Wonder Weeks are for the Babies

I have been at this dad thing for an entire 19 weeks and the thing that sticks with me the most is that your baby changes… constantly.

They are experiencing everything for the first time and developing new skills each days.  It’s awesome and wonderful to see how my little man gets bigger and starts realizing stuff like he has hands… feet… and even crazier… he can control them!  A lot of these new developments come in what has been humorously coined “wonder weeks” by researchers in the Netherlands.  After experiencing a couple of these weeks I am not too fond of the misleading notion of this term.  It makes it sound like a glorious time for everyone involved.  Alas, it may be a wonderful time for your child but the periods of fussiness before and during these weeks will not always have you using those words to describe these times in your life.  Maybe… Exhausted Weeks or Emotional Surprise Weeks or my favorite You Will Have No Idea What Your Baby Wants Week.

So, why am I making such a big deal about this for dads? Well because these new wonders and realizations for your child cause things to change in their brain and how they react to the world which means that technique you use to get your child to sleep… well, it will just piss them off.  Holding him and swaying… oh he hates it now.  Humming and the rocking chair… yup… hates it too.  I have had to figure out on the fly what is going on with Mathias and try to find new ways to help him figure out the world.  It hasn’t always been pretty either and it won’t be for you.  This is the challenge out there for you dads during this lovely time in your child’s life.  Learn to adapt! Try to read all those articles and books your wife will ask you to look at.  Know what is coming… this article breaks down the changes and when they usually occur.  Don’t think for a moment you have it all figured out because your kids like to flip the script on you in a heartbeat.  So, remember wonder weeks are for the babies…

Wonder Weeks are for the Babies

Down with the Sickness

Wake up… feed… playtime… get ready for day care… get stuff done… pick up baby… feed… go to sleep.  Throw in eating somewhere in between and you have as normal a day as you can with a little one in the ranks.  As Lauren and I experienced this past weekend… that intricately simplistic equation cannot compute when both the parents are suffering from food poisoning.  Yes… on the weekend I should have been saying “Hooray me for my service” (Veteran’s Day), I was instead finding acceptable receptacles for the food my stomach deemed not worthy to be in my system.

And you know what… Mats could care less.  He still wanted to eat… he still wanted attention… he is still a baby and for all you parents out there, your kids will be no different.  Don’t think like I did that your four month old will cut you some slack.  They pity no fools…

Living in Florida with both our families in other states makes life being sick even harder.  The best I could do was just call my mom for some pity.  She couldn’t come baby me like she did when I was younger!  It was an absolutely awful weekend but does our plight mean you are you just on your own when sick with a kid?

If you’re lucky, only one of you will get sick.  So, first off hope and pray that’s the case.  That way the other one can pick up the slack with baby duty.

If not… try our method.  Make really good friends.  Call in all the IOU’s, show them only photos of your kid smiling, and get them over to bring you some sustenance, to check in on you, or to just hold the baby for 15 minutes while you become way to familiar with the tile on the bathroom.

That’s it… no magic remedies or list to follow.  Know good people, have cute kids, and then you can get down with (and over) the sickness.

Down with the Sickness

I Did It All For The…

After re-reading my first few posts I started thinking that I may not be making this whole dad thing sound so cool although everything I said has been true.  Babies do make scheduling things difficult and they don’t care that the hockey game is on when they don’t want to sleep.  They cry when they are upset, tired, annoyed, and sometimes when they seem to be happy.  Babies also don’t like to sleep for very long periods of time during the early months so when I tell you that you are not going to get much sleep early on…. well, it’s true.  All of that truth can lead parenting to be the most frustrating and humbling experience in your life.  In a society built on winning it hurts when a baby has more determination to stay awake then you do to put him to sleep.  When both parents throw up their hands and put a bottle in his mouth… it’s tough… it’s demoralizing… but what I haven’t talked about yet is those brief moments that make all the work, the lack of sleep, and the frustration worth it.  It starts with a smile…

The Smile

At the beginning your child seems to only have two modes.  Sleep or cry.  And they will switch through this quite frequently.  Every now and then you’ll get a smile though which is mostly from them passing gas but it still will make your day.  As they get older and begin recognizing you… nothing is better than coming home from work to see their eyes light up and their smile beaming up at you.

