Advice Column, Parenting

The Mythical Day- Stay At Home Dad

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I have read so many blog posts and articles lately about the life of stay at home mums that I actually began to wonder if stay at home dads exist. Do we fall into the category of mythical creatures such as the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness monster?

Historically dads worked and mums looks after the kids. Woman now make up just under half of our workforce. This requires a relook at our “traditional roles” and from my perspective an honest review of which parent is better able to provide the traditional support provided by mums.

I for one have taken note of the increased father activity with regard to kids during normal business hours. A couple months ago I had to take Tarini (my 3 year old daughter) to doctor at 11am in the morning. A huge smile crept up on my face when I noticed that there were five other parents there with their kids and all of the parents were dads! This week I had a morning meeting in a coffee shop and noticed about seven dads in the mall with their kids.

So why is it that we never hear about these dads? Is it that there are only a few of us around like the famed Stradivarius violins? Something so rare and precious that their wives do not want share them with the rest of world? Or is it that the number of stay at home dads is on the rise and we are too embarrassed to mention our roles and that we just go about our day to day activities in a less vocal way than mums?

There has also been an evolution from a stay at home dad to a work from home dad. I have personally been through this. After 13 years in corporate I decided to be a stay at home dad. My primary and only responsibility was attending to my kids (feeding and dressing them, school runs, extra mural activities, playing with them and teaching them) and seeing to the running of our home. I then decided to start my own business and this started my transformation from a stay at home dad to a work from home dad. And I think that most of the dads these days fall into the latter category.

Being a work from home dad requires a few essential skills and these are some that I have acquired along the way:

  • Be organised. Something as simple as a doctor’s visit or getting ready for school may require the military planning and precision needed for World War 3.
  • The ability to multi-task (being able to have a business meeting, do the grocery shopping and pick up the kids from school and prepare a snack for them all within 2 hours)
  • Have an endless supply of patience. You WILL pour and drink 30 cups of imaginary tea and build and knock down that wooden block tower at least 20 times.
  • Be prepared for long working hours as you do not knock off at 5 and you also never leave the office. If you run your own business, you will be retreating to your second office after the kids go to sleep.
  • You have to put your childrens needs above your own. That’s the main reason you decided to do it. You will find yourself reheating that cup of coffee for the sixth time before eventually drinking it cold.

For me the advantages of being a work from home dad certainly outweigh the disadvantages. The disadvantages can pull you into a black hole that is very difficult to get out of. Feeling isolated from the outside world, having conversations about Princess Sophia and Jake the Neverland Pirate instead of sports and cars, never being able to have time off during the day even if you are sick and a routine at home that becomes so automated that you don’t even know which day of the week it is anymore.

The advantages (and there are tons of them) make it all worthwhile. Being there to see your kids grow, learn and develop their individual personalities is an amazing thing. The added advantage of not being constricted to offices hours and managing your time accordingly can turn a good weather day into an unexpected adventure for the kids with a surprise outing to the park or story time at the local library.

Being a work from home dad is hard work. Most of friends and family do not believe me when I say that I have not put my feet up and watched TV during the day since I started my new adventure almost 20 months ago. There are days when my wife gets home from work and I look as if I am about to burst into tears with CV in hand to apply for a job to get back into the corporate world. But being a work from home dad has given me precious time with my kids and is something I would not trade for the world.

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