October’s Father Feature: Chris Zoladz

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This month our Father Feature focuses on Chris Zoladz. This on-the-go Dad is a Central Michigan graduate currently living in Grand Rapids. He’s a senior account executive at Seyferth PR, husband, and father to a family of three children – including the adorable Nora. Learn more about him and get some ‘Dadvice’ from Chris here…

Father Feature

GIVEAWAY: Surprise Notes from Inklings Paperie

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“Cover your eyes, Daddy.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my daughter tell me to do this. It seems as though everything (at age 8) simply must be a surprise. Whether it’s a completed craft, a cleaned room, or a new piece of clothing, it can’t just be seen. It must be revealed.

So when I wanted to send a note to her in the mail (she lives hours away with her mother), I knew I had to find just the right method. Enter: Inklings Paperie. They have the perfect way to “surprise” someone special with a little note. It works just like a scratch off ticket, except you get to personalize it.

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Call Me Daddy?

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I don’t want to presume to know what your relationship with your daughter’s mother is… but in my house, if I were to ask my wife to “call me Daddy,” I’d be on the receiving end of some serious side-eye, a cringe, and a raised eyebrow (if not just outright laughter.)

And yet, those words came out of my mouth the other day.

Stick with me. I had a pretty good reason.  Read More

March Dadness

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Many Dads find themselves fervently following the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament this time of year. There are buzzer beaters, busted brackets, and usually a “Cinderella” who makes it all the way to the dance. (See: Loyola Chicago)

You’ll want that same passion and attention to become a PTP’er (that’s Prime Time Parent).

For example, if you can reel off the names of the starting lineup of your favorite team but can’t name your daughter’s favorite food, teacher, singer, best friend’s name, and proudest accomplishment…you may want to call a timeout and make a new game plan.

From the time she could remember, you have been her coach. And like any great coach, you should know your “team member’s” personality, quirks, and what motivates her. Don’t wait until you have to heave a half court shot her way. Do it today. Take 5 minutes of one-on-one time to talk… and more importantly to listen. Soon you’ll see that being an active and involved Dad is as easy as a layup. #DadUp

Looking for something to do together? Check out our EVENTS page and come join us at our next event!

Daddy Daughter Time: Candle Making

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Looking for something different to do with your daughter(s)? You might want to give candlemaking a try. Before you Google “how to get soy wax out of dog fur or carpeting,” take a breath. There’s a new place you can go to in Grand Rapids called Wax Poetic Candle Bar that does the heavy lifting for you.

I recently took my 7-year-old daughter there and she had a blast. The process is simple…but don’t go if you have a stuffy nose. You’re going to need all of the olfactory tools your schnoz has to offer at the ready.  Read More

New Year’s Intentions

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Let’s be honest. New Year’s Resolutions stink.

They are a guilt trip in waiting.

So, let’s call these New Year’s Intentions.

The good news? Most, if not all, are promises you can actually keep.

  1. Spend less time on projects or cleaning and more time playing with your kids. Trust us. They don’t care if the house is perfectly clean but they’ll remember spending time with you.
     
  2. Stop “comparenting.” You do you. Don’t let what other people think of your parenting skills bring you down. Your awesome kids didn’t get that way by themselves so you may actually be pretty good at this fatherhood thing.
     
  3. Take a deep breath when stuff gets crazy. Then let it out slowly and keep your cool.
     
  4. Kick the butts… or any other unhealthy habit that might be taking years from your life. You’re going to want to watch them grow up and give you grandkids.
     
  5. Buy less stuff. Rather, invest in more experiences/vacations/time with your family. The best present is to BE present.
     
  6. Love the mother of your children…or (for some of you divorced dads) at the very least don’t badmouth her in front of them.
     
  7. Floss your teeth. Ok, so that one may be tough. 😉 But modeling healthy behavior will help them learn from watching you.
     
  8. Love being a Dad. It isn’t always a picnic but the potential payoff is something hard to even put into words.

Now that you’ve got your “intentions” for the New Year. Don’t forget to follow these five tips from David Mizne of 15five.com. They are the best way to see if you can actually stick to the plan.

  1. Set realistic goals. Know your limitations and give yourself a shot at success.
  2. Break those goals up into smaller ones. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.
  3. Buddy up. Share your goals with a friend and then give them a free pass to hold you accountable.
  4. Make a recovery plan. When that guilt trip hits because you’ve been dropping the ball, don’t beat yourself up over it. But don’t let yourself off the hook either. Just start a new streak.
  5. Speaking of starting. Do that. Today. Day One doesn’t have to be January 1… or even have a one in it.

