Sure there’s endless crying, piles of laundry and dirty nappies to deal with, but I wouldn’t change being stay-at-home dad for the world. Here are some of the perks of the job.
People often ask me what it’s like to be a full time stay at home dad (SAHD). My answer? It’s awesome. Easily the best job a man could ask for. Unless you’re one of those guys on Mythbusters that gets paid to blow stuff up all the time, but that’s a whole other story.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty not so pleasant moments. Nappy explosions; endless piles of laundry; winter colds; toddler tantrums; and hand foot and mouth disease, are just a few of the challenges that I encounter on a regular basis.
Rather than get hung up on the hard parts, I like to focus on all of the positives that have come out of my experience as a SAHD.
Here are some of the highlights:
I get to wear activewear
There’s no greater ambassador for the many uses of activewear than the stay-at-home parent.
School drop off? Activewear.
Mothers’ Group catch ups? Activewear.
Drinking coffee with the hipsters at the local hangout? Activewear.
Grocery shopping? Activewear.
Drinking wine in the schoolyard with the other stay-at-home parents on a Friday afternoon while you wait for school to finish? You know it. #activewear.
It’s not just the mums in their pink leopard print tights and tank top complete with cheesy motivational slogan emblazoned across the chest. I too am a disciple (although perhaps not as flamboyant with my activewardrobe).
On rare occasions, where I’m spotted in anything smarter than my usual shorts, sneakers and t-shirt ensemble, people tend to put on a sad face and politely enquire whose funeral I’m attending.
No more peak hour commuting
While our significant others are crawling along in their cars on the congested freeways, or sharing coughs, body odours and phone conversations with fellow commuters on packed trains and buses, I’m at home, drinking my coffee, in my activewear.
Afterwards, I take the kids for a gentle walk, where the only congestion is a plethora of kids on bikes and scooters around the local primary school.
The odd time that I am called upon to drive during peak hours, it is a brutal, but timely reminder of the benefits of being a SAHD.
I’m the boss
I may only be the boss of a couple of little people who can’t even wipe their own bums, but I’m the boss nonetheless.
As the boss, I have sole responsibility for making all of the important decisions each day. Which tasks and activities we tackle, which Wiggles DVD we watch, what to cook for dinner, which brand of toilet paper to buy (Kleenex. Always Kleenex).
I never had the opportunity to be my own boss through my career, and it’s a refreshing change to have this freedom now.
I try and fit in at least one or two each week. Sometimes with a friend. Sometimes with one of my wife’s SAHM friends – which is a bit weird now that I think about it. Sometimes just me and the cutest date in town. My daughter.
Mind you, there aren’t many coffee dates with her that don’t end up with me apologising to the hipster behind the counter for the spilt babyccino and the crumbled quinoa chocolate muffin that has been ground into the floor.
While I probably do fewer coffee catch-ups now than I ever did while I was working, these ones are generally far more enjoyable as it’s less about the “networking opportunity” and more about the coffee. And the company of course. But mainly the coffee.
Being present for those ‘firsts’
Being home every day has enabled me to celebrate every little achievement with our kids. All of those precious moments that other dads only get to hear about second-hand, or worse – via Facebook.
The first smile.
The first time they roll over and get wedged in the corner of the room.
The first time they eat solids.
The first steps.
The first tantrum at the supermarket.
The first time you catch them drinking out of the dog’s bowl…
Any time I’m feeling a bit down, I think about all of these amazing moments to which I’ve had front row seats. Moments that I would’ve missed completely had I not been a stay-at-home-dad.
So there you have it. Five perks of the job. Of course there are so many more, and as long as I choose to stay focussed on them, the less desirables don’t get a look in.
Whenever I do feel the negativity starting to get to me, I just pull on my tracky dacks head out with my daughter, and contemplate the perks of having the best job in the world over a macchiato and a quinoa cupcake.