Monday, June 29, 2009

At Home Dads Convention

I was surprised to discover that there is an annual At-Home Dads Convention. This year, the 14th Annual At-Home Dads Convention will be held in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday, October 10, 2009. The Convention is presented by the National At-Home Dad Network, Daddyshome, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to bringing at-home dads together.

Omaha is 1,400 miles away from New York City! All of the New York City at-Home Dads are probably wondering if it is worth the trek & wondering what happens at this type of convention. I am wondering the same thing because I have never attended the convention before or been to Omaha for that matter. However, after talking with one of the seasoned event volunteers and reading their website, the convention sounds appealing. First, it presents an awesome opportunity to connect with other dads in similar situations from across the U.S. and Canada. The costs are kept low - hotel room is $109/night including breakfast + transportation to the airport & registration fees are only $40. Additionally, if you are "hungry for knowledge on how to raise your kids better and manage your household more efficiently...there will be experts facilitating discussions and hands-on workshops in a range of topics for at-home dads."

If you are interested to learn more about the At Home Dads Convention, check out their website for all the details on registration, travel, event schedules, and more or check out At Home Dad.

Please comment or give us the scoop if you have attended this event in the past...

More Services For Dads in NYC

In the past, I have mentioned several times that there are not enough parent services and support for dads in and around NYC. All too often when reading parenting magazines or surfing the internet do I see in big print, "Mommy & Me" classes. What about the DADS? Isn't "parent & me" or "caregiver & me" more appropriate, welcoming, and gender friendly? Don't they realize that a lot of dads are spending more quality time with their kids these days? In the near future, I hope they will realize that they need to incorporate more dads into the mix during the week & on weekends.

I was pleased when Gymboree agreed to partner with our NYC Dads Group and host a DADS ONLY EVENT this past Sunday, June 28th from 10 am - 11:30am. It was a great opportunity for ALL DADS including working dads, at-home dads, and freelance dads to spend some bonding time with their kids and connect with other dads on the WEEKEND. The relaxing & fun event included breakfast, instructional playtime, open gym time, dad conversations, and more at Gymboree Play & Music on the Upper East Side! They have agreed to host more of these types of Dad Only Events in the Fall when everyone is back from vacations and school is back in session.

Here is a quote from the parenting director of 92Y Tribeca, "In honor of our newly developing relationship with your NYC Dads group, we decided to name the new (during the week) daytime film series: CineMamas & Papas"
92YTribeca Daytime presents "CineMamas & Papas", a film series exclusively for caregivers and their babies. The sound is kept low and the lights high relative to movie theater norms and there is space to set-up a blanket or relax in a chair. Admission to the show is limited to infants 0-18 months old (free) and their accompanying adult caregivers (general admission).
Nursery University : Getting in is No Longer Child's Play
Fri, Jul 10, 2009, 11:00am, 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson Street, Purchase $ 12 Tickets
*this film series will be continued in the fall after this July 10th summer event.

Lastly, the uptown 92nd Street Y parenting center offers a unique class on Sunday mornings where dads can join other new dads and their babies for a lively discussion. This 5-week class starting in October, meets on Sunday mornings from 10:30am - 11:30am, so it does no interfere with your football schedule!

I look forward to seeing more parenting options for dads in NYC in the near future. Are there any other unique dads only events or "daddy & me" classes?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NYC Dads Group Trek to MY GYM

This "Guest blog" was completed by NYC Dads Group member John H. about our experience at MY Gym on the Upper East Side of Manahattan. Thanks John, for sharing your perspective! The feedback from our group gave this class a score of 5.0 out of a possible 5.0!

Last week the NYC Dads Group was offered a demo class at the new east side location of My Gym; a children’s fitness center in Manhattan. Our group had previously ventured to the west side location, which was a lot of fun so I was excited to see what this new venue had to offer. This stroller-friendly gym is located on the ground floor at 250 E. 60th St. and has classes tailored to babies and children 6 weeks to 11 years old. Our dad’s group has children that went beyond the range of their typical single class (ex. Tiny Tikes is 7 months - 13 months), but the enthusiastic staff accommodated each individual child.

As in the west side location, this My Gym offers trampolines, soft stairs, a ball pit, bouncy swings for the young children, and graduated swings for the toddlers as well as an impressive zipline. This new location seemed brighter and more open than the established My Gym on W. 66th and both gyms appeared to be immaculate and well-maintained. The demo class was an hour long, starting with the staff leading the dads in interactive, athletic activities. We then split off so that each child could experience the equipment (at their own pace) meant to increase agility skills and tumbling. The music that played in the background was neither intrusive nor annoying.

