When you are a sleep deprived Dad, worn out from working, commuting and taking care of your kid, a trip to the grocery store in the rain can seem daunting. Here are 5 tips to make it easier.

Buy a stroller rain cover. WhenI first saw these I was not impressed. They looked hot and claustrophobic. But my son surprised me and was completely enamored with watching the raindrops fall on the clear plastic. That it keeps the rain off the kid is secondary. The main benefit is seeing the joy on your kid’s face.

Bring the stroller into the store. Don’t try to be a hero and carry the shopping basket on your arm while you push the stroller. The basket will only get heavier and you’ll find yourself debating whether you want to actually get all the items on your list, or stow the grocery items on the lower level of the stroller, a less than ideal location.

Grab a shopping cart if you have a medium to large grocery list. Otherwise, the lower level container on the stroller will hold a surprising amount of stuff. On my trip to Costco last weekend I fit a giant kcup box, 3 lb can off coffee, a giant package of pens for work, and a bag of frozen chicken, quinoa and kale for lunches. P.s. can you tell I am a sleep deprived Dad from my shopping list?

Park near a shopping cart corral. This is a no brainer. After you are done shopping you have to get your kid and groceries back out to the car. Once in the car though, you can’t leave your kid unattended to return the cart. If the corral is close by, everybody wins.

Don’t forget your umbrella. With all the focus on keeping your little one dry and happy, and remembering everything on your grocery list, it’s easy to forget yourself. Remember: as the airlines say, put the Oxygen mask on yourself first. Don’t forget your umbrella. My favorite is the giant ones the sell discounted at Home Depot.

On Gratitude

December 11, 2017

This year I am thinking and reflecting on gratitude.

As I write this I am sitting next to my son, who had been sick with a fever, and reminded that having a child is the most amazing blessing of all.

After we pack up the Thanksgiving decorations and finish off the leftovers, it is easy to get sucked into the sudden rush of materialism the modern holiday season brings.

I love the holiday season: We went and got our Christmas tree and put it up right after Thanksgiving.

Time Magazine caught my eye recently with an article on gratitude and it’s health benefits: Included in these are the ability to make you more patient, sleep better, and improve your relationships.

Forbes magazine also has a recent article on the benefits of gratitude at work. It makes the connection between leadership, being a better leader, and practicing gratitude.

I like the concept of a gratitude practice that it introduces. The example they give sounds a big cheesy – particularly the part of mouthing the words ‘thank you’- but nevertheless a solid reminder that rather than dwelling this holiday season on our next big purchase and accompanying adrenaline rush from the next big thing, it might be worth it to focus instead on the things we already have and are grateful for.

Work life balance. Hearing the phrase makes me laugh.

When I look around at working professionals my age with families, balance doesn’t seem to fit in the equation. For most parents it’s just go, go, go!

This I think is why experienced parents tell newbie parents “it gets better.”

From day one the baby consumes your life. One of my favorite moments in the movie Lost In Translation captures this reality:

“Bob: The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born.

Charlotte: Nobody ever tells you that.

Bob: Your life, as you know it… is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”

This is the truth: My son is most delightful! His birth however did mark a turning point in my life after which everything changed.

But I do not feel nostalgic for the era before he was born. In my mind to do so would be to suggest I lack a sense of gratitude and joy for his existence now in the world.

Still, the insanity a baby introduces into life is not something anyone can prepare for. I certainly couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I understand the nostalgia parents feel towards a less crazy time. This, I think, is why the notion of work-life balance appeals to us.

It brings back memories of a time when we felt more balanced because we had an abundance of time. These memories create a sense of having once been in control.

The work life balance ideal also suggests there is an attainable optimal balance for us to discover.

Given that in 2017 we still can’t quite figure out the balance equation, it does make you wonder why this is the case. I think there are several reasons for this.

First, the phrase is antiquated. I didn’t know much about the history behind it. The concept is derived from the work-leisure dichotomy, itself an invention of the 1800s.

While the phrase strikes a nerve in the popular zeitgeist, the way it is presented in mass media can lead you to feel like not obtaining it is some kind of moral failure.

Parents today are bombarded by constant message from the media with the message that balance is within our grasp if only we do certain things.

With articles such as “6 Tips for Better Work Life Balance.” in Forbes, and The Harvard Business Review’s entire topic page devoted to the concept, the concept is reduced to a laughably simple recipe. If only we will follow it life will be perfect.

These articles present a range of wisdom about how parents can parent better, achieve more, increase efficiency and maximize happiness.

