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The United States of America: Behind on Paid Leave


The phone rang.  I was in a glass edit bay looking out a newsroom buzzing with activity.  I had been out in a live truck all morning covering an overnight shooting in the Kansas City metro area.

It was Mrs. Rookie Dad.  This is the 3rd time she has called me that day.  I had been anticipating a phone call from her to tell me that it was time to go to the hospital for a few days now.  The newsroom had been put on baby watch, knowing that at any moment I would have to leave.

But that morning, the calls from Mrs. Rookie Dad had been what I like to call the “nothing” phone call.  A call that can wait until I come home to discuss.  We were at the point in the pregnancy that I couldn’t just let the phone go to voice mail.

I picked up the phone and in my head I remember thinking, “Now what!” but on the other end of the phone before I could get out a hello, I heard:

“My water broke!”

Instantly, a feeling of guilt rushed over me as I stopped momentarily to think and regret what my thoughts were that morning. I realized that would be a memory I would never forget, the thought that went through my head when the Kid was born.  That immediate regret turned into a smile and happiness though when the Kid was born at 2 A.M the next morning.

Paid Leave - The Rookie Dad

The Rookie Dad holding his newborn son.

The moment that the Kid was born, my paid paternity leave started.  It was only two weeks of paternity leave, more than what most new fathers get.  Most get none.  I was one of the lucky ones.

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3 Ways To Prevent Leaving Your Child In A Hot Car


Hearing the story out of Georgia involving Justin Harris is extremely upsetting. The first part of the dad’s story is the part of being a dad that scares me the most. at first it seemed that Justin really did forget about his son in the car. The details that are now surfacing tell a different story and I won’t try to figure out whether he is guilty or not or convince you otherwise. But, leaving my Kid in the car, hot or cold, is one of my biggest fears.

The mornings are my time to get the Kid ready. We have a routine: I wake up, get ready for work, get the Kid up, feed him breakfast, let him watch an episode of Wild Kratts, and take him to school. I am so scared that I will end up leaving him in the car and just get into the habit of stopping at Starbucks to grab my venti coffee, turn on sports radio, and head into work that I have started to do a few things that will prevent me from forgetting him in the car.

The suggestions that I am about to give aren’t anything earth shattering. There have been countless news stories written about how to prevent this sort of incident happening again. In fact, there are more suggestions than just the ones that will follow. These are the ones I use and have worked for me so I don’t leave my child in the car.

#1 – Talk to your child

This doesn’t matter how old your child is. Even if he is a day old, talk to him. For the lack of a better word, talk about a bonding experience. Tell your child the story about how you and your partner met. Tell them the story about how you found out your wife was pregnant. Just talk to them. If you want to really remind yourself that your child is in the car, be sure to say their name while you are talking to them.

#2 – Put something in the back seat

When I left broadcast news, I starting taking a man bag to work with me every day. When I started taking the Kid to school, I would put this bag in the back seat. This way if I do forget to take the Kid to school, I will see him when I get my bag out.

#3 – Put something in the front passenger seat

It could be something as small as a teddy bear or maybe a baby bottle, not full of course because I have first-hand experience leaving a full bottle of milk in a hot car for days on end. If you are anything like me, when you are driving alone you just throw your cell phone in the passenger seat. When I pick up my phone, seeing the teddy bear is a reminder that the Kid is in the car with me.

 

Inspiration Comes In All Forms


Inspiration - The Rookie Dad

It’s amazing how one little thing can really change things. It can revive your passion for something that you were about ready to stop doing all together. If you have followed The Rookie Dad facebook page you probably already know what I am talking about.

I was quoted on The Today Show!

This came as a complete shock to me. In fact I didn’t know that this had even happened until a few of my friends brought it to my attention. I forgot that I even said what they quoted me saying.

It turns out that a couple of years ago, I made a comment about how frustrating it is that there are no changing tables in the men’s restroom and The Today Show by some miracle just found the quote and used only two words of it, “incredibly frustrating.”

However, this is true, it is “incredibly frustrating” that most men’s restrooms do NOT have a changing table. I don’t have to worry about it much now that the Kid is potty trained. When he was still in diapers, I can not count the times that I would have to do what the dad did in the story and change the Kid on the floor of the bathroom. Either that or I would take him back out to Mrs. Rookie Dad and have her change him.

The unexpected response from those two words on national TV though helped revive something in me that I loved being able to escape to. It helped me remember why I started my blog in the first place, to leave the stories for my son to read about him. Also something to show his future wife or husband when they want something embarrassing on him.

There was something else that came from my 3 seconds of fame (besides a sudden influx of new Likes on my Facebook page), it made me see yet another reason I continue to blog; it is because there is someone out there that is going through the same thing that I am going through and wanting to realize that he/she is not alone.

I want all dads, (and moms in the same breath) to know that they are not alone. It is stories like what The Today Show did that show the struggle that dads go through on a daily basis that in the end highlight the good that dads are doing. It is blogs like mine, like Dads Round Table, and many others that are making it known that dads are involved and dads are here to stay.

