Friday, November 19, 2010

Mobile Apps Dads Should TRULY Have

There are a lot of mobile apps on the market that cater to parents, and dads specifically. Alright, I admittedly have downloaded one or two of them. I've gotten my weekly baby developmental updates from the Parenting app. I've logged my son's naps into the Weissbluth app. I've even embarrassingly downloaded a "pregnancy for dads" app when my wife was still expecting (the only thing I learned from this one was that in my wife's eyes, this wasn't an acceptable substitute for reading all the pregnancy books she tossed my way).

I kind of consider myself an "app-slut" in a way. I love 'em and leave 'em in a very short period of time. As a dad, and a hard-working one at that, I have little time to keep useless icons on my phones dashboard. My mobile real estate is valuable and I always make the most of it.

After almost 6-months of parenting, I've narrowed down a handful of truly useful apps for dads to keep around for a multitude of reasons:

Comcast - I know, you're saying, "What? Comcast sucks!". But I love TV, I truly do. And because of the unpredictable nature of having a baby, I miss a lot of the shows I love. But with this app, I can program my DVR from any place and at anytime! I will never miss another game or episode of The Office.

Crock-Pot - Between my job and my wife's job, who has time to cook? But at the same time, we have a mortgage and nanny to pay for. What's the answer? The almighty crock-pot! This handy little app has thousands of great recipes I can throw together and save some serious cash...ordering out every night gets to be real pricy!

Flashlight - Do you have any idea how many times I've gone into my son's nursery in the middle of the night only to step on something and practically puncture my foot? This great little tool gives me a solid beam from the camera flash while keeping the rest of the room dark.

Family Guy - This is just plain funny! I challenge any dad (or any guy in general) to tell me he doesn't laugh at this. Giggity giggity giggity!

Ragdoll Blaster - Between the full-time job, the bottles, baths, diapers, cleaning the house, and finding time to sleep, you can always count on one time to be alone with your thoughts (and phone). Yes with fatherhood comes a new appreciation for bathroom breaks. This amazing and time consuming game lets you shoot little guys out of cannons through a plethora of mind numbing puzzles and mazes. Maybe I'll play just one more level? Yeah, I think I will.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Nanny Cam Debate

We have a full-time nanny starting this week. I won't get into the sheer guilt I feel about having to leave my son with someone on a daily basis, I'll let you scroll down to my posting "The Nanny Guilt" to read more about that. But my wife is going back to work this week after 5 months of maternity leave, and this is just a fact of our life right now.

A few weeks ago when we hired our nanny, we started wondering how we know he will be alright with her. Background checks, driving checks, reference checks, those are all fine and necessary. But how do we really know what's going on when we're not there? Then we thought about a nanny cam.

You know what a nanny cam is. They can be anywhere and look like anything. Hidden in clocks, teddy bears, even in a mirror! You can watch tape when you get home or live streaming from your computer or iPhone. It's all very easy. I've seen some horrifying stories in the news about parents who have caught their nannies abusing the kids all thanks to a nanny cam. But apparently not everyone feels so great about these little spy gadgets.

Right after we hired the nanny, my wife posted a question on Facebook. Very simply, she asked:

"What do you think of nanny cams?"

You would think that someone just asked about the pro-life/pro-choice issue or evolution vs. creationism, because the holy floodgates of hell opened up and she was chastised! This is quite the hot topic apparently. Some responses included:

"COMPLETELY NOT OKAY!!!! as a professional nanny not cool! If you can't trust u'r nanny then don't have them"

"If you don't trust the babysitter enough to have a camera on her while she is with your son, you definitely need a new nanny."

So I do you build trust? With my wife and I, trust was built over time. I saw how she was towards me on a day-to-day basis. With my job, I've built trust with my boss over time. She has seen how hard and competently I work on a day-to-day basis. What if you're not there on a day-to-day basis to see how someone works? What if a camera is the only way to build the trust that your child is in safe hands?