It is assumed that the pursuit of these ends is a good in and of itself.

This, however, downplays the fundamental error behind the assumption that there is something called work, and something called life, and that there is a division between the two that requires a balance to be maintained.

The desire to maintain a sense of balance arises out of the resource scarcity we feel daily. As a parent, the finite nature of time, energy, money, and will-power are more keenly felt.

We feel the need to optimize and manage our professional and personal lives.

We like the idea of work life balance, but in our attempt to manage it we find an never ending quest to find out if it is really even a thing.

According to a 2010 CDC study, 16% of adults feel an imbalance between managing work and family.

The media is quick to sell us ideas on how we can achieve balance in just a few easy steps, the general consensus is that it’s both achievable and within our grasp.

With tips such as “set manageable goals each day” and “take five,” it is easy to feel outraged at the simplicity of it all.

When you are exhausted from work, fought traffic on your long commute, have managed to put together a meal that isn’t unhealthy garbage, prepped your lunch and clothes for the next day, and finally gotten the baby to sleep, it is easy to read the advice to just set manageable goals and “take five” and laugh.

On this note I found this reference to a Dr. Edy Greenblatt intriguing:

“Dr. Edy Greenblatt has spent years studying the effects of overwork and exhaustion on employees. She cites a common theme that many people think of work as depleting and non-work as restoring, so in order to achieve balance under that model, you would either have to quit work or work as little as possible. Not exactly an option for most people. Rather, Dr. Greenblatt suggests you put work and non-work on one axis and what restores you and what depletes you on the other axis. The key is to identify what restores you and depletes you both at work and non-work, then do more of what restores you.” (Greenblatt, 2009)

The notion of recognizing what depletes you and what restores you intuitively makes sense to me.

For example, I find playing with my son emotionally engaging and a joy generator in a way that other activities are not.

Likewise in a previous job I did a lot of interviewing and that would leave me feeling completely drained.

I think parents would do well to adopt this model; for me, reframing certain daily activities within this context has allowed me to focus in on what leaves me feeling recharged and what doesn’t.

Driving in rush hour traffic, for example, leaves me feeling totally drained. But a short rest when I get home, while my son is still sleeping from his commute nap, leaves me feeling a bit more refreshed.

Spending time with my son in the evening laughing, playing, and singing Christmas Carols gives me a sense of recharging from my day even if it otherwise seem like an energy depleting activity.

I respond positively in joy and feelings of satisfaction every time I hear my son laugh.

We would do well then I think to consider all this, especially the next time a huckster tries to convince balance can be achieved through just a few simple steps lwhich they will sell to you for top dollar.

As a new Dad my time has become more precious – and scarce- than ever before.

Here are several apps I’m using and loving to stay efficient, productive, and sane.


I accumulate excess paper clutter.

When my wife and I were dating, she found it was hilarious that I owned a file cabinet. “What in the world are you filing?” she would tease me.

Evernote addresses my clutter problem. With a built in scanner and search tool I can quickly turn a pile of trash into a functional  searchable digital archive.

This provides a useful check on my decreased memory recall due sleep deprivation.


I recently learned of the Minimalists podcast. While I haven’t yet taken on their minimalism challenge to purge items from my life, I have taken a liking to using this app.

It is simple. I had tried other tasking apps before, such a Wunderlist and the Apple Reminders. These came with too many bells and whistles.

This app reminds me of a small blank notecard, which I used in my pre-smartphone days.

The clean and sleek design helps me focus on the task at hand.

Also helpful, a built in timer you can activate when ready to work on a task. With this tool you can chunk your to do list items into manageable time blocks.


I have been a fan of meditation for some time. I am not, by any means, a meditation guru but this is my favorite meditation app.

It’s perfect for beginners: it chunks meditation blocks into manageable time, guides you from the beginning, and provides a good balance on finding your zen and observing the wandering a of the mind.

Its creator is British, so the guided meditations are narrated with an accent.

This adds to the authenticity of the meditation experience.


While older parents from a pre-tech era may balk at the idea of a using a camera to check on a sleeping baby, I find this tool brings many benefits.

First, the app works with a physical camera you can place – or mount with the included wall mount- in your child’s bedroom.

You can then control the camera with your cell phone app- moving it any direction, recording pictures and video, and even using the microphone to talk through the built in speaker.

This camera also has night vision built in and it works pretty well.

We received this as a baby shower gift: It had some of the best reviews and I’d say it lives up to the hype.

