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men who change diapers change the world

Monday, 21 June 2004

Posted by athomedad at 10:38 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 16 June 2004
Coming to your home soon.... reality.
Topic: tv shows
I spoke today with an ABC staffer working on a new show titled "The Swap" And they would like one of the readers of the newsletter to get the first shot to do the show. (This is based on the show "Wife Swap" which has been hugely popular in Britain and has made it overseas.) The full details have not been worked out yet but they will either have a dad head up another family or you can "swap" your wife to another family.... they may even do both formats. Now, messing around with a family is eerie to me and I don't know if I am up for advertising this idea, but with a huge audience that ABC will surely command, maybe one of us can help put a dent in the Mr. Mom myth that still exists today.

The requirements? They are looking for an at-home dad who is married, has kids 6 years old or older, and has a "strong personality" (in other words we are looking for the Rupert of at-home dads). You would also need to commit to 10 days during this summer (exact shooting times are still undetermined). The show will be aired on ABC in September. Interested? Or know someone who might be? Send an e-mail to Guy Merrill. Their site about the show is down as they are switching servers today but ought to be up by tomorrow.

While on the subject, another major network may present their own at-home dad reality show since they dont want to miss the boat. They have already filmed 24x7 the life of an at-home dad gone haywire. This one may also appear in the Fall, I can't tell you too much yet as I am still talking to the assistant producer about it, but I will keep you posted.

Posted by athomedad at 2:31 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 18 December 2004 4:28 PM EST
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Friday, 11 June 2004
This at-home dad has not left the arena

When the avalanche of Father's Day at-home dad articles started coming out in the early 90's you just had to be an at-home dad for the media to come knocking at your door. Even though we still see the standard Fathers Day article, the media is starting to demand a little more. For example St Petersburg Times reporter Robert King wrote this piece about Elvis Impersonator Kenny Grube of Florida who happens to be an at-home dad. The best benefit: he can play for free at his daughters elementary school.

The Marian (CA) Independent Journal interviewed Austin Murphy who wrote the recent book How Tough Can It Be? The interview is actually a little funnier than the book which isn't saying too much. I'm looking forward for the next wave of Father's Day articles this coming week. If you see any worthy of sharing to the readers send them my way.

Monday, 7 June 2004
Book Review - How Tough Could It Be?

How Tough Could It Be%3FWhen I got the review copy of How Tough Could It Be by Austin Murphy, I liked the snazzy cover of a man in apron holding a mop and a soapy frying pan. Timed to come out in time for Fathers day, the publisher probably figured the cover alone would snag a bunch of moms and moms-in laws to buy a copy as a quick gift and a nice spike in their Amazon Rating. The premise of the book looked great too: Austin Murphy lives the rush-rush life of a writer for Sports Illustrated and takes off 6 months from his job and switches places with his wife (so she can live a similar rush-rush life) to care for his 2 young kids.

The first thing that surprised me was that his kids were both going to grade school during his six month "Experiment". To be honest, I'm not sure what's so amazing about staying home for 6 months with two kids who are in elementary school.

OK, I read on, maybe the book will be ?laugh out loud funny? as the book flap says. I am still waiting to hear him talk about his kids, but it sounds like he has more problems with his wife than his kids. He starts by making you wade through pages after page of his wife's allergies to certain foods, and the elaborate recipes to please her taste. The book then turns into a venting tool telling us that his wife Laura doesn't notice his cleanup chores (he even has to clean the house for the house cleaners who come to his house 12 times during his 6 month stint). The I-don?t?get respect whining continues throughout the book ad nauseam. When she finally gives thanks for making dinner he remarks "It seems like a lot of work for six words of praise." Later in the book his wife, accurately reflecting his thoughts says "...You're feeling the resentment that ninety-five percent of moms feel every day, where you think to yourself, "It's like I do every f-----g thing here"

OK? I?m still waiting to hear about his kids, but he wanders off even more by writing about the Iraq war, even filling the pages with a transcript of Secretary Ridge's directives on what to do due to the latest terrorism warnings.

