What’s the Best Baby Stroller?

Now you’ve got your little one home all day, and you realize one of the great truths of being a stay at home parent: it gets boring.  You’re going to want to get out of the house, and for that, you’ll need to transport your little nugget.  So, what’s the best baby stroller to transport said nugget?  Deciding which type(s) of stroller to buy feels a lot like going to a vending machine when you’re hungry, but you only have a dollar.

decision time

Fear not, fellow father!  To most  accurately answer that question, all you need to know are two basic things:

  1. What type of transportation are you doing
    and
  2. How many children you’ll be taking

Two general types of strollers

There are, generally speaking, two types of strollers: Umbrella Strollers, and “travel system” style strollers.  They both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Umbrella Strollers:

Pros:  Light, quick to set up and get going with, inexpensive.

Cons: Doesn’t have a transferable car seat, doesn’t scale.

Ideal scenario of use: You want to get outside and walk to the local coffee shop and meet a fellow mister mom for coffee.  You can just throw junior’s shoes on, plop him in the stroller, snap the buckle, and clickity split – out the door in three minutes!

Breakdown: Umbrella strollers are great for quick walks with the little one.  And I mean only one. You will have a hard time finding a cost-effective umbrella stroller that seats two. I haven’t found any, yet. If you know of one, drop a message in the comments section below. I will check it out, and if it’s legit, I’ll add it to my list of mistermommy-approved strollers!

Travel-System Strollers:

Pros: Scalable, interchangeable with a car seat, can travel long distances.

cons: Heavier, can be frustrating to install the car seat basemore expensive.

Ideal Scenario of use: You are taking your child(ren) to your significant mother’s house, who lives a respectable 45 minutes to an hour away.

Breakdown:  Travel systems are a must have.  If you could only have one type of stroller, it would be this type. Because of the fact that the baby seat is interchangeable from the stroller base to the car seat base, this is literally the only type of stroller that you actually need.Throw in the fact that once (if) you have more than one, your umbrella stroller will be relegated to the garage until one of your mini mes can walk, this is hands down the most practical solution to your travel needs.

The Verdict

While umbrella strollers are convenient for quick outings with one child, they’re not the most practical when it comes to long distances or for dads with multiple children.  For these types of situations, travel systems are the only way to go.  Because of their scalability, their versatility, and their reusability, they are really the only type of stroller you need, but most people have both.  However, don’t spend the big bucks on the umbrella stroller, as these are better spent on travel-systems. After all, if I was going to spend most of my budget for the month on strollers, I would definitely be putting the majority of it into the one that will potentially save my child/ren’s life/lives should the unthinkable happen and I got into a car accident!

Mister Mommy Recommends

If you need an umbrella stroller, I recommend The Rocket Lightweight Stroller by Baby Trend available on Amazon.com. It’s an excellent balance of price (less than $50) vs. durability, won’t break on you, and it’s one I have used for both of my children.

If you need a travel system, I recommend the Graco FastAction Fold Travel System, also available on Amazon.com.  Graco is a world-renowned car seat manufacturer, so, I exclusively recommend them when it comes to anything car-related for children.  It’s less than $200, and it’s an investment that you won’t regret making.

 

 

Dad holding his son

The Importance of a Father

This post is personal to me, and not just because I’m a dad. America is suffering from a lack of strong father figures, and I believe this is the greatest threat to our nation’s well-being to date. It has effected me already, and most people know someone who has grown up without a father. Ask them what issues they faced as a direct result of the lack of a dad, and you’re likely to get a variety of responses. Spoiler alert: none of them are good. Read on to find out why I take my job as father very seriously, and why you should, too.

 

The Problem: An Absence of Fathers at Epidemic levels

According to data from 2017 from the U.S. Census Bureau, one in four children in the United States is currently growing up without a father figure. So, including biological, step, and adoptive fathers, 25% of our nation’s children have no paternal influence whatsoever. The effects on our children are devastating, as the data below clearly dictates.

