Are they for real? Honestly, I am still surprised that the change in gender roles is actually happening in society. And before I begin with my article, I would like to congratulate all the Stay at Home Dads and Husbands (SAHD/SAHH) for breaking the stereotypical gender roles and respecting gender equality.
I am sure it takes a lot to stand by your choice of staying at home and take care of your family, while your wife is working, especially in this patriarchy driven society. But trust me, you are, ‘sowing the seeds of gender equality now, for it to reap well tomorrow’ for the next generation- your children.
There are several men in the past who may have gone unnoticed but have set powerful examples for the generation then. Few of them are Richard Morrissey husband of CEO of Newton Investment Management in London, chose to stay home when his wife was climbing the ladder of success. Our very own homeland person, author and writer Chetan Bhagat who quit his job to take care of his twins, while his wife was having a growing career. Raj Kishan Nooyi husband of Chairman and CEO of Pepsico Indra Nooyi too was one of the trailblazers in this role.
So, boys out there you aren’t alone. You have pretty good examples and inspirations to look upto. I am sure there are plenty more in this world who aren’t part of the traditional breadwinner system.
How to survive social criticism?
Social unacceptance is one of the biggest reasons for a mental breakdown and feels morally low. It is still a very new concept for patriarchal influenced society. Therefore, criticism is likely. The harsh comments like – ‘Oh so you are the house husband and your wife is the breadwinner?’ or ‘the man is supposed to take care of the financial needs of the house and his wife.’ To extremes there is straight comparison – ‘so you are the woman in the house and your wife is the man of the house.’
Stand firmly on your decision. Don’t affect yourself with these comments. Don’t lose your heart. You chose to support your wife’s dream and ambitions, so remind yourself that it is the right decision.
In gender equality how does it matter who is the breadwinner, as long as you someone is earning for the family. Similarly, there is no mandate that only a man has to take the responsibility of finances- well, women are sound in finances :p- however, by being a stay at home father or husband you are still taking care of the needs of your children, wife and house.
Last but not least, by exchanging gender roles you don’t get stuck into gender comparison. You are sharing your responsibilities equally to build your family. Why make comparison and set a specific work for specific gender only.
What are the must-do things to be a happy stay at home dad?
Well, let’s come to reality now. Being a house-dad is as a full-time work as of house-moms. Therefore, the dads you have to do exactly what may be your moms followed when they were in the role of housewives. Breaking down all the tasks of the day carefully and strategically so that nothing is left undone.
However, here you don’t have to take the pressure of completing each and every assignment you might have marked for yourself in the to-do list.
1. To-do list:
Have a plan ready. Make a to-do list beforehand, so that your next day is less messy and confusing. It will ensure you to stay away from any kind of mismanagement. Also, be a reminder for you to complete the works.
2. Step-out daily:
As it is suggested for stay at home moms to have one outdoor activity daily, so is adviced to our stay at home dads. Pick-up groceries, go to the playground with your children, step out for a random ride to any store or walk. Definitely, you can take your children along.
3. Look out for daddy-connects:
Desperately hunt for more daddys and connect with them, especially stay at home dads. You can plan day outs with your kids, same playtime- while the daddys can catch up on some boy talks. Most importantly it will help you share your problems and have conversations that can bring a solution to it. It will boost your morals, gain confidence and make you feel worthy of the decision you took.
Share stories of inspiring men who chose to stay home, as their wives work.
4. Connect with moms:
Since it might be new for many dads, experts in this field can always be helpful. The moms out there can help you with all sorts of information. It can be about your baby’s changing sleeping pattern or health-related issues or learning ability or feeding problems etc.
5. Pick up hobbies:
Make some time for yourself throughout the day. Choose a suitable time from the day, it could be when your kid is sleeping or isn’t around. Take up reading, blogging, listening to music, even better start gardening if you have space in your yard or balcony, cooking etc. whatever makes you feel calm and rejuvenated.
Make it a point to spend some time of the day with yourself. It will help you to self-contemplate and relax. And there is always a need of self-time.
6. Share non-childcare responsibilities:
Well, childcare is one of the toughest tasks which can at times get tedious. While you are all day home taking care of your child, doesn’t mean you are liable to take up the task to upkeep the house. Yes, whatever you wish to do or can do, please do. But at any point you feel, it is burdening you and has become stressful on your health, then please put your foot down.
7. Live in the moment:
As it is said, ‘one must cherish every moment they live’. It applies to all parents. Soon when your kids get older they will have less time to spend with you or sit down and make stories. And for SAHDs, you have chosen to spend quality time in raising your children. They why not enjoy them?
Have fun and enjoy every part of the day when you are with your children. I know there might be moments when you are super-irritated by your children or they have just pushed you against the wall. Yet, my advice stands strong.
Watch cartoons, make stories, read books or comics, play or take up sports etc. Just be there for your kid.
8. Manage your temper:
Dads have a history of extremism; either too strict or too cool. The best parenting would be balancing them properly. Although you are the new dads, so temper management won’t be a big problem. But your super-cool status might land you up into some trouble in disciplining your child. So be careful there.
Feeding is a humongous task, especially if you have a child who doesn’t eat at all. You can’t feed him/her whatever tastes good to them. Once in a fortnight will do, but daily? It’s a big no.
So what do you do? Makeup stories, sing, dance, distract them or make them eat with other children if there are any around. For a little older kids make them watch good children videos where the kids are shown to eat. In short, be patient.
You can’t lose your temper here. Similarly, you can’t be too strict with your children to discipline them. Find a midway.
The concept of ‘Stay at Home Dad’ sounds as cool as it is to actually be one. Definitely you will catch several eyes and ears around you when you announce your status of being a house dad. The appreciation wouldn’t be less for this role. But there will be a lot of criticism too. Because we are still developing as a society. And the concept of house dad is still new.
By standing up strong, supporting your partner honestly and holding up to your principles will keep you unaffected. One of the good parenting lessons to children is taught by the parents themselves. You will set up an example of breaking the gender stereotype roles and what does it mean to believe in gender equality.