The only hiccup I’ve encountered is the wireless setup didn’t work during installation, so I had to plug it into our router before I got it to work on the wifi.


Credit Karma lets you check your credit score for free.

While some credit cards offer convenient credit score monitoring, I find this app more convenient.

After setting up a PIN number, all it takes is the simple entry of four digits and you can see your credit score on file with the credit score companies.

With this app there is really no reason not to know and stay on top of your credit score.

“Just to see you smile, I’d do anything” – Tim McGraw

At three months old, my son smiles when I greet him in the morning, converses in coos, and loves watching the ceiling fan.

It feels like an eternity has passed since he was born. Prior to his existence, I would see three months pass in the blink of an eye.

Now, each day feels like an eternity – in a good way. When I think about what he was like when he was born – just over five pounds and very thin, compared to today, I realize how far he has come. In just this short three months, my life has changed dramatically.

I share below a few of the ways life has changed that I did not anticipate, and what I have learned in these first three months.

Sleep is gold. Sleep is a precious commodity. I always liked – loved- it before, so this observation is not exactly a surprise.

There is a reason experienced parents always ask me the same question when they learn my son is two months old: “Are you getting any sleep?

In pre baby life, sleep was like a cruise ship buffet: I had access to it when I needed it and I could consume just about as much of it as I wanted.

Today all I can say is I wish I were only ‘tired.” The word tired doesn’t quite cut it. There are a few silver linings though.

In the short term your mind and body will adapt. You will either find time to sleep, or power through.

More experienced parents will advise “it gets better.” I can say this is largely true.

The days are long but each week goes by faster. For more thoughts on surviving sleep deprivation check out this post.

The Dad instincts kick in automatically. Babies were not my forte. As a young adult I did not babysit, did not have younger siblings, and did not see myself as a “baby” person.

I was the airplane passenger more annoyed to see a family with young children board, and then to my horror sit right behind me.

In the early weeks of my son’s life, I found myself surprised at how strongly my fatherly instincts flexed.

Cradle Cap Is a Thing. I paid close attention in the newborn care class, read multiple baby books, and watched many online videos on newborn care.

I don’t recall cradle cap mentioned once. After about three weeks following his birth, my son’s head became covered in scales and his hair fell out.

He looked like an 80 year old man  – bald on top with hair only on the side and back of his head.

The medical wisdom on the internet advised – to our dismay-  this “cradle cap” could last up to two months.

After brief consult with our pediatrician, she advised us to wash his head lightly with Selsun blue shampoo, and apply hydrocortisone cream.

This cleared up the cradle cap in about a week and a half!

Acid Reflux is a Thing. Newborn babies typically lack a fully functioning esophagus: nothing stands in the way to block their stomach contents from backing up into their throats and mouths.

The result: a screaming, unhappy child.

Since it is a mechanical problem, the medication offered by the pediatrician only mutes the acid pain slightly but does not solve the underlying problem.

Only time and growing allow his esophagus to develop and do the job of keeping his food down.

Breastfeeding is Torture. And beautiful. And miserable – all at the same time.

A mythical aura of romance surrounds breastfeeding, masking how painful it can be for the mother.

The breastfeeding class we took whitewashed this.

I do not recall a discussion of mastitis – which is awful, as is the frightening uncontrollable shivering and high fever that accompanies it.

Breastfeeding is portrayed as a breeze: picture the modern mother elegantly nursing her babe under a stylish cover scarf, seated in a verdant park while her fellow urbanites jog and roller blade by.

A more accurate portrayal: a sleep deprived mom, striving to keep her sanity and shit together, enduring a 3 a.m. pumping session while her husband groggily feeds baby.

The Mom suffers pumping so her baby boy can suck breastmilk mixed with rice cereal, the only solution for calming his painful acid reflux.

Dad and Mom share the middle of night baby care to minimize the severity of sleep loss in the night.

While the benefits of breastfeeding are many, it’s not easy. It has been rough for my wife –  and me – and we have contemplated stopping at certain points.

My wife has powered through. I am sure about one thing though: it is not the song song story they painted in the breastfeeding class. There have been many hiccups and roadblocks along the way.

Post-Partum Care in America is a Disaster. Pregnancy, as I witnessed it from the Dad perspective, is treated as a big deal.

The frequency of medical appointments steadily increased from when we learned my wife was pregnant, until the day my son was born.

After his birth, however, the doctor didn’t want or need to see my wife again for six weeks. This was both cruel and absurd.

Our society cloaks the trauma of childbirth under a veneer of idyllic joy. Mothers are left largely to fend for themselves.