The Snuggle

When your dance moves, bouncing, and rocking lead to a quiet, sleepy baby.  Early on, I would leave Mats on my chest when I was able to get him to sleep mostly because I was scared that he may decide to wake up if I so much as thought of moving.  When your son or daughter is content to lay their head against you or sleep in your arms for a nice snuggling session you’ll forget all the time it took for them to calm down.

The Laugh

My personal favorite and I love it so much I try anything to get my son to do it.  He could spit up on me 20 times in an hour, have a massive diaper blow out, squeal and scream all he wanted, and as long as I could make him laugh afterwards… all is forgiven.  I mean come on… you try to stay mad at this kid!

See… it really is completely worth it and it’s only going to get better as my kid gets older.

I Did It All For The…

The Good, The Bad, The Daycare

As the last few weeks of Lauren’s maternity leave dwindled down, we had to figure out what we were going to do with Mathias as we both headed to work.  This was a very difficult decision to make and it’s not a decision dads can treat like most others.  Choosing daycare or in-home care isn’t just like shopping at the mall for guys.  If you are anything like me you pick the first thing up that you like and keep moving so you can get the hell out of there as fast as possible.  I don’t linger, I don’t compare, and I don’t wait for a coupon.  Try something on in the store?  Hell no, I like the color… let’s move!  Well, I didn’t have that luxury this time.  This is my only child (so far), my son, I couldn’t just say yes to something because it was the cheapest option.

Luckily, I have an extremely smart and diligent (slightly obsessive) wife who was able to scour the local area for childcare and there are plenty of options around Jacksonville.  If you are looking for a basic rundown of the types of childcare and the pros, cons, and costs of each I recommend this article from Baby Center.  It helped get us started with the search and thought process.  We based our decision on three main factors, but these vary depending on the priorities for your own family.

Location

For us, convenience was key.  Lauren and I head opposite directions from our house to go to work.  She heads east to the lovely beach and palm trees of Ponte Vedra while I head to west to the concrete jungle that is downtown Jacksonville.  Having some sort of care at or near are house was important since that was the midway point from where we both our work.  That way any drop-off and pick-up driving for each of us would not add much time to our commutes.  Knowing we wanted to stay close to home, we started looking at the next factor.

Price

It turns out you can put a price on happiness or at least the price of care.  If you want your child to get one-on-one attention at your house…well, you are going to have to pay for that.  We flirted with the idea of in-home nanny services for awhile due to our hectic schedules since I am finishing my last semester at Jacksonville University and working full-time. We even brought in a babysitter to watch Mathias while Lauren started back at work part-time, with shortened days or just a couple days a week in the office. In the end, although the care would probably be great, the price was too rich for our blood and we began looking at daycare providers in Jacksonville which leads us to the third factor.

 

Quality of Care 

This is the tricky one.  Where mother’s intuition, Google reviews, and daycare visits combined to help us decide where we wanted to send our son.  Lauren looked at every aspect of the facilities and the personalities of the teachers/directors she met.  We did eliminate a few based on our feelings of how well kept the buildings were or what the classrooms looked like but when we finally had to make a choice on what we thought would be the best quality care we had to trust that our choice was the best Mathias would get.

No matter what factors you use to decide on what type of care your child gets just know that you will have doubts, that you will feel guilty, and that is normal.  Even after making the decision to place Mathias in daycare it has still been difficult dropping him off or picking him up.  I know he is not getting the same attention he gets from his mom and I when we are both around but he is getting the chance to interact with new people, observe older kids, and it gives Lauren and I the chance to find a new normal routine.

Good luck on your own choices whatever they may be.  There is no one right answer when searching for childcare.  Find what is right for you and your family and if you do choose childcare outside of your house then here is am informative video on what to look for and questions to ask during your search.

