Todd Johnson has been a proud, single dad since 2016, and as his son, 5-year-old Brayden, gets ready to begin kindergarten both Brayden and Todd are looking forward to this next chapter in their lives.

Todd Johnson has been a proud, single dad since 2016, and as his son, 5-year-old Brayden, gets ready to begin kindergarten both Brayden and Todd are looking forward to this next chapter in their lives.
Raising Brayden completely on his own, Todd, who works for a contractor at Fort Leavenworth, ensures that his son is his number-one priority.

While Todd is at work, Brayden has gone to pre-school half days and to a daycare. Since the preschool and daycare are not located in the same school district Brayden could only ride the bus to or from school one way. During his lunch hour Todd would pick his son up from preschool and take him to daycare or vice versa depending on afternoon or morning school classes, because the bus system doesn’t allow travel out of district. “Thank goodness I work for an employer who gave me some freedom on when I could take my lunch hour,” says Todd. “It worked out really well considering, but also was a little stressful at times as well.”
Although Todd doesn’t have a lot of family and friends to help him out, he says the ones he does have are amazing. His number-one helper is his father, who he says is by far the best helper he has.
“I don't know what I would of done without him,” says Todd. “He is absolutely an amazing human being. The relationship he and Brayden have is a special thing. I owe a lot to my dad. There has definitely been some great people along the way. Brayden’s daycare, his school teachers and paras, bus driver, and some great friends that all help.”

Todd and Brayden enjoy outdoor activities, including hiking in the woods and exploring new things.
“With him still just a little guy it’s usually got to be something that we can jump from one thing to a different thing fairly quickly,” says Todd.

Brayden enjoys any type of outdoor activity that involves a ball, including soccer, baseball and basketball.
“This past spring was his first time to be age eligible to sign up for city sports,” says Todd. “What a blast. He played soccer and we were so lucky to be on the team we were on, just an awesome coach. Go Lightning! We are now playing T-ball and it’s so much fun as well, another great group of coaches and kids. Brayden loves it. In the near future the plan is to purchase an RV and go do some camping and traveling.”
Todd not only loves to cook, he views it as valuable therapy. With his self-described addiction to everything barbecue, he grills out at least three to four times per week. Brayden is not as much of a barbecue aficionado as his dad, but likes the occasional hotdog or burger. He prefers fruit, veggies and bread and he’s not a big meat enthusiast. “It’s been a challenge to get enough protein in him but it’s got a lot better,” says Todd. “We are up to cheese pizza, grilled cheese, and fish sticks. Now if ‘Papa’ comes over it’s all about the cookies and soda pop. Brayden’s favorite thing I cook for him would have to be popcorn on our movie nights. Those are good times and he can sure eat some popcorn up.”

When Todd became a single parent, the change was difficult at times. Since Brayden was just a toddler, Todd believes he probably adjusted quicker.
“Questioning myself, if I was gonna be able to do this by myself was hard,” says Todd. “There are times now that get difficult with him getting older and more ‘why’ and ‘where’ questions that he is asking and I struggle at times to find answers. I am getting better at the answers and trying my hardest to be truthful yet understanding of his feelings and his age.”

Trying to find childcare on random days that Todd was not expecting, or when plans fell through has been challenging, along with trying to juggle a full-time job where he is on call at times.
“Making sure I’ve got everything lined up and that I don’t forget anything can definitely get stressful,” says Todd. There have been a few times where I have had to call my dad over to watch my son at 2 or 3 a.m., so I could go to work. That's tough to do. Another challenge is trying to find some time for myself. It’s very rare and it seems like the time I do find is either spent worrying or feeling guilty.”

One of the biggest hurdles for Todd has been putting his pride aside to be able to ask people for help. His best advice is don’t be afraid to ask. It might be a hard thing to do, but he knows that most people enjoy helping out and sincerely want to. He also believes it’s better not to worry about what people think. “You sometimes have to play the role of a mother too,” says Todd. “No shame in that at all. Don't ever be embarrassed or self-conscious to play the role of a mother.

Todd is beginning to introduce the idea of chores to Brayden, and although he is still a little guy, Todd believes it’s never too soon to start teaching him responsibility. “He does pick up after himself very well,” says Todd. “He puts his dirty dishes away after meals and sweeps up his crumbs. He is not allowed to get another toy out until he has picked up the current one he has out. So, not quite into chores yet, but responsibility for his things and picking up after himself, yes.  Definitely there is structure.”

Although holidays and birthdays can be daunting planning projects for most single parents, Todd doesn’t find it to be difficult at all. “ I enjoy it. We have had some pretty cool birthday parties. Christmas is always one of our favorite times of year, especially the last couple with Brayden understanding the spirit of it more. He loves putting the tree up, hanging the lights outside. Coming home every evening and turning everything on. Helping bring the firewood in for a fire in the fireplace, watching Christmas movies. It’s a great time that we both enjoy together.”

When Brayden enters kindergarten this fall Todd says it will be a pretty exciting time. He also says he won’t lie — not having to pay for full-time childcare makes him pretty excited.
Todd has some friends on social media that are also single fathers. “We seem to like and comment on some positive things to each other knowing we have this one thing in common. There are great single dads out there. There are some great single moms out there as well doing this thing.”

The most rewarding part of being a dad for Todd is being able to spend a lot of time with Brayden, which for Todd is priceless.
He also enjoys all the ‘firsts’ he gets to experience. “That's by far one of the most rewarding feelings a father could ever have,” says Todd.
The most important character traits that Todd hopes to instill in his son are respect for others and knowing right from wrong.
“I hope he sees that I love him more then anything on this earth and anything worth fighting for is not easy but so rewarding,” says Todd.  “I want him to work hard, play hard. Have a big heart. Always be the better person.”