This milestone was brought on gradually, and it completely blindsided me, but it changed my family’s operation indefinitely. It was about a year ago when I had the epiphany that this milestone was even occurring to us. But the tables have officially turned: my kids now dictate more of our calendar than we do.
For some context, my oldest daughter’s kindergarten year was cut short in spring 2020 by the pandemic, and her next school year was anything but ordinary. Things picked up in second grade, and so did her activities. Seemingly overnight, we found ourselves going from needing to find things to do between periodic virtual happenings to shuttling her to several dance classes a week, meeting with a reading tutor outside of the house twice a week, committing to a monthly Girl Scouts event, and signing her up for weekly first communion preparation meetings. Beyond that, refreshingly, playdates, school parties, PTA events, and socialization became the norm again.
Now in third grade, the last three months have been a whirlwind since the school year started with only increased commitments for her (i.e., 13 hours a week at the dance studio, cheerleading at football games and camps). This rapid change from no evening and weekend child obligations to now having something on the daily itinerary for my kids has changed the family dynamic quickly - and after a year of this new normal, I’m still getting a handle on it. My wife and I live and die by a shared Google Calendar, our kitchen whiteboard and precious, well-calculated 15-minute increments.
I have no room to bellyache. Several of our neighbors have multiple kids older than ours who are active in sports. I’ve concluded that youth can’t really play organized sports casually anymore. Today, committing to recreational sports mandates tryouts, several weekly practices and weekend-long commitments. I’m in awe of what these families can juggle for their children. They're mastery of this far exceeds my abilities at the moment.
Of course, our squad is only just getting started. My son is in kindergarten and is lacing it up this winter for a sixth different sport he’s trying. He’s already had several birthday parties with classmates this fall. And our youngest, who is only three, is following in her big sister’s footsteps with dance. We also recently hosted her first ever playdate with a classmate who lives in our neighborhood.
To be completely and utterly clear: none of this is a complaint. I feel truly blessed that my kids are invited to be social with their friends and peers, and that they are healthy enough to try various activities.
Yes, happy hours or relaxing weeknights are few and far between. But I’m keenly aware that these obligations build their character, challenge them in new ways, open up their perspectives, and are shaping who they are. We get the highest honor of supporting their growth through these activities from the sidelines. We also get the honor of chauffeuring them around town, making sure water bottles are filled, snacks are prepared, and uniforms are washed.
And someday we will miss all of this hustle. This won’t last forever, and we keep this in mind everyday. As stressful as it can be, I’m doing my best to cherish this time and these moments - and I wouldn’t have life right now any other way.
-Steven Michalovich, Regular Contributor
Rose Grady, FNP-C and Maddie Smith FNP-C, family nurse practitioners and toddler moms in Central Ohio who are behind Two NPs in a Pod (Instagram) joined The Dadass Podcast this week. They gave five ways men can take charge of their life right now. Listen to the episode or read their guest blog post below.
Stay Up To Date on Your Preventive Health Screenings
We recommend you see your primary care provider (PCP) at least annually to address health screenings you may be due for, goals you have for your health and any physical or mental health concerns you may have. At this appointment the following subjects may be discussed with you: blood sugar control, cholesterol, colorectal cancer screening, prostate cancer screening, at-home testicular screening, dental cleanings, eye exam, and lung cancer screening for current or former tobacco users.
Know Your Risk
Not everyone is at an equal risk for developing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or more serious diagnoses, like an autoimmune disease or cancer. Interview your family members to gather as complete of a family medical history as possible. Knowing this information will provide you and your primary care provider the most complete information to make the best recommendations for the timing and frequency of your health screenings.
If You See/Feel Something, Say Something
This point is emphasized by our nursing backgrounds: Maddie in the ICU and Rose in inpatient oncology. Don't wait until a health concern becomes troublesome to your daily life to then seek medical care. Now, we don't want you rushing to your PCP's office for every cold symptom you experience, but if you notice something starting to impact you physically or mentally, don't hesitate to talk with your PCP. Most health conditions are far easier to treat in the early stages.
Prioritize Bettering Your Mental Health
Mental and physical health are tied together. When one starts to depreciate, the other follows suit. Although increased awareness has shed light on the importance of mental health as of recent, mental health isn't always as prioritized as physical health. Take charge of your mental health by fostering friendships, getting outside, and scheduling activities into your schedule that bring you joy, such as exercise, music or another form of art creation/appreciation.
And on that note...
Set Boundaries, and Keep Them
This can be harder to do as a younger person starting off in a career or relationship, but setting professional and personal boundaries to protect both your physical and mental health is crucial. If an opportunity presents itself that may compromise your health in some way, say no. Your peace is incredibly valuable. A "no" that may seem like you're letting others down in the present could very well be a "yes" to better physical and/or mental health in the long run.
I still remember the day. I was in a new job and had just moved into my new apartment. My mom was in town helping me move. As I drove home, she called to tell me my brother had died.
Just a few days earlier, I had called him just to say hi and woke him up. He wasn’t feeling well - he had a cold and was taking a nap. I told him that I would call him back in a few days. That was the last time I would ever talk to him.
That’s the day I changed my life. I cleaned up my eating, drank less alcohol and became a spin instructor shortly after. It was also the day I set a new rule for my life:
I WILL SEE A CARDIOLOGIST BEFORE MY 35TH BIRTHDAY.
Before that, I was healthy in my mid-20s, living my best life. I never had to see a doctor. Now I’m “middle-aged.” According to Men’s Health, 37 years old is the median age for men in America. My big middle-aged birthday is at the end of this month.
I’ve since gone through a gauntlet of tests with a cardiologist for a clean bill of health for the next five years. Most recently, I went through another round of tests with a urologist thanks in part to a little rough housing with our little guy. Let’s just say it was a real kick to the pride. But another clean bill of health. I also make sure I get annual physicals where I probably get a little too competitive to lower my resting heart rate and improve a bunch of healthy numbers.
Now that I’m married and a dad, my goal is functional fitness or “Dad strength.” The days of just heavy sets on the bench press and bicep curls are behind me - in part to tendonitis, but so that I focus on what matters most: the endurance and strength to wrestle, go on hikes, carry far too many grocery bags at once, and eventually coach soccer (pray for me). I’ve lined up specialists to help me stay on track, so I don’t have to wait to see someone when something goes wrong. They have my health records.
I see a chiropractor and massage therapist almost regularly. I never thought a torn pec and ruptured bicep at 20 would literally be crippling me now, but being a sherpa for a three-year-old will do that.
The point of all of this is we as men must talk about this, AND WE DON’T. Maybe we do one time a year at a physical or during Movember and you have an excuse to grow facial hair at work. We should talk about it more.
I still teach spin for an area gym. Since the pandemic, I’ve seen an increase of male riders. That is shocking because my earlier classes were predominately female riders. Maybe there’s a shift, but if we’re going to rise up as dads and husbands, WE NEED TO DO MORE.
I can’t call my brother to tell him about my life or check on him. Our son will sadly only know one of his two uncles. But what I can do, is ensure that I continue to take care of myself to be the healthiest man I can be. I owe it to my wife and son.
-Matt Lofy, The Dadass
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.