Monthly Archives: October 2005

7 Tips for Potential Stay at Home Dads

While the benefits and rewards of staying home with the girl vastly outweigh the downside, there are a few things I wish I would have know about being a stay at home Dad before I walked down this path. In the interest of helping other men decide whether this lifestyle is for them, I offer these 7 tips for men who might be contemplating staying at home.

  1. Lower Expectations. When my wife and I first started discussing reducing my work hours to spend a few days a week at home with the girl, I naively envisioned scenes of the girl colouring away contentedly at her play table while I whiled away the day completing a thousand different projects for a hundred different clients. HA! In retrospect, I can see now why some people had funny little grins on their faces when I told them my plan. They were the parents. They knew better.
  2. Let Dirty Dishes Lie. Just because you are at home with the kids doesn’t mean you have to be a “homemaker”. To me, this is like a complete flipping of traditional family roles – roles that women successfully banished to the dustbins of history long ago. I never expected my wife to have the house spotless and dinner made when I was working fulltime and she was home with the girl, and fortunately she doesn’t expect the same. However, when my adventure began, I was surprised to find myself feeling guilty for not having a meal ready when Mom got home, and it took awhile to lose the guilt associated with having a fireplace mantel coated with dust. That’s not to say I don’t do any housework or cook a meal – far from it. But realize that just because you are at home doesn’t mean you need to revert to the traditional role of a “homemaker”. Being a stay at home Dad, like being a stay at home Mom, is not synonymous with being the primary homemaker. It’s still the responsibility of the entire family to make sure a household runs smoothly.
  3. Routine, Routine, Routine. Oh my goodness, how much simpler life is when you have a daily routine. Everyone knows what is expected, first and foremost the girl. She craves structure, and the days where we deviate from the routine tend to be difficult days. To combat this, we have settled into a rhythm that seems to work for us. We are not ruled by the clock, but we certainly go out of our way to keep the structure of the day similar from day to day.
  4. Plan Events for Outside the House.Much like breaking our routine, the days when the girl and I stay at home all day tend to be hard days. I think this is because the girl needs stimulation. A toddler’s need for stimulation is second only to their need to breath. So I try to plan an outside the house activity every day. Fortunately the girl is at the age where everyday things still feel like an adventure, so sometimes a simple ride on a transit bus downtown and back suffices for her daily adventure. I’ve also found that doing our outside the house activity in the morning makes for an easier transition to nap time in the early afternoon, so most of our activities are morning activities.
  5. Build a Support System.I’ve found that being a stay at home parent can be a lonely, isolating experience, and I think this goes double for men simply because the infrastructure and support is not there for us (yet). Among my friends, there are not many Dads doing the stay at home thing, so I can’t exactly pick up the phone and chat with them when I need a pick me up. I sometimes get lonely. I’ve tried playgroups and find that, while the girl has a great time, they are overwhelmingly dominated by Moms and I am often seen as a bit of an outsider. So, on the days I feel lonely the girl and I will meet Mom at work for lunch, or I sometimes do call up one of the other Moms in our circle of friends for a walk or coffee. But to be honest, this is one I am still working on.
  6. Feed Me! As obvious as this sounds, I can’t believe how long it took me to make the connection between the girls mood swings and her blood sugar level. Toddlers need to eat and eat often. While I am good with 3 squares and the occasional piece of fruit throughout the day, the girl needs a more even flow of food. She is an eating machine and since I’ve figured out that the vast majority of her mood swings are tied to her hunger level, her attitude and moods have really evened out. So the girl eats like a Hobbit – breakfast, tenzies, elevenzies, lunch, onezies, etc..
  7. Slow Down and Live in the Moment. One of the amazing things about the girl is that she forces me to slow down and re-examine the everyday world because the everyday world is so new and exciting for her. We can spend an hour walking around the block, which may sound about as exciting as watching paint dry, but trust me, through a toddlers eyes the world is a pretty interesting place. So I make a point of moving at the girl’s pace. And since I have long ago lowered my expectations (#1) and exorcised my inner homemaker demon (#2), I can free my mind to help the girl separate the red leaves from the yellow leaves on the front lawn.

There you go. 7 lessons learned from the front lines of stay at home daddydom. So, what about you? If one of your buddies came up to you and said “I’m thinking of taking some time off work to stay at home with my kid,” what piece of advice would you give them?

A Potty Wee Will Go

Well, we never really planned it, but this morning the girl used her potty for the first time.

We have had it in the hall just outside the bathroom door since she started crawling, so she is very comfortable seeing it around. In the past year she has used it for purposes ranging from a basketball basket, to a step-up to reach the phone, to a fun place to sit and watch Mom and Dad as we did our business inside the bathroom.

This morning, I was changing her overnight diaper and noticed it was totally dry. Knowing that she often does not go pee until she has been up and running around for a bit, I asked her if she had to go. She said yes, so I asked her if she wanted to use the potty. She said yes. I set her down on the floor and she toddle’d over to the potty. I wasn’t expecting she would actually use it as she often just pretends to use it, but this time was different. As Mom and I were busy in the bathroom doing our morning routine, we both heard the unmistakeable sound of pee meeting potty. Needless to say, the girl was ecstatic and beside herself with excitement at using the potty. For us, it feels like another milestone reached…this one almost by accident as neither of us have ever discussed potty training the girl, or made any attempt to formally train her.

Yep, We Were Down

Yes, I’ve been away for a mighty long time – around 2 months. The URL was dead (if you came by and there was nothing here…we’ll you’re probably not reading this cause you’ve probably never come back). Suffice to say, I had a major hardware malfunction on my DIY web server. My DIY DIE’d, and since it also hosted client sites, I needed to get those up and running before I could get back into the Daddy swing of things.

The sad part is, I lost my db with my previous year of posts (backup, backup, backup), so I am starting from scratch again.

Oh yeah, we also sold and bought a new house. So things have been a tad busy. Suffice to say, life is still good, the girl is great and we’re all looking forward to a new residence in 3 weeks – someplace much bigger than the 800 sq ft palace we’re in right now. Something with a dining room where we can play grown up again and have friends over for dinner parties. YAY!