I may have been overly enthusiastic during our first experience at My Gym, forcing my then 5 month old son onto the zipline for which his lack of enthusiasm was quickly made clear, This time, he was old enough to be entertained by much more of the equipment available and giggled his way across the room. In this way, My Gym might be an experience that dads of children older than 6-9 months might want to consider. Tiny Tikes, the 3 time per week class for 7-13 month olds runs $199 for 4 weeks, making it a fairly good deal when comparing parent & me classes. Overall, the east side My Gym offers the same accessible classes and clean tumbling equipment but with a new larger and brighter facility; one of the best places we’ve ever been.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jeremy Adam Smith Coming to NYC

Speaking of the shift in the American Family, Rebel Dad , one of the best dad sites around, blogged yesterday about Jeremy Adam Smith, author of The Daddy Shift, and said, "if you are a TV producer doing a national piece and you don't try to book Jeremy Adam Smith, you're doing your job wrong."

GREAT NEWS - Jeremy Adam Smith is coming to NYC to meet with our NYC Dads meet-up Group on July 22nd for our weekly meet up event. Additionally, in a collaborative effort between Jeremy Adam Smith, our NYC dads group, and the 92Y Parenting Center, there will be an evening social event held at the 92Y Tribeca. On our behalf, NYC Dads Group member Matt S. has been instrumental in making this collaborative partnership come together! More information on this evening event in the next few weeks...

Reshaping of the American Family

"The (economic) downturn is forcing the man of the house to spend more time at home, altering roles everywhere from the laundry room to the child-care center." This is the focus of the piece
How the recession is reshaping the American Family by Stephanie Hanes, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor from the June 14, 2009 edition.

One of our NYC Dads Groups' most charismatic & hilarious members was featured in this article: Frank Benavides. I am certainly not happy that a talented guy like Frank lost his job because his company eliminated his position. Consequently, it enabled me to meet a caring and like minded dad in Frank & a friend for my son in their cheerful little Elizabeth.

This well written article includes a lot of informational statistics & describes the shift in the American Family that many of us are a part of either by choice or as a result of the economic downturn.
*picture above of Frank & his daughter Elizabeth taken by The Christian Science Monitor from the June 14, 2009 edition

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Are Dads The New moms?

A friend of mine in advertising (much appreciated, Lauren) forwarded me an article titled, Are Dads The New Moms?, (June 24, 2009) by Stephanie Azzarone at MediaPost.

The article was a quick read & a sign of the times that the dads in our NYC Dads Group already know about. In the article, Stephanie explains that dads "are making a place for themselves in what has traditionally been "mom" territory. In growing numbers, they are creating dads-only playgroups, launching "daddy" blogs and posting parenting tips on Twitter."

Of course, she hits the nail on the head in her comments about Playgroups. "It's awkward for dads to be the only guy in a group designed for moms. In response, they've begun forming their own support/play groups. With their charges in tow, they're connecting not just in playgrounds, zoos and other kid-friendly locations, but also on sports fields, where they enjoy quality time with their little ones while also exchanging parenting tips and, sometimes, job hunting experiences and advice. lists 171 dads groups across the country." Our New York City Dads Meet Up Group is #7 in the USA based on our membership of 89 members!

I recommend reading the entire article - Are Dads The New Moms? by Stephanie Azzarone at MediaPost

First Father's Day

Father's day has always been a day to appreciate & celebrate with my dad. We usually have a family dinner, brunch, or if lucky, a bbq. Now, I am included in the mix of this father's "appreciation" day as well...enter the greetings cards.

As I reflect a bit, I realized that this father's day felt different because it is still hard for me to believe that I am a parent. My son is almost one...Did I do everything with him that I could have?, Was I a good enough dad?, Should I have read him more books?, Are my patient enough with his fussy moments? son can't answer these questions of course in words, but he shows me with his smiles and love. It is a pretty special gift for me in bonding with him every day because I am an at home dad. That is the true gift of father's day for me this year!

Was this year's "hallmark" holiday any different than my normal weekend days? Not really. My family & I got to go for a walk to the park, enjoy a lazy afternoon together, and spend some quality time. Breaking away for an hour to go for a bike ride (my first ride since Jake was born 11 months ago) was a bonus as well!

I still can't comprehend the fact that I am a dad, but I am sure it will sink in at some point. Do any other new dads (parents) share this feeling?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stay at Home Dad Injury

Some might describe my 11-month old son as a "big boy" for his age, some call him "solid", and others might say he could be a nose tackle for the NY Jets. He is the most amazing kid, but he is heavy - his physique currently weighs in at approximately 23 pounds. Where are my going with this?

As most stay at home parents know, we lift up our children countless times during the day, change a bunch of diapers, and carry the kids around from place to place. I guess this job of parenting takes it's toll on your body. I know several stay at home dads who have been experiencing back pain or other ailments as a result of lifting (parenting?) their children.

