The Solitude of Being a Stay-At-Home Dad

Solitude

Solitude

My Fortress of Solitude is a two-story home on a dead end street. Sorry, “no outlet” street for the pc police. I enjoy my children. I enjoy what I do as a stay-at-home dad. I enjoy being able to get things (not everything, but some things) done around the house during the week so that the weekends can be enjoyed with my family instead of spending them cleaning, organizing, fixing. Although big projects are usually saved for the weekends so I have an extra set of hands and eyes for in case I truly mess up.

Play Ground FunI also get to enjoy play video games with my oldest, help my youngest with his alphabet. I get to bring them to the play ground to play (during the week while other dads are working). I get to go on field trips with my kids. I get to take part in class activities. Best of all I actually get to laugh, play, bond and watch and help them grow into the little men they are becoming. I do not have to let someone else raise them while I work a job I do not enjoy. Being a dad is the greatest job in the world. Luckily, that will never change, because I will always be their dad.

Often times, dads are on the sideline as mom does the majority of the work with the house and the kids. They have a back seat role in parenting. As a stay-at-home dad, I have the wheel most of the time. Although, I will admit that there are times when I need to let my wife into the driver seat because there are things that mommy just does better. Let’s just admit it, moms and dads parent different.

FieldtripThe thing is not that we as dads parent different; it’s that being a stay-at-home parent can be a solitary endeavor. As an introvert it only makes it that much more difficult when you do want the social interaction. I am sure that being a stay-home-mom can be solitary as well, but a search of my local meet-up groups shows numerous ones geared toward moms, one geared toward parents, and none for dads only. Here’s the thing, dads parent different, so I want to get together with other dads who stay home and do the majority of the care-giving to their families. I want to hear about their achievements, their failures, their fears. As a dad, I want to feel like I belong. I do not need a fortress of solitude, I need a League of Extraordinary Gentleman.

Fortunately, there is that. It is called National At-Home Dad Network and there are many great dads who are members. Every year they have a convention and a bunch of dads get together, bond, learn, laugh and find out that they are not alone. I have never been. This year is their 20th convention. Yes, Twenty Years! I would like to go. However, because I am a stay-at-home, it means we are mostly a single income family. I do work 2 days a week. So, money is a major concern when it comes to that. Every year, these great guys give out scholarships for dads in need to help cover the cost of entrance into the convention. I have applied for that. But that also leaves the cost of travel, hotel, and food for the time I am there. Which is why I set up a gofundme page. I am looking to break out of my fortress of solitude, connect with other dads, share, and learn a thing or fifty. Please help me get there.

I am a good dad. I want to be a great dad. The best way to get better is to learn from others what works, and what doesn’t. It also helps to teach others. I did not have anyone to learn from growing up. I get better every day because being a parent is learned on the job. There is no manual. I just hope that when my kids look back at their life they think great things of the time they got to spend with their dad as they were growing up.

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Let Us Not Forget

Let us not forget why we are parents and why we love being parents so much. I have found myself more times then I care to admit, lately, frustrated and short on patience. I get frustrated with the kids, I get frustrated with the wife and I get frustrated with myself.

Aiden2So I sit here and think “why did I become a dad again”? That is when something truly amazing happens. The universe steps in (or in this case “A”) and reminds me why I love my job of being a dad more than anything in the world. In this case, it is a lost tooth (the third in as many weeks), and a goofy smile that reminds me why I love this kid, why I love his brother, and why I love being a dad.

It is the simple things, like a goofy smile that reminds me why my life is truly great and why I wouldn’t change it for anything. I may not have a lot of money (one of the disadvantages of being the primary caregiver). But what I lack in money I make up for in love, experiences, and memories.

So why am I a dad again? This is why…Aiden

Why do you love being a parent? I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Field Trip

FieldtripMy youngest, who is in Pre-K had his first fieldtrip a few weeks back. I am lucky enough because I get to go on these field trips with him. One of the perks of being a Stay-at-home dad. One of his classmates parents owns a farm so the kids got to visit the farm and see cows, pigs, chickens, go on a hay ride, and all the kids got to pick out a pumpkin.

Fieldtrip 2The thing that stuck out to me most was the amount of dads who chaperoned the fieldtrip. I would say almost half the adults there were of the dad or grand-dad persuasion. I am so happy to see so many dads, especially working dads involved in their children’s lives.

It got me thinking because I drop off and pick up my kids everyday at school. I am at the building three times every day. I have been looking around, and I am not the anomaly there. There are lots of dads picking up and dropping their kids off. Lots of hugs, and kisses. Lots of comforting. Lots of dads not being the typical macho guy who doesn’t do anything besides earn for the family.

But, yesterday, I heard two moms talking and laughing at their husbands expense. I had to do everything to hold my tongue as they bashed their husbands about everything they do around the house and how they can’t seem to figure out how to do things the way that they (the women) like it done. Just because it isn’t your way doesn’t mean it is wrong. My wife and I do things much different around the house. But yet, here I am the primary caregiver of my children and not one kid has been scarred for life under my watch and I am sure not one of their children or households has been seriously injured under their husbands either.

