Mastering the Stay-at-Home Dad Routine
As a stay-at-home dad, I struggle to keep my two children happy while saving the house from the terror these tots can unleash. Many new dads can cut the lawn, fix a lamp, and grill a steak, but it takes a true pioneer to feed, wash, and entertain two girls under age 3. Here’s how I managed it with my two daughters:
Watch your watch. As much as you might want to be the “cool dad” who moves to his own beat and changes direction on a dime, this isn’t going to work for most children. Kids thrive on a regular schedule and expect meals, naps, playtime, and sleep to occur at about the same time each day. To minimize meltdowns, keep a daily routine, and stick to it like clockwork.
Put them to work. No, not stacking firewood in the driveway or handing you nails when you’re on the ladder. Smart stay-at-home dads think smaller -- and easier. Kids love to help sort things by size and color, so when it’s time to fold the laundry, give them a task (“Can you find the matching sock?”). A toddler can also stack books, put toys in a basket, and help empty grocery bags.
Keep it short and sweet. Long outings with endless errands are a recipe for disaster with two young children. Covering a lot of ground will only leave you with a couple of exhausted, hungry, and annoyed little monsters. Instead, set the bar low and only tackle a couple short errands at once.
Don’t forget the surprises. Even the best-laid plans can fall apart and end in tears. Stop the tantrums before they start by keeping some tricks up your sleeve. An ice pop for your toddler, goofy voices for the new baby, or even whipping out a brand new coloring book will work wonders.
Don’t forget to rest. Being a stay-at-home dad to more than one child is exhausting, to say the least. You’ll get burnt out if you don’t slow down the pace every now and then. I suggest stealing some shuteye when your kids go down for a nap or calling in a babysitter so you can catch up on errands without your kids in tow.
Even on the busiest days, I wouldn’t change anything about our routine. Being a stay-at-home dad to our daughters has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined!