This is part II of my interview with a Cameron librarian who is a new father, at 34 years old, to a 1 year old boy. I am the Burnaby Early Childhood Development Coordinator. Feel free to contact me with any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Where do you get your information on things to do? Places to visit? Resources, if you have problems or questions related to being a parent?
A: I was exposed to some of the resources because of being part of Man in the Moon and being in the library and working for the City [of Burnaby] … I was more aware of programs – parks and rec programs and Strong Start. I went to the “Baby Signing and Song” course offered by parks and rec – he’s not deaf but he was able to learn some basic signs (such as “more” and “all done”) to communicate before he was able to speak. This has been really helpful.
Because I had previously worked at daycare centres at the Developmental Disabilities Association, I had taken a signing course so I remembered that it was something people did with babies. But I didn’t truly appreciate how useful it could be. Working at the library, I was exposed to it a little. We sometimes have an ASL (American Sign Language) storytime featuring a Deaf storyteller. I would highlight that as something useful.
I also had 2 other friends who were on parental leave at the same time as me. So, I had other friends and community who I met with. We did informal things. We’d go to library story times at Burnaby. My family has been a huge support as well.
There aren’t a lot of programs for just dads. Man in the Moon is really the only one I can think of. It’s a great opportunity to hang out with other dads and to bond with your kid. I think it’s still pretty rare for a father to take much parental leave. I took 5 months and from what I can tell that’s pretty unheard of. It’s available to everyone. It’s governmental entitlement. My wife took 7 months and I took 5 months.
Those 5 months made me a much more complete and capable parent. I was a bit terrified to be running the show by myself. I was still working his first 7 months. So, the outings, his food, his naps, were usually planned by my partner. Then, it was me in charge to make those decisions. It was good for both of us to have a chance to be the lead parent. It helps with the bond too. You get a more complete sense of what it means to be the caregiver. Even though I thought I knew, I realized I didn’t once I was there all day and every day. I know the opportunity isn’t there for everyone, but if it works for your family, I would recommend taking that time to be the main caregiver. It changed my outlook and how I interact with Walter. Whereas before certain outings and things might have been intimidating to me, now I feel more confident. Confidence is a big thing for me. Walter and I took a plane over to spend a couple days with my dad in Qualicum beach. It was at first a terrifying thought for me to be with him for 2 days dealing with everything without my partner. But we went and had a great time, and I felt a lot more confident in my parenting abilities as a result.
Man in the Moon programs in Burnaby libraries: http://bpl.bc.ca/events/man-in-the-moon-at-metrotown-22
Youtube – jbrary songs and rhymes: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jbrary+songs
Website: www.kidsinburnaby.ca. A one stop hub of information, resources, child care, agencies and events for parents/caregivers (and agencies) of children from birth to 5 years old. Burnaby-based but relevant regardless of geography.
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Monthly themes with practical information, notice of upcoming Burnaby-based events, and easy, tasty, recipes every Friday.