Tag Archives: toddler

Gwanka and Gwoggy

Although I’ve never met them, there are 2 new kids living in our house – Gwanka and Gwoggy.

A couple of days ago I was in the backyard with The Girl. She ran around the corner of the house where the gate is and said, “oh hi! Come on in!” I couldn’t quite see around the corner and I wondered who was there. As I was walking towards the gate, she came back around the corner, looking like she was holding someone’s hand.

“Who’s there?” I asked.

“Gwanka,” she said. “She’s from Mexico.”

“Oh. Where did you meet Gwanka?”

“In a parking lot.”

“And how old is she?”

“5”

A few days later, we are jumping on the bed when all of a sudden The Girl asks Gwoggy to jump with us.

“Who’s Gwoggy?”

“Gwanka’s sister.”

“Oh.”

The Girl has imaginary friends. Fun. I hope I don’t have to feed them, too.

A Bad Dad

Man, I hope we haven’t done any damage with this parental screw-up, but only time will tell.

First, a bit of background.

  1. It’s official. Baby #2 is on the way (YAY!)
  2. #1 has always wanted a baby sister/brother. She loves babies and is always mothering her teddies & dolls. I suspect all toddlers go thru a “mothering” phase with their teddies, but The Girl really seems to take extra joy in making sure her “babies” are well taken care of. For this reason, we have always thought that when baby #2 comes, there is a good chance she will be a fantastic older sister.
  3. The Girl rarely used a soother when she was younger, and hasn’t touched one for close to a year. 2 weeks ago, a suckie was found and, despite our best efforts, it hasn’t left The Girl’s mouth since.
  4. Mom still sometimes sleeps with The Girl at night.

So, 2 days ago the suckie went missing. The Girl has been a bit upset by the disappearance. Mom and I have been trying to explain that suckies are for babies and now that she is a big girl she really doesn’t need one. In fact, maybe we should save the suckies for the new baby. Mistake #1.

Also in the past couple of days, we’ve been trying to prepare The Girl for the fact that, when the new baby comes, Mommy may not be able to sleep with her in her bed because the new baby might need Mommy at night. Mistake #2.

So, we thought she had been taking all this news rather well. Until last night when we heard he utter, “Don’t want new baby. New baby go away. I have enough babies.”

My heart broke. I felt horrible. What have we done? The Girl had been so excited about having a new baby and in the course of a couple of days we have managed to suck all the excitement of having a new baby right out of her.

In retrospect, our mistakes were obvious, including the references to her becoming a “Big Girl”. I think that is going to stop. I only hope that we can get her back on track to being excited about having a baby brother or sister again.

I’m feeling like a terrible parent right now.

Tune In and Drop Out

This week the Time magazine cover story asks are kids too plugged in?

Quoting research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the article says that even though our kids are not spending more time with electronics (already at 6.5 hours a day), they are becoming so adept at multitasking that they now pack in 8.5 hours of media exposure into that 6.5 hours.

What does that mean? According to many of the sources quoted in the Time article, this means that kids are becoming more physically distant from other people. As Sudbury, Massachusetts, psychiatrist and author Edward Hallowell says

“you are not having family dinner, you are not having conversations, you are not debating whether to go out with a boy who wants to have sex on the first date, you are not going on a family ski trip or taking time just to veg. It’s not so much that the video game is going to rot your brain, it’s what you are not doing that’s going to rot your life.”

I have to admit, there have been occasions where I’ve been working away on my laptop downstairs only to receive an email from my wife in the office upstairs. At first, it was quite funny and we used to joke about it, but I can see it becoming more common in our house as our kids get older. And I don’t think instant communication or mediated communication is such a bad thing when used correctly. A phone call from my wife in the driveway asking me to come out and help her bring in the groceries doesn’t seem unreasonable.

I think the bigger point of the article is that we tend to overschedule not only our lives, but also our kids lives. We have somehow collectively lost our ability to do nothing – to sit in silence and think. We somehow believe that, unless we are doing a dozen things at once we are not being productive. I know I am very guilty of this. I always have more to do in my head than there are hours in the day and, as a result, I tend to feel stressed about everything that is not getting done. It is not a good example to set for my girl.

I know that, with a 2 year old toddler bouncing around, it has become harder and harder for me to do nothing with her and be at peace with it. I somehow think that, unless she is doing something, she isn’t being stimulated and I am somehow stunting her development. But maybe it’s okay for her to do nothing. Maybe it’s okay for her just to wander around the house by herself for awhile without me directing her to try this puzzle or sing this song.

I think tomorrow I’ll just let her wander on her own and lead the day. And if we get bored, maybe we’ll sit in the backyard and see if we can find some early spring ladybugs in the garden. Maybe tomorrow we’ll just skip that playgroup and see what the day brings.

7 Tips for Potential Stay at Home Dads

While the benefits and rewards of staying home with the girl vastly outweigh the downside, there are a few things I wish I would have know about being a stay at home Dad before I walked down this path. In the interest of helping other men decide whether this lifestyle is for them, I offer these 7 tips for men who might be contemplating staying at home.

