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Paul Banas is a happy married dad of two kids and the editor of GreatDad.com as well as the Publisher of Pregnancy Magazine. He writes for and edits the annual "Pregnant Dad" issue, and also writes about technology and gadgets including baby monitors.

About Paul Banas

Paul Banas is happy married dad of two great kids living in San Francisco. He writes now about kids, new technology and how the two interact for GreatDad.com and for Pregnancy Magazine (pregnancymagazine.com) where he is also the publisher.

Here are my most recent posts

How dads can ease the quarantine blues

Conflict, stress, and spending more time than usual together can create new disagreements or aggravate past issues. If you feel yourself getting irritated or annoyed with your family and children, don’t be too hard on yourself. This is a challenging time for everyone. Here are some avenues to help keep the worst of COVID quarantine blues in check: 

Acknowledge what’s going on

In 2020, we are all experiencing something brand new. It’s easy to acknowledge the financial pressures or the health worries. However, it is harder for many people to say, “This time together might be really hard on our family.”  If you know as a dad that this will be a challenge for you, your partner and your kids, it’s easier to imagine what you’re going to do about it. 

Think with the end in mind. When a cure or end comes, how do you want your family to remember this time?  Was it a time that you all came together and made the best of it? Or were you all constantly frustrated being stuck in the house in the most irritating scenarios from “Groundhog Day.”

Set boundaries

It’s important to set up new expectations and guidelines that correspond to the constantly evolving situations that we are facing.

You can discuss routines, chores, work, and learning and how you can all share the spaces in your home to make this time as easy as possible. 

Plan some family time

Does this sound familiar? Your child is in Zoom classes all day. When you see them at lunch or a the end of the day, you immediately remember to ask them to take out the trash. Rolled eyes, or worse, ensues.

Pro tip: don’t make your time confined together as a family solely about chores to get done and rules to follow.  

It’s important to plan some conscious time together where you can all enjoy each other and have fun. There’s a reason there has been a run on puzzles and board games. Families especially, need to find ways to distract themselves. It’s easy for each person to escape into their own world, but far better for your family if you can frequently find things that everyone can have fun doing together.

If you are dealing with too much work and stress, it’s also useful to plan some activities for your kids to enjoy by themselves to keep them occupied. We found this fun list of indoor activity ideas to give you a start

Plan some time alone. 

With your family confined under one roof, your previous outlets for personal time are probably gone. Make it a point to schedule some time for yourself, even if it’s just time alone with headphones, in a different room. Some obvious ideas are taking a walk alone, reading a book, or watching TV but don’t overdo it on these escapist tactics.  If you’ve never tried it, we recommend downloading one of the many meditation apps. With apps like Calm and the free Simply Being, you can take a mini-vacation from constantly reacting to what life is throwing at you.  It may sound silly but it works.

Notice what’s going well

Living in close quarters, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of only noticing what is going wrong. Constant nagging and criticism as the only interaction between you and your child can lead to resentment and resistance to helping out.   

While your annoyances won’t disappear overnight, praising your kids appropriately and letting them know that you appreciate their efforts is essential. This helps to foster more positive behavior and ultimately enriches your relationship.

Remember that you are not alone

Connect with other families who are experiencing the same things you are. Exchange tips for keeping your kids occupied and engaged. You can also organize a virtual activity or study group, which helps to provide social interaction for your child. Collaborating and discussing your frustrations with others will help with feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Although the present situation can create unnecessary conflict, it also has the possibility of bringing your family together. Figuring out what works for you can ensure that your family comes out of quarantine stronger than ever. Whenever that may be, or if you have the chance to get away right now, you deserve a vacation and a change of pace.

