David Parker is a self-professed “cool dad” but the father of two admits lately he has had his hands full.
Both Parker and his wife are working from their home in Regina, SK.
Their two kids, Emma, 5, and Xavier, 8, just spent a week at home during their school break, which made staying on task during the work day all the more difficult.
“They’re two really rambunctious, fun, active kids — high energy,” noted Parker.
“There have been meetings where I’ve been on a call and my kid is in the background playing, throwing a ball or nerf guns.”
Trying to find the balance between home and work life when you’re all in the same space hasn’t been easy. Parker felt like he was losing the battle.
“There have been moments where there’s disagreements, there’s negotiations to eat cookies in the morning. There’s going to bed late and that’s where I need a little bit more help.”
He turned to a father-focused website called Family Man and said the “tips and tricks” have helped him deal with outbursts and set some clear boundaries.
“I was hooked right from the get-go,” said Parker. “They make it relatable.”
Family Man was created by the Movember Canada team, and draws on humour to guide dads through relatable real-life scenarios.
Three animated episodes on the website play out like a choose-your-own-adventure story and promised “no more dodge parenting advice.”
Todd Minerson, the Movember Canada director, said the past year and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic could have a huge impact on men’s mental health and their home life.
He lists job insecurity, lack of routine and access to healthy coping mechanisms like sports and friends as another stressor.
“We looked very hard at the mental health impact on men and one of those issues was around fatherhood,” said Minerson. “Being in close quarters with the same people for 10 months in a row add its own pressure.”
Over the years, the Movember fundraising campaign has zoned in on men’s health, particularly testicular and prostate cancer, along with mental health and suicide prevention.
The charity did its own research and said it surveyed more than 800 dads in Canada and nearly 80 per cent said they didn’t know of any online parenting resources specific to them.
“There are a lot of amazing parenting tools out there,” Minerson said, but he added the research showed men were not seeking help from those parenting platforms.
“We have to create things that are specific to them.”
“Family Man treats parenting as a team sport, and more fathers being engaged benefits the whole family,” stated the website. “Add in that 70 per cent of childhood behaviour disorders are seen in boys, and it’s clear that more boys could use support from dads too.”
The videos, geared for dads with children aged two to eight, promote teamwork and use evidence-based strategies to tame a temper tantrum and encourage positive behaviour.
Minerson said his own children are now outside of the target age group but Family Man reminded him about some “workarounds” and how to put the fun back in parenting.
“We know that more engaged dads are good for everybody. They’re good news for the kids, good news for the partners and good news for the men themselves.”
One of the most valuable lessons Parker learned was to schedule in activity time with his kids and let them choose what they want to do.
“It’s easy to give them a tablet,” said Parker, “it’s easy to give them a phone and say, ‘don’t bug me’ but I have a responsibility as a parent to teach them the proper skills.”
Knowing when dad has to work and when he can play has also been easier on the Emma and Xavier.
“They’ve just been real troopers.”