January 18, 2007

A Dad’s Tool Kit

As my children progress into toddlerhood, I have found that there are certain items that are indispensable when it comes to performing my fatherly duties. While a mom’s list might include hand sanitizer or lavender lotion, this is something that most men can relate to. While not a complete list, these have been in my top-ten for the past few months and I thought it might be useful for all you new fathers out there…

Top 10 Tools For a New Dad

1) Protective cup. For some unknown reason, toddlers like to kick their legs furiously when you least expect it. Picking up a child for a hug, for example, can lead to swift kicks that inevitably land in the one area that a man would not want a swift kick. Now, wearing a protective cup might make you walk a little funny but it sure beats vomiting on the floor while your kids laugh their tails off.

2) Snacks. Kids get hungry when you least expect it. For some odd reason, just because they’re growing an inch a day they think they should get food whenever they’re hungry. Adding to this dilemna is that they are not so well equipped to tell you, “Why Daddy, I’m quite hungry right now. Could you please give me something to eat?” Instead, your precious child goes from zero to eruption in no time. Having some Cheerios or Kix cereal for such an occasion will go a long way.

3) Tissue. Your toddler will spew some of the most vile fluids you have ever seen. These fluids will ooze from your child’s nose in such copious amounts that you might think she was an extra in the movie Ghostbusters. Having tissue on hand will save you from having to use your own shirt for a quick cleanup. Besides, you’ve seen that kid at the playground who uses the back of his hand to wipe snot and dirt all over his face. Do you want that to be your child? The mothers will look at you and snicker because they expect that from a Dad.

4) Parlor Tricks. Every Dad needs to know a trick or two to keep the kids entertained. I can cross my eyes and then have one eye dance to the left or the right – which mesmorizes the kids just long enough for them to forget why they were about to go ballistic (in my case it’s almost certainly one taking a toy from the other). I can also make a loud hiccup-type sound that cracks the kids up every time. (Note: Your wife might not appreciate your tricks as much as you or the kids do. Proceed at your own risk.)

5) Batteries. Sizes AA, AAA, D, C, and 9-volt. Someday I’m going to run for President and my platform will be that I’ll introduce legislation that will make it mandatory for all toy makers to use the same size battery. Until then we all have to be well-stocked with every size battery imaginable. Few things are worse than having a favorite electronic toy stop working right as you’re about to watch the Chargers win lose a big game and not have any batteries in the house.

6) A small phillips screw driver. Along the same lines as #5, all toys have battery compartments with tiny little screws that must have been designed by Santa’s elves. Most of us manly-men (*snicker*) don’t have a screw driver that small because the size of our tools are important. But trust me on this, you need a small screw driver.

7) A non-operating “real” phone. Toddlers love telephones. I can’t explain it, it’s just true. Unfortunately, they also know when they’re being hosed when you try giving them a toy phone to play with. What we have done is taken an old cordless phone that we no longer use (and is no longer plugged into a phone line) and keep it charged right next to our real phone. Now, when one of our toddlers wants to use the phone we take the old phone, push a couple of buttons to show them it’s “real” and they’re good to go.
8) A Kid-safe drawer. First, you don’t let your wife do all the cooking, do you? Real men know how to cook. Sure it can be a meatball sandwich or a hearty plate of nachos, but you should be able to handle kitchen duties when called upon. When I’m in the kitchen, our kids love to run around. Inevitably they want to open up the cabinets and rummage around inside. Instead of banning them from the kitchen, we have designated a drawer as “their” drawer. In it are all of our knives, skewers and fine china tupperware containers and lids. We direct them to that drawer when they get curious and they have a great time re-arranging all of my perfectly stacked tupperware containers.

9) Funny voices. Every dad needs a signature funny voice that you can unleash at times when there is a need for a major distraction. My voice is a cross between Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear. Funny voices work best when accompanied by funny faces. Protruding tongue and googly eyes are always a hit. (Note: Wife will definitely not respond to this voice in the same way as your kids – especially in the bedroom.)

10) Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Preferably with ample amounts of chocolate. (This is not for your kids, it’s for your wife when she’s had enough dealing with you the kids life. Possibly the most important item in your tool kit.)

Now this list is just a sampling of all the tools available to a dad. It’s a treacherous path, this fatherhood thing, and we could use all the tools we can get. So, Dads (and Moms!) what tools do you have in your tool kit?


