Federal Budget: Paternity Leave, The Urban Daddy on CTV!


Yesterday was the 3rd Federal Liberal budget and if you paid any attention to the news leading up to the budget, you would have heard that this was going to be a “gender” budget, as our Prime Minister and Finance Minister hope to save Canadian “Peoplekind”,

What made it a “gender” budget was the inclusion of policies aimed to equalize pay between men and women and adopting a paternity leave benefit program which was implemented in Quebec just over 10-years-ago.

As a father of 3 children, I was lucky to have the opportunity to take parental leave with 2 of my three kids.  I was working for the Canada Revenue Agency, and the CRA topped up my salary from the 66% which I would have received while on EI, to 93% of my salary.

Who wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to support his spouse, bond with his children and help out with everything that comes with children, which is why I took 9-months with our first child, 4-months with our second child, and by the time our third child rolled around, I was in the private sector and took just one day.

So who better to speak on the government’s policy than me, right?

I was on the CTV News Network, live, in the morning with Marcia McMillan, and then in the evening, CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks interviewed my wife and I for a well done piece on what worked and what didn’t with regard to paternity benefits.

Watch the clip here; CTV Parental Leave The Urban Daddy

It was my first foray into TV – I have been on the radio quite a lot to discuss tax-issues – and I really liked it (except for the way I looked in the evening interview – exhausted!)

Here is how I feel about the Liberals intention vs plan of action; They talk a great game but always seem to fall short, with an ultimate cost to the taxpayers, for their plans.

They said that providing fathers to take 5-weeks off would lure more women into the workforce.

???

There were no new day care spots made available, nor any changes to the Live-In Caregiver program, so it left my wife and I puzzled as to how this was going to lure women into the work force.

Is it possible that behind this message was a belief that men don’t do anything around the household and that if, in 5-weeks – with them being home, changing diapers, cooking meals and keeping the house clean – men will realize they can help out at home, thus lessening the burden on women?

I think that’s a stretch, to say the least, but for $1.2 billion dollars – and starting in June 2019 – men will be able to take 5-weeks off with their partners to help, support and bond.  It’s certainly better than nothing.

It doesn’t change the stereotype that men don’t do paternity leave.

It doesn’t change the hesitation of some firms to hire woman who are in their child-bearing years.

It does make the Liberals look hip, and cool.

I just hope the last point wasn’t the motivation behind this initiative…

 

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As a Father, if you’re going to disappoint some of them, you might as well disappoint all of them…


I wanted to post this last week when it happened but did not get a chance but since that night this scenario has come up over and over again, just not to the same extent.

The night it first happened, was a special night in the Urban Daddy household.  Determined to get back into some semblance of an exercise routine, I made up my mind early in the day that I would run on the treadmill that evening, by hook or by crook.

Since I’m still within my 3 month window of a new job with much greater responsibility, and the stress / excitement of meeting new people, learning new systems, figuring out acronyms and being on my toes all the time, I have found myself quite exhausted by about 10pm, which means that is around the time I tend to fall asleep on the couch when trying to; watch TV, read, blog, play Cityville, or… exercise.  Very unusual for me as I’m used to 1-2am sleeps with 6am wake-ups.

This night was exercise night and the beginning of a new schedule for me.

New Routine – Thursday night.:

Eat dinner with the kids (not unusual at all)

Stewie piano lessons

Give Berry a bath

Linus annoy mummy during math lesson

Then switch…

Linus piano.

Berry and Stewie before bed snack.

All kids in bed by 8:15 and I’m going to treadmill for 1/2 hour before I have a shower, then run out to grab milk.  I really want to begin getting to bed at a reasonable hour – it is currently 12:33am so that is not happening.

Then it all fell apart.

Urban Mummy wanted to talk to me.  We didn’t talk much the previous night and she barely saw me today and she wanted to chat but I patted my flabs and said, “Sorry hun!  I have to treadmill”.  She was disappointed.

I went to check on the kids and here is what happened;

Walked into Stewie’s room, and surprisingly he was still awake.

“Stay with me, Daddy”, he said.

“Sorry kiddo.  I have to treadmill right now so I can shower, get milk and talk to your mother before she falls asleep or kills me”.

