Wednesday, July 24, 2013

my side of the weekend: project stay-at-home-office dad

What happens when your spouse is away?  Until recently, I have been the one away on business trips.  I have enjoyed the reinvigorating professional company, the motivational talks, the expanding of my business acumen, and helping to build something bigger than myself.  And, of course, I’ve had a lot of fun while away.  Now, because of my disability, my wife is the one off to business conventions.  (You can’t travel often if you’re going to fall down in airports, which is what I did recently in the Salt Lake City airport. Right on my face!)

So what does this look from the other side?  From the stay-at-home-office Dad perspective.  That was what happened this past week.  What an adventure -- and you know what? I really enjoyed it!

First, when preparing to take care of four young children during a spouse’s absence, the first key to success is preparation.  For example, taking four young children to the grocery store is not a pleasant experience.  I would put it up there with walking across hot coals.  So, when I knew Briana was leaving us for a Wednesday through late Saturday night excursion with Nerium, the first thing I did was sit down and make a list of food to make it through that period without the need to load the kids into the van and walk across hot grocery store coals.

As a father, I feel it is my duty to carry on the time honored tradition of feeding children all of the basics while mom is away.  Basics like Cheetos, Cap’n Crunch Berries, Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, Fudge Stripes, soda, chips, microwaveable dinners such as chicken nuggets and pizza rolls, and other important items from the Dad’s Alone with the Kids Food Pyramid.

Dad's Alone with the Kids Food Pyramid

"Crunch Berry Pie"-as nutritious as pie
[Side Note: I loved Shasta as a kid growing up.  When my family went on family trips, Shasta was our constant companion.  Shasta always hit the spot when you needed to quench your thirst.  So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to introduce my kids to the wonderful world of Shasta this weekend.  I purchased some Shasta “California Dreamin’” “Tiki Punch” and “Zazz” for my kids to really enjoy their childhood as I did.  And it worked.  They loved it.  But. Fast forward a couple of decades plus for me and as an adult Shasta is...well...Shasta is gross.  The Tiki Punch tasted like medicine and the Zazz tasted like I don’t know what, but it wasn’t good.  The California Dreaming was tolerable.  Yes, I tasted all three for the sake of this post.]

Second, ensure your children have a strict schedule of activities and work to keep them busy throughout the day.  I equipped my kids with the Summer Bridge Activities series of books based on their upcoming grade level, relevant flashcards, created some personal projects based upon their age, summer reading books, and a physical fitness regimen.  These tasks were executed throughout the day and allowed their brains to get smarter, their bodies to get fitter, and Dad’s work got done.

physical fitness regimen

Third, be ready to play games and have fun!  Because I work from home, my day was tied up in my office, but after the ‘office’ closed it was go time.  Or as Felicity says, “Let’s do this!”  Phase 10 is a popular game for us, as it allows all but Felicity to participate (and she “helps” me play). And time with dad wouldn't be complete without some serious tv fun.  Our list of favorites include Wipeout (lots of re-runs), American Ninja Warrior, and Treehouse Masters

The weekend was success.  No one threw up.  No one woke up in the middle of the night crying.  No one asked those awkward “Go-Ask-Your-Mother” questions.

Were there challenges?  Absolutely.  

I don’t know how to dress girls.  Bathing little people is physically challenging for me. I knew we were going to have a problem.  So, I wanted to be prepared.  I had  a plan. I asked Briana to set out some clothing/outfits that I could dress Felicity in each day.  But...she didn’t have time before she left to do this for me and/or she forgot.

So...Felicity became one of the guys. I mean boys can wear the same shorts and shirt for a couple of days and not be worse for the wear and showering is optional except on Sunday (I do strictly enforce the change of underwear by making them show me each morning the new pair), but girls are supposed to be pretty and bathed and coiffed and stuff.  Well, it was sort of like camping for Felicity.

She may have worn the same dress the whole time Briana was gone - day and night.  That might have happened.  And I might have given her a bath with wipes.  And she might have used the aforementioned dress as a giant tissue for her runny nose.  And it might have had a lot of little bits of food stuck to it.  And her hair might’ve been sticky. And...well I better stop before Briana freaks out.
day one
day two
day three

day four

As a guy, I have always refused to make my bed.  It seems like such a waste.  I’m just gonna climb right back into it in a few short hours (ok maybe 16 hours).  And I know it’s a terrible argument...what about brushing your teeth you say? The teeth are just gonna get dirty again...and what about showering...Listen, I get it.  But for some reason, I just don’t like making my bed.

Well, I applied this faulty logic to the house for the weekend.  Why clean up their toys every night when they are just gonna get them out again in the morning?  I decided that we were just gonna let it ride!  Saturday is chore day anyway and Briana will be back late Saturday night, so we’ll do a big cleaning then and nobody will know the difference.  And you know what? I was right. By Saturday everything was sparkling! Bam!

Stay-at-home-office Dad Project: Success!


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