Tag Archives: children

Nine Ways to Entertain Your Toddler Without Using Your Smart Phone


This information is borrowed from The Everything Toddler Activities Book.

Okay gents today I am off to Las Vegas for a belated 40th Birthday trip.  I certainly won’t be spending any time blogging while there but hopefully will have some wonderful tales to tell (or not tell) when I return.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

Before you decide that reading this post isn’t for you because you don’t have kids I would warn you that is not a good idea.  Have you ever been in a long checkout line at a store or waiting in line for some event and there is a small child in front of you or behind you acting up?  If you are like me you probably rolled your eyes and cursed under your breath about your lot in life.  However, if you had the tools to keep said child busy or distracted you may be surprised by how many women around you would have found that attractive. Even though you may not want kids, showing kindness towards then certainly sets off a sensor in women looking for a good man and you might just get lucky simply by entertaining a small child.  So pay attention!

Of course I hope this is also helpful to you dad’s out there who need some ideas for keeping their kids entertained in a public setting without using modern technology.

You’re in a public place — say a restaurant or a doctor’s waiting room — and it’s taking longer to get your food or have your name called than you expected. Your toddler is starting to get restless. And cranky. Real cranky. She’s whining and teetering on the edge of a crying fit, and the other folks around you are glancing over with irritated, disapproving looks.

You don’t have any toys or books on you, making it extremely tempting to just shove your smartphone into your tyke’s pudgy little hands to instantly shut off the waterworks.

But, the idea that you should turn to your phone whenever you feel unhappy or bored is not exactly the kind of lesson you want to teach her; you want her to grow up to be able to entertain herself, absent a technological device. So you think about busting out some pen and paper games like hangman or tic-tac-toe, but she’s preliterate and only understands strategy in terms of figuring out how to poop so no one sees her.

What to do?

Well, with a few completely accoutrement-free games in your metaphorical back pocket, you can easily improvise some games that’ll keep your little one happy and engaged before her chicken nuggets finally arrive. Here are 9 fun, brain-boosting ideas to keep on deck; some work better depending on age and ability, many can be modified to meet your toddler’s level of cognition (which is right around that of a golden retriever), and some will be equally enjoyed by the preschooler set on up. Experiment and see what captures your kiddos’ attention.

1. Name That Tune

Hum a familiar song (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Old McDonald,” etc.), and see if your child can identity and name it.

2. What’s Missing?

This is a great one to do at the table at a restaurant. Take a few objects — a fork, spoon, and sugar packet, for example — and tell your kid to take a careful look at the collection. Then cover the items with a napkin, and remove one of the items without them being able to see which one (lift the end of the napkin nearest you for cover as you withdraw the item). Now remove the napkin altogether, and ask your child to name which item is missing.

3. Who Am I?

Pick an animal, and then let your kid ask questions to try to get at your identity. E.g., “Do you roar?” “Do you live somewhere cold or hot?” “Are you furry?”

4. Touch Something That Is….

Ask your child if she can touch something that is X color. “Can you touch something that is red?” “Can you touch something blue?” She can touch anything within her reach — the table, her clothes, your clothes, etc. If it’s someplace where she can walk around without bothering other people, you can make the game mobile.

5. Shape Hunt

Ask your children if they can see anything in their environment with a certain shape. “What do you see that’s a circle?” “What do you see that’s a triangle?”

6. I Spy

Classic entertainment that’s good for the slightly older kid who’s able to process the idea behind this guessing game. Pick an object both you and your kid can see, and then say, “I spy something, and it’s ____.” If your child has a basic understanding of the alphabet and a modest vocabulary, fill in the blank with a letter. “I spy something, and it begins with the letter C.” It can help to sound it out: “Ca-Ca-Ca.” For the preliterate set who knows only their colors or shapes, substitute those categories instead. You can also describe the objects’ properties: “I spy something, and it’s rough and scaly/smooth and shiny.”

7. What Is Different?

You do need a pencil and paper for this, but that shouldn’t be a problem since like all great men in history, you’ve adopted the habit of carrying a pocket notebook with you. Divide a piece of paper into a quadrant. In three squares, draw the same shapes/pictures/pattern. In the fourth square, draw something different. So for example, you could draw dogs in three of the squares and a cat in the fourth, or a triangle in three of the squares, and a square in another. Have your kid point to the panel that differs from the rest. The more advanced your child, the harder you can make it; try doing 5 circles in three of the squares, and 6 in the fourth, or different patterns like XXOOXX in three squares, and XXOXX in the fourth.

8. Simple Riddles

Come up with easy riddles for your child to solve. For example: “I have four legs and am covered in fluffy white wool. What I am?” or “I’m shaped like a circle, I have two hands, and numbers all around me. What am I?”

9. Hidden in the Hand

Let your kid see your open, empty hands. Then put an object like a coin in one of your hands and close both of them. Put you hands behind your back and switch the object back and forth between them. Bring your closed hands back in front of you, and ask your child to guess in which one the object is.

Tell us if you agree or not!

