We don't pay attention to the little things until we suddenly need some quick or not-so-quick life skill that we realize we were never taught, like how to tie a tie, change a tire, or cook eggs. The list can go on and is different for each individual but all is not lost there are people out there who help people like Rob Kenney, the creator, and host of 'Dad, How Do I?' From 'how to' videos to chin up talks Rob imparts practical advice with a few dad jokes for levity to people of all ages. Join Rob as he speaks with Janna about his experience of creating 'Dad, How Do I?' and more.
Rob Kenney (02:16):
Yeah, I thought of the idea of Dad, How Do I? a few years before I actually posted anything and it would've been a resource that I could have used when I was younger because my dad left when I was 14, and so I was trying to produce content that I felt like was valuable. A lot of nuggets to be able to get you in and out and learn something. And I was kind of teaching myself really. And so I thought of the idea a few years before and then my daughter was on me, "Dad, you need to do this. You need to do it." And then with the pandemic it kind of forced my hand. I was at home quarantined like everybody else, and so I thought, well I can show you how to tie a tie. It's not too big a commitment and I can just put it out there and see what happens.
Rob Kenney (03:08):
And so here we are today. I didn't plan on it being what it is. I thought I was going to help 30 or 40 people and just try to like I said, provide a safe place where you could just kind of come in and learn some things that maybe you hadn't been taught. So I was trying to fill in those voids that I know I didn't necessarily learn when I was in school. And you get out on your own, and you go, "Wait a second, how do I do that?" I learned this algebraic equation, but I don't know how to cook a meal for myself. So a lot of those little things like that that hopefully will be able to help people.
One thing I love about your YouTube channel is that although it is Dad, How Do I? and your heart was to help kids who maybe didn't have a father figure in their life or a strong parental figure that was walking alongside them in life. It's things that even if you did have a good parent in your life, they may not have had the time to stop and teach you how to tie the tie. Dads will take the tie and tie it for the kids and then hand it to the kids and they'll slip it on. But in our busyness, sometimes we forget to teach our kids how to do those things for themselves.
Rob Kenney (04:23):
I think that's true. And I want to encourage people; encourage, empower and edify is what we've kind of landed on as far as what we want to get from our channel. We want to be able to ... My daughter has helped me a lot. That's why I say we really want to empower anybody to be able to do things on their own. And it feels good when you do something and you go, "Oh, I didn't think I could do that." And then you do it and, "Oh, what else can I do?" And if you take baby steps, I joke about this, when you're a baby, you don't give up walking because you fell. You don't overthink it. You keep trying and keep trying and pretty soon you're walking. As adults, we get in our heads and we overthink things and say, "Oh, well, I just could never do that. I just wasn't good at it."
Rob Kenney (05:09):
Well, did you give it a fair try to really try to allow your brain to process it and be able to figure it out? And so that's what I try to do. I'm big on baby steps. I think it's so important to just try this little thing and then see how it goes and then maybe try a little bit bigger thing because it's a little out of people's comfort zone, but it feels good.
And what's interesting is not only being willing to try something new but being willing to fail at it and keep trying because I think some people are like, "Oh, I'll try that." Or "I tried that," in the singular. And to be honest, most things in life don't happen the first time you do it. You have to keep failing and realizing how not to do it so that the next attempt you're trying a different way.
Rob Kenney (05:59):
Yeah, I think that's exactly right. And again, the sad thing is I think as we get older we're not as kind to ourselves as maybe when we're younger and we're not overthinking it. When you're older you tend to, "I can't do that." Or "Oh, what will they think?" Or allow critics to decide what you're going to do next.
Well, we're talking to parents who are homeschooling and maybe new homeschoolers, or maybe they have been doing it for a while. But that's one of those things that you don't know how it's going to work until you try. And when you try, it probably isn't working out the way you thought, but you're learning how to fail graciously and you're continuing to go on. And so when I watch your videos and I see you giving instruction, I think to myself, "He makes it look so easy." In the world of Instagram and TikTok and all of these things, it looks so easy and yet you give permission to people so that they know that, hey, it may take a couple of tries.
