FIRST Parenting Advice & What's a FIRST Fairy Godparent?

Hi CD Community,

Danny and I are expecting our first kiddo this September. There’s a number of FIRST Alumni having kids this summer and I wanted ask for advice about parenting advice for events, build season, team travel, etc.

For those who have “been there, done that” with kids, what clever tips, tricks, and techniques have you learned over the years?

For those who host events, what have you done at your events to make it easier for families with young children to attend events?

If anyone would like to join-in on the “Baby Becker-Blau Betting Pool” you’re welcome to provide more advice, favorite recommended kids books and guess the birth date, time, name, sex, weight, length, etc. for Baby Becker-Blau by submitting this form: https://forms.gle/4nzHkgRPn8a3VXrL9

The person who is closest to the correct answers will receive the honor of being named *FIRST Fairy Godparent for Baby Becker-Blau and probably get a t-shirt.

  • *You may be asking yourself, what is a FIRST Fairy Godparent. Excellent question!

A FIRST Fairy Godparent is an individual who teaches the values of the FIRST program to young kiddos who have parents involved in the program. From finding toys to promote STEM building skills at a young age, to ensuring the kiddos have appropriate branded team clothing to wear, a FIRST Fairy Godparent is there for the kiddo as they grow into the FIRST program. See this link for more examples of activities a FIRST Fairy Godparent can partake in. *

Good luck guessing, and thanks in advance for the tips!

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Just make sure to put the baby’s main breaker in an easily accessible location.

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Unfortunately it is in the diaper.

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It is easier and less confusing for the child to tell them that their parents were lost in the robot wars. Pretend to be their cousins when you see them in the off season.

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My little sister has been dragged to our robotics competitions since she was in the womb essentially, and even at age 9 is an amazing scout and has teams vying for her. @vmm may have some words of wisdom to impart. (and no mom, I’m not scrolling Chief Delphi when I’m supposed to be getting ready for an event. I’d never do such a thing! But what if the key to winning is found in this thread???)

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She’s 10, lol. But she was a valued scout at 9. I will have to think about this one. But you do have to have fast reflexes. I once had to block an errant 2014 ball from hitting her in her stroller. One piece of advice: Have a bag of things to do that only comes out during robotics events. And get them involved with FLL. I think it starts as your as 4 now. Give them jobs like making buttons when they are able. And let them be scouting helpers and then actual scouts. Good luck, and congratulations!

A word of advice: When you leave the field after a match, take back everything that came with you - including your toddler. Then field reset won’t have to wonder what to do with the little darling. (Yes, that actually happened.)

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Congratulations to you and Danny!

Sorry I can’t give advice of how to deal with young kids and FIRST since my son introduced me to FIRST when he joined the FRC team at his school.

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Its going to depend on the support structure you have, but I would say prepare to cut back hours for everything until the youngest kid is 4-5 years old. We don’t have any family in the area. It was a significant cut back in hours for me for several years (we have two kids). I was still able to help some in build season, but reduced days and reduced time each day.

For events, if you’re going to want/need to help the team in the pit, I almost say don’t bring the kids. Even with my wife watching them in the stands, it wasn’t easy to do. If you’re just there to watch, I think it goes much better. It’s going to depend on the game and how exciting it is (once they’re a little older) for how long they’re able to stay entertained. I found frequent trips to the pits were necessary to keep them engaged. They love wearing safety glasses for one thing, and the high school kids in school mascot costumes, or wacky team uniforms for another. Teams were incredibly awesome with talking to my toddlers, giving them buttons, whatever other swag they had, etc. The kids love robotics because of going to events, and found the pits and competitions exciting at the time. But even then I would say 4 hours was about the limit for us (either solo or with my wife there too).

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As someone who now has a 1 year old, strap on the baby carrier and keep showing up. I am a design fab member, it helped me immensely as I learned to mentor without my hands. Yes, it was great working side by side with students, but it slows you down, forces you to step back, observe and let kids make minor mistakes to learn.

Also there are many funny picks with my son asleep on my chest while mentoring.

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For teams running events, having a quiet room with maybe some yoga mats and coloring books, etc. would help families with kids. Some New England events have that for stressed out students, and I took my little one in a couple times. (Like when she was upset that her sister’s team didn’t get picked, lol.) For parents, invest in some ear protection for the kids. Competitions can get loud for kids. Bring a stroller when possible. Be prepared for them to fall asleep in the middle of the noise. A tablet, when they are old enough keeps them busy and helps them make friends with the other little kids. Teach them to scout. Let them be mascots. Have them pass out pins. Get them involved early, ad they will be the team’s biggest supporters. As I said in my reply to Bri, get them in FLL. Also, have a bag of activities that only comes out at robotics.

On a more serious vain. If you take your child (<10) to a event or mentoring, there will be times that they will require your full attention.They will also need full time supervision. Your First duty is to your child. Have a plan for when they get bored.

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