May 11th 2015. A date I will always remember (probably). For this is the date that I became a full-time stay-at-home dad to Baby L.
I toyed with how to start this post. As a consumer of mass media which often negatively portrays dads as a fumbling mess when it comes to their kids, I nearly got sucked into some kind of ‘would I cope with this huge responsibility or would I end up accidentally killing the sprog’ type intro.
However, I realised that is not fair on me or any of the other competent fathers out there. So many blokes in the world do a pretty awesome job of looking after their kids – me included – so I shouldn’t add to this quite utterly ridiculous stereotype.
Instead, I’m going to introduce it like it is – any other normal day. The only difference today compared to last week is that the missus won’t be here for the vast majority of the day as she unfortunately has to go back to work. The fact that I have a penis rather than a vagina makes no difference – it is just one parent returning to work whilst the other stays at home to look after the kid.
We’ve been in a great situation for the last nine months in which the missus has been on maternity leave and I’ve worked from home – this has pretty much meant that we’ve been together as a family ever since Baby L was born. The plan was always for me to become the stay-at-home parent and for the missus to return to work as this best suited our family situation. Unfortunately, that day was today.
I say “unfortunately”, but it is actually just life. You need money to pay the mortgage, feed the family and do stuff, so we knew that we’d always have to return to reality at some point. Without a lottery win or an unknown rich relative dying, one of us was always going to have to be the main breadwinner.
I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t have a few reservations in the run-up to today – in fact, I wrote about 5 fears of a soon-to-be stay-at-home dad at the end of March. However, on waking today, it just left like any other day and I had no worries whatsoever. In order to capture the day, as well as dispel some myths around what a stay-at-home dad does, I thought I’d document what Baby L and I did today.
07.00-07.15: The missus gets up, the baby wakes, the missus changes her nappy (the babies not her own) and lets the dog out. I’m still in bed.
07.15-07.30: The missus has a shower whilst the baby crawls around the bathroom making a nuisance of herself. This included pulling the toilet roll off the holder and stealing the air freshener. I’m still in bed.
07.30-07.45: The missus puts Baby L into bed with me so that she can get ready for work without distraction. I’m still in bed.
07.45-08.00: Baby L has a boob feed and is taken downstairs for some solid breakfast. I’m still in bed.
08.00-08.30: I get out of bed, get dressed, come downstairs and take over Baby L’s breakfast as the missus heads off to work.
08.30-09.30: I had some breakfast whilst Baby L played in her makeshift ‘baby cage’ (for context, she’s been crawling for a week and causing chaos, so we have a huge paddling pool in the living room in an attempt to stop her crawling everywhere!). I then joined her in the ‘cage’ and we played and sang for a bit. She was starting to get cranky, but the plan was to go out shortly, so I wanted her to sleep in the pushchair rather than her cot – this was my first executive decision. I changed her into some clothes, got myself ready, got the pushchair out of the car, then set off into town for a toddler group.
09.30-10.00: I walked the long way into town in the hope that Baby L would fall asleep for a reasonable amount of time. After about five minutes she was cooperative and drifted off which made me very happy that she was keeping to her routine. #Winning
10.00-11.30: I found the toddler playgroup, Baby L woke up and we played with some of the various baby toys. There was a bit of a funky smell, so I gave Baby L a sniff on more than one occasion, however I soon came to realise that it must just be the smell of a room full of toddlers. I chatted to a random mum – WTF! I was actually accepted rather than excluded as I’d once feared. I gave Baby L a couple of grapes and a bread stick to chomp on, before we sang some songs.
11.30-11.45: I walked home along the canal hoping that Baby L wouldn’t fall asleep. In typical baby fashion, she fell asleep five minutes before I reached the front door. This left me in a bit of a dilemma – experience has taught me that she won’t go back to sleep again after she’s just woken, so putting her in her cot for a nap wasn’t an option. I therefore decided that it was sensible to continue walking whilst she was asleep, so I quickly picked up the dog from the house in order to walk him whilst she slept. Two birds, one stone!
11.45-12.15: I was gagging for a piss and was now really hot having walked a few miles already today, so I headed home (again!). Baby L had managed a solid half an hour of sleep, so that would do as her nap for now.
12.15-13.00: Baby L started crying so I attempted to give her a food pouch. She managed to eat half of it but didn’t seem too bothered. She’s not been too well recently, so I put it down to that and gave her some lovely strawberry Calpol. She was being a bit clingy (again, probably illness) and didn’t want to be put down, so I popped her on my lap as I checked my phone. I heard a weird noise coming from the dog – on investigating, I found him eating his own sick. I quickly put the sprog down on the floor, but I did it a bit too quickly – this resulted in her face-planting on the floor which caused a fair bit of screaming as I tried to get the dog away from his part-digested breakfast. I managed to clean up the sick and comfort the baby before realising that I was pretty hungry. I popped the little one in her highchair and went to get the cold, leftover pizza from last night for me and some bread and banana for her. She was obviously hungry now as she polished off nearly all of her food, in addition to some of my pizza which I reluctantly shared.
13.00-14.15: She seemed a bit happier now and played in the ‘baby cage’. She then started to get a bit needy and tried to get over to me as I sat on the settee. That was when she learnt that she could stand up by supporting herself on the sides of the pool – my cunning plan of using the paddling pool as a ‘baby cage’ had lasted just over 24 hours until the sneaky little git outfoxed me! Still, I guess I should congratulate and praise her for her achievement. Whilst playing, she decided to look at me straight in the eyes and let out a massive groan and cry. That could only mean one thing. She was attempting to have a crap. I let her grunt away for ten minutes, then took her upstairs to change her soiled nappy. We came back downstairs, did a bit more playing, then she decided she wanted to crawl after the dog and explore the house. I found her in the kitchen with her hand in the dog’s water bowl. She began to get a bit grumpy, so this signalled time for her afternoon nap.
14.15-16.00: I put Baby L into her cot for a nap. There was a bit of crying for a few minutes, but she soon drifted off. I managed to go and have the crap that I’d been needing all day. I then watched a bit of Judge Rinder whilst I caught up on emails and social media.
16.00-16.30: I got the baby up and took her downstairs. She wasn’t particularly happy which is a bit odd as she’s normally the happiest baby in the world when she wakes up. I tried to distract her with some toys, but she was more interested in chewing an old tissue box and trying to stand herself up using the coffee table. Still, she wasn’t crying so I was happy to let her continue with her adventures. I got a text from the missus saying she’d be home early, so we made our way upstairs so that we could see when she returned home. After 15 minutes, I decided I needed a piss, so I put Baby L into her cot bed and went to the bathroom. On my return, the missus had already pulled up on the drive, so my cute plan to get the sprog to wave to the missus through the window was a failure. Stupid thirty-year old bladder!
16.30 onwards: The missus wanted to spend a bit of time with the sprog on her return from work, so she fed her and popped her in the bath whilst I decided that a post about my first day as a stay-at-home dad might be slightly interesting.
So that’s it. My first day as a stay-at-home dad is complete. Just as I expected, it was pretty much like any other day and I had no issues. How did your first day go when you looked after the little one after your partner went back to work?