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  • Calling All At-Home-Dads

    I am trying to grow my new business while continuing to be primary care giver for 3 little boys, Caleb 7, Benjamin 4, Luke 1. I have often said that this child rearing is the hardest thing I have ever done. There is a reason people have small children when they are in their twenties. At 42, chasing & holding babies gets tiring.

    I went from working full time in a highly charged corporate environment and living in Philadelphia, to living in a little village where I knew no one, and where my first son Caleb & I would take the bus to go get eggs so we would have something to do. We have moved several times, having to start over again. And over the past seven years I have actually dealt with depression related to feeling isolated and marginalized (small wonder). Although officially I was only dysthimic which means indifferent which I think isn't as severe (chuckle).

    With my wife just launching her medical career, doing alot of OB, I am home alone alot. I am now having our boys cared for outside our home on Mondays & Fridays. My new company, History Builders Photo Restoration, is a big part of me claiming back my life. I want it to be more than just repairing old photos, I see it as a source of imagery for my other graphics and illustration. This RetouchPRO website is so great. I am learning so much about what it is I want to do. I think of my time on here as being in school for my business.

    I noticed that DannyRaphael is also an at-home-dad, I would be interested to see if any others might have something to say about this unique arrangement. I am reluctant to call it a support group, but I am sure looking to discuss survival strategies, especially with the 1 year old (a perfectly designed chaos generator).

    My guess is we would be able to get the Cookbook Forum really cooking. Say-Sweet Potato Gnocci with Homemade Alfredo Sauce.

    Gerry M

  • #2
    I'm not an at home dad. I'm not even qualified to be a dad so I can't join your support group. However as a Mom and one who got to enjoy raising her son, I applaud your dedication to parenting. It's not easy to make that decision sometimes knowing the budgit will get tight without the 2 incomes. When they are grown, you will be able to remember things most parents never experienced in this 2 working parent world we live in. I think your boys are lucky. Too many kids are growing up in schools and daycares and after school care these days. I also agree that at 42 (I'm 44) it's a tough one. I thought it took energy at 26. I can't imagine having a toddler now. Best of luck in your home business. I started mine because I'm carring for my Mom who has been battling cancer for many years. So I too had to find a way to stay home.
    Hey, sounds like you got a few good recipies for that cookbook we're generating.
    DJ

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    • #3
      Gerry, I'm not even a parent, let alone a dad, but I see a lot of positive potential in your choice to be the primary care-giver, and in your search for a life outside of parenting responsibilities.

      As for survival strategies regarding a 1 year old (a perfectly designed chaos generator) -- I hope others here are qualified to share ideas with you. My survival strategy would be to Duck and Cover -- not a recommended method for a parent.

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      • #4
        Gerry,

        I'm not in that category either, but I certainly agree that the kids are lucky to have you around. Although I'm sure it's tough at times, you can probably look in the mirror in the morning, and like what you see. Your kids might have an advantage in growing up to be decent people.

        Ed

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        • #5
          My .02

          Hi Gerry:

          Noticed this thread while perusing the "Monthly Activity on the forum" e-mail that Doug sent out earlier today.

          I’ve been in “stay-at-home-dad” mode for just over two years. Gave up a hectic and time consuming/energy draining corporate job (at Microsoft) for one that (to me) is much more rewarding mentally and spiritually.

          The past two years by far have been the best in my life. We have two kids: Ali, who will be six in July and Nathaniel, who will be four in June.

          Both go to school (kindergarten and preschool) M-F, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. plus an hour or so of aftercare where they engage in arts, crafts, games, etc. with other kids their ages – activities that would practically impossible for me to provide or compete with from home. Most of the time we spend together is a couple hours in the morning and afterschool until their mom returns from work.

          While some question our decision to send our 3 (almost 4)-year-old to “all day” preschool at his age, he’s as happy as a clam. He’s learning phonics; he loves books and being read to; other parents marvel as his vocabulary; he can count up a storm. At preschool he has access to learning games and crafts we couldn’t possibly provide in the house. There’s lots of things I’m good at, but when it comes to “teaching kids,” there are other folks (professional teachers) who are much better educated and experienced than I in that regard. I gladly step aside and let them do what they love and do best.

          RE: 3 boys… 7, 4 and 1
          You’ve definitely got your hands full. Having both our kids “out of diapers” as of about this time last year was a major step. Keep the faith. You’ve only got a couple years to go in that regard.

          Count your blessings. When somebody was changing diapers on you about 40 years ago or so, the world hadn't heard of things like Pampers, wipes, diaper Genies and all that stuff! We got it real easy compared to that.

