Photo Credit: Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright
More fathers are choosing to stay home with their kids, and military dads are no exception. It’s great to see more guys polishing the home front.
Yet the stay-at-home life isn’t the bon-bon eating lifestyle it may seem. In my last year of enlistment, my husband, who was also Navy, decided to make this same transition to watch our 6-month-old son. Later, we would welcome our daughter. So he juggled a toddler and a newborn for a short time. I think the experience may have broken him, but he was officially a stay-at-home dad! We recently published an article that talks about adjusting to civilian life after the military and if you plan on being a stay at home military dad, it’s a must read.
In learning from our mistakes, let me share some suggestions on how to find balance and fulfillment for all stay-at-home dads, even military dads.
1. Enjoy This Time
Not many fathers have the opportunity to spend as much time with their children. Talk, laugh and play with your kids, build forts and have tickle fights. You’ve been on the other side of this: the long hours, weeks, months away. Now is the time for you and the kids to have fun together. As my kids say, “Daddy’s the best!”
2. Have a Back-up Plan
There will be days when you may feel ready to pull your hair out. Recognize your frustration and need for a break. Have a plan in place when this happens – perhaps a neighbor or drop-in childcare with your local daycare to give you a couple of hours of breathing room.
3. Challenge Gender Expectations
You know your buddies are going to crack a joke, it’s coming. Who cares! Feel free to inform that being a stay-at-home dad is NOT easy, and if they want to get a taste of the “sweet life” they are welcome to come by for a day and take over all childcare and household duties while you take a nap. No? Uh-huh, thought so.
4. Veteran Challenges
You were traveling the world, getting deployed and fighting the bad guys. Now you will wake up to the sound of little feet and demands for breakfast. Not so awful; I mean, it could be your NCO instead – yeah, that one, the jerk. You are probably looking forward to the transition from military to stay-at-home dad for lots of reasons: being able to spend time with your kids, being able to be home for six consecutive months, not having to talk to that NCO jerk ever again. But the honest truth is, at some point you are going to miss the big picture world of the military. Make sure you have something for you. Maybe it’ll be college classes, camping or shooting at the range; make time for it and yourself.
Remember, you don’t have to be mom, be you, that’s what your children need.
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