Yes, you read it right, the FOUR words. And you may be saying “Pete, ‘I love you’ is only THREE words…hopefully your poor kid doesn’t take after your math skills!” Look, you and I both hope my kids don’t take after my math skills. And like any parent, hearing “I love you” come out of my little one’s mouth makes me melt like a Hershey Bar on the Las Vegas Strip in the middle of July. She tells me that she loves me in her little toddler voice, and I just hand her my wallet and anything else I own… seriously, with two daughters, this is going to go really well for me 🙂
But the words that I absolute LOVE hearing from my little one are Daddy/Mommy “I want to help”. My little one is at the stage now where she understands so much and recognizes when mommy and daddy have to do things that otherwise take away our attention from her.
As this Baby Center Article states, between the ages 2 and 3, a child begins to comprehend the more complicated aspects of life and gains a deeper understanding of how she should treat people. So when my little one sees that mommy and daddy are doing housework, caring for her little sister, or walking the dogs, the idea that she says “I want to help” makes me happy. I’m beginning to see the development of a kind hearted, helpful, unselfish person. And truth be told, the idea that my daughter is shaping up to be a beautiful person makes me, perhaps selfishly, believe that my wife and I are doing parenting right.
I get it, sometimes their idea of “help” really delays the process of what you are trying to accomplish; maybe even gets you a little frustrated. But as a dad, after my frustration settles, I tend to just laugh. I laugh at the fact that my toddler got me “frustrated” because she was trying to “help” me. And for those who have older children, teenagers, or adult children- I’m sure you are nodding your head and saying that you’d take this type of “frustration” over what comes about in your child’s later stages of life.
Yes, “I love you” will always be my daughters’ way to my heart and checkbook, but if the goal as a parent is to do everything you can to raise a wonderful human being- one that is helpful to others, kind to others, puts others first before him/her, is respectful of others, and grows to be a leader- then yea, hearing my 3 year old say ” I want to help” is music to my ears!
As summer comes close to an end and the school year quickly approaches, every parent is wondering the same thing….”Will the video of my happy dance, as my kid boards the school bus, break the internet?” While some videos will, most parents have a better chance of breaking a hip! But in all seriousness, there are a million things parents begin to think of as the school year approaches; if you have more than one kid, the list is even longer. The good news is that there is a ton of very good advice out there that can help the overwhelmed parent. If your are looking for some great advice on meal planning, saving some dollars or an awesome Back to School Breakfast idea, check out this Eat Drink and Save Money Blog Post. It’s super easy, quick, and you AND the kids will love it.
And while planning every meal is without a doubt going to help reduce your stress levels, sometimes there is nothing more you want to do then go out to eat. I get it. All the time you spent planning every meal, for the entire week has led to the day where you would like to sit and have someone else cook you dinner. I know what you’re thinking- I’ll just order takeout. We can’t go out with the toddler. We will never eat. It’s just a waste of money because my kid never eats what we order for them and only wants to eat our food. These are all very legit thoughts. But if you are anything like me and enjoy dining out, hopefully by the end of this post, you put your worries aside and take the entire family, TODDLER AND LITTLE ONE TOO, to the hot new dining spot in your city…carefree.
You’ve already planned for most of the week, right? I’m not here to tell you to throw away all that hard work; but now that it’s the weekend, this is the chance to dine out and what better way than hitting up a Brunch spot. Bruch is perfect. You get the best of breakfast and lunch! If your toddler is a picky eater, brunch offers you more options. I mean, how many times have you tried to go to dinner only for your toddler to tell you they want pancakes!
What’s also great about Brunch is that many of the nicer places you would want to go for dinner will likely offer Brunch during the weekends. So what better way to try the new hot spot? And as if you did not already know, Brunch isgenerally cheaper than adult dinner entrée options.
DAD ADVICE 1– if you can, ask for seating outside. As parents, we know for sure that our toddlers and children leave a mess. Somehow, every child between the ages of 2 and 6 is wired the same way- 1/4 of the food in the mouth and 3/4ths of the food on the floor, on their clothes, on your clothes, on another diner! Eating outdoors, at the very least, means the kid can be a little louder and a little messier without so much worry. I’m not saying you still shouldn’t pick up after your toddler– PLEASE PICK UP AFTER YOUR TODDLER; but compared to chocolate milk all over the nice table cloth or carpets inside, chocolate milk on the outdoor floors and tables won’t be so bad. Hell, you may have a better view outside too!
