At Westchester Health, we know that raising kids is hard work, whether you’re a dad or a mom. But even today, sometimes stay-at-home dads encounter particular challenges. To help dads everywhere navigate the wonderful but exhausting world of babies, kids, teenagers and everything in between, Mason Gomberg, MD, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, offers these 10 valuable bits of advice.
10 essential tips for stay-at-home dads
1. Commit to your role as dad caretaker
Wear your title as full-time dad proudly and unapologetically, no matter what how others react. What do you care about people’s negative, narrow opinions anyway?
2. Stay-at-home doesn’t have to mean stay at home
Get out of the house! As part of your daily schedule, incorporate activities to get you and your child out and about, such as the library, music lessons, nature walks, etc.
3. Find a Dad Group and get connected
Besides the support of your partner, having a community of fellow stay-at-home dads around you is probably the key factor in your happiness as a stay-at-home parent. Check out the Find a Dad Group page on the National At-Home Dad Network‘s site. Go on Facebook and join the conversation at their online discussion group. If possible, attend the annual At-Home Dad Convention.
4. Establish your specific duties with your partner
From the beginning, you and your partner need to decide what your duties and responsibilities are going to be. Exactly what does “taking care of the kids” include? Cooking dinner every night, cleaning the house, doing laundry, running errands, time off on weekends…all these need to be discussed up-front to reduce conflict and resentment later on.
5. Schedule daddy time-outs
Make sure you take breaks, whether it’s an hour in the morning before the chaos starts, time in the evening after everyone is settled down for the night, a half hour by yourself in a coffee shop, or any regular opportunity you can grab to talk to adults. Trust me, it will do wonders.
6. When it comes to parenting, trust your gut
There are many different ways to bring up an infant, child, adolescent and teenager. Having a set routine and structured environment helps, and all caregivers should be on the same page.
7. Remember: this role is not forever
Being an at-home dad may not be your job forever, which is helpful to keep in mind during the seemingly endless diaper changes, ear infections, playdates and carpools.
8. You can change attitudes by example
At-home dads rarely get the respect and recognition they deserve. Your example that fathers can be nurturing, competent and caring parents can go a long way to bringing society at large up to speed.
9. It’s ok to ask for help
As much as you think you can) raise kids all on your own, this can lead to unhealthy levels of stress. For your own sanity and the safety and happiness of your kids, ask for help when you need it. Maybe hire a cleaning person to help with housework or a sitter so you can get to the gym. Call other dads—they’ll know what you’re going through. If you’re really feeling overwhelmed, please seek professional help to help you get through the really tough times.
10. Try to savor every moment
Try to enjoy this precious, all-too-fleeting time. Spend at least as much time down on the floor playing with your children as you spend trying to accomplish tasks while they are distracted or napping. Remember, these days will be gone, all too soon.
Questions? Freak outs? Please come see us.
At Westchester Health, we’re here for you with expert advice and guidance to help you raise happy, healthy kids so please come in and see us. We’ll take as long as you need to answer your questions and to help you in any way we can.
To read Dr Gomberg’s blog in full, click here.