Orlando Bloom, David Beckham, Brad Pitt are just three of the celebrity dads that are regularly spotted out and about with their broods. From pushing the latest must-have stroller, to carrying their tot around in a fashionable sling or showing off clobber for kids, these dads are the epitome of playground cool.
In fact, fathers everywhere are playing a more active role than ever in the care of their children and the latest figures in the UK show that 10 per cent of primary caregivers are men. Figures recently released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that last year in Britain, there were 227,000 stay at home dads between September and November of 2012 – an increase of 19,000 compared to the same period the year previously.
The change in trend is likely down to men losing their jobs due to the economic downturn, or because those staying at home made more sense if their partner was a high earner on a bigger wage than them.
Being a stay at home dad is hard work and is not like any other normal job. So it is good for all stay at home dads to get whatever help and advice they can from those that have experience in doing it. What follows is some advice and top tips for surviving and thriving as a modern stay at home dad.
Children need routine and consistency. You have to be consistent in the way you behave, the way you discipline and the way you do things day-to-day. If children don’t know what is happening or what to expect they will get very confused and upset. This will lead to bad behavior, irritable tempers and very frustrated children.
By having a regular routine and definite rules your children will understand what is going on and will know what is expected of them. Of course the routine is not set in stone and doesn’t need to be exact to the minute, but you do need a general schedule for each day and to keep certain things like meal times, bath times and bedtimes at roughly the same time every day.
2.) Get Out
Being stuck in the house with children all day every day is enough to make you go stir-crazy, so try to get out of the house as much as you can. Kids love getting outside and there are loads of places you can take them to such as parks, play centres, shops, libraries, museums, swimming pools, toddler groups, children’s gyms, farms and zoos.
The benefits of getting out are great, it means some exercise for you and the children, lots of stimulation, learning new things, having new experiences and meeting and interacting with people. Also children will learn how to behave in the outside world and will watch how others behave. The other big advantage of going out is that there is a lot less mess in the house to clear up when you get back.
As well as getting out of the house it is also important to meet and socialize with other people as well. Children like to play with other kids and they also learn a lot about how to behave within a group, how to share, how to make friends and how to look after themselves.
It is also good for you to get some adult company and to talk to people who are having the same experiences and problems. Although it can be quite daunting to go into a predominantly female environment, such as a parents and tots group, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. Attitudes are changing and many groups are very welcoming to dads. If you just be yourself and show that you are dedicated and can take care of your children then you will probably soon find yourself accepted by the majority of the mums. At the end of the day you are all just parents who are trying to do the right thing and raise your children to the best of your abilities.
4.) Get A Hobby
Okay it doesn’t have to be a hobby but it is very important for you to have your own interests that don’t relate to your children.
This means that you can still retain some sense of identity, rather than just being ‘dad’ all the time, and it gives you something else to focus on. A common problem of being with young children all the time is the lack of adult stimulation and challenges, which can result in ‘mushy brain syndrome’.
By having your own interests you will keep your mind active, retain your identity and it also means that you will have something else to talk about with friends other than your children. Furthermore it is good for your children to see that you have your own life and interests and that you are not just their daddy but a person in your own rights too.
5.) Enjoy Your Time
Being a stay at home dad is tough, tiring, demanding work. It is also very rewarding and fulfilling but often those feelings can be overwhelmed by the long days and nights of constant caring and seeing to your children’s needs. So it is important to try and have some fun and appreciate the time that you spend with your kids. They grow up very fast and you don’t want to regret not making the most of the time you had with them.
Things are changing and more and more men are taking on the role of full-time dad so it is vital that advice and information is available for.
It is not only important to support your partner after pregnancy but it is also important that you both bond with your baby to make your family a happy one. The following list outlines tried and tested methods to help dad to bond with baby.
Skin-to-skin contact between father and baby is just as much of an intimate experience as breastfeeding. Once your baby has finished a feed, give them a cuddle with bare arms. Remember not to wear strong aftershaves as these could irritate baby’s skin. Within minutes your baby’s temperature, respiration and heart rate will settle and you will both experience the same closeness as a mother does while breastfeeding
Another way to stay close to baby is to have a bath or shower together. Babies really love this and being held in the bath by dad makes all the splashing water and sticky soaps a lot less scary.
An infant massage is good for dads to bond with their babies as babies love to be touched and snuggled. Lay your little one on a flat surface and gently rub your palms together with baby oil to warm them. Sing and talk to your baby to get them giggling and massage lightly. Watch how your baby responds. If they do not seem to like it, try using a lighter touch.
Very few dads have the patience to push a huge buggy so carrying your baby in a sling or carrier is the next best thing as it keeps baby close to your body for maximum warmth and bonding.
Last but not least mum can’t be left to do all the dirty work. Changing your baby’s nappy not only gives your partner a break, but it gives you a great opportunity to laugh and talk with your baby.