Rob Kenney (07:01):
Yeah, I hopefully am trying to help you understand. And I do try to include some stuff because a lot of times, and I've said this before, a lot of times on these home improvement type of things, they go, "Oh, we're going to put up a wall," okay, the wall's up. "Wait, you didn't show me all the different things you did to put that wall up." And so I do try to include my own struggles with things where, hey, that didn't quite go as planned. Here's a workaround though. Do not panic, maybe you need to make this adjustment. And so I do try to include those, but I also don't want my videos to be 40 minutes long of me messing up. So I have to choose which ones I decide to include.
Well, I recently tried to sew something and I don't know why I think I could have done it, but I attempted it and on my first take, I sewed myself to the point where I couldn't actually use it. There was no way to get into it. I was so tempted to just ... it was $10 worth of material, I'm going to throw it away, it's not worth it. And I thought, "No, I got to try again. There's got to be another way." Now, it was incredibly ugly and it was nothing that I was going to start selling on Etsy, but I did push through at several attempts and got it done. And I think it's those kinds of things that people need to know so that maybe we do get to the Pinterest-worthy photo-shopped picture at the end. But it's the process of how you get there. And I think your own story kind of shows that process. So when did you know you were going to write the book?
Rob Kenney (08:41):
It kind of came out of the blue, honestly. I think a lot of people would say, "Oh, I should write a book." I think that's kind of a pretty common saying because I think everybody does kind of have a story and I think people are interesting and if you dig in, everybody probably could write a book really, but trying to get a publisher on board that's willing to back it or what have you. And when my channel went viral, I actually had several publishers reach out to me. And so it wasn't necessary, "I'm going to write a book someday." It was more, "You should write a book, Rob, and we'll get behind it and support it." And so that's where that came from. I had never had any intentions of writing a book and just like I didn't have intentions of this being four million subscribers, I thought I was just going to have a small group and I'm an introvert myself.
Rob Kenney (09:29):
And so putting myself out there was a little bit scary. And when my channel went viral, honestly I actually cried because I saw my face all over the internet and you can't reign it back in. I can't get this back. And now I'm two and a half years into it so I've got my feet under me and I've surrounded myself with good people and so that really helps.
You do seem as though you are thoroughly enjoying it.
Rob Kenney (10:00):
I am now. I am now. I still have my panic attacks. I've done a lot of remote interviews on famous nationwide channels and that sort of thing. But I had an in-person interview at a local station here in Seattle and on my way there when I was driving there with my wife, I'm like, "What am I doing? I'm really doing this," because in the comfort of your home, just like this, oh my dogs are here and this is my house and I'm talking to you so it's calm where I can’t overthink it. And so as I was driving, I'm like, "We can turn around and just tell them I'm sick." My mind was trying to come up with excuses but it went well. So I'm glad I did it because I am trying to say yes to everything pretty much. I mean, within reason, because if it's just something that scares me, I don't want that to stop me. And so trying to get out of my comfort zone and remain true to myself and all the above, it's a little bit tricky.
It really is. I think one thing that as parents, as homeschool parents, we have to get really comfortable with the uncomfortable. I think in order to grow you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Rob Kenney (11:22):
Yeah, I did a Wisdom Wednesday talking about the comfort zone. I get it because it's comfortable. That's why it's called the comfort zone. I get it. But no growth really happens there. And some people, you might be in a stage in your life where that's okay. You just want to be comfortable and relaxed. But I think especially for younger people where you're getting out of your comfort zone, I think that's a healthy thing because you don't know what ... A lot of times we buy into the lie that you're this and you get put into a box that this is who you are. Well, wait for a second, let me try this. And hey, I'm actually pretty good at that. Hey, let me try this. Pretty soon, you're ... And that's why on my channel I do pretty much anything. I'm cooking and I'm reading children's stories, but I'm also showing practical things with your car and with your home.
