A “House Husband”, or stay-at-home dad is a term used to describe a father who is the main caregiver to his children and is the homemaker of the household.
As family life has changed over the years the stay-at-home dad has become far more common in the school playground, nursery or toddler group. In “modern society” it is becoming more common place to see the wife or female partner working and supporting the family’s financial needs, while the children’s Dad, takes care of the children at home.
Michael McIntyre is incredibly funny about his role when he picks up his child from Nursery and talks about the difference between people with no kids verses couples who have started a family !
But there are some considerations to take into account if you are going to decide to become a SAHD to make it work well.
Tip 1. Discuss the expectations with your partner.
This may sound obvious but it’s a really good idea to discuss realistic expectations together so you avoid misunderstandings! The definition of a “good” house husband depends on which house you live in and what you both mean by that term!
It is also very culture-dependent. Don’t presume that you have the same expectations because you may find out the hard way, through lots of heated arguments and stony silences that you don’t. Sit down and talk it over and I suggest to my clients WRITE THEM DOWN !
What are the things that need to be done every day in your home? Make a list so you both know where you stand and also discuss the standard of cleaning, hoovering or ironing – as I’ve worked with couples who end up having huge rows about their different expectations.
What are the responsibilities in the home? If you are primarily responsible for keeping the house clean, others may take responsibility for cleaning up after themselves: putting dirty laundry in the wash basket, placing things where they belong after they are finished using them, emptying the bins, putting dishes in the dishwasher, etc. If you are also caring for young children during the day, you may be surprised by how difficult it is to also keep up with household tasks. ( This always makes me smile !) Who is responsible for the cooking? Can you share it and you do Monday, Wednesday and Friday – be clear as it helps make things run smoothly. Ask whether it would be better to get a cleaner or a gardener to avoid misunderstandings and to share out the tasks.
Communication is key.
Be aware that housekeeping is not as simple as it sounds. Men without military training may not have the basic skills to accomplish all the cleaning tasks or even know what they are. If you’ve never organised a house, shopped for food and household essentials, cooked or cleaned up because your mother did all these things, your results will not be as effective as your partners. You’ll take longer doing it and with less effective results. If possible, get your partner to show you !
Tip 2. Be Loving, Patient and Tolerant.
Love, patience and tolerance and a huge dose of humour is an important ingredient for a successful household.
I also say that “A smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight !”
Remind your kids and wife or significant other that you love them, often. Pay attention to your wife or partner and children and praise them for what they get right and spent time having fun with them and relaxing and building memories that last a lifetime.
Tip 3. Take Responsibility for the House Hold!
I remind Dads that they are now the “homemaker” of their family. It’s more than just cooking and cleaning as it is their responsibility to make it a home. Making sure the atmosphere is relaxed, safe and fun and the kids are engaged in lovely activities not just popped in front of the TV while you do those nagging “jobs I must get round to”
Tip 4 Look After Your Own Needs Too
Make sure you get out with your male friends to play sport, have a drink or talk about football as you need to keep your life going too away from the family to keep you balanced and healthy.
Tip 5 Plan ahead
Don’t get into the habit of microwave meals so find a recipe book you like and start experimenting! A family meal all together is a great place to spend quality time as a family. Don’t just nag your kids about holding their knife and fork properly and eating their broccoli – chat about the funny things in your day and listen to each other.
Talk to your partner about how to feed your kids healthy snacks and discuss your budgeting for food. Prepackaged anything costs more, so the more home cooking you do, the better the family will eat both in health and in terms of quality.
Tip 6 Remember the Little Things
Pay close attention to little things because to a woman they are often the BIG things! Remember family birthdays, wedding anniversaries and keep your relationship alive and blooming too. It’s important for your children to have a blueprint for a happy relationship.
Tip 7 Manage & Organise Your Time!
It may not feel like a job, but there’s a reason why half the human race did it full time for a living for so long !! It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the wide variety of different tasks that need to be done every day, especially cleaning, tidying, washing up and looking after the kids full time can result in your time being hijacked by time slipping away.
So manage your time.
I have a MP3 all about Work/Life Balance to help you control, manage and allocate your time effectively and easily.
Tip 8 Handle Your Anger & Frustration Positively
Everyone gets angry with their kids at some time or another – it’s normal – it’s healthy – it’s a fact of life. Kids know just what buttons to push and they push them but its important that you know what to do with your anger so you don’t damage your child’s self esteem.
Don’t be afraid to let your anger take its natural course because if you suppress your anger, it can lead to frustration, resentment, bitterness, a sense of hopelessness and depression which is not a good thing for you or your children long term.
How do you release your feelings safely?
One way is to press an imaginary internal ‘pause button’ (like the one on your DVD player) and ask yourself ‘What exactly am I annoyed or angry about?’ This helps you step back from the situation – getting you back in control and helping to calm yourself down. Really imagine the DVD player in your hand as it’s a great way to remember to get back in control.
You will probably discover that you get wound up by the same things over and over again. So start to keep an anger diary so you start to notice your anger triggers. Is it just when you are hungry and tired and running on empty just before dinner? Is it when you go into your daughter’s bedroom for the ninth time to tell her to turn the music down?
Read more here about How To Handle Anger Positively
Tip 9 Show Respect.
Respect is the key energy of any happy family. So when your child or partner does something well tell them how proud you are of their effort or skill or tenacity. Praise them really specifically and watch your relationships flourish.
Tip 10 Enjoy Yourself.
Being a Stay At Home Dad is an incredibly important job and the best way to be the Best Dad in the World is to be happy, fulfilled and relaxed. So be proud of your decision not embarrassed by it and you will bring up happy, confident, well behaved and well balanced kids – now that’s the most important job in the world.