Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Am A Job Creator...

With all the talk of job creation in the news and media, I sat back to think, "how can I help this situation?"   Then I realized, I already did!  I chose to leave a good paying, highly needed job in a fruitful industry to be a stay-at-home-dad.  Ergo, I created one job.   I guess someone could argue that I'm taking away work from a child care provider...but the ratio for infants is about 6:1...so it is really only taking away 0.17 of a job away.  Looking back, I think it would take two or three professionals to replace me...so I'm still ahead.

If more dads choose to stay home, think of all the job opportunities/openings we would be creating.

I'm out there spending more money during the day with my son than I would working in the office, therefore I'm stimulating the economy too. (anyone who has children knows how much they cost...lots of economic stimulus).  Winning!

My advise, be a good American, help out our plight and have another kid and be a stay-at-home-dad. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How Do I Look?....Who Cares!

One of the best things about being a stay-at-home-dad...is the freedom of appearance without being judged.

At one of my Raleigh SAHD meetings I noticed that almost all the dads were growing beards.  I can't actually grow one...so it was more of a patchy shadow after a week of neglect.  We were all cracking up at our philosophy on grooming, bathing and public image.  Sharing stories of how the wives were pissed that we go out of the house like that.  Chances are we are going to get dirty playing or eating with the kids, so who cares.  If your shirt is dirty or has food on it...it's OK...you have a kid.

Other dads could care less if you haven't shaved for three days..or wore the same shirt last time...because we are likely wearing our favorite shirt again too.  If your hair is greasy with hat head or bed head...cool...we're glad you got some sleep.  I take more pride in my son's appearance than my own...cuz when people stop to talk...they aren't looking at me.

In the end, you should take care of yourself...but enjoy being out-of-the-office and take the liberties while you can.  The guys don't care...and don't even notice most of the time.  Soon enough the kids won't want to be seen with you...even if you do shave.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Opportunities...They Are Everywhere

My wife is impressed with many of the creative things I do with our son, saying, "I never thought to do that with him."  This blog is my outlet to share such experiences with the world of dads.

As dads, we need to look for opportunities to do cool things with our child...not just traditional "kids stuff". Seek out cool events/places you will enjoy too...and find a way to involve kids in your routine.

Example 1: If you find yourself near a furniture store...go in!  Last weekend we were in Crate&Barrel, so I broke way from the "design session" and took my son over to the couches.  He played with pillows and fabric samples for 20 minutes!  The colors and textures are great exposure...and everyone that walked by thought it was so sweet that daddy was teaching him colors.  Of course, please be respectful of the store. If someone is interested in purchasing the stuff you're playing on...move along.  And try to keep the drool off the nice furniture. :-) 

Example 2:  I found a pedestrian overpass of a busy highway.  I took my son there for a walk one morning during rush hour. He loved it!  Cars of all colors, shapes and sounds zooming in both directions.  A birds eye view of traffic that you don't get from your driveway.  I am a car guy, so I would try to call out the makes/models as they drove by...not so easy when you are 20 feet above them at rush hour.  For those in the area, it was the Greenway overpass of 64/1 near Cary Parkway exit. You can reach it from either the Kids-Together playground or the MacDonald Woods play area off Seabrook.

Summary for this post...don't be afraid to take your child out and do the things you need to do.  Look for those opportunities to expose them to something new...and if you are stuck in a "shopping situation", make the best of it.  Your child (and spouse) will love you for it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Was NOT Alone...Neither Are You.

Joining the Raleigh-stay-at-home-dads group via www.meetup.com was one of the best decisions I've made as a father thus far.  After a few email exchanges with the coordinator and I was off to my first meeting.

3/8/11: I was one of only three dads that day.  We met at the coordinators house and spent a few hours together, watching our kids crawl around on the floor.  There were two boys and one girl, all under one year old.  I'll admit, it was a little awkward at first..since we were at a strangers house with random people.  Yet I had faith that these dads, all primary caregivers, would be like me...good fathers with common interests.  Turns out we got along great...and so did the kids.