According to information from the same data, children who grow up without a father suffer an increased risk of:

Poverty: 4x Greater Risk

Teen Pregnancy: 7x Greater Risk

Infant Mortality: 2x Greater Risk

Obesity: 2x Greater Risk

High School Dropout: 2x Greater Risk

Additionally, children without a father figure in the home are more likely to:

Have Behavioral Problems

Have Issues with Drugs/Alcohol

Commit Crime

Go to Prison

Be abused and/or Neglected

Clearly, this has done incalculable damage to not only individual children, but to society as well. If one in four people were suffering from a disease, it would be considered an epidemic of catastrophic proportions easily sufficient to declare a national emergency.

The Solution

So, what’s the solution?

In part, it’s a problem of ignorance. Most men (and by extrapolation, most fathers) just aren’t aware of how important we are to a child’s well-being. Sure, we know what we see in the movies and on TV about “daddy issues” and the like, but I was shocked when I read the data from the U.S. census. If someone told me that leaving my children alone with their mother increased the likelihood of them having drug problems, committing crimes, being arrested, going to prison, suffering from childhood obesity, and that this was all traced back to my absence, you can bet I would do just about anything in my power to stay in their lives! Sadly, I honestly believe that most men just don’t know what our mere presence in our children’s lives does for them.

However, ignorance is only part of the problem. An equally alarming issue is that so many children are being born to parents who aren’t in a committed relationship. Getting married (or forming an equally committed relationship) and staying married has tremendous benefits for children. According to a study conducted over 20 years ago, children who are in single-parent households are almost twice as likely to repeat a grade.

I am not saying that mothers aren’t as important as fathers. I am saying, however, that the data clearly indicate that it takes both parents to raise a healthy, well-adjusted child into adulthood. If you’re struggling to co-parent, are divorced, or need help to communicate in a constructive, non-confrontational manner with your child(ren)’s other parent, Our Family Wizard can help.

For Me, It’s Personal

me and dad

Me and my dad

 

As I said in the beginning of this post, for me, this is personal. I grew up without a dad. My father died when I was just four years old. He was a Vietnam veteran who probably fell through the cracks as many returning vets did after their tours in Vietnam, and died of cirrhosis of the liver; literally drinking himself to death. My mom told me that he used to sit with her and cry because he knew he wouldn’t live to see me become a man. My heart aches for him even more so now that I am a father. When I look at my boys, and imagine knowing that my time would come before being able to help them become men, my voice grows so thick with emotion that I can barely speak. Many of the things that are listed as more likely to occur when a child grows up without a dad happened to me: I was abused during my adolescence, I am an addict (in recovery), I committed crimes, was in foster care, went to prison, suffer from obesity (although, thanks to my personal trainer, I’m getting that under control), and I barely graduated from high school. As I’ve gotten older, I have become increasingly aware how the lack of a strong (or even positive) male influence in my life affected me negatively. I resented my father for years after his death. It wasn’t until I became addicted to substances and eventually found my way to recovery that I was able to see him in a human light, and thus forgive him. Today, I hold no resentment towards the man who was my father. All of these experiences have only served to strengthen my resolve to be the best dad I can be to my sons. The importance of a father can’t be overstated!

If you’re a dad, and you found this page helpful, drop me a comment below, and please share it with the other dads you know!

All the best,

~Tom

smiling_baby

Happy Father’s Day! So, you’re a dad now. Congratulations are in order. Now, sit down and grab a drink; you’re going to need it. From the first moments after birth to several years after becoming a father, my role has changed drastically from a support role, to primary caregiver, wrestling partner, teacher, and a hide-and-seek guru. Everyone has some preconceived notions about how a dad should act, but almost no one talks about how a dad feels. Below, I discuss the way it feels to be a dad, from first moments to sleepless nights, to the often times infuriating toddler stage. The rewards of this duty are endless, but you’ll be tested along the way.

First Moments

Your baby was just born. Happy Father’s Day. Your hand is still sore from the crushing grip of your partner’s near superhuman strength during what is probably the most painful thing she’ll ever experience. The doctor turns around and hands your newborn to its mother. You stand there, waiting, breath held, to hold this precious miracle that you’ve been waiting to meet for the past three quarters of a year. Then, after about 10 minutes on mommy, it’s your turn. She looks up at you as you pick up your child, and for that precious second, time stops. The moment that you first touch your newborn son or daughter is forever burned into your mind, and you feel the enormous, wonderful, terrifying, beautiful responsibility that you are now entrusted with: welcome to fatherhood.

