Family

Could you be a stay-at-home dad?

Author: Canadian Living

Family

Could you be a stay-at-home dad?

Six years ago, Glen Daniels turned in his computer, and gave up his job at an engineering firm to be a stay-at-home father. Now the father of Julianne, 4, and seven-year-old twins Josh and Joey, can often be seen surrounded by a herd of preschoolers at the local library.

He confesses it was a bit of an adjustment to make the switch to home life. "We're talking about a drastic change," he says. "[I'd] never changed a diaper until I changed the boys' diapers when they came along."

Mick Noftall, dad to Luke, 4, and Sarah, 9, had a similar lack of experience when he gave up his job in fitness and recreation to take care of the kids. "With Sarah, before three months, I found I was afraid to touch her," he says. "Afraid to change her diaper. Afraid she was going to break. Afraid I was going to break something."

For dads who wish to swap their briefcase for a diaper bag, Daniels and Noftall offer the following tips:

Don't try to be Mom
Be yourself. Daniels says, "They get different things from me and different things from their mother. And that's good for them."

Make an effort to meet other parents
Introduce yourself to the moms and dads in the library or at the playground. Being an at-home parent can be isolating. "I find if you don't interact with people, you're lost," says Noftall.

Get creative
Daniels explains, "You've got to think like a six year-old, or a four year-old." One of his children's favourite excursions was a trip to the airport. "We went down into the tower and watched a plane come in. It was great."

Be prepared
Kids can get bored, tired, or hungry quickly. "When we go out I have cars, books, [and] four or five different types of food," says Noftall.

Stay organized
Both men agree life runs more smoothly when they have a routine. Daniels relies on a big calendar. Noftall uses the planning skills he developed while working in recreation.

Delegate
Work out, in advance, with your partner which jobs around the house you'll be responsible for. "I do the laundry and Lori comes home to the smell of cooking," Daniels says. "Supper's ready because it makes sense. Especially when there's stuff going on at night."

Take some pointers
If possible, talk to someone who is or was a stay-at-home dad. Full-time parenting takes lots of patience. "It can be very stressful when a child is upset," Noftall says. "You don't know what they want, they don't know what they want sometimes."

Make time for yourself
Noftall exercises regularly at the YMCA. Daniels unwinds by working on his home.

Both Daniels and Noftall conclude that they are happy with the decision to be stay-at-home dads and content about the close relationships they have with their children. "If a father can financially stay at home," says Daniels, "if he can be dedicated and jump into it with both feet and not want to change it for anything else - and have patience - do it!"

Find more great tips on how to be a better father here.

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