Rob Kenney (12:18):
So it's fun because I do want to show that cooking shouldn't be a woman's job. Traditionally it's kind of fallen that way because the man would go to work and then the woman would stay home and cook. But if you're going both going to work, you both should be able to know how to cook to fill in for each other. And then also I want to empower women to ... I've had people say, "I'm a woman so my dad never taught me how to change a tire because that's a man's job." Well, what if a man's not around, or what if you get stranded on the side of the road, you're going to hope a nice man comes along and changes your tire for you. I think that's a pretty shallow way of thinking. And I didn't do that with my kids. So I have a daughter and a son that are grown and I wanted to teach my daughter everything and my son everything too so that they could do whatever they wanted to try.
Now speaking of family, I know you've mentioned your daughter and how she has helped with the creative inspiration for the things that you have done. This definitely does appear as though it's a family affair. Do your children mind sharing their dad with the internet?
Rob Kenney (14:45):
Well, my daughter was a big part of it, like you said. So she knew full well what we were getting into I think and if it exploded. And she checks on me to say, "Dad, are you still okay with what's happened with this?" And I am. And so as long as she's okay. And then my son, I checked with my son early on and I said, "Kyle, are you okay with what has happened here?" And he said, "Dad, if I was nine years old and you were doing this," he said, "I might have a problem with it." But he's 27 and he said, "I'm good. You did a good job. So if it's something you enjoy, then go for it." And then my wife too, we've had to adjust everything with my wife and I have tried to remain regular and normal. We still have the same house, and still, drive our same used cars. I haven't really done anything other than just trying to get my head around this more.
And then you have a podcast with your nephew, correct?
Rob Kenney (15:48):
I do, yeah. Yep. That's something we started last May.
Your nephew's laugh is contagious, I have to tell you.
Rob Kenney (15:57):
He laughs at his own jokes so he can make things fun.
It's a fun podcast to listen to. Now when you were going to write your book, I know you had your immediate family's permission. Was there any hesitation on your part about telling your story that included people outside your immediate four walls at the time?
Rob Kenney (16:21):
Yeah, it's a little tricky, but I tried to put everything in the proper light. There are things obviously I didn't share that I could have shared and I thought that's not necessary for the message that I'm trying to get across. I did have to get into a little bit of the stuff with my dad, and again, I forgave my dad and that's the cool part about the end of the story. You got to kind of hang with it. And I'm not trying to throw my dad onto the bus, but this was a decision that he made. He's passed since, and I'm not living in the past, but I compare it to It's a Wonderful Life. I love It's a Wonderful Life, and one of the best movies ever. And you have to sit through the bad parts for the end to be so amazing where Uncle Billy gives them ... Potter takes the money and oh no, why does he keep that money?
Rob Kenney (17:17):
So it's always painful to watch that, but you got to watch the bad part for the end to be so glorious. And so I think I would be doing people a disservice if I left out the fact that this happened to me, this was my life, but you don't have to live there. You can move on from it. And so yeah, all that to say, I think it's been a little bit of a struggle with some people. And I'm not going to mention any names to maybe feel like I'm airing dirty laundry when I did my best not to, tried to paint people in the best light I possibly could. And the reality is I'm 59. And so was ... You do the math. You're the homeschool mom. So what is that?
You're giving me way too much credit, Rob.
Rob Kenney (18:01):
Well, I'm 58 actually. See I can't even remember how old I am, but it's been a long time, right? I mean, it's not like this is something that happened three years ago and people are still dealing with it. By this time, it's a long time ago.
And so your book Dad, How Do I? is really about how you got to where you are now. Is that a good summary then?
Rob Kenney (18:28):
I would say so. I share quality traits with my siblings. That's what I was trying to do. Talk about each sibling and something that I ... And actually on my 50th birthday, that's something I did. On my 50th birthday, I went around and said, "Mary, I really appreciate how you were..." It was important for the family to keep family together because that wasn't important to me, honestly. I was just fighting to survive. I appreciated family, but I was more in survival mode... And Mary kept trying to keep the family together. We got a lot of roots in Kansas. And then you worked down through Tim and Rick. I lived with Rick and his work ethic. He taught me what a good work ethic is. Showing up on time and doing a good job when you're there. I think that's important. Anyway, and then on down through, I think it's got a lot of value because I think there are some quality character traits that we all could learn and be reminded of.
