In recent years, we have witnessed a steep rise in the number of men who are staying at home and managing the household, whether voluntarily or through a sore lack of options. The Office of National Statistics reports that currently, one out of seven or 14% of fathers are now the main provider of child and home care. While this may be a welcome state of affairs for some, an estimated 13% - 17% of these stay-at-home dads admit to finding it quite difficult to take care of children, with some even sharing perceptions of inadequacy regarding their manhood. If you or someone you know is a stay-at-home dad, there are many strategies you can engage in to help you become happier and more successful in the role that you have chosen.
Fight feelings of isolation.
Make extra effort to connect with and stay in close contact with other stay-at-home parents. Find time to get together with friends on occasion. Most importantly, always communicate with your wife to fulfil that need for a mature audience and adult interaction that you may long for.
Find time for yourself.
Make sure that you keep up with your interests. Find time to indulge in your hobbies, your favourite sport and to take part in the pleasurable activities that you engaged in when you were not staying-at-home. This will help prevent burnout and keep you recharged to handle your daunting tasks.
Keep intellectually stimulated.
Always make time to read or watch the news, watch a movie, scan interesting websites, and have stimulating discussions with your wife and friends. Better yet, take some classes to keep your mind sharp and upgrade your skills at the same time. If classes at college or recreation centres are not feasible, online classes are most likely to fill your needs and interests.
Expect to encounter stereotypes and preconceptions from other people.
Expect that many people have misconceptions and biased attitudes regarding stay-at-home dads. Be prepared to encounter thoughtless and at times even demeaning comments and reactions to your status. Immunise yourself from these potentially harmful encounters by not taking them seriously nor personally. Know in your heart and remember the reasons why you stay at home and realise that your family’s welfare and their gains are exceedingly more important than some acquaintance’s or stranger’s misguided opinions.
Have fun with your kids.
Some of the greatest benefits of you staying at home and caring for the kids are that they get to really spend time with you, have fun with you and benefit from your company. Make sure that you plan fun and educational stuff to do, revolving around their interests as well as yours, such as going to the zoo, the library, a museum or to a game. This will allow all of you to deepen your knowledge and appreciation of each other in new ways and is also a chance for you to develop common interests.
Take advantage of breaks whenever they present themselves, such as when the kids are invited to a playgroup or are taking a nap. Create breaks for yourself through careful planning and scheduling of routine activities. During these breaks, do whatever would give you the most pleasure, such as taking a shower, chatting online, taking a nap yourself or simply doing nothing.
Have clear-cut rules, expectations and responsibilities.
Discuss the household’s needs and how these are to be met by all members of the family, and not just you. Talk about how the chores are to be assigned with respect to what each member is capable of doing and is willing to take on. There would probably be a lot of compromising and negotiation which are necessary in coming up with an arrangement that would be equitable to everyone involved.
Find or create income-generating opportunities for yourself.
There are many work and money-making opportunities online. You can work from home, create a blog and share your expertise, or sell products online. Not only will you augment your family’s income, but you will also feel the satisfaction that comes with contributing financially to the family’s resources.
Take pride in what you do.
Be proud of making the more difficult choice of staying at home and caring for the family. There is considerable prejudice against stay-at-home dads but you can prove them wrong and ill-informed. Take your role seriously and strive to be the best at what you do.
Remember why you are doing this.
When you feel low and you find yourself questioning your circumstances, try and remember the reasons why you stay home. More importantly, remember whom you are staying at home for. Take comfort in the knowledge that your children stand to gain most out of your decision to be their primary caregiver. When fathers are positively involved in their children’s lives, children are more independent and better adjusted, can stand up for themselves and generally perform better in school.
Being a stay-at-home dad can be even more difficult than being a stay-at-home mum. This situation is rife with issues concerning stereotypes, threats to masculinity, possibility of boredom and understimulation, financial dependence, and many others. Dealing with and overcoming these issues is possible, however, and these days, there is nothing to keep you from becoming successful and gratified in the role that you are brave enough to have taken.