The Urban Daddy: Bringing The Modern Dad To the Blogosphere


#TBT Tuesday to being featured in the Canada Writes series on “great Canadian Blogs” by the CBC.

http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/2014/08/bringing-the-modern-dad-to-the-blogosphere.html

By day, Warren Orlans is a mild-mannered tax consultant, shoehorning in time to be a hands-on dad to his three young children and to helm an impressive backyard vegetable garden. But by night (10 p.m. to 2 a.m., to be exact) he morphs into The Urban Daddy, blogging on everything from why a child whose age is less than your shoe size feels the constant need to correct you to the parenting situation that leads you to eat a nibbled, warm banana.
As part of our Canada Blogs series on great Canadian blogs, we chatted with Warren about handling your private blog going public, falling asleep mid-post and why daddy bloggers may be coming out of the woodwork.

When and why did you start The Urban Daddy?
I started The Urban Daddy in 2004, just before my first son was born. I wanted to keep a diary of my wife’s pregnancy, what it was like being a father for the first time, and other related, or non-related, events that caught my attention at that time. The blog was kept private for four years until a colleague caught wind of it and it became very public.
I also started writing The Urban Daddy to work on my grammar and punctuation, which were not strong points for me in school. I have come a LONG way from my earlier posts, and the few who followed me from post #1 through post #1,000 have commented on the huge difference in my writing.
You’re a very hands-on dad. What kinds of reactions do you get from people about this? Do you find there’s still some bias towards dads being so involved in parenting?
I am as hands on as I can be because I love being a dad, and I want to spend more time with my kids than my father was able to. I know life can be very short—my dad passed away at the age of 62, so he was at our wedding but did not get to see any of my children. I do not want my children to not have had the opportunity to know me, to learn from me and to be taught some of the wonderful traits that were passed on to my from my mother: respect, consequences of actions, and that others are entitled to their own opinions and sometimes it’s best to listen, smile and not say anything.
I also see many other dads hanging around their kids’ classes, at least in my community. I see it more and more. I don’t judge those who can or cannot be there—we all have choices to make—and I do not feel that there are people judging me for being there as often as I am. Or maybe I just convince myself that anyone judging me must be thinking how successful I am that I have the free time to participate in my kids’ lives so much.
There are a lot of “mommy” blogs out there, but not so many “daddy” blogs. Why do you think this is?
I usually do not mention my blogging because I long felt that I was a “fraud” by blogging standards, being a “daddy blogger.” Early on I was at a gathering with a bunch of friends (all new dads as well) and one father said, “I think people who blog are narcissistic and do so only to brag about themselves.” From that point on, I kept it to myself.
Nowadays, especially after being featured in The Globe and Mail and Canadian Living, I don’t hide anything. It’s what I like to do no matter what anyone thinks.
I do have mothers coming up to me and asking me if I blog, and the reaction from them is usually one of surprise and support. I get a lot of positive feedback from mothers and from involved dads, who by choice or necessity are more involved than dads who leave for work before their kids wake up and who return home after the kids are in bed.
You tell a lot of personal stories about your wife and family. Where do you draw the line in what you do and don’t write about?
When my blog was hidden, I had no boundaries, until one day a colleague at the government asked a very personal question that they would have only known to ask through my blog. From that point on, I treat each and every post as if it were very public and I think about how my kids would feel as adults reading it. Would they want me talking about embarrassing things, or just telling stories and highlighting milestones?
How does your family feel about your blog?
My family likes the blogging—some more than others—because I relay stories about my children that I’ve sometimes forgotten to tell them. I also do not air dirty laundry on my blog, so there are very few posts where I am venting about my family.
I think they are amazed at the attention The Urban Daddy has been getting over the past few years more than anything. I have never seen myself as a writer, and I appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read and comment on posts because there are so many other things they could be doing, but they are reading my ramblings, and I appreciate it.
You have another blog, inTAXicating. What’s the story of this blog?
InTAXicating came to me while I was working in the government and learning about how the Internet would help the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) collect money and educate taxpayers. As I progressed through collections, I was a Resource Officer for five years and that role was very technical, requiring me to understand and interpret the Income Tax Act and Excise Tax Act.  In order to get the level of understanding of legislation, I started re-writing the text into “English” and posting that on my blog.
So you have a day job, two blogs, and three kids. How exactly do you find time for all of this?
I don’t. Having my own business has made blogging as The Urban Daddy very difficult, and I have almost 200 posts sitting in my draft folder, in need of a good review. Prior to that I would generally blog from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and I would schedule my posts to come out during the course of the week. When my first son was born, I was doing my MBA online and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. was my time to work once everyone went to sleep, so I maintained that time as my time to get posts written.
Now I find I have so much work to do for my business that I spend time working on that instead of the blogging. But it changes, and sometimes I get extra time to bang out a post or two.
I’ve started going back to edit old posts, and I’ve found some where I clearly fell asleep in the middle of typing but posted them anyway. It’s a great reminder of my exhaustion back then.
What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?
Do not get discouraged and do not write for others. Write for yourself first and try not to fret when only one or two readers come by your blog in a day, week or month. It takes time to build up a following. Reply to comments, follow other blogs, read them if you have the time and figure out what you want from your blog.
If you want to win awards, get hundreds of thousands of followers and use it to step up to a more prolific role, then stick to a topic or theme and write about it, and it only.
If you want your blog to be a journal to look at as your kids get older or to record things you might need, then write for the love of writing. If more comes of it, just say thank you and continue doing what you love doing.