#dadup

Be Known

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My Dad – 1956

It’s around this time of year that being a father takes on a deeper meaning for me and it has nothing to do with the holidays. My father was born in November and each year on his birthday, I remember that another year has passed since he died in 2008. He was only 67 years old.

The thing I remember most is how little I knew about him.

I still recall his retirement party and asking him to recount each job he’d held since he started working. I finally wanted to know more about him as a person. I don’t know why it took me so long to take an active interest in his life – who he was as a young man, what his dreams had been and future dreams were, who his friends were and to hear tales about how he grew up. Those types of conversations were ones I’d never considered starting.

Of course, I knew what he had done for a living. I knew what his role in the household was. But I had no idea who he was. We’d never had the type of relationship, by no real fault of his, where those types of talks would happen naturally. He had tried a few times, when I was an unbearably rebellious pre-teen, to spend time with me golfing or fishing. It wasn’t easy for him.  I was the youngest of five, with siblings all within six years of age, and I’m sure his hands were pretty full.  I just wasn’t interested or was too preoccupied…and at that age I still hadn’t grasped how finite our time here really is.  And by the time I had matured enough and made the conscious decision to purposefully learn more about him as an individual, rather than just a Dad, he was gone.

That’s a regret I carry with me every day.

But it’s also a motivating factor on how I parent my daughters. I want to be known.

Being approachable is one of the five core traits we encourage fathers to implement in their daily parenting through Daddy Daughter Time’s D.A.D.U.P program. As fathers, we are the first men our daughters will know and see as an example of who to date/marry. The more my daughters know about me, the more yours know about you, the better.

Nobody’s perfect and daughters knowing that about their fathers can be an incredibly positive thing. How do we deal with our faults, errors, and struggles? What are our goals? What is the code by which we live our lives and make our decisions? Those are the heavy hitters. On the lighter side…What were we like as kids? What do we find funny or do for fun?

The sad fact is that I can’t answer most of those questions about my father and I won’t ever get the chance. But I hope my girls never have to face that same fact. I plan to be as approachable as I can and let them know that while I’m their father first, I’m available as more than just their Dad. I’m a person and hopefully someone who they will want to know more about.

I encourage you to open up and share your memories, good and bad, with your daughters. Share your outlook on life, your goals for the future,  what makes you…you. Don’t only be known as a provider or a disciplinarian. Be known for the man you are.

 

5 Things Every Dad Should Do…Every Week

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It’s time to DADUP with these five things we encourage you to include in your parenting every week (if not every day.) They are easy to do…and easy to forget to do. So remember to DADUP and be involved with your daughter(s).

D is for Dine. Want to know why you’ve heard for decades that eating together around the table is good for your family? Because it’s fact. They’ve done the research. (Short story: It lowers the risks of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and even increases the chance of graduating from high school.) The bad news is that the frequency in which families are doing this is declining. We know. You’re busy. But if you can squeeze in at least one family meal a week, it’s a start. Oh, and NO electronics. This is anti-screen time.

A is for Applaud. OK, you don’t literally have to clap your hands here. Maybe we could use the word affirmation? Basically, send her positive reinforcement for her good behavior, accomplishments at school, stellar sticker skills…whatever. A father’s praise is like gold  glitter to a young daughter.

D is for Discuss. A recent survey stated that only 4.1% of teenage girls in America feel that they can approach their fathers and discuss a serious problem. That’s not a typo. That’s four point one percent. If you aren’t talking with her now – one on one (that’s key) – she won’t feel she can approach you when it really matters. Carve out 15 minutes with just her and show interest in who she is and what she’s talking about (even if it’s Justin Beiber).

U is for Unwind. Daddy Daughter Time is all about spending time together doing fun stuff. Just as important? Chill time. Literally. Do something that requires very little effort or something that helps you relax. Include her. Whether it’s a walk in the park or just catching a (kid) flick on Netflix, sometimes just being in the same place while you both just chill can bring you closer together.

P is for Participate. The opposite of unwinding. Get up off the couch or away from the laptop and dive into her world. Sure, you’ll be at her soccer game or band concert… but what about when she’s playing with her toys or doing homework? This is your chance to be a kid again. I mean, you didn’t really want to grow up anyways, right?

 

Active and involved fathering isn’t all that tough. Use these reminders and DADUP!