You’ve Got 99 Toddler Problems… Money Dining Out With Your Little One Shouldn’t Be One
So maybe you’re weekends are busier than your weekdays. Now a days, that is definitely true. Swim practice, soccer practice, birthday parties, church— I mean the weekend event list is HUGE. So maybe trying a “dine out night out” during the week is a better option. You may end up saving even more money going this route because of the different options/specials restaurants offer during the week that they do not offer on weekends!
First– several restaurants always have a day when they are running a kids eat free deal. Sometimes, no adult purchase is necessary, while other times it is. Check your local restaurants to see what kids eat free options are available since they do change. If you are ever in the New Tampa/Wesley Chapel area, Union 72 (one of my favorite BBQ places) has been offering a kids eat free special on Tuesday evenings!
Second– HAPPY HOUR BABY
… no, I’m not suggesting you go get hammered and bring your toddler or infant with you. But if you haven’t heard, Happy Hour is no longer specials on drinks only; many places now offer several food selections on a Happy Hour Menu. It will be cheaper and just as good as if you order it any other time. Happy Hour is also NO LONGER ONE HOUR. It seems that some places offer Happy Hour for a few hours if not for most of the day.
Third– So you can’t make it on a day where kids eat free OR during Happy Hour. Maybe the restaurant that you want to try doesn’t offer either of these things- well aren’t you FANCY! But that’s okay. Now, many fancy restaurants offer “snack plates” or “small plates”. Let me tell you about these “snack plate” “small plate” options. You are not getting a plate full of Cheetos. You get very good food at a very reasonable price. Don’t believe me, check out the menu at Haven in Tampa, Florida. And if you didn’t know, Haven is one of the Bern’s Steakhouse Company dining locations- and if you haven’t heard of Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, contact me immediately, we will make dinner reservations and you can thank me later 🙂
DAD ADVICE 2– don’t forget about appetizers and sides. If your toddler is a mac and cheese eater, skip the kid’s meal option and order the side option! Does your kid like chicken tenders but never finishes an entire kids meal? Maybe ordering the appetizer option of tenders is the better route; at least you can have some too!. Better yet, some of these options will be an awesome way to sneak in vegies! With restaurants serving things like Buffalo Cauliflower or avocado fries, it makes it much easier for a kid to eat their veggies (maybe ask for the buffalo sauce on the side). The take away- we sometimes overlook appetizers and sides as kid entrée substitutes. Don’t make that mistake!
It is More Important Than You Think
This, to me, is the most important thing to remember. There are tons of studies about the benefits of eating with your children, especially at a young age. This Washington Post Article does a good job discussing the studies and health benefits. But to me, it is much simpler than that: its getting to spend time with your little one before they grow up and it becomes “embarrassing”. It’s experiencing that time of surprise/happiness when your little one eats an entire cup of German Sauerkraut Soup (yes, my toddler did this when she was a little over 1). Our children will always surprise us; often times in positive ways that we didn’t think would happen.
Dine out, eat with your toddlers and little ones.. it won’t be the end of the world. Heck, you all may end up with a full belly and happy!
I sit here on the heels of reading this Miami Herald article about a male lawyer, in Florida, objecting to a female lawyer’s request to continue an upcoming trial due to a pregnancy. Feel free to read the article and form your own opinions as I don’t want to make this a post about my (very strong) opinions on this particular situation. But it made me think; as a father, raising two beautiful, lively, full of potential young girls, am I doing the right thing to pave the way for opportunity and changefor them; so that they do not have to encounter similar issues when they grow up and choose to have families of their own? My gut reaction is to say that I am; but when things like this continue to occur, I feel like I’m not. I’m not doing enough. We know the saying “Be the change you want to see in the world”. But when you feel like you are, and the world isn’t changing; what are we left to do? What are the options? I started this blog out of the joy and love I have for my family, to share the stories, fun and journey of feeling like an #outnumberedfather in a house full of women. And as I meet more of you through this journey, I realize there are so many fathers and mothers out there doing their DAMN BEST to raise strong, powerful women. And so I have hope. I have hope that these strong fathers and mothers will continue to encourage these young women to do what they want in life; to be their own person; to work hard and never accept defeat. As I continue to strive to be the change I want to see in the world, I honor my sweet girls by saying:
I Promise you that I will Love You Unconditionally, Support You and be there for you every step of the way.