Add to this the lack of paid parental leave in the U.S., and most new moms end up operating more or less as single parents after the first few weeks – or whatever amount of time the dad is able to scrounge together to get time off of work.

I frequently criticize the content – or lack therof- in the childbirth and parenting classes we took.

Post partum recovery is no exception. The content glossed over how difficult in can be. The consensus seems to be that post partum recovery lasts six to eight weeks.

As with many things in baby land, the reality is far different. WebMD glosses it over in one swoop: “Postpartum: First 6 Weeks After Childbirth.

During the days and weeks after the delivery of your baby (postpartum period), your body will change as it returns to its nonpregnant condition.”

When I first read this description, I scoffed. To think after nine months of pregnancy- that a woman’s body will return to its pre-pregnancy condition is wishful thinking.

Now, at first glance it may not seem a that a Dad has much to say on this. I think though this misses

To put it shortly, my wife went through hell and back. Parents.com sets expectations more appropriately.

Now, as the new Dad I readily admit I had it pretty easy in those first few weeks. I mainly had to adapt to the intense sleep deprivation, but my wife suffered through the immediate recovery.

Modern Medical Science is Marvelous. We are fortunate to live in the era of modern medical science.

In the U.S. today 15 women per 100,000 die in childbirth. One hundred years ago 600 per 100,000 did.

While the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is far too high for a developed country, we are still lucky to benefit from the wonders of modern medicine.

We knew, by choice, our son’s gender from an early blood test, part of a slew of genetic tests to screen for debilitatating diseases and birth defects.

A week before  his due date my son began measuring small, so the OBGYN induced my wife.

The Pediatrician Will See You Every Week. Get ready to go to the doctor nearly every week for the first stretch.

Well baby visits early on will happen every week with more on top of that if you have any medical issues or questions you need a consult on.

After the first stretch, these will drop to about once a month, and then every couple of months as baby gets older.

Information Overload is Real. The good news about parenting in 2017 is there is no shortage of resources online and instantaneous information.

Need a video on how to calm a crying baby? Check. A tutorial on how to change a diaper? Check. A special yoga workout that includes baby? Check.

With the wealth of information available, however, it is easy to become overloaded and overwhelmed.

For certain issues the guidance is cut and dry. For others, the advice and guidance you find will be all over the place.

When our son developed cradle cap, the information we read suggested it could last any where from a couple of weeks to a few months.

This was disconcerting to say the least. In this case we decided it was best to consult with our pediatrician and did so.

She recommended a couple of solutions that cleared up the cradle cap within a couple of weeks.

My takeaway: don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician if your gut feeling is off or the advice you see is wildly all over the place.

Parentsplaining is a thing. It will happen eventually: You will be out with your baby and your partner and someone will feel the need to parentsplain.

Perhaps you don’t have the baby dressed correctly. Perhaps you aren’t keeping him out of the sun, or conversely getting enough sun.

And then, unexpectedly it will happen. It is sudden at first, and when it happened to us I didn’t even realize what was happening until it was over.

Someone will observe your situation, and make three quick judgements: 1. That you, as a parent, are not already striving every moment to do the absolute best job you can as a parent and adult in the world, and 2. That they, despite not knowing you or your situation, are the ones best position to offer their option and 3. That their opinion is correct.

And then they will interject, offering their advice on your situation, and then smugly walk away confident that they have fixed the situation, and corrected the ways of your errors as a parent.

Although these encounters will drive you mad, this leads me to my next reflection.

This too shall pass. Everything is temporary. Nothing is forever. By the third night in the hospital I thought I was going to loose my mind.

We had just laid down to sleep at midnight Saturday night when a pediatrician barged into our room, flipped on all the lights, and loudly declared he was there to conduct my son’s discharge exam.

Since the labor and deliver ward was busy, decided the most appropriate time to do this exam was at midnight.

I was furious. Eventually I calmed down, and looking back now I realize what a temporary problem this was and that, with the right mindset and a deep breath, you can overcome whatever challenge you face.

English lacks the words to capture the joy. The first month was complete insanity. The rule of thumb you hear is infants eat every 2-3 hours.

With our little guy it was every 1 – 1.5 hrs. Then, everything else is packed in between: the baby sleeps, needs diaper changes, has acid reflux, etc.

I don’t think many expecting parents, and especially Dads, do the math on how this cycle plays out in a 24 hour period.

Needless to say, this schedule becomes quickly daunting and overwhelming, even crushing.