The Good, The Bad, The Daycare

No Sleep Till…

As a parent it doesn’t matter where you are.  You don’t sleep until the baby sleeps and babies are pretty good at making sure you hear them.  It seems like every week Mathias not only gets bigger but learns how to increase the volume of his screams (not cries) to a completely new level.  Nothing creates a tense situation like two parents scrambling to get a baby to calm down from DEFCON 4.  That’s why I decided to go over some basic tips to help get your child to sleep under dire circumstances as well as keep mommy and daddy sane.

Note: These are not fix-all methods nor is this a discussion about sleep schedules/routines.  This is what to do when the baby poop hits the fan and you for the love of everything holy just need to get that baby to sleep.

Note Duex: Check the diaper, check the diaper, check the diaper.  I have spent far too many minutes of my life hopelessly trying to put my son to sleep to finally have the notion to look under the hood to see if there was a leak.

1. Movement

Don’t stop moving!  Bounce, sway, walk around the house… hell, prance around it if it works.  Even when you think you have them asleep keep going.  They know you want to sit down, they know your back hurts, they are waiting for any sign of weakness to start wailing once again.  Find something your baby likes no matter how ridiculous it looks and stick with it for a good 3-5 minutes after eyes are closed.

2. Sleep Props

When the baby figures out your moves or if your back is giving out from the “jitterbug” technique then go for the big guns.  Bust out that rocking chair, pacifier, or swing.  One of these devices can be the key to unlocking the meltdown that is occurring.

3. White Noise

Nothing gets Mathias quieter then some good ol’ extreme rain noise.  It’s like flipping the volume switch from 11 to 0 when it gets turned on.  This low cost option is great for long car rides or just bring them down from the brink.  You can buy plenty of battery powered noise machines, find hours of white noise videos online, or download one of the many apps on your phone.

4. Swaddle

You may feel like you’re at the rodeo hogtying your child but swaddling works.  Might Mats can get so worked that he forgets those hands and arms of his hurt.  So, when our son starts boxing himself into a rage we head to the swaddle.  This keeps his arms and legs snug while he is flailing about and for some babies is vital to getting them to go to sleep.

5. Patience!

I talked about it a little when discussing movement.  Babies are going to test you in new ways every time you try to put them to sleep.  They won’t go to sleep immediately so take some deep breaths and stick it out for the entire game.

6. Mix It Up

Your baby will grow rapidly and change by the minute.  One day they will love the rocking chair and the next day they will hate it.  Try not to depend on the same gadget or method during their scream-athon sessions.  They’ll figure out what you’re trying to do.  They are smarter then they look!

 

Think I am full of it?  Well, listen to the tips from some of my fellow Dadventurers.

 

 

No Sleep Till…

Schedule Me This, Schedule Me That

Mathias has already turned into quite the jet-setter.  At three months old he has been across the country to Oregon and attended the President’s Cup (USA vs the World (except Europe)) in Ohio.  He and his mom spent nine long days away which was certainly a shock to my system.  In the short time I have been a father I have become accustomed to life with Mats and the scheduling riddle (get the title now?) that kids cause.  In that nine days, I was reminded of how quickly I can move when I decide to go somewhere or how light my arms felt when walking out the door.  If I wanted to go eat, I just grabbed my keys, wallet, phone and out the door I went.

With Mats home there is a little bit more involved in the whole process.  Just look at this checklist!  The amount of things required to walk out the door suddenly explodes into car seats, strollers, diaper bags, diapers to go in said bag, wipes (more then one type for some reason), pacifiers, toys and more! Of course don’t forget the small human being that doesn’t always want to do what you are doing.  They might hate the car seat or the stroller.  They might have an upset stomach, be tired, or they may have pooped their britches.  All of this is random and can cause some stress when planning out your day.  So, be prepared to have any of your usual daily schedules blown to hell the second a child arrives.

Just listen to one of our DADventure contributors sharing how scheduling has changed for him since having a baby.

Now, the point of this blog was only to slightly scare the bejeezus out of you.  There are ways that you can set yourself up for a little more success.  Here are three tips that I think will keep you and your wife somewhat sane.