Review: Aerogarden Harvest

We review the Aerogarden Harvest (6-pod 2019 version) $81 on Amazon:

INCLUDES GOURMET HERB SEED KIT (6 POD) – Genovese Basil, Curly Parsley, Dill, Thyme, Thai Basil and Mint & a 3oz bottle of our patented, all natural plant nutrients (enough for a full season of growth)

PLANT TO PLATE – Up to 6 plants grow at a time, up to 12 inches Tall with this indoor garden; Grows in water no soil, no mess, Made simple

EASY TO USE – Control panel tells you when to add water, reminds you when to add plant food (included), automatically turns lights on and off for your hydroponics growing system.Do not allow water to contact hot LED Grow Lights LED GROW LIGHTS – High performance, full Spectrum 20 watt LED high efficiency grow lighting system in your herb garden is tuned to the specific needs of plants to maximize photosynthesis, resulting in rapid, natural growth and abundant harvests

IN HOME GARDEN SYSTEM – Grow fresh herbs & veggies all Year Round in this indoor herb garden. Always fresh, always local, always in season

Coronavirus and ED: COVID-19 can have a real effect on your sex life

As billions worldwide take to seclusion during the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that now would be the perfect time for couples to make the most of their private moments together. Instead, money worries, stress and anxiety are disrupting our day-to-day lives, creating intimacy issues. It’s perhaps not surprising that divorce rates skyrocketed in Wuhan, China when the recent quarantine was partially relaxed.

Sex is a great stress reliever during the best of times, but when you add children, pregnancy, and the threat of COVID-19 into the mix, it can be difficult to focus and enjoy each other. Situational impotence, erectile dysfunction (or ED) can happen to every man at any age. It is a perfectly natural response to multiple stressors. However, try telling that to the guy unable to get or maintain an erection during the throes of passion. For most men, it is embarrassing and difficult to discuss with even the most understanding partner. 

Coronavirus and ED

What can couples do to treat short-term – or even long-term – erectile dysfunction and even lack of desire, in these worrying times? 

  1. Cut out alcohol and drugs. While alcohol and legal marijuana can be tempting to ease the anxiety of the pandemic, any anti-depressant can impair sexual performance and even desire. Limiting or cutting them out altogether is a good start. 
  2. Find substitutes for the gym. The proper amount of blood flow is key to an erection, so regular exercise will help maintain performance in the bedroom as well. 
  3. Eat healthy. Snacking and an overly fatty diet will make you feel sluggish and less interested in sex. Longer–term, a fatty diet can lead to more chronic blood flow issues that can have an effect on erection strength. 

What you can do today to stimulate stronger erections?

  1. Medications such as PDE-5 inhibitor drugs Viagra, Cialis and Stendra are popular options with proven results for many.  While these will work for situational ED, men may not want to risk possible side effects, drug interactions or health complications when they are used regularly. 
  2. Skip the wine at dinner. Try skipping the alcohol or the weed for three days to see if this will have an effect on either desire or strength of erection.
  3. Restriction rings such as Giddy’s medical device Eddie are a natural remedy for short-term impotence that are already proven to be a safe alternative to drugs and supplements…used with a penis pump for extra-added oomph, rings are a body-safe, over the counter method to fight ED. Giddy also has a good video series on the causes and treatments of ED.
  4. Take a break from the porn. Another external factor that can contribute to ED is a pornography fixation. While there are plenty of couples who watch porn together for mutual enjoyment, many men that view a considerable amount of it while masturbating tend to develop distorted notions and undue expectations of sexuality from their partners in order to achieve climax. Those who watch a lot of erotic entertainment might want to scale back and see if it helps their real-world encounters. 
  5. Turn off the news. Continuously fixating on the end of the world as we know it, especially before bedtime, will not put either of you in an amorous mood. The anxiety of Coronavirus and ED are a bad mix.

Longer term fixes

1. Try discussing it with your spouse. Rather than avoiding sex, which can become a relationship issue in itself, talking about it can help. First of all, your partner may be thinking it’s all about her desirability and whether you still find her attractive. Communication with your partner is a great help when it comes to diffusing the situation and relieving any possible guilt, resentment or worry in relationships. 

2. Find someone to talk to. Untreated depression, anxiety disorders, confidence/self-esteem issues or other psychological factors may be lurking in the shadows, and therapy – one-on-one or couples’ counseling – can help. 