He was disappointed.

I went from there to Linus’ room where he was sitting up in his bed too.

“Lay with me, Daddy and tell me a story, please”.

“Can’t buddy.  Have to go treadmill before mummy goes to sleep.

He gave me his pouty disappointed face.

Out I marched and right into Berry’s room where surprisingly she was up too.

“Rub my back and stay with me Daddy”, she said.

“Sorry, sweetie, I have to treadmill.  Sing for me and I will tuck you in when I’m done.”

She was not happy either because she didn’t sing for me and she usually does.  “Bla Bla Blacksheet”

Out I walked.

4 people wanted me to stay with them and 4 people got nothing.

Like I said in the title.  Go big or go home.  If you’re going to disappoint someone you might as well disappoint all of them.

Dads…  You turn.  What would you have done?

A Question for you. Yes, you. If you are reading this now, I’m talking to you.


What was your wedding song?  Either the first song you danced to as a married couple, or the one that closed out the event… Or both.

Now, tell me how long you have been married, and tell me now, what your wedding song should have been in hindsight where all vision is 20/20.

Has it changed?

I ask this because I was chatting with a friend of mine who said their wedding song was “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, but in hindsight with all the troubles they’ve had over the years together and the impending marital break-up, it should have been “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC.

So that got me thinking.

 

Ours was “Heaven” by Bryan Adams, which I picked but in hindsight it probably should have been a children’s song since our kids have become such an important part of our lives.  That or I should have let me wife pick one of her “favourite songs” from days gone by, like “Blue Monday” by New Order to some song called “Girlfriend in a Coma”, not that they relate to us, but that she really likes those songs and gentlemen, we all know, a happy wife = a happy life.

 

So whats your story?

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child. I cannot find a village, will my social media community suffice?


I recently joined a parenting group on Facebook called Pink and Blue Baby. I took a quick look through some of the threads in the group and right away got a feel for what the purpose of the board was – to be a resource for first time parents.

What gave it away? Questions such as; At what age is it okay to take my baby out for the first time? Will my baby ever sleep? When can I give my baby “real” food? All the questions we sorted through just over 6 years ago with our first born son, aptly referred to as Linus on my blog (for the fact he carries a blankie and constantly has his fingers in his mouth). But upon further review of the threads I noticed this board is more than that. It is also serving the purpose of helping parents with their current questions, such as; Looking for play-dates, recommendations for thank you notes, loot bag suggestions, and much, much more.

I couldn’t help but think about how much the times have changed since we had our first baby, Linus, who will only be 7-years-old in just over a month. When he was a baby what did we know? As soon-to-be first time parents, we took advantage of whatever opportunity we had to learn how these things called “babies” worked.

The first class I remember us taking was at the hospital we were giving birth at, North York General Hospital, and if I recall correctly, it was called “When Baby Comes” and looking back now, it was pretty scary. It was taught by a registered nurse and was very descriptive and technical. After Linus came – I was fortunate to be off on parental leave from my job for 9 months, – my wife and I tried to figure out what to do with a child who slept, whenever, ate a lot and pooped a lot. It was hands-on learning.

My wife found a registered nurse in the area who taught classes to a group of local moms, and these moms formed the baby group that our son grew up with. All the kids were around the same age (one born mere minutes after our son at the same hospital) and it was this group that served as our resource for the first year, to year and a half of Linus’ life. Food, fitness, health, growth spurts, etc were all discussed in the class, and then with these moms. The moms, became the dads and the dads would all get together, head out for wings and beer and talk about our kids. It was great. With this group came the siblings for most of the parents and with that the purpose of the group became clear. Play-dates, birthday parties, all kinds of questions, and much more were discussed through this group in person and via email.

While my wife was increasing her knowledge on the baby front, I was using my parental leave to work on my MBA. I found the evenings worked great because I wanted to be around to help out as much as possible. I would take Linus for long walks each day – he would score me free shwag all over the place, especially at the local Starbucks. I did as many diaper changes as necessary; I loved feeding him and reading books to him. It was trial by error on my side and a lot of research on my wife’s side. Why don’t these kids comes with instruction manuals?!?

