For the past three glorious years, I have had the privilege to be a stay at home dad, SAHD. While given the opportunity, I finished my bachelors degree and started my masters. Prior cancer, I worked, did school, and was a parent. Those years, I missed a lot of big milestones with our first son. Although we were forced to have this lifestyle, I welcomed it with open arms. In 2015 with the news of my tumor coming back and our second son on the way, I wasn't going to miss out on his firsts. On top of that I saw it as I was earning a break. After working, school full time, cancer, and parenting, how hard could it be to a SAHD?
Jokes on me.
Never realized how difficult this change would be. Going to brag here, I am the BOMB.com employee. Management has always loved me, and I have always been a go-to employee. Nothing in my previous jobs over stressed me, throw me all the curve balls you want I could handle it. Parenting is a whole other ball game. I have had my fair share of breakdowns, all due to kids. They stress you TF out. People say change is good; they don't mention that the transition is very difficult to adjust. Our life prior kids was busy, and kids take it to a whole other level. Being responsible for keeping two humans alive, maintaining meaningful relationships-whether that means friendship, self, or spouse, and just the overall daily chores, life is hectic. There is no one answer on how to have the "perfect" life, but I have compiled a couple of things that have made my life easier.
Routine routine routine....
When Shandy and I had our first, she was adamant about having a strict routine. Our life revolved around Kasen's sleeping times. No surprise, when our second came around, she said the same thing, "Need to get tiny into a routine." For those that do not know, my wife is Type A person, structure and details are important. To be honest, I thought she was a bit of a control freak, our first (so far) was fine. She was quick to remind me that I was not there for the beginning stages of his routine, and was 100% positive routine is why he is such a "good" (he has his moments) kid. After becoming a full-time SAHD when tiny was three months, I realized she was
right; don't tell her I said that, she was right that routine is vital. I cannot stress this enough, ROUTINE IS VITAL. A solid and consistent routine is key to the overall well being of your family and self. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, everyone knows what is expected. Our life still
revolves around sleep routines, but it keeps everyone sane. For example, Kasen knows our weekend routine has him slotted for screen time when he does not get that slotted TV his routine is off, and that is when we get meltdowns. As a leader of a family, you have to be ready for the unexpected, meltdowns and shift in schedules happen. This is something that I have a hard time with. I have made myself aware that I need to work on a smooth transition when routine gets off track. Knowing that we can easily hop back to a 7:30 bed time gives me peace and mind when life gets a bit chaotic. Routine is not limited to our children. We have adopted a routine for the house needs. Previously before kids, we would cram all our cleaning, house chores, and laundry on the weekend. With two young kids, that are the equivalent of two wild boars, cleaning is a necessity every. Single. Day... No breaks, ever. I have found it is best to have days dedicated to certain rooms/items and a "load a day keeps the stink away," going to coin this saying. It may seem daunting doing the laundry, dishes, and sweeping every day, but it is a necessary evil. That or you will find your youngest trying to eat what "appears" to be a blueberry off the ground, and asking yourself when the last time you had blueberries in your house.
Prep for success....
Plan plan plan, from food to fun activities plan it in advanced. It is all about the details. After having Kasen, Shandy was seeing a personal trainer; the trainer sent her meals that she had to make and eat on a schedule. Shandy loved it and then ran with it. This is where our "prep for success" came to fruition. It all started with us planning out our families meals, which made grocery shopping easier and prepping food for the week. I will be the first to admit the beginning of every school year everybody is gun ho on prepping lunch, dinner, and getting outfits and bags packed the night before. That slowly fades throughout the school year; it fades even faster when you are a SAHD. It's easy to say "ah, I'll just wake up early and do everything.", or "I will run to the store tomorrow and pick that up."
My time as a SAHD, meals are a bit more makeshift. Sometimes that played in my favor, other times it royally bit me in the a$$. In reality, it's not easy to make a nutritious breakfast, pack lunch (every day) and do all the things that need to be done, while still maintaining getting out of the
house promptly. I feel that the way you walk out of your house in the morning is a good outlook of how your day is going to go. With that being said, after much back and forth, I wanted "I'll do it later" to work, I have accepted that prepping and planning is the best way to keep the extra unneeded stress at bay. We have come back to preparing our meals in advance and sticking to them, even if it is the meal I am least in favor of, I still do it. As stated previously prepping does not just cater to food, although our family genuinely loves food. When we prep for adventures, we figure out a time line early on and make a list of what is needed/necessary to make that adventure happen. Where Shandy lacks is where I shine. Timing is not her forte, she is notorious on trying to fit a million things in a day. I have to bring her back to reality, and that is my main job when planning happens. (You can definitely tell her I said this.) I give the boys, yes including tiny, chores and checklists they must do to make things happen. From an early age they understand that prepping is important and if they don't prep, they prep themselves for failure. Which to them really means they don't get to do something fun, and nobody likes missing out on fun.
Make time for yourself, your kids, and friendships...
I know Shandy has touched a little on this in a previous post, but I strongly agree that carving out alone time is vital to a healthy relationship, and your sanity. Although her post was solely on the parent/adult piece, she didn’t mention a few other critical areas. It is important to carve out time with your kids. Not just as a family, but as one on one basis. With having multiple children, it is easy just to do stuff altogether.
In reality, you still need to have those moments with only one of your children. This is where you get to find out what is going on with them, their issues, likes, and just getting to know your child. Our boys are rapidly changing, those one on one dates are something I cherish. Hopefully, in the future they will look back on and be like "yeah my dad was awesome, he was always there for me" or something like that. Not only the importance of getting to know your kid, but it is also essential to know your kid's friends. We have found that family/friend dinners help meet these needs. It allows your kid to have the necessary interaction outside of
school with their friends, allowing you to also learn about their friends and their families, and most importantly adult interaction. We tend to have weekly get-together on the weekends. Whether it be a beach day or letting the kids run amok in the backyard, we love and cherish the time that we get to spend with our friends, as when you have kids their friends become your friends, and we feel it makes for a healthy life.
Prior taking on the role of a SAHD, I am guilty of downplaying the job of a stay at home parent. I have realized this indeed is a JOB. Also recognizing the additional hardships that come with two working parents, which typically is alleviated by one parent being home. Over the years we have switched roles several times, whether it was Shandy at home with Kasen, to both of us working, or me killing the SAHD game. The time has come for me to put up my hat as a SAHD. (Which by the way is a terrible acronym, it makes it sound SAD, which it's not. I wouldn't second-guess the opportunity to be a SAHD, as it was awesome even with all the crazy.) I now understand
why SAHM, stay at home moms, have anxious feelings about entering back into the workforce. It isn't scary in the terms that they are afraid to work, it is scary as in "how am I going to keep doing to do all of this?" Never realize what all has to be done until you are the person having to do it. I am glad I have had the experience, and will be able to use my learned skills as I enter back into the working world. I am thankful to have these years of being a full-time SAHD, but I am excited to start my journey back into the adult world; even if it is only part time. Cheers to a new chapter.