We met Daniel and his lovely daughter while learning songs and rymes at "Mother Goose". It's our pleasure to introduce him to you as part of our North Shore Stories series!
Hi Daniel, could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about you and your family?
My day-job involves document management for a law firm, but I recently took a year’s leave to be primary caretaker for our daughter Evelyn (Evie). My lovely wife Rhianna has been working full time as a storyboard artist and illustrator on various animated television shows and films. Evie is about 18 months old now, and bringing us joy in new ways every day!
We also have a ginger cat called Ted, and a miniature schnauzer called Po. We actually adopted Po right before we learned we were expecting Evie, so he was something of a practice baby! He has adored Evie since the day we brought her home from the hospital, and we love that they’ll be growing up together - Evie has just learned how to throw the ball for him (although most of the time they’re stealing each other's toys), and they’re fast becoming little partners in crime!
Are you local to the North Shore or did you move here - if you moved why did you choose the North Shore?
We actually moved here from Australia about 7 years ago, specifically so Rhianna could study at Capilano University here in North Vancouver, which has a world renowned animation program! We immediately fell in love with the North Shore and its proximity to the wilderness, so after starting out close to Cap U, and then moving to Burnaby and the West End over the years, we decided to settle back here on the North Shore for good.
You chose to take parental leave and look after your lovely daughter while your wife went back to work, can you tell us how this worked out for you? What was your biggest challenge and what did you enjoy the most?
It was wonderful! It was an easy choice for us to be honest, since Rhianna is so passionate in her career and it made more financial sense for her to return to work. After mat leave, she also made the (easy!) decision to switch from in-studio work in downtown Vancouver to working from home (even pre-pandemic), so we were fortunate to have the flexibility of us both being home. The biggest challenge was our family all being overseas, so no free babysitting from grandparents haha! My parents came over for 6 weeks to help us out when Evie was born, but unfortunately because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to visit Sydney like we’d hoped, and there’s a lot of family there eager to meet her! With just the three of us in Vancouver, I really appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to focus on being based at home, and being able to tackle parenting as a team. Rhianna was able to focus on her work uninterrupted when necessary, but was also able to join us for the odd parenting meetup.
What does a day in the life of a dad as main caregiver look like?
After seeing Mum off to work (to the basement) Evie and I would typically take Po for a walk around the neighbourhood, as Evie loves seeing all the other dogs and gardens. I took advantage of multiple parenting groups including Mother Goose, Library Storytime and Movies for Mommies, so we had an outing to look forward to on most days. I became a pro at wearing the baby harness while shopping, cooking and cleaning, especially since Evie would only sleep *on* one of us for the first few months.
What advice do you have to any dads out there that may be thinking about taking parental leave themselves?
Take the plunge! There are so many support groups and resources out there to help. Check your local library or community centre and you’ll be sure to find programs that can give you advice, or just some structure to your day. I’ve regularly been the only dad there, but never been made to feel unwelcome, and it’s so nice to be able to share your thoughts and experiences with other parents going through the same things. Mum and Dad alike, every parent out there is figuring this out as they go, so don’t let apprehension stop you from experiencing that joy for yourself, and knowing that we’re all in this together. Obviously there are a lot of changes to what resources are available right now but some mother goose groups are participating via Zoom and Vancouver Public Library streams storytime every weekday!
Outside of being a great dad, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I actually used my time off to hone my baking skills, partly so I can start practicing for all the birthday cakes to come. But I also started incorporating it into my biggest hobby: board games! Games and food alike are great at bringing people together, so I love creating a meal themed around a particular game and then inviting friends around to partake in both (at least prior to the lockdown). While quarantining, I’ve been turning my attention to social media to share my creations and the love of the hobby. Evie is fast becoming a big fan of my various baking adventures, and I can’t wait for the day when I can have her help me in the kitchen!
We ask all parents the following question to try and inspire or offer advice to any future ones: If you could go back to before you became a parent and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Try to empathise more with the other parents in your life and absorb everything you can from them. Or just, offer to give them a break! Also: the first few weeks as new parents are likely going to feel so overwhelming and scary, but it gets so much better! Seeing your child experiencing the world around them, developing a sense of humour and truly becoming their own person is amazing.
Lastly, what is your favourite spot in the North Shore and why?
Lynn Canyon! Between the Suspension Bridge, the lovely hike along the river and the End of the Line store/cafe, it’s one of our favourite places to take visiting family and friends! The library and Lynn Valley centre are also great for a Sunday morning walk!
Deep Cove is another favourite, and it was the first real place that we took Evie (at about 5 weeks old) for an outside-the-house afternoon together. We love the view down by the water, the hike up to Quarry Rock, canoeing around the harbour, and of course Honey’s Doughnuts.
Thank you Daniel for sharing with us a little about you and your family! You can follow Daniel on his social channel and visit his website:
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