Last week saw a pretty big milestone in my life as I managed to successfully reach a year in my current ‘job’ as a stay-at-home dad. I say “successfully” because my one aim for the year was to get both Toddler L and I through it without the need for a body bag. At the time of writing, a funeral director has not been required. That is a major success.
On reaching this landmark, I’ve been having a think about the good, the bad and the ugly parts of being at home with a toddler. I’d planned three separate posts talking about each topic, but as the ‘ugly’ part is probably covered by my deteriorating general appearance due to said toddler, I instead thought I’d just focus on the good and the bad. This post covers the former and I’ll do another post at some point covering the latter.
Being the main rearer of our offspring is tough, but it also has loads of positives. I know I complain, take the piss and joke about life with a toddler, but I do realise how lucky I am. Plenty of other dads would love to be in the position I am – well, with their kid, not mine – and I know that the missus would like to be at home more than a full-time job allows.
There’s obviously loads of good points about being at home. Below, I’ve listed four points which came to mind when I first thought about writing this post. As you’ll see, not all of them are *that* important in the grand scheme of things, but they’ll all been positives for me over the last year.
Time With Your Kid
Being a stay-at-home parent means that you get to spend a lot of time with your kid. Although challenging, this really is one of the best parts of the gig. Time is a precious commodity, so I’d much prefer to spend mine playing, going out, educating and developing the little one rather than doing other stuff like being at work. I know not everyone has this opportunity and I’m guilty of taking it for granted – sometimes choosing the laptop over her or putting on CBeebies to entertain her etc – however I hope that my constant presence in her life is a good thing and something she’ll appreciate in the future.
I’ve written previously about how my own dad used to work away quite a bit when my bro and I were kids. Although we always made up for it on weekends as we did things as a family, sometimes we’d not see him from Sunday night through to Friday night. That’s a long time to be without a parent. So, the fact that I can be with Toddler L as much as I am really is a bonus.
One of the best things is seeing her develop. In a year, she’s transformed from a baby who’d just learnt to crawl into an actual kid. She’s got her own little awesome personality, she’s learnt to communicate (verbally and non-verbally), she knows what she likes and dislikes, she’s really bright and has incredible gross and fine motor skills. Knowing that the time I’ve spent with her as helped turn her into this amazing toddler is pretty mind-blowing.
That’s right, one of the best points about being a stay-at-home parent is that you don’t have to work. Sure, it’s hard work – probably the hardest I’ve ever done – but it’s not the same as having a job. I still have a boss, aka the toddler, and aren’t paid for a 12 hour shift, but it’s still better than having to physically go to work.
No more commuting. No more PowerPoint. No more conference calls. No more performance appraisals. No more wearing suits. No more identifying value to add to clients. You get the gist. Yes, being at home still has pressures, stresses and challenges, but they’re different to those of being employed. Having a kid shows you that some of the things we get so stressed about at work really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
After six years of full-time work and three being self-employed as a freelance writer, I’m pretty confident that I never want to return to a ‘proper’ job again. I wonder how the missus will feel about popping out kids for the next 15 years so that I can continue being a stay-at-home dad…?
Able To Have A Nap
You know the advice – “sleep when baby sleeps”. Well, being a stay-at-home parent means you can put that into practice whenever your little one naps. At 21 months old, I’m hugely fortunate that Toddler L still has two naps per day. She sleeps for 1.5 to 2 hours in the morning then usually has another hour or so in the afternoon, although I fear the latter will soon disappear as it is becoming shorter in duration – sometimes only for 10 bastard minutes.
Fellow SAHD Simon from Man vs Pink always advised me to have a cheeky siesta when I could. As someone with more experience than me in the at-home department, who was I to question his guidance? I’ve therefore put those words of wisdom into practice by occasionally having a bit of shut eye in the afternoon – obviously something I couldn’t do pre-kid days.
Yeah, it might be deemed a bit lazy when I should be doing other things, but it’s important to recharge your batteries, right? A well rested parent is a better parent, or at least that’s what I tell myself.
Catch Up On Boxsets
I’m a big fan of watching TV – yes, I know, I probably shouldn’t as it sets a bad example bla bla bla. I tend to have it on as background noise during the day, then properly watch something when Toddler L has a nap. With two naps a day, I’ve got through quite a few different box sets and shows over the last year. Something I’d not be able to do if I wasn’t at home, obviously.
I’m not a huge superhero fan, but because the missus wouldn’t want to watch them at all, I’ve found these being my default programmes during the day. Over the last year, I’ve watched a number of shows including Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Agents Of Shield, Supergirl, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Then there’s the stuff that the missus and I watch in the evening together like Orange Is The New Black, House of Cards, Suits, Hannibal, Love Hate, Making A Murderer and Elementary.
On reflection, maybe I need to cut down on the amount of TV I watch…
So they’re four of the many things I think are good as a stay-at-home dad. Remember to check back for the bad points which will be hitting the blog in the near future. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, can you relate to any of these points? What do you see as being the good points about being at home with your child?[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Like what you’ve read? Want more? Pop in your email to get all of the latest posts.”]