Personally, I have been experiencing wrist pain for about a month & finally had the chance to see an orthopedist to get it checked out. I was diagnosed with a type of wrist tendonitis called DeQuervain's tenosynovitis. About. com states that "this is inflammation of the tendon at the base of the thumb. Often seen in new mothers, DeQuervain's tenosynovitis is diagnosed by a specific test called 'Finkelstein's test' where the patient makes a fist and the wrist is pulled away from the thumb. Pain from this maneuver is diagnostic of this type of wrist tendonitis." describes "typical causes include stresses such as lifting young children into car seats, lifting heavy grocery bags by the loops, and lifting gardening pots up and into place."

When I met with the orthopedist, he was reading my paperwork, and chuckled when he read that I was a stay at home dad. He explained that my ailment was extremely common with new moms, but he said it made sense that it would happen to me as well. With an increase in stay at home would make sense that we are probably experiencing some injuries previously associated with moms. Consequently, the definition in & conversation with the orthopedist display that there is much room in society to make the change in their stereotype of the "shifting" American Family.

There are many treatments for wrist tendonitis including Immobilization (Placing the wrist in a splint or a cast which is usually the first treatment step. In the interim, I am wearing a hand splint. However, it is pretty difficult to change diapers, dress your child, and do many other daily tasks with the splint. I also received a Cortisone Injection and I am hoping that this will do the trick! Sure, most people that I run into see my wrist in a splint, and ask what happened? Sports injury? Did you fall? Gym injury? I reply, "no, it is a type of wrist tendonitis common in NEW PARENTS."

I never had an on the job injury before. I never realized that being a stay at home dad would lead to my first job-related injury. Can some other dads share their parenting "on the job" ailments?

Monday, June 22, 2009

NYC Dads Group on WFUV (90.7) FM Radio

A few weeks ago, our NYC Dads Group was visited by a reporter with WFUV Radio (90.7 FM), an NPR station based out of Fordham University in the Bronx. For their weekly 30-minute news and public affairs show, Cityscape, they did a June Father's Day show including a 3 minute segment on our stay at home dads group. They interviewed several of the dads from the Meetup group and aired the segment this past Saturday, June 20th at 7:30 am.

The segment included four of the dads in our group (including myself) explaining why we chose to be a stay at home dad. The segment was simple, but couldn't help notice George Bodarky, the narrator, mention "Mr. MoM." Will we ever be able to shatter the stereotypes?

You can listen to the WFUV Podcast here. Select the June 20th podcast from the menu & our group is on at about the 7 minute mark.

Child Proofing is Not Easy

Research shows, "The number of children injured by furniture has jumped 40percent over the past 20 years." This fact jumped out at me in the Health section of today's (June 22) copy of amNew York (shared by Matt F.). Now that my son is mobile around the apartment, it is amazing how he gets "curious" about the things he shouldn't be touching! How does he know where the heater dial is under the bench? Why does he reach so high for the wine bottles on the wine rack? How can he slither under the coffee table and get stuck? why are the computer wires so fascinating?

I have slowly (too slow) been starting the process of babyproofing our apartment over the past couple of weeks. This includes the basic stuff of inserting plug protectors into electrical outlets, moving dangerous items off of the floor, and taping/hiding plugs and cords so they are not visible. The next phase will be getting rid of our glass coffee table, our wine rack (very upset about this one), and getting latches for drawers and cabinets. One helpful piece of advice that was given to me is "to crawl around on all fours like your child to see what they see" so you can find trouble areas.

I know a lot of these things are common sense, but thought I would share this brief article from today's amNew york which inspired my blog entry:

Kid-proof your furniture (amNew York June 22)
Children are increasingly being injured from falling furniture, studies have shown.
Here are tips from Dr. Jim Schmidt, co-founder of the Virginia-based company Child Safety House Calls, on how to protect your kids:
■ Tether it. Secure any potentially unstable furniture to the wall.
■ Rock it. Rock each piece of furniture to test if a toddler’s weight could topple it, realizing that
even heavy objects can fall if a child pulls or climbs on open drawers.
■ Watch what’s on top. Objects you know a child will want — such as a toy or remote control — will tempt them to climb.
■ Watch coffee tables. Many are the perfect height for toddlers to whack their heads. Consider moving a table with sharp edges into storage or covering it with a thick blanket.
■ Hang TVs. Tether them to the wall or keep them low to the ground. Kids are naturally
curious about them and they’re heavy enough to cause serious injury.
■ Use Velcro. Kids often tear off protective padding that parents tape or glue on sharp edges. If you adhere cushioning with Velcro, you can easily put it back on.
■ Choose tempered glass. This glass shatters into tiny pieces rather than large, jagged shards when broken, so a child may get more small cuts but no life threatening wounds.
■ Ask for help. Ask a salesperson for guidance when buying glass-top or glass-front furniture.
■ Place furniture wisely. Keep it away from windows and railings, where a climbing child might fall.
■ Beware of choking hazards. Beads, rivets and wicker all can break into small pieces. Go for wood furniture or upholstery without beading. (MCT)

In doing some research on this topic, I also used this six-minute Australian video with Christine Erskine, an expert from Kidsafe, who explains how to childproof your home. I didn't know that nursery furniture accounts for 23% of all injuries of children up to one year old.

