Quality vs Quantity

“What we need,” said Dumbledore slowly, “is more time.”

I used to think playing a sport at the Collegiate  Division 1 level was one of the most time- consuming things in my life. Then I got a job as an elementary school teacher and and realized balancing my career with every day life was just as hard… And then I had a child; while I was an administrator in an elementary school and realized I had it all wrong, because this was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done…

…Fast forward four years, I now take on the role as a principal and added an extra 35 minutes to my drive, talk about time-consuming. After reflecting on my first few weeks… I’ve come to realize every new role you take on in life always becomes the next toughest thing you face. (Honestly though when I say toughest thing to face, I’m not talking about being able to handle the workload, or stress level, or anything of the sort. Those type of things come naturally to me and never have been much of an issue). Honestly, I don’t feel stress and pressure is not something that phases me. 

I will however, admit it’s tough spending time away from my little guy. My new role as a school principal takes up the majority of my day. When I’m awake… I’m think about being a principal, when I’m about to fall asleep… I’m thinking about being a principal, when I do fall asleep… I wake up and write down things that I thought about in terms of being a principal that I dreamt of while I was sleeping.  That has nothing to do with being stressed, or overworked, or anything of the sort. That has to do with being me. I’m detail oriented, dedicated and committed to what I do. I love what I do.  

Yet, now as I get home some nights at 7 o’clock… a quick hug, a kiss and a bedtime book is about all I get with Jackson. I know I’ve written about this before. This is not something new to me, or to any 21st century parent. Time is something that we all want more of… yet we will never get. There is always the quality vs quantity debate. But to be honest I’m not sure what to make of that when it comes to spending time with my son. Is there anyway I can get quantity AND quality time… at the same time… all the time? 

For now I have to accept the fact that I am doing what I love during the times I am not with him, and know that he is spending time with the people that also love him as much as i do when I am at work. Whether it’s mom, or Grammy, Mima or Auntie… I’m happy knowing he’s happy. 

After working a long day… Coming home to that hug and kiss goodnight means just a little bit more these days.  Just don’t be surprised if I read an extra book or two with him before bedtime… I’ll take quantity AND quality tonight please.

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/lost-time-is-never-found-again-benjamin-franklin/

A Principal, a Fireman and the Parenting Competition

Let me set the stage for the weekend:

11873413_1463770193949230_8997507016139013145_nTen adults… Eight children… Three days.

 

The odds were stacked against us from the beginning. We were the underdogs… the Rocky Balboa, The 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team.  We were not in charge, we were not even allowed to participate indecision making… but in the end… the dads won this weekend (just don’t tell any of the wives I said that!).

Weekends were made for this. The reason someone invented airplanes was for exactly this reason.  For mamas to reunite… for best friends to reminisce and laugh and cry… for guys to get an hour or two to golf…but most importantly for us dads to prove to the wives that these dads are top notch parents.

That’s how we went into this battle. Two sets of parents vying for parenting supremacy.  Two sets of friends… Two sets of souls mates vying for validation… Validation that their way of doing things is just as good or better then the others’.  Competition brings out the best in everyone…and sometimes the worst.  But it was this competition that would bring two sets of friends… parents… Together as one.

It all started with a golf game. A golf game that would include a peace of mind, a quiet solitude from baby food, diapers and wives.  A golf game that would include amazing shots, miracle putts and poison ivy… Friendship, comradery and just the simply pleasures that a freshly cut fairway can afford three fathers.

It ended with a trip to some girly place where mamas can go and chat about US magazine stories, the Kardashians and their idiot husbands.  A place where wives go to get away from the everyday hectic household nonsense.

In between that battle of the sexes consisted of some interesting events. Some favored the mommas some favorited the dads.

Highlights include:

One of the worst photos failures since the inception of the camera.

 Children taking over the house, the Oasis, the pool and the kitchen.

 
There was that incredible day… that dad day that will forever live in the history books.  The day where two dads accomplished things that any parent, including any of our Four Fathers (Danny Tanner, Carl Winslow, Tim Taylor and Philip Banks) would be impressed with.

The trip to the park which included a pretty heated argument with Big Pun and a splash pad was a hit!

There was the daring attempt at something no one has ever tried before… They said it couldn’t be done… The #TripleNap, the worlds most daring parenting move. Well guess what… Done. Beers were opened, mock drafts were drafted.