Resilience will become your new meditative mantra. But ever so slowly insanity level will start to decrease to a calmer level of just steady crazy.

Life will still be completely different from ever before, but the madness and sleep depreciation euphoria will abate until one day your little one smiles back at you: joy, as a word, doesn’t even come close to capturing what you’ll feel.

As I write this, my son is sleeping blissfully in his rocker, swaddled up and catching the shut eye he missed last night.

While he pauses from his routine of napping, eating and pooping, my life marches on. From the day he was born, my sleep deficit has only increased.

New parents encounter an abundance of advice for coping with sleep deprivation: For example, “For New Parents, Dad May Be the One Missing the Most Sleep” writes NPR and from U.S. News and World Report: “A New Dad’s Advice on Coping  With Sleep Deprivation.”

Unfortunately the common wisdom on coping with sleep deprivation misses the mark. The common refrain is “sleep when the baby sleeps.” There are two problems with this advice. First, when the baby is awake, we – my wife and I – take care of the baby. Even though he is seven weeks old already, this effort consumes all of our energy.

Second, when the baby sleeps we find time for everything else necessary to sustain the family: washing dishes, cleaning the house, prepping bottles, doing laundry, getting groceries.

Feeling frustrated, I thought that given the recent history of humankind and modern science there would be realistic advice available to new parents that reflected both the reality of modern parenting, and the insights of scientific research.

To date, I have not found this advice.

I decided to conduct my own research on sleep deprivation to better learn how it affects me – both mind and body – what I can do to cope in the short term, and how I can recover in the long term.

In an attempt to uncover strategies that work, I review below what I have learned about sleep deprivation, what strategies I find helpful to cope, and look at how the Navy Seals manage and recover from sleep deprivation.

Research on Sleep Deprivation

It doesn’t take a leap of faith to intuit that sleep deprivation is hard on the mind and body. Pull an  all nighter, or have a bad night’s sleep and you will feel it.

Prior to the birth of my son, however, these episodes were sporadic, and usually involved some type of option for recovery sleep in a later date.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends “7 hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health,” and notes:

“Sleeping less than 7 hours a night on a regular basis is associated with adverse health outcomes, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, depression, and increased risk of death. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is also associated with impaired immune function, increased pain, impaired performance, increased errors, and greater risk of accidents.”

I had a gut reaction on several points to reading this: 1. I can tell you right now I am not getting 7 hours a night consistently, haven’t since my son was born, and do not see this as an option anytime soon. 2. These health effects sound alarming; what can I do to offset them? 3. How can I manage the decrease in cognitive ability?

Beyond increasing the risk of diseases and adverse health outcomes, sleep deprivation also negatively affects brain function.

An article in the Journal of Sleep details how sleep deprivation affects the brain. Sleep deprivation reduces performance in the thalamus, a part of the brain involved in alertness and attention. It also affects the prefrontal cortex which, in addition to alertness, attention and alertness,  also factors into higher order cognitive processes.

Sleep deprivation affects mundane tasks. In the short term, however, rule-base complex tasks requiring greater cognitive ability are not affected. But sleep deprivation affects “decision making involving the unexpected, innovation, revising plans, competing distraction, and effective communication.

The Harvard Business Review has an enlightening article on sleep deficit as a performance killer.

Management and Recovery

Despite frequent naps and a baby who sleeps well at night, on most days I still feel exhausted. Given the effects of sleep deprivation, how can a new parent manage? I am interested in practical actionable steps that make a real difference.

Much of the common wisdom of coping with sleep deprivation contradicts itself.

For example, “Helpful tips” from parents.com contradicts guidance from the NIH on recovering from sleep deprivation: “Sleeping a bit more on the weekends — say, two or three hours — can be beneficial. But don’t let a little extra dozing turn into a sleep binge. Overdosing on sleep can start a whole new cycle of deprivation, because then you won’t be tired at bedtime.”

Info from the NIH, however, paints a more fatalistic picture of the consequences of sleep deprivation: “There are no formal treatment guidelines in primary or specialty care for dealing with sleep loss (Dinges et al., 1999). The most effective treatment for sleep loss is to sleep longer or take a short nap lasting no more than 2 hours (Veasey et al., 2002), and to have a better understanding of proper sleep habits. Catching up on sleep on the weekends—a popular remedy for sleep loss—does not return individuals to baseline functioning (Szymczak et al., 1993; Dinges et al., 1997; Klerman and Dijk, 2005; Murdey et al., 2005).”

