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dad doing childcare full time

(16 Posts)
squirmyworm Tue 27-Jan-04 21:34:32

Hi there...when I go back to work in a couple of months time, my dh is going to look after our ds. He has got a great relationship with our son and says he is looking forward to being at home with him (he's given up work already) but I'm interested in hearing advice from anyone else who's been through this. Specifically, is it difficult for men to find local support and friendship when they are looking after small babies? how can we overcome this? are there specific problems he is likely to face that I wouldn't? all thoughts and any tips gratefully received.

BearintheBigBlueHous Tue 27-Jan-04 23:41:46

I've been doing it for nearly two years now and it's the best job I've ever done (hardest and knackeringest too, mind).

The best tip I can give him is not to get hung up on being a man doing a what has traditionally been a woman's role and politely ignore anyone who does (get hung up about it). Like any parent on their own during weekdays, building a routine involving toddler groups and planned activities aids sanity-retention. Toddler groups can be daunting if you let them when you're the only guy there, but mucking in and being seen to be someone who loves playing, interacting and just being with his child can break barriers and get you accepted. Good relationships with friends from DW's antenatal group have also helped me. There are some home-dad (that's what they're calling themselves -at least it's better than SAHD [stay-at-home-dad]) groups in some areas, but I'm not sure that isn't a bit sexist - like Mother and Baby Rooms.....

Re Mother and Baby Rooms - sorry but if the babychanging facilities are in the Ladies, I use them. Never had a problem yet.

There are guys who crave male support/friendship while homedadding. I find a couple of swift halves of an evening with a mate or two fills that gap. During the day, it's generally more helpful for everyone if I'm talking to someone who can tell me what she uses for her dd's nappyrash, or why she thinks her ds isn't sleeping at the minute. And surprisingly there are some Mums who like talking about footie and rugby!

Homedad is useful for bloke-to-bloke advice if he needs it.

It sounds really trite, but even now it's still a real privilege to be able to do the primary-care-giver thing, so he should make the most of it. And if you have any more dd/ds's, and if funds stretch, you get the delights of doubling up during the next maternity leave - which we're doing at the minute - I'll leave it up to you whether you look on that as a bonus.

Oh and the best advice he can get on childcare is here on this site, so daily web access is imperative.

If he wants to talk directly to me about it, I'd be more than happy to do so.

Good luck.


squirmyworm Wed 28-Jan-04 00:07:21

Bear, that's just the most fab message. Thanks so much - really made our day. V useful stuff says dh (esp about M and B rooms and toddler groups - Homedad also looks interesting). He's not got a user name yet but is about to so may well be back to you directly. We're doubling up at the mo and LOVING it - such a treat isn't it?
Many thanks and speak again soon no doubt
sq x

littlerach Wed 28-Jan-04 08:23:51

We have 1 or 2 dads at toddlers, and it is nice to have male input into such a female dominated atmposphere. nd the children often make a bee-line for them!!!!
My DH would love to have this opportunity.
Good luck.xx

debster Wed 28-Jan-04 09:44:17

Hi squirmy - my partner has been a SAHD for the last year almost. We have a 5y ds and 16m dd so dd was about 5m when I went back to work and dp took over. He does enjoy it but did find it difficult meeting other like minded Dads. It wasn't until ds started school last September that he realised there were other Dads looking after the kids, albeit part time. We don't know any other Dad who is a full time SAHD. I suppose you could say that he hasn't had the same relationship with other Dads like I did when I looked after my ds when he was a baby but then again, most of our friends (met through ds) have now had second children around the same age as dd so dp had a readymade network of parents to talk to. Not much help to your dh I know. I personally think that our children have benefited enormously from having dp at home and I hope they grow up to understand that looking after children can be done by either parent.

This probably hasn't been much help but good on your dh and I hope he has a wonderful time.

twiglett Wed 28-Jan-04 09:46:37

message withdrawn

debster Wed 28-Jan-04 09:48:16

That should read "he hasn't had the same relationship with other Dads like I did WITH OTHER MUMS". I didn't have relationships with other Dads - honest!!