Looking back, how did we ever get through baby #1 without the benefit of a cool group like this one I just joined?!? Well to be honest, it was all my wife. She read the baby books, she surfed the net looking for resources, and with her mother’s intuition she did all the rest. She got Linus on a schedule after reading that babies need structure. She arranged for cloth diapers after reading that it helps kids potty train sooner, and she made his food instead of buying it because with her science background and as a budding nutritionist she knew the added chemicals were not good for him. She sought out and then checked out kids’ furniture. She also found a great resource online which detailed Linus’ progression and explained what we could expect from them at that age on a week by week basis.

After putting in all this work, child #2, Stewie (named on my blog after the baby from Family Guy because we thought he was trying to kill us by getting up every 2-3 hours for the first 10 months of his life, without fail) was a breeze. Armed with plenty of resources and almost two years practical hands on experience we were ready for anything.

Linus, you see, was a textbook baby. We knew this by reading the textbooks. So was Stewie, and so far our third (and last) child, Berry fits that mold too. These kids follow the models laid out in the text, so the more we read, the easier it was to predict their next growth spurt, or when their teeth were set to come it. It made life much easier for us.

One think I noticed as we both headed back to work was that we now had a family of 6 (3 kids and a nanny) and running the household was that much more challenging. With work, schedules, school, programs, and meal planning and preparation there was no time for anything else outside of being a parent. Where was the time for us?

Fear not new parents, it gets better… (No, really it doesn’t). It cannot get better than being surrounded by children and the more kids, the more love, the more poop, the more shmootz, and the less sleep. If it’s not one kid getting up in the middle of the night, it’s one of the others.

Needless to say parents; no matter if you’re a first time parent or a 4th time parent, it’s all the same. Our kids will continue to grow and we will always have parenting questions. We will worry about them and in doing so forget about you. It’s okay, it’s natural and we all do it. Just keep asking those questions on this message board and when you get more experienced, you too will share your thoughts and observations about what it was like for you, as I have done tonight too, and do with regularity on my blog.

If you want to read more, you can find this urban daddy at www.urbandaddy.wordpress.com.

 

#700th post! Pissing off anyone and everyone one item at a time.


I seem to have a lot on my mind lately and not much of a chance to talk about it here… Until now.

For those of you who have told me that you read my blog, I say thank you and for those of you who think I am funnier on my blog than in person I say 2 things; 1) Thank you and 2) You don’t know me that well  :).  My oldest boy, whom I refer to as Linus because he loves his blankie (4 blankies) started a silly friend’s club in his school.  Oh yes.  I was actually quite proud of him.  Like father, like son. 

So here are my thoughts.  Feel free to comment – agree, disagree – add some items, call me names, I don’t care.  Knock yourself out. 

