happy my wife is after she’ s had a chance to spend a few hours drinking coffee at Starbucks, or browsing at a used book store, or even just grocery shopping without two kids. She gets to have some time to herself–some time OUT to herself, and I like being able to give her that.

    I also love being able to spend time with my kids and no one else. When G was a baby, my wife and I each worked part-time, and I got a lot of time with her by myself. I really believe it helped me be a better father, because I didn’t have anyone else to rely on or to pass the buck to. It was all on me. It was sink or swim. And that gave me a confidence, and a competence, but also a closeness to my daughter that I think would have come more slowly otherwise. I don’t get that as much with M, and I miss it. But on Wednesdays I get that. It forces me to build my parenting skills–to learn how to deal with two kids at once and no help–but it is also a chance to spend some undistracted time with my kids.

    I know many (most) dads don’t have the same flexibility I have, and aren’t able to just take a half day once a week. But I really can’t overstate how nice it is to spend time parenting without a net.

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  • Paul 2:05 am on June 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Snapshot of a Party 

    I should have just said “no”.

    When my wife and I were at a party, and M started to cry, a woman I don’t know particularly well came and asked if she could hold her. I was thrown. My instinct was to say “No. She’s crying, and I’m trying to comfort her. This is not a good time.” But for some reason, possibly because I was just so surprised that someone would think that THIS was the best time to come hold the baby, I didn’t say no. So she took the crying M away, and M calmed down a bit. Which is no surprise–a change of situation distracted her for a moment. Then this woman said to the man next to her, in an explaining sort of way: “She doesn’t like her dad.”

    So it wasn’t that she thought this was the best time to hold the baby. It was that she thought that she could soothe my child better than I could.

    And I didn’t even argue.

    I took M back and gave her to my wife, because I knew–as I knew even before this woman took my baby from me–that M’s real problem was that she was hungry. So M stopped crying when she got her mother, and this woman got to keep believing that I am incapable of soothing my baby–that my baby doesn’t like her dad.

    And I didn’t tell her off, or argue, or anything. I didn’t want to be rude at a party.

    But I should have.

     
  • Paul 10:13 pm on June 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Being Better Than our Fathers 

    I think my father did his best. I think he still does.

    In the scheme of fathers, mine was actually pretty good. He was never violent, or absent. But I remember being 10 years old and deciding, consciously, that one day I would be a better father than he was.

    I genuinely believe that my father, by his nature, would be inclined toward gentleness and nurturing. I don’t know if it is a generation thing, or the fact that his own father died when he was young. But somehow he became convinced that kindness and gentleness and nurturing are womanly, that that was my mother’s job. As a father, his main job was to work hard to support his family.

    But I think a man is capable of being a full person with the whole range of human emotions. I think that a father is just as responsible for being nurturing as a mother is. I want to be allowed to be the one my kids come to when they’re hurt. I want to be someone my kids trust, someone they feel safe with. When my kids describe me, I want the words that come to them to be words like “loving, caring, patient”. When it comes to my kids I’d rather they think I’m usually kind than think I’m usually right.

    But I only have one close example of what a father should be like. Whether I want to be or not, I can hear myself becoming my father. I tell the same stupid jokes he did, I react to frustration the same way. I hear myself being stupidly stubborn in arguments with my wife, caring more about being right than about being loving. And exactly because my dad is basically a good guy, because he is neither a perfect ideal father nor a terrible abusive monster, but is just a person trying his best — just like me — I don’t know how to be different. I don’t know how to be better than him.

    I guess my only choice is just to do my best.

     
  • Paul 2:13 am on June 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Why I like Waking up at 4am 

    Cross-posted on my joint blog with my wife

    I know I’m not supposed to, but I really like walking around my apartment with my baby at 4am, pacing and singing her to sleep.

    Of course, I don’t like having my sleep interrupted. I don’t like to hear my baby crying, and I don’t like it when M wakes up in the middle of the night–not exactly. And I don’t like it when my singing and pacing doesn’t work. But usually it does. And when it does, it makes me feel like a good father, which is a really great feeling. When M is crying, and I pick her up and she stops, I love that feeling. And when I rock her and sing to her, and put her back to sleep, and she stays asleep, I’m a happy man.

    I really like getting up with her while Jan stays in bed. Mothers have a built-in mechanism for bonding with their children. Especially while she is breastfeeding, Jan has a virtually foolproof way of calming M. But we’re trying to convince M to sleep through the night again and a big part of that is breaking the expectation of milk at 4am. Like her big sister, M was an amazing sleeper for her first 6 months or so. But just around the 6 month mark–just before in M’s case, just after in G’s–she started to wake up in the middle of the night. With G we just assumed it was a fluke and Jan fed her, until before we noticed it had become a habit for G to eat 3 or 4 times a night. With M we’re determined not to make that mistake. She’s not hungry. She just wants comfort. But M won’t calm down in Jan’s arms unless Jan feeds her–not in the middle of the night anyway, not when she wants milk. But she’ll calm down in my arms. So for fifteen minutes, or half an hour, I hold my baby all alone, in a quiet apartment. Everyone else is sleeping and it’s just her and me. And I rock her and sing to her, and she nuzzles in and falls back asleep, because my voice is as soothing as mother’s milk.

    So yes, I like getting up with my baby and walking around the apartment with her at 4am, singing her to sleep.

    Just as long as it doesn’t last for too long.

     
  • Paul 2:16 pm on June 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Well it’s been a while now, I hope you weren’t waiting in breathless anticipation. The Grand Experiment was a big success. Both girls share a room and my wife and I have a room to ourselves again.

