Fatherhood: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

That instant, over the moon, head over heels in love thing people say they have for their newborn? Fatherhood doesn’t feel that way for everyone.

We’ve all been there. I know this because we’re here now.

You have a child. You actually saw it happen. Well, some of it anyways.

Stepping into the nursery with the doctor, a detached numbness hovers, and you have a hard time deciding what’s actually going on. Whatever you feel at this moment, it’s primal yet mundane, maybe even profound, but…

A living thing is staring back up at you.

In my experience, there was no one around to tell me what to do. Even the imaginary audience in my head was silent. Not knowing what advice to offer, my brain conjured up scenes from movies and TV shows. My detachment only increased. Does anyone truly live in this moment? Wasn’t I supposed to be overwhelmed with love or joy or something?

My lizard brain, high on fumes, droned on about sleep. Reality no longer made sense. didn’t make sense. If the twilight zone existed, surely this was it.

“Hey, baby,” I said looking around, making sure no one was watching, “How’s it going?” It appeared to look in my direction, affecting a stank-face.

“Aw, you little punk-ass mofo, what’re you lookin’ at?” I said bobbing and weaving, as if I were talking shit to a friend.

The squirming infant screwed its face up and made a noise, “EEEEEEEEEEYI-AAAA!”

“Whoa! That’s a fucking scream!”

The nurse walked in, suddenly breaking this tender moment, saying she’d take the baby to our room. I left before her, strolling awkwardly down the hall, the rational part of my psyche placidly keeping pace, observing. Nothing came to mind.

Stepping into the recovery room, my wife stared at me, high off the epidural. My first thought upon seeing her was to proudly declare that the baby had already heard the word “fuck”.

Something had begun.

We walked out of the hospital that first day thinking that a doctor, some scientist, or clandestine government official would come out and tell us the simulation was over. The baby, a hologram, would dissolve in an explosion of light particles. Yet as the days passed, no one came, and we settled into a routine.

Nothing about the first few months felt natural. Parenting didn’t feel natural. I often felt myself going through the motions, barely existing between periods of unconsciousness.

When people asked how it was going, I gave it to them as straight as I could: “Well, the baby is still alive and I haven’t dropped her, yet.” Not exactly the answer they were looking for, but it was the one I had.

Everyone else fawned over the child, loving her instantly, but I felt myself struggling with affection. I hardly knew the baby. We hardly knew the baby. Sure it was cute, and I was fond of it, but I didn’t feel myself bursting with rainbows, sunshine, and love, like I was supposed to.

“Oh, you’re over the moon,” a well-wisher once assumed. “You’re so over the moon in love, aren’t you?”

I recall staring at her for a moment too long, not sure whether to laugh hysterically or scream. Instead, I nodded my head in vigorous agreement, “Yes! Yes, I am,” hoping she’d politely fuck off.

I guess I hadn’t reached that side of the moon yet.

Almost a year in, our reality continued to restructure itself, and days were dominated by a never-ending litany of tasks and background fatigue. Fatigue. A reality that’s intellectually easy to grasp, but difficult to experience. Breaks were few and far between, and only came when free babysitters showed up. Otherwise, we were on autopilot – automatons performing tasks, devoid of higher thought, but dutifully nurturing our growing parasite

After many 2, 3, and 4AM rocking sessions with the shrieker, we joked about which relatives or potential adoptive family would pay the most for the baby. Could we start a bidding war? Maybe whiskey-dipped spoons weren’t a myth…

Were we unusual in our sentiments about our child? Could we be accused of being horrible, unloving people for labeling our sweet lovechild a parasite, for starting a bidding war over her adoption, or resurrecting old cures for ill temper? I don’t think so. We were coping, as many of you out there have coped, with humor befitting our inexperience and fatigue.

Having and raising children is a strange and exhausting, yet sublime experience. The vast majority of you were/are probably like us: excited, nervous, and ignorantly thinking you’ll still know yourself after the sleepless rush of the first year. If you can’t laugh about it, you’ll crack. Besides, in our own way, we were bonding with the baby, who’s now earned all her proper pronouns and a name!

