I once rode in the fast lane, living in Los Angeles as a TV executive. Multitasking in those days meant balancing creative meetings, phone calls, pilot and episode shoots, animation sessions and reading script after script.
I thought I was pretty good at it.
And then I became a stay-at-home dad for our 10-week-old daughter, Ava. Multitasking took on a whole new meaning, and it’s when I discovered my first Dad Hack.
Day-to-day activities with just one other person was not that hard. But when they can’t walk, talk or do much of anything, you need to improvise when a compromising situation rears its ugly head.
Taking a newborn out to eat by yourself and realizing that you suddenly have to use the restroom requires some creativity.
When you can’t access the bathroom with your stroller, you’ve got to initiate OPERATION: BJURINATION, a homespun dad move that has saved me at the restaurant urinal on many occasions.
Instead of resting your baby in the sink or laying them on the floor (please tell me that none of you have done this!), I send the Bjorn into action.
It takes some finesse, as caution needs to be exercised so that you don’t catch a baby foot in the zipper or soak any garments, especially since I don’t carry an extra onesie for myself, but I’ll spare you those details.
Fast forward to present day. Our daughter Ava is now 4 and we’ve added Charlie, 2, and 4-month-old Mason.
This is no longer the man-to-man defense that I had calmly adjusted to.
I’m now playing zone D – life has ramped back up to the nutso pace that it once was, just in a different form.
Instead of rocking a newborn to sleep and taking two minutes to clean up the plate that I dirtied from breakfast, I’m holding one weapon-yielding toddler away from another by their foreheads, tackling a double-sink full of cruddy dishware, a landfill of laundry and wiping breast milk infused baby vomit from my hair and neck a few times a day.
Late at night, when I vent some frustration about my day, my wife will contend (in an adoring fashion) that I’m a horrible multi-tasker and that I need to get back into the swing of doing things concurrently.
I argue that I AM doing just that.
For me, the time of the day when I most needed help was the "witching hour," or "hours" as it is in our house.
Enter my next favorite Dad Hack: Operation Ointment Palette.
Every night after dinner, as I try to bathe and clothe them all at once, it feels like the complete anarchy and chaos of a battlefield.
But little things like this help:
I use my entire upper torso and limbs as a one-stop shop for bath time and bedtime. Diaper on the left, jammers on the right and the dad-style forearm ointment palette at the ready.
A&D ointment, Desitin, Belly Butter and lotion — on their own or combined together as a Voltron of salves — I portion these out all at once, on my arm, and retire the tubes to their respective homes immediately. Mistakenly brushing my teeth last week with A&D is enough motivation to continue this practice forever.
Every day I work at simplifying my life (if that’s even possible), creating shortcuts that might help me work smarter and more efficiently, but I’m certainly no expert and am always looking for something that I haven’t thought of yet.
What about you? What things do you do to make life easier as a parent?