DAD STUFF

Anything & everything parenting-related. Or gay parenting-related. Or specifically dad-related.

A Year of Pandemic Parenting, In Pictures

April 30, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

We’ve been pandemic parenting for over a year now… and it’s been a hell of a year, hasn’t it? Compared to so many that were medically or financially devastated by Covid, our family got off fairly easy. Yet I imagine everyone looks forward to putting this behind us, allowing it to fade into a surreal, scary, traumatic, lonely, stressful, depressing — and oh so monotonous — memory.

Between the isolation, health scares, lost work and the flaming dumpster fire that was virtual learning, I had to do something to keep my sanity, fill the time, and lift the spirits of my housebound family.

While distance learning was (and is) a largely futile endeavor for my ADHD kiddo, his school interjected some fun as best it could. Spirit Week was always one of my favorite events growing up, so I was pleasantly surprised when Jon’s school added a couple of extra themed weeks to the calendar.

As it’s no secret Dad loves any excuse to play dress up, I wasn’t letting my son have all the fun. I got us all involved — picked out props, took pics, and occasionally had some Photoshop fun before sharing on social media. It was such a hoot, I added a few themed Spirit Days of my own. If I’m being honest, sometimes I was probably the only one truly enjoying it — but kudos to Jon and Papa for letting me force convince them to play along!

So, as we surpass the year mark on quarantine life, I wanted to commemorate all of the wacky, weird and spirited photos from the weary months we’ve made it through.

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HOPPY EASTER! 👯‍♂️🦄 Not an official Spirit Day photo, but officially adorbs. Trying to find some fun hidden in our son’s first Easter not spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s.

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Talking to My Kid About Alcohol

April 14, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

April is Alcohol Responsibility Month. And as a parent, making our children aware of alcohol and responsible drinking should happen early, appropriately and repeatedly.

But first let me drop a bit of awareness on you

Talking to My Kid About Alcohol

In 1991, 80% of American teens had consumed alcohol at least once. By 2020, that number had dropped to 44%. Some credit this decrease, in part, to an increase in parents talking to their children openly and honestly about alcohol.

This past year I’ve had the pleasure of working with Responsibility.org, whose mission is to facilitate these lifelong conversations between parents and kids. I’ve learned a ton from my interactions with the organization and strive to impart some of that knowledge to my readers… and of course, to my son.

So, in honor of Alcohol Responsibility Month, I thought I’d do just that — have a conversation with my 11-year-old about alcohol.

As I was coming up with questions, I realized I hadn’t had much in the way of father-son chats about alcohol. I knew he’d seen me and his Papa drink — and probably more often during quarantine. But what did he really know? What had he actually observed? How worried should I be?

Below is our enlightening (and entertaining) discussion.

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I’ll Take the 3-Piece Parenting Advice Meal, Please. Hold the Anxiety.

February 28, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

You can’t swing a mismatched sock without hitting someone giving you parenting advice. Talk shows and books, blogs and social media, teachers, therapists, other parents, your parents — it’s everywhere and it’s constant. And as we’re a year into a pandemic, lord knows we need all the advice we can get. But I also know I’m not always ready to digest it.

Parenting Advice

Speaking of parenting advice, I recently sat in on a conversation with Jessica Lahey. Her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, is a New York Times bestseller. She’s also a teacher and a mom, and chock full of delicious parenting know-how.

Jessica crammed a lot of wisdom, feedback and advice into our hour-long chat, sponsored by Responsibility.org. And while a lot of what she shared rang true, I found myself terribly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with good and helpful information, but overwhelmed, nonetheless.

Quarantine life has been taking its toll on me lately, and most days I feel like I’m just getting by. I was tempted to give in to my anxiety, chuck all this info out the window, and hope for the best (a common defense mechanism for me). But this time I took a different approach.

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Toxic Positivity and the Christmas Card Conundrum

January 12, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Toxic Positivity and the Christmas Card Conundrum

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.

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Parenting During A Pandemic: Lessons Learned From 2020

December 3, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

2020: Lessons Learned

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.

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Parenting During A Pandemic: Building Resilience Amidst Chaos

October 29, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Resilience Amidst Chaos

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:
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“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.

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Navigating Flu Season During A Pandemic

September 27, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

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.

flu season

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.

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#DadsCare: How To Get Crafty With Your Kids

July 8, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

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.

How To Get Crafty With Your Kids

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.

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Parenting During a Pandemic: Addressing (Not Avoiding) Summertime Blues

June 25, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Summertime Blues

Transitioning from school year to summertime can be a pretty challenging process. Throw in a global pandemic with ever-changing levels of quarantine, and it can be downright traumatic. So, what’s a parent to do?

Even under typical circumstances, families are dealing with a looser schedule and fewer restrictions. While kids might think that’s an amazing set of problems to have, the truth is we could all probably use some guidance.

I recently sat in on a conversation with 2019’s School Counselor of the Year, Brian Coleman, hosted by the helpful folks at Responsibility.org. Brian had a lot of great tips for parents and caregivers for navigating this exceptionally uncharted journey. Below are some of the tips he shared as we embark on a summer with so many unknowns.

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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Father’s Days of the Last 10 Years

June 21, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

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.

Top 10 Father's Days

I was hoping to have a couple more Top 10 lists posted by the middle of 2020, but COVID-19 had others plans. As Father’s Day rolled around and I realized we’d be spending yet another holiday in quarantine. So I got nostalgic and started rummaging through photos of Dad’s Days past. I got excited about documenting our first ten years of Father’s Days — until I did the math and realized that while our son was 10 years old, we were celebrating our 11th Father’s Day. New math is hard.

As I’ve written many times on this blog, Father’s Day is not a day of rest and relaxation for two-dad families. Yet we’ve somehow managed to always be together, and get some manner of family photo. While they haven’t always been exciting Father’s Days — or even all that happy — it’s nice to look back and see what ten (eleven?!?) years of celebrating family looks like.

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