That's me in the photo above. Far left, third row from the back, in the Ravens hat. I am surrounded by some of the coolest dads around. These guys are fellow at-home dads, and they attended the National At-Home Dad Convention that was held in Washington, D.C. last year (and it will be there again this year before moving to Denver for 2013 & 2014). In today's post, I want to explore some of the motivations in play when I decided to attend last year's convention, explain why I have decided to return to the convention this year, and, most importantly, why every at-home dad should take advantage of the opportunity to hang out with 75-100 of the coolest dads on the planet.
Why I Attended Last YearWhen I first saw the webpage for the National At-Home Dad Convention, my first thought was, "They actually have one of these?" I imagined that, at worst, it was some sort of gathering where guys just sat around and talked beer and sports in order to get a weekend away from the kids. I figured that, at best, it would be like a parenting class with some really interesting classmates. The more I looked into it, the more I realized that this couldn't be further from the truth.
I saw that the speakers who were presenting were highly qualified. Doctors, professors, parents, librarians, fitness instructors, psychologists, dad group gurus - all presenting on interesting topics that I genuinely wanted to know more about. As I interacted with some of the guys on the message boards, I started to realize that they were just normal guys, and that this wouldn't be weird at all. When I considered the possibility of having a hundred or so people who are at various stages of doing what I do on a daily basis, people I could both learn from AND teach, I was thrilled.
I could have come up with a dozen reasons not to attend the convention. I could have made any number of excuses. I knew that money would be tight. We just gave up half our income for me to be able to stay home with my daughter. We just used the majority of our savings to purchase a more reliable, fuel efficient car for my wife to drive back and forth to work. But I was fortunate enough to get one of the scholarships that they provide, and that made it possible for me to attend without too much out of pocket expense. I was also lucky enough to have a great friend write a letter of recommendation for my scholarship and give up some floor space in his tiny apartment so that I didn't have to pay for a hotel room. I can't lie, those factors made it much easier to take the plunge and attend the convention. But before I got my scholarship, I made up my mind that this event was worth the investment, and I would go out and do odd jobs to get the money together to pay my way if the scholarship did not come through.
You can read some of my thoughts from last year's convention, along with some things that I learned, in the following posts:
What Do You Do At An At-Home Dads Convention?
Quotes You Don't Hear From At-Home Dads
5 Tips for Helping Your Child Read At An Early Age
Why I Am Attending Again This YearI was seriously debating whether I was going to attend this year's At-Home Dad Convention. I have a lot going on right now that needs my attention. There are a bunch of things I could do instead that would easily justify my absence. But when I saw the event schedule and speaker lineup for this year's convention, I couldn't say no. The featured speaker is Dr. Rene Hackney, parenting & child development specialist and creator of Parenting Playgroups. Her sessions that I attended last year were fantastic! This year, she will have a full two hours to impart her wisdom. I can't wait.
The other great thing about the convention is that you have an opportunity to learn from your peers. With age-based breakout sessions, you can talk one-on-one with other dads who have kids the same age as yours. You can talk about what works, what doesn't work, your triumphs, your failures, and you can bring up any questions you want! No topic is off limits.
One other part of the convention that I thoroughly enjoyed was simply hanging out with other adult males. When you're an at-home parent, you tend to crave adult interaction. Softball season is over, and my opportunities for male bonding are limited. The convention gives me a few days to just hang out with the guys and talk sports and beer (in between talking about parenting and relationships). This time is incredibly valuable to me, and I can't wait to see the guys from last year, as well as meet some new guys that are attending for the first time.
Why You Should AttendYou really should make the decision to attend the convention. And you should make it soon. Why? The deadline for the $15 discount on registration ends THIS FRIDAY. More importantly, if I told you that you could spend a couple hundred bucks and it would make you a better father and a better husband/parenting partner, would you do it? Of course you would. Well, that is exactly what I'm telling you. Think of what it would cost you to hire a parenting expert, a doctor, a psychologist, a career counselor, a personal chef, and a number of other experts just to help you improve your relationship with your family and make your home run more smoothly. What would you pay to hire all of those people?
At the At-Home Dad Convention, you get all of that plus a few dozen expert fathers, all in the same room, at the same time, with virtually unlimited access to their knowledge and expertise. That is available to you right now for a $60 registration and a few hundred bucks to cover travel, meals, and lodging. Don't wait until the last minute because you'll probably find an excuse not to go, and I'm telling you, you will be missing out.
Make the decision now while you still have time to earn some extra spending money if you need to. Don't miss out on this chance to have fun while becoming a better parent. I will personally give you a high five (or fist bump, if you prefer) when we meet in D.C.!
The 17th Annual At-Home Dad Convention is being held October 6, 2012 in the Washington, D.C. area. All of the details of the convention, including registration costs, schedules, additional activities on Thursday-Sunday, and travel/lodging/roommate information can be found online at AtHomeDadConvention.com. The At-Home Dad Convention is an annual event that is put on by the members of The National At-Home Dad Network (formerly Daddy's Home, Inc.) and is hosted by local dads groups from different parts of the country. The convention location for 2013 and 2014 is Denver, CO. Follow the hash tag #ahdconvention on Twitter for information leading up to and during this event.