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Tips For Dads

Tips For Dads

Parent Tips > Clubs, Play & Support Groups > Tips For Dads

Enlisting Your Family's Help

Submitted By: Susan True, Executive Director First 5 Santa Cruz County

Parenting can be an extremely rewarding experience. It can also be demanding, exhausting and stressful, especially when juggling it with work and other life tasks. If you are a parent that feels overwhelmed by the demands of home life, work life and personal life, you are not alone!

Here are some Triple P tips you can try right away to encourage sharing in your child or children.


Make yourself a priority. One way that parents can find more patience and time for their child is to make sure they also find time for themselves. Taking care of your own needs for intimacy, adult companionship, recreation and time alone will help make parenting easier. When our own needs as adults are neglected, it is so much more difficult to be calm, patient, and consistent with our children. Don't aim to be the perfect parent. If you are spending plenty of quality time with your child and they are a cared for in a safe environment, a break away once in while will do both you and your child a world of good. Even starting with 20 minutes a day or 2 times a week of doing something you enjoy will help tremendously.


Work as a team with your partner. A home runs more smoothly if tasks are shared and everyone is on the same page. With your family, write a list of tasks that need to be done on a weekly basis and divide them up amongst all family members, including adults and children, who are old enough to contribute.


Set some time aside to talk to you partner about ground rules and discipline tactics to ensure you are on the same page when a situation arises. It is important not to contradict one another or argue in front of the children. Save these discussions for when the two of you can speak in private. Making sure that you are giving and receiving practical support from your partner will help you feel more stable and able to better handle the juggling.


Teach children to do things for themselves. The more children learn to look after themselves, the more they are likely to develop the skills they need to be successful. Skills such as getting dressed, putting dirty and clean clothes in the right places, eating by themselves, clearing the dishes, putting toys away, making their own beds,  are skills that children after a certain age can easily attain and participate in. This not only frees up your time to attend to other needed tasks, but it helps your child become independent and confident.


Be organized and develop routines. Being organized can prevent major stressors from arising.  For example: have a special place where keys and wallets go; cook the weeks' meals on the weekend; do laundry on a set day of the week; ask the children to pick out their next days clothes the night before; pack the kids bags the night before. These will all help in getting out the door with less stress and in a timely manner. Developing a morning routine will also help move everyone a lot more smoothly. Your children may want to write/draw out the routine so they  can 'read' it and follow it on their own. A morning routine might look like this:

  • Wake up at 7:30am
  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Brush your teeth
  • Get jackets and shoes on
  • Leave the house

Offering descriptive praise and encouragement when children follow these steps on their own will motivate them to continue to demonstrate their ability to be independent.


Have realistic expectations and avoid being overcommitted. Sometimes parents have unrealistic expectations of themselves both in their home life and at work. It's important to recognize when there is too much on your plate and to be able to re-negotiate achievable tasks with friends, family, or employer. Learning to say 'no' will make life a lot easier. When you feel overcommitted, it is essential to assert your needs (to your friends, family, employer) and let people know what you are able to take on at that time. If you are a working parent, take time to familiarize yourself with your agency's policies regarding family leave and flexible work hours and discuss and negotiate these needs with your employer ahead of time.


Make your family a priority.  When you are at home with your children, do not spend a lot of time thinking about your work or other outside tasks. Physically and mentally separate your family time and work time.  Your children know when you are distracted and may try to get your attention in ways that are not desirable. You will be more productive at work and with your other tasks if you are able to relax and enjoy your children when you are with them.


Enjoy time with your children every day! It may seem like a small thing, but time spent enjoying your children can be the most rejuvenating of all! Quality time doesn't have to be extravagant or expensive. Sometimes just reading a book together or going for a walk can help. Other days, a big hug is all it takes! Remember that letting your child initiate an activity and just following her lead for twenty minutes will help her feel important to you and help you understand her more.


Making sure that you, your partner and the kids are happy and healthy is not an easy task! But taking it one step at a time and getting the right support from the rest of your family will make being a parent doable and enjoyable!  Remember, these small changes, can make big differences!


If you are interested in learning more about the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) and services available, contact First 5 Santa Cruz County:  visit or contact Stephanie Bluford at (831) 465-2217.


Written by Susan True, Executive Director First 5 Santa Cruz County

A Title to Last a Lifetime

I can't think of anything that can single-handedly warm a man's heart like the day his baby first calls him, Daddy.? It instantly brings tears of pride to the burliest, sideburn-wearing, tattoo-covered, Harley-riding dad on God's green earth.

