I have been a stay-at-home dad with twin toddlers for over eight months, and it’s safe to say we will survive. In fact, it appears I am doing a darn good job. Need evidence? My 14-month-old girls are showing many age-appropriate signs of emotional and physical development per official barometers: they laugh, understand the word No, often throw things in response to my telling them No, eat with their fingers, high five, utter a few words, and are attempting to toddle free of parental support.
However, we do not settle for mediocrity in this family. Meeting milestones is one thing; crushing them is another. To provide my girls a leg up in life, I decided to set them an achievable goal: the Women’s World Cup, 2035.
In the year 2035 my daughters will be 24, the average age of a 2011 Women’s World Cup soccer player. I will not rule out qualifying for the 2031 Cup at age 20, but at that fledgling age they will likely spend the majority of their time warming the bench and by 2039 will be past their prime. So it’s 2035 or bust.
How did I develop this winning “SAHD-titude”? (Yeah. I went there.) Easy. Have your job taken away from you as a recessionary byproduct and find yourself thrust headlong into stay-at-home parenting with twins. Instead of 9 to 5 at the office with a quick midday lunch, it’s 8 to 8 at home, lunch when you want it, and the best part: naptime. You can accomplish quite a lot in two hours when the deadline is chopped grapes and a bowl of veggie mush for the little ones versus a department meeting to review revenue losses. Recently, I’ve devoted the many minutes of naptime to concentrating on my children’s future and laying out a roadmap to success via organized sports.
As a youth, I was involved in organized team sports and found it extremely rewarding. I wasn’t a top student academically speaking, but was fortunate to have found achievement through athletics. The highlight of those high school athletic endeavors came from reaching the final game in our conference as a senior water polo player, only to lose to our rival school. This valuable experience and the journey to reach it provided me with skills used in my professional career related to team dynamics and competition. The extreme level of fitness has stayed with me to this day (although to a much lesser degree — and not often on display in the swimming pool or wearing a Speedo).
Soccer contains the same positive attributes as water polo and it is far better to enjoy as a spectator, given all the action takes place above ground. However, my interest in pushing my girls is not all selfishly motivated by my viewing pleasure. According to the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, “kids who participate in organized sports do better in school, have better interpersonal skills, are more team-oriented, and are generally healthier.” Despite findings like these, coupled with Michelle Obama’s oft-discussed “Let’s Move!” campaign, the debate for mandatory physical education in schools rages on. While I may not have total control over my daughters’ educational environment, we can instill a love of moving at home. If I can provide my girls with a winning recipe for life through athletics by introducing them to a wide array of sports and activities, leading by example as an active adult, and taking them to live events throughout the greater Los Angeles area, I owe it to them to start immediately.
All zealousness aside, sports can provide great lessons and motor skill development for kids — even if my kids don’t make a career out of it. I was lucky my water polo coach reminded me there is no job field devoted to polo-ology. For his wisdom, I kept my eye on the ball in and out of the pool. In truth, my wife and I will encourage our girls to participate in sports, soccer or otherwise, when they are a little bit older. For my girls, my achievable goal is to yell loudly from the stands, encourage them to try again, offer hugs following blowouts, and remind them that while sports are all that and more, ending the day thinking you’ve won at life is everything.
California native Tom Anderson is a stay-at-home father of twin girls and former Internet video advertising executive. When not changing diapers, steaming fresh vegetables, and attempting to decipher infant chatter he can be found in the backyard tending to his family garden, chicken coop, and any number of projects of the green DIY sort.