As you might remember, it was all the way back in April 2012 when I started working part time and became a part time stay at home dad. My wife and I had always joked that after about 6 months or so we’d know if it was the right decision. Well…
It’s not quite been 6 months, but I think I can comment on how it’s been going up to this point. In a nutshell, it’s been really tough. Why has it been tough? I think simply because I have had to learn an entirely new way of existing. A new way of managing myself, my feelings, the feelings of my daughter, the house (to a degree – my wife has done a spectacular job of this when I haven’t quite been the domestic god I wanted to be) and generally just trying to make a go of the whole thing. I can’t just sit back and chill out, or just nip out and buy lunch – I am required in ways I have never been before!
Until I went part time, Monday to Friday were fairly repetitive. I went to work, did stuff that I was told to do, then came home, ate, watched some telly, went to bed then did it all again. The only planning required was what we would put in our sandwiches for the following days lunch. If we were really lazy we’d just buy our lunches! Rock and roll baby!
Now, my days are spent making sure Olivia is happy, fed, watered and relatively clean. Lunch needs planned in advance. Dinner needs planned in advance. Washing is done if I get the chance. Shopping is done if required. All sounds pretty straight forward doesn’t it? To be honest it is, but for someone who had no time management skills or forward planning ability, it’s been a very steep learning curve. A curve that, I hope, I am nearing the top of.
Probably the hardest part though has been the lack of adult company. There were days which felt so incredibly lonely it was hard to keep laughing and smiling and ensure Olivia didn’t know how I was feeling. It would seem I’m not very good at not having adult company for at least some of the day.
Thankfully things are now a lot better. I’m doing more with other parents, getting out to various activities and Olivia and I are getting into a fairly decent little routine which is helping both of us greatly. We have also become good friends with next doors son and his nanny. Having them about has made the world of difference.
That may sound a little negative so far, but don’t worry, it’s not – although it’s been hard and at times I’ve wondered if I was cut out for it, it has been an absolute ball. I feel like I’m living instead of just trudging through each day at work, often feeling as though my head was constantly in contact with a brick wall that was constantly being pissed on by others.
It has been so rewarding and I often feel like the luckiest guy alive. I get to do something many dads don’t and I am truly grateful for that. A lot of people tell me what I’m doing is amazing. I don’t think I’m doing anything different to what loads of mums already do. Minus the built in food dispensers, I don’t think I or any other dad is any less suited to childcare than a woman is.
If there was just one thing I could change, it would be for my wife to have this time too. By me having this experience, my wife is, to some degree, missing out in the way that most dads do. Of course, most dads don’t get the Easter, Summer, October and Christmas holidays so she still gets a great deal of quality time with Olivia and she is always home by dinner time. I guess short of winning the lottery, that’s the best anyone can hope for. Doesn’t stop me buying a ticket though