    In this Grand Experiment we learned a few things, the most important of which has been that G is a much MUCH sounder sleeper than I ever suspected. Once she’s out, it doesn’t matter what M does, G just keeps on sleeping. It makes me feel silly for all the tiptoeing around her we did when she was younger.

     
  • Paul 10:41 pm on April 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Tonight we are initiating the Grand Experiment. Both girls will be sleeping in the same room.

     
    • Dara 2:16 am on May 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Let us know how it went in the morning (or at 4am)

  • Rhancock 11:43 am on April 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Socks! 

    Anyone know if there are some sort of locking socks you can buy that a 1yo can’t get off her feet?

     
  • Paul 1:10 pm on April 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Don’t Call my Daughter Princess 

    Reposted from my joint blog with my wife

    If you aren’t a parent — and especially if you’re not the parent of a daughter — you might not be aware of the whole “princess” thing. But trust me. It’s a thing. Before I even get into whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s a thing.

    G gets called “princess” several times a day by strangers, and when she’s wearing a dress (especially a fancy dress) she gets called “princess” repeatedly by almost everyone who sees her. Grocery store clerks say “oh are you a princess?” People on the street say “What a little princess!”

    So what’s wrong with that? Girls go through a princess phase. What’s the big deal?

    A couple of things. Firstly, for G, the princess phase hasn’t started yet. And this princess bombardment will keep going long past the natural life cycle of any phase. It’s not “just a phase”, it’s a cultural prescription. When girls get told from the time they are born that they are princesses, that’s not just a phase. Culture tells my daughters that they are (should be) princesses. Books, toys, movies and especially Disney bombard girls with princesses. And what assumptions are built into that label?

    Princesses have no power. They aren’t queens, don’t have any power except the power to marry a prince. They are objects not subjects. They don’t do anything, they are done to. More, the cultural image of a princess is a pretty princess, so my daughters get told all the time that their only value lies in their appearance.

    Secondly, princesses aren’t just an abstract cultural idea, they’re a cultural commodity. It’s about stuff, mostly stuff sold by Disney. Disney markets the “disney princess” brand so strongly and so successfully that it’s hard to get away from. And as marketing it’s very successful. But I don’t want my daughters to be consumers. I actually think unchecked consumerism is a bad thing, and I want to teach my daughters to resist it.

    Finally, it’s boring. G is full of imagination. One minute she’s a tiger then next she’s a cowboy then she’s Mommy then she’s Daddy then she’s Superman then she’s a singer then she’s a dancer then she’s a frog then she’s a cook. And when she’s wearing a fancy dress, she could be a fairy or a ballet dancer or an architect in a fancy dress. And why can’t a princess be part of that? It can. It is and it unavoidably will be. But the princess idea is already taken care of by movies and books and strangers and pyjamas. If everyone who has ever thought about it deliberately avoided calling G and M “princess” they probably would still get called “princess” every single day. So seriously people Just stop it.

     
  • Rhancock 2:32 pm on April 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Mr. Mom (is that politically incorrect these days?) 

    Since my wife has gone back to work, I am home alone with the two kiddies much more often. Usually it occurs when I get home from work myself, until she gets off at 8:00pm. On weekends, however, I find myself home alone with them for 12 hours. Man, that’s a long time (See: last post… re: Energy)

    I find the worst part of it is just keeping them entertained for the entire day. I know TV is not a babysitter, but there are time when you just gotta throw on Treehouse and veg for half an hour. Think I might take them to the park today. Although a 3yo and 1yo at the park? If it can be done or not, and I’m sure it can, I’ll be giving it a try today. Might have to keep K strapped in though. I’m sure she’ll enjoy watching me chase R around from the comfort of her stroller.

    It might be important to note that after we return from the park, I will still have another 4 hours to kill before bed time. How many coffees can you drink in a day before it’s considered unhealthy anyway?

     
    • Paul 5:07 pm on April 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Man, I hear you. Kids are energy sinks.

      I haven’t usually been the one at home with both of my girls, but when G was about 6 months to 2 years I was the one who stayed home most days while my wife worked. I’ve also had my share of time with both girls, though it is less these days than it used to be. I do have a few tips that have worked for me though, and that work for my wife.

      First, my kids are way more of an energy drain if I’m resisting it. If in the back of my mind I’m thinking that I really wish I could write a blog post or check facebook then G seems endlessly demanding and it’s exhausting. If I commit myself to actually playing with her, then it suddenly becomes a lot easier.

      I always try to break up the day. Instead of thinking in terms of “keep them entertained all day” I try to think “play with them until nap time”. With my kids right now the day gets broken into: Awake to breakfast; Breakfast to M’s morning nap; Morning nap to G’s morning snack; Morning snack to lunch; Lunch to afternoon nap; Afternoon nap to G’s afternoon snack; Afternoon snack to supper; Supper to bedtime. That just makes it all seem a lot easier to handle. Then I have a mental list of 20-30 activities that take 10-30 minutes. Stuff like, colouring, playing with play-doh, reading a story, playing dress-up, etc. Then I pick two from that list and give G a choice. Do you want to colour or read a story?

      I also try to make sure I go outside every single day. Even if it’s just a five minute walk around the block, or a trip to the mall. It really helps break up the day, and to be honest I always find it easier to give my kids the attention they want when I’m not distracted by my computer.

      Finally, don’t sell yourself short! When you’re home with your kids you’re not Mr. Mom, you’re just Dad!

  • nldadsblog 7:35 pm on April 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    2011 Budget 

    How does everyone else feel about the budget announcment? You might have seen or heard my feedback with respect to the “big” daycare announcment. How about the huge investment in Republic of Doyle – good or bad? And broadband access: leaving it in the hands of the provider companies. Will that provide any real solution?
    Comment below or vote in the poll:

     
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