          Survival at home…
          While I’m probably not the best “housekeeper” on the earth (I try... and my wife would admit, "Yes, you're very trying sometimes!"), we implemented a couple policies around the house that help keep things a little more sane, such as, eating and drinking only at the kitchen table = a lot fewer cookie or Toaster Pop crumbs to cleanup, fewer accidental spills down the cracks of the couch, etc. We’ll loosen that restriction as our youngest gets a little older.

          We also work very hard at getting the kids to put toys away when they're done playing with them. Not always easy, but the more they pickup after themselves, the less for me to do in that regard.

          Worked hard at teaching the kids to dress themselves. With a 1-year old too, as you know, you’ll need all the hands you can find. While I sometimes thought it was easier and faster to dress a kid myself when in a hurry, by (eventually) forcing myself to let each one learn to dress him/herself, put on/tie shoes, etc. eventually that strategy paid off.

          Speaking of shoes, shoes that fasten with Velcro are the BEST, especially for ages 3-to-about-5. Kids want to put on their own shoes and want to fasten them. Velcro allows that to happen with fewer frustrations and tears.

          Boxes of Kleenex and Huggies wipes deployed in several places throughout the house + in the car.

          Learn from others
          Subscribed to Parents magazine and got lots of “coping” ideas, as well as general parenting techniques, recipes, ideas for games, etc. (While the title is Parents, my impression is that many of the articles are written from a female perspective and/or for a female audience. I don’t mean any disrespect here; it’s just a reality of marketing, demographics, etc. based on traditional parenting roles. Regardless, there are usually a flock of excellent articles on various topics each month.)

          RE: Getting anything done with Photoshop
          I’ve found that the best times (for me) to get any real productive Photoshop work done are (literally) when everybody else is asleep, even if it means less sleep for me.

          RE: Your perfectly designed chaos generator
          Realize that at one, that’s his job! He’s competing with his brothers for a piece of your attention, so he’ll do anything to get it.

          Though it may be frustrating at times when you feel his seemingly incessant demands conflict with your (perceived) priorities, one of the advantages of being 42 (and not 22) is the maturity and experience to realize that in the big scheme, his needs probably really are more important than yours are at the moment. It's been my my experience that it is nearly impossible convince some (not all) 22-year olds that comforting a crying baby is more important than interrupting an assault on a video game scoring record. Some parents (regardless of age) just don't get it.

          You have an opportunity that many, many fathers would love to have: nurturing and caring for a son at such a tender, dependent age. Relish and welcome the opportunity; don’t resist or resent it. It’s a gift.

          I know of what I speak. I was 44 when my daughter was born; 46 when my son was born.

          RE: A very good book on using positive, effective techniques for getting your kids to do what you want/what they should do w/o the need for yelling, screaming, cajolling on your part as well as theirs. An absolutely priceless tome: 1-2-3 Magic (Phelan)

          OK…enough of my drivel for the moment. Looks like we're in the privileged minority so if you'd like to continue this dialog, let's do so via PM.

          Hope some of this helps or at least stirs a couple braincells.

          Good luck as you develop your business. I greatly admire your ambition and courage.

          DannyR

          Comment


          • #6
            When our yougest was born, money was a real issue for us so my wife went out and got a day job and I got a night job. So I got to spend a lot of time with a new born and her 18 month old sister. We also had two older kids that were in elementary school. Now they are in their mid twenties, the older of the two is the mother of the cutest two grandkids ever to roam the face of the planet, and when we sit around talking about their childhood they talk of going out in the woods with Dad as he cut firewood for the house, when we got pickup loads of sand for their sandbox, etc etc. It may seem to be tough now, but you will reap the rewards later, and they will be worth it. I wouldn't trade that time I spent for anything.
            Mike

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            • #7
              Danny & Mike,
              Thanks for the words of encouragement. I know the time is ticking by faster than I can imagine. I seek balance where the creative volcano that is at my core has room for expression, and the guys have a true sense of how families nurture and support eachother. I guess all the efforts to get my wife through school,residency,fellowship has put me at a disadvantage. At least we are talking about it and working on getting me going as much as we can while striving for continuity of care for our children. Not an easy task.

              I often think of Martha & Mary from the Bible as two extremes on a meter, and I must admit sometimes I am all Martha and no Mary. Mary being defined by me as time when I am lost in my studio or on my computer being that creative volcano. I need to resist the tendancy to rush in to fill the void left by my wif's work requirements. I need to let her solve some of the logistical issues related to her very stressful career mom balancing act. It is time.

              Keeping All The Plates Spinning,
              Gerry

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