Plus, you know… We’ve had time to sleep on it.

So what’s love got to do with it? And when did love develop? I sure as shit haven’t answered that question in this short piece. But my non sequitur is that survival is everything. If you can survive the first year, you can sort love out later.

Also, it’s not a question that’s easily answered by many a first time parent. Looking back, you may see facets of it in the small things – first intelligible words, “thank you” (sadly, not an expletive), the first full tower you build together, just to knock it down, maybe even light saber battles in the dark and the first time they correctly pull guard.

Then there are the times when they inadvertently embarrass you in the family changing area after a swim lesson. “Daddy, I have a vagina and you have a penis.” Lots of people heard that one.

There’s also the image I have of mom and daughter walking to school for the first time. Fucking priceless. 

I still can’t easily define when I felt love for my child, but looking back, I don’t see it as missing. I see it as a thing that’s been growing alongside all of us from the start.

To My Dear Wife: This Is How I Truly Feel About You

Men have been conditioned to play their emotions close to the vest. Well, not today. Today, I”m going to tell you how I feel, my love.

Dear Wife,

I’m not good at telling you things. Real things. Things that come from the depths and make their way into your heart and soul.

It’s not that I don’t try to tell you these things. I do. But sometimes my words come out feeling cheap, like I chose the wrong time to tell you or I used the wrong words. I don’t really understand why this is.

You see, I have this great pool of emotion within me that contains all of my deepest feelings for you. But sometimes when I dip down into these waters and try to pour you a cup, all that comes out is a few drops. But not today. Today, I am putting into words how I truly feel about you.

If you’re a wife reading this, I would be willing to bet that your husband feels the same way. Despite what society tells you, we men feel deeply, even if we aren’t always great at showing that emotion to you.

You are beautiful. No, seriously.

There are times when I look at you and think to myself, I’m the luckiest damn man in the world. And I believe it down to the core of who I am. I exude pride because of you. I’m turned on by you. And yet, I know what happens when you look in the mirror. You see someone different than I see.

You’ve been forced into a Photoshop-world of freakish expectations and I grieve the times that you don’t see the bride that I see. I intend to spend my days silencing that judgemental voice with the sound of my own roar that says, “You are beautiful.”

I’m not Mr. Darcy but, damn it, I love you.

I can’t ever compare to Mr. Darcy, Edward Cullen, or any other “perfect” man. But, damn it, I love you with the force of a hurricane and I’ll be damned if I’m seen as less than these men. I may not have beautiful words to say, but I’ll change diapers and take the kids off of your hands until I pass out if it means showing my love for you.

No, you are not crazy. Your life at home really is hard.

I know you. You think that you should feel better, happier, and more content than you really are. But you’re in a tough phase right now at home whether it’s being woken up in the middle of the night or stressing about discipline. I want you to have the freedom to feel exactly how you feel and not put another “should” on yourself.

I see you. I hear you.

Sometimes in the midst of our crazy kid-filled life, we miss each other. I want you to know that I still see you. I see when you’re upset, tired, or bothered by something. I see your frustration when I get home late from work. I hear you when we’re fighting about something (even if I don’t admit it at the time). You – the real, deep you – are not invisible to me.

You need to take time for yourself.

I want you to be happy. The thing is, your happiness comes, in part, from taking care of yourself. Yes, we have needy children but you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help other passengers. Take a Saturday morning to yourself or go on a weekend trip with your girlfriends. I’ll be fine with the kids. 

You are my best friend.

You make me laugh. You’ve brought tears to my eyes. I love spending time with you. Anytime I experience something wonderful, something dreadful, or anything in between, you are the one I want to tell.

You are still number one in my life, even with the kids.

It’s easy to spend our time and energy focused on our children. However, I want you to know that my allegiance and my love is to you first, then to our children. Let’s make our marriage great and our children will follow suit.

I’m always going to be here for you.