Another advice article from parents.com includes the following advice highlighted in bold. To emphasize the deficiencies in each, I outline my objections with each:

Make up for lost sleep. I’m not sure when this is supposed to happen. The newborn child still needs to eat every two to three hours. Of these strategies, I found one hour power naps to be the most effective, if you can find the time. At seven weeks in I am more rested than I was four weeks ago. Each week seems to bring incremental progress and a bit more sleep.

Catch a nap. Same problem here as above: When to nap? Although you may find time for naps when baby is sleeping, in most cases when baby sleeps there are more pressing tasks to tackle.

Trade off middle-of-the-night feedings. Whoever wrote this cannot have been breastfeeding the baby. When the baby is awake, all attention shifts to meeting the baby’s needs. Only once the baby is asleep during the day can find time for everything else in life: paying bills, cleaning, doing (baby) laundry, going to the grocery store, and fixing food.

Turn down the monitor. This advice seems dated. The baby monitor is not the source or cause of my sleep deprivation. When I am able to lie down, I fall asleep quickly. The pleasant ocean sounds and white noise the baby monitor provides actually hastens sleep.

Since all of this advice leaves something to be desired, I found it helpful to look at one elite group to understand how they manage sleep deprivation.

What We Can Learn from Navy Seals

The Navy Seals famously operate on little sleep. This skill begins as early as the indoctrination and training of new SEALS – BUD’S, or Basic Underwater Demolition (school). The training to become a Navy Seal consists of seven phases. At the end of phase one recruits go through a Hell Week,” a period of intense physical training during which they are only allowed eight hours of sleep – for the whole week.

Grit. Determination. Mental Strength. These are all things that come to mind in the world of special forces operators. A recent Business Insider article by a former Navy Seal offers the most actionable advice I have found yet, summarized below:

Headspace: Keep your mind in the game. Re-focus and stay on point as you are able.

Teamwork: Coordinate with your spouse and partner. Don’t be a martyr. Your most important focus should be the health and safety of the baby.

“Put the oxygen mask on yourself first” Mr. Maguire references the common guidance in every airline pre-flight spiel: in essence, you have to take care of yourself before anyone else.

Limitations: His advice on limitations – that you should be mindful of yours when you are sleep deprived – seems most practical for high risk activities such as driving, or bathing the baby. The best he can offer here is “you’ve got to take care of yourself” to which I had the thought, taking care of myself would mean catching up on sleep, but when? Better advice I think would be to simply limit the amount of driving needed, and limiting essential driving to when you are most awake.

Insanity: “Embrace the insanity”

Of the tips Mr. Maguire offers this is my favorite. Essentially it is this: This too shall pass, embrace the insanity of the moment, and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

Charbroil Gas Grill Review

As a new dad, I wanted a grill. I shopped around at my local Lowe’s and Home Depot and settled on the Charbroil 3 Burner Gas Grill. At 30,000 BTU, this grill packs sufficient firepower for my grilling needs.

I am new to grilling, so I wanted the benefits of a gas grill to avoid the hassle of messing with charcoal, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune. At the time the Charbroil 3 Burner Gas Grill was only $150 so fit well within my budget. Once I am a more experienced grill master I plan to upgrade. Since I am a novice when it comes to grilling, this grill enables me to explore a variety of recipes yet doesn’t leave me feeling like it’s overkill.

Charbroil offers a similar grill to this one with only two burners. In the end I decided on this 3 burner model to benefit from greater grill space. My wife is a vegetarian but I eat meat; the ample grill space on this model allows me to grill veggies and meat without cross contaminating.

The grill comes in porcelain coated steel. I find that this makes it easier to clean on the outside. It ships at 67 lbs, and once assembled is 43 x 50.75 x 17.75 inches. I did not anticipate the large box it came in to be so heavy. The assembly instructions lacked clarity, and it took longer than I anticipated to assemble – about two hours in total. The package measured just under 35”W x 18.5” deep and just over 17” tall. With that said, once assembled I find it easy to use.

We live in a fairly urban area with a small back patio, so this grill fits a small space well. I like the benefit of 3 burners. My wife is a vegetarian, so I like the ability to put the meat on one side and veggies on the other and have a burner in between. The grate

The three burner setup provides ample space to grill for a small family – in my case my wife and myself. I like the look and feel of the wire black porcelain grate: easy to clean and scrub down, and feels sturdy. The grill grate in total is 360 sq in.

