Friday, March 7, 2014

Should SAHDs Be Allowed to Have Fun?

Two years ago when I began the journey as a Stay at Home Dad (SAHD), I took the "job" very seriously.  I was taking my nine month old Caden to story times, swim lessons, walks, and music classes.  I wanted to make sure he wasn't "falling behind" (sarcasm noted).

Along with that, I wanted to prove to my wife who trusted me with our first born son that "I got this".  I stayed on top of the grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, bill paying and everything else that goes along with being the stay at home parent.  I did not want to show any sign of weakness!
Fun at the beach

Although I loved being with Caden every day and seeing him explore, grow and learn, I am not sure if I was allowing myself to "have fun" yet.  At the beginning, listening to NPR news at 5:00 PM while feeding Caden dinner was a "treat".

Of course, there is not much "fun" you can have with a baby most of the time.  And some attempts of having fun such a going for a run with the jogging stroller, going for hikes, walking our dog Nugget at the beach often resulted in Caden meltdowns.

However, when Caden grew older, around 16-18 months, things did become more "fun". How so?

Networking
. I met two other SAHDs with sons Caden's age who showed me it was OK to have fun as a stay at home parent, including taking trips to beach, going out for lunch and talking about sports while our kids played with each other.

Exercising. I joined Stroller Strides - a workout for mostly Moms - but a great boot camp workout where you leave your kid(s) in the stroller.  This was a great workout and a one hour break from 100% watching the kids for me. Yes, I have been teased mercilessly for joining Stroller Strides. I also take jogs with both kids 1-2 times a week.

Getting over meltdowns.  Even with the fear of a 45 minute car ride, I was determined to hike Runyon Canyon with Caden and our dog Nugget.  The reward was a stop at Chick-fil-A on the way home. Even though Caden cried the last 15 minutes of the ride, I accomplished it. I had fun.
This looks fun, right?
Relaxing.  Yes, being a SAHD is often challenging and difficult. That does not mean that you can't lighten up and have fun.

Letting go of guilt. Having fun often makes you feel guilty as a stay at home parent. Why should I have fun when most people my age are slaving away at the office? Don't I need to be serious during the day?

Making friends with SAHMs. Yes, even in a progressive city like Los Angeles, there is a shortage of SAHDs.  So you have to choices: make nice with the Nanny Mafia or become friends with Stay at Home Moms (SAHMs).  Here is a tip: as a Dad you are not going to break into the Nanny Mafia. So get to know SAHMs.  Mostly because they are awesome.  For the most part, Moms will accept you as a SAHD since you are going through the stage in life. Remember, these Moms have not been Moms there entire life! Many had exciting lives before children: they were attorneys, teachers, business leaders, etc. They share great tips on raising kids as we are all going through the same things at the same time.

So yes, Stay at Home Dads are allowed to have fun. Just don't let anyone else know.

Please leave your comments below or e-mail them to realsahdla@gmail.com  or tweet @TheRealSAHDLA.

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