stay at home dad

Baby Wearing

Staying at home with kids when they're little is a crash course on multi-tasking. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but baby wearing is totally where it's at when they're so little.

1. Sling - This one is my personal favorite because it was so simple to use even I figured it out. Some of my favorite baby memories and pictures involved wearing the sling while our little one was passed out in the nook of it. I also liked that this sling din't take up much space and fit in almost any diaper bag we brought.

2. Baby Bjorn - I liked this for longer walks once the kids gained more neck and trunk strength. Facing them outward was fun for outings and festivals, facing them inwards was great when I really needed them to chill and/or fall asleep. Using this took a bit more style and finesse than the sling.

3. Moby Wrap - My Better Half bought one of these, and I never figured out how to use it. It required more hand-eye coordination than I will ever acquire, but she always made it look easy.

At Home with Our Little (Newborn) Girl

During my 5th year of graduate school, my Better Half gave birth to our first child. Becoming a father was the moment where I considered my life as complete as it could be.

Hey Baby! Hanging out with my Little Girl.

Hey Baby! Hanging out with my Little Girl.

I worked to shift my work-life priorities so that I could be more present for my family. My Better Half stayed home with our Little Girl for 12 weeks after giving birth, and during this time, we talked about me also staying home with our Little Girl two days a week for a few months after my wife returned to work full-time. Those Tuesdays and Thursdays meant so much to me that thinking about them always makes me cry. I miss those days so much.

Snuggled up for a walk around the neighborhood.

Snuggled up for a walk around the neighborhood.

For most of March and all of April 2012, I had a chance to do it all with my Little Girl. Messy meals, naps that never happened, naps that lasted for hours, inconsolable missing mommy moments, giggles for reasons only she knew, walks around the neighborhood, silly pictures, and dirty diapers. There were moments I was scared and worried that I could not do it, but those moments faded the longer I had the chance to figure it out (mostly) on my own.

Being with her, learning her faces, needs and dislikes; it gave me a strong base to build upon.

I had a big conference presentation to prepare for in mid-May, so my Better Half and I talked about transitioning our Little Girl to daycare 5 days a week so that I could focus more on my research. This was a decision that sort of had to happen, but it was still a really hard one to make. I remember sitting there the first Tuesday without my baby not wanting to write or read anything and thinking how much I missed her stinky diapers, her way of hamming it up when she wanted something, and her way of being her self with me in those small moments.

The process of parenting often feels fraught with doubt, but I felt so grateful and blessed to be able to stay at home two days a week with our Little Girl. I know this experience made me a better therapist, too, as it deepened and broadened the base of experiences I can draw upon when relating to caregivers who spend longer stretches of time at home with their children.