On a scale of 1 – 10, I would give this grill a 6 on ease of assembly. I ran into a couple of roadblocks during assembly and had to backtrack. Since the instruction diagrams were not intuitive, on my first go I mixed up the front and back and so had to backtrack and re-align them. In looking at the assembled grill it seems intuitive which way is which with the top assembled, but without the top grill part attached it was not.

I did appreciate that all of the screws and parts came in one package with separate compartments labeled by letter and number that was delineated in the assembly instructions.

This grill takes a regular propane tank, which I picked up at Lowe’s for about $30. I purchased the grill in March, and as of this writing in mid June, grilling at a rate of 2 – 3 times a week, I’m still going strong with the propane tank I originally purchased. The grill came with the gas hose and gauge, and has a built in holding area to hold the tank. At first I thought it seemed flimsy; I had to futz with the chain holder that holds the propane tank in place for a while, but eventually got it hooked and have not had a problem since.

When I purchased the grill I also picked up a pair of grill tongs, large spatula, wire brush for cleaning, a charbroil brand 53” grill cover to protect it, and Lowe’s citrus grill cleaner. I did purchase these items separately.

I do find cleaning the bottom of the firebox challenging. The grill includes a grease drip cup that hangs below the firebox, which does a great job collecting the grease runoff and keeping it clear from the propane tank – a potential fire hazard. However, I do find the bottom of the firebox difficult to clean and scrub off grease once dried.

For a reasonable price, this grill packs ample grilling space, sufficient grilling firepower, and ease of use for any first time dad.

Gear. One word captures how your life will change with a baby. For the next twenty years or so, a big part of life will revolve around gear for your kid. To help you get started, in this post I walk through the gear we stocked up on before our little guy arrived.

I was new to the world of babies and didn’t know what to expect at first. I give credit to my wife for the planning and researching the best gear. The expense of preparing for your child might feel overwhelming, but it is manageable. With simple planning, you will be ready to hit the ground running.


Your little one will need comfortable clothes. But you don’t have to spend a fortune. The standard issue outfit for babies is the onesie. You’ll need a multitude of these. While you may wear only one outfit per day, your little one will go through multiple wardrobe changes in a 24 hour period. All it takes is one urination mishap. Don’t sweat though: there are many options for finding affordable onesies.

My two favorite brands are the Carter’s , available at Target, and the onesies from Old Navy. Primary, a startup that makes kids outfits in solid colors, offers another option. If you are branding and gender specific averse, and want a classy and colorful look for your kid, Primary is the way to go. Carter’s brand onesies range $8-$12, Old Navy onesies go for about $5.

One thing to keep in mind: you won’t know how big the baby is until he or she is born. Our guy came out on the smaller side. While we had several newborn onesies on hand, he needed the preemie size. Take note dad: in the first couple of weeks, plan on being the errand guy making rounds to Target, CVS and your local grocery store for situations such as these. Remember a plan is the point of departure. Your baby will also need pajama outfits for sleeping, including warm materials and lighter materials. How many of each will depend on the time of year and your local climate.

You will also need plenty of socks and hats. The hospital provided a couple of hats to keep our guy warm in the first couple of days. You will want at least two or three for your child to wear both when the weather is cool and for sleeping at night as needed.

But don’t panic. It will be easy to think you have to go overboard and have absolutely everything you need prior to when the baby shows up. Life doesn’t stop when baby arrives. It just shifts into high gear). You will find time to pick up extra clothing items later.


Your partner and mom to be will be excited to plan the nursery. Prior to married life, I can’t say I had ever thought about what I wanted my child’s nursery to look like. You likely feel the same way. Whether you have a dedicated room or just a corner in your bedroom, you will spend a significant amount of time in the months leading up to your child’s birth day preparing, organizing, and decorating your nursery.

When you think of a nursery, you likely think of a crib. We shopped primarily online and settled on one we liked from Target. In 2017 the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with updated guidance recommending that newborns sleep in the same bedroom with the parents as a wayto reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In following this guidance we ended up with both a crib in the nursery and a Pack ‘N Play in our bedroom.

Think of a Pack ‘N Play as a lower cost portable travel crib with a few extras, such as a diaper change station and what I like to call a lounge chair. They typically are a bit smaller than a crib and so well suited to fit into a corner of your bedroom. They generally are lower cost than a crib, typically anywhere from $50-$80.


One of my biggest fears prior to baby was a lack of experience changing diapers. The thought of holding and calming a crying, screaming, fussy baby, while single  handedly removing a diaper, dodging poop and pee, and then somehow cleaning the kid and getting the new diaper back on him seemed like a Sisyphean task. My experience with babies was almost nil. The first time I ever changed a diaper was in the hospital with my son.