I'm a proud pop of two incredible girls, a four year old, and a three month old. The little one hasn't gotten around to talking yet, but when my big girl calls me Daddy, I feel as though the baton of fatherhood has been passed down the generations and I'm running the next leg of this prestigious race. I ceremoniously hold in my lap the responsibilities of being my girls protector and provider. I'm their hero, the Keeper-Away of Monsters, the Kisser of Boo-Boos, the Lap of Cuddledom.

As most fathers, I watch my little ones and wonder where the time has gone. They grow like bean plants. How much longer will they need me? When do the monsters disappear? When will they put on their own Band-Aids? When will my lap be too small? When will I no longer be Daddy, and instead, just Dad??

I have a frighteningly strong, thick-skinned, fifty-three year old mother. Last summer on a trip to San Diego, I got the news that her father had passed away, my grandfather. I left my wife and my, then, only daughter to attend the service in New York, where I met up with Mom. Although she loved her father dearly, she was very practical when it came to his passing. He'd live a full life. He hadn't suffered. He was ready. She told me, I'm not so sad for Dad, but more for Mom.?

The service was very emotional. The casket remained opened during the funeral. My grandmother cried. My cousins shed tears. My uncle wept. But Mom held it together. My mom is the paragon of strength. Always has been. Through her strict determination she raised me single-handedly. She put her life on hold for me. She protected me and provided for me. I never imagined that she ever needed to be provided for, that she needed to be protected.

At the funeral's conclusion, we were given the opportunity to pay our final respects before the coffin lid would be forever closed. I looked at the shell of my grandfather, a man who had always been oldâ since the day I was born. I saw a fragile man, whose false teeth fit poorly in his mouth. His bald head was adorned with a few gray hairs, like the webs of yesteryear's spiders. I was going to miss him.

My mother paid her respects last. She did not see the same man I saw. When she looked down at the person in the new, blue suit, she saw the man who had taught her how to bait a hook, the man who took her boysenberry hunting on the side roads of New York's summers, the man who held her with merely the strength of his toes.

She whispered her final words to him: “Good-bye, Daddy.?

In all my years, I'd never heard my mother call him Daddy. And, it touched me deeply that day that they put my grandfather to rest, more deeply than any other event that took place that day. As I slumped in the limousine driving out to the cemetery, I wondered why those three words I overheard affected me so strongly. I thought back to my wife and little girl three-thousand miles away... Daddy?.

When my mom said good-bye, she was no longer that stoic fifty-three year old woman who'd raised me alone, who provided for me. She was her daddy's little girl. She'd lost her Keeper-Away of Monsters, her Kisser of Boo-Boos, her Lap of Cuddledom. She'd lost her hero.

As fathers, what we do today with our children will stay with them a lifetime: the ways we interact with them, the time we spend together, the games we play, the stories we read. No matter how old they become, what career they choose, or their level of success, our children, like ourselves, will not only need their fathers, but also their daddies.

We need that man who keeps us safe when we are scared, who makes us laugh when we are sad, who explains the world, when we are confused.

When are we no longer Daddy?... We'll always be Daddy.

--Submitted by Leon Lewandowski

Moms-To-Be Need Romance, Too

The First Trimester (The Queasy Months)
This is an incredible time. Amidst preparing the nursery and dreaming of the future, there’s your partner, the woman you love, the mother of your future child. Romance and love got you where you are today. Just because she’s pregnant, that’s no reason to ease up on the romance. Actually, it’s all the reason to turn the dial of romance up a notch or two.

Romance is making your partner feel special and cared for. Some dads-to-be aren’t sure how to pull this off. During pregnancy, a woman needs romance more than men often realize. She needs to know she’s special, that you care for her.

Just because your partner’s not showing yet, doesn’t mean she’s not changing. Hormoes are flying. Emotions are unpredicatble. Lethargy is a way of life, and nausea can be her worst enemy. A night on the town, an intimate evening, or a 4-course, home-cooked meal may have been on your romantic repetoire. Today, your partner may feel too tired to go out, too uncomfortable for intimacy, and the smell of your cooking may leave her running to the bathroom.

Women tell me that, now, more than ever, they feel romanced when their men pick up where they leave off. She doesn’t have the stamina she once had. She may get tired easily. New mom, Christine M. explained that her husband, “...did not pressure me to keep the house clean or have the cupboards full of food. If I wanted to lay on the couch all day, that was okay, that was okay with him. That showed that he cared and loved me...”