Playing a Support Role: Being a Great Dad Isn’t All About the Child

back_massage

Let’s be honest: for the first few months of life, babies aren’t that fun. They cry, poop, pee, sleep and eat. I used to joke with my wife and often said that “It’s a good thing they’re cute, or I’d want a refund!” Don’t worry, if you’ve ever felt like all you do is support mommy during the first few months, you’re doing exactly what you should be! Getting her a drink of water, tea, coffee, rubbing her feet, giving her a back massage, or cooking dinner are all examples of being a great dad during this time. It sounds counter-intuitive, but often times, being a great dad has less to do with your “dad skills”, and more to do with being a great partner, especially at this early stage, when baby needs mommy 90% of the time. Sometimes, this made me feel like a third wheel, especially after my first, when there were no other kids in the house who needed me. I found myself getting jealous of my wife at times, because she had these magical things attached to her that would instantly pacify our crying child: breasts. Indeed, not much makes a man feel as useless as a crying infant.

Maternity Leave is Over; Time to Step Your Game Up

Stressed_dad

I still remember the first day my wife went back to work. I was so nervous. What if TJ started crying and I couldn’t get him to stop? What if he got sick? What if i needed my wife and I couldn’t get in touch with her? What if I couldn’t do this? What if no one on God’s Earth answered the phone if I got overwhelmed? Okay, that last one was unlikely to happen, but, you get the point: I was afraid; afraid of not being good enough, afraid of not being able to keep up with the growing list of responsibilities, while maintaining existing ones, such as keeping the yard mowed (TJ was born in July, and in the Philadelphia area, the grass needs cut well into September), doing the dishes, keeping the house clean, etc. In reality, all the existing responsibilities come second to your number one responsibility as a new dad: Keeping your wife and your child alive, happy, and healthy. As long as that is done, you’re doing your job as a new daddy.

Year one

TJ_first_birthday

This is the first year of the rest of your child’s life. By the end of his first year, my firstborn was able to walk, and he would say “Dada!” when I walked in the door from work (still one of my favorite memories). He learned to laugh, learned the basics of hide-and-seek, and he took his first steps. We played games such as, “Where’s TJ…. There he is!” (I would hold him, and look over his head or around him while asking where he was, then, pretend that I just noticed him, and act overjoyed at “finding” him while shouting “There he is!” which he found incredibly entertaining.)

All of this was extremely fun, but there were countless nights where my wife would wake me, frustrated because she couldn’t get him to go back to sleep after feeding him, and ask me to put him to bed. I became very adept at “gliding” him; the term I coined for sitting in the nursery on the gliding chair, and rocking him to sleep while singing or humming a little melody. This was my first “dad is better at this skill.” While I wasn’t always happy to be woken up for this duty, it did feel good to be needed. For me, this marked the end of the “third wheel” phase of child rearing.

Year two

TJ_feeding_Rowan

By his second year, TJ was running around the house like a madman, had a younger brother, Rowan, and enjoyed helping with Rowan whenever possible. He was developing an increasingly robust vocabulary, and I enjoyed teaching him, watching him learn new things, and watching him incorporate this new knowledge into his repertoire of skills and abilities. There are times, however, that I feel overwhelmed with Rowan, and it can be difficult to remain patient with TJ when Rowan is crying. I learned from watching my wife, who is an incredible mother, to include TJ and ask him for help. He is, after all, an individual who wants to be included in the goings-on of the household, and he can be counted on to complete simple tasks to help with Rowan, such as getting a diaper and wipes, holding Rowan’s bottle for him (with supervision; as he will soon become distracted, stop holding the bottle at the correct angle, thus infuriating Rowan and leading to more screaming), and cleaning up after himself.

You’re a Dad now!

father_catching_child

Any man can father a child. It takes a special kind of man to be a “dad.” If you’re reading this, you are most likely in the second category. From first moments and supporting your child’s mother, to having a second child, drafting your firstborn into the duty roster, and proudly watching him or her acquiesce to the task, I can promise you that your journey as a father will be unlike anything that you have ever experienced before; beautifully unpredictable, at times incredibly frustrating, tiring, and trying, but always rewarding. I hope you find the journey full of fun, laughter, and love. Happy Father’s Day!