Please feel free to share some valuable babyproofing tips or advice...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dads & Kids Enjoy Riverside Park

Guest Blog by NYC Dads Memeber - Rich

Last week, our NYC Stay at Home Dads Group migrated west to Riverside Park along the Hudson River. I was away with my family on a mini vacation, but Rich, an active NYC Dads Group member, who planned and organized this meet up outing will share his recap...

I am happy to be a part of this meet up group of dads. There is something unique to getting together with a group of other dads. On Wednesday, June 17th, eight dads got together in Riverside Park. We started at the Café on the water near Pier 1 at 70th street. We sat and chatted about daddying while some ate lunch or fed their kids.
The topic of the Today Show that aired that morning came up every few minutes while we were at the Café. No one seemed particularly pleased with the show. The reporter seemed to have already formulated a conclusion before he started performing any interviews. Then, at the end, the reporter joked that if he were to lose his job, he would join us on the lawn in Central Park. One can only hope! Needless to say, the SAHDs that I have met are all sane, competent and confident men who could obtain a job and continue back on a career path...but instead, we choose a job that involves staying at home with our family.
Other topics of conversation: One dad talked about the wacky clothing sizes. Another dad explained to us about the rusty old train structures in the water by the pier (he sounded like an expert). Another dad discussed how amazing it is to have a large amount of family members around to help out with parenting.
Soon enough, the walkers in the group were tired of all the dad chatter & were ready for some playtime. So we headed towards the "choo choo" area, but the person in front wasn’t using their GPS (and guys do not always like to ask for directions), so we ended up in a slightly different spot that worked out well.

We set down our blankets, and quickly noticed that one particular dad (Scott) had the best one because it was waterproof & most of the others allowed water to seep through. His blanket is made by JJ Cole and can be purchased at most baby supply stores. Then, another "smart" dad showed up with the exact same JJ Cole waterproof blanket. So they are tied for first for the world’s best lawn blankets! The younger children were crawling around and stayed mostly on the if there were some invisible baby fence that surrounded the perimeter of the blankets. The walking kids were playing in the grass & enjoyed getting dirty!
After a while, parents said their good byes, and I managed to go back to the Pier for a frosty beverage with one of the other dads. I know that everyone enjoyed the day. The weather was perfect. Good conversations. No poop explosions. No projectile vomit.
Now a few words from my son Dylan…
"qqaaWQEDRSZW 1QSS32Ql;@wwbjy54b 3tg3j21 VGFFJNBV"

Friday, June 19, 2009

NYC Dads Group Featured on Today Show


Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

I was away on vacation this week with my family when I watched the Today Show segment they taped with our NYC Dads & Stay at Home Dads Group a few weeks ago. Now that I am back in front of my PC, I have several thoughts that I would like to share in this blog.

Overall, the segment displayed our group in a positive way. The producers were able to capture the true dynamic of our group in action in Central Park - having fun, relaxing, supporting each other, all while our kids are playing & interacting with each other. We have doubled in size over the past four months because of the quality and commitment of the dads in the group. I know that I am "in good company" and surrounded by other caring fathers, as Jeff Rossen stated in the segment!

I was pleased to hear that the number of dads groups in the last 6 months has doubled on I am not surprised as there are more stay at home dads out there as result of their own choices and the effects of the economy. There are not enough support services for dads out there so it is encouraging to hear that they are finding ways to connect with each other and avoid the isolation! Additionally, the segment was great exposure for our dads group and enabled other stay at home dads who watched it, to find & join us.

A few negatives - I prefer the term "modern man" (thanks Mr. B.) when referring to stay at home dads. Unfortunately, the term "Mr. Mom" was splashed across the segment - from the title, silly movie clip, and background during psychologist discussion...I sure hope we are NOT always compared to that movie or as the "real househusbands!"

I agree with Rebel Dad...the Today Show could have provided much more on this grand media stage on how the American Family dynamic is changing.

I leave you with a few stats that were included in this segment:
  • 31% of dads would leave their job to stay at home if mom's income covered all of the expenses
  • 30% of dads would take pay cuts to spend more time with their family
  • 39% of working dads report spending less than two hours with their children every day

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Book Review of The Daddy Shift

Book Review: The Daddy Shift, by Jeremy Adam Smith.