 

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The Urban Daddy in the News! Globe and Mail.


I had been meaning to share this link for a while now, but it is an article written by Dave McGinn of the Globe and Mail for father’s day.  globe and mail.png

It was a fun article to prepare for based on the questions asked of me, and getting answers from my family was even more fun.

I can say, however, that being in an article with the who’s who of the Canadian Daddy blogging scene is always an absolute honour; Buzz Bishop, Casey Palmer, Chris Read.

While I may be the longest-running Canadian Dad blogger, I am certainly far from the best, which is why I strongly recommend that each and every one of you read this article, then go check out these Daddy bloggers.  You will NOT be disappointed!!

Link to the original article can be found here; and below.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/fathers-day/dads-who-write-on-fatherhood-share-their-lessons-learned-and-happiest-moments/article30486620/

 

 

Proud Recipient of a 2015 Ontario Volunteer Service Award


On June 16th, The 2015 Ontario Volunteer Service Awards were handed out in Toronto, which recognizes individual volunteers for continuous years of commitment and dedicated service to an organization. 

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This year both my wife and I received an award for 15-years of volunteering with an organization call Jewish Family and Child Services (JF&CS).

Jewish Family & Child supports the healthy development of individuals, children, families, and communities through prevention, protection, counselling, education and advocacy services, within the context of Jewish values.

Their priority areas are;

1. Increasing Safety and Security

2. Reducing the Effects of Poverty

3. Improving Mental Health and Wellness

My wife and I became volunteers in the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program to assist the JF&CS staff with the planning and coordinating over events for the programs’ participants and volunteers.  Over the past 15 years we have met a lot of incredible volunteers and incredible children who have grown up to be amazing young adults.

None of this would have been possible without the hard work and support of Andrea Pines, the Volunteer Coordinator for Big Brothers / Big Sisters.

We also try to model what it means to be a good person to our children and I recall a picture being published of our oldest boy – at probably 3 months old – strapped to my wife in a child carrier and the 3 of us set off to an event.  We try to include all of our kids in the event planning as well as at the event so they will understand that giving their time might seem like such a small gesture, but to some people it means a lot.

Obviously we do this for the organization, and not for the recognition, and I’m hesitant to publish this except I hope down the road, my kids will be able to read this and realize that volunteering is important and that it’s been a part of their lives since they were born (and their Dad expects them to continue doing it!!)

The awards ceremony is a lovely ceremony where volunteers are presented with stylized trillium pins and personalized certificates.

Canadians! With Tax Time Coming, Think About Getting Your Refunds Right Away With H&R Block


For those of you who are not familiar with The Urban Daddy, you should know that I started writing this blog back in 2004, the year my first child was born.  At that time, I was working for the Canadian Government, in the Tax Department, for Revenue Canada (later to be known as the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, then the Canada Revenue Agency).