You doing the dishes, tackling those dirty dishes, or grocerey shopping for the week lets her focus on herself. “The most romantic thing my husband ever did for me, “says Jennifer C., “was to take care of our other children for a few hours so I could have a break. It gave me time to pamper myself, read, or just get some much needed rest.”

Helping around the house may seem far from romantic, but during this three month window, it absolutely makes her feel cared for, which is what roamnce is all about.

Walk your partner through this trimester. Be there for her. Help her when she doesn’t ask for help. Rub her back when she gets sick. Late her sleep in. She will appreciate it all and won’t forget it. You’ll have a happier partner on your hands, which means a happier, healthier pregnancy for her and your baby.

As your partner’s pregnancy changes, romance will need to evolve. We’ll cover romance during the second trimester next month.

The Second Trimester (The Easy Months)
Last month we defined romance as making your partner feel special and cared for. During pregnancy, making your often-emotional, hormone-riddled, partner with the morphing body feel special and cared for takes on new forms. And, with each trimester, romance has a new face.

I call the these the “easy months” because during the second trimester most women tell me that they feel their best. The morning sickness has gone, and the swollen, and sometimes clumsy, stage has yet to cast its uncomfortable shadow. Dads, enjoy this time, while it lasts.

We all know that during their second trimester pregnant women often show increased appetite. But, many men are surprised that there can also be an increased sexual appetite. Many women find that with their new bodies emerging and the onset of motherhood, libido increases.

Some men find this increased sexual drive, along with the addition of a rounder partner, incredibly enticing, while others are a bit uncomfortable with physical intimacy during pregnancy. Reasons for the latter include their partners’ changing bodies, uncomfortableness with intimacy in the “baby’s presence”, and the very common fear of injuring baby.

Santa Barbara midwife and doula, Jill Dozier, assures men that there’s no biological fact that sexual intercourse will harm baby. “Baby can’t get hurt during intercourse. Just let Mom call the shots.” Besides, Jill tells nervous dads-to-be, the babies enjoy the rocking motion.

So, once you can get over the intimacy obstacles, make sure you make Mom feel sexy. Let her know she’s beautiful pregnant. Over one-third of the women surveyed for my new book on romance during pregnancy found it romantic when their partners let them know they were beautiful. How does a man do that? Tell her... everyday... for nine months! Touch her. Hold her hand, hug her, and kiss her in public. Rub her belly and tell her how gorgeous it is.

Also, fellas, show off Mama-to-be, and spend some quality, one-on-one time together. Thirty five year old, associate director, Lynn S. voices what many pregnant women feel: “Taking me out to a fancy dinner would have been romantic. I still want to be the sexy girl he met and fell in love with, even if I am about to be a ‘mom’.”

Surprise her with a weekend getaway or a stay at a local bed and breakfast. Let her know you still want to be with her and that she’s attractive. Give her the opportunity to let her libido lead the way, because the last trimester can be a bit more cumbersome.

But, do not worry, gentleman, romance still exists. It just has a new face... again. We’ll discuss the face of romance during the third trimester next month. Until then, treat the mother of your new baby like the gem she is.

The Third Trimester (The Uncomfortable Months)
It’s coming down to the wire. Your bundle of joy will soon be arriving. With all of the excitement and happiness expected with your baby, you also must be prepared for a change in your romantic relationship. You’ll no longer have the time you’ve always had for one another. Romance evolves. This is not a bad thing. It’s merely a new thing. But, until your baby makes her debut, enjoy this time with your wife. Use it to make her feel special and cared for, because that’s simply what romance is.

As you start to see the end of this path that you’ve been traveling, it’s inevitable that the light in which you see your partner will take on new illumination. You will respect her in ways in which you never could have imagined before. She will show you a strength you never knew existed. Yet, along with all of these changes you will also need to pick her up when she has fallen. You’ll need to encourage her when she becomes discouraged. You will need to be her rock, her pillar of strength, when she doubts her abilities.

“I had been an only child and was not used to small children,” remembers property manager Valerie S. “(My husband) made me feel confident and unafraid during my pregnancy, that I could handle childbirth, and we would stumble together, learning how to raise a child.”