While life on lockdown is going to be challenging at times, managing stress correctly and sharing worries with your partner is important during this time in order to break through mental and emotional barriers and get back on track to a fulfilling sex life. Coronavirus and ED do not have to go hand and hand.

Review: Galaxy Zega

The nice folks at Galaxy sent me a set to play with my son. We had previously reviewed the Anki Drive racing game which is a perfect point of comparison for the Zega.

In several respects, they are more than a bit similar:

  • Cool high-tech racing cars with special powers including missile-launching (AKA “tanks”)
  • Real-life play but controlled using tablet or phone interface
  • Increasing car power, speed, and agility (player-based) tracked by experience/time played

The Galaxy Zega is very different however because it un-tethers the cars from a track (Anki cars drive on tracks with embedded dots so they are always situationally aware and learning).  With Galaxy, you could potentially play throughout the house up to the Bluetooth 4.o range of 200 feet. You aren’t restrained by any sort of track and with strong wheels can even climb over some obstacles. This means you have to steer your car far more but you have to be far more accurate in your shooting.  NOTE: Anki a year ago introduced modular track so that players can set up new courses. However, cars must still stay on this track.

In the Galaxy Zega  starter kit, you get two cars, 10 walls, a rotating wall, and a dozen floorboards. In it’s simplest setup, you can play wholly within a walled rectangle about 29″ x 39.” Like in many video games, you move your car back and forth hoping to find a position to take pot-shots at your enemy. If you played “Tank” on Atari, in the arcade or even the more recent Wii version, you know exactly how this works. Galaxy Zega is the video game brought to life when played in this setting. Like an RC toy, your commands are forward/backward, right/left, and shoot missiles.The revolving wall adds a fun dimension; give it a push and you might suddenly have a clear shot.  You can take down these walls and can race outside of the confines of the small space, hiding behind chairs and furniture.  The real fun, however, is when you add “Base” squares.

The X-base squares,  also Bluetooth,  are easily added from your tablet game interface. Using one X-base, competitors can roll over it to add new powers, or if using two, they can be “capture-the-flag” style targets for gamers to find and attack while opponents are out finding their own. Imagine if you have to go to living room searching for your opponent’s base while he is frantically searching in the kitchen for yours. This is entirely possible using the Galaxy Zega. Nothing like this would work in Anki.

On the other hand, the Zega Galaxy does not have AI. While the cars (based on player ID) gain more powers, they don’t get smarter, nor can you re-run a race based on what the cars “remember.” This, as you may know, is most amazing part of the Anki Drive experience, though obviously not quintessential to game play. While the Galaxy Zega is different, we did not yearn for more AI in our game play.

One thing that disappoints me in these types of games is that players are adding features all the time based on the amount of game play they are doing. Just because my son plays the game more than I do, should he play against me with a “level 5” car versus my level 3? I wish there were a way to equalize the cars so we both start at zero, or perhaps even have a golf-like par setting so that he is actually handicapped to make our competitions more competitive.

For more info or to order, go to GalaxyZega.com. The set without the x-Base is $149.  The x-bases are sold separately for $29.99 and are especially recommended to get the most out of the game. Additional pieces including ramps, extra walls and added swinging gates are available at: galaxyzega.com/battlefield/. Finally, you can make the Zega a 4-person game by adding two more cars for $99.

 

 

“Dad Support Group” ad from Progressive

Progressive has done a far better job on their new campaign for dads than their weird and insulting attempt last year w In last year’s “Momeostasis,” men became a feminized mom version of themselves as a sign of maturity. In”Dadeostasis” versions, the mom became more masculine like her father.  Both were painful to watch since they seemed to go beyond maturity to imply a changing sexuality after kids appeaar. In this season’s ads however, you may find yourself nodding in agreement as both men and women make common statements like “Are we trying to heat the outdoors here?” or “It works perfectly fine.Why should I replace it?”

In this season’s ads however, you may find yourself nodding in agreement as both men and women make common statements like “Are we trying to heat the outdoors here?” or “It works perfectly fine.Why should I replace it?”

It’s not exactly enobling but it does feel more real and whole lot less insulting.