In the 10 years of marriage to my wife Amber, I often find myself thinking; “Man, my wife needs to be better at this whole homemaking thing.” Sometimes I would come home and it would look like a tornado had torn through my house. I kept telling myself; “I could probably do it better.” However, I was soon to discover how wrong I truly was.
Over a year ago, I had to step away from leading a church that my wife Amber and I planted. She stepped in as interim lead, while I stayed at home with our two baby daughters. Things got real…real quick! My eyes were opened to a whole new world. The first days and weeks went by excruciatingly slow, but did get easier as time went on. After a year of being Mr. Mom, I learned 7 profound lessons for all dads to consider:
1) Our Work Can Become An Excuse to Check-Out:
I decided early on in life that I wanted to be a father who was home every night to eat dinner with my children and tuck them in at night. However, I had not set any guidelines, and as the years went by, my work took more and more time away from my family.
I would often put in 12 to 14 hour days and have little to nothing left over for my wife or baby girls. I would justify my actions with the common mantra many fathers throw out there: “Someone has to be the bread winner!” My excuse to provide for my family was preventing me from experiencing one of the most important things in life; the joy that comes with seeing children grow.
2) Some Dads Have No Idea What They Are Missing:
If God had not intervened in my life, and given me the opportunity to stay at home with my girls, I would have never realized how much I was missing. Those two little girls give me so much joy and priceless moments that are indescribable.
Some of you moms may be thinking as you read, “Yea, having children is amazing, but WOW, it is tough work.” Many dads may not yet realize, this simple truth, so you might need to experience it yourself.
3) Walking In Mom’s Shoes is Tough:
Some dad’s have no clue how grueling, and draining it can be to be the primary caretaker of your children day in and day out. It’s kind of like that Vicks DayQuil commercial, “Moms Don’t Take Sick Days,” because there are no time outs in being mommy. Most dads won’t get it until they walk a mile in their wife’s shoes.
4) Fathers Need To Unlearn Bad Habits:
Dads come from many different backgrounds, some more dysfunctional than others. Along the way we may have probably learned or picked up one or more bad parenting habits. Here are just a few that we all struggle with: not telling our children we love them enough, not enough hugs and kisses, not continually telling them how proud we are of them, not showing up for recitals or games, missing birthday parties and holidays, using divorce as an excuse to not be there, and so on…and so on…and so on. I could do this all day! Is that how we want to be remembered by our children? What could be worse?
5) We Dads Can Be Home but Not Really Home:
In a technological saturated culture, there is the temptation for dads to checkout on social media, Netflix, or watching a good basketball/football game when we get home. What’s worse is if you take work home with you and tune your family out. It’s probably torture for a young boy or girl, starving for attention from their father, to be so close to him yet so far. Maybe it’s time for a change.
6) There is No Shame in Being Mr. Mom:
If you’re considering being Mr. Mom, you need to know that there need be no shame as more and more dads are jumping in. Recently, The Washington Post put out an article called, Don’t Call Them Mr. Mom, which highlights the fact that “the number of stay-at-home Dads has doubled in the last 25 years, reaching a peak of 2.2 million in 2010, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.”
It also states that the majority of dads would prefer to work or stay at home if finances permitted. I am the luckiest dad alive because I had a whole year with my baby girls and I would have not traded it for anything. Now unfortunately, it’s time to go back to work. This leads us to my 7th and final learning.
7) What’s Going to Change Going Back to Work Full-Time:
So for you dads who can’t become Mr. Mom for a year or two, here are a few applications to get the most of your time with your children. It’s as simple as ABC:
A. Give them three, 10-minute connections a day: before work, dinner, and bedtime. Use these times to engage and turn off the phone or TV. Of these three, bedtime is the most important. These are crucial moments that say, “you matter to me!”
B. Get home early. It’s my goal to be home by 4PM to get some extra time with the girls. For you this may seem impossible, but try it even if it hurts the wallet. Try to pull it off even if it’s only a couple of times a week.
C. Take one week off work to be Mr. Mom. It will give your wife a much-needed break, and it will help you appreciate everything that goes into being the primary caretaker of your children.
There are those fathers out there who face tremendous difficulty in their ability to spend time with children. But the point here is to encourage us dads to be better. That is my goal every day, and I hope that we all push ourselves to be the best dads we can be.