  1. Lower Expectations. When my wife and I first started discussing reducing my work hours to spend a few days a week at home with the girl, I naively envisioned scenes of the girl colouring away contentedly at her play table while I whiled away the day completing a thousand different projects for a hundred different clients. HA! In retrospect, I can see now why some people had funny little grins on their faces when I told them my plan. They were the parents. They knew better.
  2. Let Dirty Dishes Lie. Just because you are at home with the kids doesn’t mean you have to be a “homemaker”. To me, this is like a complete flipping of traditional family roles – roles that women successfully banished to the dustbins of history long ago. I never expected my wife to have the house spotless and dinner made when I was working fulltime and she was home with the girl, and fortunately she doesn’t expect the same. However, when my adventure began, I was surprised to find myself feeling guilty for not having a meal ready when Mom got home, and it took awhile to lose the guilt associated with having a fireplace mantel coated with dust. That’s not to say I don’t do any housework or cook a meal – far from it. But realize that just because you are at home doesn’t mean you need to revert to the traditional role of a “homemaker”. Being a stay at home Dad, like being a stay at home Mom, is not synonymous with being the primary homemaker. It’s still the responsibility of the entire family to make sure a household runs smoothly.
  3. Routine, Routine, Routine. Oh my goodness, how much simpler life is when you have a daily routine. Everyone knows what is expected, first and foremost the girl. She craves structure, and the days where we deviate from the routine tend to be difficult days. To combat this, we have settled into a rhythm that seems to work for us. We are not ruled by the clock, but we certainly go out of our way to keep the structure of the day similar from day to day.
  4. Plan Events for Outside the House.Much like breaking our routine, the days when the girl and I stay at home all day tend to be hard days. I think this is because the girl needs stimulation. A toddler’s need for stimulation is second only to their need to breath. So I try to plan an outside the house activity every day. Fortunately the girl is at the age where everyday things still feel like an adventure, so sometimes a simple ride on a transit bus downtown and back suffices for her daily adventure. I’ve also found that doing our outside the house activity in the morning makes for an easier transition to nap time in the early afternoon, so most of our activities are morning activities.
  5. Build a Support System.I’ve found that being a stay at home parent can be a lonely, isolating experience, and I think this goes double for men simply because the infrastructure and support is not there for us (yet). Among my friends, there are not many Dads doing the stay at home thing, so I can’t exactly pick up the phone and chat with them when I need a pick me up. I sometimes get lonely. I’ve tried playgroups and find that, while the girl has a great time, they are overwhelmingly dominated by Moms and I am often seen as a bit of an outsider. So, on the days I feel lonely the girl and I will meet Mom at work for lunch, or I sometimes do call up one of the other Moms in our circle of friends for a walk or coffee. But to be honest, this is one I am still working on.
  6. Feed Me! As obvious as this sounds, I can’t believe how long it took me to make the connection between the girls mood swings and her blood sugar level. Toddlers need to eat and eat often. While I am good with 3 squares and the occasional piece of fruit throughout the day, the girl needs a more even flow of food. She is an eating machine and since I’ve figured out that the vast majority of her mood swings are tied to her hunger level, her attitude and moods have really evened out. So the girl eats like a Hobbit – breakfast, tenzies, elevenzies, lunch, onezies, etc..
  7. Slow Down and Live in the Moment. One of the amazing things about the girl is that she forces me to slow down and re-examine the everyday world because the everyday world is so new and exciting for her. We can spend an hour walking around the block, which may sound about as exciting as watching paint dry, but trust me, through a toddlers eyes the world is a pretty interesting place. So I make a point of moving at the girl’s pace. And since I have long ago lowered my expectations (#1) and exorcised my inner homemaker demon (#2), I can free my mind to help the girl separate the red leaves from the yellow leaves on the front lawn.

There you go. 7 lessons learned from the front lines of stay at home daddydom. So, what about you? If one of your buddies came up to you and said “I’m thinking of taking some time off work to stay at home with my kid,” what piece of advice would you give them?

A Potty Wee Will Go

Well, we never really planned it, but this morning the girl used her potty for the first time.

We have had it in the hall just outside the bathroom door since she started crawling, so she is very comfortable seeing it around. In the past year she has used it for purposes ranging from a basketball basket, to a step-up to reach the phone, to a fun place to sit and watch Mom and Dad as we did our business inside the bathroom.

This morning, I was changing her overnight diaper and noticed it was totally dry. Knowing that she often does not go pee until she has been up and running around for a bit, I asked her if she had to go. She said yes, so I asked her if she wanted to use the potty. She said yes. I set her down on the floor and she toddle’d over to the potty. I wasn’t expecting she would actually use it as she often just pretends to use it, but this time was different. As Mom and I were busy in the bathroom doing our morning routine, we both heard the unmistakeable sound of pee meeting potty. Needless to say, the girl was ecstatic and beside herself with excitement at using the potty. For us, it feels like another milestone reached…this one almost by accident as neither of us have ever discussed potty training the girl, or made any attempt to formally train her.