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SAHD Guest Post

Best Vacation Ever! {Guest Post}

We have another guest post on the blog today! Please welcome Canadian father, Ingus, who is Toronto-area photographer and new dad, learning the fine art of parenting a new baby girl. You can read about his wacky adventures at Dad Mode On blog!

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“So you’re going to be off for five months, eh? You’ll have plenty of time to catch up on Netflix!”
“Five months? You’re going to be playing so much Call of Duty!”
“That’s a long time, won’t you get bored?”

Before going on my parental leave, that was the typical response I received when I told family, friends, co-workers, or even strangers that I was taking close to half a year off for the birth of our daughter.

I began to think that being a dad for the first time was going to be a sweet vacation. I mean, I won’t have to be with the baby all the time, right?

I can binge watch a little, work on that photography project that I wanted to do for years, or play videogames like I did when I was a teenager.

This is going to be an awesome, awesome vacation!

Then on Christmas night- as cliché as it can be – our 7lbs 14oz bundle of joy arrived.

And in an instant, all of those silly thoughts disappeared.

I’m sure many of you parents can agree, the first month is a write-off. Your mind, body, and soul belongs to your new little blob. You can also agree that, though the first month is difficult for dad, it is 100 times more difficult for the new mom.

For my wife and I, we made use of the fact that I was going to be off for five months by ensuring that I would be as involved as possible.

We made sure that I was earning every single moment of this vacation.

The truth is, though my job and Employment Insurance (Go Canada!) allowed me to take more time than most others, we are still taking a hit financially to make it work. Not all families have this option, and I can understand the raised eyebrows when people learn how much time I’m taking off.

Of course, there are those who go a little further and undermine the decision that I’ve made, as they are perhaps even little jealous of my situation. Through their eyes, they see me as some lucky dude who has the luxury of taking five months off as a vacation.

However.

They don’t understand that when you’re off on parental leave, it’s not a vacation and that you also become more involved and accountable for your growing family unit. They don’t see the side where you are immediately available to take your wife and baby to the Emergency Room; or where you are able to call an ambulance in the middle of the night without having to tell your boss you won’t be in; or where you don’t have to ask a co-worker to cover for you after speaking to a telehealth nurse about your daughter’s fever.

They don’t see those things, and I suppose it may be my fault for only showing the good side. To them they only see the fruits of the work I put in – you know, those silly photos, status updates that I post on social media. The thing is this was not me bragging about my situation, this was just me relishing the hard earned vacation I was having.

SAHD Guest Post 2

I love (and am loving) every minute of it. If we have another kid and if it were financially feasible, I will no doubt choose to take the same or more time off.

You see, there’s also an added benefit to being there from the get-go: I am damn confident in my dad abilities.

She needs a changing after front and back poop… in the dark? Boom. Done.
She’s wearing button-on shirt today, with jeans and socks? Boom. Done.
She won’t burp? Burp. Done.
Mom needs to go out all day to help a friend? Done, and I’ll have dinner ready by six.

There’s no better feeling than to feel confident and competent as a father and husband. I sincerely feel that had I taken only a few weeks off, I don’t think I would feel the way that I feel right now.

Every day I am rewarded with something new from my daughter. Whether it was her first smile, first laugh, or most recently her first babbling conversation: I’m here to witness it.

And there’s no better thing in the world, and it was simply the best decision I ever made.

Now with two months left to go on my parental leave, it truly does feel like a vacation. Instead of binge-watching Netflix, I binge-watch my daughter figuring out the world. Instead of playing video games at night, I play how do we get her to sleep through the night.

I truly do not want it to end, as it really has become an awesome, awesome vacation.

SAHD Guest Post 3

Father Son Hockey

You’re Already A Good Dad

Life can get pretty repetitive, can’t it? Work, school, ballet, hockey, sleep, repeat. Entire weeks can go by without anything significant happening and I’ve made my peace with that as we can’t be all spontaneity all the time. Every now and then, however, something sneaks up on you and kicks you right upside the head. Such was the case this Monday as I drove my 7 year old son to power skating, as we have done every Monday for the past 3 months.

