I found myself home recently on a “forced vacation,” if you wish to call it that.
I was in between jobs and taking full-time care of my little Bay-boo (2-year-old daughter). Those few weeks really helped me and my wife put things into perspective. Although my mind was occupied with job searching, I often took a step back and lived in the moment. No amount of worry was going to change the place I found myself, so I had to let go and live life as it was.
I have been a very hands-on father since the start. When my wife returned to work, I took two weeks off to help her ease into her new title of “working mom.” It was during those two weeks that I fell in love with fatherhood and wanted to be a full-time stay-at-home dad (SAHD).
I made changes in my career to create a better work/life balance. When I returned to work, I made it a point to take advantage of a company “agility” program that allowed me to work from home a few days a week, giving me more time with my infant daughter. I started searching for activities for us to do together, and found the NYC Dads Group which had activities across the city at all different times of the day on almost any day of the week. This let me complete my work and schedule meetups that fit our schedule. This group of dads was a lifesaver for me. We, as a family, had gotten into a great groove and to a happy point.
Fast forward a year. Ultimately, my work projects were completed and I ended up on this work hiatus. What was I to do? Where was I going to go? My wife and I both knew we would be OK now that I had my dream job as a full-time SAHD, right?
There had been much talk over the past few months about Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and I was starting to get it. I was now the SAHD I always wanted to be. I needed to take this opportunity to really lean into my family.
I started to take those steps back and live in the moment. I had fun counting the steps as I claimed them with my daughter. I didn’t lose my patience as easily; I was grounded in the present. I looked for teachable moments in all areas of our daily life.
As people around us had been panicking and worrying, my wife and I stopped and smelled the roses. We leaned on each other and parented together, despite the change in roles. I am not going to lie and say I didn’t have a care in the world, however, I knew that things would turn out all right and I had an amazing few more weeks of one-on-one time with my daughter.
Ultimately, the perfect job opportunity presented itself and I took it. This new position takes me away from home more than my last position did, but it allows me the ability to, once again, work from home whenever I can. I have taken full advantage of this ability and enjoy my “Wash Wednesdays” and “Daddy and Tina Fun Fridays”.
If you take nothing else from my experience, learn to step back and see the teachable moments with your children. Count the steps, call out the colors of passing cars, and enjoy the present.
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NYC Dads Group member Dan Giardino, shown above with his daughter, lives in Queens. He now assists with our New Dad Boot Camp and is always looking to help new dads. He and his wife, Jen, enjoy raising Christina, age 2. Dan has started to blog for himself at NYC Dan G, where a version of this post previously appeared. You can follow him on Twitter.