This review was written by NYC Dads Group member, Matt S., who just finished reading the book. He enjoyed the book very much & wanted to spread the word to other dads (and parents) to learn more about it. Matt has been instrumental in coordinating a trip for Jeremy Adam Smith to come to NYC to meet with our NYC Stay at Home Dads Group. Additionally, we are in the midst of planning an evening event for all NYC parents with Jeremy on July 22nd - more details to come soon.

With his latest book, The Daddy Shift, Jeremy Adam Smith sets out to explore the “movement of fatherhood from solely breadwinning to both breadwinning and caregiving.” He does this by drawing on data from various fields of study (economic, religious, sociological, psychological), as well as examples of real families with “reverse traditional” caregiving/breadwinning models. This mix makes the book very readable, and also provides food-for-thought to draw on as each of our families find our own way.

Certainly we see the shift that Smith describes within our at-home Dads group, but I also see a shift for my dad friends who work full time outside the home. Most fathers I know are very involved with their families and are proactive home cooks, laundry washers and folders, dishwashers, etc. I see many Dads at pick-up and drop-off at my son’s pre-school. Dads organize playdates. Dads make doctor’s appointments. It seems to me that no aspect of family life is the exclusive domain of one parent over the other. Smith’s research points to a gender convergence, “an ever increasing similarity in how men and women live and what they want from their lives.”

Smith’s research also helps to debunk the many myths associated with dads as caregivers. Though my decision has always felt natural and reasonable, like many stay-at-home dads, I have felt the little jabs coming from the outside world—the lady on the street that asked, “Where’s Mommy? Baby needs his Mommy” or the preacher that claims stay-at-home dads are lazy and going to hell because we don’t provide for our family, or the legislator from Missouri that excludes stay-at-home fathers from legislation because “Mothers are natural nurturers. Fathers are not. It goes back to the hunter and gatherers type." Smith addresses each of these myths and many others to conclude that “caregiving dads are ordinary guys of many cultures and educational levels who have a range of motivations for taking care of kids.”

The Daddy Shift is an excellent read for all parents looking to find balance and truly enjoy and appreciate their families. Smith asserts that the successful twenty-first-century family needs “to prize time with children and to feel grateful for each other’s contributions and sacrifices, whatever they may be.” Cheers to that . . .

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dads...Down to the Battery

From time to time, it is refreshing to have one of our NYC Dads Group members be a "guest blogger" and blog about one of our meet up experiences or discuss the trials & tribulations about parenting. This week I asked Patrick, one of our more active & outgoing members, to describe our meet up event this week...

It was an exciting day for Grace and me. We took the subway from the Upper West side down to Chambers Street where we then walked over to the Hudson and down to Wagner Park immediately north of the Battery.

We met up with 10 other Dads for nearly 2 hours. The kids had plenty of room to crawl around on the blankets, on the grass, see other kids, and show off their tricks. When the kids look at each other, face to face, you can almost hear them saying, "Hey you have a nose too." Kids are also always more interested in someone else's toy.

After being with the group for nearly 3 months it's great to see the growth in the kids and hear all the stories about cool stuff the kids are doing. Some of the kids eventually plugged into a bottle, and I fed Grace lunch of cheese, chicken and strawberries. We all know the importance of keeping our kids "on schedule", and it was just particularly nice to do this while talking with other Dads with Lady Liberty just over there (see the Statue in the background of picture above).

Dads came from all over New York City for this afternoon's Meet Up. When it came time to go, I joined two other Dads in the trek north along the river path. Three men pushing strollers...unstoppable!

Smart Dads always know where they are in relationship to the "pub"... over 30 blocks later, we HAD to stop for a burger and a beer at the Chelsea Brewing Company at Chelsea Piers. Perfect. We work hard. We change diapers. We deserved it.
It was a great day for all...Grace and I hope to see the group and more new Dads next week.

Patrick & Grace (in picture - Patrick in green holding Grace in pink)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is a Baby Nurse Worth the Cost?

I had a conversation with someone the other day about whether we were happy with using a baby nurse. When we first returned home from the hospital, we used a baby nurse for the next 10 days. They are expensive - most cost over $200 per day...but, we were fortunate to get it as a gift from our family (something expecting parents might want to ask for). The advantages of having one significantly outweighed the disadvantages for us.