If you had told me that I was going to get misty eyed while driving to power skating on this day I would have probably laughed, given you an “okay, then” and rushed out the door with my son, you know, because we are literally always late somehow. My son has been more and more interested in hearing about my father lately and never seems to run out of questions about him. I have written about my father before for those who are new here but he passed away a few years ago on the same day that we found out we were pregnant with my son.

While he usually wants to know about my father as a coach and other sports related stories, on this day he shifted his focus to me and was curious about how I dealt with his passing. I know, heavy for a 7 year old, right? That was my initial thought as well but I always jump at the chance to both talk about my dad and bond with my son, so I happily answered his questions.

He asked if I was sad when my father died and how it all happened, which were easy answers. Then he asked me if I missed him and I froze a bit, not sure how much to get into it. I told him that I missed my dad everyday and explained that I was sad that he never got to meet my son and his sister, but mostly I missed him because I didn’t get to have him around to teach me how to do technical things like change a tire, or help me with coaching or help me learn to be a good dad. This conversation alone could have been enough to cause my emotions to go haywire but I held it together, until my son hit me with…

“But, you’re already a good dad.”

I’m guessing he didn’t realize how powerful it was to hear those words after the conversation we had just finished. I thanked him as I discreetly wiped a happy tear from eye and saw him light up knowing that he had made his dad smile. We sat in comfortable silence the rest of the way to hockey, both proud of our achievements for the day.

Dad 2.0 Summit

A Brief History of the 2016 Dad 2.0 Summit (Now With 10% More Canadians!)

I spent this past week in Washington, DC taking part in the 5th Dad 2.0 Summit. This being the first Dad 2.0 that I wasn’t speaking at, the first thing I noticed is that my anxiety level had dropped dramatically. Don’t get me wrong, I love speaking at this conference but I get myself so worked up for imminent failure that I can’t let myself relax until I am off the stage, so it was nice to have that calm feeling the whole time. Of note, imminent failure has yet to happen…

The hotel for this year’s event, Mandarin Oriental, was the classiest one to date and this fact became evident to me after my first night there. I drew the short straw on night one and slept on the floor, however the Mandarin provided me with a ton of pillows and comforters to make a bed with. When I entered the room after the cleaners had been by, I noticed that they had remade my makeshift floor bed for me, left me some slippers and folded my previously worn clothes for me. The only thing missing was the towel swan! On top of that, they had what can only be described as the “greatest promo video ever” playing on the television sets in each room. Check the link and I promise you’ll be amazed.

Oddly, one of the highlights of the Dad 2.0 Summit over the years for me has been the unrelated karaoke night that usually happens. Last year in San Francisco was a very light, yet extremely fun, group of people and so I expected this year to be about the same. Imagine my surprise after a couple of us planned the outing to find about 40 people waiting in the lobby, all excited to join us for a night of fun. We laughed, sang and danced, and I’m thankful to everyone who showed up!

There were also a record number of Canadians at the event this year and it was great to see so many of my countrymen and women representing what they do. If you are looking for great Canadian content, here are some links to these fine people! Mike & Andrea Reynolds, Mike Vardy, Justin Connors (also my roommate extraordinaire), Buzz Bishop, Dai “the Moose” Manuel, Andrea Nair, Mike Granek, Matt Clarke, Stewart Reynolds! I’m still buzzing and apologize if I’ve missed anyone. I promise you will be added!

Dad 2 Canadians

Just a few of the Canadians in attendance at Dad 2.0!

Finally, it isn’t lost on me that the reason I get to attend Dad 2.0 every year is because of the sponsors. I am now going to take a minute to show them some deserved love in the hopes that they continue to want to support fathers from around the globe by sponsoring future conferences. I can’t mention everyone but there were a few that really stood out to me so I’ll give you the bullet points on them.

