Looking Back at My Year as an At-Home Dad

Audrey Zachary Classy Chair

So I got a job.  Yup, starts today.  I’m pretty excited about it too!  But I must admit there’s a significant element of terror involved.  Not just because the role is going to serve as a big challenge for me—which it will—but also because I’ve spent the past year at home, watching the kids and keeping the house from burning down (albeit just barely).  Needless to say, this week is going to be a monumental adjustment for this at-home dad.

But before taking the plunge, I afforded myself one final chance to look back on the past year of my life; the goods, the bads, and all the other lessons learned during my time alone with the kids.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

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Lessons in Fatherhood as Taught by Eighties Movies

Zachary-Spider

It was only after I said to my daughter, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,” that I realized I just quoted Back to the Future.  I must admit I was a little self conscious about it at first, but a 2-year-old doesn’t know a McFly from a Tannen.  And the sentiment certainly isn’t bad advice to impart on anyone.  In other words, an eighties movie just taught my daughter a life lesson.  Interesting.

This got me thinking:  What other wisdom could I glean from the films of my childhood?  How could the movies of the ‘80s shape me into a better father?  And these are pretty stupid questions, aren’t they?

Yep.  But let’s see what I uncovered anyway.

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Five Important Rules for At-Home Dads When Mom is Home

Pirate-Audrey

Thanks to the recent arrival of my newborn son, my wife is currently at home on Maternity Leave.  Being a stay-at-home father myself, this is great in many ways.  I’m not as lonely, I have some help around the house, and I can spend some quality time with her.

But this doesn’t mean that everything’s going to be beautiful sunshine and sugary sweet lollipops.  No, a stay-at-home father can make some big mistakes when he’s no longer the sole voice of authority in the home.  I should know.  I’ve made them.  But lucky for you, friend, I’m here to share my vast knowledge, and keep you out of the proverbial doghouse.

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The Spray Park: America’s Great Bacteria Frappe

Spray Park-Audrey

I had never been to a spray park until recently.  Oh sure, I’ve driven past them, but frankly they always seemed like some place I had best avoid.  All the spraying “water” and frolicking children…they just looked like giant bacteria frappes.

But now that I’m home with my 2-year-old every day, it’s been over 90 degrees outside with high humidity for what seems like forever, and there just happens to be a spray park right at the end of my block, well…

I decided it was finally time to try the frappe for myself.

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Dangle That Carrot, Baby! (a.k.a. How to Get My Toddler to Go for a Walk)

Daddy Daughter Walking

I’m a guy that likes to go for walks.  I used to run quite a bit, but now that I’m old, creaky, and growing hair in all sorts of strange places, I walk.  It’s a good way to get out of the house, clear my head, and get some exercise.

When Audrey was born over two years ago, the frequency of my walking trips skyrocketed.  She would fall asleep in the stroller every single time back then, affording my wife some measure of respite, my daughter some much needed rest, and me some added means of losing weight.

As Audrey has grown, however, these stroller trips have fallen by the wayside.  She no longer falls asleep in the stroller, and has grown large enough to damn near capsize the thing if she’s anxious to hop out.  This leaves me in the unenviable position of having to chase a toddler while dragging a bulky stroller.  Not pleasant.

I miss my walks though.  But how do I get my precious walking in without raising my blood pressure to dangerous heights?  I’ve been working on this problem as of late, and while not ideal, I have managed to formulate a plan that makes both me and my daughter as satisfied as humanly possible.

I call it “Dangling the Carrot”.

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Five Simple Ways to Put Your Toddler to Work Painlessly

Vacuuming-Audrey

My 2-year-old Audrey is surprisingly willing to help around the house despite being a generally destructive and uncontrollable Force of Nature.  Whether I’m doing something fun–like baking cookies–or dull–like the dishes–Audrey is always offering to help out.  This has been, as you might imagine, a wonderful turn of events.  It’s every parent’s dream to pass off the household chores on the offspring, after all.  But there remains one major stumbling block still standing in the way:

She’s two.

Willingness to help is one thing–and perhaps the most difficult to sustain over time–but actually getting good work out of her is another.  More frequently than not, her help gets in the way and lengthens the entire process.  She’s also unintentionally destructive.  All of this is to be expected, of course.  Once again, she’s two.  But I don’t want to stifle her desire to assist me around the house either.  This has led me to a compromise:

Find the right chores for her to help me with.

Over the past few weeks I have discovered five activities that not only allow my toddler to help around the house, but don’t increase the odds of untold death and destruction either.  They’re easy, instructional, and a great way of passing the time constructively with your little one.

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