Parenting, Old Fashioned Style: Part 1, wherein less is more

It's kind of a joke for me to claim that I have any sort of parenting philosophy - I'm not well-read on the subject (what to expect when you're expecting? please...), didn't have much of a plan going in, and definitely was not ready.

Ready for parenting workflow

Ready for parenting workflow

Since no plan survives first contact with the enemy anyway, I decided to make as few preparations as possible and wing it. I did get talked into taking a pre-natal class with my wife but I already knew that you don't shake them, so that was $250 I'll never see again. Humans have been having kids for as long as there have been humans, so how hard could it be? If you are a dad you already know the answer to that question, but if not I encourage you not to dwell on it overmuch. One of the things I have learned along the way is that you are never really ready, and now is never a good time. 

I am happy to report that there is good news though; it does get easier and you do figure it out. Imagine that - parenting instincts as old as humankind actually do kick in and help keep you from messing up too badly. Honest. Since I am stridently not-a-planner (you can ask my wife), I practice the "learn as you go model" and it seems to work out just fine. And, while I haven't learned too much worth passing on, I'll share a few tidbits that have gotten me where I am today - two kids still alive. 

The first is that less is always more. It's hard to resist the endless consumerism of the modern American lifestyle, but I can't tell you how many times I saw my kid be content playing with a cardboard box and not the toy that came in it. Kids can make their own fun, and it is wonderful to watch their imaginations grow (insert pic of space shuttle) organically instead of being guided by Disney's visible hand. Shower your kids with love and time, not stuff. The extension of the 'less is more' dictum is the concept of giving kids meaningful experiences in lieu of physical gifts. Encouraging your kids to spend time and engage in stimulating activities at an early age is an awesome way to put in quality time and build a strong foundation of curiosity, wonder and knowledge.

The other thing I'll share is that you must remember to have fun with and without your family. Make sure that you get out and enjoy something for yourself once an awhile - just because you're a parent doesn't mean you lose your original identity. Go out for happy hour, take a hike, hang out with your single friends for a night and remember what it means to be a man.