Purposeful parenting: making every minute count

While many of us understand that the early years are important, we aren’t always sure exactly how to encourage early learning, or how we can find the time given our busy lives.

As part of United Way’s Success By 6 initiative to help young children start kindergarten prepared, the Born Learning campaign provides lots of fun and easy activities that can be part of your daily routine.

You’ll find useful information based on the latest research, along with dozens of downloadable tips, fact sheets and other user-friendly materials for you to use or pass on to others.

So often, families divide child care responsibilities along gender lines. The following hints are designed to help dads conquer their fears of the unknown and go where they’ve rarely gone before — to the changing table, over the side of the bathtub and into the grocery store.

Dads can be in charge of helping their child get ready for the day. Create their own unique routine, one that’s different from mom’s routine.

• Read up — whether the father of an infant, a toddler or a teen, make an effort to learn about a child’s age and stage of development. Read up on how to change a diaper, how to prepare a nursery, how to handle a tantrum or what toys to use to help a child learn and grow. Read also about the role a dad can play.

• Read to children — carve out a time slot for father time, be it everyday or every Saturday, when a child knows he can sit down with his dad and listen to stories. Dads can take special field trips to the library or bookstores to let a child look at book selections so they can get a good understanding of what a child likes to read.

• Make a weekend morning a dad’s morning — declare Saturday or Sunday mornings father time. Learn the morning routine ropes well enough to get a child out of bed, dressed and fed without the help of mom and go somewhere fun. Go out for breakfast, just with dad. This is time both a child and mother will look forward to.

• Get comfortable in the grocery store — make a concerted effort to learn the foods and supplies that mom buys every week for the kids and offer to go to the store to get them. Take a list along, and ask the child to help find the things throughout the store.

• Help tackle sleep issues — whether dealing with an infant who has yet to sleep through the night or a toddler who’s having nightmares, take turns with mom getting out of bed when issues arise in the middle of the night. It’s tiring, but it is a great opportunity to comfort and connect with a child, as well as to give mom a rest.

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