Dear stay at home dad,
I see you. I see you doing daycare drop-offs and pick-ups and sometimes looking a little frazzled (is that avocado in your hair?) from a rough night with the kids or from being sprung with a level 9 tantrum just as you thought you’d got everyone ready to head out the door.
I see you grocery shopping on a Tuesday morning with your brood, looking as proud as punch. Being a stay at home dad might not have been something you gave much thought to before you had kids. Maybe you wanted to be the one at home with them. Or maybe, like for my wife and me, it made more sense financially for the family.
Like any new role, it will take time to adjust to things. Parenting, and stay at home dadding, is a learn-on-the-job gig. Except there’s no pay! No holidays, or time in lieu. Or feedback. Though you can take lunch breaks whenever you want – you’ll just need to put your chef’s hat on and whip up a gourmet meal (sandwiches) for everyone every day. Oh, and you’ll need to make at least 10 snacks a day, per kid. Or maybe it’s 20, I lose count.
Stay at home dad, you may have thought your job pre-kids was challenging, but being in sole charge of tiny people all day every day will stretch you in ways you never thought possible. As well as learning the art of handling your own emotions while your children are losing control of theirs, you’ll need to be an educator, role model, climbing frame, psychologist, nurse, disciplinarian and chauffeur. And be an expert at scrubbing out bodily fluids from the couch.
I don’t want you to think being at home with the kids isn’t fun though. Sure, it’s not the beer with your mates while watching the cricket and bouncing your baby on your knee kind of time you might have envisaged – but oh, the fun you can have. It’s like having your own little football team every day. You get to teach your child all the vital stuff from the Book of Dad: how to climb trees, surf waves, build rocket ships, jump on trampolines. You get to make shadow puppets on the wall for your job.
Stay at home dad, there will be days that feel like Groundhog Day, and others that are complete chaos. And then there are the golden days when you’ve all got your groove on, especially you, and on those days you’ll feel like you’re 10 feet tall and wearing a cape.
You’ll need to make sure you look after your wife, too, stay at home dad. Yes, I know you’re the one who has been knee-deep in Twirlywoos and Play Doh all day, but it’s also not easy being the one who goes out to work. She misses them. So be a team and get her on board with helping you create a good routine for the kids. Text her pictures of the day.
This Father’s Day, take a breather (the bathroom is usually good) to pat yourself on the back for doing such an important job and doing it well. Your kids love you to the moon and back and you’re a hero in their eyes. Enjoy the cuddles in bed with your family and cherish the sweet Father’s Day Paddle Pop photo frame your kid makes you at kindy. These really are the days, so hold on to them tight.
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The Dad Edit
An open letter to all dads
An open letter to a new dad
An open letter to a single dad
An open letter to a granddad
An open letter to a step dad
An open letter to a working dad
An open letter to a stay at home dad
An open letter to dads without a dad