Our 612th Dad in the Limelight is Andy Ankowski of The Doctor and the Dad Website. I want to thank Andy Ankowski for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing Andy Ankowski with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers’ knowledge)
My name’s Andy Ankowski. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, went to college in South Bend, Indiana, and now live in Santa Monica, California.
A very small number of people out there might know me as that guy who once wrote a poem about onion bagels every day for a year. But a (hopefully) larger number of people now know me as the “Dad” half of “The Doctor and the Dad” website – a fun parenting blog I write with my brilliant child development expert wife, Amber.
In addition to the blog, my wife and I have also written a parenting book together called . It’s full of mind-blowing experiments you can perform on your own kids to find out exactly what’s going on inside their heads at all different stages of development, from before they’re even born all the way up through age seven and beyond.
We aimed to make the book equal parts helpful, hilarious, and heart-warming – and I think we pretty much succeeded!
2) Tell me about your family
My wife and I have three kiddos.
Our five-year-old daughter Sammy is sweet, smart and super creative. Our three-year-old son Freddy is funny, fearless and follows his sister everywhere. And our six-month-old girl Millie is just about the smiley-est baby we’ve ever seen.
They’re pretty darn great, if I do say so myself.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
Getting used to the fact that, at least for now, our house is always a wreck.
Seriously, there are toys, books, art supplies and tiny pieces of plastic food everywhere you look. We dirty an insane amount of dishes, cookware and sippy cups feeding these ravenous little rapscallions every day. And there seems to be an overflowing trashcan for me to take out every time I turn around.
Even when we all pitch in for a little “family clean-up time” before bed, once the kids play for one minute the next morning, the place is a total pigsty again.
I don’t know how they do it. I guess I should just be impressed.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
Don’t be an old-school dad.
I’m amazed when I see dads my own age pretending it’s still 1952, and acting like taking care of the kids is “women’s work.”
If you refuse to change diapers, wipe noses, peel apples, sing bedtime songs and give your kids gobs of hugs, kisses and cuddles whenever they want them, you’re not “being a man” – you’re being a wuss.
And you’re really missing out, too.
5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
It’s definitely not easy. My current theory is that until you have kids, you are never actually busy. Sure, during college or after you get your first job, there are lots of times when you think you’re busy.
But guess what? Everything you are so busy with then is completely optional! They’re just things you’ve chosen to fill your time with – and you could drop any of them if you really wanted or needed to.
But after you have kids, there is literally something you could be doing to take care of them, or clean up after them, or childproof for them so they don’t accidentally maim themselves every second of every day. And even if you don’t want to do those things, you have to. Because your kids are always there, and they always need you to be their dad.
So to answer the question, I guess the way I balance parenthood with outside life is to just freaking do it. I wake up early so I can spend time with my family before heading to my copywriter/creative director ad agency job. I try not to waste time during the day so I can leave the office on schedule and get home to have dinner and play with the fam. And then my wife and I stay up later than we probably should every night so we can hang out, watch some TV, or write a book together.
It’s kind of crazy, but having kids has made me more productive than I’ve ever been in my entire life.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
The father I’ve learned the most about parenting from would have to be my own dad.
He’s taught me all sorts of amazingly useful stuff – you should joke and laugh with your kids as much as possible, you should always play catch when your kid asks you to (even if you’re completely and totally exhausted), you should keep your kids on their toes every once in a while by telling them you’re actually an alien from outer space, and you should set a good example for your kids by acting sweet, loving and romantic with your wife – even when it totally grosses your kids out.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
It’s a priority-shifting, life-changing and absolutely awesome experience. If you haven’t done it yet, you totally should. (After you have a whole bunch of young, childless fun, of course!)
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
It’s hard to sit back and reminisce when you’re still in the heat of the battle like I am, but here are a few highlights that come to mind from my first five years of fatherhood:
Playing piano with my oldest daughter, talking with my son about how much he loves monsters, taking naps with a baby on my chest, telling knock-knock jokes with the kids, hearing the most adorable little voices imaginable say “I love you,” and being able to record some of these amazing memories I’m making in the .
…Did I mention I wrote a parenting book with my wife?
If you have any questions for Andy Ankowski, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!
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