So you’ve decided to become a stay at home dad! Congratulations on your new career choice. You’ve told the old boss good luck, you’ve discussed things with your wife, and you have totally realized that from this point on you will never be able to poop in private again. Good for you.
You get up in the morning feeling energized. You are making breakfast for the family, want the wife to get out the door and go tackle the world. You are showered, dressed and motivated. You give your wife a cup of coffee, that was very sweet of you by the way, and maybe even a little pat on the behind. You walk her to the door and tell her good luck. She gets in the car and drives away, giving you a little waive for encouragement.
It’s right about now that you realize that you have no idea what the hell to do next. Welcome to the stay at home dad world new dad!
Go ahead and feel free to panic just don’t do it in front of the kids, that’s bad form. Do continue to read Daddyshome though as hopefully this kicks off a series of posts aimed at new stay at home dads I like to call, What Now?
So let’s get back to the basics, what to do as a stay at home dad. Of course, this won’t work for everyone but do keep in mind that I am awesome.
First, stop panicking you woman. You’re a man and just because you are now staying home with the kids doesn’t mean you don’t have any junk left. And that’s our first lesson for the new stay at home dad. You’re still dad. Don’t try to be mom, be dad.
Next, it’s probably a good idea now to go find your kids because you shouldn’t really leave them alone. Once that is done, sit on the floor with them as I assuming that they are a baby or toddler for the purpose of this column. If your kids are older, well, skip on ahead. The point is, this is what you will be doing for a very large part of your day. Sitting on the floor with the kid. Play some games, give them a pep talk, let them know how things are going to run from here on out. Get comfortable doing this kind of thing. It can be a bit boring but not every job is filled with explosions and car chases, although that could be a pretty cool game to play.
Once that is done, do a quick pick up of the house. Clean up breakfast. Trust me on this one, nothing is worse than coming back from an outing to a messy kitchen when you’ve got to get lunch on the table. If all this works out well, you can do this during morning naps for those with babies. If not, still clean the kitchen because none of use were raised in a barn.
Next, it’s outing time. Don’t freak out. This is essential to the stay at home dad world. If you don’t get out of the house you will go insane. You might be a bit freaked though and it is understandable. But the best course of action is to confront that fear and jump in with both feet. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t quicker if you are forcing yourself. Pack the baby bag as best as you can but don’t sweat it if you forget something. Sure, you’ll pay for it if you do but that’s the whole point. You’ll learn from each mistake you make.
Pick some place to go. My advice is to skip the parks and total kid locations for the first visit. You’ll probably be self conscious the whole time and it really doesn’t set the right tone for what we are looking for. Pick some place that you kind of always wanted to go to but never did. A museum that you always wanted to explore? Perhaps a battlefield? Or what about the good old hardware store? Any of these are fine. Being a stay at home dad means that you will have a lot of time to go to a lot of places. And when the kid is still in diapers, they pretty much don’t care where you go as long as they are with you. So take advantage of that while you can. You’ll have plenty of days to do the other stuff and you might as well have some fun while you are learning. But we mean to help you out with this blog so let me refer you to the KCDADS blog at this point for a list of activities that you possibly could do. You neck of the woods won’t have everything they do of course, but do your research and you can find a lot of great things. Just don’t hesitate. Those who wait, lose and we all know that you are not a loser because you are a stay at home dad and thus, awesome.
Stay gone long enough so that you get something out of it and head back to the house for lunch. We’ll cover picnics and lunch packing in other blogs so don’t worry about it. Afterall, this is just day one. Once back home, admire your clean kitchen before you mess it up again with lunch. I suggest a tuna sandwhich for you. After lunch, it’s back down for nap time part 2. This is your time to shine.
Once the kid is down, do all your clean up chores. You won’t be able to do this everyday of course as children by nature destroy expectations, but this does get you into the habit. Believe it or not, not only will your child be better off with a schedule, so will you. So fit this in your schedule while you have some free time. At the very least, clean the first two rooms that your wife sees when she comes home. Even if the rest of the house is a wreck, those first rooms will set the tone for the evening.
Congratulations, it’s now time for a short break. Take some time for yourself. Recharge your batteries because this is about the only time to yourself that you will have for the rest of the day. Don’t feel guilty about it, enjoy it. Because soon the kid will get up and that means you are back on the clock. Which also means that you need to get dinner on the table so the family can eat. Everyone seems to do this differently, so here’s my advice.
Put JR some place where he can watch you and then start cooking dinner. If they are old enough, let them help. Or if that doesn’t work, find a toy or the T.V. (gasp!) to distract them. Whatever works for you. Cook your dinner while you watch your kid, SAHM’s call this “multitasking” and they are very good at it. It’s time for you to learn.
Finally, the wife comes home but do not throw the kids at her. That’s a mistake. I would advise giving her 30 minutes of downtime before tossing the kid at her and running away with maniacal laughter. Let’s face it, we’ve all been on the other side of this coin and the one thing we all wanted when we came home was a bit of downtime. Give it to your wife and you’ll be happier that you did. Eat dinner and then get ready for bed.
And that’s it, that’s how it’s done. We write a lot of abstract things on this site but sometimes I feel we lose track of the actual reality of what we do. And let’s be honest, most of us have never tried this before or have paid attention when child raising was going on around us.
I know that a lot of experienced SAHD’s read this blog and I would entourage all of them to leave some advice for the new stay at home dad in the comment section. Stuff that perhaps made life easier for you when you were a brand new SAHD. Good luck!