As parents, we’ve had to have a lifetime of difficult conversations with our kids, all within the last 12 months. Few of these are talks we’d ever expected to have, much less in such a short time span. Luckily, kids can be amazingly resilient.
Yet this resiliency doesn’t happen on its own. It comes from having those hard discussion with authenticity. It comes from creating a safe space for children to express and experience their emotions, and then helping them find their way past.
If you’re like me, you’re making things up as you go — extreme on-the-job training. Yet modeling authenticity is vital to both ourselves and our kids. Whether it’s peer pressure to drink or watching a rage-filled mob overrun the US Capitol, teaching our children how to respond to life — regardless of what it throws at us — is one of the most important jobs we have.
Around this time four years ago, there was a barrage of articles, posts and memes declaring 2016 the “Worst Year Ever.” Between Trump getting elected, Brexit, Orlando, Zika and an inordinate amount of celebrity deaths, we thought it couldn’t get any worse than that.
But then 2020 came along.
Alright… this is where I’m supposed to impart some wisdom. To share valuable life lessons I’ve learned during this never, ever ending pandemic. To give you pointers on ways to talk to your kids about responsibility and resilience. Unfortunately, I got nothin’.
Luckily, I know someone chock full of wisdom and pointers. I recently sat in on a chat hosted by Responsibility.org, featuring parent coach, Washington Post columnist, author and hilarious human, Meghan Leahy. To give you an idea of why I enjoyed Meghan’s talk so much, I’ll be sharing my favorite quotes from the conversation throughout this post. First up, my absolute favorite:
“Everyone is a hot, hot mess.”
If you can’t relate to that even a little bit, you’re in a state of deep, blissful denial.
Lest you think I and my family have all our shit together, guess again. In between the cute IG pics and the occasional informative blog posts, our life is a series of bumps, mishaps and near catastrophes. Several times a week, I apologize for yelling at my kid. School is a source of constant stress; ADHD is a sonofabitch and not at ALL suited to distance learning. Screen time is through the roof. We almost never eat dinner together. We order takeout multiple times a week — often from more than one restaurant. My hermit-like husband works ’round the clock. My projects have slowed to a crawl, leaving me frustrated and hopeless at times. I’ve fed my insecurities by keeping Amazon in business, perfecting my margarita, and with much too much actual food.
The start of the new decade also marks a couple of personal milestones: becoming a father and the birth of this blog. To commemorate ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’m sharing a series of Top 10 lists throughout the year. Each post will feature the most amazing/fun/memorable things/experiences/whatevers from the last decade.
As a dad with a creative/crafty streak, few things have brought me more joy than dressing up my kid in Halloween costumes. It doesn’t hurt that I also like to play dress up from time-to-time — but that’s another list for another time.
This is quite the spooky scrapbook, documenting my son’s favorite heroes and characters over the last 10 years. You may notice that some years are represented more than once. Typically, each year included a school party/costume parade as well as trick-or-treating, so some years I overzealously made two different costumes. This exhausting practice has since been retired.
Enjoy these magically monstrous moments, including tips on how to make/where to buy the costumes. And oh yeah, Happy Halloween!
I’m excited to partner with Med-IQ to educate parents and caregivers about pediatric flu. At the end of my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked below. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the symptoms and treatments for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own.
If you’re like me, anytime anyone in your family has the slightest sniffle, cough or ache, you immediately think “COVID!” The cloud of uncertainty and isolation we’ve all been living under these last six months has been beyond frustrating, and it’s about to get even more so. Welcome to flu season!
Take the constant stream of information (and misinformation) about COVID-19. Mix in the start of the strangest, least educational school year ever. Sprinkle with an unhealthy dose of cold and flu season, and how that all plays into the global pandemic. It’s a recipe for disaster — or at least a whole lot of stressed out parents.
I’m excited to partner again with Med-IQ to help raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. At the end of my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked below. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about obesity, a chronic disease. This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.
I’ve learned a lot during the many years I’ve dealt with obesity. First and foremost, that no one can fight my battles, make lifestyle changes or advocate for my needs but me. Sure, there’s a never-ending stream of information and influence from media, medicine and society in general. But not all of it is helpful to me — and much of it isn’t helpful to anyone.
I’ve also learned a lot about speaking up for myself to those treating my obesity. Between having conversations with experts, reading educational materials and sharing my own stories, I’ve gained so much valuable knowledge — and I once again want to share it with you.
So… FIFTH GRADE. Even under normal circumstances, that phrase brings a mixture of shock, awe, gratefulness and stress. So let’s throw in a global pandemic and some at-home, online learning for added effect, shall we?
Needless to say, the last few months of fourth grade were not what we (or anyone else) had planned. I’m sure there are some kids out there who thrive at distance learning. My child is not one of them. His ADHD, combined with a penchant for non-stop, action-packed video games, made for some very frustrating attempts at on-screen classes. We made it out the other side alive, which I consider a win.
Also needless to say, Jon and I both enjoyed the hell out of our class-less summer. But now here we are again — the excitement of a new school year mixed with the stressful virtuality of it all.
It’s been a hell of a summer, hasn’t it? Between ongoing quarantine and COVID scares, missed friends and canceled plans, social unrest and political nonsense, it’s been a hot mess of struggle and stress for a whole lot of folks. Typically, the last days of summer meant the excitement (for kids) and relief (for parents) of back to school. Again, with the challenges and disappointment!
With all of these factors — combined with the unknowns of the new school year AND an increase in socially distant socializing — there are more and more occasions to enjoy a cocktail. Or two.
I’ll admit it’s been a struggle for me not to stress drink. Or drink out of boredom. Or just reward myself for making it through another day. Serendipitously, I’ve had the privilege of working with Responsibility.org this year. They’ve been a great resource when it comes to enjoying alcohol, well, responsibly.
Here are a few tips from Responsibility.org to help you toast the last days of summer — whether enjoying cocktails at home, hosting outdoor gatherings, or venturing out to restaurants.
As a gay dad of a 10 year-old boy, it’s important that I raise my son to be both educated and open-minded about sex, sexuality and gender. One resource that has helped me out with this is Amaze.
Amaze.org is a terrific place for parents and kids to learn about sex and relationships in an honest, positive way. Their videos are funny without being too silly; smart without being too clinical. They address the “mechanics” (like puberty), as well as more complex topics like gender identity, coming out, consent, etc.
Below are my top five most amazing Amaze videos. It was hard to narrow it down — they have so much great content!
I’ve partnered with Dove Men+Care as part of their #DadsCare campaign to share some easy and creative ways to get crafty with your kids. Check out the short video I made with my son, as well as the descriptions of the steps in the text below.
During quarantine — or anytime, really — it can be easy to plop the kids in front of a screen and call it a day. Coming up with non-screen activities can be stressful.
Crafts are a tried-and-true way for kids to flex their creativity and stimulate their brains. It can also be a great bonding time with your kids. And let’s be honest, it’s also a nice distraction while you try to get some work done!
While I’ve been a graphic designer and illustrator for over 20 years, I sometimes feel like I’m still getting the hang of being a dad. But I know from experience that coming up with ideas for crafts and pulling all the supplies together can be overwhelming. So I’ve put together five tips to hopefully make it easier for you to get your kids crafting.