But good news: If you share this anxiety, you can relax. In the first two weeks you will change more diapers than you every could imagine possible. You can expect anywhere from 8 – 12 diaper changes a day with your newborn. In two weeks, this can add up to over 150 diaper changes. This rapid acceleration in volume of diaper changes will boost your confidence in no time.

In one corner of either your nursery or dedicated diaper change area, you’ll need to set up a small diaper change station for yourself. My wife identified one from Ikea.  Once you have a changing table arranged, and some sort of cart to hold all the necessary diaper changing accoutrements, you’ll need to stock up on supplies.

The key component of your diapering station is the changing table, pad and cover. We also acquired a diaper pail; I had heard of them but was not familiar with the concept. It is essentially a small trash can with an extra seal when it closes to lock noxious scents in, and a lever handle with a roll top that strategically delivers the used diaper into the trash bag. It spares you from having to lift a trash lid and let out the scents of everything within. It does fill up quickly, so if you don’t change it regularly you will end up having to lift the top and let those ugly fumes out.

Next on your list of diapering gear should be the various items to stock the diaper cart. The primary items here are diapers, wipes and diaper cream. We use Aquaphor, and also Baby petroleum jelly. When things were so crazy in the very beginning, we set up a subscribe and save via Amazon for diapers and wipes. I recommend this – and any strategies you can adopt to minimize the amount of stuff you have to haul home from the store.


Within a couple of days of coming home from the hospital, you’ll need to give your baby a bath. Similar to diaper changing, thinking about dousing your newborn in water to make them slippery can strike fear in the heart of any new dad. Your little one will need his own version of the standard items you need when you bathe: bathtub, shampoo, a couple of soft baby towels, and soft washcloths.

For bathing, the baby bathtub is key. Baby gear has improved since the days when your mom just put you in the sink. You can get specialty baby bathtubs that fit right in your bathtub at home.


Your child will need to eat like crazy. Newborns eat typically every 2 – 3 hours. Take a moment to think about how that plays out in a two hour period. For example, if your baby is born around 1:30 on a Friday afternoon, your first 24 hour feeding schedule could be: 2 p.m. (right after birth), 4 p.m., 6 p.m. 8 p.m. 10 p.m. and onwards.

Breastfeeding provides a wealth of health benefits for your child in the early months and years. The world of breastfeeding was new to me. For example, I didn’t realize though that breastfeeding can have health benefits for the mom too. These include triggering the uterus to return to its pre-baby size, helping prevent breast cancer, and giving a boost to your child’s immune system. For a more detailed overview of the benefits of breastfeeding, I recommend the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on breastfeeding.

The world of supplies needed for feeding a newborn was also new to me. You will need a few bottles, a breast pump if your spouse or partner is planning to breastfeed, milk storage bags, nursing pads, nipple cream, a dishwasher basket, a few bibs, burp cloths, and pacifiers.


Although your baby may feel like a small, fragile creature that you are terrified of taking out to their first doctor’s appointment, they do come with built in immune systems and are more rugged than they otherwise might appear. For example, I was quickly impressed by his strength in his legs and arms.

Still, inevitably your child will fall ill, so you will need to have a few key items on hand. The most essential is the baby thermometer. We ended up with two and they both work well. Baby thermometers today are able to take the temperature just with a simple scan of the forehead. Some other health items you will need to have on hand are a baby nail file, and a first aid kit. A final addition is having some small gauze and baby petroleum jelly on hand; if you have a boy a decided to have him circumcised you will need it for the first 1-2 weeks as he recovers.

Other Gear

At some point you will be ready to take your newborn out of the house. For this you will need a car seat and a stroller. After much research we chose the Nuna Pipa car seat and stroller combo. These can be pricey, so we compromised and got the car seat new but bought the matching stroller on craigslist. There are several features I love about the Nuna Pippa stroller and car seat: easy installation and green light verification to confirm securely installed.

Last but not least is the Poop Chart with pictures and graphics. This is something the hospital provided to us and I found immensely helpful. Once I saw it, I realized I had been nervous about this initial transition period.

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m Mike, and I recently became a new dad to Gavin. I’ve started this blog to chronicle the journey I embarked upon together with my son and wife Karissa. I want to serve as a resource for other new dads out there with tips, life hacks, and general advice that I discover along the way.

In my research prior to my son’s birth, I found the resources available to new dads either dated, lacking in depth, or missing the Dad perspective. This blog will be an effort to fill that gap.

Let the journey begin!