What do you do during the day? That is probably one of the biggest questions that I get as an at home dad. I could be witty and tell them that I constantly plan for the zombie apocalypse but chances are that they won’t understand which is also why they will be the first victims when the hoard comes. I could be truthful and say that my day is busier than when I was working, with no breaks, constant cleaning and attending to the needs of 2 children. Sometimes I feel like Cinderella, just way more manly. Or I could be a complete tool and ask what are they implying, are they implying that I’m lazy? Then I could get in a bar fight because in this scenario I would be taking my kids to a bar in the afternoon thus strengthening the stereotype that because I don’t work I must be an alcoholic.
I also read chat rooms regarding the at home dad lifestyle and one of the things that I see often from the man is “I’m bored, I’m not stimulated.” Or from a wife “He just sits around all day.” This goes back to the question of what do you do all day? Since I should probably stop reading these boards because they are terribly depressing, I think I am going to try a different route to see if I can offer my brothers in arms a little help. I will actually honestly answer the question “What do you do all day?” I am about to give away some trade secrets here my friends, get a pen and notepad. And if you are the wife of an at home dad, show him this, it may help him. Because in the end, that’s what I really want to do here. My heart goes out to those brothers that are struggling, finding this unrewarding or think that they aren’t built for this. Let me shine some light.
If you are bored, you are doing it wrong. Sorry my man, I have to be blunt here because it’s necessary. You have first admit that something just isn’t right. Maybe this isn’t for you but then again, maybe you just haven’t realized the full potential of what you have yet. It might be hard to recognize it because we men have been geared from day one to be the hunter/gathering. We have been taught that you get a job and get money, use that money to buy food so that the wife cooks it. And when it’s reversed and we find ourselves alone with a 2 year old in the middle of the day, we aren’t sure what to do. We become confused because there is nothing to kill or no corporate ladder to climb. So we fall back on what perhaps mom’s do like going to the park or the mall. But we are men and let’s be honest, 5 trips to the park as your only activity in a week is MIND NUMBING. Admit it, it is. I’ve been there brothers, I know of what I speak.
So first step: ask yourself a question. If I could go anywhere during the day without any guilt or remorse, what would I do? Make a list, write it down. Look at it deeply. Pretend for just a moment that this list represents an opportunity. Just look at it. Soak it up.
Then go do it.
It’s a radical thought and I know what you are thinking. Hossman is an idiot who gives other idiots a bad name. I, sir, am not an idiot. I am speaking from a perspective of experience. I have been there. I have walked down that lonely road. I have done the park, I have done the “go shopping twice in one week” thing. I have hung out at the mall enough to tell you that Montgomery Wards no longer exists. I have been there and I almost snapped. Almost. Then I made my list and things changed. Then I started having fun, the kids started having fun, we started learning things, we started doing things. We broke a lot of things, all in the name of being active.
Don’t let our tittle mislead you. “At Home Dad” does not actually mean that you have to stay home. And my advice to any new fish dad is that he should stay home as little as possible.
Let’s get back to our list. I’m sure some of you wrote down “attend baseball game”, perhaps even opening day. Good start, a bit cliche but no less important. Ok, go research tickets, get some and go.
This is the part where you tell me that your child is only 6 months old. And then this is the part where I tell you it doesn’t matter. That’s the great thing with babies. They don’t care where they go. Baseball game, playground, they honestly can’t tell the difference. And if you ever want your children to root for the same teams as you do, start them young. Pack your bag, grab your crap, and gogogogogo. Will it be tough. Of course it will be tough the first couple of go around. Things are always tough when you are carrying a couple of kids around. But they will learn and you will learn with them. Pretty soon you’ll be a pro and they’ll know what’s expected of them.
Ever wanted to go to an art museum? Then find one near you and go. Heck, most of those are free. Now you are probably thinking that Hossman is on the crack pipe again, but let me assure you, I am not. I have taken my kids to the upscale art museum. Not once but many times. We don’t get to see it all every time, we head back at 1 so naps and down time can ensue. But each time I go, we go to a different area. Here’s my proof. As you can see, that is two four year olds at the art museum and only one of them is mine.
