This post is dedicated to all those people who are full time stay at home parents. Those people who don’t go out to work in an office, or any other traditional workplace. To those who don’t sip a latte on the train, or nip out to meet a friend at lunchtime for a pint.
I am a stay at home parent for 3 days of the week. I work in an IT department of an office the other 2 and then get to spend the weekend with my wife as a family.
So to those who do it full time, I ask you one question: how do you do it??
I mentioned to a friend today that every week seems to be getting harder and harder, with me feeling more exhausted earlier in the week. I love the time I spend with my daughter (most of the time), but she is beginning to test me in so many ways. She is no longer a baby, not even a little toddler. She is a full blown, fully capable little person who knows what she wants and how to get it. She is advancing faster than I can keep up, and so our breakdowns in communication can end in tears (only one sided so far), and her physical growth is challenging my arms and back.
Our days are becoming physically and mentally exhausting. We have various activities planned, from dance classes to toddler groups. We draw, we paint, we jump off the top step of a flight of stairs, we play with Lego and we read books. Everything is done at her level. That’s not a level that my knees were designed to operate at.
Olivia is beginning to try my patience, both deliberately and through her various needs and demands, which, after a night of poor sleep, can be very very trying. It’s not her fault, I know that, and I know I have to be consistent, ignoring the bad, but when you are trying to make lunch to feed a crying child who won’t stop unless she is cuddled, all the time shouting “no”, without giving you any idea as to what she does or doesn’t want. It’s easy to say ignore her, let her realise that she can’t have your full attention when you are cooking or whatever, but that is far easier to say than do. I’m all for ignoring tantrums but if there is something she needs, or if there is something wrong, I’m the first in line to try and figure out what’s up. I’m well aware that sometimes there is nothing up.
She doesn’t want to be in her buggy any more. She often doesn’t want to walk. She often wants to be in the backpack. Great, except that I think I could now easily pass any Army physical test as I’m easily carrying more than the standard UK bergen weight and that’s not including shopping bags. Not that it makes it any easier. Is it possible to physically make a child walk when you need to go somewhere? I’ve tried ignoring the tears. I’ve let her roll around on the wet ground. I’ve said bye as I walk away. None of it has worked so far. So what do I do? I carry her. Because we need to get where we are going.
In the last week or so she has had a bad cold which has manifested itself in a weekend lost to vomiting followed by Monday and Tuesday with more of the same, culminating in me holding her over the sink while she threw up whatever had managed to reach her stomach. Coupled with her not sleeping well, my wife and I are quite frankly done. We would give everything to make her feel better and of course we don’t grudge her being ill, we want our little girl to feel well again, but at the time, as you may well know, boy it’s tough!
As well as being Daddy, I also want to try and keep the house ticking over to make things as easy as possible for my wife. She isn’t out there busting a gut to come home and worry about washing, cleaning and shopping. Sadly it doesn’t always (read rarely) work that way. Sure, I can get some stuff cooked so that we mostly always have a home cooked meal, I can get some washing on, but a challenging day with Olivia and all that goes out the window. It’s very frustrating and something I wish I could master.
As I’ve said many times before on this blog, please don’t misunderstand the tone of the post, I’m finding this very very hard, and I worry I’m not doing a good enough job, or that Olivia isn’t having as good a time as all the other toddlers are, or that I’m not dealing with discipline in the correct way, but I am still so lucky to have this opportunity and I would not change it for the world. I just want to make sure I’m giving my daughter the best I can when I’m with her. I find that quite a responsibility.
So to all stay at home parents out there, I take my hat off to you.