March 15th marks my one-year anniversary as a Stay At Home Dad. The past year has literally flown by at a time traveling pace. After reflecting, I figured I would share a few things I have learned over the past 12 months.
Seriously Tough Work. It didn’t take me long to figure out how difficult the job of a Stay At Home parent is. I was instantly giving thanks to my mom, and all the other moms and dads who have taken on this task. The role is not for the faint of heart. There is no Union or State mandated breaks, there are no sick days, and you sure as heck don’t want to show up hungover. There have been plenty of days that I didn’t shower, and days that I thought I was in a Prisoner of War camp being tortured with a looped audio of a crying baby.
Not a Mom. Sometimes in joking around, people call me “Mr. Mom”. At first glance it’s just a funny comparison, you can picture me now wearing an apron armed with a diaper bag, bottle warmer, and an infant sized spoon.
However, as you look deeper into this concept, it’s pretty far off. The truth is that I didn’t merely step into the role of “Stay At Home Mom”. A Stay At Home Dad is an entirely different animal altogether… a bearded animal with a hairy chest and a quick wit!
I have learned that Dads are not Moms, and Moms are not Dads. They are different relationships that both have their own unique dynamics. Sure… there is some overlap, but as a whole, Daddy Daycare is not the same as Mommy Daycare.
Take notes and share them often. After 5 months, my wife had to leave her first born baby girl and head out for 12-hour days in the salt mines. We were incredibly lucky to have the option of Daddy Daycare, but going to work was still really tough for her and still is today. She leaves before our daughter wakes up and gets home after she goes to sleep. This means that sometimes she doesn’t get to see her for multiple days in a row.
On her first day back to work, the texts came early and often requesting updates. It was clear after the first couple days on the job that I needed to implement a better system than simply responding to each new text in detail.
I began a notebook with each page dedicated to logging the day’s important happenings. I created a Key to help communicate important events such as feeding, sleep schedules, and diaper changes. Now, an update is as simple as sending a picture of that day’s notebook page. I should probably write an entire post on the details of how my system works since some may find it useful (keep an eye out for that).
I am a Lucky Man. Over the course of the past year, my daughter has become a true joy to be around. The good times now far out number the challenging ones, and I have found the job of a Stay At Home Dad to be an extremely fulfilling one. Each day I am filled with gratitude, and it is not lost on me how lucky I am. This song is a good expression of the way I feel…
So now, with one whole year in the books, my biggest take away is that I have a very long way to go before I reach “Super-Dad” status, and there is more to learn than I could have ever imagined. Feel free to wish me luck and share any tips you may have for me in the comment section!