It is time to thank the Dads who make the Moms’ lives easier (and yes, sometimes harder) but if nothing else, eventful! Many Moms run a household like a well oiled machine, full of “to do” lists, enrichment classes, dos and don’ts, organized diaper bags and packed social schedules. These Wonder Women often make the day to day look easy because they have mastered the uncanny ability to multi-task, have a relentless attention to detail and unexplainable amount of energy.
However, to be fair, this Super Mom mentality can come at a price, and often leaves Dads dodging the over-tired, under fed, “Mommy Mood Swings.” As it is a weekend to celebrate Dads, Boston Babies would like to acknowledge the part they play in creating a well-balanced baby. It is a Dad’s duty to provide the baby with the essentials: Elmo voices, playtime in the park, animal sounds, high fives and fist bumps, bubbles during bath time and books at bed, rides on top of shoulders and tickle tortures to offset tears. While no one can dispute the different roles that Moms and Dads play in a child’s life, it cannot be argued that both pieces of the puzzle are effective in providing the best for a Boston Baby.
In honor of Father’s Day, Erik Qualman, local father of two and author of international best sellers, Socialnomics and Digital Leader, provides Dads with tips on how best to spend time with toddlers. See below for information on where to go, what you’ll need, and most importantly, how to plan for and best bond with your baby.
So the day has finally arrived where you are going to take care of your son or daughter all by yourself. With a smile on your face you say to your wife “can’t wait!” — meanwhile a minor panic attack ripples through your body like a week old Fenway Park hot dog. Nothing to fear my fellow sleep-deprived and blankie hauling friend. The best way to learn parenting is through failure, so I hope that you learn from some of mine.
Below are a few tips to have a very enjoyable day with your child (aka your master). I list places specific to Boston, but I’m sure you have the equivalent in your town.
1. Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail.
As guys we love to “wing it.” This doesn’t work well with a child. They are used to a schedule and like their schedule. The term “whatever” is no longer part of your vocabulary. Take the time to game plan like Bill Belichick and you’re on the road to success.
Tip: Dogs are not man’s best friend, naps are…and naps are dependent on keeping the schedule.
2. Pack Like You are Never Going to See Home Again.
Face it, most of your parenting life you have been the sherpa – remember that blown out shoulder from hoisting the child seat into the airplane overhead? As sherpa, you have no idea what the mountain climber packs into her diaper bag (and make no mistake it’s hers). Hell, you don’t even know where your own shoes are.
While you have the mountain climber’s attention ask her where the diaper bag is (amazing that the neon pink and purple paisley bag is hard to find, but it is). Ask if the bag is already packed and prepared. If it’s not already packed ask her to help you pack it. That way you will know where everything is and what everything does (for example that rolled-up plastic thing is to be used to place the baby on for diaper changes — not for cleaning the car windshield). Request that she show you hidden pockets within the bag (there are roughly 1,569). Ask where all other important items are (car keys, museum passes, day care secret handshakes, fire extinguisher, etc.)
- Dude, you forgot to pack the milk and water again? Come on, get your game face on. You are better than that.
- Plan for the amount of time you think it will take to get out of the house and then multiple it by 3 (example 15 minutes x 3 = 45 minutes).
3. Buddy Up: That’s Right You are Going to Ask Another Guy Out.
Things are much easier in pairs (e.g. one can watch the two kids while the other goes and buys the beer). You can try to disguise it with a term like “play date,” but make no bones about it, you just asked another dude out. Once you’ve confirmed your date, man-up by watching Gladiator and The Godfather while downing a six-pack of Miller High Life.
Tip: The buddy system helps improve the chances that at least one of you remembered to pack a spare diaper.
4. Go to the Park.
The goal for your day is not enjoyment. The goal is to get your child as exhausted as possible (see naps above). The park is a great place for your child to play with other children (aka slap them in the face and in return be slapped in the face). The other great thing about the park is all the other helpful moms that are there. They can see that you may need a hand and are more than willing to chime-in with advice like: “You may not want to put your daughter in white pants the next time you come to the sand box” or “I don’t think that is your daughter’s gum that she picked up among the wood chips.” Also know that you just got some other unsuspecting and innocent husband in trouble for portraying Dad of the Year (buy that unknown soldier a Guinness the next time you are out).
Tip: You think you will fit down the circular tube slide. You don’t.
5. Museum of Science.
This is your money spot on a rainy day and trust me when it’s your big day the forecast calls for 100% chance of thunderstorms. At the museum, your child isn’t probably old enough to truly digest all the information thrown at her, but you can have fun watching her set the world record of most buttons pushed in an hour. You may learn something too, but don’t become so engrossed with reading about how the pyramids were built that your child is riding up and down the escalators by herself.
Tip: The elevator is slower than an old man at an ATM machine. If you park your stroller in the designated areas you will be better off than having to rely on the elevator.
6. Children’s Museum:
I’m not sure why this merits the word “Museum” in title (it’s a huge indoor playground), but this is another great spot for a rainy day. If you have a member pass I highly suggest you beat the crowds by going between 9-10 am on the weekends. Only members are allowed in during this time. Pack plenty of quarters as you will need them for parking and for the handy lockers. Make sure to bring your photo ID.
Tip: If you can avoid the bubble room it will save your child from getting soaked in soapy dish liquid and daddy from tearing an ACL slipping on the floor.
That’s it! When your wife returns you can say “no sweat,” but she’ll no you are telling a lie once she sees the lollipop stuck to the back of your shirt.
Erik Qualman is the author of international best sellers, Socialnomics and Digital Leaders.