  1. The Body Check Machine – Taking each kid one at a time and checking to make sure arms, legs, and voice work well. We also like to make sure all ribs are in place. Helps if the child is ticklish.

    Instead of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (I’m lactose intolerant) my husband makes sure there is always a bag of chocolate chips in the fridge. They can last a while as I only need a few at a time to get my hormones back to normal.

    Also, my kid safe drawer is the one with the pots and pans in it. With 5 kids, we hardly have leftovers, so we don’t have much plasticware. I also let them get into the big spoon drawer and get out wooden spoons. We put on music and they drum to it. Since the youngest has turned three, the volume has slowly been going down and we don’t have as much pounding instead of drumming anymore.

    You are very correct in the voice thing… if my husband ever used his “Little Old Man” voice in the bedroom, he may wish he was wearing that protective cup.

    Comment by Julie — January 18, 2007 @ 11:57 am

  2. Very good list.

    Comment by Gidge — January 18, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  3. I shall print that out and laminate it for future reference.

    Maybe shrink it down to wallet size?

    Comment by samantha jo campen — January 18, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  4. I will vote for you if you run for President on the “single battery size” platform.

    The Webmaster also has a “Dad book” that only HE reads to Ane. Mommy is not allowed to read it to her. However, I picked it out and it’s one of the Richard Scarry books, and it’s quite long and has no plot because it’s more of a word book. Daddy has begged Ane to let Mommy read it, but it’s a no-go. :) He gets stuck with it every time.

    Comment by Deanna — January 18, 2007 @ 11:04 pm

  5. Very good list! We would add as (as our boys call them) “Daddy’s handy dandy skizzers”. They are utility shears my husband always has in his pocket for work. They are a must have for those darn silver wires the use to tie every toy to the packaging! Could you outlaw those in addition to your battery platform?

    Comment by Laurie — January 19, 2007 @ 8:40 am

  6. Amen, amen, amen.

    Comment by Ki — January 19, 2007 @ 10:47 am

  7. You are right on the money with this list! I just finished tearing the house apart to find two AAA batteries to power a little train, and came across 2043 AA, 672 C, 49 D, and 2 9v in the process. I banned my kid from the kitchen years ago though. He’s a little too busy to hang out in there. And my wife needs popcorn (and red wine) when she’s had enough. I’m the one that needs the Phish Food (and red wine).

    Comment by Keith — January 20, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  8. Great list!

    I don’t leave the house without a packet of baby wipes and a bag containing plain paper and pencils. If we want the kids to sit still at a cafe while we wait for their milkshakes to arrive they need to have something to do. The wipes are handy for any spills that napkins and tissues can’t manage. Oh, and it’s handy to have a hairbrush in the glovebox because I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve left the house and I’ve glanced back at my kids and wondered if they have an owner.

    Comment by wine makes mummy clever — January 20, 2007 @ 7:27 pm

  9. Disposable placemats because not all toddlers know how to eat off a plate w/o throwing said plate to floor. These things are a must have in the diaper bag. Here’s a link:

    Another must have for us … bath aprons. Here’s a link to my blog where I ramble on about how great they are w/ pictures…

    Before I became pg again, I also had in my *tool kit* several bottles of GOOD wine. This went a lot further for me than ice cream after a long day. Although, usually I drank my wine while eating ice cream…

    Comment by Jen3 @ amazing trips — January 21, 2007 @ 12:21 am

  10. First time to your site! Great post, need to share with my husband! We are parents of almost 9 month old twins and can relate to a lot of your posts. Keep em’ coming~

    Comment by archana — January 21, 2007 @ 9:57 pm

  11. Not sure you know yet…”The Wonder Twins” from your blogroll are here at last! I thought you would enjoy a trip down memory lane. My apologies if you already knew.

    Comment by Melissa — January 22, 2007 @ 10:53 am

  12. [...] The genesis for this post was Matthew’s post last week about the Top 10 Tools For A New Dad.  Check out #5 – legislation making it mandatory for all toy manufacturers to use the same size battery (I vote for AA) in electronic toys.  This got me to thinking – what other things could be possibly changed to make American parents’ lives easier? [...]

    Pingback by Deanna’s Corner » Blog Archive » Campaign promises — January 26, 2007 @ 11:42 am

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