New dad's diaries: My one week as a SAH dad was a lot harder than I thought
This dad's first hand account of being a Stay-at-home parent is nothing short of a comedy of errors!
When we found out that we were pregnant, I decided that I would like to be more involved in the early few months of our son's life. As a writer working for an amazing media company, I get the flexibility to work from home. My wife on the other hand does not have that luxury. We were happy that between the both of us, at least one would get to be with the baby as a stay-at-home dad.
Growing in a close-knit family has it's advantages. So, when our son was born, we had her parents and then my parents come over to help us out. The kiddo, Mr V, was growing at a good pace, meeting his milestones like an average athlete. And soon, after almost 4 months, we found ourselves alone with the dude for one whole week!
My wife works a fixed shift, so I would be in charge of the baby from 8 am through 6 pm. So, for the first time, I was getting to be a stay-at-home dad. I was really excited about it, and a little bit scared. With these emotions, I got to experience the joy (?) of being a SAH dad last week.
I wanted the real stay-at-home experience, something that stay-at-home mums would be going through. So I asked my wife to ignore the house for a while. I would make the breakfast, take care of the kid, clean the house, run errands, make the dinner and then, work. My editor was extremely supportive, and I did not have to worry about that aspect. This is a summary of the events that transpired!
I woke up earlier than usual. After sterilising her pump parts and the bottles, I sat down with a mug of coffee, deciding what to make for breakfast. I decided to keep it simple, so it was eggs and carrots on toast. I sat dreaming about the recipe, and before I knew, I was already late!
So, the eggs ended up being scrambled, and my wife gulped it down in a hurry. The dude sensed something different and woke up earlier than usual and he wanted to play. My wife ended up leaving 15 minutes later than usual. So instead of the bus, she had to take a cab.
I prepared his first feed, mentally planning the next chores. Ideally, he dozes off at 10 am, leaving a window of an hour or so for work. However, he decided to up his game, and did not sleep till 11! My plans went for a toss, and I ended up ordering food from outside.
He was supposed to sleep for two hours, but right there, on day 1, he showed me who the boss was! Now, everyone advises to "go with the flow" for a four-month-old. So I went with the flow. Ideally, we were supposed to do a lot of things together: read a book, do some 'play-and-learn' exercises, go down for a walk and watch the fish, chase the squirrels in the baby gym. What we ended up doing was rolling on the bed the whole day. He especially loved the fart sounds I made on his tummy.
By the time my wife came home, I was exhausted. I had not sterilised the containers to store the EBM for the next day. We gave him a quick bath. We ended up ordering food.
5 30 am
I woke up with a start. The alarm did go off, but was snoozed a few times. Hurriedly and without having a coffee, I scrambled some eggs, asked my wife to toast the bread while I took a quick shower. The day went on the lines of day one. I ended up ordering my lunch and dinner, my wife was late by 20 minutes. So she had to take a cab. The kid did not see his 'play-and-learn' game today as well.
But, he did enjoy the fart noises and absolutely loved it when he grabbed my hair as I tickled his tummy with my nose! My wife read him a book in the evening as I caught a quick nap.
Not a bad day, right?
I scrambled some eggs in sleep. My wife sterilised her stuff. She left on time, leaving with me a half-asleep infant. That day I realised what a firecracker my son is! He cried the whole day. He hates overcast days, and this was one of them. The little guy would neither feed properly, nor sleep peacefully. He wanted to be on my lap the whole day. I wish I had breasts that day, just to pacify him.
The situation improved after 4 pm. The sun came out and he became his playful self again! I took the opportunity to take him downstairs. He enjoyed watching other kids taking a dip in the pool. I made a mental note to get some swimming diapers and take Mr V out for a swim. After hours of being cranky, he was finally smiling. I can imagine how other mothers must feel when this happens!
I did not write a single word that day. My wife anticipated the situation and got some takeaway for dinner as she came home from work.
6 15 am
Scrambled eggs, no coffee. I was so tired that I rested against the kitchen wall and literally slept off! Waking up with a start, I hurried with the routine. But today, I managed to do a few things that I was supposed to do. I read to the baby, and he loved the story of Eric the elephant. He pulled my hair and I was happy that he was reaching out to grab objects.
I dressed him up as a pumpkin, then as a Hattori Hanzō, the awesome Katana-maker from Kill Bill. Later, we played some peek-a-boo. I discovered that he loves to observe patterns on clothes. We got his favourite toys out: lion-bear, elephant and a snail rattle. He had a gala time trying to eat each one of them!
By the end of the day, there was a pile of soiled clothes, a room full of his toys, and a sink full of dishes.
Needless to say, I ordered dinner, but also managed to write a story. I was slowly inching back towards my normal life.
5 30 am
Friday! The last day of the week! I woke up with an enthusiasm. Made an amazing breakfast, had an awesome day with the kid. At the back of mind, there was just one thought - tomorrow, I would have my wife to distract the baby for a while! This pint-sized human cub has the energy of a hundred horses! Or, I am getting old.
In the evening, I took him for a swim. He enjoyed it! We were in the pool for almost 20 minutes. He also made a friend. I loved the interaction between a Korean infant and an Indian one in Babyese!
At night, I sat down and reviewed the whole week. These are the things I concluded.
I don't know how you mums do it for years on end. I did it for a week and I am sure I would not choose to do it again if I had an option. For an outsider, it may seem like an easy job, but the SAH parent is working harder than anyone else.
Infants may seem helpless, but they have their own way of communicating effectively and getting things done! They love schedules, and get restless when we deviate a lot from it.
They love to observe. My dude has a preference for red things, so I ended up being a Santa throughout the week!
A woman who agrees to do everything in the house needs to renegotiate the contract! It takes an energy of a superhero to cook, clean and run the house. How mums get it done daily is beyond me. Sharing the chores on the other hand makes it fun. I feel more responsible after ordering the dinner only after a week!
Mums, Stay-at-home parenting is a big deal in itself. But you balance the household and the job with an ease of a Management Guru. However, one thing That you often do, but I avoided doing was to feel guilty.
I did not do a lot of things that a 'good' parent would have done. My son did not learn a few things over the week. But we had fun. I don't think that makes me a bad parent. So mums, especially the working ones, you are balancing the world. Stop feeling guilty and take a bow!
I related these experiences with a friend who is not a parent yet. He acted as if this was no big deal. Let me tell you, non-parents: it IS a huge deal. Not every stay-at-home parent does so because he/she cannot take up a job. It is a conscious decision in most of the cases. Parents who take part in the upbringing of their kids are doing so out of their own volition. So respect them as you would respect any other professional.
Mums, do you agree? Do let us know in the comments below.