Gone are the days when mums stay at home to take care of the kids and supervise the household chores. As more women break the glass ceiling in the corporate workplace, the traditional family roles are reversed with dads staying at home to look after the family.
For some men, the situation can be refreshing. Becoming a stay-at-home dad allows one to spend more time with the kids, see them grow up, and have a positive influence on them. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there are now 12,000 stay at home Dads in Australia compared to 230,000 mums, an increase of almost 36 per cent over two years. Despite these figures, there’s still very little out there to cater for the Stay At Home Dad.
Here are a few ways to ensure that stay-at-home dads stay healthy and remain confident with themselves in the light of their new roles.
1. Understand and accept that you need help.
Contrary to what many men think, managing a household is not easy. You must understand and accept that you will need help in many situations. Don’t be afraid to ask your wife or your mum on how to do the laundry or what medicine to give your daughter when she has fever.
Mums also had to ask for help to learn how to manage the household. I don’t see why you shouldn’t seek help, as well.
2. Be creative in doing things.
Don’t be pressured to do things the way your wife did. You don’t have to cook the exact same meals or clean the house just as she does. One major cause of stress for stay-at-home dads is the self-imposed pressure that they should do everything as perfectly as the wife did.
Be creative in coming up with dishes that you and your family would enjoy. Bring your kids to new places or play new games with them. Remember that you are your own person and that you do things differently.
And a note for the wife: Cut your husband some slack. If he doesn’t fold the clothes like you do, don’t nag him. He’s doing the best he can.
3. Observe some ‘me-time.’
Mums keep sane because they have a ‘me-time.’ A stay-at-home dad should also have the same quality time for himself. Whether it’s hitting the gym, reading a good book, playing an hour of video games, having a beer, give yourself a break.
Your ‘me-time’ should also include activities that allow you to stay healthy like a game of golf, running or eating healthier meals.
4. Learn new things.
A stay-at-home dad should grab the opportunity to learn new things like carpentry, computer programming, gardening, cooking, etc. You can attend classes or online seminars. Learning helps you maintain a healthy attitude about yourself, and minimize the risk of being overwhelmed.
5. Find a support group.
Check your child’s school if there are stay-at-home dads that you can talk to. You can also socialize with stay-at-home mums to learn more about managing the household.
You can also check the Web to find online support groups for stay-at-home dads. A support group—whether virtual friends or your own relatives and friends—can help you stay focused on what matters most. Men’s Line Australia has a great page on Children and Fathering
Nobody said being a stay-at-home parent is easy. But the challenges you will face would be nothing compared to seeing your family happy, healthy and fulfilled.