You should already know this, but I want to say it anyway: if you fall ill and need me to take care of you, I will.

I want to help you.

I know you normally do the laundry and the cooking (and a whole host of other things). Let me help you. Tell me those times when you’re dragging and needing help. I’m here to help relieve you.

The Most Important Thing Children Need Is Just Love

As long as you show your kids that you believe in them, as long as you offer them love, warmth, affection, and support, your kids are going to be just fine.

“He needs to toughen up.”

It’s a line we’ve all heard more than once – sometimes from grandparents, from friends, or even from ourselves. We watch our children grow and we worry. We imagine them alone at school or moving out on their own and wonder how they’ll hold up when we’re not there to protect them.

We want our kids to be wildly successful adults, and so we spend our time worrying about the right way to discipline them, the right way to encourage them – the right way to manage every minute of our lives around them.

In the end, though, the thing that matters the most is love.

Whether you use the newest parenting techniques or trust the old wisdom, your children will grow up well so long as you love them. Parents who touch, talk and play with their kids, who are patient with them, and reassure them when they’re worried make great kids every time.

That’s not just sentiment – it’s fact. Parenting research has proven time and time again loving your children is the one thing that makes all the difference – in so many important ways.

Love makes a child’s brain grow.

From the very beginning, your love for your children affects how they develop. Your child’s growth has to do with more than just the food they eat and the exercise they get – love affects it, too.

Researchers looked at how well mothers supported their children when they tried to do a difficult task, and then checked back about 5 years later to do a brain scan. The more supportive the mothers were, the more the child’s brain – specifically the hippocampus – had grown.

This part of the brain controls how kids learn, how much they can remember, and how they handle stress. Children that are supported by their parents when they struggle get more than just a little help – they get bigger brains.

Supporting your children improves their self-esteem.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to raise a self-reliant child. We want our kids to be strong on their own so that they can learn how to believe in themselves. If they handle their problems on their own, we might imagine, they’ll get stronger.

It turns out, though, a child’s self-esteem really comes down to how much their parents support them. A study on middle schoolers found that the more kids felt their parents supported them, the stronger their self-esteem was. In particular, this had a big impact on girls, who need that external support just a little bit more.

As long as we believe in our kids, they’ll copy us – and they’ll believe in themselves.

Parental warmth makes healthier kids.

Loving your kids doesn’t just make them smarter and more confident – it even makes them healthier. One study sought to find out how childhood abuse led to heart problems later in life. What they found, though, was that it wasn’t just abuse that affected kids’ health – it was every little bit of love.

The more children felt like their parents gave them warmth and affection, the healthier the kids were when they grew up. Even when a child has been abused, their risk of cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol issues, heart disease, stroke and diabetes will go down – as long as they’re given a loving home.

Believing in your children improves their grades.

We try a lot of different things to help our kids succeed. We might fill them up with extracurriculars to strengthen their minds, or lighten their load to let them focus on school. We might push them to work hard on their homework or encourage them to let out some of that stress.

The thing that really makes the difference, though, is just believing that they can do it.

A study looked at how much parents believe their children can succeed, and found it made a huge difference. When they followed up a few years later, the kids whose parents consistently believed in their abilities earned significantly higher grades – an average, 0.21 higher GPA – than their less supported peers.

So try whatever parenting styles you feel you need to try. But remember, as long as you show your kids that you believe in them, as long as you offer them love, warmth, affection, and support, your kids are going to be just fine. 

30 Fresh Ways to Tell Your Kids You Love Them

There’s nothing more spectacular than feeling loved. Beyond saying three simple words, there are many special ways to share that feeling with our kids.

Every night I cuddle my children to sleep and take the chance to tell them I love them.

With my oldest child, we have a bit of a routine. I say, “Can I tell you something?” And she rolls her eyes playfully and says, “I knooooow” and I say, “What then?!” and she drawls, in a bored, five-going-on-15 kind of a way, “You love me.”