We broke the ice by discussing our stay-at-home situation, i.e. what our previous jobs were, wives' careers, where we lived and for how long.  By the end of this meeting I had two new friends and a weekly event set up.  (hit easy button now)

There was some advise sharing from the "most experienced father", but mainly just get-to-know you conversation as we watched our kids interact.  At this point it was pretty easy to carry on long, in-depth  conversation...since the kids were just laying/sitting or scooting at best.  I would learn in the coming months that every conversation is frequently interrupted by "the chase".

We were all relatively new to the meetup group.  The group had just over 40 members in Feb, 2011, but most had been inactive for months.  Kids grow up and lifestyles change...I get it.  We decided to start meeting at various parks around the Raleigh metro area...figuring it would attract more dads.  As of this writing more than 20 new dads have signed up...that is almost 50% growth in six months!! We are making an impact ever time we get out.   Recently we've had meetups with 10 dads and 10+ kids. 

The take-away here is: stay-at-home-dads make friends quickly and easily.  It is in our prehistoric nature to build a quick camaraderie before the "hunt".  You have something in common from the start...children...and the fact we stick out like a sore thumb.  The attention is welcome, just be prepared for some conversations. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Welcome Dads!!

To all stay at home dads, I say "Welcome to the club! You'll like it here...stay awhile."  Some of you may be in this position by choice, others not-so-much, given the times.  I made the choice in mid 2010 to quit a great paying job in the Healthcare IT field to take care of our first child.  Not an easy choice at the time, and I do miss the work environment, but the daily rewards of being the primary caregiver is totally worth it.

Enough about me (you'll learn more later), the vision for this blog is much bigger than me or my son, it is about getting dads out of the house, off the keyboard and integrated to a new culture...the stay-at-home culture.  Currently and traditionally monopolized by moms, we dads are breaking through...quickly yet quietly, for all the right reasons.

Thank you for staying interested...this is my first blog/post...please keep reading.

Ever say to yourself, "I have to get out of the house!   I know, I'll go to a park, meet some parents, get my kid some social interaction and some fresh air."?    Depending on where you live, the park/air may be great, but the interaction with other parents can be disappointing...almost depressing.   The following was my first experience out of the house with my son:

2/10/11: We went to a great park with lots of fresh air...I found a nice shady tree to set up under...and looked for some approachable parents to mingle with.    A few moms were gathered over by the swings, some with infants in hand, others watching with one eye as their kids were playing.   I walked around parading my adorable 3mo old son, hoping to catch the eye of the group.  Perhaps they could smell my fear, or it was an unspoken territorial thing that moms have, but I got nothing...not even a distant smile. In fact, I think some of them shuffled around to keep their backs to me.   My son could care less...I think he was sleeping...but I felt like the new kid on the first day of school.  I continued to cruise around the park, alone.  After a few laps I sat on a bench.  Eventually a mother and daughter sat down beside me (probably cuz the other benches were full).  She started the conversation with "Aww...how cute...daddy's day out.".   That didn't help. :-/

It was after explaining to her "this is my job", that I decided to step up...to be proud and revel in the responsibility I held.  Not just for me, or my son...but for all of the stay at home dads.  (insert Oscar/Braveheart speech here)   I knew (hoped) that there were many others out there, looking for a social outlet to balance hobbies and family life.  Men who wanted to talk about beer, cars, hobbies and kids w/o getting bogged down in birth-weight, breast-feeding or shopping...common themes overheard as I walked around the park.

I decided to visit to my local baby boutique (Green Pea Baby in Apex, NC,  www.greenpeababystore.com) to look for some advise.  Thankfully, they were not only excited to see us, but jumped at the opportunity to provide me the outlet I was looking for...a lead on the www.meetup.com group for Raleigh Stay At Home Dads.  Hallelujah!!!!  Now lets just hope they aren't a bunch of sissys talking about birth-weight and breast feeding. :-/