Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Zen and the Art of Daddy Day Care

During the summer, I’m one lucky gal. My teacher hubby is at home most days, so we swap childcare duties and work time as needed. His parenting style is different from mine: he scolds less, plays more, and isn’t nearly as productive (and yes, that is a good thing!). I’m definitely learning a thing or two from him. Here are a few pieces of daddy parenting wisdom, courtesy of my husband.

Put Your Feet Up, Already

Chasing after a four-year-old and a one-year-old all day is no easy feat; sometimes it’s downright exhausting. Instead of complaining about how tiring it is (like I would do), he does something more practical: he takes a break when he needs one. He doesn’t neglect the kids, but he does zone out in front of ESPN for 10 minutes when he needs a breather. And get this: the kids survive. They usually take a cue from him and slow down too, snuggling up to him on the sofa or grabbing a book and reading. The result is a happier, less harried parent and kids who appreciate the importance of a well-deserved break.

The Joy of Single-Tasking

On my days with the kids, I’m a multi-tasking whiz. Often, I’ll start the laundry while they watch Sesame Street, fold clothes while they play, answer emails while their pasta boils, and wipe down the counters while they eat lunch. On my husband’s days with the kids, he specializes in single-tasking: he just spends time with them. At the day’s end, there may be unfolded laundry on the floor and dirty dishes in the sink, but the kids are happy and centered.

It’s OK to Stay Home

Like many stay at home moms, I’m rarely at home during the day. I go a little stir-crazy starting at my four walls, so I plan activities and playdates to get us out of the house. This also lets me squeeze in errands so I can feel marginally productive (see above re: multitasking). But Steve doesn’t share my affinity for the carpool lane. Under his watch, the kids have rediscovered the joy of their own backyard. He pulls weeds while Bianca catches butterflies and studies spiders and Mia digs happily in the sandbox. Everybody’s happy, and we save gas and hassle. Steve for the win!

Soon, summer will end and we'll be back to full-time mommy care, complete with multitasking and schlepping around town. I know I'll be a refreshed and ready to get back to our regular routine--and just maybe, a little less harried and a little more relaxed, thanks to my lessons from Dad's Daycare Academy.

Messy face, dirty shirt, laundry basket on the floor: hallmarks of daddy day care (but doesn't she look happy?).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bianca's Vacation: A Short Interview

Sorry I've been MIA--we're shaking the sand out of our ears after a week and a half in Maui. It's our first trip to Hawaii with the kids (third trip there overall). It was everything Hawaii should be: relaxing, invigorating, and sweet-smelling. They say time slows down in Hawaii, but our time there went way too fast.

Since it's probably our first big family vacation that B will remember, I wanted to get her take on it. Easier said than done. (I'm a pretty experienced interviewer thanks to my article writing and corporate writing work, but she was a tough nut to crack. A very cute nut. But a tough one.)

So, here they are: Bianca's Vacation Memories (as told to her mom)

What was the best part of vacation?

The airplane.

The airplane? Really? Not the glass-bottom boat or the ocean center? Why the airplane?

Because we were up really high and we got lots of treats. I kind of felt scared, but I didn’t tell you. Because I felt shy.

Did you see lots of turtles in Hawaii?

Yes. We saw turtles every day.

What were their names?

They didn’t really have names. But they did have mommies, and their mommies had big, fat heads.

OK. Did you have fun at mommy and daddy’s wedding ceremony? (Actually, our 10-year vow-renewal, but that whole concept was a little complex for a 4-year-old.)

Yes. I wore a pretty dress, and so did you.

I’m glad you had fun. But why were you crying?

I was crying because I wanted you to hold me while you got married.

Oh. I didn’t know that. I’m sorry, honey.

That’s OK.

Do you want to go back to Hawaii when you’re bigger?

Yes. When Mia is a little bigger, too.

Did we eat lots of good food in Hawaii? What was your favorite? The pineapples, mangoes, or the coconut ice cream?

The spaghetti. (Note: this was a meal I made back at the condo, and something we have all the time at home. Go figure.)

Anything else you remember about our vacation?

Um. Mama, can you stop talking to me? I’m trying to watch Charlie and Lola.

And there you have it! She was a great traveler, and I can't wait to take the kids back in a few years. (Someone on the airplane back to Seattle was complaining about how difficult it was to travel and fly with a three-year-old and a six-year-old. From where I was sitting, holding my thrashing 19-month-old and trying to keep her from smearing cookie crumbs on the bald spot of the guy in front of me, those ages seemed pretty ideal. I cannot WAIT to travel with a three-year-old and a six-year-old!)

Here's a link to our vow renewal photos by Karma Hill (Chi Omega sorority sister and pro photographer extraordinaire).