Doubting her skills of motherhood or second guessing her ability to get through delivery is common for women during these final months of pregnancy. When doubt rears it’s hideous head, it’s Dad’s job to put a bag over it. Remind her how strong she truly is and how wonderful a mom she’ll be (or already is). “Understand that (pregnancy) is an emotional rollercoaster,” reminds new mom Rebecca H., “and we need support and lots of cuddles and kisses.”

...As well as lots of touching. During these final, often clumsy, months sexual intimacy can be a difficulty. But, Mom still wants to be loved. One way to express this love is through touch. Mom’s feet may be sore and swollen. Her back and neck may be aching from carrying that extra weight. Of the women polled for my new book on romance during pregnancy, 62% mentioned touching, rubbing or massaging as being specifically romantic during this time. “During pregnancy, “ says mother of two, Mary L., “my entire body would ache. Sometimes it was my shoulders, or my back, or my feet, or my legs, and any kind of gentle touch would soothe me.”

So, soothe her. Offer a gentle massage. Arrange a day at the spa. Brush her hair. Rub her palms. Consider effleurage (gentle circular touches on her tummy). Ask how she wants to be touched, then do it. Watch the mother of your baby as she closes her eyes, as the tension leaves her body, and as she’s transported to a relaxed state. She will feel romanced. And, if you’ve taken my advice during these three trimesters, she’ll never forget the love she felt while she carried your baby. That’s an investment that will reap dividends for a lifetime.

Leon Scott Baxter Lewandowskiis a Santa Barbara resident and parent of two girls. He’s been happily married for eleven years to his college sweetheart. Leon has written articles on a variety of subjects as well as six screenplays and a number of books. Leon is known locally as the Romance Guru for his expertise in the subject of romace. He’s written a book for men, Out of the Doghouse: A Man’s Secret Survival Guide to Romance, and is currently working on another book for men about how to keep romance alive during pregnancy. If you are a mom, mom-to-be or a new mom, and would like to contribute to his newest book, please go to our Romance During Pregnancy Questionnaire - If you are a man in a relationship, visit Leon’s site,

Five Buck$ Worth of Romance Advice

When we hear the name Abraham Lincoln most of us think of the gentle-giant president, the Gettysburg Address, and the Emancipation Proclamation. Rarely do we see our sixteenth president as a romantic, but romantic he was. What a lucky woman Mary Todd was, for it was Lincoln who once said that the best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother. Talk about 19th century smooth. His words rang true then, as their echoes resonate truth now in the 21st century.

I’ve seen the results of Lincoln’s advice not so much as America’s Romance Guru, but more through my seven years as an elementary school teacher. I didn’t make the connection at first, but after a few years, the pattern began to emerge. Those students who were polite and respectful, the ones who treated their peers well and were well-liked, tended to be the same children who wrote about both parents, who would have Mom and Dad attend parent conferences, and who always knew when it was their parents’ wedding anniversary.

These parents spent time together. They made an effort to share special days with one another. The dads loved the moms, and the children could feel that. When children see a strong, loving relationship between their parents, a sense of security, stability, and safety is anchored within them. “If Mom and Dad love each other so much, they must love us, too,” children reason, feeling that nothing will separate the family in this world where over 50% of marriages end in divorce, and so many children are being raised in single-family households.

A strong bond between parents allows children to know that love is okay. Not just romantic love, but love for friends, family, pets, and teachers. They learn there’s no shame in being kind. It’s pleasing to make others happy. They will internalize these characteristics which will undoubtedly resurface during playdates, at school recess, and any other child-social gatherings.

Not only will your children become happier people, but the affection aimed at Mom will plant the seed for strong relationships for your children’s future. Little ones may want to get in on Mommy and Daddy’s hug or sofa-snuggle. Teens may tell you to “get a room”. But, no matter how they react, they will see what love is, not from a TV sitcom, a PG-13 movie, an article in a teen magazine, or what their friends tell them. They learn love from you.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, said, “The person you are is the person your children will be.” What a powerful, poignant, and provocative statement. If it’s true, we as parents have incredible responsibility to live our lives as we hope our children will live theirs. So, show them true love, for isn’t love what we all strive for? Don’t you want your children to find as loving a relationship as you have? Then... show them.

Buy Mom flowers. Tickle her when she washes the dishes. Have date nights without the kids. Hold hands in public. Snuggle on the couch. All the while, letting the kids see you love their mother.

Your children will develop into strong and healthy people whose relationships will blossom, while yours will stay as romantic as those days you were courting, all thanks to the man on the five. Thanks, Abe.