When he finally writes something about his kids I felt I was reading a screenplay for a TV Family sitcom, you know the predictable half hour night time numbing sessions that get Cancelled after a few episodes. For example, he writes of his "adventures" with his kids during a disastrous trip to Las Vegas, where the only good time the kids have is watching the same Harry Potter Movie 3 times in their hotel room at the Flamingo. Even ice cream sundaes turn the kids into a catastrophic tantrum as they didn?t get sprinkles. Or there?s the expensive birthday party (which he prepares for 6 weeks) for his daughter celebrated at a climbing gym. He spends $22.50 for 9 custom invitations, $214 for an "American Girl" Dollhouse (plus $35 to have it express mailed), $25 for an "Art Kit", $180 to use the climbing gym, and $70.00 for plates and cups and "treat bags" That?s $546.45 so far not including the $20 worth of candy bars he grabs because the girls are "starving" before they have their cake. (The last birthday party I had for my son, his friends played in the back yard, had cake & ice cream, and a few presents. Jesus, doesn't anyone do that any more?)

Contrary to the title of his book, he finally admits how easy he has it, "I'm still no more than a day-tripper, an actor immersing himself into a role. I?m not a real mother, but I play one on TV."

I will applaud his efforts to volunteer several times for his kid?s schools, something that dads need to do more often. One event was a variety show which came out so well that he finally gets his long sought after praise from the mothers - praise that he had so much trouble getting from his wife.

Not recommended: If you want something "Laugh out loud funny" for Father?s Day get Dave Barry's "Complete Guide to Guys? If you want something written with passion about their kids, get Samual Osherson's "The Passions of Fatherhood" (one cent on Amazon!).

Posted by athomedad at 2:18 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 7 June 2004 10:20 PM EDT
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Monday, 24 May 2004

The first ever satire of an at-home dad article has been done by the National Lampoon. Under the guise of the Housekeeping Monthly, the title is: The Comtemporary (sic) Guide For Stay At Home Dads. It's complete with tips, on cleaning, cooking, laundry and "bedroom duties" (sex). Of course this means we are officially in the mainstream. I thought You'd get a kick out of it even though it's for the Junior High crowd, (I started reading National Lampoon after I stopped reading Mad when I was 13). One of the tips given: How to straighten up around the house - A clean house will go a long way in your wife?s eyes. To make this chore much easier, use a snow-shovel or the blunt edge of plywood, and push the toys into a neat pile behind a door or into a neglected hall closet. Dishes that might have accumulated during the day should be piled high on the kitchen counter. Preferably, right next to the empty dishwasher. One outstanding Stay at Home Dad told us how he would move and clear the furniture so that when his wife came home, she had a clear and unobstructed path to vacuum. Thanks for the Tip Doug!

I've finally started reading "How Tough Can It Be" Rebel Dad has already read it and posted his comments. I will have comments on it soon as well as The Daily Yak.

Posted by athomedad at 5:23 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 31 May 2004 6:10 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 19 May 2004
Dads Fishing in Florida and a Trixie Update Update

Instead of the traditional Dads night out Jim LoCascio of Cape Coral, FL and Capt. Mark Gauthier of Nokomis, FL organized a weekend deep-sea fishing trip last month. Veteran at-home dads Bob Nooner came down from Illinois, and Roland LaScala from Ohio to join 4 other at-home dads. In the photo at left Bob Boisvert of Largo, FL caught the most fish - mostly groupers. Jim plans to make this an annual event, and has already scheduled the next one for March 5, 2005. If you would like to join these guys next year you can get more info at their web site or email Jim at To hear more fish stories talk to Bob or Roland (he won the pool with the largest keeper fish with a nearly 24 inch long red grouper) at the next At-Home Dads convention in Chicago. I would go but I fish every year in Maine with my brother and bro-in-law. Here's our Men's Fishing Weekend site.

Now for an update on The Trixie Update. The last time I mentioned Ben McNeill's blog the media was taking notice. Now he wants to see if he can cash in on is quasi-famous blog site where he tracks sleep, naps, nursing, diaper leaks, bottle-feedings of his daughter Trixie in real time. He has tweaked his new software and has dubbed it "the Trixie Tracker". When I first saw this site I wondered how could he spend all day on the blog to keep it updated. With the software he designed, he was able to just hit a function key on the computer every time the baby poops, pees or needs a diaper and his software does the rest organizing, it into charts and graph.. For example when he changes a diaper he hits F9. So why do we need this? He claims by knowing his daughters sleep patterns he knows "when I can take a shower or have some personal time." Family members could track to see what the baby is doing from work. He wants to charge thirty bucks for a year to use his software.. This is an interesting idea, and he has made good use of his computer design skills during his kids naptime but I don't know if I want to hit the "Escape" Key every time the baby has a diaper leak.