  • Not to play favourites but I look forward to the Lee Jeans booth every year and they certainly didn’t disappoint. More than just being able to walk out of the room in a brand new pair of jeans, Lee creates an amazing experience by offering couches, beer, basketball and an amazing staff who take the time to connect with the attendees. Relaxing in the Lee Lounge has become a Dad 2.0 staple.
  • A new sponsor to the event this year was photo app company, Memory Web. They were so new in fact, that they launched their business just before the summit began. We deal with a lot of PR firms, which is great, but I really thought it was great that the actual owners of the company were there running the booth and their pride in their company shone through in my discussions with them.
  • I couldn’t talk about Dad 2.0 Summit without giving a great deal of credit to the people at Dove Men+Care. These guys have been title sponsor of the event as long as I’ve been attending and they bring it to a new level each and every year! Outside of the amazing barbershop they set up each year, they sponsor meals, speakers and create a mad rush for the tons of product they bring each year. On top of all that, they truly respect and understand the importance of good fathers and that is evident not just at the conference but also in the work they do with the dad community throughout the year.
  • Best Buy took us out on a wicked drone experience in the Virginia countryside and the laughs on the bus ride alone would have been worth the trip.
  • The LEGO night out at the Smithsonian was outstanding and the interactive games they had planned at the event made it a night to remember! You are looking at one third of the LEGO Duplo Bridge Building Competition champions, baby! Getting the whole room to belt out “Oh Canada” was a career highlight for me, too! They also have some great stuff coming down the pipe for dads so keep your eye out for that!
  • KIA added a new wrinkle to their test drives this year by offering professional headshots and the lineup was 6-7 deep at all times, proving that we all want to be made to look pretty!
  • Meta Wellness brought Michael Strahan to the event. Enough said! (They also had an awesome snack bar that I frequented on a “regular” basis. Get it??)
  • In the “memorable moments” category, the folks at Kidde Fire Safety had one of the more interactive displays as they allowed us to compete in a firefighter challenge to see who could get geared up from head to toe the fastest. If you want to see me struggle with this challenge you can head over to the HowToBeADad Facebook video

There were so many more great sponsors, which you can find on the Dad 2.0 Sponsor Page, but these are the moments that stuck with me.

KIA Headshots

My Professional Shots from KIA

I’ve decided to split my recap into two posts so that I can talk about my personal takeaways, and there were many, separately. For those of you reading this who were or are on the fence about attending the Dad 2.0 Summit, not only is it excellent for meeting the people in the dad community and also for personal growth and development, but the connections you make here are invaluable.

Thank you to Doug French, John Pacini and the rest of the Dad 2.0 team for another excellent event!

Blue Jays Clinch

Who Cries About Professional Sports?

There I sat on my couch with my 7 year old son, watching the Toronto Blue Jays clinch the AL East title for the first time in 22 years. It was nice to be able to share something I enjoy with my son and I assumed that we would watch it and then go on with bedtime as we do every night. That isn’t exactly what happened though.

As we watched the Blue Jays celebrate, my son snuggled up next to me, I started to feel the sting that usually precedes a good cry. Trust me, I had the same thought you just did, “Who cries about professional sports?”. It only took me a minute to figure out what was going on and once I did I took an extra couple minutes with my son to sit and enjoy the moment we were experiencing.

It was 22 years ago that I sat in my basement with my dad, watching as Joe Carter hit a home run to win the World Series. I remember jumping up and down, numerous high fives and the feeling of pure joy in that moment. Every time I see that clip and hear the famous, “Touch ’em all, Joe”, I am transported back to that moment and I can’t help but smile at remembering that special time with my father.

I often worry that my memories of my father are going to disappear but this was an excellent reminder that they are just being stored away for when I really need them. My son is younger than I was on that day 22 years ago but that doesn’t mean his mind won’t come back to this moment one day when he is experience something similar with his own kids.

So I guess the answer to the question, “Who cries about pro sports?” is, I do, and I’m perfectly okay with that.

Kids Dad Video Games

Am I Making The Most Of My Time As A Father?

Where does the time go? I’m serious, what just happened here? I blinked and my children were another year older. It leaves me reflecting on whether I’m making the most of this time with them or if I’m letting it slip by too quickly. I had been asked to write something about the new video from Quaker, The Recital, and quickly planned out what I wanted to talk about. That changed instantly after I watched the video, however. There as a line in there that really resonated with me and it’s when the dad in the video says,


“And I hope she doesn’t think I work too much or don’t pay enough attention to her because I really do value the time we spend together”

That’s exactly it, isn’t it? This line just kept ringing in my ears afterward because it is exactly how I feel about my kids. I have a full time job and also freelance on the side so that my wife can stay home to raise the kids. This means that while most parents are chastised for having their phones out around their kids, I occasionally need to have mine out in order to pay the bills. Still, I wonder if the kids remember all the fun events they got to go to or will they only remember that daddy was on his phone (fulfilling social media obligations for that event) during them?

