Image by: Public Domain Pictures
By Robert Spencer
Father’s Day is coming up. Social norms have shifted and the role of “father” has moved into a different direction. In the 50’s, fathers used to leave for the office and come home to a housewife, a cooked dinner, and well-dressed kids named “Beaver.” These days the nuclear family has changed. Sometimes both parents work. Sometimes it’s only the mother that works. Sometimes both parents work from home.
For new stay-at-home dads, it can seem like a piece of cake. Get the kids ready for school, shoo them out the door, work in your home office or clean up the kitchen, then hit the x-box, and pick the kids up from the bus stop. Easy peasy, right? Nope. Nope, nope, nope. It never works out like that.
In fact, you’re going to have to work to stay mentally and physically healthy for you and your kids.
#1) Be Proud of Yourself
This will help keep your morale up. There are a lot of guys out there who aren’t able to stay home with their kids and wish they could spend more time with them. These moments are fleeting: the firsts. First steps. First school projects. First time blowing up a volcano in the kitchen. First time getting yelled at by your wife because you blew up a volcano in the kitchen.
You should be proud to be able to make this decision. It will keep your family strong and healthy. You will be able to be in your kids’ lives and play an important and active role as their father.
You may have done this out of necessity or perhaps you are switching jobs. Whatever the reason, make sure to show others (especially your kids) just how happy you are about making this important decision.
Being a navy brat, I was unable to have a lot of father bonding time when I was a kid. If I had the opportunity to spend more time with my dad, I would have jumped at the chance. Don’t waste the opportunities you have by complaining about your duties every day.
#2) Find a Schedule that Works for You
This will help keep your sanity in tact. Your wife, nanny, or babysitter may have done things one way but that doesn’t mean that you have to do it that way also. You can start off that way (it’s always nice to have a starting point). However, change the schedule and routine to something that suits you best. Do what makes you comfortable and keeps everyone safe, happy, and healthy.
#3) Talk with Your Family About Your Roles
Just because you’re at home “all of the time” now, doesn’t mean that you should be doing all the chores. Just like you didn’t expect that of your wife before, right? If you did, you’re in for a rude awakening. Being a stay-at-home parent is difficult. Between taking care of the kids, house, and possibly trying to handle a home business as well, your plate is going to be overflowing with duties.
So make sure that you talk with your wife and your kids about your roles in the house. Which chores should be expected of each contributing member of the household? What is reasonable for each person? You wouldn’t expect your four-year-old to be out mowing the lawn so why would they expect you to do that while you’re watching both your two month old infant and your three year old?
Make sure that you come to a consensus that everyone is happy with. Test it out. If it doesn’t work, have another family meeting to make some tweaks in the routine. Remember that nothing is set in stone. Being flexible is part of the whole parenting thing.
#4) Get a Day Off
Okay, so you’re home all the time now. Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean that you’re not busy. Being a parent is a big job and you’ll be tired at the end of the day. Make sure to try and schedule days off for you and your wife. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of nap time. That is the best time of the day – for some days.
#5) Check Out Some Meet-Up Groups
Meet with other dads in the area. If they’re stay-at-home dads it’s even better. Meet up in the park and share your ideas and tips. Schedule playdates. Once you and your wife meet some of those families and feel comfortable with them, consider having them babysit so that you and your wife can get away for an “adult only” night (and vice versa).
Don’t forget that you can mingle with the moms at the park also. Sometimes being the only guy at a park can be a bit intimidating (and also, the other moms might look at you funny). Just explain their situation to them. They’ll probably think that you’re awesome for what you do and they’ll be happy to share their tips.
Now it’s your turn. Are you a stay-at-home dad? What made you make this decision? What advice do you have for new stay-at-home dads? What is the best thing about being a stay-at-home dad?