I know I’m new to the whole “stay at home parent” world. Only playing for a month now, I’ve had some big hurdles to clear, but it has been very rewarding. I’ve found by planning each day, the girls are in a much better mood. There is a LOT of housework to be done. Creating a special tool to manage the load has helped tremendously, though. Lastly, our family time is much higher quality as we’re able to spend time together instead of doing all the chores, cooking, and other mundane tasks we had to put off until we were home. Being a stay at home parent is a lot of hard work. However, it’s very rewarding knowing that we get to be the primary influence in our children’s lives.
Before we made the jump to me staying home, the girls were in preschool at an in-home daycare. We loved the progress that the girls have been making, but we didn’t really know what was going on during their day. We knew they were getting school time, biblical influence and great social skills but we didn’t know what their day to day was like because there was not a lot of communication and our daughters weren’t telling us much. Now that I am home with them, I have control of what they are doing and can record it so that we can look back on it together as a family over dinner and family time.
Planning Is Essential
Planning has been essential in my time as a stay at home dad. Having events to look forward to as well as down time on the calendar helps me focus on the moment. With a plan in place, I’m not worrying about how to fill the next hour for the kids. I’m enjoying the present and move from activity to activity with them.
Planning ahead of time makes it much easier to curb boredom and not get stuck doing the same things. Plus, when I plan, there is not as much screen time involved which most people would agree is a great thing!
Before staying at home, I thought I’d have more free time. In fact, the opposite is true. I have less free time to do my stuff because I’m focusing on two kids that take advantage of any weakness they find.
Actually, just a couple days ago, I had put them both down for a nap, my 4-year-old in her room and my 2-year-old in my room. Everything nice and quiet, I just made my cup of afternoon coffee and settled down to get some writing done. However, when I went in to check on my youngest, I found her covered in baby powder and red lipstick! Quietly, she snuck (interesting story about the word snuck vs sneaked) into my wife’s makeup and spread it everywhere! In hindsight, I wish I would’ve taken a picture, but I was quite angry at the time cleaning it up.
Also, by keeping a calendar for planning, it allows my wife a glimpse into our day. From there, she can provide input about how we are spending our time. This has really been a blessing for us to be more influential and have a bigger role in how our children are spending their day.
Housework Is Plentiful
Part of this stay at home gig includes completing the housework. It actually is amazing how much cleaning and maintenance goes into keeping up a house. Back in 2015, we actually made a Google calendar with a bunch of repeating events each week that would break down the household chairs into chunks of three to four events a day.
If I didn’t have a plan for the chores, I would be overwhelmed trying to do everything at once. This strategy of doing the three to four things on my calendar Monday through Friday has really made it seem like a non-issue. I get to involve the girls in the cleaning too, as it’s never too early to start training them on how to keep house and clean up after themselves.
I usually have all these done before my wife gets home. Plus, we don’t have any chores to do on weekends. I do still mow the yard, do some laundry, do dishes and other everyday things on the weekends. This new system doesn’t feel nearly as overwhelming as it did before.
We are finally able to put family back into family time. For a while, we had adopted a few others into our family time: housework, cooking, and high strung schedule management. We are now able to relax more when my wife comes home. I usually have dinner ready and the chores done.
The girls are no longer in an Olympic sprint, usually getting ready and out the door in fifteen minutes either. They sleep in until they are ready to get up usually between 630 to 730 am. We are able to focus more on each other instead of what needs to be done around the house. When my wife comes home, the girls are very excited to see her, freeing me to finish dinner.
We’re finally focusing on doing family activities in the evening. This wasn’t really possible without sacrificing other things off in the past. Like tonight, we did a family painting night where we set both the girls up to paint some fun worksheets. We had a lot of fun doing it and I believe it was a fun, family activity.
Becoming a stay at home dad has been one of the best decisions for our family that we’ve made. We now are active in planning our children’s activities together. We tackle more of the housework with less headaches and more time and energy to spare. And we enjoy having family activities in the evening because we aren’t trying to cram everything else in. I am looking forward to continuing my stay at home dad journey for the next few years at least. It may be hard, but it’s so worth it!