Posted by athomedad at 8:49 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 May 2004 2:28 PM EDT
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Friday, 14 May 2004
This dad strikes out

When pitcher Roger Clemens "retired" last year from the Yankees to be with his family. I wondered how long that would last. Well, ESPN provided us with the rumors in December that he was getting itchy to play again. 78 days after his last pitch at Yankee Stadium, he was coaxed out of retirement to join the Houston Astros in his home state. (I was glad to see him stay away from the Yankees as I am a Sox fan)

So how could he stay with his family and still play ball? Major League Baseball reported in January at their site that to keep his family promise, the 6 time Cy-Young winner was able to add a clause in his contract that allows him to stay home with his family even when the Astros go on the road. His strategy turned out to be a winning formula as Clemens has started out with a 6-0 record this year. USA Today had a nice article earlier this week detailing Roger's day on raising his kids (they are all in grade school, so no diaper changing, bottle feeding routine story here) on how this arrangement is working. Although he has to hide out while attending his kids baseball games he does keep his promise as well as any pro-celebrity athlete could.

Note: Clemens named his 4 kids starting with a "K," as it was the symbol for strikeout. The names are Kory, Koby, Kacy and Kody. If you like coming up with names we have a dad at the message board looking for names that begin with an "A" for his boy.

Posted by athomedad at 2:24 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 May 2004 11:25 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 12 May 2004
Lazy dads found in Africa

The UN put out a 2003 Human Development Report which showed the "work burdens in selected countries" In the report it listed the number of minutes spent working by males and females per day. Of course we end up with a list which has to have some country at the bottom. The "loser" was Africa with 273 minutes (4 1/2 hrs) per day. The number was more than an hour and a half less than the average and over 2 hours less than the US. The report was from 2000 statistics.

When you end up at the bottom of any public list, some guy is gonna get mad. Well, Reporter Kuben Chetty of The Daily News in South Africa found the guy. She promptly located Chris Slabber of Durban, South Africa, a local at-home dad to 2 sons who proudly proclaimed "We're not a bunch of lazy sods!" At Durban's Tourism website their motto is "South African's Playground" Maybe I will set up Mr. Slabber with a playgroup there.

Speaking of playgroup I'd like to welcome Michael Roediger's East Pittsburgh Stay-at-Home Dads playgroup to the Network Playgroup list.

Posted by athomedad at 4:29 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 12 May 2004 4:32 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 5 May 2004
New name needed for dads

I wrote in my last post that the US Newswire press services added the term "Mr Mom" in their article to spice up their report in describing us. But it actually did come from the US Census's actual press release . I will send them a note and ask them to rephrase that term. But before I do please click on the red "post a comment" link below or e-mail me on what term you would like to be described. I will let you know the results when I get enough responses and let them know what to use next time.

A member of the at-home dad message posted a note that he was thumbing through the latest How Tough Could It Be%3F Parents magazine and happened upon a book titled, "How Tough Could It Be? by Sports Illustrated writer Austin Murphy, the poster says "Mr. Murphy took 6 months off from his job as a writer for SI to be an AHD. Now, I don't want to rag on the book before I read it, but I hope he makes a point about a 6 month tour being a tad different than doing it for years and years." A few minutes after I read his post the mailman handed me a review copy of it so I will let you know with a my thoughts on it when I can get to it.

When the at-home dads stories first started coming out big time in the mid-90's the mere fact that a dad was the primary caregiver was a story in itself. Now its being used more as a descriptor for a dad. Heres one from the Orange County Register titled "At-Home Dad Invents a Mean Screen Cleaner" (the story will pop on for a few seconds long enough to see the headline then it will switch to a new window to subscribe). There's one sentence that he has 6-year-old twins, but thats it. I think we will see less and less of stories of a dad simply because he stay home as each father's day media crunch comes and goes.

