Dadlando weighs in: Bedtime is always a struggle.

Bedtime is always a struggle, and sadly last night, I was outsmarted again.  Our three-year-old’s bedtime routine, while difficult, has always had a rough outline to it: bed, potty, one more hug, ice pack from the freezer, ripped out hair bow back in hair, sip of water, and re-tucking in blankets.  

Last night though, I was caught off guard.  Instead of getting out of bed she called me into her room to hit me with a series of questions. 

What happens if you don’t ever sleep?
Well, eventually you just fall over and pass out.
Can you show me?
::So I fall on the ground for her::
Hahaha, do it again.

What happens if you don’t go potty?
If you don’t ever go potty you’ll have an accident.
Can you show me?

What happens if you don’t have a pillow?
Then you just have to go to sleep without one.
And it wouldn’t be soft?
Exactly.  Go to sleep.

What happens if you never drink water?
Are you just asking me questions so you don’t have to go to sleep?

Well, at least she is honest.  It got me thinking though, how much should I let her break the rules to encourage her critical thinking? I could see the wheels turning in her head, trying to find a way to stay up later.  I love seeing her think she is being clever, too.

Questions are much better than her getting out of bed multiple times and the inevitable tantrum.   I hope this is a sign of things to come.  I might not get her to go to bed any earlier, but now I feel like maybe she is learning important things about bladder control, insomnia, and how to rule the world with just a question.

What’s the strangest question your kid has ever asked you?  What tricks do your kids have for stalling bed time?  Who taught these children how to be world champion manipulators?

Dadlando weighs in: Eavesdropping on date night.

Date night car selfie

Momlando and I were fortunate enough to get a night out last week – not a go to the movies or just dinner out night – but a super official downtown Orlando get dressed up date. Our littlest one is finally getting to an age where he is a bit easier to take care of, making it easier to leave for a long night out (even if he cried his head off as we were walking out the door).

  Walking through downtown made me realize, as many things do, how old we now are.  So much has changed since the time I was familiar with the different watering holes or restaurants.  Nonetheless, it was fun to explore as we strolled around heading to dinner.  It felt great!  Like a whole new world was opening up to us!  We are still hip! We are still fun loving!

  Things were going great, we ordered drinks and appetizers.  And then, from about 10 feet away, we heard it.  A table of seven or so was enjoying the restaurant’s happy hour were loud enough to overhear.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about other people having a good time.  It was what one of the women sitting at the table was going on and on about…  

“I just love not having to take care of anyone but myself!”

“I can go out whenever I want, and when I come home, I can just crash, watch whatever I want on TV, eat whatever and whenever.”

“I don’t want to make anyone dinner.  Sometimes I just want to eat cereal and not care.”

  She was bragging about not having any obligations because she didn’t have kids.  She went on and on about how nice it is to go home and not have to worry about doing anything she doesn’t want to do, or take care of anyone else.  Her life was entirely her own.

  I swear she was saying it just to mock us. Maybe not, but we had a good laugh. Here we are moving mountains to go out once a month, and the first thing we hear is someone bragging about her freedom. True, she was probably so adamant because she was trying to convince herself as much as her friends that she was really living her best life.  But it got me thinking.  Would I ever want to go back to a no-obligation lifestyle?

  Even when they are driving me crazy, our kids are the best thing ever. When we are out on date night, we end up talking about all the little things they do or say that week.  Nothing compares to the joy they bring me.  Sorry, nights out drinking and binge watching seasons of shows and nice dinners out, you’re second place.

  Yes, raising children is a lot of work.  But I don’t think any parent would make a different choice given the option. I know nothing about the woman we overheard.  But for me, this was always the goal. I would feel like I was missing out if I hadn’t moved on to this stage of my life.  So much so that I might even try to drunkenly convince myself otherwise at happy hour on a random Saturday night out.

The Work Trip Sleep Myth

Since our latest little one has joined the family I’ve had to go on a few work trips to different parts of the country.  Without fail, each time I tell someone I am about to leave on a trip, I hear something along the lines of, “Oh, I bet you are looking forward to getting some good sleep!”  Now that Simon is sleep trained, I can look back on this myth and laugh. (Ugh, typing that he’s sleep trained pretty much guarantees I will be up several times with him tonight.)

I want to be careful here, because without a doubt going on a work trip is easier than caring for a toddler and a newborn all by yourself-even for an awesome parent like Momlando.  But the fact of the matter is, during the trip and when I returned I was far more tired than if I had stayed home.   

Let’s do the math:

+ Traveling sucks, but if I am lucky I get some sleep on the airplane.

Going to meetings and then running to the airport is exhausting.

+ A trip to Wrigley Field as a work social event.

+ Eating at nice restaurants on the company’s dime is a perk.

Social cocktail hours turn into long nights, even if they can be fun.  Returning to the hotel room to catch up on missed emails always keeps me up later than your normal bedtime.

Sleeping in an unfamiliar room is rough.  I don’t have to get up with a crying baby but random hotel noises can prevent sleep.

In addition to going to be later than normal, jet lag really messes up sleeping when I travel to a different time zone.

 I wind up getting up earlier than normal to get to meetings on time.

But most of all, it is draining to feel the guilt of leaving my wife to take care of the kids by herself.  And it’s sad not to see my family on those days.  Finding time to FaceTime during the trip helps, but I can see how hectic things are at home and I feel guilty for even calling!  Not to mention the fact that you know your significant other is picturing you on a ‘work-vacation’ instead of a work-trip.

As any parent who has gone on a trip knows, when you come home you can see a change in your kids-they’ve grown so much in even just a few days.  So when people say that I must be looking forward to catching up on sleep on a trip I just smile and play along.  But on the inside I know.  There is no rest.

Dadlando: A playlist for our life.

Do you have a box of memories from your childhood just taking up space in your storage?  Maybe you are lucky enough to have some VHS tapes of childhood memories or family vacations. Even better, maybe you’ve converted them to a DVD or a memory stick. These are great to have, but do you ever actually dig them out to watch them?  And if you do, can you stand to sit through the entire thing?  Last summer on  vacation, my mother-in-law tried to convince me to watch my wife’s entire high school homecoming parade.  No thanks.

As a dad, I have always tried my best to find some way to keep memories alive for my children – but what’s the best way?  I realized the solution was in my hand.

By the time Violet turned one, I had taken countless pictures and videos with my phone of times I thought were special.  I decided to string those together in a simple video app on my phone to share all these memories with family.  After playing around with the video a bit, I realized that by adding music, I was making a music video of a certain chapter of our lives.  I soon understood I wasn’t just making videos of the kids for my family to see, but for my kids themselves.

This gave me a whole new perspective on what I was doing.  Now, I spend more time deciding on a song to use in the video than actually creating the video itself.  I mean, I want the kids to like good music!

Every few months I catalog our adventures on the latest family music video.  Looking at pictures and watching videos of herself is already one of my daughter’s favorite activities.  I know when he gets older, my son will love it too.  I want to create a long playlist for us to enjoy and as a gift I can give them through the years.