I worry everyday that my children won’t understand this and I do my very best to explain it to them and to keep my work to the times when we are not together, but I’m certainly not perfect. I actually considered leaving blogging earlier this year because I felt like it was taking away too much of my family time. I got to a point where there seemed to be so much going on that I just shut down to avoid it all. As it turns out, I just needed to implement some structure to what I do. Yes, after 4 years of this I am still learning how to manage it. Laugh away.

Daughter Globetrotter

This is the path we have chosen and I am grateful for every opportunity I have received and for every Harlem Globetrotter who has visited my house to play basketball with my kids… I just hope that my children will look back someday and remember that above all else their daddy loved them and did everything in his power to give them the best life possible. Now, grab some tissues and watch this very cool video from Quaker. PS – I’m already planning something special for my daughter and I to do together after watching this!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Quaker to showcase their new father/daughter video and hit me harder that I had expected. Do all the things you want to do with your kids before you blink and they have families of their own.

*Photo Credit: The cover photo was taken by David Redding Photography.

GoodLife Begin DadFit

Project #DadFit – New Beginnings

Here we are again at this old familiar territory. Things were looking up for a while. I ran my first official 5K, was working out and running 5-6 days a week and even started eating healthier. I had never felt better in my life, mentally and physically, but I have let it all slip through my fingers. Now I sit here on the couch watching Real Housewives of (insert city here) because I’m too lazy to bother looking for the remote control, and I am not proud of myself at all.

All is not lost, however. I have faltered and regained footing before and I know that I can do it again. In fact, my new beginning starts today! My family were excited to welcome a video crew from GoodLife Fitness to our house this month so that I could share my story and struggles with staying fit. It’s not always easy to talk about our shortcomings but I do so with the hope that it will inspire me to work harder and possibly strike a chord in others who are dealing with the same struggles.

The GoodLife Fitness video is about Beginnings and I am really happy with how it turned out. Today is Monday, April 27th and on top of being my daughter’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Baby) this is the day that I begin my journey to a better me.

Sens Experience Hockey

He Shoots, He Scores!

I watched in awe as a child skated, untouched, through an entire team of 5 and 6 year olds. With one kid to beat the puck slid off his stick and into the corner. He chased after it along with every other child on the ice, as 6 year old hockey players do. Every child, that is, but one. There, standing in front of the net with his stick dutifully on the ice, was my son.

It’s his first year in hockey and the learning curve has been steep. Because of his age, most of the kids he is playing with have already played for a season or two, so he has some catching up to do. I volunteered to be an on-ice helper so that I could encourage him to keep at it, and also because coaching seems to be in my blood.

On this particular day, his team was playing in their first game of the year. This wasn’t any regular game, though. They were playing on the same ice as the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, taking part in a special program the team runs for minor hockey players. The stands were filled with excited parents, grandparents and friends. We had a referee, scorekeeper and announcer to give the game a very real feel to it. They even played the national anthem before we started, which was one of my favourite parts of the experience.

It’s tough to teach a 6 year old how to play hockey, especially when he has never played before. There is only so much information they can take in at one time so you have to pick a couple things and focus on them. The one thing I tried to explain to my son before the game was that if he saw a flock of kids all chasing after the puck, that he should get into the open and put his stick on the ice. Much to my surprise, he actually listened to me.

There he stood, in front of the net, puck on his stick, and a flock of puck hungry 6 year olds skating right at him. He lifted his head and fired the puck as the crowd crashed into each other in front of the net. The next few seconds were a blur. I wasn’t sure what had happened until I heard the announcer call out my son’s name as the goal scorer and it literally took everything in my fatherly heart to react like a normal human being, as opposed to jumping on to the ice like my brain was suggesting.

