To celebrate Father's Day we asked the lovely Andy at Dad & Co to tell us about his life as a stay a home Dad. Thanks Andy and Happy Father's Day to all the awesome Dads out there - you rock! People often ask me 'whats it like to be a stay at home dad' to which i reply ' its great.... well not all the time but its mostly great.' I've survived almost a year and its gone quickly, even if some of the days have felt anything but quick. For the first couple of weeks after starting paternity leave it felt like I was on holiday and I would be back at my desk before I knew it, with the novelty of not having to rush out of the door in the dark to catch the train a distant memory however the weeks went by and before I knew it, it was work that was a distant memory. One of the main things I had to adjust to being a stay at home dad (SAHD) was not having a routine. After many years working a 9-5 (well 8.30am-6/7pm Mon-Fri) job sitting at a desk, I no longer had that routine to rule my life. I thought it would be liberating but in fact it made me panic. I went from rushing around trying to fit everything in when I was working, to having so much time I didn't know what to do with it; so you have to be pro active about finding things to do. The worst days I've had with the kids are where we have stayed in all day. I get cabin fever, they go wild and we all go crazy and want to kill each other. Never has there been more crying or arguments in the house. It takes a couple of months to work out a new routine by trying out different 'Mother and baby groups' (as they are annoyingly mostly called! So much for the end of sexism!), soft plays and parks. I was fortunate to have a ready made group of parents we had made friends with during our first child and many had a second child around the same time as us. Its vital to have different groups to meet up with as there is a lot of time to kill in a week and you don't want to do that with the same people everyday! I sometimes feel like I'm intruding in a woman's world, but I used to work in the retail industry where most of my colleges were women, so I've very rarely been intimidated by going to baby groups and that's also because I don't want the kids to lose out on anything because I'm a man in a predominately female role. As with most things with kids, its never easy meeting up with people. Plans have to be made around children's sleeping patterns and no two are the same so it inevitably means someone has to adapt and then there are the late cancellations. You can be packed up in the car ready to go to meet up with some friends, when you get the dreaded call that Johnny has just been sick everywhere so they are going to stay at home leaving you paddling up river without a paddle. Kids are more unreliable than an Alfa Romeo. Another big difference with being a SAHD is the role you have in their behavior management. Previously it was mainly the childminders responsibility of saying what they can and cant do. I was the happy go lucky dad trying to make the half an hour a day we see each other as fun as possible. Now I can't be the soft dad that says yes to everything because a) all they would eat is ice cream and chocolate b) they would get very fat and c) become horrible brats by not learning discipline. I remember reading lots of magazine articles about being a SAHD and although I had been unhappy at work for as long as I could remember, I didn't believe I would make the decision to give up work because changing your life's direction was something that other people did. I was worried about what people were going think of me. My father in law still asks me when I'm going to get a proper job, so I avoid him even more than usual now. I sometimes feel like I'm living off my partner and I worry daily what I'm going to do once the kids both go to school and my partner sends me back out to work, but that's part of the course. Like being the only male at the soft play or being asked by the old lady at the grocers if its 'my day to look after the kids'. Some days it feels like all I do is cook, clean, tidy up and then repeat that twice more before bed. I have to repeat everything I say to my 3 year old daily which I think should be used as a method in military interrogation and there are days when it feels like my kitchen has replaced my office desk, but I wouldn't change it for the world. It's a fantastic privilege to spend so much time with these wonderfully beautiful, crazy people I've created. Worlds where unicorns, tooth fairy's and dragons exist and talk of poo is the main subject of the day. Plus my FIFA playing has improved dramatically, the garden is looking fantastic, I watched 3 games of football a day during the Euro's and I get to visit places I never had the time to when I worked. If you get the chance, go for it. You wont regret it and don't worry what the father in law says. There's plenty of time to get a proper job again one day.
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