But she giggles and I giggle and we know its true. (It’s so true, it’s boring.)

“I love you” is one of those things we can’t say enough times and there are so many ways to say it. Words, acts of kindness, play, touch. 

Here are 30 fresh ways for you to let your children know you love them.

Now, I’m not gonna lie to you, some of these are serious cheese burgers so please use your common sense. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WRITE YOUR TEENAGE SON A LOVE LETTER FOR HIS LUNCHBOX. Pick something more subtle, less publicly shaming for him, okay?

Through code

My neighbors have a little family code. They touch their eye, fist bump their chest, and point. It’s their own sign language for I Love You. They say it to each other across a crowded room.

We have our own way of greeting. We bump fists and do a wavey thing and say, “High Five, Dolphin Dive.” My daughter picked it up from the playground but its ours now.

My friend told me about a code word they had growing up, “Toast,” and it meant that they were in big trouble when they got home. Their parents would issue it across a dinner table when visiting guest and the boys would know to improve their behavior. Eeek! I like a code word that instead says, “I love you,” in a secret language. Imagine bursting out with, “TrumpyCrumpet!” in a busy place just to let your kids know you love them. Gonna try it.

We recently changed the password for our old laptop, the one the kids use for watching movies, to “IloveRamonaandJuno” – I have to spell it out and show them the letters so they can type it in each time. It’s a little reminder in their everyday business.

Through writing

I was at a festival once and there was a “Love Fairy.” You wrote a note and gave it to her, with a description of who it was meant to go to, and she delivered it on your behalf. I did one for my daughter and her whole face lit up with glee!

How about writing a little love note and sending it in the mail to your kid? 

How about writing them a poem and leaving it on their pillow?

How about drawing them a little picture to put in their lunch box?

Write them a message in the steam on the shower window or mirror.

Chalk it on the pavement for when they get home.

For their birthday, consider writing 52 things you love about them so they can read one each week for the next year.

Through touch

There is evidence to suggest that healthy touch promotes happiness and well-being and can even make people better at what they do.

Shoulder massage. My daughter loves watching films. Often we’ve seen them 737,800 times (approximately) so I am not that piqued by the storyline any more. I take the opportunity to give her a shoulder massage. It is one way to connect with her when she is doing something potentially quite isolating.

Rough housing. Wrestling, tickling, gymnastics, bouncing on the bed. This is heaven for children. How to make sure they take up the invite? Just lie down and look like you are thinking about having a nap. They will open the can of rough house on your relaxing self. 

Hand games. We play “Catch the Hand” where I close my eyes and a child has to try and poke the palm of my hand and I have to grab it. I also trace in and out of their fingers singing the bunny song. Whoops bunny, etc. You know it?

Walking on my feet. They balance on my feet and I hold their hands and I make them walk, with my own feet. We can do this for years.

Kisses. All the kisses. Butterfly kisses. Nose rub kisses. Chin kisses. Kisses in patterns. Kisses to the tune of Christmas carols.

(Here are more ways to squeeze more loving touch into your relationship with your kids.)

Through acts of random kindness 

I think the world is somewhat run on random acts of kindness. I also think that the duty of care that comes with parenting can take some of the fun out of it. So how can we add the randomness to our kindness? By being a little imaginative.

Nighttime toy arranging. Neither of my children are really morning people. I don’t know where they get it from! (It’s from me.) Right after they get out of bed can be the trickiest time. So I’ve been doing little things like setting up their toy horses into a scene, having a tea party or competing in a race. It has made such a difference to our mornings!

Building a den for when they get home. I’ve surprised them with a whole magical fort for them to arrive home to after being out.

Strange sleepovers. One of the things I want to do more of is organize impromptu sleepouts in the forest and on the beach.

Sing your crazy love song. Record a song and dance declaring your love for them. (I am going to do it right now!)

