Tag Archives: babysitter

Did Steve Jobs Just Fire My Babysitter?

My first real computer was an Apple Macintosh SE/30.  It’s massive 30MB hard drive handled the operating system and all my programs with ease.

Photo Credit: CyphermX via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: CyphermX via Compfight cc

Since my first purchase in 1990, Apple has been my exclusive personal computer provider.  Despite some lean years and misfires, Apple has consistently designed for the end user.  Steve Jobs cast the vision (during his various tenures at Apple) and I followed.

Fast forward to 2014.  My full-frame Nikon takes single photos larger than 30MB in RAW format.  And my son has a 16GB iPad Mini with the memory equivalent of over 530 Macintosh SE/30s.

And he loves his iPad.  Honestly, I love mine, too.

My son is able to text and FaceTime his mom, and it has changed the nature of how we communicate with our loved ones in incredible ways.


It has also changed the way kids and grown ups interact with technology.  Games, movies, music, social media, and texting consume a great deal of time and attention before we realize it.

So, what does all this have to do with single dads?  Well, if you are like me, you have let electronics substitute for your time and attention when other duties called.  Whether for a conference call, a chore, preparing a meal, or just getting a moment to breathe, I have let my son’s iPad play babysitter.  That babysitter keeps him quiet (unless he asks to buy another new game) and engaged so I can concentrate.

Last week, this article appeared on nytimes.com – apparently Steve Jobs strictly enforced technology rules for his kids at home.  What?  Are you kidding?  And I’m pretty sure he even got the Apple employee discount on his kids’ iPads.

The article generated several ideas about technology:

  1. Technology does not belong at meals.  On special occasions, watching a movie and eating dinner in the family room can be a blast.  But, dinner time should generally be about the family – whatever that looks like.  We play word games at the table when conversation lulls.  Try Rory’s Story Cubes, Tall Tale, or something from Family Time Fun Dinner Games.
  2. We need to limit technology time (including television) for our kids.  A quick Google search or inquiry with a therapist/pediatrician will tell you our kids watch too much television and spend too much time with their computers, phones, and tablets.  Take a few days to keep a technology log and see how much your kids actually consume.    It may shock you like it did me.  Then set limits based on professional advice and common sense.
  3. Our kids know how much screen time we use.  To us, we are simply checking our email, responding to a text message, looking up directions, posting a status update, or playing a quick game.  Our kids simply see us mind melding with our phones and ignoring them.  How many adults do you see each day walking down a sidewalk with their faces looking down at their devices?  Probably none since you are walking down a sidewalk looking at your device.  I do it, too.  And kids do not even see much of our television time…not that any of us binge watch True Detective or The Walking Dead once the kids go to sleep.
  4. We need to set an example for our kids.  My son recently had a no-screen time Friday and Saturday because he talked in class one-too-many-times during the week.  During his technology hiatus, he asked me to quit working on the computer and play with him.  What a great opportunity to connect with him in some quality roughhousing and a friendly game of checkers.

Bottom line:  do not feel guilty for letting technology entertain or educate your kids.  Do keep a close eye on what and how much they consume.

What technology challenges do you face at your home?  Do you limit screen time, and if so, what limits did you set?

5 Steps To Build A Reliable Team For Help When You Need It

Parenting is about expecting the unexpected.  Single parenting is about preparing for the unexpected.

If you’re like me, your ex-wife isn’t physically in the picture – mine lives a few hours away by plane.  You may or may not have family near by (my parents and sister live about two hours away).

So, what do you do when something comes up and your kid is not old enough to stay home alone?  That is when you tap in to your team.

Photo Credit: Warren Chrismas via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Warren Chrismas via Compfight cc


  • Family – Grandparents, parents, sibilings, aunts, cousins…you get the idea.  I have had to call my parents a few times and had them drive for a few hours to watch my son when he was sick and I had a meeting to go to.  It was not ideal, but my guess is your family wants to be supportive and you just need to ask.
  • Friends – This is a broad category and should be broken down so you can better identify who is a candidate for your network.
  • Other single dads/parents – Chances are good you have several single parents in your kid’s class/grade.  In fact, several of their close friends probably have single parents with either joint or full custody.  Some may or may not work or have non-traditional work hours (firefighters).  Single parents get it and are ususally quick to help if they can (and you should be quick to help them when they need it).
  • Retired friends – You have met these folks through your church, civic organizations, or in your neighborhood.
  • The rest – These are your married friends, neighbors, and anyone else in your circle.
  • Babysitters – It is essential to have a few babysitters for those evening events you need someone to watch your kid.  Ask teachers, other parents, college students, people at your church, and people at work for names of their sitters (they may not want to share if they have a reliable sitter).  If it is a college student, there is a chance they could be available during the day if their class schedule and work schedule allows.
  • Businesses –  From day-care organizations to certain kid-oriented businesses, you may have entities who will take your money in exchange for watching your kid.  Where I live, we have a few places willing to watch your kid (and wear them out) while you take care of that errand or meeting.  Not every bounce-house playground, trampoline gym or activity center will allow you to leave, but ask and find out which ones will.


  1. Write down the name and contact information for each person you come up with in each of the above categories.
  2. Be liberal.  Write down every possibility – even if you’re not sure they would be willing or able to help out.
  3. Reach out to every person on your list and ask them if they would be willing to lend a hand.  Let them know this is not for casual use, but instead for times when you really need help.
  4. After you have made your calls, rank your list based on who you feel most comfortable calling and who is generally available.
  5. Put your list into a document or spreadsheet and use it.

Remember, people want you to succeed as a single-dad and instinctively know you need help sometimes.  Let them help and do not hesitate to ask.  I remember how difficult it was to dial the phone and ask a friend to come over and watch my son while I went to a meeting – my pride was getting in the way of allowing someone to help me who had offered to do so.

I still wrestle with asking for help, at times, thinking I should be able to do this all on my own.  But then I remember the team of people around me who want to help and who I help back.

Do you already have a team or network?  What have you learned about asking for help?