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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daddy Daycare

Would you let your husband be the "Stay at Home Dad" ?

A couple of times, this topic has come up and I do appreciate my hubby for even thinking about making that sacrifice for our family. (Unless he's doing some kinda reverse logic game on me) I've always gone back to work after taking the entire year of mat leave but with four kids, he must be hinting at how important it is for one parent to be at home to manage things, drive the kids to soccer and piano etc.
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First off, I should backtrack on how the initial conversation started. Myself and the three kids basically packed up our entire lives and made the big move from the big city to this small little town two weeks ago.  We all missed daddy too much, and with the fourth kid on the way, and as great and awesome it was to have a nanny with us all the years, I did come to realize that parents have to do the parenting together and not only on the weekends.

But here are the top five reasons I probably would not accept his offer

1. This is a woman’s job
Although I am an Engineer and I work in a male dominated field, I still have certain perceptions about traditional family roles, that dad wears a suit and goes to work. Mom can wear a suit or dress to go to work, but after work she's still mom and there are many chores and kids to take care of around the house. If it's about finding childcare, the best deals on kids clothing, what to cook for dinner or how to cook the dinner, the best deal on groceries and coupons, and the best toilet cleaner to use, that's the mom's job. If it's about basement renovations, car appointments, lawncare, taking out the garbage; that can be dad's job. I just can't see how these roles can be reversed. Maybe he thinks he can train the kids in sports or run a boot camp for his Daddy Daycare, but seriously I can't see how a man can be happy to do this for more than a week.

2. Who could do this job better than me

No further clarification required. Can you put a baby down to sleep without milk in a bottle? Do you know where to find a playgroup and would you actually sing to them their nursery songs? Do you know how to sign up kids for swimming, soccer, ballet and summer camp on time?

I’m going to be mad at you because dinner was not prepared the way I want it. I'm going to be upset because the clothes were folded differently than the way I do it, or you put the clothes or dishes in the wrong cubby or drawer. You'll forget to sweep an vacuum and you wont even know what groceries to buy.

3. It is not a vacation
So many times my male colleagues, who are dads themselves mind you, have asked me, "What are you gonna do for a whole year on mat leave". Yah I want to punch them in the face or give a better answer like, "I'm gonna go to the spa and get massages and play golf all day!" That's what I should say! Duh, feed a baby? Sweep the floor and take care of kids and the house?

It is not a relaxing job, you are not allowed to watch TV and play Super Mario 3 with the kids all day. You are not allowed to fall asleep with a kid on your chest for three hours each afternoon.
4. You don’t know what you are asking for

Could a man really be happy not driving in to work each morning? Could you really give up that awesome career you worked so hard to get to, everything you believe in and all the important projects and timelines you put your heart into, you could just drop it? All the people who look up to you and call you their boss, you could just say to them, actually I really miss my kids and I want to drive them to the library for the 1000h storytime. So why do you have to be a super two-thumb texting ninja on the work Black Berry when you just walk in the door and the kids are running to hug you?  Seriously,  airplanes will fall out of the sky if you miss that phone call.

Well I guess I have also seen this to work out well. We have a family friend where the dad is indeed the Stay at Home Dad. Mom has been highly promoted into a very senior level Manager of the Human Resources division in a certain big company. Dad studied English Lit or something artsy and a really awesome career in journalism just didn't pan out. Instead they have 3 very beautiful teenage daughters well on their way to University and having a great future in front of them. Dad took care of many things for them, including packing lunches, driving them to piano lessons, exams and competitions, and just every thing that a dedicated parent would do. C'est possible.

5. You're not allowed to look like a Movember everyday of the year.

My biggest fear is that he would slowly turn fat or unsexy or slobby from not having time to shower or shave. His hair would grow out of style and his clothes would be unstylish, just being too comfy in sweatpants and sweatshirts all day. Uh-oh I wonder if this is what is happening to me right now as the stay at home mom, but I just don't know it...

The Inside Scoop

We've been in this new house for two weeks. My mat leave officially starts in December but I am home with kids although the older two have school full day an we have Lincoln in full mornings daycare three times a week to phase him in. I've been doing a fabulous job (pat on the back for myself ok) unpacking and organizing the house in record time, keeping up with dishes and laundry, sorting toys, clothes, tools, sports equipment into the right bins, packing lunches and even making dinner (who actually wants to eat the dinner is a different story), dragging everyone on time and/or late to the bus stop. It's funny that it is actually faster to drive to school than it is to walk to the bus stop and wait, but I have to teach them that life is not easy.

The morning rush, the evening rush. It seems that he's trying to convince me that it is so much easier for one parent to be home, and maybe he wanted to be it. He pointed out that we don’t focus enough on the kids and their homework and there’s not enough time with them each day that maybe he could consider staying home with them like a few years from when he could possibly retire. I was shocked because this is the workaholic dad who doesn’t even bring the kids to doctors appointments or dental appointments, or cancels any meetings to be with sick kids because that’s mom’s job. Or get this… he even went back to work on the day his firstborn was born. So how dare he even propose to be a stay at home dad???

Anywayz, my scenario will happen about two years from now. There are many unknowns and changing factors between now and then. For now I will just enjoy the ride and see where this takes us. Kids grow up very fast, I don't think any parent ever regretted spending more time with their own kids.

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