I Know You Are Watching Me, But This Goes Too Far


I tend to be a frugal shopper, despite what my wife thinks, I am just one of those who tries to maximize what we can get within our budget.  Therefore, I am constantly being wishy washy when it comes to buying products.

I’m sure that Amazon is fully aware of how much I count on reviews of products that I am going to buy and that I tend to look around.  That is probably exactly why they developed the section called “Customers who viewed this item also looked at.”  Just so that they can get a few more hits on their site.

We are big Target shoppers.  Say what you want about the hacking of their credit card system, Target is a place that I still know and trust over some other big name stores.  We are proud Red Card holders and feel that Target will do what they can to keep our credit safe.  We are in there about once a week picking something up that the Kid needs whether it is medicine, clothes, or when he was younger baby formula.

Target - The Rookie Dad

By now Target knows us, in fact we are known by name at our local Target with some of their cash register workers and their pharmacists.  One thing that Hot Momma and I have just now started to notice though is the coupons they print at the registers.  We use them a lot being the frugal shoppers that we are.

It wasn’t clear to us what was happening with those coupons until recently though.  With the ability to track your spending and print off coupons to things that they think you will buy or eventually need.  Smart on their part because it gets us to come back again and again. The marketing ploy works on us.  The other day though, as we were looking at what coupons were stashed in our bag when we got home there was one that stuck out, it was one for baby formula.

My question is, why would Target think that we needed baby formula?  I realize it has been about 2 years since we bought any and I’m sure someone on the other end of those coupon machines is going, “When are they going to get baby formula again, our ploy has to work at some point right?”

Maybe we should stock piling these coupons because we know eventually someday down the road we will probably use them.  (not any time soon though)

How To Get Your Toddler to Stay in Bed and Sleep Through the Night


If you are like most parents, you dream of the day that your toddler will sleep through the night.  We train them as babies to sleep through the night and then suddenly the moment that they feel like sleeping in bed with their parents is right.

It was not until my umpteenth groin kick from a toddler that made his way from his bed to ours that we made the decision that something had to be done.  I wanted our bed back, my wife wanted our bed back, and our son needed to sleep.  He was coming into our bed so many times that I was beginning to wonder if he was even sleeping.  On top of this, he was transitioning to no longer taking a nap.  This just added to the fact he needed to have a better night’s sleep.

We were scouring the internet looking for any way to carry out the nearly impossible feat of getting him to stay in his bed at night.  At one point we began to think that maybe he was sleep walking.  The only thing he would do when he would get out of bed is come to our room, crawl into our bed, and sleep in between me and my wife, so we assumed sleepwalking was out of the question.

We start to think about what worked in the past to get the Kid to a new habit.  We looked back to potty training and the bright idea of rewarding him.  When the Kid was going through potty training, we created a sticker chart and once he filled it up by using the big boy potty, we went out and let him get a prize.  It wasn’t until the moment that he filled it up the first time that he finally got it and after that potty training was a breeze.

Looking back at that for inspiration, we had to figure out a way to reward him for staying in bed.  On the worst nights he would get out of bed 3-4 times.  Recently, we have talked that the Kid should start to be able to earn an allowance, only when is good and helps around the house.  He has seen toys at Target that he has wanted but we keep telling him that we do not have the money and maybe he will just have to earn it. With the money part in mind we decided that he could earn a dollar night.  Every time he would get out of bed we would take a quarter from that dollar and whatever is left in the morning would be his.  We ask him what he wanted to get when he earned enough money and he immediately mentioned a new die-cast car from the Cars line.

The next question was how we would track how many times he gets out bed or how would my wife keep track.  I’m a deep sleeper and anytime he was coming into bed I would never wake up, unless there was a groin kick involved.  It was to the point where my wife was annoyed that I would never get up with him, just yet another reason we needed to figure this out.  My wife is a former teacher and kept most of the stuff that she had in her classroom and one of those items were a set of four stop signs that were on popsicle sticks.  Each of those stop signs would represent a quarter.

How To Get Your Toddler to Stay in Bed

The first night we made sure to make a big deal about this.  We told him that any time he got out of bed he would need to bring us one of the stop signs. This eventually has turned into us taking a sign when we take him back to his room.  The first night we made sure that we kept at least one sign to help him understand what he would be getting.  That night he only got up 3 times.  The 2nd night of this process he got up twice.  The 3rd night he was up twice, and the fourth night only once. Then on the 5th night, we reached the goal, he slept through the night!  We made sure that each time we gave him the money to tell him just how proud he was that he was doing this.

It worked!  We never saw this day coming but it came.  More importantly our bodies had no idea what to do with the amount of sleep that we were getting.  Not only could we see a change in our moods but the kids overall demeanor was 100 times better than before.   Ever since he stopped taking a nap his attitude changed for the worst.  We knew all he needed was sleep and now he is getting it and is much MUCH more bearable.

Most parents find a time where their kids won’t sleep through the night difficult, rightfully so.  Every kid is different and you have to read how they respond to change.  Being able to read how your child responds to new situations or changes is key to helping you and your child make it during the new changes that are coming your way.

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