Here's a stat I got from reporter, Virginia Linn of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "...and father-only households (no wife or partner) increased to 4.3 million households by 2000." She got her information from this press release issued by American Academy of Pediatrics. In it, they gave out the advice for Pediatricians to "Speak directly to the father as well as the other parenting partner, and solicit his opinions" In other words don't forget dad is sitting right there while your wife is getting all the lip service. I've heard a few stories of dad at office visits where the doctor never even acknowledged dad while he was asking his wife all the questions.

(Note: the following paragraph is very boring one about statistics, you may want to skip it unless you are a researcher of accountant) Back to the 4.3 million father-only households (single fathers) raising their kids. The Pediatrics press release notes the definition of a father as "biological, foster or adoptive father; he may be a stepfather, grandfather, teen father, father figure or co parent father in a gay relationship." Lots of gray area here. In searching for the definition of Father-only households I checked the US Census Households by Type report which estimated 4,201,824 "male householders" by 2004. I then interviewed Karen Thomson of the US Census Household Division this morning and she verified that all father-only households have at least one child 17 or under in the home. Here's the actual definition: Male Householder no wife present: This category includes households with male householders who are married with at least one other relative in the household, but with wife absent because of separation or other reason where husband and wife maintain separate residences; and male householders who are widowed, divorced, or single with at least one other relative in the household.

Thanks to a Peter B. McIntyre of the message board who alerted me to at-home dad Ben McNeill of Chapel Hill, NC. He has a stunning online journal (blog) titled The Trixie Update . There are lots of blogs out there with dads who talk about their families with all the cute stories, but this one takes an intensely objective tone. It's filled with charts graphs and stats about his daughter's every single movement (bowel or otherwise) that would put the US Census to shame. As I write this his site reports that the baby has been awake for 1 hour 31 minutes. has had 3 diaper changes the last one being 12:06pm.which brings the total of diaper changes to 1,965. (Ironically "1965 is the year Procter & Gamble continued to introduce Pampers nationwide. For a while, supermarkets, drug and department stores are not sure how to classify this brand new product or where to stock it. As a result Pampers can unpredictably be found in the convenience section, the food aisle, the paper product section, and even in the drug section." Source: The Trixie Update Here's an article about him in his local paper

Funny humorous comment to note by Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle who was making fun of Howard Dean's possible TV talk show. "After much discussing, the new Howard Dean talk show will be called "Quick to Anger." He will explore the challenges of remaining calm with a bevy of noted hotheads. Geared toward the stay-at-home dad crowd that has grown tired of soft talk shows like "Ellen" and, frankly, are at their wits end with the little snappers, "Quick to Anger" will essentially be 60 minutes of venting." At least someone out there knows we would like some alternative network programming besides Oprah & Dr Phil. The most popular daytime TV show that I have heard the dads talk about at the last At-Home Dad Convention is ESPN.

Posted by athomedad at 2:17 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 May 2004 2:34 PM EDT
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Thursday, 29 April 2004
US Census Strikes again

The US Census released today some facts for features on Father's Day for the media to use in their yearly father's day stories. Some of the interesting numbers here.

There are estimated to be 66.3 million fathers in the United States today. (not published yet in the census website).

The description the US Newswire press services used is "Mr Mom", when they reported on the census figures on at-home dads. I won't whine about the term but wasn't that movie over 20 years ago? Anyhow they have pegged the number of us (with kids under 15) at 105,000 and we are caring for 189,000 kids.

Now this is where I get confused..the next item on the press release is a figure of 2 million preschoolers "whose fathers care for them more hours than any other child-care provider while their mothers are at work." mmm now we have 105,000 dads caring for 2 million preschoolers. That averages out to 20 kids per father doesn't it? Now, take a look at the raw numbers where these reports come from (they are from 1999 by the way). I bet you won't last 5 minutes looking at these. Back in 1996 I met Lynne Casper of the Census with the 1993 numbers and she had figures including all dads working or not caring for kids under 15 and came up with nearly 2 million at-home dads. I used the 2 million number in my newsletter and in media interviews. Since then the number has sprouted wings and has been used extensively by the print & TV media. Judging from the new numbers it looks like we lost about 1.8 million at-home dads between 1993 and 1999.

More on this later I am going fishing for striped bass and my friend is waiting.

Posted by athomedad at 6:07 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 April 2004 12:54 PM EDT
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