Through Words

  • You are my favorite five-year-old!
  • I love your insides and your outsides!
  • I love you from your toes to your nose!
  • You are a precious treasure to me.
  • I love you no matter what you do.
  • I love you more than all the stars in the sky/ sand on the beach/grass in the meadow.
  • The day you were born my heart exploded in happiness.
  • Just looking at your face makes me smile.
  • Sometimes if I’m feeling sad, just thinking about you makes me feel better.
  • I want to fly a plane with a banner saying “I LOVE MY KID!”

(What are your favorite loving phrases to say to you kids? Tell us in the comments below!)

Esteemed psychologist Gabor Mate says, “Love felt by the parent does not automatically translate into love experienced by the child.”

We cannot be too deliberate in showing our children how much we love them. We want to raise children who have no questions about the extent of our love, who can count all the many ways we told them we love them. Who, when all grown-up and thinking about their childhood, can list example after example of times we showed our love beyond our diligent duty of care.

And maybe sometimes in our enthusiasm we will get it a bit wrong – a parental love song that accidentally gets put on Facebook. But you know what? No parent’s going to wish they were a little more reserved in their love, and no child’s ever gone to therapy for being too loved. I don’t think.

Read more on boosting the connection with your child on a daily basis.

How to Win the Heart Battle: Allowing Love to Conquer Fear

We can choose to parent from a place of love or fear. Setting our fears aside in order for our children to thrive is no easy task.

Two emotions drive every aspect of human life. One binds, the other separates. Love draws together. Fear pushes apart.

Both emotions exist in our heart, battling for control over our actions and reactions on a daily basis.

For me, years went by before I became cognizant of the emotional power play in my heart as it relates to parenting. When situations became sticky, my psyche too easily fell under siege while disciplining my kids, advising them on decisions, or teaching them about life. 

I love my kids deeply and never considered my actions brewing from any source other than love. The problem is, fear often initiates a preemptive strike, tossing a grenade in the bunker of our adoring.

The attack happens for many reasons. Including a lack of understanding and knowledge, inability to relate, or – a biggie for me – the disease of past experiences bleeding into our present circumstances.

Mindful discernment regarding our emotional state gives us pause to reflect on the attitude of our heart as we go through our days loving on our kids and making parental decisions. Self-discovery holds up a temporary white flag, enabling us to change the course of the battle plan if we see fear barking out marching orders.

My personal skirmish between love and fear in my mom heart began as a little stick fight when my kids were young, evolving into a full-fledged war as my kids have grown.

Of course I worried about their safety, health, and emotional well-being through various ages and stages in the developmental years. Panic trips to the doctor after only one day of the sniffles, head-to-toe armored gear before bike rides, and reading the “What to Expect…” series, volumes one through a hundred, over and over.

I could have just waited a few days for the boogs to dry up, decided a concussion was the only thing worry-worthy instead of every scrape and bruise, and simply enjoyed each phase as it came instead of fretting over whether my kid fell on the “normal” end of the spectrum.

Ugh.

Middle school ushered in drama, bullying, and the ugliness of peer pressure. The minor hand-to-hand anxieties evolved into perpetual worry. My mind fretted over whether my kids would endure emotional scarring, succumb to the plague of insecurity, and have the willpower for self-control. These normal, universal childhood struggles were crushing my mom heart.

Observing my kids navigate their adolescence was agonizing because my past is littered with tripped emotional land mines, most of which exploded in my tween years. My innocence was stolen early on, leading to chronic brokenness and vulnerable self-worth. The desire to inoculate my kids from contracting similar diseases, regardless of the source, consumed my spirit, allowing fear to launch a menacing invasion on my home front.

The high school years only heightened the intensity of the battle.

Driver’s licenses, dating, social media, ramped up peer influence, temptation around drugs and alcohol, prom nights, and all things wearing independence fatigues pose as potential threats to the well-being of our kids as they emerge into adults.

For this battle weary momma, the silent warfare caused a beat down. Then my kid’s high school, in which all three were enrolled, was the target of a merciless school shooting. An atomic bomb dropped into the inner chamber of my heart.

Fear became a superpower.

