Well, well. How times have changed. Twenty years ago, the words stay at home dad were whispered with a knowing nod, meaning he’s either unemployed or lazy. Today, it’s becoming more commonplace, so much so that it’s almost an aspiration for many Dads. The chance to spend more time with the kids while they’re growing up is something that increasing numbers of us want – but frazzled moms will tell you that they’d welcome the chance to go back to work!
So how can you get the most out of your stay at home dad experience? Here are five tips for stay at home dads…
- Don’t try to match them for energy
Let’s face it, if your favourite footballers are fading in their mid-30s, you’re not going to suddenly discover brand new reserves of energy yourself. You’ll never match your kids for get-up-and-go, so don’t try! Encourage them to play on their own for periods so that you can at the very least have a cup of joe and sit down for a while. If you’re playing in the back garden with them from morning till bed time, you’ll be hitting the hay before they do.
- Do it your way
Mom will no doubt have her own thoughts about how to raise your children, but you’re in charge now. In fact, it may be quite hard for your partner to let go and leave you to ‘get on with it’, but she’ll soon learn to trust your instincts and go with your decisions. So don’t be swayed – you’re the boss!
- Work out the finances
Having one parent at home comes with a number of financial consequences, so the best way to work out whether it’s working is to build an excel spreadsheet with your income and expenditure. Add some automated calculations, and you can quickly see the implications of your decisions… remember, not going to work can actually save a lot of money: travel, lunches, suits & ties… it all adds up!
- Build yourself a network
What did mom do during her maternity leave? If she’s anything like my partner, she networked herself silly. Singalongs on a Friday morning, coffee mornings, knitting afternoons, play groups… there’s nothing to stop you from doing the same. Your local library is probably the best place to start, and there will be community centres dotted around that have activities almost every day of the week. Not only does it get you out of the house, but it helps you build up a network of people in similar situations.
- Get a shed
Every man needs a shed – more so when he’s a stay at home dad. It’s a place to get away from it all, to putter around at the weekend while you’re using up the brownie points you’ve earned throughout the week. It’s Dad’s zone, and Dad’s zone only – so get yourself a shed and use it to get some valuable Dad time.
Above all – this isn’t something that’s going to last forever. Kids grow up quickly… so enjoy it while you can, and figure out a back to work plan sooner rather than later. Oh, and don’t forget the shed.