If you are a stay-at-home dad and you are in need or some advice, or you are about to transition into becoming one and you are curious about what the role entails, read on for 5 tips that will help you overcome anything.
- Be proud of who you are and what you do. So many men refrain from calling themselves stay-at-home dads preferring to let people think they still do what they used to do, or down playing what they do, or even saying what they would like to do in the future. Some just mumble gibberish. That’s ok, you don’t need to give up who you were or who you think you are for this new role, you don’t have to be one or the other, you can be whoever you want to be. On the flip of that, you don’t have to let what you do define who you are. Don’t be afraid of being mocked or pitied or sidelined. Be proud of who you are and what you now do, be unapologetic for it. Even if you don’t believe it, fake it ’til you make it. You will realise your value sooner rather than later.
- Hold your own. Don’t go toe to toe when someone is rude or challenges you or even dares question your parenting ability. Rather, take every negative comment or incident as an opportunity to educate those less fortunate than yourself. Dads are just as capable as mums at raising a family and being the main breadwinner isn’t the only way a father can contribute to his family. Remember that even though you might think it is easier to ignore the harsh comments or naysayers, your children and others might be taking note, so always take the opportunity to let people know that you are proud of what you do. Take it upon yourself to challenge gender stereotypes, don’t take it as a personal insult that certain parent-kid classes are aimed at mums, that just tends to be the norm. Grow a thick skin and get involved. You will be very surprised how quickly people get over something if you pretend it doesn’t bother you.
- Remember you’re a team. Whoever goes to work is missing out on quality kid time and mums tend to feel more guilty about it than dads do. Support your partner and your situation, don’t make it worse and compound their guilt about going to work each day. Be supportive by ensuring she has quality time with the kids when she gets home: whether that’s helping with homework, doing the bath time routine, feeding the kids or putting them to bed. Making sure your wife is involved in the kids routine will make her feel involved. Don’t try and replace your kid’s mother though, you are their father at the end of the day. Just because you now do the lion’s share of what was once her realm, don’t let anyone call you Mr Mom. This is not only disrespectful to you, it is disrespectful to her.
- As you support your working partner, let them know how much their support means to you. If your partner understands just what it means to be a stay at home parent, that will be invaluable to allowing you to do your job to the best of your ability. If you have your partner’s support you will be able to get on with your new life without worrying that they think you are slacking or not pulling your weight. Remember open communication is vital here and the more honest you guys can be the better. Don’t take each other for granted and don’t treat the other as the ‘secondary’ parent. You are both playing a valuable role in supporting and raising your family. You have a responsibility now as the beating heart of the family to make sure your partner is kept in the loop of family affairs – no one likes feeling like they are sidelined. Remember you are a team.
5. Just because you now effectively work from home doesn’t mean you have to stay at home. Take the kids and get out of the house. Being outdoors will work wonders for both your mental and physical well being as well as your kids’ health. You don’t have to spend money or go far, just a short walk or a bike ride, even a trip to the local cafe is fine. Just get outside for an hour and enjoy the fresh air.