Although my kid’s precious lives were spared, the trauma of the event contaminated every layer of my mom heart. It wasn’t until I ushered my last kid out the door, marking the beginning of empty nest, that I realized how debilitating the panic and worry had become.

This past year, my kids, bless their beautiful hearts, risked exposing me to the ugly truth of my wayward parenting fears. One at a time, in different scenarios, they each gently brought to light that, although my intentions were good and from a place of love, many times my intercession in their life was morbidly bereft of strength.

Rather, my fearfulness was poisoning their ability to grow, accept failure, endure necessary suffering, find their own way.

I cry as I type this. Not because I’m beating myself up for the millionth time, but because my kids love me that much. They choose love over fear; modeling a healthier road map for me to follow going forward. 

Only God knows why I deserve these valiant angels of mercy who have met me at the front lines and placed a surrender flag in my hands.

“Give it up, mom. Stop the fight. Learn to trust.”

That’s what I hear them say even when their lips aren’t moving; their sentiment a tourniquet slowing the bleeding.

Love binds.

Fear separates.

Every feeling, opinion, judgment, and attitude we have stems from love or fear. When we make decisions, the launching point will depend on how we feel in the moment. Our actions, in turn, project one of those attributes to our kids.

How do we want our kids to approach life?

How do we really want to approach life?

My kids have cleared the way for love to conquer fear in my heart battle. All I need to do is surrender; be mindful of my heart’s condition. I’m doing my best.

That’s all any of us can do.

The Tender Notes Left With Orphaned Babies

A collection of notes found with orphaned babies is an intimate glimpse into impossible decisions and broken hearts.

Have your tissues handy.

These notes (some of them now centuries old) found with babies orphaned at the NY Foundling Hospital offer a powerful and intimate glimpse into what has always been — and will always be — a complicated, courageous, and heartbreaking decision.

Have something to add? Please let us know in the comments.

Source: Reddit User @pixeldustnz

We Are That Family

We are that loud, shameless, spectacle of a family who seems to bring attention—for better or for worse—to every location we occupy.

As I drove away from my house one evening last week, my daughter sloppily rode her bike with her mud boots on as her knees hit her chin.

It was her first bike ride of the spring. Her urgency to ride undermined her patience for letting me adjust the seat for the several inches she grew since the fall.

One of my toddler twin boys was crying and screaming because my partner wasn’t walking on the ‘correct’ part of the sidewalk as he peddled behind his big sister. And the other twin was somewhere in the garage, off of his bike, but still wearing his helmet while he hit himself in the head with a broom.

I drove away and thought we are that family.

We are that family, the family with two moms, twin toddlers, and a fivenager, all of whom have strong personalities willing to equally compete with or complement each other in the loudest ways possible—usually both within a 60 second time span.

We are that loud, shameless, spectacle of a family who seems to bring attention—for better or for worse—to every location we occupy.

We are the family with parents who yell too quickly, too loud and too often with kids who yell too quickly, too loud and too often.

We are the family with the almost naked or naked kids running around in the front yard, no matter what the season.

We are the family with the kids who wear all of their favorite clothes at once, achieving the fashion sense of gypsies.

We are the family with the kid who poops on the porch with the dog who then eats it.

We are the family at the playground with the seemingly mean parents who refuse to help their kids climb or play on a piece of equipment, because if they can’t do it on their own then they probably shouldn’t be doing it.

We are the family with the kids who throw tantrums in public while the parents hold their ground but die inside from frustration and sideways glances from onlookers.

We are the family with parents who tell other parents what assholes our kids can be.

We are the family with the mom who throws toys off of the front porch because the sound of three kids fighting over it is too much to take.

We are the family with the mom who then uses the broken toy as an example to their kids that they should never throw things because they could break.

We are the family with the kid who projectile vomits in a restaurant.

We are the family with one parent constantly looking like she is being held hostage.

We are the family at the park with the dog who jumps on top of picnic tables to greet strangers.