 

Hello fellow dads! I thought I’d make a page where I gathered some of the most helpful tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the past few years on my journey as a father. Check back regularly, as I will undoubtedly be revisting this topic as I learn more about how to dad!

How to Properly Pick up and Hold A Car Seat

    This How to dad tip is a game changer. The other day, while waiting for my wife at the eye doctor’s office, I picked up my younger son’s car-seat with him in it. A woman who was sitting nearby said, “Wow, I wish I had known how to do that when mine were little. That looks way easier!” What, you may be wondering, is this method of picking up, holding, and carrying a car seat that makes such a difference? It’s a very simple trick that’ll save you a lot of swearing (under your breath, of course), and a lot of tired arms.  First, place the car-seat with the child facing your back. Then, stand next to it, bend at the knee, and put your arm around and down the handle, placing your hand against the joint of the handle and the car-seat itself.  Finally, stand up. The weight of the car-seat now acts in such a way as to hold itself up against your arm, rather than just being down force that you have to muscle through.

step one: stand next to the car seatstep two

 

 

 

 

The Boppy: An Indispensable Tool

Let’s be honest: even Superman had to put Lois down after he was done saving the day. Having a safe place to put your child down is a requirement. This how to dad tip will spare you the  screaming, crying, and other sounds of protest that children often make when you need to put them down and walk away for a minute. You’re not going to want to put your child into his or her crib and walk away every time you need both of your arms. Additionally, unless you want to have problems when it comes to getting your child to sleep on their own, I wouldn’t advise you to associate anything with the crib that may be perceived by your baby to be unpleasant.

So, what’s a dad to do? Enter the boppy. This little miracle is a U-shaped pillow that mom may already be using if  breast feeding. She will most likely sit with the pillow around her waist while feeding your child, but, that’s not all this little stuffed miracle is good for. You can also feed baby this way, too using a bottle (which I highly recommend, as feeding times are excellent bonding opportunities).

Furthermore, you can use the boppy as a stepping stone to tummy time. After your baby is fed, and has had a nap recently, you can lay them down on their stomach, with their legs at the opening and their head at the bottom of the “U”. This will assist them in gaining the arm and back strength required to hold that noggin up and look around!

They also provide a safe place to set baby down without fear of him or her rolling over (never leave your child unattended on a couch, chair, or anything else, as accidents only take seconds to occur; the safest place to set your child down is the floor).  Below you can see my youngest sleeping soundly in the boppy.  A safe baby is a happy baby!

RowanBoppy


Preparedness is Key

If I had a dollar for every time I felt unprepared or under prepared for the day with my kids, I wouldn’t need to work for the next year or two.  Setting yourself up for success is critical to having a great day with your kids.  This means getting enough sleep (something that I need to do more of), having the next bag of mother’s milk warmed up before your little one begins showing signs of hunger, having a well stocked changing station, etc. When you’re playing “catch-up”, you’re not in the best position to be present, in the moment, where children live.  Have you ever seen a child under the age of seven worry about tomorrow? Me either.

Kids live in the now (especially before the age of two).  That’s why a baby with gas pains screams as if they’re dying; to them, the pain will never end. All they know is that it hurts right now. No amount of cooing, cuddling, or soothing singing is going to help until the pain ends. This is why so much about being a good dad is what you do when you’re not with your kids (i.e. when they’re asleep).  Next time both of your kids are down for a nap (which can seem in and of itself like a natural miracle on par with a total solar eclipse), take this opportunity to think ahead, and prepare!

Preparing implies a little bit of planning. Just know that the old adage “Man plans, God laughs” applies universally. Have a plan, but remain flexible when it doesn’t go accordingly.  No one likes a grumpy dad!

 Incorporate and Include Your Kid(s) into Your Day

This is probably the most rewarding aspect of fatherhood to me, as it incorporates all aspects of life into the experience: communication, chores, responsibilities, fun, and work are all included here.  For example, when I need a hand with my younger boy, I can ask his older brother to help me out and hold the bottle for a minute while I go defrost more milk. This teaches TJ, our older son, several things, such as how long “a minute” is, the responsibility of making sure that Rowan is being fed for that time period (mindfulness and attention span), the importance of teamwork, as well as having the effect of bonding him with his little brother.