  • Doorland – I honestly don’t know much about this company other than the fact that we have one of their magnificent doors on out front door and the fucking thing doesn;t work properly at all.  It sticks opening nad shutting, wakes the kids as it grinds and the lock doesn’t work properly.  I expect that you get kinks like that with a new house, but what really frosts my ass is the numerous times I’ve called them and emailed them, and the builder has done the same, but they just don’t feel like it’s worth their while to come fix it.  They don’t return calls, then stall, give attitude and finally made an appointment to come fix it.  Only time will tell.  Didn’t they think this horrible service would come back to bite them in the ass?  I think companies get too big sometimes and forget they are around because of customers.  Make them happy and make lots of money, but piss them off and once word gets around your customers are off to your competitors
  • Kiddie Proofers – I waited 3 months to get a gate up in the house to keep our toddler, Berry, from falling down the stairs and it was a tough choice between butchering it myself or paying several hundred dollars to have professionals do it.  So I reached out to Kiddie Proofers and in doing so, found a local company with reasonable prices, super great service, a friendly efficient service specialist and an overall positive experience. 
  • The Baskin Robbins on Eglinton Avenue in between Allen Road and Bathurst Street in Toronto.  We’re coming up on 8 months now and I’m still waiting to hear back from the owner of this store as to why they served old gooey ice cream, and then charged me $0.75 to use their debit machine.  I know for a fact that merchant providers frown upon merchants charging extra for use of debit and some even threaten to pull their services if this occurs.  They do it because of the cost of taking a debit transaction and I guess they don’t feel that they make enough when the transaction is less than $10.00, but let me tell you this, merchants… It’s called the cost of doing business!  If  the owner told me there was going to be a charge – since I had cash – I would have either paid in cash, or left the store.  Instead I paid it, then sent the bill to Baskin Robbins HQ with a complaint, the freezers in there were also REALLY loud, and was assured that the owner would reach out to me to apologize and return my money.  Still waiting!  so now on a hot day, we walk on by that store and spend our money elsewhere.
  • Booster juice – Dufferin and Steeles.  Great location, also with wonderful staff and I will tell you why.  A couple weeks ago I took all three kids there while my wife ran into Loblaws and we all got the strawberry smoothie.  Sure, Stewie wanted raspberry – he’s always the difficult one – and yes I told him that his strawberry one was really raspberry, but when he tried to climb up to the top of the spinny chair his drink hit the floor.  We proceeded to clean it up and I was able to salvage just over half the drink, but the guy in the store would have none of that.  He insisted on cleaning it up and replaced Stewie’s “raspberry” drink and even gave me a new cup so I could give the drink to Berry.   We will go back often.
  • Let me tell you all what happened to my sunglasses last week… I decided to chase Linus home with Berry in her stroller and in doing so watched with horror as my sunglasses slipped out of the stroller and right under my feet.  When I finally stopped they were in 5 pieces and across 5 sidewalk squares.  #$%%$#$%.
  • Why, in the Stanley Cup finals are Canuck fans even worrying about the Toronto Maple Leaf fans or about anything to do with the City of Toronto?  Jealousy?  Are they giddy with excitement that they will go somewhere (potentially) that the Leafs may never go again?  Or is there more to it.  Maybe Canuck fans look at the Bruins and see Tomas Kabarle, Tukka Rask, Tyler Seguin and the 1st round draft pick this year and feel that the Bruins are very much the American version of the Leafs, except with talent.  Maybe Canuck fans are pissed that the B’s also play at TD Banknorth stadium (TD for Toronto Dominion Bank).  I’m not sure, but I fear that if the Canucks win the cup, instead of being happy that their team won, or that a Canadian team won, they will want to throw it in the faces of Toronto hockey fans.  Well guess what, Canuckleheads… I know the Leafs suck.  No need to rub it in.  Oh, and go B’s go!  I prefer my hockey teams to not resemble soccer teams (see: diving) and Raffi Torres reminds me of Sean Avery.
  • Have you ever been to the Wychwood Barns?  We went there with friends on Saturday morning for the farmers market and it was great!  The food for sale was fantastic, the fair trade coffee was delicious and there was a ton of stuff for the kids to do.  Can’t wait to go back.  I was kind of hoping to see our City Councillor Joe Mihevc there so I could speak to him about being so darn left-leaning all the time.  Surely even he knows sometimes the right is, well, right.  And I want to know why the streets in our area are in such a poor state…  Maybe next time.  🙂 
  • The Food Network show called “Dinner Party Wars” is one of the dumbest shows I have ever seen.  UGH.  Granted the Food Network has come a long way since the days of Emeril Lagasse, but still… BAM… This show is a wasted filler.  I’d love to see some local community class information and more discussion around how to cook better.
  • Teaopia at Hillcrest mall.  Fantastic!  I walked in there because I was looking for some new, flavoured black teas and left with Amaretto Cherry, Strawberry Shortcake and Bourbon Vanilla.  No pressure to buy.  The sales help allowed me to smell the flavours without compromising the stock and she explained everything I would need to know about making an amazing cup of tea. 
  • That’s about all I’ve got right now.  Honourable mention goes to the Dallas Mavericks who did the NBA a huge favour by wiping out the Miami Heat in 6 games to win the NBA Championship.  It was awesome seeing James with that stunned look of his, Dwayne Wade looking all pissed off and Chris Bosh crying like a little baby.  I watched all the games and had more interest in that then the NHL championship.  Too bad the NBA will be on strike / in a lockout soon because paying players hundreds of millions of dollars to opt out of their contracts and sign with other teams is stupid and needs to be changed.

So where have you experienced great or shitty service with your family?  Spill the goods.