We are the family with confident, headstrong kids who would rather wear flip flops in the winter than be bothered with boots, with the parents who let them because they are trying to teach natural consequences but mostly because they are too exhausted to argue with their children.

We are the family with the parents who let their kids eat food off of the ground, floor, or out of deep recesses of the minivan.

We are that family, I told myself. But as I drove away from my family for a couple of hours to catch up with friends, I unapologetically owned it. Because with all of this, we are also the family who cheers quickly, loudly, and often for our kids’ successes.

We are the family who happily invites the neighborhood kids to join in on whatever shenanigans are happening in the front yard.

We are the family who will host a dinner party for all of the other parents willing to accept the fact that their kids can be assholes too. We host the parents in denial too.

We are the family who does not hide anger, joy, sadness, or gratitude.

We are the family who is thankful for the amount of laughter and friendship in our lives.

We are the family who goes on adventures that don’t go according to plan, but end up being special.

We are the family who always eats dessert.

We are the family who dances and sings like no one is watching, knowing full well everyone probably is.

We are the family who, for better or worse—usually for the better—lives and loves out loud.

We are that family.

The New Parent’s Guide to Getting the Most out of Date Night

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT start a date night without having a plan beforehand. “What do you feel like doing tonight?” is not part of the new parent’s date night vocabulary.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]1 | Plan Ahead[/su_highlight]

Use some spare time during the week to discuss plans for date night. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT start a date night without having a plan beforehand. “What do you feel like doing tonight?” is not part of the new parent’s date night vocabulary.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]2 | Prepare Logistically[/su_highlight]

Aside from taking time before the date to discuss plans, you might find it useful to take time to actually prepare the specifics of the date in advance. Whether that means getting a hair cut a few days before the date or renting your significant other’s favorite movies on your way home from work, you can definitely benefit from doing those things before you’re on that babysitter’s clock. Time is of the essence, people.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]3 | Plan some fun family time pre-date[/su_highlight]

Before my husband and I go out, we like to make sure we have some bonding time with our son. Since we have a baby, that looks like an evening round of elaborate hide-and-seek or reading his favorite books five or six times through before we go. Whatever it is for you, getting time with your little ones before a date is always a good idea. That way they will feel more relaxed when the sitter comes and you won’t feel guilty for having too much fun while you’re away.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]4 | Get energized[/su_highlight]

Re-charge from the day on your way to the date with a coffee or an energy drink. But obviously use a drive-thru because, here’s the thing: you’re a parent and therefore you do not have time to actually get out of the car anymore. NO STOPS ON THE WAY TO THE DATE.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]5 | Stay Close to Home[/su_highlight]

Sure, date night is great for trying out new restaurants or bars outside of your usual stomping grounds, but the last thing you want is for the majority of your date to be spent in the car. Staying nearby gives you the freedom to relax on your date without having to worry too much about drive times, traffic, or unforeseen circumstances. Then you can focus on what really matters: the perfect, beautiful, wonderful, glorious LOVE.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]6 | Shoot for More Activities in Fewer Locations[/su_highlight]

Lots of couples try to squeeze a ton of plans into a small period. This leads to lots of rushing around and stressing about getting where you need to be on time. For those couples, a good alternative is to go somewhere where many options are available in close proximity to one another. That’s where things like movie theater/bowling alleys and karaoke restaurants come in really handy. Dueling piano bars? Sure. Those too.

couple-romance

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]7 | Be Honest[/su_highlight]

Sticking to the plan is always good when it comes to using date time wisely. But hey, if your plans suck, make new ones! If you two discover that the modern art exhibit isn’t exactly what you thought it would be or you actually don’t know anyone at the boring charity event, just actually walk the eff out. Seriously, leave. You are parents now, you don’t have time for pleasantries.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]8 | Limit Screen Time[/su_highlight]

Oh great, another parenting article preaching less screen time. But at least in this case we’re talking about the parents themselves. It would be nice if we were disciplined enough to just say “no” to our phones for an entire night out with our soulmates. But the truth is, this is time off from parenting for a bit too, and we might want to spend a few minutes of that time on Instagram. Hey, that’s okay! But we can make the most of our date time by setting aside a big portion of the night as phoneless ahead of time.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]9 | CHILL[/su_highlight]

It’s a good idea to do something during the date night period that you wouldn’t be able to do on just any old night. But that could just mean eating an entire pint of ice cream and watching something R-rated. There’s no shame in getting a babysitter to Netflix and Chill. DO NOT BE ASHAMED OF WHO YOU ARE.