Some benefits of having a baby nurse:

  • Getting us on a schedule for feeding, napping, bath, and bed time - #1 benefit

  • Demonstrating different techniques for holding, swaddling, and comforting

  • Great sounding board for the trillion questions you have during this steep learning curve

  • They are not your family - gives you some breathing room

  • Enables you take some naps during the day and sleep late in the morning in the middle of a sleep deprived and stressful time

  • Use them as a babysitter at night if you want to break away for a quiet dinner or catch a flick

The downside:

  • Very costly (daily cost + food expenses)

  • You are not alone & it gets crowded (apartments in NYC are small enough...even smaller with another adult staying over)

  • You may become too reliant on baby nurse which makes it harder when they leave
Our baby nurse was amazing - She was professional, knowledgeable, and was very loving to our son. It was tight in the apartment at times, especially when we had visitors. You have an additional stranger sleeping over, eating with you at dinner and breakfast, and watching tv. It was a strange experience! As first time parents, I would recommend looking into hiring a baby nurse or at least having a family member on hand for the first few weeks.

Curious to hear some stories on how you got through the first two weeks...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dude, Man Up...

I read an entertaining and witty article on titled, Dude, man up and start acting like a mom: How I learned to stop sulking and embrace my life as a stay-at-home father by Aaron Traister.

As most stay at home dads (including myself who prefers the term "modern man") dislike the term "Mr. Mom" which Traister used in his article, he also refers to himself as a flake and a schmuck. Therefore, he deserves a Mulligan. He gets philosophical at the end of the article when Traister states, "we keep hearing that women will surpass men in the workforce during this recession. As many of us (for whatever reason) find ourselves in a fiduciary timeout, we should not only think about how to repower the American worker but how to reimagine the American man. The moment our mothers entered the workforce and shattered expectations, the rules about gender roles in this country changed completely, even if our perceptions didn't. Trying to live like our grandfathers is no longer an option."

To read the article, check out Dude, man up and start acting like a mom

Dads, Who Really Dresses Your Kid?

I wore sweatpants everyday until the age of 13. Why? They were asy to put on, did not have to change for gym class, enabled me to play my favorite sport soccer any time of day (I always had holes or grass stains on my knees), and I was not into impressing the girls yet. So, if I wore sweatpants until age 13, shouldn't my son?

After my son was a few months old (and out of the always wearing a onesie stage), I enjoyed putting sweatpants on him. Dressing my son is not my favorite responsiblity as an at home dad, but putting him in sweatpants (as pictured above) was so easy to do because they look nice, come in all colors so they match well with his shirts, and are easy to slip on/off for his many diaper changes. However, my wife and family like to see my son in pants, not sweatpants.

Feeling the family pressure, I have migrated (compromised?) to dressing my son in pants. However, I do have certain standards when it comes to buying his pants - they have to be extremely loose with an elastic waste they are pants by design, but as easy to take on/off as sweatpants.

I mentioned earlier that it is my responsibility to dress my son on a daily basis, and I think I do a pretty darn good job at it. Depends on who the judge is because I can never win. Let me explain. When I put my son's clean laundry back in the dresser, I place all of the shirts stacked neatly into the drawer. The following day I take out a clean shirt from the top of the stack & match it with some 'pants' and a pair of socks. Sounds simple. However, my wife "feels" that my son has already worn that same shirt last week, and that I should select something from the bottom of the shirt stack. Or, I get the comment, "you put him in that shirt so often it needs to be retired." I understand her position, but I do not always agree on the topic of getting him dressed.

Don't most adults wear the same or a similar outfit every few weeks because they like the way it looks? Can't that same concept apply to your kids?, even though I literally dress my son every morning, I am not sure I am actually the one dressing him!
Any other dads care (dare) to comment on this topic?

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Am Star Struck!

I am a star struck NYC Dad! I was on the Path Train over the weekend coming back from Hoboken, and shared the train car with Dan Lauria (the Dad from Wonder Years) and Ray Abruzzo (Little Carmine from Sopranos). Not your "A-list" celebrities, but a cool sighting.

Toting your baby around this summer could get even more exciting for you stay at home parents! About a month ago, I was strolling our son by our local pizza place, Roma’s Pizza, on the Upper East Side. I noticed all of the Haddads Film Trucks parked on the block and the pizza shop was lit up for filming the movie, "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" starring Sara Jessica Parker & Hugh Grant. I am a major 'rubber necker' and needed to investigate the action.

Julie Gordon of am New York, published an article titled Sets and the City over the weekend, sharing a guide to the movies filming in NYC this summer including all of their set locations. Julie says, "most New Yorkers try to play it cool when they pass a mess of crew members unloading trucks in their neighborhood (not me). But for those who want to indulge their inner celebrity stalker, here’s a guide to movies filming this summer in NYC."

Anyone have any cool sightings toting your kid around?

Happy SAHD, the Documentary

In my case, our family made the decision that this "dad" will stay home to watch our son while mom works. SAHDs (Stay-At-Home Dads) are a growing trend in our culture. Other dads like me will be interested to know about Happy SAHD, a new documentary by award winning Baltimore filmmaker Michael Ivan Schwartz. The film follows a dozen Baltimore-area fathers who have chosen for a variety of reasons to be the primary caregiver for their children. I know that my daily schedule is full of action, drama, and laughs. Similarly, "this movie aims to reveal the every day life trials, tribulations, and triumphs of these unique men living outside the norm."

