5 Things EVERY Stay At Home Dad is SICK of hearing

Oh dear! The world, it would seem, isn’t quite ready for the concept of stay at home dads.

Many people I’ve met are totally shocked by the concept; holding the notion in the type of contempt usually reserved for door-to-door sales people and those who’ve decided to give up deodorant.

As a SAHD, I’m beginning to feel like a Betamax owner in a VHS world – ask your mum. To be fair, I do try to be quite ‘zen’ about the stupidity I encounter daily from members of the public. But there’s only so much idiocy one man can take…

Here’s 5 things EVERY SAHD is SICK of hearing…

1: “Are you Babysitting today?” 

Deep breath. Count to 10… Or maybe 100. Think of a pebble in a stream…

Ladies and gents, it’s not ‘Babysitting’… it’s PARENTING!!!

Why do people, when they see a man pushing a pram, assume he’s engaged in childcare at the same level of proficiency as the 16-year-old neighbour who occasionally comes round to sit in your front room (while the kids are asleep upstairs) so you can nip out for a curry with your other half?

‘Parenting’ is a demanding, committed and important activity.

‘Babysitting’ is being paid to watch ‘Take Me Out’ and eat Pringles.

OH AND, FOR THE RECORD, YOU DO NOT ‘BABYSIT’ YOUR OWN KIDS. 

For those of you who think I’m being extreme, why not think of it this way: next time you pass a building site, why not find the fore(person) – busily at work – and ask: “Are you doing a bit of DIY?” See what reaction you get.

2: “Taking the EASY option, are you?”

I’ve genuinely had people say this to me.

The presumption is that being a SAHD is the equivalent of being a minor member of the royal family or working in PR – in that it’s easy, merely a case of showing up and looking the part.

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, even remotely easy about looking after a child.

Childcare is nowhere near easy, it’s not even within a commutable distance of ‘easy’. Juggling chainsaws while attempting to train sheep to play the clarinet is ‘easy’ compared to parenting.

To say anything else is to show you have no idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t decide to become a SAHD in order to take it easy. I became a SAHD because it was (holistically) the best option for my family.

3: “Do you change nappies?”

Nappies?

What are they? (For our American cousins, ‘nappies’ are diapers.)

No, I don’t change nappies. I just let them become fuller and fuller until either

i) They explode

ii) I persuade a passing woman to do it for me.

Of course I change nappies.

How else can you look after a child without doing this simple task? I’ve changed thousands and it hasn’t turned me into a female yet.

Seriously people, how on earth has our society get this far while allowing it to be a common belief that men shouldn’t need to deal with baby poo? Men will proudly announce to me: “I had seven children, never changed a nappy in my life.” As if this is something to proud of. Pathetic. 

4: “You’re brave!*”

This is a surprisingly common (unwanted) commentary on my position. If nothing else, it shows a common misunderstanding of the notion of bravery. For me being brave is taking on a risk or discomfort that you didn’t cause or anticipate in order to put the needs of others first. The arrival of my son wasn’t a surprise to me, in fact I was very much part of his inception. Looking after my child is a VERY ordinary task – or at least it should be. So why am I considered brave? Is it because I appear happy to be involved in activities traditionally synonymous with women? Or is it that I’m willing to demonstrate in public that I’m prepared to parent my own child?

Parenting requires no bravery. There are brave parents out there, but that’s a different matter. Doing a basic duty to your offspring, no matter what your gender is, should be seen as run-of-the-mill.

I long for the day when this is the case.

*BTW the last person to say this to me was wearing a baseball cap that made him look an utter twat. If one of us was displaying bravery, it wasn’t me.

5: “Oh…”

I get a lot of this. A funereal ‘Oh…’ The type of response that in other circumstances would be followed by: “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “He was never right for you.”

Essentially, people respond to my saying that I’m a SAHD with the same type of tone you’d give if on receipt of bad news. The assumption is that some kind of perfect storm of life has occurred leaving me in the utterly undesirable position of providing childcare. As a litmus test, I listened in on some female friends telling others they currently full time carers to their young children. In these cases smiles and congratulations are given.

Yet I get “Oh…” as if I’ve just announced to the neighbours I’m trading in the house cat for a tiger. People look concerned, then worried and then make excuses to get away.