I remember when I was in school, not many dads were involved in anything besides attending their son’s athletics. It is great to see how some things change, but it is obvious that there are still so many things that need to change, even just in that perception of what it means to be a dad.

Why Fall is the Best Time of Year

Autumn20140914_125814The best thing about living in New York State (yes New York is a whole state and not just a city) is that we get to experience four uniquely different seasons. Mother Nature must really like us to because we don’t have any real bad weather or natural events(aside from the occasional big snow storm) to worry about. We don’t have major earthquakes, tornados or hurricanes to worry about. We only have to worry about people who don’t know how to drive in snow.

But, to me, the best time of year is Fall. Fall wasn’t always my favorite. Obviously, as a kid I loved summer. But now that I am older and wiser (yeah right), I know that fall is the best time of year. So much happens in the fall (or near fall) that I enjoy so much.

First Day of School

First Day of School

The first thing that happens is my kids go to school. I know, technically it is still summer when they start, but to me, it is the beginning of fall. I love having my kids around, and I do miss them when they aren’t at home, but that 3 hours when they are both not here, makes it possible to get so much done around the house.

I also love the look and smell of fall. I love the color changes that you don’t get in the southern part of the country. I love the fall leaves while they are on the trees. Although, I do loath them when they are on the ground and I have to rake them for what seems to be eternity. I love the cool, crisp air. The fact that you can layer your clothes so that you are warm on the cool morning and then peal off layers as the day warms up.

But the thing that has really grown on me over the years, and especially now that I am attempting to garden, is that it is harvest season. I love the fact that all these great foods are being picked fresh and you can get so much good local fruits and vegetables. The best part is going to the orchard and picking apples with the family. We all enjoy it so much and have a ball going through the orchard picking all the different varieties of apples. The boys love finding the biggest, brightest apples they can find. They love running up and down the rows and rows of trees. I love the fact that I can get so much for so little. I am sure we will go back again and get more.

Apples from the Orchard

Apples from the Orchard

There is so much that can be made with them and I am just starting to scratch the surface of what I am able to make. I have made, Apple Pie Oatmeal, Apple Salsa, BBQ Chicken with Apples, BBQ Chicken, Apple, and Tomato Pizza, and Apple & Blueberry Butter. I also frozen some that I chopped and coated with Cinnamon and Sugar so that I can make a pie or apple sauce quickly. All this has been done and I still have a ton on the counter waiting to be used. What else will I make? Who knows. I am still learning as I go here.

Weekend Review August 25, 2014

Utility Belt

 

Perplexus is Perplexing

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

A has wanted this puzzle game for some time. Every time we are in the toy department he plays with it for at least a little bit. His grandmother was nice enough to buy it for him this past weekend and he has rarely put it down.

Description

Perplexus reminds me of the wooden labyrinth games from when I was younger. If you don’t know what these are kids, look them up on Youtube they were really challenging. The difference between labyrinth games from when I was a kid and this is that it is in a sphere so the maze is in 3 dimensions. You have to twist and turn the sphere as a ball travels along an increasingly difficult course of 100 obstacles.

I have tried it, A has been addicted to it, even N has tried it. This is great for the younger ones too because it does work on hand-eye coordination and motor skills which is crucial at his age.

Also, this isn’t the only Perplexus game that PlaySmart makes. There is Rookie for beginners, which I will probably get for N to try his hand on. Also there is Epic, and Twist for even more challenges.

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

Verdict

Great little toy for hours of fun. The boys love it. It is also great for travel because it is something to do besides play on electronic devices. Give it a try. Your family will love it.

Children and Germs, my Kryptonite

KryptoniteGerms. I hate them. I hate them. I. Hate. Them. They are Reason #3 why I am not a teacher. So let me do some Common Core Math for you here to make it a little easier to understand. Kids + Germs = Me being sick (constantly). So, as the new school year has only been going for a couple of weeks, I have managed to already get sick by these little germ factories we call kids. I am careful, I wash and sanitize, I clean the house, but it doesn’t fail. For the better part of 4 days I had been achy, fevery, coughy, running nose(y)?

I know why this happened to. It is because this is N’s first time in school. He is being introduced to all these new exciting germs on a daily basis. Germs he hasn’t had contact with previously. Germs, he brings home to dad. Germs that get dad sick. You see, dad has always been one to easily get sick. Strep throat as a kid. Constantly. Ear Infections. All the time. Scarlet Fever. Yep. Now before kids, I was a fairly healthy adult. Seasonal allergies, sure. But not constant sickness. Now here I am, and every school year, I get sick.

But, the worst part is that now that I am getting better and have been very careful around my kids to not get them sick. N is home today because he was coughing constantly yesterday and up during the night with a fever. So the germs finally did him in to. Eventually he will get used to all these new germs while daddy goes through the rollercoaster ride of sickness all school year. At least I don’t have a job I have to go to even while I am sick because I used all my personal time for sick kids. Oh, wait…

Sick kid and his puppy

Sick kid and his puppy

Using All Your Tools To Make Something Amazing

This isnt what these are for

You mean this isn't what these are for?

You mean this isn’t what these are for?

