Being a stay at home dad these days is far more “normal” than I am sure it was 20 years ago. However, it still can have a certain stigma about it. Before my first child was born, my wife and I decided that I would be the one to stay at home. She had a far better job than I did and the cost of childcare would have been pretty much all of my wages, plus we really wanted one of us to be at home with our kid as much as possible.
So out of nowhere, I became a stay at home dad….. me! A guy who once got in trouble for calling his infant nephew it and also asking if he could “have a shot” of the baby! Me a guy who knew nothing about babies was going to be a stay at home dad.
I will not lie, I was a little nervous that first day my wife went back to work and my son looked at me, sat up and said “oh great I am left with this guy” ok he did not speak, but I am sure that is what he was thinking. I rolled my sleeves up and decided I was going to be the best darn stay at home dad I could. That started with going out for a walk, it was winter so it was a pretty quick walk, but I realized right then that getting out of the house once a day was something I really wanted to do.
That right there is one of the best bits of advice I can give you new stay at home dads. Sure stay at home is in the job description, but you are allowed to leave the house! Even if it is just a walk with them in their pushchair to the local park and back or to the local store to get some bread and milk. Getting some fresh air is a great way to let the baby have a little extra stimulation form your local neighborhood and also help you feel like you are not isolated from the world which can happen when you are a stay at home dad.
I actually got into the role pretty quickly and my son and I had our own little routine. Having a routine is a great way to keep your days structured and also keep you sane. We would have breakfast, some playtime then I would take care of the household chores…… oh wait you did not know that was part of the being a stay at home dad job description? If your wife or partner is out at work all day, you have to be the one to step up and keep the house clean, have dinner ready and so on. This is not a bad thing though, having jobs and a purpose to do keeps the clock ticking and it keeps you going.
I really wanted to give you a little introduction to how I became a stay at home dad. I am not saying it is easy as there are those days when your child will cry, cry some more, poop, eat, poop again and then cry for the rest of the day and those days are really, really hard. However, you suck it up and you get through it.
As I write this my son is now ten years old and I can hand on heart tell you that making the decision to become a stay at home dad was one of the best decisions my wife has made for me (I kid, we made the decision together) and I have cherished every moment and memory I have of this time. Now that he is ten, we still spend a lot of time together, but he is getting to the age where is a little “too cool” to be seen with his dad so I am making the most of it before he hits his teenage years!
So if you are a stay at home dad or are going to become one I salute you and want you to know that you are pretty darn lucky!