These are a few things that I never had to think about too much when I was a full-time working husband and father, as I took for granted that my wife Jennifer just handled all of this without complaint. I was vaguely aware of these things, but after a couple months as a stay-at-home dad, I have found that I think about these things daily:
Young kids do not get themselves ready.
- This is especially true early in the morning when you are rushing to get to school or church.
Kids have to be driven EVERYWHERE!
- I spend way more time in the car on a daily basis now than I ever did on a normal work day.
Three-year-olds never shut-up!
- Oh wait I can’t say that word because kids repeat it, and we don’t let them say that word. Seriously, I knew Sam was loud when I was home from work, but I didn’t realize that he was this loud ALL THE TIME!
Kids act totally different when they are separated from their siblings.
- See loud 3-year-old above… he is actually pretty calm sometimes when his big brother and sister are at school. I guess he feels like he has to compete with them to be heard?
Washing clothes is easy, but putting laundry away is a major pain.
- I used to wonder why Jennifer would let clean laundry pile up all week without putting it away, but now I understand!
Just because the kids are at school does not mean your day is free!
- When you have 3 kids in different schools/pre-schools, you get various 2-3 hour windows where you are not picking someone up or dropping them off, and that time quickly gets eaten up grocery shopping, cleaning or running.
Multitasking is key.
- I thought running VBS programs taught me to multitask like a pro, but then I became a stay-at-home dad. When 3 kids want 3 different lunches, plus you have dirty laundry and dishes, you must carefully time things out like this… Start load of laundry in the washer, start cooking my lunch veggies, start cooking cheese quesadilla for kid #1, start cooking grilled cheese for kid #2, using my sautéed veggies start cooking my veggie quesadilla, make peanut butter & jelly for kid #3, finish cooking/cutting cheese quesadilla and grilled cheese, get all 3 kids their food approximately same time, finish cooking my veggie quesadilla, move laundry to dryer and start next load in washer, eat my lunch, rinse dishes and load dishwasher, change out laundry again, fold and put away dry laundry, and wipe up a few messes and poopie butts along the way. Even as I have worked on this post, I have done so at various times while cooking/eating lunch and riding my stationary bike (using my homemade iPad Mini mount on the bike).
Adult interaction without kids is rare… very, very rare.
- Even when you do get out of the house for dinner at a restaurant, the kids are usually with you, still occupying 75% of your attention.
Your working spouse’s schedule takes priority over yours.
- Jennifer has a full-time job now, and while her job typically has normal business hours, sometimes she must travel or work late, and she usually does not have time to come home for lunch. There are things in her schedule that are out of our control, and I cannot make those things change even if they conflict with something I want to do. The best example for our family is working out. Now Jennifer gets 1st dibs on when she wants to workout, and she connected with a great group of ladies here in Guntersville that run at 5 am. So Jennifer runs in the early mornings 5-6 days/week, and this is really what works best for her because of her work schedule. A few months ago I ran early mornings everyday training for the Carmel Marathon, but now I have to let Jennifer have that time. I have to run in the afternoon heat, and once Sam starts his new preschool, I will get to run sometimes in mid-mornings.
You miss your kids when they’re not around.
- No matter how busy you are, no matter how much you crave a night away from the kids, no matter how tired you are of cooking and cleaning, you always miss your kids when you are not with them!