It’s been all change around these ‘ere parts recently. The missus’ maternity leave officially came to an end on Monday, so after nine months of being at home since ‘Beetle’ was born, she returns to full-time employment. For me, I return to being the primary carer or stay-at-home dad (SAHD). However, this time it’s for not one, but two kids – that’s a 100% increase in children in my care!
It’s not as black and white as that though. L started Reception in September, so technically I’m a stay-at-home dad of two (7am – 8.45am), then one (8.45am – 3pm), then two again (3pm – 6.30pm) five days per week.
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Now that we’re a few weeks into the school run, I’m starting to notice a few benefits. Not only is the eldest away for 6.5 hours for 5 days per week which is fantastic (I jest…sort of…), I’m getting fitter due to walking to school and back twice a day whilst carrying this chubby little funster! #schoolrun #schoolrundad
However, just to complicate things a little more, this blog has turned into a full-time job, which means my parenting responsibilities are shared with self-employed duties. I’m not sure if that technically makes me a stay-at-home dad or a work-from-home dad or some kind of weird hybrid, but it’s just a label at the end of the day. It works and that’s what matters.
In reality, there’s going to be changes though. Firstly, I’ve got used to the missus being at home. We’ve been able to share parenting duties, often dividing and conquering with her looking after ‘Beetle’ and me on L watch. It’s also meant I’ve had more time to work, plus it’s been really nice making the most of us being together as a four, with plenty of day trips, visits and the odd holiday.
I think the realisation has hit that the missus is a third of the way through her maternity leave – in the last 24 hours, she’s booked trips to Disneyland Paris and Helsinki. If she continues like this, I’ll be sending her back to work early as we’ll have no bloody money.
— The DADventurer (Dave) (@The_dadventurer) May 1, 2018
Secondly, I’m going to be looking after a baby again. That takes me right back to May 2015 when I first became a SAHD. My recent stay-at-home dad life has been with a preschooler, so rolling back the years to a 9-month old is going to come as a surprise due to the lack of independence that I’ve become accustomed to. And the dribble. And the nappies. And the not talking. Etc.
Finally, it’ll have impacts on the blog as it takes a back seat – something you may have noticed happening over the last few months anyway. Sadly, there’s only so many hours in the day and looking after the kids is the priority. I’ll get time in evenings or when ‘Beetle’ is napping, so this isn’t the end. However, I’ve lost the two child-free days I had when L was at nursery and that’s when I did the majority of my work.
Although it’s going to take a bit of time to adjust, this was always the plan. The missus has found a job she really likes and I enjoy the flexibility and challenges associated with my dual role. Never for one minute did we consider switching it up or tinkering with what has worked well for the last four years.
There’s also been a natural transition which has allowed me to dip my feet into looking after ‘Beetle’ for prolonged periods. As well as being hands-on over the last nine months, the missus has taken advantage of her 10 Keeping In Touch (KIT) days in September and October, which has given me trial runs before the big event.
As I’m an old dog when it comes to the stay-at-home dad life, I don’t have the fears or concerns I did first time around. I know that I can hack being with a baby 24/7, I already have the experience and I’ve learnt that being the only dad in a see of mums isn’t as scary as imagined. Plus, L is a pretty awesome kid, so I can’t have done too shabby a job with her!
My only real concern is money. The reduced income due to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) has hit our savings – that was always the plan, but it’s pretty shit seeing the bank balance all too quickly decrease. Going forwards, the missus will go back to full pay, but I’ll be earning less. We should be fine, but having looked at our monthly finances, my income is the difference between us being in the red or being in the black.
The last consideration is really around whether I’ll do anything different this time around. At the moment, the genuine answer is ‘no’. I’ve learnt a lot from being a dad, but there’s no fundamental flaws I need to address or changes I need to make. It’ll probably be a case of replicating with ‘Beetle’ what I did with L – and crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!
Either way, surely something with a face as cute as this can’t cause too much hassle – I never finished watching the film, but I’m pretty sure Gizmo and the other Gremlins didn’t cause much trouble in the 1984 classic…