Please let me know your thoughts on "Nanny Cam-gate", I'd love to hear which side of the fence you're on. And please feel free to forward to your friends, all opinions are welcome.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Does Someone With Such a Small Foot Need a Digital Footprint?

I read a recent study stating that 5% of babies under 2 have social media profiles, 7% have an email address, and 81% of two-year-olds have a digital footprint. Beyond the "everyone needs to have it" foot-in-clay imprint, does anyone 2 and under need a presence in the social sphere? I think there is a difference between choosing to socialize your baby and having them pulled accidentally into the abyss of endless Google results.

My son Jonah is all of 5-months now. Does he have an email address? Absolutely not. Honestly, who is going to send him anything? He doesn't need any pills to enhance his baby "manhood". The Finance Minister of Nigeria will have to go through me if he wants to give him half a billion dollars. And more likely than not, his allowance isn't going to be enough to cover any sort of Groupon that comes his way.

His existence in social networks and search results is another matter all together, and his mother and I are to blame. The poor kid never knew that he had to secure all of his privacy settings directly through us. Now I haven't set him up with any profiles, so there has been no photo tagging. He really has nothing all that interesting to say worth tweeting, so I haven't bothered to get him a handle. But when I do a search of his name, poor kid is ahead of the 2-year digital footprint curve. I uploaded a home video I made onto Youtube, because the file was too large to share with my family on Facebook. Digital footprint started!

For a kid who has a foot the size of a lime, does he or she really need a print in the digital space? Here are a few reasons why they might:

1) Baby modeling - You have to self promote somewhere, right? How else will parents profit off those good looks?

2) Baby bloggers - Is there an audience out there who like to read a bunch of "alskflj ljasdf lj hjsdf;ljdf ;alfja;djf a;fj afj "? Trust me, it's all I get when I let my guy onto the computer.

3) Social play date matching and setups - Wait....there might be an actual business idea there.

The truth is that any digital footprint a kid might have by age two is an extension of a parent's complete and total belief that their baby is the cutest and most adorable person ever created, and the desire to share that opinion with anyone and everyone. In this day and age of digital photo albums overtaking the existence of physical ones, it might be a long shot to think that any newborn will reach the age of 2 without a digital footprint bigger than his or her actual one.

But I still don't get the whole baby email address thing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Nanny Guilt

For the past 5-months, my wife has been a stay-at-home mom. We timed this pretty perfectly. She works in the school system, so summers are already off. Jonah was born on June 9th, so that gave her two and a half months of the summer, and then another 12 weeks maternity leave in the fall.

Fall is almost over, winter is getting close, and next week she heads back to work. I won't bother getting into the emotional turmoil she is going through as each night passes and the dreaded day gets near. I've seen more crying sessions from her than I can bear to watch the one I love go through. I'm not exactly dismissing what she's going through, but the fact is that I'm going through something tough myself.

Starting next week, we have to leave our son with a nanny....full-time....40 hours a week....every week.

Aren't dads supposed to be focused on supporting the family? Bringing home the proverbial bacon? We do what we need to do to survive and give our kids the lives we feel they deserve. I mean, Harvard is going to be ridiculously expensive in 17 1/2 years! Again, a life I feel he deserves.

Anyway, as I've learned over and over and over again in the past 5-months, things do not work out the way I thought they would. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd feel such a profound and gut-wrenching sense of guilt over the idea that another person besides my wife and I will actually raise my son. She will spend more time with him than I ever will get to in any given week.

I try to put this into perspective. He's too young to feel a sense of separation anxiety. We need to work hard now, because life is just going to get more expensive. I still have the weekends. Well at the end of the day it's not enough. But with that being said there's not a lot to be done here. We all make choices and ours is to not have to live paycheck-to-paycheck, but bring home a nice combined salary and make the best of a no-win situation.

But the day I hear him call the nanny "mommy" is the day one of us quits our job.