You’re a stay at home dad?!

by

…How did I get here?

Wasn’t I just at Cargo Bar having Midori Illusions and getting home when the sun was coming up? Breakfast on weekends happened well after 10 am, and I don’t ever remember having conversations about the washing…

But here I am, three kids and a million loads of washing later and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Sure the 5:30 am wake ups to watch Bluey could really be pushed back a bit and it would be handy if the four-year-old could separate the colours from the whites, but the Midori Illusion shakers, they can stay in the past, nobody needs them again.

I was working in commercial radio when my wife and I found out that we were going to have our first child, then two months before the due date out of nowhere I was told that my contract wasn’t going to be renewed, thanks for coming, see you later. Show biz huh.

Not an ideal situation just weeks before entering into our biggest investment, so we had to have a pretty serious conversation about what to do next. I had a few work offers but nothing I loved. My wife is super talented and although she was working freelance she was earning good coin.

Why would she stop doing what she loves and is good at to look after the new baby, for me to do something my heart wasn’t in, just because that’s kinda what happens?

So in a nutshell that’s how I became what is called a Stay at Home Dad or SAHD.

dad doing daughter's hair

Not a club with a huge membership. Of all the dads in two-parent families in Australia, only around 4% of us are SAHDs. That’s it. Compared with 30% of mums, we are totally outnumbered at the slippery dip. Why I don’t know, every family has a different situation and we do what we can to make it work, but if it’s an option why not?

It has been the most rewarding 4.5 years of my life. Now it’s not easy, it’s actually bloody tough. All joy and no fun is how I summed up the first year. I was under the impression that I would be out of the house all the time and crunching schooners in the beer garden while the baby slept. Yeah, Nah.

Today, for example, I actually didn’t leave the house. It was raining, my four-year-old was at preschool so I was stuck inside with a two-year-old suffering cabin fever and sleep training a three-month-old to sleep in her cot, not in the baby carrier. I’m not even sure if I even showered today… But bub linked sleep cycles twice and the toddler didn’t break anything so, joy.

I was there when both my eldest kids rolled over, crawled and walked for the first time. I was the person who they said their first words to and who gave them their first solids (then of course never told my wife and waited until she was there to claim it for the first time, I’m not silly). No job that I could do would bring me more joy than witnessing these events.

Now, you’ll get asked, “but when are you going to get a real job” or “is it Dad’s day today”, or “Mum having a rest is she?”. Don’t take it personally, it’s the 4% thing, people don’t understand what they don’t know. Embrace it. (I’ll tell you about the lady who was taking photos of me in the park another time.)

Bob Dylan said it best “for the times they are a-changin'”.

Dad’s are more hands-on now than ever, we know that we aren’t looking after the kids, we are just parenting. We’re not having a “Daddy day” when we are at the park with the kids, every day is a Daddy day. We are not helping when we change a nappy, it’s just what you need to do. I personally think that not only the kids are better for this but we as men are too.

So a massive shout to all the Dads, not just the SAHDs, the working Dads, the co-parenting Dads, the Step-Dads, the Granddads, Uncles – and the Uncles that you find out years later isn’t actually your Uncle it’s just Dad’s best mate – we are all in this together and we’re doing a pretty tops job.

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