I worked for the CRA for almost 11 years before leaving for a role in the private sector, and it has now been 18-years that I have been working with taxes in some form or another.  Currently, I run a company called inTAXicating, and maintain a blog which helps people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – usually collection-related matters.

I know taxes.

I do not, however, prepare taxes.  I let the professionals do that.

There has been a myth in the tax / accounting industry that any firm who promises to guarantee maximum refunds, quickly and easily and that offers it without cost (100% free), MUST be a scam or MUST be providing lower quality work and I can tell you that could not be further from the truth! 

I have found in my 18-year tax career that the majority of issues people have with their tax returns are on returns they have completed themselves, either because they do not know the Income Tax Act, or the Excise Tax Act, or because the thought of doing their own return is so daunting that they put it off and put it off until it causes them huge problems.

When the calendar turns January 1st, people start to stress about taxes!  The April 30th filing deadline for everyone except self-employed Canadians and their families comes very quickly, and those who are self-employed (and their spouse / common-law partner) find their June 15th filing deadline comes even faster.  Especially if their owed money to the CRA which should have been paid by April 30th.

Why add more stress?  Especially if you want to complete the return yourself…

H&R Block offers such a simple process it’s crazy that people would not file their returns on time, but for those do-it-yourself (DIY) folks, H&R Block has just the solution for you.  On March 3rd, 2015 Canada’s trusted leader in tax preparation announced FREE online tax filing software is now available for all of Canada’s 26 million tax filers.

H&R Block Online Tax Software is completely free (absolutely no hidden costs) and is an online Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tax filing solution.  H&R Block Online Tax Software’s intuitive process walks users through their tax return with a highly personalized step-by-step interview process which ensures absolutely nothing is missed, and any errors are detected automatically – offering piece-of-mind for the filer – and not leaving you at the mercy of your accountant and their knowledge or schedule.

How many of you get all of your paperwork together, make that appointment to see your accountant who you see only at tax time, and then you drop off your paperwork, and pay the bill once you have been advised that you have been filed.

Without a face-to-face opportunity to discuss your situation you might be missing deductions or tax credits.  No body knows your tax situation better than you do.  If you follow the easy to navigate online tax solution that H&R Block offers, you can see what you can claim, and how it impacts your refund or balance, putting you in the drivers seat.

H&R Block’s tax solution is optimized for any digital device so filers can switch seamlessly from their computer to their phone or their tablet and back, anytime and anywhere. Filers are assured the maximum possible refund with H&R Block’s Maximum Refund Guarantee and 100% Accuracy Guarantee. The Refund-O-Meter™ enables users to see their refunds calculated as they complete the process in real-time.

An added bonus is that free support is offered throughout the filing process with access to H&R Block tax experts via phone, chat or email, and to simplify the process, new filers will be able to import data directly from competitors’ tax software.

Of course, the offering is available in both National languages, and DIY tax filers can seamlessly switch between French and English, or from one family member to another.

The H&R Block Online Tax Software is available at www.hrblock.ca.

Just make sure to file on time!  Even one-day late results in penalties!

 

This post is a sponsored post, I am being compensated for writing this post, and I would not be writing about H&R Block if I did not believe in the product, the services and the quality of ,not only the work done by H&R Block, but also the quality of information H&R Block provides to Canadians at tax time and all year round.  There is a reason why they have been around for 50-years!

Should you pay your kids to do chores?


Such a great topic, and one in which I have spent a lot of time discussing with my wife over the years.  Last week, I was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on this very topic and the article can be found here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/should-you-pay-your-kids-to-do-chores/article23076370/

Here is the article for you to read and comment.  I’m curious as to your thoughts as a parent who has tried this and found that it works, or failed, or if there a compromise which worked.

