1. How did you come into the role of being an at home dad?
The choice was mainly economic for my wife and I. When it came time to have our little boy she had a job that was more secure and offered better benefits and pay. The work I was doing was also able to be done part time from home. I think like many Stay At Home Dad’s the choice ends up being much more about practicality than philosophy.
I think the best part for me is getting to hear Theo laugh throughout the day. Whether it’s chasing him around the table or tickling his ribs with my nose – his laugh is like a drug that always makes me incredibly happy.
Right now it’s the constant supervision he requires. It’s hard to wash dishes, or get dinner going when he’s running into the living room and I can hear things crashing to the floor. Also the lack of adult interaction is hard sometimes. I’m a kid at heart and love playing with Theo, but sometimes you long to go get lunch somewhere without having food thrown at you.
Make books an important activity every day. We’ve read to Theo 3-4 times a day since he was about 5 months old. We didn’t want to let him watch any TV in light of some recent studies and were wondering how that would work out in keeping him entertained all day. We have a huge bin of board books that he is constantly going over to and emptying. Then he’ll sit and try to turn the pages himself for a good long while. Consequently, when the TV is on he’s not so interested (yet). He really seems to love his books and that’s something we’re very proud of.
Being a part of the group has been an incredibly enriching experience. As with any first time parent is it so helpful to be able to talk about your kids and the experiences of their development with parents who have been through it or that are in the same boat. The other groups I had investigated before finding this one were predominantly mom based and there is a very different camaraderie that exists in a group of dads. It has also been wonderful for Theo to be able to observe and interact with the other kids of varying ages.
6. How has being an at home dad affected how you feel about stay at home parents?
As a non-native New Yorker, I have always felt that one’s ambition and work are very important pieces of their identity. I think the desire to succeed in any given field is what brings a majority of the new additions to NYC. I grew up in the very family oriented Salt Lake City and I used to have a bit of a stigma against people whose sole ambition was to be a stay at home parent (usually mom). I have to say, being a stay at home dad has changed my perception of just how much work that job entails and how valuable and fulfilling it is.
Many of my friends are bachelors and it’s surprising how interested they are in my experiences as a father. That being said, the discussions that I have with the dad’s group are usually much more detailed and helpful than those I have with my close friends on the subject. The person who has had the hardest time accepting my role as a stay at home dad has been my father. It has been a little difficult to deal with but I think he’s coming around. I feel like there is a generational difference to the experience of family and gender roles in America that is evidenced by his resistance to the idea of his daughter-in-law being the primary earner in my family.
That’s a tough one. We did 12 hours of flying over two days and it was really too much. Theo did wonderfully considering the circumstances but by the time we arrived at our destination we were all exhausted. The key for us in flying (he’s been on 10 flights in his first year) has been to know what keeps him entertained and when to switch tactics. Some of our most useful tricks were –
1) Giving him treats one at a time in the palm of your hand instead of letting him dig into the bowl himself – this is less messy and takes up much more time
2) Having his favorite books to read ad nauseam. On that trip he read through a number of his books 20 or so times. That’s when it gets more trying for us – there are only so many times I can say “One Fish, Two Fish,” in a 30 minute period.
3) Hope you get seated across the aisle from another kid or some kindly person that loves children. The flights when this has happened for us have been the easiest since you have someone new for your child to be entertained by for a bit.
4) When all else fails… sing (quietly). Especially songs that have repetitive verses and/or counting. On that trip we pulled out “This Old Man”, “There were 10 in the bed and the little one said…”, and “Old McDonald” – these can take up a lot of time and were very helpful to keep his attention toward the end. I’m not sure if our seat mates found them so entertaining, but better off key singing than a wailing child (I hope…)
The other piece of valuable advice I have from our last flight is to try and wait to get their nap going after the beverage cart has passed. Theo had been sleeping for about 20 minutes when the flight attendants woke him up with their beverage order taking and loud talking. It was a tired, cranky two hours of flying after that.