When faced with the prospect of a closed daycare, a concerned dad seeks out advice on how to fill the day.
My son has been without daycare for the past 7 days. When I first learned about the daycare closing, I was a bit concerned. We have come to depend on our daycare and its wonderful program since my now 2 year old was only 8 months. Back then it wouldn’t have been much of a problem if we faced this dilemma, but now that he’s a toddler – I had my doubts we would survive!
Toddlers are a lot like C4. Even before I knew I would have all this extra time with my son, I had learned my first important lesson pretty quickly on our Thursdays we spend together: an idle child is a destructive child. They are entropy incarnate, and they bring chaos to order unless you point them at something. Whether you point them at books, or blocks, or train sets, or playgrounds, you need to shape the blast to prevent unnecessary collateral damage.
So here I am, trying to plan things, with no idea what I should do. All I was picturing was a decimated house, Thomas trains (the die-cast metal ones to boot), and Legos scattered about the floor. I feared seeing strawberries smeared on the walls and me in the center of it all, in the fetal position, clutching at the last scant strips of my sanity and an unopened beer (actually not too far from a normal day, minus the food and the fetal position). It is this moment when I channeled my inner Commissioner Gordan signaling Batman and threw up the ‘Dad Signal’, which led to my second important lesson learned.
I learned as a father it is extremely helpful to have a network to rely on – individuals in similar situations who have experience that they can draw upon to help you when you are in need. Having a support structure has been a huge help, since I tend to get anxious in certain situations when it comes to my son. I turned to my network for help (third important lesson learned: no one is above asking for help), and in no time I was inundated with responses. My friend Jeff Tepper, who writes at ‘Ay Yo, Be A Father’, told me to look at our local libraries for some ideas. He had a similar experience with his son when his son’s school flooded, and the library they went to helped out quite a bit.
I took his advice, and it turns out there was a library branch right by me that I had never even thought to try. We own a ton of books, so it never would have crossed my mind that the library could be a resource in providing experiences for my son. Suffice it to say, the experience was a huge hit. Our library is beautiful and has a huge focus on children’s books. We went to a story time today and had a blast. My son also went nuts for the bubbles at the end! What is with kids and bubbles?
Going out to read ties in well with what my other friend Al Watts, President of the National At-Home-Dad Network had to say: “get out of the house with him at least once every day, even if it is to go walk the aisles at Home Depot or something.” Just a change of scenery can change the mood and stifle wanton destruction in a toddler. He couldn’t have been more correct.
Al also reminded me that most large cities have a City Dad’s Group that hosts meetups. I live in New York, and our group is very active and involved. While I haven’t had time to bring my son to a meet up yet, I did join the New York group, and I am looking forward to going to quite a few meetups in the near future. They have great things to offer kids and dads – whether they are newborn babies or older school age kids. These meet ups provide anything from new dad boot camps, to toddler play and playground tours. Everyone should check out Facebook to see if their area has a chapter, and if not, you might want to start one!
Today starts week two without daycare. I came into this worried, anxious, and scared. I have park play dates lined up, friends coming by to keep us company, and trips to the library aplenty. My son has been active, but focused, and couldn’t be happier. There are still toys strewn about the floor, but that battle can be fought another day. I’ll take my victory and continue to thoroughly enjoy all this special time I’m getting with my son.
Photo: Flickr/Kenji Thien Hoa
Originally appeared on Just Another Dad
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