Right now I am in the middle of my usual day. It’s 1:00 and most of the dishes are done, there is a load of laundry (or two) waiting for me downstairs, my 10 month old daughter Emma is passed out on the couch, and I’m going through seemingly endless online job search engines.
I lost my job a little while ago and entered the world of being a Stay At Home Dad. Three months in and , I am reflecting on that first week adjusting to my new role.
I’ll be the first to admit I had gone into it a little skeptical of my abilities. Keeping to a schedule (especially a sleep schedule) can be difficult for me when I don’t have a job to get up and go to. But like any parent I had become more than familiar with my little one’s eating schedule and sleeping patterns, so devised to formulate my day around it, hence I was faced with my first challenge.
As it turns out, my daughter has in fact inherited from me the appreciation of sleep. For the first couple of days we would wake up at 6, she would take the bottle, then we’d both pass out till 11:30. This has since been changed with the help of our coffee maker and some determination.
Overall I feel I adapted quickly to the ins and outs of staying at home. Cleaning up around the house consistently gave me a great feeling. I could stick the little one in her pack-and-play with a few toys and sit her by the kitchen door while I play music over the speakers and do dishes. I got into vacuuming, cleaning and folding the laundry, and scrubbing down the bathrooms. But there was one psychological hurdle I had yet to overcome.
I had lost my job, and I had little saved up. I had strong feelings that I had failed my family and that I was barely any use to my daughter beyond feeding and changing diapers. I felt lost and desperate, spending a considerable amount of time on the computer going through every possible job search I could find when I wasn’t cleaning. Eating was a secondary thing to me behind taking care of my daughter and finding a job, so I ditched my usual workout routine instead spending every available second on the couch looking through job ads. It wasn’t until the first day of my second week that my little one brought me back to my senses.
I was sitting on the floor this time, eyes locked on the computer screen, going through filter after filter. Emma was rolling around as usual, tossing little blocks in the air, chewing on random toys, and giggling. In a moment of frustration about the predicament I found myself in, I shut my eyes for a few moments. When I opened them again, Emma’s perfect little face was peering back at me over the top of my screen. Slowly she pushed down the screen and closed my laptop completely, smiling big as if she was inviting me back into the world.
In that moment I was revisited by a concept I had seem to have forgotten that week, that being a parent is not dictated by how much money you make, what you do for a living, or what you accomplish for yourself. What matters most is what you do for your children every single day. I put down the laptop for almost the entire following week. I spent more time on the floor with her than anywhere else, doing crawling and walking exercises. Teaching her to clap and trying to get her to say words or letters. We go outside and enjoy the weather, and I take her to hang out with other little ones via the Philly Dad’s Group. I started being a dad again.
I realized that now more than ever I can be there for my daughter in a way I’m not able to when I have to be at work all day. So I plan to do this as much as possible, although I’m still looking for a job we’ve decided I’m going to go for a second shift position so I can still spend my day with Emma. While I’m a SAHD, I’m giving my little one 100%, and we’re all benefiting from it, not to mention, the wife is enjoying a very clean house.