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Throughout our #JoJoPapaBebe campaign, we’ve had different dads guest writing for us. From the single parent dad to the full-time working dad we’ve been hearing about the highs and lows of raising children from a male perspective. Today, we’ve got stay-at-home dad Mark, from Sonny and Luca, who took over primary care duties for his two sons when his wife decided to go back to work.
I’d never intended to be a stay-at-home dad. I’m ashamed to admit I’d never even considered it an option. It came about largely through circumstance. Circumstance and a nonchalant quip.
Janet was coming to the end of back-to-back maternity leave and was suffering from a deficiency in adult interaction. I was being made redundant, and admittedly may have been distracted by some football on TV when I apparently suggested we swap roles?
Fast forward a few weeks and Janet had left for her first day in her new job, leaving our two toddlers and I sat around the breakfast table, all three of us silently questioning who was in charge. Something that if I’m honest, to this day still hasn’t been fully answered.
I’ll not lie, it was an eye opener. Literally. Prised open by a one-year old at 5am whilst his two-year old brother dribbled the theme tune to Peppa Pig into my ear via a kazoo.
I’ve heard a lot of stay-at-home parents talk about the need for a routine, and maybe I’m the exception that proves the rule, but the lack thereof was for me what made it so much fun. OK, so we needed to get washed and dressed
before Janet got home from work in the morning, but from then on the day was ours. Free to do and go where we wanted.
And that’s exactly what we did. Once we’d braved our first playgroup and discovered that being the only dad wasn’t as scary as I’d first imagined, there was no stopping us.
We tested (to their limit) the ‘child friendly’ claims of our local museums and art galleries.
We sang and danced at baby and toddler groups, or at least I did while they looked on incredulously, with a sense of shame way beyond their years.
We built dens and spaceships, went on adventures and picnics, and when all else failed, sought sanity in the sanctuary of the park.
I’ll not pretend it wasn’t hard work. My wrinkles and receding hairline are testament to the more difficult times, and weekends did occasionally feel like unpaid overtime, but what made being a stay-at-home dad so special was that we all learnt. Together.
To spend quality time in their most formative years, to share in so many of their milestones, and to see their personalities develop and flourish is something money can’t buy.
I also learnt that a what you think is a weeks worth of craft ideas will barely see you through to lunchtime on Monday, and that unless you’re related to Stig of the Dump, what Mr Maker says you’ll need you’ll almost certainly not have.
Being the stay-at-home parent has provided some of the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life. And that initial nonchalant quip, one of the best I ever made.