Have you checked out our D.A.D.U.P. program? It’s a monthly (and sometimes more often) reminder for Dads to help them remain active and involved in their daughters’ lives. The #dadvice we give out at each event is based on 5 traits: Dependability. Approachability. Devotion. Understanding. Patience. You can learn more about it here.

Dad’s Guide to Traveling With Kids (And No Spouse)!

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So, you’d like to travel across the country with young children…without your spouse? What kind of Dad would be foolhardy enough to take on such a trip?

Well, I did that this past summer with my two daughters – Grace, 7, and Daphne, who was nearly 1 at the time. We flew from Grand Rapids, Michigan to San Diego, California…and we all made it back alive!

The following traveler’s guide, 5 tips and a mandatory packing list, should be read in its entirety. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea from my first suggestion which is…

…DON’T DO IT!!!

UNLESS…

Tip#1…. You are fully rested. I entered this adventure, (that’s what I call things other people call hassles), knowing that it would be a long day. I’m a patient man and I knew that it would require an extra reserve of that patience to deal with TSA check-ins, car rentals, and general travel pains while corralling an extremely mobile baby and short attention-spanned first grader. But I somehow forgot that I also had to work a full day before leaving that late afternoon. So, I still had to wake up early that morning. Do yourself a favor. Make sure you have time to fully rest. My day was 21 hours start to finish and I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch up on sleep until three days later.

Tip#2… You make lists. Then make a checklist for your lists. And then check those checklists. You get the idea. Your brain is going to be focused on how to keep the little humans alive and safe. Having a checklist for clothing, medical, food, and other necessaries means you don’t have to spend time thinking about whether you packed/have something while your little ones are wandering onto the tarmac. Thankfully, my wife is the queen of checklists. So mine were made out before she left.

Tip#3… You are well versed in the pace of life with kids. Sure, it’s easier to pop over to the store, friend’s house, wherever, when you’ve got a partner to watch the kids. When you’re flying solo with them, you need to schedule in buffer time. Lots of it. Planning to be somewhere way early means you’ll probably show up just in time. Maybe. (Read: The Pace of Life: Boy, Was I Wrong…(Sort Of)).

Tip#4… You are okay with screentime. Normally, I hate screen time for the kids. It’s something we avoid in our house if we can. But if you’re going to be in a plane for hours on end and there’s no other way to burn that energy off, fire up the iPad! Technology is your friend! Oh, and remember to download/find games that they can do without wifi (unless you like paying extra.)

Tip#5… You prep your unpaid volunteers. By “unpaid volunteers” I mean any of your children old enough to know how to help without causing more messes to solve. Sure, I told Grace we were going to have a great time. I also told her she would have to help me when it came to taking care of the baby. Fortunately, I won the “kid lotto” and was blessed with a more than willing volunteer who loves to help. Just make sure to give them a heads up so they don’t give you the stinkeye when they are told they have to help change a stinky diaper.

Mandatory Packing List

You’re instinct will tell you to overpack. But more stuff = more stress and more to carry. So, y’know, don’t do that. Here’s a list of essentials.

  1. Ziploc bags. Three words: poop, vomit, baby food. Ziploc bags are the quickest solution when you need to separate the messes from the rest when you don’t have a trash can handy.

    The sweet snooze of victory.

  2. Snacks. This is a no brainer but don’t ever think you’ll have enough. I ran out with 2 hours to go. Thankfully, the flight attendants had all sorts of goodies for Grace (and Daphne had finally fallen asleep.)
  3. The “lovey.” Does your daughter have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal? Go to Amazon and buy another one. That backup (we have two “foxies” for Daphne) is vital in case one ever gets dirty, damaged, or lost. Other small comfort items from home can make a trip less stressful for the kids, too.
  4. First Aid Kit. Don’t forget this! Baby Tylenol, Dramamine, Band-Aids. You never know and you don’t want to pay what the airport wants to charge for that stuff.
  5. Extras and Backups – I know I said to not overpack. But if you’re going to bring extra stuff… go with diapers, wipes, pull-ups, and three or more changes of clothes for when your kids ruin the ones they are in.

BONUS TIPS:

  • Did you know that on most airlines you can gate-check your stroller at no additional cost?  Well before boarding time, go to the front desk and ask for a stroller tag so that you are ready to go. Invest in a travel stroller, or an umbrella stroller.  We just purchased the 3Dtrek Convenience Stroller. Iit has many of the conveniences of a full size stroller, but folds up easy like an umbrella stroller.
  • If you are going to be traveling with breast milk or formula, be sure to check and print out the TSA regulations for “Traveling with Children”