We are very excited to introduce you to Dale Allen Berg. He lives in Kelowna, BC with his wife and three children. He is a stay-at-home dad and blogs at www.daleallenberg.com.
Are you an urban or suburban dad, where do you live?
I consider myself a Suburban Dad. I’ve lived in Kelowna for the past 10 years and have lived in three different homes, all literally on the last possible road at the edge of town. First the east side in Black Mountain, then the south side in Southcrest and now the north side in Creek Run. There is nothing left, because Okanagan Lake is the west border and the urban downtown core hugs the lake.
Tell us about your children?
I have three kids. Liam (5) is my oldest. He’s very special to me because we tried to have kids for six years and we had given ourselves a Dec. 31st deadline of that final year where if we weren’t pregnant by then we were going to seek medical support or explore other options. We conceived on Dec. 25th. He’s our Christmas miracle. He loves reading, watching Disney Cars or Planes and he loves to bake. He wants to be a baker when he grows up. But unfortunately he struggles a great deal with a speech delay and an anxiety disorder.
Then the next two are twins we had 20 months after Liam was born. Madison (3) arrived first. She is the brightest, most vibrant, content and beautiful girl you will ever meet. However, she has a very rare neurological disease called Rett Syndrome that occurs exclusively in girls. Most people have never even heard of the disease before let alone know of or met a girl who has it. Just imagine the symptoms of Autism, Anxiety Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s and Epilepsy all rolled up into one horrible disease called Rett. She can’t (and likely will never) talk, walk, feed herself, dress herself or use a toilet. She will always rely 100% on a caregiver – which is and likely will always be me. Madison loves music and it has become so vital for her to remain regulated that it must be playing literally 24 hours a day!
Her twin brother Ethan (3) arrived two minutes later and I will always remind him that he’s the youngest. He is the most energetic bundle of energy I’ve ever seen. He is always jumping, flipping, climbing, running, tumbling off of something. I’ve never seen as much wonder, excitement and pure joy in ANYONES face as I do when I take him to gymnastics! But he too is faced with significant special needs as he has been diagnosed with Autism. He is nonverbal and struggles with controlling his larger than life emotions.
Tell us about your typical weekday?
I don’t use the word “typical” in my home, because nothing ever is. So many people have asked me this question though. They are curious to know how I juggle 3 kids this young as a stay at home Dad. So I recorded 24 hours and made a video. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/-r4ZDbt1F0k
The first thing I do is take Liam to Kindergarten. Then I rush back home because just 20 minutes later doctors and therapists start walking through my door. We have therapy, behavioral and medical sessions all morning and often into the afternoon for Madison and Ethan. In a “typical” week I’m scheduling 17 appointments for my kids. Then we rush out to pick up Liam and we come back home and crash. By this point we’re all so exhausted that we all have “quiet time” and for me my day is only half over. After that we build pillow forts, play hide and seek (which in a 900 sq/ft home is not that easy) and have epic dance parties. Then it’s time for the kids to have dinner, building puzzles, reading books, baths and time for bed. My wife usually gets off work around 6:30pm or 7:00pm so she helps me with bed time. Now as I’m writing this, our routine is getting better but it’s not uncommon for it to take 3-4 hours to get everyone settled. Madison has always been the most difficult one to put to bed. Then around 11pm I start cleaning up, begin making dinner for myself and my wife if she is still awake and try to catch up on emails and all the administrative work that comes with having three special needs kids. Then I try to write a microblog on Instagram while I’m eating and hopefully get to bed by 2AM and pray to god the kids don’t wake up more than two or three times before I get to do it all over again in five hours.
Do you have help?
I always answer this question by saying “No”. Because while Madison has 13 doctors, therapists and support workers who surround her, and Ethan has 5, none of them help ME with things like laundry or grocery shopping or cooking or cleaning. But as for friends and family… no I don’t have much (if any) of a village around me in real life, physically and practically helping me. Online is a completely different story… so many friends and people who care about me… but from afar.
Who cooks dinner?
I do. See, my first job at the age of 13 was in a professional kitchen. That turned into an apprenticeship and by the age of 20 I was a red seal chef. I went on to be the executive chef of several restaurants which lead to me becoming a partner in two new restaurants and owning one of my own. So, I’m very confident and skilled in the kitchen and one of my biggest goals with my kids
is teaching (and showing) them where all of our food comes from. In October, all Liam wanted and repeatedly asked me for was a pumpkin and he was so disappointed every time we went to the grocery store and I didn’t allow buy one for him. Then one Saturday we went to Davison Orchards and together we PICKED a pumpkin right out of the field. It all made sense to him then. Teaching your family to eat local and support farmers instead of corporate grocers is so important.
How often do you have date nights?
Well this is a timely question because my wedding anniversary was just this past Sunday and for the first time in 16 months, my wife and I left the house at the same time – without the kids. And that “date” 16 months ago was the first one we ever had since having kids. We struggle with whether or not it’s even worth it as it takes so much time and effort to get everything ready and to prep our kids for the change in routine. Then we rush out and gulp our dinner down, knowing the whole time we’re on a two hour timer before we have to get back home to regulate our kids again and put them to bed. It was exhausting and I don’t think that’s what “date night” is supposed to be. But regardless, it was amazing to have my wife’s friend offer to help and allow us to have dinner out. It was nice not to have to cook or clean for a change.
What clothing lines or stores do you like to purchase for your children?
I haven’t been given the opportunity to rep or promote a specific brand of clothing yet, but if I did I would hope it would be for Lands’ End. In the meantime while I wait for their call, my kids are wearing threads from Children’s Place, Old Navy and H&M. With each of my kids, their needs and sensory requirements are so different which makes finding the right clothes a challenge at times.
Do you exercise regularly and if so, what and how do you fit in it?
I had three kids under the age of 2! Have you ever held a 1 year old toddler on your shoulder while carrying two infants in their car seats out to the vehicle?!? I have. That trumps any kind of squat, lunge, press or yoga you could throw at me. I used to run 5km a day, even after having Liam. I wore him during runs. But when the twins arrived, sadly that all ended. Exercise became running to get another bottle, which then became chasing after Ethan (as he started to walk at 9 months) and now it’s all out parkour and wrestle mania with the boys. However, I’m already writing out my 20 New Years resolutions for 2020 – I’m calling it my “2020Twenty” and I’ve got joining a gym on there as I would like to get back into shape again. A new 24 hour gym just opened up near my house and I think that will be the answer for me. I’ll get my workout done at midnight.
What is your favourite Christmas/Hanukkah gift that you have received as an adult?
Socks. That might seem predictable or even boring… but have you seen my socks? They are anything BUT predictable and boring. No one has a sock collection quite like mine.
What are you currently watching?
Well lets see, I watch a lot of unboxing videos… I don’t get it, but I know how to open a box of play-doh now better than anyone. Ryan Toys Review (Which has now become Ryan’s World – and I hate myself for knowing this) is the #1 channel in our home for me and the boys. Then we move on to Paw Patrol (specifically “Mighty Pups”), Booba and PJ Masks! Meanwhile Madison and I are watching a mix of Cocomelon, Little Baby Bum and her favourite, Dave & Ava. Oh wait… that’s not what you meant with this question, was it? Frankly, I have no idea how parents find the time to watch Game of Thrones, Stranger Things or This is Us.
Thank you to Dale Allen Berg for taking the time out of his day to let us know “How Does He Do It.”