This is also the part where you are supposed to be worried about all the things that they will wreck. You will also start to worry about how hard it may be, how stressed you will be when things go bad. We call this “going into the red” because you are right, things will go wrong. At the art musuem, it took a while for them to understand “dear god don’t touch the priceless painting.” but we got it accross. We actually told them it was hot and they would get burned. It actually worked.
Now let’s get into budget because you cannot talk about going on adventures without talking about budgets. Let’s face it, our family incomes were cut in half and perhaps we can’t afford to go to every place on our go to list. This is true but there are work arounds that do not include going to the park or the mall 5 times a week. Do a little research in your area and you should start to see a lot of cool forgotten things that may be worth a trip. And if you aren’t sure, then go anyway. Some of our best adventures have been to things that we were unsure of.
Want to see the oldest continuous congregation in Kansas? We weren’t sure as I found it mentioned in some article somewhere. Then I decided why not, lets go. Will the kids have fun? Probably because they are adventuring with dad and adventuring with dad kicks much ass. We did the church and the church was shocked to see us. We then told them that we were at home dads and we heard about their history. Next thing you know I’ve got six kids ringing the big church bell like it’s calling Jesus home. And it was free. I like free. I do free alot.
The point is, do some research and don’t limit yourself. Do things that might be worth it, maybe, probably not because these are the special trips that you will talk about for years. And yes you will have times when things go bad but it’s the bad that makes for great stories later! Which is a better story: Story 1–we had a fine day at the park. Story 2–we got kicked out by Mormans.
Now tell me, which do you want to hear about. The park day or when we got kicked out by Mormans? That’s my point.
Be adventurous. Don’t limit yourself to the expected. You stay home. Some people think that means that you can’t take your 7 month old to a civil war battle field. And others ask the question, why not? It’s field. Kids love fields. It’s sunny. Kids love sun. That’s pretty much. And in the mean time, you get some very much needed mental stimulation and you are taking full advantage of the fact that you get to stay at home with the kids all day, every day. Don’t be scared. Play your very best Rocky montage song and get in the car. Learn from your failures and herald your successes.
More ideas on the cheap side. Ever think that a trip to the grocery store could be fun, I mean really fun? Contact your local grocery store and ask them to give your kids a tour. This is by far one of the wildest, most things that the KCDADS ever did without ever realizing how fun it could be. We held lobsters, how cool is that?
Hiking trails are great. They are great because you are out and not inside. I can’t tell you how many hikes we have done. Sometimes it’s 1/2 mile, sometimes it’s 2 miles. Sometimes I carry them on my shoulders. We stop often and look at bugs.
These things are out there and the only thing truly limiting you is yourself. Well, that and gas. I will admit that I have to budget for gas and sometimes we have to go closer to home to make things fit in the budget.
I know that this may be a lot to take in and I know that being an at home dad isn’t for everyone. But I would rather it not be because they got bored and their mind quickly turned to mush. There are ways out of it my brothers.
I could go on and on here about where to go and perhaps my next post will be tips and tricks of how to adventure with your kids. That’s pretty good and I’ll do that. But until then, visit the KCDAD blog and take a look through our own adventures to give you some ideas. And for the other adventurous at home dads reading this, leave a comment giving even more ideas. Give us some that are cheap, give us some that are not cheap. Let’s make our own list and for the love of all that is holy, please don’t suggest going to a park. We’ve done the park. The park is fine for a do nothing day but a park will not keep our collective minds from turning into jelly.
And if anyone is truly adventurous, and I mean truly, I invite you to join us this summer. We have pretty much tapped out our local attractions for anything “new”. We’ve done a lot and now it’s time to spread our wings. Why limit ourselves to just our area. Roadtrip! We are starting small, three hours away from us is the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine. Why go there?