I promise that when you feel you can’t, I will encourage you and remind you that you can.
I promise that when you are sad, I will tell a horrible dad joke to make you smile.
I promise that when you feel weak, I will remind you that your heart is your strongest muscle and you can move any mountain.
I promise when you feel you don’t know, take a minute, breathe and remember your mind is your most powerful resource to resolve all problems.
You are not weaker because of your gender. You are not limited in your abilities. You are strong, powerful, capable, courageous, and beautiful. Dare to dream. Dream Big. Never Give Up. You will overcome all unnecessary obstacles. I promise you.
Whether you are a new parent or savvy veteran; a mom or dad; have daughters or sons, join me in setting the example and encouraging them that anything is possible. That everyone deserves respect. That we don’t treat people differently because they are female, male, gay, straight, black or white. Make your own promise, pledge or vow. Let’s be the change and set the example… well, so that we don’t see situations of another attorney objecting to a pregnant female attorney’s request for a continuance.
Yes, the day finally arrived. We were going on our first weekend getaway as a family of four to Daytona Beach, Florida. Home of Nascar’s “Super bowl”. Once referred to as the “World’s Most Famous Beach”. Where Bikers from around the country congregate for a week of drinking up and down Main Street and Coleslaw Wrestling at the famous Cabbage Patch Bar (don’t believe me, see for yourself: http://cabbagepatchbar.com/#events). Where, in the late 80s and earlier 90s, MTV introduced the world to what college co-eds really do on Spring Break. But perhaps most importantly, where yours truly grew up.
I haven’t lived in Daytona since leaving for college (Go Gators!). Going back to the city you grew up in always brings back memories; some good, some just plain awful. We were excited to spend the weekend at the beach. Much to my surprise, a Hard Rock Hotel was a hotel option. For those who have been to Daytona, you know the hotel options are pretty limited if you are looking for something on the beach, clean, and void of that musty, natty lite stench. Don’t get me wrong, if this is a guys trip with The Posse during the second week of March, circa 1990 something, all those things are a must. But this trip was different. My 3 month old was getting baptized and we wanted to be surrounded by friends and family. We wanted some place for my 3 year old to have a good time; pool, splash pad-you get the idea. So we packed our bags, loaded the Pilot and began the….LONGEST trip, to Daytona Beach.
Typically, it would take us 2-2.5 hrs to get from the Tampa area to Daytona. Not this trip. Nearly 4.5 hours! “Leave early”, she said; “we can beat traffic”. I mean, simply thinking that we were going to beat traffic was cursing us from the beginning; but with a toddler and a newborn? Who were we kidding. If you have kids, you know that everything takes substantially longer. You want to brush your teeth? Add 5 minutes. Leave the house to go anywhere..thats an hour. So, why would I think this trip was going to be any quicker? But here’s the deal, I can’t blame my kids entirely; hell- I don’t blame them at all. I certainly did not help the situation. And for those who know me, you know that I value my time and take being on time very seriously. “When you’re early, you’re on time, when you’re on time, your late!” Words I try and live by, give it a shot.
But, now with two kids, everything is just a little longer, harder, slower. With one kid potty training and the other just pottying when she feels like it, I thought I’d share a couple of “First Trip Do’s and Don’ts” in hopes that you find some comfort in knowing you’re not alone AND perhaps it becomes useful advice for your future trips.
DO #1.Pack throughout the week and try and get your kids things packed first. By now, your parents, wife’s parents, friends, neighbors, second cousin twice removed sister-in law have all bought your kids more clothes than they will ever need. So there is no reason why the weekend before the trip, the kids bags are not fully packed with clothes without getting into what they would need for the week. Leave the last minute packing for your things.