I just want to start off by saying I have an amazing wife.

I was out of the house doing some work and the kids were bored so she (the wife) decided to make them forts over their beds. Now, we don’t have a lot of ropes and things to help keep the forts up in their rooms let alone above their beds. So my wife, being the resourceful woman that she is remembered my box full of Ethernet cords, cable wires,usb cables, speaker wire…well you get the point. There is a lot of stuff in there we don’t use. So she decided to use them as guide wires. As you can see it worked amazing. I came home to some monstrosities over the boys beds, but they have loved them so much it has been over a week and I haven’t been able to take them down. Way to go wife.

So what does your significant other do that truly amazes you? I would love to hear about it.

Weekend Review September 8, 2014

Weapons Training

Listen up maggots, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and start shooting some guns! How else are you going to survive the zombie apocalypse when it happens? So, put on your vest, grab your gun and start shooting.

Laserquest.com

Laserquest.com

Laser Quest

We recently went to play Laser Tag at Laser Quest on a hot but rainy Labor Day. Can I just say…It was a blast!

Description

If you don’t know what laser tag is watch the video.

You done watching the video? Good. Pretty self explanatory, huh? Well, that does a better job of explaining and showing what Laser Quest is then me. But, to add to it, they have video games, foosball, air hockey and other games in the area you wait before being let into the briefing room where you learn about the rules of the game. They also have a few big party rooms for birthdays or other events.

Basically, they brief you, you get your vest and gun, activate it, go in and try to kill everyone. And by kill I mean try to get the best score out of all the people playing by shooting their sensors and not letting them shoot yours. The games are 15 minutes long which actually seems pretty long once you are running around this big maze which is lit only by black lights.

 Verdict

You definitely have to try it if there is one near you. So Click Here to find out if there is one in your neck of the woods. Every one enjoyed it. The only thing I can say is I wish they had some smaller vests, because while younger kids can play, the vest doesn’t fit on a smaller child like my 4 year old “N”. His mother and I had to take turns wearing the vest while he had the gun (which is attached to the vest by the way). So we had to follow this little terror around as he ran stalked after girls totally annihilating them. It is pretty difficult to do, but also a lot of fun. Also, leave your pride at the door to the briefing room because once you get in there you will quickly realize that you are going to be beat again and again by a 4 foot tall laser shooting maniac.

 

First Day of School

Ninja TrainingFirst Day of Ninja SchoolSo today it starts. It is old hat for the “A” and it should be old hat for his dad, but it isn’t. Today marks the day my youngest takes the next step away from needing me for everything to be more independent. Today, “N” goes to Pre-K. Today, I am no longer the center of his learning universe. Today, “N” will start learning all his ninja fighting skills from other kids and dare I say it…a teacher (gasp). Today is the day that his world starts to expand exponentially.

It is bitter sweet for me. I will enjoy the little bit of freedom I will have without the boys in theFirst Day 2 house, but I will miss the great adventures they take me on. I know, I know, I will still have plenty of time for them after school, but this new adventure for them makes me realize that I will gradually become less and less a part of  their lives as they learn and grow. I will be the taxi, the waiter, and the hotel concierge. I do realize that I will always be dad. I do realize that “A” and “N” will always love me. I just know that I will miss these full days, even if many of them are just filled with hanging out and watching shows and playing video games together.

So today, I sit here and contemplate the next phase of Ninja Training. Any suggestions?

Weekend Review August 25, 2014

Utility BeltI am going to change up the weekend review a little bit and talk about products, experiences, vacations that I want for either me, as a dad, or for my kids and family as well as products. I am doing this because, lets face it, as a one income family, income is limited and we don’t buy a lot of new things for the kids. We also seem to buy even less for ourselves.

TABLETOPICS

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

This week I am going to talk about something I think would be great for the family. I feel that meal time is very important for all families. This is especially true as children get older and activities and life move people in all directions. Mom goes to work, Dad stays home, kids have school, activities, sports, friends. No one seems to have time to see each other anymore. That is why we love having dinner together. It gets us together and lets us reconnect as a family. We can talk about our days, enjoy a good meal instead of something quick on the go, and just unwind from a hectic day.

That is why I think that TABLETOPICS is a great product. Ever feel like you don’t know

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

what to talk about? Ever feel you can’t connect with your kids? I know I do, and I spend a majority of the day with them. TABLETOPICS is the ideal conversation starter. Kids love to participate and talk about their ideas and opinions so why not engage them, teach some great social skills (without them even knowing) and learn a little something about them. Each box comes with 135 questions such as “what’s your favorite ride at an amusement park” and “who is one of your heroes and why do they inspire you”. They fuel conversations and you never know where the conversation will lead.

The great thing though is that the box makes it easy to take with you, so it isn’t something that you need to keep at the dinner table. You can take them with you on a long trip in the car, at restaurants to keep the easily distracted munchkins entertained and not bugging the people sitting at the table behind them.

There are also many different additions so you don’t need to get it just for family time. They have additions for couples, dinner parties, family gatherings among others.

I know I want it for our family, and will probably be picking up my first box soon. If so, I will let you know how it goes.