***

So there are my 5. Some may think I’m being oversensitive. They’re entitled to their opinion.

Perhaps I am?

What I do know is that as our government pushes to make shared parental leave a ‘thing’, men won’t take up the role in any great numbers until real change to the way SAHD’s are viewed (finally) happens.

The Out Of Depth Dad

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Specs, Hugs and Bacon Rolls: The anatomy of a dad’s birthday

Suddenly the lights go out, causing a frisson of excitement to run through the air and down your spine. Next, by pure magic, a flame flickers into existence. This spark warmly illuminates the faces of a gaggle of friends and family, whose grins are only bettered by your own. Then, just as suddenly, the drone of ‘Happy Birthday to you…” begins, but nobody cares about the singing. Why? Because we’re all imagining how good the cake will taste.

That’s how it used to be, every year (like clockwork) your birthday would come around and for 24 hours you’d be at the centre of everyone’s attention. A little moment in the spotlight.

As a kid, birthdays were everything. They were better than Christmas mainly because you didn’t have to share top billing with anyone – the stuff of dreams. I remember looking to my parents, confused to see that they didn’t share this enthusiasm for their own birthdays. Why wasn’t it something they lived for? Why didn’t they count down the days, for months, eager to breath that unique birthday air?

Today, as a parent myself, the mystery has been solved.

Suddenly a cry rings out, causing a shudder of tiredness to run up your spine and take root in the bags under your eyes. Next, probably by magic, your feet find the floor and you question y our existence. The door opens and a night light illuminates the face of a crying toddler, you smile broadly – pushing back your own desire to cry. Then, tot in arms, you collapse into the chair and break into a droning “Incy Wincy Spider…” as you look at the clock. It’s 3 am. But the tot doesn’t care about the time. Why? You get your answer as the full flavour of the nappy he’s just filled wafts towards you. Happy Birthday.

From the moment a baby arrives, birthdays (for the dads in the family) change forever.

Here’s my Out of Depth Dad guide to what to expect from every 365th day of your life:

  • Lots of hugs When you’re a daddy, hugs from your little ones become the new currency. So expect a lot of them on your birthday. Unlike some of the presents you may have been used to in the past, hugs don’t make you look smart or get you drunk. They do, however, have the ‘lovely’ effect of leaving little snot stains on your clothes.
  • It’s another day It’s important to remember that, although it’s your birthday, the machine needs to keep on working. It can’t stop. Washing needs to be done, food needs be cooks, nappies need to be changed and kids need to be occupied. You don’t get a day off for good behaviour. Your tots aren’t a little bit easier to deal with because it’s your birthday. In fact, there’s a high likelihood that they’ll be more demanding than usual. Coughs, colds, the bubonic plague, your birthday is likely to be the day your young ‘un gets them. That’s life.
  • Hang up the hangover Alcohol, for many of us, is a hugely important part of birthday celebrations. This may be something you’d like to reconsider now there’s a tot (or two) on the scene. As enjoyable as a few bevvies with your mates down the pub (assuming you have time to go) – they will never be worth the utter nightmare that is dealing with a toddler when you have a hangover. If there is a Hell, I’m certain a special corner of it will be filled with hungover residents trying to placate irate two-year-olds with Postman Pat videos.
  • Cake is for kids When you’re a dad, the concept of ‘your’ changes. Let me put this more clearly. Items may well be tagged with the word ‘Daddy’s’ in order to give them a title (‘Daddy’s Phone’, ‘Daddy’s Shoes’, ‘Daddy’s Coat’) but the name isn’t entirely correct. All of these items do belong to daddy, unless the tot wants them. The same goes for cake – birthday or otherwise. Notionally it’s ‘Daddy’s Cake’, however unveiling the cake is a show put on for the tot, who will (no doubt) maul it with grubby hands.
  • Moving from presents to gifts Presents are something we all like to receive, of that’s there’s no doubt. There comes a’ time, however, when receiving the latest stereo, DVD or He-Man action figure no longer holds the thrill it once did (Or perhaps we’re no allowed to admit to this). So ‘presents’ disappear and are replaced by ‘gifts’. Ties, socks and shirts become the perfect ‘Daddy’ gifts. This movement from ‘presents’ to ‘gifts’ can be seen in the following way: if you undo the wrapping paper, then excitedly open a box shouting ‘Wow!’, it’s a present. If you lay it flat, saying ‘That’s lovely, it’ll go with TBC”, it’s a gift.
  • Specs appeal Each birthday, as you rummage through your card(s), the increased need for spectacles (to the read the messages written within) underlines the aging process. The addition of the word ‘Daddy’ makes you at least a decade older than your actual age implies. If you can’t find your specs to look at the cards you’ve truly aged. If you can’t see the cards, even with the specs on, you either need a new prescription or new friends.
  • Gorging on bacon rolls As the years go by, the need to mark your birthday with something selfish and unhealthy increases – it’s an important counterpoint to your life as a skivvy throughout the rest of the year. In the past cream cakes and import lager were the naughty treats of choice. These days a bacon roll (or a similarly cholesterol loaded food) is favourite. Greasy morsels, often eaten the day after your birthday, these breakfast indulgences are perfect to counteract the hangover you were far too responsible to get.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ONE AND ALL!

