There has been a shift over the past couple decades, with more and more dads staying home with the kids. Traditional roles had men at work and women at home with the children. In America alone, the number of dads staying home with their children has doubled since 1989.
The recession hit a lot of families hard, as many men and women lost their jobs. When job prospects improved, many men made a choice. They realized that they could spend majority of their paycheck on daycare, or stay home raising their children. It seems like an easy choice when you get to watch your children grow and develop.
Although job loss and injury occur, majority of stay-at-home dads are staying home by choice. This shift in gender roles has come a long way. Women now make up 47% of the workforce. Currently, it is not uncommon for women to make a substantial amount more than their husbands. Many women are also seeking higher education.
Tips for Stay-at-Home Dads
There is no doubt that becoming a stay-at-home dad will be new and challenging. If you haven’t already ventured into this stay-at-home world, you should be aware that it entails more than feeding the kids and folding laundry.
You will need to work effectively with your partner to achieve a balance that works for you. If you are used to bringing home the bacon, you’ll need to get used to the changing role. The following are some tips to help you adjust, being the best dad and husband possible.
1. Make Sure the Kids are Top Priority
Many stay-at-home dads had a career before they transitioned into the family man position. It can be hard to change priorities, especially when you’re used to repeatedly answering phone calls and receiving emails.
If you think that you can juggle a full-time job while tending to the kids and house, you may need to shift your priorities. Taking care of children is a full-time job in itself. Although many work from home while taking care of the kids, make sure that you do not let business come before your fatherly duties.
2. Speak to Your Partner, Opening Up Communication
You do not want to change roles without having a clear discussion regarding responsibilities and expectations. If you believe your role entails X, Y, and Z, but your partner thinks it also include A, B, and C, you may run into some difficulties.
You need to sit down and talk about all aspects of your position. Who will be doing the cooking? Will you clean the house during the day? Are parenting roles switching on the nights and weekends? Are they other relatives that need assistance (e.g. either parents)? Discuss your situation and come up with a basic plan. This plan doesn’t need to be rigid, but it gives you a rough idea so that you’re both on the same page.
Although majority of partners will work together, it’s important to have a discussion so that there’s no conflict down the road. If you’re making the decision to stay home, it’s more than likely in the best interest of your family. Communication is key so that your partnership isn’t threatened by miscommunication and resentment down the road.
3. Take Your Position Seriously
Stay-at-home dad does not mean you get to sleep in and watch TV with your child all day. Just like any other job, you need to be the best you can be. In this case, it’s even more vital that you do your best. You want to be the best family man possible, tending to the needs of your children.
If there are certain aspects that can be improved upon, then go for it. If you have not been doing any cooking because you don’t know how, start learning. There are plenty of great cooking classes available, as well as many great resources. They are some great recipes done step-by-step on various cooking shows, like 30-minute meals with Jamie. The following recipes are sure to impress your wife. Practice makes perfect; you need to start somewhere. Get the basics down, then get creative.
Routine is important, allowing children to have structure. Learn to get your child on a consistent routine, allowing you to do the same. Eating, napping, and bedtime are all prime examples of routine behaviour. That way, your children know what to expect each day. When your child is napping, take that time to get some housework or business work done.
The key to all of this is finding out what works best for you. Every family dynamic and situation are different. Get into a rhythm that works for everyone in the family, ensuring the highest levels of success. If something isn’t working out, then make the necessary changes. Just because your partner isn’t home with you all day, doesn’t mean that they’re not involved. If you feel as though something isn’t the best it can be, sit down once again to talk. Come up with an effective solution.
4. Get out of the House
If you’re stuck indoors too long, it can become overwhelming. With all the parenting and housework, you may be looking for a little bit relaxation. Don’t be afraid to get out, taking your children to the park for example. Fresh air is important, both for you and your child.
There is no reason why you can not get out everyday. Even if you just go for a walk with your child or push them in a stroller, you’re outside and being active. Look into a fun activity available for you and your child. There are a lot of parent-child classes available, so see what’s offered in your community.
If you have a library close by, take your child to pick out some books. Anyway you can enrich their environment and learning process is a major plus. Even taking them out to run errands allows you time out of the house and exposes them to new experiences.
5. Embrace the Experience, While Looking Into the Future
It can be challenging, but looking after your child is the best gift you could be given. Being with your child as they grow and learn is an incredible opportunity. You get to see those large milestones, while witnessing every little moment each day. These small moments will bring you so much joy.
Appreciate the experience, even on the hardest days. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, think about how lucky you are to spend that much time with your little one. They grow fast, but you get to witness that growth, step-by-step.
Although your number one priority is taking care of your child, you can still consider the future. You may need to go back to work at some point in the future, so keep this in mind. In your spare time, keep up-to-date regarding the most current events in your industry. You want to stay sharp and continue networking if possible. Once you get into a solid routine, you may even be able to work from home one or two days.
6. Break the Stereotype
The stay-at-home dad role, still gets some instances of negative perception. Whether it is in the media or society as a whole, it’s time to change the views associated with this stay-at-home role. Father’s can be just as loving, competent, and nurturing. So take on your role with pride, and do an incredible job.
If you’re unsure of anything at anytime, do not be afraid to ask for advice. If it is your first time dealing with potty training for instance, it can be a challenge. There are so many great parent forums available. Connect with other parents, creating a fantastic network. You can either connect with parents locally, or join a ’stay-at-home dad group’ online.
Either way, you want to do the best job possible so that this stereotype can be eliminated. Stay-at-home dads are on the rise, and it’s nice to see. Rigid gender roles are a thing of the past. Families today need to do what is best for the family as a whole.
So, if you’re about to enter the role of ’stay-at-home dad,’ be excited for the wonderful times ahead. It will be a lot of work, but what could be more rewarding? It’s a wonderful gift, watching your children for a living. Harness that and go above and beyond your role. Make sure that communication is open between you and your partner, as that is the most crucial component. As long as you have a system that works for you and your family, you will embark on a journey that is highly memorable and rewarding.
Photo Credit: Mathias Wennergren