[su_highlight background=”#E08283″]10 | Check out your Date[/su_highlight]

Whatever the date night activity, take a few minutes out to just look at your sweetheart and think about how hot and funny and intelligent and all around great they are. Sneak your arm around their shoulder when they’re not looking. Flirt with them a little. Hell, cop a feel here and there. This is your night, parents. Take advantage of it.

5 Valentine’s Day Links to Share with Your Curious Kids

Snuggle up and add a little sweetness to your week. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Share quick links with your kids curated by Today Box. Today Box curates fun, educational videos and media for curious kids, parents and educators.

View past Internet Field Trips here.


Week of February 8, 2016

hamster eating spaghetti

A tiny bit of love is in the air. Crash a tiny hamster date.

cat snuggling lizard

Or snuggle up with a lizard in the sun.

dog shaking head

Drool over these shaking pups.

sea otters

Savor the sweet kisses and cuddles between this mama otter and her pup.

bottle

Exchange love notes across the ocean with these animated characters.

View past Internet Field Trips here.

View over 1,200 amazing kid-friendly posts on Today Box.

 

“Mama, she’s in your heart now. It’s ok.”

On Tuesday, I had to break the news to my four year old daughter that her very special “fairy godmother” passed away. Kathleen was beloved by many,

On Tuesday, I had to break the news to my four year old daughter that her very special “fairy godmother” passed away. Kathleen was beloved by many, as she marched about town with a rose topped cane, doused in the oil of the same scent, leaving a trail of beauty and compliments where ever she went. My daughter spent a couple afternoons a week with her drinking tea, drawing and chatting, in her tiny apartment filled with art and treasures.

They loved one another so.

When I told her, her jaw dropped, and her eyes bulged, the cartoon version of disbelief. “FOR REAL?”

“For real, love.”

Then, her face twisted up and she let out a wail. She cried from the depths of her very being while I held her tight, assuring, “She loved you very much. And she knew you loved her.”

A friend was hosting a gathering that I offered to take her to.

“But I’ll cry there,” she eeked out between sobs.

“That’s ok, love. Everyone will be crying. But we can hug other people who loved her. It might help.”

“Yes. I want to go.”

So we drove the few blocks in the rain as she wept in the backseat, “but…I…loved…her…”

She sobbed on the stairs once inside, a cup of tea in my hand, the other around her heartsick little body.

We are not religious people. Spiritual, sure. But still, I felt at a loss. Until another friend arrived. She quietly knelt beside my girl and offered this:

“You know, when people die, they become bigger than you can imagine. She’s everywhere now. So when you’re sad, you can talk to her. When you see something beautiful, you can tell her all about it. She’s in your heart now.”

For the first time in what felt like hours, she quieted down. As she pulled her damp face from my chest, she looked up and saw a little friend of hers, just three years old and too young to fully process what was happening.

Rising from my lap, she wiped her face and looked squarely at her friend.

“You can talk to her any time you want.” And off she went. All she needed to know was that her Love didn’t go forever. So simple, and such a beautiful understanding.

Yesterday, she found me sitting on the floor in her bedroom, stealing a few moments to stop fighting tears. Matter of factly, she placed her hands on my shoulders and locked eyes with me.

“Take a deep breath.”

She waited as I nodded and followed her direction.

“Better?” she asked

“Better.”

“Mama, she’s in your heart now. It’s ok.”

And with a lingering hug, she left me to eat a bowl of ice cream. Just like Kathleen would have wanted.