As you're looking at this current generation, these kids and young adults and like myself, middle-aged adults who are gaining wisdom. From your experience, how do you reconcile this current generation who wants everything neat and tidy, in 30 to 60 seconds, and it should be done perfectly the first time or I'm not going to do it. I mean, there are so many things that we can benefit from in our society because of technological advances, but at the same time, I think we've lost a lot of things as well. You talk about cooking. I mean, I have 17-year-old twins, and every time I turn around, someone's at a Chick-fil-A or a Chipotle, and I'm like, "I just spent $600 on groceries. Why are we eating out?" But it's their money. And so trying to be a responsible parent and let them decide. But does that encourage you that there's a space for you to come in and help mend that? Are you ever discouraged when you look around and you're like, "These kids have no clue"?
Rob Kenney (20:33):
Well, in fairness, Chick-fil-A and Chipotle are amazing, so we got to put that in. So I understand the cravings there. So just to be completely transparent. Yeah, a little bit, and honestly I've been on TikTok just recently, but I've been so busy that I've hardly posted recently. But I debated getting on TikTok and I've shared this on my podcast too. I debated it because it concerns me. The 30-second... oh, swipe, swipe. Oh, this bores me. I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored. Well, a lot of quality time comes from quantity time and just hanging out. And so that's what the podcast kind of is, is where we're just hanging out. A lot of times we're not necessarily solving the world's problems, but we're just kind of hanging out and talking about what we got going on that week. And so it does concern me. I think there's some value in it for sure. There are certain things, TikTok hacks where, "Oh, that's pretty cool, I didn't even know that. That's pretty cool. And I can put that into use."
Rob Kenney (21:36):
But then I think there are a lot of other things where people want to be YouTube famous or TikTok famous and they're willing to do stuff that I don't think is wholesome. And so that concerns me. I think people want a quick-fame type of thing. And I've had people reach out to me, "How did you do it? I want to be..." Well, this wasn't planned. And so I'm doing the best I can and trying to deal with the ramifications of being YouTube famous. Anyway. Yeah, I think you're right. I think there is a concern about the next ... I mean, you always hear it. Back in my day, it was like this and well ... I think we have information overload coming in so fast now. I do get concerned also since my channel is kind of aimed at people without fathers too, I have a concern with the amount of information and the amount of stuff that's on people's phones. Really easy to access stuff and the kids that don't have somebody watching out for them, that's a concern. I think it's a valid concern that I want to protect these kids' minds. They're seeing stuff way too early of an age that they can't process it.
I have to interject. I'm pretty sure Travis would definitely disagree and say that you guys are ... at least he's probably solving some of the world's problems on your podcast.
Rob Kenney (23:13):
He thinks he is.
Yeah, he thinks he is for sure. I do think that part of homeschooling is that parents get to decide what influences their children in a different way. Through the curriculum, they get the choices of how they choose to educate and what venues they choose to use. And yet we still have to be on guard for what our children have access to and who our children are listening to via TikTok, and YouTube, can't tell you how many times my youngest, I don't know if that's ... You have two, so I don't know if your youngest kind of follows that typical baby, but we have three. So the youngest always is like ... She sneaks away. I'm like, "Where is she?" "So, Courtney?" "Yes?" "What are you doing?" "Watching a YouTube video." "What are you watching?" I mean, it's comical. It has to happen routinely throughout the day because she slips away, but then I'm noticing what is she doing, where is she at?
And thankfully she just watches nail videos right now. But it's that constant monitoring, it's that we can't let our guard down just because we are homeschooling, just because we have our children maybe a little bit more insulated and around us more, we can be just as ignorant to what's going on with our kids too.
Rob Kenney (24:34):
Yeah. Yep, I agree. But you're also somebody that's actually looking out for them too, so you're at least a presence that's looking out for them. My big concern is what about the people that don't have a presence like yourself that is doing the best they can to guard their minds while they're young?