Letter From a Disrespected Father


Only one more day until the weekend is finally here and with summer just around the corner (and baseball already here) it is one of the best times of the year! I hope you are able to get out this weekend and enjoy yourself.  Be sure to make a point to do something that makes you happy, as life is too short not to.

Last night my wife asked me if I would run to the store to purchase a bottle warmer for our 2 month old.  Even I have to admit I was getting tired of nuking water for 2 minutes and then placing the bottle in the coffee cup of scalding water for another 2 -3 minutes. Doing so at 6pm is one thing, doing it at 4am is totally different. Anyway, call us lazy but I agreed that said purchase would be worth the money, although not worth $160 as one model was going for.

As I was looking at the various kinds of bottle warmers, I picked up one made by Nutto, which is a company based out of Chicago.  As I was reading the back of the packaging I got really pissed off when I read the following statement: “Resume watching your husband in awe as he tries to figure out how the onesie works…again.”  Do all women believe men are this moronic?  I found this attempt at humor to be very disrespectful towards fathers.  I realize I am probably one of the few dads (or maybe the only one) that cares about shit like this, but so what?  It is just how I am made!

The picture is terrible but this is the back of the packaging I am referencing.
The picture is terrible but this is the back of the packaging I am referencing.

My wife is an amazing mother.  I know plenty of friends (especially single mothers) who are also amazing mothers to their kids. Childbirth and breastfeeding?  No thanks.  I don’t want those jobs and for good reasons.  However, I have all the respect in the world for moms and my wife especially for all she has endured in that last two months.  I would never intentionally disrespect motherhood, for any reason.  Being a parent is tough, even more so if you are trying to be a good at your job; this applies to fathers and mothers alike.

Granted I know there are plenty of guys who take the first few years (or more) “off” from parenting which I think is truly sad.  While they might be happy to pass on the stressful, frustrating and other challenging aspects of the first few months/years they also miss out on so many great things too (such as seeing your child smile, laugh or fart for the first time.)

What I get tired of are moms who think if you have two testicles and a penis, you are horseshit when it comes parenting.  They assume because you are a man you can’t be trusted to be alone with a newborn for fear of a) the house burning down; b) your child having a life threatening accident and/or c) the end of the world.

I love when Sharlay and I can be out of the house so we can show off our daughter to the world.  I mean she is one of the most beautiful kids to ever drool and fart in this world.  What annoys me is how many strangers come up to me and say “Oh you are being such a great dad.” Or, “Your daughter is lucky to have such a responsible father.”  I am a great dad (thank you!) but it turns out I am just doing the best I can with no experience.  I have been wanting to be father my whole life and especially the father of a daughter.  So yeah, I am working as hard as I can to be a good dad, but that is no guarantee of positive results. The assumption that mothers make better parents has always pissed me off.  It is a double standard that drives me crazy.

Now before I get a bunch of angry tweets, emails and comments from mom’s, please understand that I do know you have to deal with similar things.  This website isn’t about motherhood so please lay off.

In the meantime here is the email I sent the company.  I will keep you posted should I ever receive a response.

Hi –

I have to say that I was very disappointed last night when I was shopping for a bottle warmer for our new baby girl (my wife and I are first time parents) when I came across one of your products. While reading the back of the packaging I was shocked to find the following statement “Resume watching your husband in awe as he tries to figure out how the onesie works…again.”

I couldn’t believe a company would put something so disrespectful to fathers on a product. While I certainly understand there are plenty of dad’s who struggle with being a dad (especially first time dads) that doesn’t mean we are morons. Furthermore, there are a lot of men like me who are dedicated fathers who love their children and put in just as much work (and sometimes more) at raising our children as our wives/partners.

Needless to say we did not purchase your product. While I understand the importance of celebrating motherhood and helping moms be better at raising kids by offering easy tools for the job, it doesn’t mean you should take cheap shots at the dad’s out there to accomplish this mission.

It is hard enough getting credit for being a good parent as a man. Stupid things like this only make it more difficult. While I doubt any of the above will change what you put on your packaging, I wanted to be sure at least one dad’s voice was heard. Thanks.


Until tomorrow, make it a better day.

Tell us if you agree or not!

Soon to Be a Father

Happy Friday Gents!

Well I have some amazing news for you all: I am going to be a FATHER!!!  Holy shit I know, right?!  My wife and I found out we would be parents at the end of June.  We were traveling to Minnesota to visit family (I had been in MN for a few days before Sharlay arrived) and were so anxious for confirmation we didn’t wait to even leave the airport before taking the test!

Only recently has she passed her first trimester so we are now officially telling everyone!  Words certainly do not adequately express how excited we both are!

I have certainly gone through seasons in my life where I didn’t want to have kids and I made that painfully obvious to anyone around me.  However, most of my life I have always wanted to be a father and over the last several years I started to wonder if that would actually happen or not.  But it did!

I am sure I will be writing more about my journey as a father as we progress through this new stage in life.  I am certain to make mistakes and have the occasional success and I wouldn’t be bashful about sharing either of those on this blog.

The wife and I are going on vacation starting tomorrow so the blog might be sparse the next week or so.  I hope you are all having amazing summers!