Yet, that is where our story of competitive parents attempting to outdo each other… For a new obstacle appeared in the horizon… an enemy so evil, so vicious that it would take he power of eight grown men and women to not only fend it off, but to defeat it and come out alive… Mystic Seaport and Aquarium.

Eight adults… Seven children… One small space and 100° of sweltering heat. We fought off all comers, anyone in our way was toast… Children running amuck through the rooms, stampeding their way from fresh water turtles to jellyfish. I was expecting to see one of our little ones turn up inside one of the tanks with the sharks (100% would have been Cameron and he definitely would have punched it in the face). 

 Things quickly got hairy kids and tantrums ensued. Screams and stares filled the aquarium. I dont know how this works yet because Jax isn’t at the stage yet where everything ends in fit . I’m sure when this begins I’ll want to just grab him and run him the hell outta the place. Be polite and respectful to the other people in the situation. That’s what we did. We gathered up our young-ins and made a mad dash for the cars.

On the ride home though I got to wondering about the procedures parents need to follow when their kid’s are throwing a fit. I’d like to think I would handle the situation as perfectly as Trevor Washington did (calmly walking out). But at what point do you just give up thinking about everyone else and say “Screw this, If I’m going to be miserable so is everyone else,” and just ignore the screams and stares and go on enjoying your day? You can’t fight the inevitable, right? As a wise man once said “Trying to keep a child contained is like trying to hold liquid jello in your hands. It’s impossible.” I mean in reality when will I ever see any of these people again. If their ears start bleeding too bad… Shouldn’t have come to a place that is frequented by parents and children. Who knows… But I’m sure we’ll find out soon. 

I’m left with those thoughts as well as the memories of an exhausting, but well worth it weekend. Seeing Jax enjoy the company of other children, especially those of such close friends and family is a joy in itself.

Until next time,

The Principal and The Fireman
PS: the dads tossed a shut out. We complete won this competition. We dadded the crap outta those kids!

Work, Work, Work

Seems like all anyone has time for around here is work!

Seems like all anyone has time for around here is work!

Somewhere along the way i forgot about enjoying the little things that continue to happen everyday.  I spend so much time doing the things that HAVE TO BE DONE everyday (feeding, diapers, bath, etc) that I feel like sometimes I don’t get a chance to just “get to know” this little dude.  His personality is 100% starting to come through and become more evident in his interactions with people and the world around him.

It really is amazing to see how fast he has developed the skills and strategies to start to problem solve and figure out how to get what he wants and or needs.  Even just spending the time playing a game or talking him through a “task” (get the ball or something like that) is a look in to his inner workings and how his brain is beginning to figure out how things work.

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The other day (while I was sitting in a meeting discussing instructional coaching, Mom and the little guy were at Romp and Roll Gym just having a grand old time.  I loved seeing the pictures of him navigating through the different obstacles that he encountered and hearing about his interactions with some of the other kids.

Every day is a new adventure with Jax… I wish I had more time to spend with him each day… but for now we are definitely maximizing the time we have together.

When is 60 > 1380

Let’s start with 1440

Jackson has been doing amazing in the sleep department, mom might disagree, but in all reality he is in bed by 7:00 and is up for good by 6:00 (with an occasional wake up somewhere overnight for a midnight snack).
-660

Work work work work work… I’ve heard if you love your job you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Wrong, it’s all work and I Love my job. It’s rewarding, helps make a difference in today’s society and so for the future. and it’s fun… But let’s face it it’s work.
-600

Getting home from work is nice until you realize that there are seventeen things that you said you’d do yesterday and didn’t have time for…
Unload and reload the dishwasher
-15
Fold and put away the laundry
-25
Take Buster and Max for a walk
-20

Add in that nobody’s eaten yet including the dogs.
-60

Now I’m more of a language arts guy but if my math is correct… If an hour has 60 minutes and a day has 24 hours, there are 60 times 24 minutes in a day:
24 x 60 = 1440 minutes

Upon adding up the minutes spent on EVERYTHING ELSE (1380) there’s only an hour left in my day to spend with my son. A little boy who I want to be around for 1440 minutes a day, I see for maybe 60. How can this be what I signed up for? How can this be what he signed up for?