Another activity I enjoy doing with my kids is using them as weights to work out with.  Our older son is almost 40 lbs now, which is more than enough to curl, shoulder press, and use to increase the difficulty of squats.  TJ loves working out with me, and I get the benefit of getting rid of my dad bod!

TL;DR

Picking up your kid in a car-seat, and holding them or walking with them for long periods of time isn’t always easy, but it can be much easier if you do it correctly.

Get a Boppy (or use the one you already have). They are useful for more than just feeding your child.  From progressing to unassisted tummy time to a safe place for your baby to have a nap, a boppy is a sound investment!

Be prepared, as much as possible. This will free up more of your time to enjoy the present moment with your little one(s).

Include your child(ren) in your day! This not only makes your job as a father easier, but also provides endless opportunities for them to to grow, learn, and mature. And, you may even get a workout partner!

No one is born knowing how to dad; it’s a learned skill. What are some of the tips and tricks you’ve found to be most helpful? What was the biggest game changer for you? Feel free to share them in the comments section below!

~Tom
Proud Mr. Mom

 

     Welcome to MisterMommy.com! My name is Tom, and I’m a stay at home dad, a job which I take very seriously.  At this website, you will find resources for stay at home dads, true stories about kids and the sometimes serious, often times hilarious things that they say and do, personal perspectives on the importance of fatherhood, and more!

Story of a (reluctant at first) Stay at Home Dad

After our first son, TJ was born, I was able to work part-time for Starbucks. I didn’t hate the job, but it was frustrating to see other, less qualified, much younger people get promoted over me simply because their availability was open. Being a dad put a cramp on my hours of availability, especially once my wife returned to her (much) higher paying job. My hours were reduced at that point to weekends, with a small window of availability on Tuesday mornings from 4:30 AM to 11:00 AM. So, my wife and I felt like two ships in the night as we sailed past each other every Saturday, Sunday, Friday night, and Tuesday morning.

Starbucks at night

Shortly before my second son, Rowan, was born, I resigned from the illustrious, posh life of a barista and started working at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility as a clinical aide. As a recovering addict myself, I thought this would be a fantastic way to give back to the community, and provide a venue in which to “give back” by helping others who were going through something that I had direct experience with and had overcome. The only drawback was that this position was overnight.

Once Rowan arrived, it became abundantly clear that this new overnight position was unsustainable. I would wake up at 10:00 at night, drive to work, work from 11:00 P.M. to 7:30 A.M. and be home by 8:00, just in time to kiss my wife goodbye as she walked out the door for her 9 to 5. At noon, my mom would come over to babysit our sons so that I could (try to) sleep, although I never really got more than 4 hours of sleep a day combined for those few months.

Ultimately, I ended up losing my position at the rehab facility after I told them that once my wife’s maternity leave was over, I would only be available part-time on the weekends.

I found myself feeling trapped, isolated, and, quite frankly, feeling like I wasn’t a “man”, and not just because I wasn’t the breadwinner of the family. I was getting out of shape, my health was starting to suffer, my relationship with my wife was routinely getting placed on the back burner, and I didn’t know how I was going to “make it”, or even what “making it” looked like. All the support I was able to find online was geared towards stay at home moms, or at best, gender-neutral stay at home parents.

Something needed to give, as the culmination of this stress was robbing me of the most important thing that I had to offer my children: my undivided time, energy, and presence.  It was this “perfect storm” of events that led me to create mistermommy.com.

My Mission

In a nutshell, I want to help fellow fathers who face similar struggles understand that they aren’t alone, and that they can still achieve their goals, while being an awesome dad! Whether it’s finding time to hit the gym, finding other parents in your local community, arranging play dates, providing links to outside resources in your area, sharing tips and tricks, making new friends, or just having a good laugh at some of the hilarity that ensues during the journey, my hope is that you will find it here.

Not an Island

My goal is that no father ever feels alone in their journey. No man is an island unto himself. We all need help from time to time, and I hope that this website will be a place of refuge, a source of strength and friendship, and a resource for all things “dad”!

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Tom

www.mistermommy.com

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