The article:

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The phrase “the value of a dollar” is misleading. The truth is, there are so many values contained in a buck it’s hard to count them all. It’s these values we are trying to impart when we give kids an allowance – that money has to be earned, that not every desire can be instantly gratified, that it’s important to give to those in need. Perhaps the biggest point of contention is whether to pay kids to do chores. Dan Lieber argues against it in his new book, The Opposite of Spoiled. Parents don’t get paid for housework, so neither should children, according to Lieber. But a strong case can be made for the other side of the debate as well. We asked parents on each end of the debate to explain their allowance philosophy.

NOT TIED TO CHORES

Kids should do chores to help the household and learn to take care of themselves, not to pocket cash. “Let’s fast-forward to when your child goes to college. Is he going to want to be paid to take out the trash and keep his room neat?” says Kristan Leatherman, co-author of Millionaire Babies or Bankrupt Brats.

Lori McGrath, Vancouver-based blogger of The Write Mama

Kid’s age 6

Allowance $3 per week: $2 goes into his wallet, $1 goes into a piggy bank.

The lesson “I want him to learn how to be independent with money. I want him to feel empowered about it, and to learn how to make good decisions about money.”

Why it’s not tied to chores “He does have chores, but [the allowance] is just to teach him financial responsibility. We don’t want it to be an emotional thing – ‘You’re being a good boy, here’s money.’ We want it to teach him about making his own decisions and saving for things.”

Warren Orlans, Toronto-based tax consultant @ inTAXicating and blogger @UrbanDaddyBlog

Kids’ ages 10, 8, 5

Allowance $5, $4, $2 per week, respectively.

The lesson “The value of money. Money is not something you throw away, but it’s not the be-all, end-all. You can do without money. You don’t have to buy everything you see. But if you see something you want, you can save up and purchase it.”

Why it’s not tied to chores “The kids have to do chores as part of being members of the household. … I’m a big sports fan, and there’s nothing worse than having a player on your team who’s only in it for the contract.” But if Orlans has to clean up after the kids after two warnings, he makes them buy back the items, whether socks or comic books, from their allowance.

Denise Schipani Huntington, NewYork-based author

Kids’ ages 12 and 10

Allowance $12 and $10 per month, respectively.

The lesson “That money has worth. And it has consequences.”

Why it’s not tied to chores “The very idea of that turns me off completely. None of us [in the family] pay each other for doing what needs doing. But they get an allowance so that they can decide what they want to do with money. We presented it more as a way to help them understand how money works.”

TIED TO CHORES

Paying kids to do chores teaches them about working for what they want. “Having the feeling that the money comes from your effort appears to be related to the notion that money doesn’t grow on trees, and that you’re not entitled to any money,” says Lewis Mandell, an economist and financial literacy educator.

Tibetha Kemble, Edmonton-based consultant in First Nations relations

Kid’s age 6

Allowance $10 after a full slate of chores is completed, usually every two weeks.

The lesson “That there is a direct connection between doing work and getting something for it … and that things are expensive and if you save up your allowance you can afford to buy it – that it’s not just about immediate gratification.”

Why it’s tied to chores “It was really the only way that we could tie money to something without it seeming arbitrary or punitive or behaviour-related.”

Jen Kern, Toronto-based events and business development director

Kids’ ages 6, 3

Allowance No allowance for the three-year-old. Older son has a chore chart with various amounts (25 cents for making his bed, for example) with a weekly maximum of $7. His parents match whatever he saves.

The lesson “That money isn’t free … linking savings to that was really important. Neither my husband nor I were ever taught that, and as result we were really crappy with money for a lot of our late-teens, early 20s. We’re trying to explain to him that if he puts his money away, it will be there when he needs it. He’s saved $85 already.”

Why it’s tied to chores “There was going to be no free ride.”

 

Danielle Riddel, Calgary-based real estate assistant

Kid’s age 14

Allowance $70 per month ($10 has to go into savings)

The lesson “Nowadays I feel like kids get money all the time for everything. I want her to learn that you can’t have everything as soon as you want it. You have to work for it. You have to save for it.”

Why it’s tied to chores “She doesn’t get allowance for cleaning her room or taking care of the dog. She gets it for doing all the floors in the house and cleaning three bathrooms. I wanted her to have money because I want her to learn to spend and how to save money, but I didn’t want to just give it to her.”

Thoughts?

Comments?