What I learned from being a “Stay At Home Dad”


No, I never was born to stay at home and look after the kids. Neither did I do that really. However, earlier this year I had the opportunity to have a couple of weeks off. That meant I could help my wife and be just like a “Stay At Home Dad”. Of course this wasn’t really the case as my wife made it quite clear on day one that she expects certain things to happen her way, and that I shouldn’t think that I don’t have responsibility and…..

We never fought again. I wouldn’t dare to ignore any untidiness in the house left by my 3 and nearly 5 year old. Nor would I complain about her mess but quietly tidy after anyone in the house. Fortunately I got myself out of any ironing or cleaning jobs and was allowed out to meet my friends on a regular basis. Any time for me, e.g. sitting on the computer or taking a nap, had to be in agreement with the household or done in between school runs.

This sounds like I was living under the thumb yet if you have a set routine, and my wife has, it is me that needs to fit in. Effectively I was almost a disturbance in the routine as much as I was help.

School runs are tricky. The first one starts at 9 am sharp, so he has to have breakfast, and lunch is usually prepared the night before by my wife. Only a few weeks later I made the first lunch for the boys and loved doing it, packing their little things and envisaging their little faces when opening the boxes and find something special.

Number two has to be in the creche by 9.15 and be picked up by 1 pm. That means, by the time you are home and had your 2nd espresso, it leaves you a maximum of 3 hours to tidy, do some errands, clean, go to the gym, do some shopping, discuss a website or just chill out, before you are back to pick him up. If you are lucky he is asleep and won’t wake up until you pick up the other one at 3 pm. That gives you just under 2 hours where you are either fully engaged in playing hotwheels or any other toys your youngest fancies or he is asleep and by the time he wakes up you push him to eat. However, you cannot plan this. Maybe that is where I should mention that our youngest isn’t a good eater, so any distraction like ipad, TV or anything is helpful and almost necessary to feed him.

So by the time you pick up the older one who is grumpy as he is tired from school, you make it home via the crisps and chocolate shop, to end up in front of the TV. The boys relax, have something to nibble and you can catch up on 20 minutes sleep. Time to prepare dinner, their milk or milk shake, our dinner, the next day, the bath, the bed time story and the write up of the latter. Now off to have a glass or two of wine before you fall asleep in the middle of the movie. Shattered you crawl into bed at 9 pm and if you are lucky sleep undisturbed until about 2 am.

But what have I learned?
Nothing is probably different to any other household’s routine.

A lot of respect I have learned for any mother, particular my wife, who day in day out is capable of keeping up with the two youngsters, doesn’t fall asleep with the TV on and doesn’t use the ipad to entertain them all the time. I have respect for her patience, persistence and her stamina to keep those two young fellas happy, content and entertained.

I learned that my wife has time for nothing in between school runs and “free time” as such is when I come home at night telling her about my day at my work. Facebook becomes an outlet for her misery (in good terms) and a platform for her to seek like minded mums and receive and give help from/to them.

Also, from just a few weeks, I see how difficult it is to not be with the family and be at work; I am back at work and only see them at the weekend, and I learned to be with them in every moment. I almost leave my phone at home, make plans and try to be spontaneous, trying to be the best dad in the world, as I only have 48 hours each week to prove it. That is besides the days I work from home or the twenty minutes in the morning.

I look back to my time off and think I might have been a burden to my wife more than a real help. I might have got too used to play hotwheels and being there for the boys. They might have got too used to me being at home too. I bonded. We bonded as a family and went bowling, ate poppadoms, drew pictures, played in the mud, fell asleep next to each other and at the end of the day had a lot of fun.

Whilst I am not sure when I next have the opportunity to disturb the well organised life of the three most important people in my life, I truly enjoyed every minute of this one!

Thanks for letting me be part of your everyday life.

Thank you, my wife, for being there for those two and endure them every day.

I love you all!
Volker

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