From an outsider’s perspective, being a stay-at-home dad can seem like a cushy job. All you need to do is watch the little ones and make sure they’re properly cared for, right? Who wouldn’t choose to be a stay-at-home father over the daily grind of a 9-5 job?
If only being a stay-at-home parent were so simple. As rewarding as being the primary caregiver may be, there is far more to the job description than you might think. There is a mounting list of chores involving both cooking and cleaning, the dog needs to be walked and you’re putting out small fires (figuratively, and sometimes literally) throughout the day.
Not to mention that you’re doing all of this with at least one small child running around and demanding your attention. As a new stay-at-home dad (aka, SAHD), how do you manage it all?
Don’t worry. Plenty of moms have been in your shoes and have discovered many tips and tricks for getting everything done.
Here are just a few of their secrets that will help you check off your daily to-do list:
1. Write down five must-do tasks for each day.
Creating a huge list of things to do is setting yourself up for failure. On the other hand, not writing anything down will have you stumbling around trying to remember what you need to do next.
Find a happy medium and write down five must-do chores that you must get done by the end of the day. Put it in the same location (the refrigerator is a great spot) so you never lose it.
Even if you’re having a bad day and get behind on things, you’ll know that you checked off the most important tasks on your to-do list.
2. Go with the flow.
If you haven’t yet learned that babies and toddlers don’t care about your schedule, you soon will.
Many new parents have tried to stick to a rigid schedule, only to be interrupted by sudden diaper changes, feeding, comforting and other demands from their little ones.
Give up control and structure now by simply working around your children’s immediate needs.
3. Keep an eye out for free activities.
Racking your brain for things to do with the kids? Stay on top of local events and kid-friendly activities going on in your neighbourhood. Both you and the kids will enjoy getting out of the house and switching up the routine.
For free, kid-friendly events, check out your local library. Libraries are amazing resources for kids
and usually have story time and crafts for children of all ages.
4. Get organized.
Although getting organized is much harder than it sounds, it’s also essential to streamlining your day-to-day activities and getting things done around the house.
After you’ve tackled the five must-do chores on your daily list, consider setting a timer for 15, 20 or 30 minutes and begin organizing one spot. Just be sure to set a reasonable amount of time for the specific task. No one can clean a messy coat closet or sort through baby clothes in 15 minutes.
5. Start sleep training.
If your baby is a few months old, they are able to start sleep training. It’s incredibly beneficial to have a baby that you can put down in a crib, fully awake, and then have them fall asleep within minutes.
Sleep training is simply teaching your baby how to fall asleep and stay asleep on a regular schedule. Not only will you and your partner get more sleep, but you’ll also be able to get more things done throughout the day.
6. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep.
When the little ones are taking a nap or playing independently, use the opportunity to prep meals for both you and your children. Meal prepping not only saves you time, it’s also extremely helpful for keeping you on track with healthy eating.
Start creating a list of recipes featuring healthy and easy-to-make meals. If you’re meal prepping for yourself, consider recipes that are also fast (such as mini egg muffins).
You’ll be grateful for healthy meals that you can eat on-the-go or quickly stuff in your mouth before running after your toddler.
7. Join a group.
Who says that you need to do it all by yourself? Joining a group dedicated to new dads or SAHDs is a great way to meet new people and potentially gain a valuable support network.
In addition to helping you solve some of the typical day-to-day parenting problems you’ll face, meeting up with fellow SAHDs is also critical for making you feel less alone.
After all, being a stay-at-home dad is a unique experience that can be lonely at times. Every parent needs people they can talk to who can listen and validate their struggles.
8. Make sure you get days off.
Every smart manager knows that the key to maximizing their employee’s productivity is giving them some much-needed time off. As a stay-at-home dad, you deserve time off, too!
Take a break from all the potty training, meal prepping and clean-up by hiring a babysitter regularly. While you might feel guilty hiring someone to watch your little ones, it will be worth it.
You need a break to preserve your sanity and be the absolute best you can be for your kids.
Finding Confidence as a Stay-at-Home Dad
As you can see, being a stay-at-home parent is a gruelling job that isn’t all fun and games. Stay-at-home parents work tirelessly throughout the day with cooking, cleaning, feeding, cuddling, playing, teaching, supervising—you get the picture.
Although your first day will probably feel daunting, just know that other dads have walked in your shoes. Soon enough, you’ll get the hang of things and feel confident in your new role as a SAHD.
Are you a Stay-at-Home Dad? Or the career-driven wife to one? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.
What time-saving, sanity-preserving tips do you have as a Stay-at-Home Dad? Or for a SAHD?