Michael & The Baltimore Dads Gang are having a DVD release party at Towson University in Baltimore on Saturday (June 20th) of Father’s Day Weekend. The movie is now available for purchase on the Happy SAHD website for $24.99. The website also includes a trailer, list of upcoming screenings, and the positive press that the movie has received.

I know most of the dads in our NYC Dads Group are interested to see the film, but cannot make it to Baltimore for the DVD release event. Therefore, the NYC Dads Group is working with the filmmaker Michael Ivan Schwartz to set up a screening of Happy SAHD in NYC in the near future. Keep a lookout for the screening & a review of the film.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Free Parent & Me Trial Classes in NYC

There are dozens of quality parent & me classes in and around New York City. There are music classes, movement classes, gym classes, yoga classes, swim classes, art classes, etc. As a parent, it is difficult to figure out and select which classes are the best fit for you and your child. As a stay at home dad, I highly recommend taking a few classes during the week with your child. There are so many benefits for your child including enhanced social interaction skills, using fine-motor skills, and bonding with you. Plenty of benefits for the parents as well - learn some great parenting best practices by talking about your latest challenges with the other parents & provide some structure to your day.

How do you figure out which parent & me classes are right for you?
Most dads and parents I speak to take classes that their friends are taking, go by word of mouth, or select the class based on cost. I use those options to help me select a class as well. However, I use another powerful option before I am willing to fork over the cash for a class...signing up and taking a free trial class. Most music and gym classes that I have checked out offer free demo or trial classes. By taking a trial class, I am able to see if the class is the right fit for my son. I have taken some free trial classes that I really enjoyed, like the Early Ear, but my son was upset and fussy the whole time. This class might be better suited for us next year when Jake might appreciate learning more about musical instruments.

Gymboree Play & Music offers free trial classes as well - this place was a great fit for Jake & I, and we have been members for the last few seasons. I enjoy that we can take a gym class and then stay after class for open gym time. Eastside-Westside Music Together is another talented company that offers free trial classes. Baby Fingers, sign language, offers free trial classes. Elahi Children's Yoga offers free trial classes, the Little Gym of the UWS... & the list goes on and on.
Please share some of the classes that you have enjoyed that offer trial classes.

In summary, take advantage & sign up for a free demo or trial class this summer, and check out the various Parent & Me classes that are offered around NYC. You will be glad you did!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Just Another Day At The Office (in Central Park)

Being a stay at home dad in NYC is not always easy, but I had two hours of pure enjoyment in Central Park the job does come with it's perks. Our NYC Dads Group settled down by the Great Lawn to do our weekly thing - discuss what's new with our kids, welcome new members, catch up with the usual crew, roll out the blankets for the kids to move around, and chow down on our bagged lunches (+ cookies prepared by 'Jeff the Chef' was a bonus). There is something about the peace and tranquility of being in the middle of the park during a weekday, that puts all of life's challenges aside for a little while.

I know my son enjoys the interaction with the other kids as much as I enjoy the camaraderie of hanging with the dads in the group. I look forward to my job of consistently meeting up with the NYC Dads Group every week. It is amazing that my job yesterday was to be in Central Park for two hours spending quality time with my son. Sure, it is not the job I am "paid" to do, but it is the job I want to do.

I look forward to heading downtown to Battery Park with the dads group next week for another NYC parks experience with our little ones!

As an aside, yesterday, our group was visited by a reporter with WFUV Radio (90.7 FM), an NPR station based out of Fordham University in the Bronx. For their weekly news and public affairs show, Cityscape, they're doing a June Father's Day show on stay at home dads. They interviewed several of the dads from the Meetup group and are set to air the segment on Saturday, June 20th. Keep an ear out for it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stay At Home Dad Music Video

Last week, I shared a blog entry explaining what my day was like as a stay at home dad. My entry was like a stream of consciousness. John Lajoie decided to describe being a stay at home dad with an entertaining rap music video. He would get my vote to be a new member of the Beastie Boys. Check out John Lajoie's music video that is on youtube.

The Monthly Photo Shoot

I am sure all dads have been through the process of the monthly "photo shoot" for each monthly birthday. When my son was born, my wife decided to use an idea she got from another parent friend, taking photos of Jake (with sign) at his week 1 birthday, week 2, 3, 4...1 month old, 2 month old...10 months old, etc. Will it ever stop?