Sticking to routines and setting aside certain activities specific to daddy time has really helped. Knowing that 60 minutes might be a small amount of time is less concerning when you spend those 60 minutes well. It’s the old “quality over quantity” theory.

There’s no way to get more time, we don’t get to add on… as each second is in all reality a countdown. But it’s what you do with the time you have that gives makes you who you are. That is where you build your legacy… And right now my legacy is the greatest thing to ever happen to me… My Son.

So when is 60 > 1380? When the 60 is spent with the ones you love the most.

Tubby Time is always something I make time for!

“Lost Time is Never Found Again” -Benjamin Franklin

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On my way home, I have to stop and pick up the dogs.  I still have at least 40 minutes of driving ahead of me… so even though I (guiltily) left work at 4:30 p.m., I know I am going to miss dinner with the wife and Jax. After getting home just in time to finish the last few words of another Dr. Seuss book, Ill finally make my way into my bedroom to try to put on some sweatpants.  I’ll probably fall asleep at the dinner table and soon, groggily rouse to check my work email, through together tomorrows lunches, if someone remembered to stop at the grocery store, empty and reload the dishes into the dishwasher and feed the dogs.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Maybe the fact that I’m lucky to get a half an hour with my wife and son on work days. 

Funny is really my specialty, or at least in my own mind funny is my specialty.  Yet, every now and again, I can really come back to reality and focus on the more serious issues that my wife and I are confronted with as new parents.  Beyond the normal questions we ask ourselves every day, “Why is his poop orange?”  “How long did he even nap for?”  “Are the dogs eating another dirty diaper?!!!”… We are constantly faced with the question of how we balance family time with our jobs.

I love what I do, I love the district I work for, I love helping students realize their full potential and support them in their journey to becoming lifelong learners.  I have no complaints about being an elementary school administrator… yet, there are times I feel like I am missing out on so much of my son’s life and that makes me wonder how do you balance your work with being a father?

The thing is… I don’t know… I’m not sure how I am supposed to do this.  I’m pretty sure I know what not to do… I’m pretty sure that I have made my share of mistakes over the past six and half months.  As part of this “blog thing” I try to read as much as I can by other dad’s out there.  I’ve read a few that list all these unrealistic ideas and I’ve read some blogs that talk more about the abstract.  The idea that quality is better than quantity when it comes to spending time with your family, is one that is generally common sense.  So if it… why is it so hard?

 Here are some of the things I struggle with the most:

Not just “being there”… When I am home, I often get calls from work or have to answer emails from staff and parents.  There’s always something to do.  There is always a problem to fix.  Isn’t this the bane of every working parent’s life?  For Stephanie and I to make sure that our attention is on the present, not what we have to work on tomorrow, we have been leaving our cell phones in another room.  It is hard to just unplug, but sometimes it is exactly what he need.

The commute… I spend more of my day in my car then I do with my family.  THIS IS A PROBLEM.  DO I really need to spend 2+ hours driving to and from work?  Is it necessary to live out of my car?  No, and for the past six months I just could not figure what to do.  I try to live by the philosophy of, “Worry about the things that are in your control to change.”  I had to make a change, I could not miss out on days of my son’s life because I was sitting in traffic on 84.  Sometimes the biggest changes in life happen for another reason than you originally planned… but often times those changes are for the best.  I knew I needed to make a change at work, and circumstances presented themselves and I did.  I made a move and in the process shaved almost 45 minutes off my commute.  I cannot- CAN NOT- express how much of a difference 45 minutes each way makes when you have a six month old!

The guilty feeling that persists after having to sneak into Jackson’s room at 6:00AM kiss his head and tip toes out is real.  It’s one of those “guilts” that sits on your chest like an elephant from those CPD commercials.  The guilt can and will eat away at you, and no amount of “make up time” with the family can do anything about it.  “Lost time is never found again.”  You know, Benjamin Franklin had a point.  In all reality though… I try to remember that something I cannot change, and that I have to make do with what I have.  I have to work, I have to travel… but I can make the best of the time I do have with my little man.

But for now, this father can shrug off the insane work load that comes with being a working dad, because as I write this I am right where I most want to be at home with my family.

“Do the things you say you will do… do or do not, there is no try.”

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