Seven Ideas for Stay-at-Home Dads

April 30, 2015

When I sat down to write this blog, I had a mental list of ten things that stay-at-home dads could/should consider doing to make the most of their lives.  Once I started actually writing, however, ten things became a little daunting (especially considering all the laundry that I need to do), and I decided to cut the number to seven (seven will obviously never be as good as ten, but I have always found it to be considerably better than five).  So, here are seven ideas that stay-at-home dads might want to consider (not necessarily in any particular order).

1.  Become an advocate for stay-at-home dads:  I’m well aware that some of my friends and family members don’t understand what I’m doing.  When I tell someone I quit my job and have become a stay-at-home dad, they often smile nervously and avert their eyes, as if I have some unsightly skin condition.  I swear I can hear the voice inside their head saying, “Oh boy, this just got awkward,” or “this poor guy…”  My wife has been asked if I’m depressed.  People will sometimes inquire, “So, how’s the job search going,” as if I must surely be looking for something else to do.  Occasionally someone will channel Dr. Phil, look me in the eyes, and sincerely ask, “Are you doin’ okay?”  I have discovered that, although still greatly outnumbered by moms, the number of dads at home is on the rise.  There are many of us out there who are doing this by choice, and love what we are doing.  This isn’t just fill-in work until we get a “real” job.  It is a real job – a very important and very challenging one.  Let’s help make people aware that there is “everything right” (much better than “nothing wrong”) with it.

2.  Grow a beard:  Beards are in style.  More importantly, they can make a statement about you, which will possibly help clue some people in.  (“Oh no, he’s never going to find a job with that thing on his face.  Maybe he really isn’t looking for one?  Maybe he isn’t lying when he says he’s happy?”)  Once again, I’m not currently looking for work, and I am very happy.  My life is very full.  My beard, however, could be fuller.

3.  Take up a hobby:  Finding a hobby that you and your child both enjoy is a great way to learn something new and bond at the same time.  Plus, kids are hopefully going to be more encouraged if they see their dad struggling with the same things they are.  My daughter and I are taking piano lessons and playing tennis.  She enjoys laughing at my inadequacies in both.

4.  Promote a healthy lifestyle:  Being a stay-at-home dad, two of your job duties can be providing healthy food and exercising with your kids.  Eating healthy is not always convenient.  Sometimes hitting the drive-through seems like the way to go, but planning your meals for the week ahead of time (for example, on Sundays write down what you will have for dinner each day that week) is a great way to save money, be better organized, and eat smarter.  When shopping for the week, buy fruits and vegetables instead of junk to snack on.  Your kids will complain, but if healthy options are their only choice, they will eventually accept them.  Exercising with your kids is not only important for their health, but is obviously good for you, too.  Not to mention any time spent exercising (which can be simply actively “playing”) is time your kids are not spending in front of a television.  It is proven that healthy, active kids are more likely to excel in school, and also grow up to be healthier adults.  (FYI – I’m not nearly as “with it” as this paragraph might make me seem.  My kids are eating Oreos as I write this.  But I’m trying…)

5.  Thank your wife:  If you are a stay-at-home dad, there’s a good chance that your wife is the primary breadwinner in the family.  This is nothing to be ashamed of, guys.  On the contrary, I think it’s something to be proud of.  Your wife’s career is allowing you to stay home with the kids, which is great.  Thank her for all she does to make this possible.  Also, consider that, like you, she has been working all day, so when she comes home it isn’t necessarily her turn to take care of the kids.  Welcome her with a nice craft beer or glass of wine.  Let her relax for a bit.  Ask her about her day.  Then hope like hell that she offers to entertain the kids for a while.

6.  Be a good parent first:  Over the last month, my kid and I have become great buddies.  I’m very happy about this, but I have to remember that I am a parent first and a friend second.  Proper discipline is part of being a good parent.  We are responsible for instilling our values and expectations in our children.  Remember that when your young kids say they hate you, you are probably doing something right.

7.  Love your children and cherish this time with them:  Everyone says that your kids will be grown and gone before you know it.  Maybe you have older kids, and have already experienced how quickly the years go by?  If you are a stay-at-home dad, be thankful for the opportunity and make the most of the time you have been given.  If you are a working dad, take advantage of any extra time you have.  Barbara Johnson wrote, “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.”  And that, dads, is nothing to joke about.


3 Responses to “Seven Ideas for Stay-at-Home Dads”

  1. My husband is not a stay at home dad, but he works from home and gets off very early so many of these will still apply. Great list, thanks! I’ll have him read this.

  2. Jim Kasper Says:

    Great post. I need small reminders like this every so often. Reminders that I’m not the only guy doing this “on purpose.” Thanks for sharing!

  3. Speakin’ truth brother! Thanks for the post, and the thoughts to chomp on. Definitely dig the “everything right” angle.

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