What is something you love to do with your kids? I love to read books, ride bikes, and take them out for ice cream. Sometimes I like to do something more spontaneous though, like surprise them with bubble gum and baseball cards.
Do you have any Father’s Day traditions? Not really, but we did use to take my dad to the driving range on Father’s Day and then have a bbq together- but he always worked the grill.
Biggest lesson that learned from your dad that you do with your kids? For most of my life I was the complete opposite of my dad until I became one. I spent so many years thinking I would never be like him, but then I immediately became him when my kids were born. He taught me to always put other people before yourself - whether they are your own kids or complete strangers. I learned to take care of everyone before myself. If you ask our family who takes care of everyone and organizes everything, it’s my dad, Mark. He is so organized and methodical, always planning 18 months in advance while I’m planning 36 hours ahead and then heading to the airport. He cringes sometimes at our spontaneity, but he loves our commitment to family and community.
What part of fatherhood surprised you? How little you care about yourself, everything is about the kids. If I get even just a few things for myself, that is great. It was also surprising to learn how amazing kids are. I was never into kids, but when I became a dad I realized how smart, innocent, and incredible their minds are. Seeing how much information they gather and how their brains work is amazing.
Do you think you have a “parenting style”? We don’t follow a style or a rule book. We do what we’re comfortable with. We try not to baby or coddle our kids, and we make sure they know to help each other. When we’re with Europeans we’re considered lawn-mower parents, always staying on top of them, but when we’re in the US we’re told that we are “hands off” and let our kids run wild. So it’s all a game of perspective. Healthy and happy is good for us, so we focus on getting into books, getting outside and into nature, and being good people.
What’s your super-power as a father?I have 100 hands! I can be a monster, fairy, dancer, or mermaid - really any character- at the flip of a switch.
How will you be celebrating Father’s Day this year in quarantine?I plan on going for a run. It’s been a pretty long cold streak, so it will be good to start running again. I’d also like to make a tee-time, but that might not happen. And I’ll of course be spending some time with the kids.
How is parenting twins different and unique? We have less time for each kid. We also definitely ask more of our older kids. They have to help with the younger ones. I would say our biggest struggle is to give each kid individual time. Group settings are also a challenge, but we do our best to divide and conquer. Having twins means more of everything - food, crying, volume. You need a high level of tolerance and patience. You also cannot take life too seriously - keep your expectations low! For example, we planned to take a long walk on Sunday evening with the kids. We got them all into the strollers and were ready to go, but then they somehow got loose and were climbing trees in the neighbor’s yard. So much for the walk!
Has COVID-10 changed your approach to fatherhood? I’ve always been an old school type of parent. I really believe in nuclear family values, in spending quality time together both outdoors and at home. The positive thing about Covid is that it has really returned us to old habits like bike riding and taking family walks together. It melts my heart to see other fathers spending quality time with their kids outdoors and playing. They might be excited for this to be over and to go back to work, but I look at this time as a way to spend time with siblings and family. I love the camaraderie, so I have been trying to plan two small trips a month that will slow down everything around us and let us bond as a family.