When my wife & I were off together during her maternity leave, I did not mind the photo shoot as much because we did it 'together' (mostly her). When she went back to work, this responsibility fell onto my stay-at-home dad "honey do" list. Basically, on the day of Jake's monthly birthday, I print out a sign with his name & date on it. I start putting him in fun poses (not sure he thinks they're fun) with the sign & start the photo shoot. Typically, I take way too many photos because he either closes his eyes, the sign falls down, he crumples the sign (time to get a frame), or maybe I am just nervous that I did not get the perfect shot. My wife should get most of the credit for the finished product as she goes through all of the photos, edits them, and adds the captions.

I know that many parents go through a similar process so they can capture photos every month that they can share with family and friends. One friend told me that they put their child in the same exact pose every month so you can truly see their changes & growth. Another friend told me that they bought the same clothing outfit in 5 or 6 different sizes so they can put their child in the same outfit for their monthly photo session. Someone else told me that they bought one outfit in a huge size so they can take pictures every month, and watch their child grow into the outfit.

I know I am not alone here! Anyone else care to share their experience with the monthly photo shoot or just a bizarre story of one of your friends?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Changing Table "Flip"

I have been frustrated this week with the new 'phase' that my son is going through. It seems that every time I lay him down on the changing table, either for a diaper change or a change of clothes, he does the quick "flip" from his back onto his tummy. It happens so fast that I have no time to react. Therefore, I have resorted to a few options with mild success: 1. Turning the overhead fan on to distract him - this works about 50 % of the time, 2. Pinning him down and listening to him scream bloody murder, 3. Dressing him haphazardly while he is on his tummy, or 4. Trying to do all of clothes/diaper changing on the floor. This new challenge serves me right because another new dad told me a few weeks ago that his 7 month old was doing the "flip", and I replied, "that I don't have to deal with that problem." Now, I need a few tips.

My son is quite amused with his new trick (as you can see by his mischievous smile in the photo above), but this stay at home dad is fed up with it. Changing my son's clothes and diapers used to be a 'bonding experience' and now it feels more like an uphill battle.

I am not sure how long this phase will last, but please shed some light on how to combat the changing table flip.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Get Ready for Museum Mile Festival

One of my favorite evenings of the year is next week, and I am looking forward to sharing this cultural experience with my son. Get your strollers, Bjorns, Ergo's, slings, or whatever you use to tote your kids to the Museum Mile Festival, known as New York's Biggest Block Party, on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009, 6pm - 9pm.
* Featuring FREE ACCESS from 6pm - 9pm to NINE museums along the mile including Guggenheim, The Jewish Museum, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Neue Galerie, & the MET (pictured above).
Museum Mile Festival closes Fifth Ave. to traffic from 82nd St. to 105th St. to provide free access to museums along the Museum Mile, magic shows, live bands outside the museums, art-in-the-street, and other entertainment for children.

Last year, I watched the artist De La Vega chalk up the street with his cool artistic designs and quotes, popped into the MET to see their Fashion & Superheroes exhibit, and grabbed some real estate on the lawn to have a glass of wine at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.

Sure, it will be a bit different this year as I have my 23 pound boy in tow, but I am very excited to share this experience with him. Let's hope for good weather because the event is rain or shine! To read more about this event, check out the site for the 31st Museum Mile Festival, & spread the word...

I know am biased about events going on for parents and kids on the upper east side because that is where I live. Please feel free to share some cool upcoming kids events in your hood.

Nursery University - Part 2

I finally got the chance to watch Nursery University this weekend. The film is a documentary that focuses on five Manhattan families who face the near-impossible task of getting accepted by highly competitive preschools. I blogged about this documentary a few weeks ago before I had the chance to see the film. Check out my previous blog about Nursery University that includes the trailer.

This movie is not for parents with soft hearts as it could cause you to lose a significant amount of sleep. The movie really affected my wife and our son is not even a year old yet. The movie was well made, and opened the door wide enough to allow you to connect with the families involved. You could laugh at some of the hoops that the families went through to get their kids into preschool as well as empathize with the families as they go on their emotional roller coasters.

There was a scene with one of the mothers sitting in a workshop with a "preschool consultant." If you hire the consultant, it is their job to assist you in navigating through the process of getting your child into preschool as well as be a sounding board through the stressful period. The mother walked out of the workshop when the consultant mentioned their fee - $4,000 for 7 sessions!

I appreciated that some of the directors of the preschools (i.e. director of Mandell) actually allowed the camera to roll when they were having their "closed door" conversations about the families/kids they were selecting to be admitted (or not). Watching these school directors go through the screening of their applicants reminded me of the college admissions process. It is crazy that parents (could be me in the near future) pay all of this money, go through all of this stress, and waste so much time, going through a process like this when your child is 2 or 3 years old.

*Nursery University is worth the 1 1/2 hour time investment as entertainment or a lesson in the agonizing preschool process. It's currently playing on cable - Showtime. Cue it up on your Showtime on-demand & let me know what you think of the film.


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