DONT #1 Don’t forget the diapers DAD! I mean for crying out loud, this should be the first thing we reach for when we start packing for our child that still uses diapers. And in my defense, I had the diapers ready to go. All 60, unopened size 2 diapers. PROBLEM? They were 60, unopened, size two diapers- so of course, they wouldn’t fit in the bag with the clothes, so I had them sitting next to the bag… I think. Either way, YES I forgot my newborn’s diapers at home. So, don’t pull a Pete and forget your kid’s diapers at home. And IF you do (haha), DON’T sweat it. Everywhere sells diapers and you can pick them up anywhere- which is what we ended up doing on the way to Daytona (adding to the travel time) when it began to sound like my kid was going to unleash the beast that lives within her! But if you ask my wife, the look on my face walking out of a Walmart, somewhere in Orlando, with a box of diapers and a Monster Energy drink, provided her with a much needed chuckle.
DO #2 If you are driving, be prepared to stop….several times. The fact of the matter is the days are gone where your road tripping solo or with your buddies and can make “good time”. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but with two young kids, they will be hungry and need to use the potty, multiple times…never at the same time. You will soon realize that this is not a “vacation” but more like a “test-your-patience” trip. But being prepared may level your expectations a bit. Bring some small snacks and maybe a tablet/IPad for the older kids to watch a movie/play games. My go to snacks for my toddler are granola bars and yogurt pouches. Grab a granola bar that may have some chocolate chips, and they will love you even more.
DON’T #2 Do not forget about naptime. I get it, much easier said then done; especially when the kids are having tons of fun. But if the kids generally take naps during the day at daycare or at home, you’ll be throwing off weeks, if not months, of hard work getting them on that routine. I’m certainly not an expert on getting kids to take a nap; let alone getting them to nap while on vacation. There are several articles online about this issue and I invite you to google the “how to” part. My simple thoughts: keep the nap schedule as close to when they actually nap while not on vacation and use this as an excuse to splurge a bit for a bigger room that may have a separate living area; that way, the adults can still have a good time. On this trip, well I’m sure you can guess…my toddler decided she was going to finally nap 10 minutes before our dinner reservation with the rest of our family…guess how it went getting her up?!
CURVE BALL By now you know that things are going to happen that you did not plan for. It happens every day, kids or not. But when it happens on vacation, involving the kids, it becomes a bigger hurdle to clear. So, when your newborn has a blowout in her new bathing suit, while sitting in her car seat, an hour before dinner, THAT is a big hurdle. Yes, that happened; Yes, it got all over her bathing suit; Yes, it got all over her car seat. Do you think I planned for this to happen? I’m the guy that forgot the diapers, remember?! BUT, at the end of the day, we can let this ruin the rest of the day, or deal with it the best you can. In this case, I borrowed the Lysol spray from the housekeeping cart, sprayed the car seat cover down, gave it a little shower and used the blow dryer to speed up the drying process.
Going on vacation with young kids, in our case a 3 year old and 3 month old, is hard; but it can be done! Hopefully some of the Do’s and Don’ts can help you with your next trip. If you’re reading this and thinking, “my wife does all the planning, I’m never going to worry about this stuff”… well, maybe the next trip, you take on more of the planning duties? Who knows, the wife may recognize your hard work and extra effort and vacation may be a little nicer for ya if you catch my drift…. If that is not convincing, forward this blog post to your wife!
There will be times during your vacation that you need that daddy juice because the vacation is getting the best of you and you’re feeling a bit #outnumbered; definitely take a minute and enjoy yourself.. I did
Hopefully by the end of your next trip, you and your family are all smiles and you’ve created some unforgettable memories!
Have any Do’s and Don’ts you would like to share, please feel free to share you story in the comment section below.
Want to know my thoughts on the new Hard Rock Hotel, check out my review on yelp (link on the homepage). There you will see some additional photos of the Hard Rock.
I’ve come to the realize that my family is much cooler than I am. My toddler is clearly too cool for me:
My dogs even pile it on:
That’s why its important that every father have his Posse. Your crew, homies, close group of guy friends…call them what you wish. They are the group of guys that you’ve known for years; since childhood, high school, groomsmen in your wedding. They are the group of guys you have a constant, ongoing group text with; the group of guys that your wife absolutely loves, but deep down questions whether you actually love them more. These are the guys that have your back, are there for you during the good and bad. My Posse I have known for years.
When feeling Outnumbered at home, these are the guys I call. The Posse Trips have created some of the greatest memories. Check out the Best 4 hours I spent in Austin on a recent Posse Trip https://outnumberedfather.com/unique-eats/.