I am not telling this story to brag about how my son scored a goal. Okay, maybe a little. I think I was surprised at how proud I was in that moment. I’m always proud of my kids but in this case he was rewarded because he listened to my advice and that felt good. His first words upon returning to the bench were, “Dad, did you see my goal? I did what you said and just shot it!”. It was one of the first times I truly felt like I had earned credibility as a father in his eyes.

I have no delusions of my son being a superstar hockey player. Frankly, I fear I have blessed him with my lack of height, which is usually a deal breaker for a lot of sports. I am just really proud of how hard he tries when he is out on the ice. I haven’t seen him invest in something like this before and it gives me a lot of joy to see him smiling even while he learns.

Canadian Dad Podcast The Trews

Canadian Dad Podcast; Ep. 9 – John-Angus MacDonald from The Trews

I had the very cool opportunity to chat with John-Angus MacDonald, who is the guitarist for one of my favourite Canadian rock bands, The Trews. John-Angus is a new father and I was curious to hear how his rock star life had changed after his son’s birth.

Before we talked father, John-Angus was gracious enough to answer a bunch of my rock and roll questions. I’ve always been fascinated by rock stars and everything that goes on behind the scenes in the rock world. John-Angus shares his mindset before and after a show and talks about The Trews’ new self-titled album.

One of my favourite parts of the interview is when J-A talks about how they treat each new album as if they are re-applying for their jobs. I also get the back story behind the band’s name and how they started out as a band named, Trouser.

We close out the interview by talking about fatherhood and John-Angus shares his hopes for himself as a father and talks about whether he’ll encourage his children to pursue a musical career. I had a blast talking music and fatherhood with John-Angus MacDonald and highly recommend their new album to anyone who loves rock and roll!

For more info on The Trews, their tour and their music, you can visit www.thetrewsmusic.com.

Dad Kids Goofy

Fatherhood

“Daddy, can I have ice cream?”, my 4 year old daughter asked, at ten in the morning while in the checkout line at Costco.
“Hmmmm, I guess so”, I replied. She was home from school because of a fever the previous day, so I figured we could both use the treat.
“HOORAY! You’re the best daddy ever!!”, she shouted as she hugged me in the middle of the store.

While I’m not sure that most people would award me the “Best Daddy Ever” trophy after feeding my child an ice cream cone at ten in the morning, it certainly made me feel special. Plus, no one else knew why she screamed that, so I just pretended that I bought her a pony or something. The point here is that as each day goes by, I get a greater sense of how lucky I am to call myself a father to these two amazing kids.

There are so many times in the day that I catch myself awestruck with their many quirks and qualities. Even the smallest things can strike me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Hearing my daughter sing along to a song when she thinks no one else is around, knowing that if she saw me she would surely stop. Watching my son bond with his new hockey teammates in a setting that would make most adults cringe with fear.

Life can be friggin’ hard, man. You have to worry about money, time, health and everything else that being an adult and parent brings. Being a father is the thing that saves me from my own mind and lets me focus on the fact that there are two little people that need me to be a man for them so they can grow into their full potential. How can you think about financial struggles when your daughter wants to shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off, shake it off? Who has time to beat themselves up over skipping a workout when you and your son are engaged in an epic Pokemon battle?! Not me.

Any time I lose focus on what’s important in life, my kids are always there to remind me with open arms, and for that I feel extremely lucky.

Canadian Dad Podcast - Mike Reynolds

Canadian Dad Podcast – Ep. 5 – Children’s Author, Mike Reynolds

This week I spoke to father, children’s book author, podcaster and writer, Mike Reynolds from PuzzlingPosts.com. We discuss Mike’s weekend at Beau’s Oktoberfest and I give plenty of love to the organizers of the Blissdom Canada conference, where I was a panellist during a podcasting session this past weekend.

Mike talks about his children’s books, “Daddy, Fly” and “The One Green Dinosaur”, that he co-wrote with his young daughter. He also talks about other ways to be creative with your kids and how great their little minds truly can be.

Don’t forget to say hi to Mike on Twitter,@PuzzlingPostDad

Enjoy the Show!