Giving up your professional life to be a stay-at-home dad can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. You get to be the primary caregiver for your children, and you get to watch them grow into the interesting, wonderful people they will be and get to know them better than anyone. However, giving up your identity as a professional can be difficult – even more so for men who do not traditionally give up their careers to stay home with children.
Spending each day in the company of children can make anyone – male or female – start to lose touch with their identity. Instead of having stimulating conversations in which they share their opinions about movies and politics and other subjects, they learn Backyardigans songs and talk about poopy.
You don’t have to decide between your children and yourself. Here are a few tips for how you can maintain your identity (and your sanity) as a stay-at-home dad:
Get Time away from the Kids
When you spend all your time with your children, it can be difficult to separate your identity from who you are when you are with them. It’s important to get time to yourself so that you can connect with other things that you love to do. Use this time to practice a hobby. Use it to exercise. Use it to volunteer.
The things you do with your free time away from the kids can help you connect with the things that made you excited and fulfilled before you had children, helping you to maintain your identity.
Engage in Intellectually Stimulating Activities
A babbling baby is adorable, but the lack of stimulating conversation all day can make your mind foggy and instill a sense of ennui. Just like your children need stimulation to help them grow, you need stimulation to help you keep progressing as a person and to maintain your identity.
Take whatever opportunities you can to engage in intellectually stimulating activities, such as watching the news, reading a good book, or watching a good movie. Call a friend and have a debate about topics that are in the news. Write a blog about something you find interesting.
Socialize with Friends
Your children may be the most important thing in your life, but spending time only with them for most of the day can make you lose touch with who you were before they came along. Spend time with friends when you can to help you remember who you were. Do the things you did before you had kids, like go to a concert or have a dinner party. Even sitting in a coffee shop and having a good chat can help you to maintain the relationship and to maintain that identity you had outside of caring for your children.
Spend Time Alone with Your Partner
Your relationship with your partner is the most important thing in your life after your children. Make sure you nurture that relationship by spending time alone together without the kids – and without talking about the kids. You can go for a date night, or you can just spend time together at the end of the night after the kids have gone to sleep.
Spending time alone with your partner can help you to reconnect with each other and to reconnect with the person you are outside of being a dad.
Work Part-Time or Freelance
If it’s possible, working part-time or freelancing from home can help you to maintain a professional identity while you are staying home with your children. You can work around their schedules, such as during nap time or in the evenings when they are sleeping. If they are in pre-school or grade school, you can work during their class time. Working part-time or freelancing can also help you to more easily transition back into the work force once your children are older, if you so choose.
Being a stay-at-home dad can be one of the most important things you ever do with your life. However, you may feel like you lose a bit of who you are when you spend all day every day with children, who do not provide the same level of stimulation as other adults. You can use these tips to help you maintain your identity so that you continue to feel good about the relationship you have with yourself while also being the best dad you can be for your kids.
Do you stay home with your children? Tell us how you maintain your sense of identity in the comments!
About the Author:
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance blog and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching weekend cooking schools. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.