The Low-Down on the V-Men

--Written by Leon Scott Baxter Lewandowski
They’re out there, right under our noses. They’re in line with us at the bank. They sit in the pew alongside ours at church. They teach our children in school. They fix our computers when we get that scary bomb icon after hitting control-delete one too many times. They look just like the rest of us. I would have never noticed them, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was to join them.

I call them the “vasectomites.” I can remember when my wife first became pregnant. Suddenly, it seemed that everywhere I looked there were pregnant women or new babies. Of course, there weren’t any more than before; it was just that I was more keyed into pregnancy and babies since they were becoming part of my life.

When I decided it was time to hang up the old baby-making-machine and looked into getting a vasectomy, it was like I’d knocked on the door to the secret entrance to the V-Club and mentioned the passwords, “Snip-Snip.” Man, the guys just seemed to ooze out of the woodwork. They could smell me coming. They could sense it was my time to join their ranks. Guys I’d known for ages, men I’d worked with for years, but had no idea were vasectomites, suddenly started telling me about their most intimate “procedure.”

Funny thing is, pretty soon I could start telling the vasectomites from the non-vasectomites. A simple look and a scissor-like gesture with my fingers was all that was needed: “You had The V, didn’t you?”

Men don’t usually share experiences with other men about body parts located between their knees and bellybuttons. But, for some reason, vasectomites have a connection, a brotherhood, not unlike the Marines. If you’ve gone through it, it doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, rich, poor, East coast or West coast, with a couple of snips you’re suddenly a brother. So, since you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about joining the V-Team. That being the case, let me offer a bit about the procedure from a card-carrying vasectomite to vasectomite-pledge. First, be sure you’re ready for this. It’s a short, inexpensive procedure that will render your power drill useless. Sure, it’ll still make a lot of noise, but won’t make a single hole. If you decide later that it was a mistake, you’re looking at a $10,000, two-hour procedure to bring your power drill back to full working status. To be on the safe side, some men will freeze their sperm (at a medical facility, not in the family freezer next to the Eggos) in case they later change their mind. Next, my biggest fear was not so much the procedure itself, but the fact that I was told I’d have to shave the area prior to arrival. Now, I’ve been shaving for nearly twenty years. I know my way around a BIC, but the thought that I had to shave down there almost frightened me sterile (which of course would have saved everybody some undo stress). I mean, it was going to be like trying to shave the mold off a couple of prunes without nicking the fruit. I was told if I didn’t do it right, they’d have to do it for me. All I could imagine was Nurse Ratchet with a straight edge razor looming over my nether regions. I wasn’t letting her at my prunes. So, I searched the internet for the most affective way to make the shave as easy and nick-free as possible. What I found wasn’t quite posted for a pre-vasectomite, but it was for men who wanted the same fashionable result. So, vasectomy or not, if they knew how to do the Yule Brenner, I was up for it. Third, I was fearful of the injection more so than the actual vasectomy itself. Nothing I read, no one I spoke to told me what I will tell you now. Maybe it’s part of initiation. Maybe it’s so intense that the brain just erases it from the memories of most vasectomites. But, for some reason, I remember it, and shall pass it on to you. As you lay there waiting for that injection, the doctor deals you a little urology humor, “You’ll just feel a little prick.” You cringe when the needle breaks through, but you expect it. Then, the doc continues to the vas deferens. Oh my God, that made the initial injection seem like a hot fudge sundae on a plane ride to the Bahamas. It felt as though I’d just finished a two-hour soccer session and my “prunes” were the soccer balls. Then, Doc reminded me he still had the left side to do.

Finally, remember why you’re doing through this procedure. Your wife has probably spent years of her life on some sort of birth control: hormones that may have altered her weight, hairline, and skin complexion, messy creams, alien-like IUD’s, and the like. She was the one who endured nine months of a child in her body along with morning sickness, edema, food cravings, back pain, and of course the actual delivery.

If you and your partner have discussed this option and have determined that you two are absolutely sure you are done producing offspring, what a gift to give her. A lifetime of pill taking and inserting devices gone in a five minute procedure. It’s the ultimate gift of love you can offer to your partner. Your close shave, five minute procedure, and four weeks without crossing your legs is all worth it for the woman you love.

When I asked the other vasectomites if the procedure made any difference in their relationships with their spouses, the response was unanimous: “A vas deferens.”

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