And Rob, that's why you are the Internet's dad. I'm sorry, but that's why right there. You just nailed it.
Rob Kenney (25:03):
Yeah, I'm trying. I'm doing the best I can with the limited knowledge that I have, but I am trying to, hopefully. I do want to encourage dads too. That's another thing that I'm hoping comes out of my channel that being a dad is such a blessing, and a mom, I'm sure. I've never been a mom, but being a dad, it's such an honor and it's such a short window of time that we had our kids here and my kids are my best friends now. You slowly change and now we talk every day because we're really close. But anything I can do to help encourage dads to hang in there because it breaks my heart some of the stories that I hear all the time. And so I'm hoping with my platform as it continues to grow, to get opportunities to be able to help with that.
Well, since we're on the subjects of dad, do you have a dad joke for us?
Rob Kenney (26:07):
Oh, put me on the spot here. Well, I got some go-to ones, so-
Rob Kenney (26:16):
So an antenna and a satellite got married. The wedding wasn't much, but the reception was incredible. You've probably heard that.
I hadn't. I wasn't expecting to laugh, but that's actually pretty good.
Rob Kenney (26:33):
Oh, come on now. My dad jokes, I try to boil it down to where we got some good... I sift through the ones.
But isn't the whole point of the dad joke is like to be like...
Rob Kenney (26:49):
Yeah. Well, I got another one for you. So, my son said he didn't understand cloning. I told him that makes two of us.
Oh my gosh. Too much. Too much.
I like it. I like it. Well, Rob, I appreciate your time. But before you go, I always ask our guests, what is a homeschool hack or a life hack that you can share with our listeners that is maybe not earth-shattering, but can help somebody in their day?
Rob Kenney (27:18):
Uh-oh. I think I saw that. You had asked me to be prepared for that. What do I ... I don't know that's a homeschool hack. This is just a hack that I just heard the other day from my brother actually told me if you're painting, is it ... Does this count?
Rob Kenney (27:37):
If you're painting a room. So if you're painting a room and you got your paint can, once you pop the lid off that you actually take a nail and pound it into the rim going around, you pound a few nail holes so that when you wipe off your brush, the paint drips back down inside the paint can. Brilliant, huh?
It is brilliant, otherwise, it pulls around, and when you put the top back on, it spills over the sides and you got a huge mess.
Rob Kenney (28:05):
There you go. And it does-
Not that I've ever done that.
Rob Kenney (28:07):
I know. I never have either, but when he brought it up, I said, "I didn't..." And he was bringing it up like everybody should know. And I said, "I didn't know that, Rick. I think that's a great idea. I need to actually share it on TikTok."
Yes, yes. Well, thank you for sharing it with us. I appreciate you. I appreciate what you're doing. As a homeschool parent, I appreciate that I know that there's a safe place on YouTube where we can go find some how-tos and enjoy a good dad joke out there.
Rob Kenney (28:41):
Well, thanks. Yeah. Yeah. I'm trying to do the best I can and try to keep it a safe place where you're not going to have swearing and you're not going to have stuff that would be offensive. When you upload a video, YouTube always asks all these questions to see and I always just check with no problem. I'm not talking about controversial stuff. I'm trying to just help encourage and empower and edify. Hopefully, we can walk alongside people that need a little bit of help.
Well, I have enjoyed our chat together. I know our listeners are going to get a good laugh from those dad jokes. And if they have not checked out your YouTube channel, then they can go to where?
Rob Kenney (29:25):
Yeah, just go to YouTube and Dad, How Do I? I also have Instagram and Facebook and if you go to those, there's a Linktree. I have a Linktree and if you click on that, the link and the bio on my Instagram, it'll take you to all the different ... so TikTok and Instagram and Facebook and YouTube.
Great. Well, I want to thank you for what you are doing to contribute to society to help people just be able to do the common things that they don't even know they don't know how to do.
Rob Kenney (29:59):
Yeah, yeah. Well, thank you. That's kind of what I feel like I'm doing.
Well, you're doing a great job. Thank you so much, Rob, for taking the time. Want to thank you guys for listening and until next time, bye-bye.