FairyMum Wed 28-Jan-04 09:56:17

I really wish we had had dads in our toddler group! I have got personal experience as my dad was at home with us for a few years when we were kids. I think my relationship with men as well as with my dad has benefitted hugely from this!! I don't know what it was like for my dad to meet other parents as this was in the 70s, so quite unusal for a man to stay at home with the kids.

aloha Wed 28-Jan-04 10:15:29

There are quite a lot of dads who at least work pt and share childcare who go along to activities near me (S London). I notice dads tend to prefer stuff like Tiny Gym to the more 'tea and biscuits' kind of mums groups. The ones I know seem to have a very lively social life with mums and get into a scene quite quickly. Parks are good places to meet up. If you go at roughly the same times you will see the same faces and can start to chat about facilities for kids etc and plug into a network like that. I think the old stereotypes about male and female roles are gradually vanishing - or at least in funky S London, anyway

Blu Wed 28-Jan-04 10:39:50

Aha, Twiglett, so it's YOU who's been coming on to my DP when he's out with DS!!!!
My DP looks after DS one day a week, and feels very happy at all the groups; The play workers at one o Clock clubs tend to be very suportive of Dads. He doesn't tend to get brought into the ChummyMummy chats in the cafe after groups, BUT he has always been very welcome at the NCT tea group, and we all know each other as couples now, anyway, so it might be a good idea to look one of those out in your area.

slug Wed 28-Jan-04 12:50:47

DH has been a SAHD since the sluglet was a year old. I can honestly say that it was the best thing we ever did. He was depressed in his job and I was depressed without one. So even though he earns more than me, swapping roles has meant a much happier household.

Be prepared for strange looks in the playground. Dh describes them as either A) ahhh..poor helpless male, must give him some help. or B) male with small girl - call the police, paedophile alert. On the upside, dh's pulling power is greatly increased with the addition of a small pretty girl. (just as long as he dosen't act on it IYKWIM) I've been noticing more and more full time dads lately, so you may be surprised at how easy it is. Dh has a favourite, child friendly pub which he arranges to meet friends in occasionally, he also arranges outing with a friend of his, with a child of similar age to ours, who lives on the opposite side of London. The go to places like the Science museum, then use each other for support as they crash the baby changing facilities in the Ladies.

Having been at home with the child myself, I'm very aware of what is reasonable. I don't expect a clean house or a cooked dinner when I come home. He does the shopping and the rest of the housework is shared out between us. As long as they're both happy, who cares if the house is a tip?

I've also been very careful to make time for him to spend on his own. In practical terms this usually means during the weekends, when the sluglet has her lunchtime sleep, he disappears off to the pub/market/CD shop. It doesn't always work that way, but I'm convinced that "me" time is important for keeping your sense of adult self.

Finally, Dh still works occasionally (during the school holidays while I'm at home) and keeps up his professionaly qualifications by attending meetings. He says it keeps him sane, brings in a little money, and reminds him why it is he hated work so much in the first place.

alibubbles Wed 28-Jan-04 12:56:19

I know hard it must be for him, we have a couple of male childminders in our group and some of the other parents find it most odd.

Though my DH works from home, he has been very quiet business wise, and I have handed over most of my teenage son to him, discipline, getting to school, making the packed lunch etc, might sound small things but is a massive help to me. I know that our son has benefited enormously by my DH being on call, especially through the difficult teenage bit. They have a very close relationship, indeed with DD too. He gets the news first hand now, as they couldn't always be bothered to repeat it later and DH really relishes that!

dinosaur Wed 28-Jan-04 12:58:17

My DH has been a stay at home dad since I went back to work after maternity leave with DS1.

His experience has been very positive. I don't think he's ever felt unwelcome at One O'Clock Clubs, parent and toddler groups etc. He used to take first DS1 and then DS2 to toddler music groups, although he was sometimes the only bloke there.

I think that dads get more sympathy than mums - DH was getting off the bus with DS1 and DS2 recently and some lady was clucking over them, going "Ooh, I don't know how you manage..." I'm sure she wouldn't have batted an eyelid if it had been a mum on her own with two kids!

We live in London which maybe makes things easier. On holiday in Minorca last year we were chatting to a couple from Hertfordshire and the bloke just pissed himself laughing at the idea of DH being a SAHD. But that's the only time we've ever had a reaction like that - to our faces anyway!

One thing your DH will get fed up with - is male friends of his who don't have kids thinking he has a really easy time of it!

dinosaur Wed 28-Jan-04 13:01:55

Just as an aside - BearInTheBigBlueHouse - my DS2 says that DH is the Bear! (I get to be Treelo, although DS1 says I am more like Ojo - make of it what you will).

motherinferior Wed 28-Jan-04 13:29:07

I'm just looking in on this thread and wanted to say what a lovely one it is and what an antidote to some accounts of fathers who do bog-all.

Hope it all goes well for you, squirmy. And dinosaur, *I* want to be Ojo!

Marina Thu 29-Jan-04 11:30:57

Hear hear MI, I think it's really great. Good luck to all the home-dads out there. We both work outside the home but my dh is a fab hands-on parent, especially with our second child.

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