Dadlando weighs in: On When Mom’s Away

There is nothing worse than not having a plan.  At least, that is my motto for the times when I find myself alone and outnumbered by my children.  Momlando had a well-deserved mini vacation this past weekend, so I got right to it on a schedule packed tight with super fun daddy weekend activities.

If there is anything I learned this year, it’s that two children are more than twice as hard to take care of than one.  I don’t mean to offend anyone who is struggling with one child – we did that too.  I also don’t want to scare anyone away from having a second.  You learn and adapt.  It can be tough though.  One great strategy we like to employ is divide and conquer.  For some reason, it is much easier to take care of one child alone than both of us taking care of the two kids together (I hate this term, but it seems appropriate- it’s like herding cats). 

With all that said, there are a few things you can do to make weekends when you are alone easier on yourself – that is where the Super Fun Daddy Weekend Plan comes in handy!

I had some big challenges to work around including: needing to be home every 2-3 hours to give our youngest one a nap.  But wait!  That may be a challenge, but I used it in my favor to keep the weekend moving, and on to our next activity.  Here are some of the activities I used to survive being outnumbered:

Drive to the playground: This is an activity on it’s own because I take the scenic route to a playground that we don’t usually go to… and along the way make a couple stops where I don’t have to get everyone out of the car like the post office or a drive-thru for coffee.  And then of course we play at the playground.

Holiday themed activity while baby Simon sleeps: Violet kept asking how many more days until Christmas, so we made a chain out of paper for the Christmas tree.  Every day we will cut one off and when there are no more rings left, it is Christmas!

Make Rice Crispy Treats with Violet: Then use the treats as incentive to get Violet to participate in other activities, like…

Pack a bag and go to Cranes Roost Park to walk around: there are a bunch of holiday decorations that the kids love!

Play superheroes while baby Simon sleeps: Our current storyline revolves around Dr. Blanky vs. Ultra Violet Captain America battling for the magical Tsum-Tsums.

Oh no!  Simon wouldn’t take his nap… 

Time for an adventure to Publix: There is nothing better than strapping the kids in a shopping cart and walking around the supermarket.  The kids can’t go anywhere AND you get to cross a chore off your list.

Cinema Saturday: Once the baby is asleep for the night and the toddler is ready for bed, we have Cinema Saturday!  I used this as bribery all day too… the trick here is, again, a snack.  We can watch movies during the day, but when we have popcorn it’s an official event where we can sit and watch an entire movie.

I love spending the time with my kids, but it can be a lot to handle on your own if you’re unprepared.  Sitting around the house and watching TV or corralling the kids into the playroom gets old real quick.  Just when I think I learn a new trick, the kids grow or change their habits and we are back to the drawing board.  All I know is that staying busy helps the time pass, and the kids enjoy it too. 

What are your tricks for keeping the days moving?  Want to hear more from Dadlando?  Check out last week’s column on the most wonderful time of the year!

Dadlando weighs in: On the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It is officially that time of year again.  That time when spirits are high, it’s acceptable to drink hot lattes any time of the day (even though the barista always asks, ‘cold or hot’ – that will have to be for another post), and children are full of excitement.  Things even seem to smell more amazing. To say that I look forward to this season all year would be an understatement.  It’s that magical time of year, you know, ‘going-outdoors-time’ in Central Florida; the only time you can venture outside without instantly feeling like you are in a sauna.

I am from the great northwest where hipster Macklemores and cosmopolitan Cobains walk around sipping Starbucks and dodging raindrops.  Like so many others in Orlando, I am a transplant with fond memories of my native lands.  People often remark on how different Seattle and Orlando are, and I agree.  One of the things I miss the most is how easy it was to be able to walk around the city.  I know there are great places to walk in Orlando, but with oppressive heat the majority of the year, it really isn’t practical.  That’s why ‘going-outdoors-time’  is so great.

During the rest of the year, taking kids outside just isn’t an option. When planning the day, we usually make an elaborate plan for a chaotic trip to the Science Center, Crayola Factory, or other indoors center that every other family in Orlando will be at. We love these places, but it is a lot of extra work.  

Winter in Orlando can be as short as summer in Seattle.  But I’ve found ways to make the most of it and it’s as easy as getting outside to go for a walk.  My favorite is Crane’s Roost Park in Altamonte Springs.  It is perfect for taking the kids and doing a couple laps before nap time to burn some energy.  

Here are my top five places to walk with the kids:

  1. Cranes Roost Park
  2. Harry P. Leu Gardens
  3. Lake Lily Park (Bonus, there’s playground!)
  4. Central Florida Zoo
  5. Lake Baldwin Park

During ‘going-outdoors-time’ we have more freedom with our schedule, I don’t feel like I need to shower when I get back in from outside, and I can enjoy a hot beverage while breathing fresh air- not recycled air conditioning.  It is truly the most wonderful time of year!

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.