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After a recent phone discussion with the lovely Ali from AMBA, we were discussing the involvement of Dads in local AMBA Clubs around Australia. It came as no surprise that most Dads had the perception that AMBA is a ‘Women’s Group Only’. While this may be true in the ratio of attendance of committee / board meetings, it doesn’t mean Dads aren’t able to participate in some shape or form, in fact most Dads think their membership to AMBA is only for Mums, where in actual fact it’s for the whole family!

With the age of technology well and truly entrenched in today’s society, we may have to redefine the meaning of ‘participation’…more on this in a moment.

Volunteering comes in many ways, and in some cases the way volunteering is done today will totally surprise you to say the very least. To show you what I mean, I am going to put a challenge out there to all the families who are not currently active in or part of an AMBA committee or an AMBA club itself. Bear with me here and don’t think ‘This isn’t for me’ before you read below, some of this information may challenge your preconceived ideas, yet YOUR input could be the difference in having just a club or being involved in something special.

Let me give you an insiders view on how important the role of having Dads on your local AMBA committee.

Here is a combined list of some interesting facts, and some of the reasons, that I have heard over the past four years:

1] Did you know that most roles are usually held for a maximum of two years?

2] Did you know that most roles only require between 1 – 6 hours a month, most of which can be done when the kids are asleep?

3] You don’t need to be an expert at something, you just need to be interested and involved!

4] It’s a group of women where men aren’t welcome. Personality clashes can, and will, happen wherever you go, and by saying this about any group is usually a predetermined outlook by those who have never even attended a committee meeting, let alone volunteered for a position. It’s about teamwork and working a s a collective. If you truly feel there is an insurmountable amount of resistance, there is always a way to raise this through appropriate channels within AMBA.

5] Did you know all committee meetings are open to all AMBA members? You don’t have to be on the committee to attend, just go along to see what your club is planning, get involved and be inspired!

6] I don’t have time and I get nothing out of it.
As they say, “You only get out of it by what you give”, couldn’t be more true!
Please don’t tell me you don’t want to make new lifelong friends, enjoy social gatherings for the whole family, discounted rates to local family play centres, weekly play groups, Bunnings BBQ / bake sale fund raisers (we have a hoot of a time at these events AND some are even kids free!), Dads catch ups, Mums catch ups, information, ideas, tips, tricks on raising multiples, hospital liaisons who will come and see you in hospital before you go home, FREE library resources, Breast pump hire, feeding pillow hire, seminars on things like sleep settling, toilet training, sharing a massive get together every year for Multiple Birth Awareness Week and the list goes on. If anyone feels alone, then all you have to do is join your local AMBA group.

7] The annual registration fee is for the wife only. No, it covers the entire family! Get the grandparents involved too!

8] It’s not just a club, it’s a second family. Themes such as ‘From those who know’ to this years theme of ‘No family left behind’ should give you some idea that this isn’t about individuals, but families.

9] You’ve got to be a part of it to make a difference. This is the bottom line.

10] Everything is addressed to the ladies or ideas us guys have are fobbed off.
Ok, seriously, if you feel disrespected, maybe look at the situation first.
A] Old habits are hard to break!
B] Is it a personality clash?
C] Is it intentional?
D] If you want change, you have to be part of the process. It doesn’t happen overnight but it can happen if you persist. Work with what you have got and help things evolve, especially if it’s your first time attending or being part of a committee. Respect is given to those who nurture, just like you nurture your children. Demanding things change and doing nothing about it gets you nowhere, then where will you be?

11] I don’t have time because of travel, work, kids, I live to far away, etc.
One family in north QLD lives several hours away from their ‘local’ AMBA club and have made it work. Puts a bit of perspective on things doesn’t it? Get a babysitter, take the kids along if they are young enough, they’ll sleep anywhere!

These are the top 11 things that come to mind. The bottom line is it’s NOT about ‘you’, it’s about your kids and the benefits they get out of it. ‘You’ get the benefits of a list so long (some of this is mentioned earlier), that you’d be nuts to not want to join. Anything that’s good for the kids is a good thing as well. Social interaction, learning new skills, having fun and not even mentioning them exhausting themselves into oblivion so they sleep the whole night through!
We all want what’s best for our kids, right? So if you said yes to this question, there is no reason anyone wouldn’t want to make it work.

Now to the idea of ‘redefining’ the idea of participation and technology. Has anyone considered the following options:

1] Using Skype / Webinar so those who cannot be physically there can still interact?

2] Video your meeting and upload it to a private channel on YouTube so members can see what’s going on?

3] Put out a list to the Dads on the next newsletter with dates where a little bit of grunt / muscle and experience (read cooking a Bunnings BBQ here!), could be used. From experience, the ladies always appreciate a hand to set up and pull down things like Gazebos, carrying the rubbish out and trestle tables for an event.

4] Dob in a Dad! Ladies, if you know your hubby is good at something, dob him in to help out. 😉

5] Dad Antenatal Classes / Buddy System: Get Dads involved from the get go! A classic example of this is Mr Dad here in Brisbane -> http://www.mrdad.com.au
The classes are held in a pub so the guys can relax in a familiar environment while they learn.  Many of the participants tell us that they were relieved to find out that other men shared the same fears and concerns about becoming a new dad, and were also unsure of how to best prepare themselves for the labour, birth and early parenting.

6] Multiple Dads Sanctuary Facebook group -> http://www.facebook.com/groups/MultipleDadsSanctuary
Multiple Dads Sanctuary is a Facebook group, supported by AMBA, where Dads with Multiples can get and share information on their experiences.

Dads / Uncles / Grandad / Cousins are the role models for the kids of tomorrow….YOUR kids! All of these interactions are a ‘sum of the parts’ experience. No parent has all the answers.

Being a part of my local AMBA club, running the MDS on Facebook, having a blog doesn’t mean my 3.5 year old boys miss out on a thing, on the contrary, I now have so many ideas to show and share with my boys, that I have set up my own business from home to give me the flexibility to spend even more time with them!

It’s your choice as parents, it’s your choice as Dads, yet if you want to see a real difference of being part of something special, give your local AMBA club a go.
You have nothing to loose and absolutely everything to gain from such a brilliant resource.

So I ask you, where are the Dads who want to make a difference?