The Out Of Depth Dad

We Don’t Need Another Hero – The Good Men Project

I firmly believe that we, as a society, need to find new role models for our boys and young men. We need to do this quickly. Traditionally, we’ve expected boys to look up to movie stars, sportsmen, musicians, politicians, and the business elite. Yet, the starry ensemble has repeatedly shown itself unworthy of this honor.

Our designated role models wantonly display either ignorance of or ambivalence to the didactic element of their elevated status. They willingly take the benefits that society is happy to pile upon them, yet few, it would seem, ever give proper consideration to the multitude of responsibilities they have to those who model overtly themselves upon them.

Perhaps it’s unfair to expect so much from these Alpha males. Introspection is not a trait usually associated with this personality type. Essentially, masculinity in our society is in crisis because we’ve asked our young to emulate those who consistently exhibit some of the gender’s worst traits.

Kind, considerate, inclusive, sensible, thoughtful men do not make exciting heroes – not on screen, at least. They do, however, make great role models for men and would, if allowed, do wonders for our society.

via We Don’t Need Another Hero – The Good Men Project

I’m pleased to be featured once more in The Good Men Project.

Please do have a read of the link above. As a society we need to change what we expect from men, or we will continue to suffer the consequences.

superhero-costumes-for-men

Chris McGuire

Outofdepthdad.com

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Welcome to LEVEL TWO. Life with the arrival of baby number 2 | Dad life | Mas & Pas

To put it another way, you’re at that point in a computer game, the one where you think you’ve nearly finished. You’ve mastered the gameplay, you know all the little tricks and strategies that lowly beginners miss. You’re feeling pretty smug, then suddenly – rather than being congratulated for completing the game – a big ‘Level TWO’ sign drops into view! Within moments you discover that ‘Level TWO’ is much harder than ‘Level ONE’. This isn’t a game anymore.

via Welcome to LEVEL TWO. Life with the arrival of baby number 2 | Dad life | Mas & Pas

Check out the great new parenting website masandpas.com for my latest piece about having a second child.

Chris

The Out of Depth Dad

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Soft Play Is Hard! – Published in The Good Men Project

The first thing that hits you is the smell; a sickly mixture of Haribo, vomit and antibacterial spray. I knew there was no time to dawdle. We made a bee-line through the blur of children – zooming around like souped-up Speedy Gonzaleses – to our allotted area. I’d been pre-warned, you see, by some soft play veterans, to go straight to the ‘0-4’ zone and avoid the ‘4+’ section like the plague. Good advice. Even from a distance, the ‘big kids’ area looked like a vision of hell – only louder, day-glo and with more of an emphasis on slides.

via Soft Play Is Hard! – The Good Men Project

There are only two types of parents in this world. Those who hate soft play and those who don’t know what all the fuss is about.

I’m in the former category. Why do I hate it so much? Because it’s a hot house environment where your sole job is to defend your kid from the sugar-fueled, unattended offspring of those who don’t know what all the fuss is about.

That’s what makes it SO DIFFICULT: parents who leave any responsibility for their feral children at the door.

My God, is soft play hard. 

For more of my thoughts, have a read of post above.

Chris

The Out Of Depth Dad

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