1. Don’t Plan Too Much

At first you are going to have a tendency to overbook yourself.  You have a new baby which all of a sudden means people really want to see you.  People want to come over, you want to get out of the hosue, your wife wants to shop, you want to watch the game and y’all will be so used to how it used to be that you will schedule out your entire day.  This will all come crashing down like a house of cards right when the baby has a diaper blowout in aisle #12 of Babies ‘R’ Us.  Keep your schedule open and light.

2. Baby Routine

Try to get your baby on a routine that works for your family.  Babies love routines apparently and dads love knowing what to expect.  There is plenty of information online and at the bookstore that will help you find the right routine.  This article from “Parenting” sums up some pros and cons of different baby schedules.  I personally recommend being flexible in your routine especially if you have extremely hectic lifestyles like mine right now. but to each their own.  Research and decide!

3. Pre-Pack

Always have that diaper bag fully-stocked with supplies.  This is something you can do the night before or right after you get back to the house.  Rather than scouring the house going over what you are missing you can be prepared and be that much closer to walking out the door.

If you have some good tips on creating a routine or if you think everything I said is hogwash then feel free to leave a comment.

Schedule Me This, Schedule Me That

My DADventure Begins

What now?
What now?

Recently Lauren and I became parents to a beautiful baby boy, Mathias a.k.a. “Mighty Mathias, Buddy, Squirt, Mats”. We have suffered sleepless nights, frustration, absolute joy, and everything in between while learning how to take care of another human being.  I had read up a little before Mats arrived but it seems like it all went out the window when I was holding a screaming baby in my arms, bouncing up and down, and wondering, “What the hell do I do?!”.  Just as Mathias is learning about the world around him now, I am doing the same thing from practice and experience.  My trials and tribulations being a father are sometimes not that funny to me but when I think about it later it is pretty damn hilarious.

So… it’s with this new section of the blog that I will mock myself and give you the chance to do the same with a glimpse into my adventures figuring out what I am doing as a dad.  DADventures, get it?  Yes, I know that I am not that original but originality is so last year or whenever someone found out that A and D connect both words! On top of all the witty commentary I will also bring my own take on how I have dealt with becoming a new parent and the resources I have used to get by in a somewhat sane manner.

Anyways, stay tuned for discussions about diaper changing, all the other bodily functions that come along with kids, links to helpful resources and hopefully hilarious videos like this!

Doesn’t being a parent seem fun?  I’ll also dig down into my emo side and share all the changes in my life that don’t involve getting poop on my hands on a daily basis.  That’s right, we’re going to talk about feelings gentleman. This is a safe place!  I hope this can be a thoroughly entertaining view of life as a dad that can be used as a resource for those preparing to get in the trenches or those already standing with me.  So stay tuned for more real dad tips and share some of your own in the comments.  Us dads can use all the help we can get.

Here we start our Journey!
Here we start our Journey!
My DADventure Begins

Wove, true wove

I don’t often take time to blog. Too busy or just don’t think what I have to say is that interesting. Seeing as how my wife constantly asks me to share and put stuff on our blog it is only fitting that I do it on her birthday and make it about her. Here it goes…

Everyday since I met Lauren at a soccer party my life has been a little better. She helped me get through my last deployment without going crazy. She has supported me in my changing life from Navy to civilian, to college, intern, to full-fledged worker, and now to parenthood.

She amazes me everyday as I watch her with my son. She makes it all look easy and only has a few meltdowns. I’m sure I will continue to be in awe of her as we raise our child and build a family.

I am so lucky or grateful to whatever god/being/karma that has put our paths together.

I love you chica and I always will.

I blogged!

Wove, true wove

What I Do At Work

Another video I produced and edited while interning at JaxParks.  This is the third one I have done for the Tri-Jax Challenge.  Benji (race director for the Tri-Jax Challenge) and two of his kids worked on their acting skills.  I had a lot of fun encouraging them to act crazy. Surprisingly it did not take much encouragement to get them to jump on their dad or chase him around a field.

Here are the other two videos I helped produce for the triathlon.

You can find more of the videos I have done at http://www.youtube.com/user/friendsofjaxparks?feature=watch

Video