Well I need to run, the wife is craving pickles and ice cream…

Until tomorrow, make it a better day!



10 Ways for Single and Divorced Dads to Stay Connected to Their Children


By now you know the deal here at Be a Better Man.  I am married but still not a father.  However, as part of my mission I always want to be sure I am providing as much man related advice as possible; this includes advice on fatherhood.  While I certainly have my own personal parenting philosophy I have yet to be able to put it into practice.  In other words, I generally lack credibility in the eyes of most parents to have any meaningful input regarding how to be a parent or a father to kids.  I don’t agree with this sentiment but if it is all the same to you guys I will allow other men to address issues related to being a dad.

My go to for this advice is All-Pro Dads.  You can catch the blog here.  Today I am sharing a blog they wrote a while back about how single and divorced dad’s can stay connected with their children.  Just because things didn’t work out with their mother doesn’t mean you don’t still have a responsibility as a father, even if your ex-remarries or finds another man.  YOU are still THE father and you should step up and act accordingly.  The world is full with too many knucklehead fathers already, no reason to add to those ranks.  Get your act together and be a great dad!

Here are the top 10 tips for staying connected to your kids.  I hope you enjoy!

  1. Honor and respect their mother:

    Kids know what’s going on. They can read between the lines. They observe and they tend not to forget. Be kind to their mother, be cooperative, be positive, and never talk bad about her in their presence.

  2. Step up and parent:

    Base the relationship on the fact of parenthood and reinforce the built-in expectation that comes with the role. Don’t act like you’re trying to win your kids’ friendship. You are the dad, end of story. Be one.

  3. Refrain from competition with their mother:

    Our children don’t need you to be their friend, the “fun” parent, or the amusement park away from home. Your children need – and want – a home-away-from-home that feels like home. Kids connect to real life and being with dad needs to feel normal above anything else.

  4. Maintain a lifestyle the kids can easily interface with:

    Part of being a parent is having a life the children can enter comfortably. Is your house or apartment child friendly? Do you maintain a clean and hospitable environment? Is your place a safe place for the kids? Being a divorced dad cannot be a return to your “bachelor pad” days.

  5. Game night:

    Make being with dad special – but not in an extravagant way. Set up a regular “game night” routine and be consistent. Interaction by design leads to more natural interaction across the board.

  6. Read books “together:”

    So you miss them when they’re with their mom. Fair enough. How about getting two copies of the same book, reading at the same pace, and then talking about it when you are together?

  7. Keep in the education loop:

    Patent-teacher conferences, field trips, class parties, school plays. Be there. Make sure your children know that they are your priority. Not “fairly high on the list” but THE number one priority for dad.

  8. Be conspicuously accessible:

    Conspicuously accessible means you answer their calls, return emails promptly, ask them about their important stuff and listen with attentiveness. Learn about and practice “active listening” skills.

  9. Be their friend on Facebook:

    Be a consistent part of your children’s online community if they are on one. Don’t embarrass them, don’t comment on everything they ever post, and don’t try to “friend” all their contacts. But do maintain a visible presence. This is part of being in their neighborhood.

  10. Consistency:

    We’ve mentioned this in more than one of these 10 suggestions. But it deserves a category all of its own. Kids are creatures of routine. Routine is how they learn security and where they belong. Make sure you are part of that definition of security. Make sure you are where they belong. You can’t do this any other way than one step at a time, predictably, and over the long haul.

Devotional Tuesday: It’s Never to Late to Say Thanks (Uncommon Life by Tony Dungy)

“Honor your father and mother.  Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

My parents did a lot of things that didn’t make sense to me.  I knew my best interests and those of my brothers and sisters were paramount to them, but like any child, I didn’t think my parents were always fair.  I was allowed to disagree with them, but I had to accept their decisions and learn to deal with them.  Sometimes that wasn’t easy, and it didn’t always make me happy.

But I knew I could trust my parents.  Their decisions were for my benefit, whether I understood them or not.  I learned at an early age to respect them, and they made it clear that they expected my respect.  They believed children should honor their parents and abide by the decisions their parents made for them.  They made it clear that their decisions were rooted in God’s Word and that we were being raised on biblical principles.  As a family, we were going to follow the Bible as our guide.  Their strong convictions and their obvious love for us children earned my respect.

Parents play a huge role in shaping us into who we are.  My parents certainly shaped me.  Some who grew up in a difficult family situation may wish their parents had shaped them differently, but nearly every parent has done something right – something worthy of honor and respect.  In our culture it has become more expected to criticize parents than to honor them, but God’s command to honor them is more important and reaps more benefits than we might think.  As adult children it’s important to respect our parents for the role they have played in our lives.

Have you thanked your parent’s lately for the life they gave you?  For providing food, clothes and shelter for you?  For taking care of you as well as they knew how?  If so, that’s great.  Do it as often as you can.  If not, consider letting them know that you appreciate what they did for you.  And if they have already passed on, thank God instead – and ask Him to pass it on.

UNCOMMON KEY –> Respecting your parents has almost become a lost art form.  Let your parents know how thankful you are, honoring them for the good they have done for you.