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Meet Mike Malkoff: Building Community of Local Dads

Upcoming Meetups (via Meetup.com, join the Boston Dads Group to learn about upcoming get togethers. Send Mike a private message when you join!)

– Weekly meetups, Friday mornings at Providence Public Library’s Cradles to Crayons program
– Wednesday, 1/18 at Renaissance Gymanastics Academy
– Wednesday, January 25th at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

20161024_155718-e1483578349651It is my pleasure to introduce a new friend of Kidoinfo, Mike Malkoff, an educator and Downcity-dwelling, at-home dad to 22-month-old Eliana. Mike relocated to Providence with his family this past summer. Inspired by the myriad local kid-friendly community destinations and drawing from his past involvement in the Chicago Dads Group, Mike sees great potential for a network of Providence-area dads to connect with one another while exploring with their kids. We couldn’t agree more! So we chatted with Mike to learn more about the inception of this idea, and while he was in the hot seat, got to know more about him with questions from our Home Work interview series.

Kidoinfo: Could you tell us a little about yourself and what brought you and your family to Providence?
Mike: I’m originally from New York City, but lived in Nashville and Chicago accompanying my wife through her medical training and then career as a neurologist.  I was an elementary school classroom teacher in all three cities, followed by training new teachers, and then running training events and sessions for cohorts of new teachers.  Now, I am focusing on training my most important student, the almost two-year-old Eliana!  My wife is an attending at Rhode Island Hospital and we live in Westminster Lofts in downtown Providence.  We moved here this past July, practically lived at the beach, and now enjoying all of the indoor and outdoor activities of winter in New England.

Kidoinfo: What do you see as the obstacles to dads building community?
Mike: There’s a few here.  Though there are certainly more at-home dads than there were years ago, there’s still a lot more weekday moms than dads out there.  In a smaller city like Providence, that means even fewer than a city like Chicago or New York.  However, I’ve actually been randomly meeting more at-home dads out at the library, music classes, and Renaissance Gymnastics than I met out in Chicago. It’s a smaller and more close knit community so I see this as a huge advantage towards building a community of involved dads.  The potential is huge!  I also think that many dads don’t even know how advantageous a community can be for dads and our kids.

highres_439111586Kidoinfo: What is your vision for bringing together dads spending time with their kids?
Mike: The Chicago Dads Group was an invaluable part of my start as an at-home dad.  Through first attending then organizing meetups I made lifelong friends who are highly involved dads like me.  We shared large and small victories, turned to each other for advice, or just simply vented when needed.  Our kids got to recognize and play with each other, which is a big plus for kids who don’t have a regular daycare or preschool community.  We explored new parts of the city together and our wives became friends.  Each week we had events that had 6 or more dads and kids attending, in addition to dads’ nights out and big family picnics with over 60 families.  We even had sponsors for events with cool giveaways like free movies, car seats and baby carriers.  I hope to work with other dads nearby to build the same here…for me and for other new dads to have the same experiences I have.

Kidoinfo: How can dads get involved in the group and who is it for?
Mike: It’s for all involved dads with kids of all ages, whether full-time at home with kids, part-time, work-from-home, or work outside of the home.  We plan weekday and weekend events.  We plan one-off events like nature hikes and meetups at play centers and weekly events like social hours and library hours.  Dads can attend events, propose events, and plan events.  We are part of the national City Dads Group, Boston Dads Group chapter.  The platform is Meetup.com.  You can go on the website and join the Boston Dads Group there.  You’ll then start getting invitations for events from Boston to Providence and in between.  For example, there is a weekly meetup listing Friday morning at Providence Public Library’s Cradles to Crayons program, and Wednesday, 1/18 at Renaissance Gymanastics Academy. Please also send me a private message when you join!

Kidoinfo: Let’s learn more about you! Please describe a typical day.
Mike: Hmm, a typical day. I’d say I wake up, get some coffee going for me and my wife, then start making breakfast.  When Eliana wakes up, my wife usually wakes her up with a song, spends some time with her and leaves for work.  Then Elie and I have breakfast in PJs, and leave right after for our daily adventure! Depending on the day, this could be swim class, music class, library group program, gym, or park/beach/nature walk, weather permitting.  Then, we usually come home for lunch, then it’s Eliana’s nap time.  Naptime means laundry, other tasks, dinner prep.  Or realistically at times, just watching TV and taking a break after nine hours of go time.  Late afternoon, Eliana wakes up, my wife comes home and plays with her while I finish dinner, then dinnertime, bath, and bed.  Then, my wife and I will try to stay up a bit to read, watch a movie or just chill and have some tea…or wine or beer.   We’ve also been trying to give each other nights out, like to catch a movie or meet up with friends.

Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Mike:  Teaching Eliana to bring her plate and fork to the table, then put them in the dishwasher after the meal, teaching her how to put away her toys in the right place, teaching her how to put dinner prep scraps in a bowl…all of these little tasks not only engage her but save me time (and get things done before bedtime so that my time with my wife at night isn’t all kid-related or cleaning tasks).

Kidoinfo: If you could give your past, pre-kid self any advice, what would it be?
Mike:  Movie dates!!! We enjoy bringing Eliana out for dinner, but movies are just not happening!

Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Mike:  I’m on a few dad Facebook groups that provide great tips when I need them or just let me know I’m not that only one struggling at times.

Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Mike:  We have waaaay too many “I need it!” kiddie products in general these days, but I love the NUK no-spill sippy cups with no straw.  Easy to clean, no cap needed, doesn’t leak when tossed.

Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children’s book or music CD?
Mike:  So many here!  Any book by Mo Willems, whether in the Cat The Cat, Elephant and Piggie, Knufflebunny, or “pigeon” series is awesome.  Super engaging for kids and amusing for adults.

Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kid on a rainy day?
Mike:  Renaissance Gymnastics Academy open play for toddlers has been a lifesaver!  Great value for monthly membership and Eliana is almost as happy there as the beach.

Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Mike:  Film, Arrival with Amy Adams.  I’m not really a sci-fi guy, but this movie transcended genre. Reading Les Miserables right now.  It really is an epic masterpiece and I’m three-quarters of the way through.  It has character, scene, and plot development as well as language on a whole new level than anything I’ve read before.

Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Mike:  1990s pro wrestling on the WWE network…why does it have to be on demand 24/7!!!

Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Mike:  Go to a coffee shop, order a giant mug of medium roast, and disappear into a book or magazine.

We hope to see this group continue to grow! If you are a dad or a know a dad who’d like to get involved, check out the Meetup group and drop in on an event.


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