MEN, WHO ARE OPTING TO BE THE HOUSE HUSBAND TO SPEND TIME WITH THEIR CHILDREN, ARE LOVING IT BUT THEY NEED TO KNOW HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE IN THIS ROLE
By Rachel Goodchild
IT used to be a rarity, only happening when the dad was, for some reason, unable to work and the mother was able to find something to keep the family going.
However, roles are changing and more and more men are finding themselves not only at home with their children, but quietly pleased they got to be there.
Today, more men are opting to be the stay-at-home parent. But although they do a wonderful job of it, they lack the maternal instinct and patience that many mothers seem to be born with.
As a result, it can be very helpful to a stay-at-home dad or one seeking to be one in the future to have some tips and tricks for keeping himself sane and the children happy.
Don’t try to be mum. Mothers and fathers are very different in their nurturing styles and care-giving and one should never try to be the other. Simply put, be dad and be yourself. The children love you for who you are.
Like a boy scout, you need to be prepared. Children get hungry, cranky and bored very easily. Carrying all the needed essentials on trips will help make daily life a little easier for all to cope with.
Meet with other parents who stay at home. You may be surprised to find that many communities offer play groups for parents where you can get some adult time and the children can meet and play with other children.
Just like mothers needing time for themselves when they are sole care-givers, the same holds true for dads. Find time to go to the gym, out with the boys or just generally time for yourself. A dad with a lower stress level can care for the children better.
Routine is key. You will very quickly learn why the mother is always nagging about getting children home in time for bed and naps. Children are rather inflexible in their schedules and will show it to you quite loudly and quickly when over-tired or hungry.
Live in the moment. Get down and dirty with the children. Children look at the world through eyes of innocence and often by the time we reach adulthood, we forget how truly amazing the world can be.
By getting down to the child’s level, not only are they happier in their interactions with us, but we also get to relive a littler of our innocence.
When first undertaking the role of being a stay-at-home dad, lower your expectations. No one expects you to jump into the role and be able to balance all the housework and the children right away.
Let the dishes sit dirty till after the children are in bed or make do with whatever you have till you have adjusted to the stress that comes with taking care of children.
Be prepared for the stereotypes. Although the number of stay-at-home dads is on the rise, it is important to be aware of the judgement you may face from those around you.
Though times are changing, many still find it odd and refer to stay-at-home dads as Mr Mum or other such names. Fathers are fathers, and they can care for their children just as well as mothers.
(If you have parenting tips to share with Rachel Goodchild, write to her at www.drumedia.co.nz)
The art of parenting
Tuesday, September 30, 2008