It’s 2016. Nowadays, both parents have to work in order to have a family and live. Even so, it doesn’t mean you will live comfortably, as the jobs and the area you live in play factors into living comfortably. My wife and I have two boys, ages 1 and 2. They are a handful!
I lost my job due to a work vehicle accident, and have been essentially unemployed for a year. My wife found a job quicker and since then, I elected to start trade school. This way, I can better myself and my family down the road. So in the meantime, I went from working 7-4, coming home, eating, sleeping and repeat, to waking up around 8, changing a thousand diapers a day and being a goofy, sometimes irritated asshole who teaches his kids how to do things. Oh and I cook and basically feel like a maid (lol).
It has been quite the transition and though a temporary one, I cannot wait to start working after I graduate trade school!
With that being said, here is my five tips to being a stay at home dad, for the rookies or soon to be….
Keep Your Head Up
As a SAHD, you will come across all kinds of stupid, judgmental pricks. Some people don’t realize that not every man who has kids, has the worlds best job and can be the only one working to support his family. Most of those people who pass judgements are older, from a different time. In 2016, some woman actually work instead but usually both work. People will look at you and say/think all kinds of things. Keep your head up. You’re doing your part to help the family out and some people think it’s shameful or that you’re lazy etc…Screw the haters! They’re just jealous because they can’t spend time with their kids everyday, or never had the opportunity to raise them 24/7. Hate aside, just being home everyday is tough. Cabin fever happens to me all the time. I used to be the one who wanted to stay home all weekend from working, now I wanna get out every second I have the chance. Video games have become my downtime, and cooking has become a hobby. You learn so much about yourself. As a man, being a SAHD is the hardest thing I have ever done, which brings me to my second tip…
I thought I was the most laid back, caring and patient guy in the whole wide world….I was wrong. Wayyyyyy wrong.
My blood pressure probably gets so high that I could heat up some coffee when I’m mad. When your kids are young like mine, anything and everything pisses you off. They never listen, the word “no” doesn’t exist in their minds, they love crying and hate being quiet. On top of this, my wisdom teeth cause me intense pain, it doesn’t help. I could go on and on but you get it. I’ve snapped a lot and I regret it but it’s a learning process. Patience takes a lifetime to master like most things. Some tips I found that helped were to wait 5-10 seconds before speaking, if you have time to. Let’s say your child breaks something after you gave several warnings, well that might piss me off enough to over react and yell. If you’re able to, depending on the circumstances, buy yourself some time so you can chill out.
“You made a bad decision, I need to think for a minute and then we will talk about your bad decision, ok?”
That’s just an example of something you could say. Yelling tends to be counterproductive and sometimes you’re aware of this as you yell but the frustrations and stress gets to you, its natural to feel this way. It’s natural to be stressed, angry and upset. How you deal with it is what matters most, which brings me to my third tip…
The truth is, nobody is perfect. Here’s another truth….you will make mistakes!
How else will you learn about yourself if you don’t mess up? It’s part of growing as a person in this life. “Live and learn” is the saying. Although, sometimes it seems like I don’t learn from my mistakes right away. You must find ways of relieving stress. Being a stay at home parent period is brutal. As I mentioned above, I like to play video games as down time to relax. Sex is great, if you like to drink or smoke weed (responsibly) that’s great. Anything you can do when you’re not with your kids, to reset your brain and feel refreshed, is crucial. Time goes by fast but at the same time, the days tend to become cluttered and your brain gets fuzzy. Here’s my fourth tip….
If you’re like my wife, you can clean the kitchen, bathroom, kids rooms, your room and everything else in a few hours. If you’re like me, you get maybe half of that done in a day. I’m not the best when it comes to maintaining a house, I do try, but I could try harder. My wife takes pride in this, and maybe I don’t. Time management is important when you have to raise your kids and somehow keep things clean. I’ve had weeks where I do well and weeks where I feel like I failed because I didn’t accomplish anything I set goals on. My suggestion is to get a calender or what we have, a dry erase board and write out a weekly schedule. For example: Mon-kitchen/clothes, Tue-bathroom/porch, Wed-all rooms, Thur-kitchen, etc….
Certain things you have to do daily, like cleaning up after meals and such. When you can find a set schedule that works for you, things become less fuzzy and more distinct. It made my life much easier when I woke up and thought…”Ok, Ii’m gonna do this and that today.” My wife has done so much to help me out, since she was a pro before I lost my job. She was my moral support, which brings me to my fifth and final tip….
Not many people can relate to you if you’re a SAHD. I had trouble at first because I was so worried about what people would think, or who I would talk to about my daily stresses. My wife gives me incredible support. It’s important to have that, however, you need to find more than just one person. At times, I’m mad at her or she’s mad at me and I don’t want to talk to her about things. What did I do? I used social media to find groups on Facebook. I met so many other guys in similar situations to my own. They gave me extra support and it has proven to been amazing for me personally. Yyou could have family members who look down upon you for your situation, luckoly I didn’t have that issue. It’s great to have people around you who care and listen.
Being at home with your kids is a miraculous thing. Sometimes it sucks and other times it’s just “meh”. Try to look at the bigger picture. For me, eventually I will be back to working but I’ll be able to look back and remember what I did. It has made me into a better person, it’s good to be grateful for your situation because there’s always someone out there not as fortunate. Stay strong, keep your head up, remain patient, work your time right and release your stress properly. Add a solid support system and you will be fine!