Stay At Home Nerd: Top Ten Tips for Stay At Home Dads
a blogumn by Josh Pullin
Here are 10 things I discovered about being a stay at home dad now that my wife has gone back to work and I’m home alone with the baby. May they one day help you as much as they’ve helped me.
1. Shower before your wife leaves for work in the morning. If you don’t, you won’t. You may turn on the shower once or twice or three times throughout the day thinking that this is the time your baby really naps. You will be wrong. You may even get in the shower. I do not recommend this. You will rush out wet, soapy, and wearing a towel when you hear your baby’s ear piercing plea for attention. Holding a crying baby while you’re half showered is awkward even if no one is looking. Showering the night before counts as showering before your wife leaves for work.
2. Know where your phones are at all times. Also remember to turn them on and off as necessary. If you do not have a phone next to you and you are holding your baby, the phone will ring. If your baby falls asleep your phone will ring. If you turn your ringer off you will miss an important phone call. If you manage to put your sleeping baby down and dash for the ringing phone you will trip over your babies activity mat and hit your head on your hardwood floors. Yes, you will.
3. No naps. Babies sleep up to eighteen hours a day according to some books. According to my baby that number is bullsh*t. Today he took one twenty minute nap, one thirty minute nap and then “stayed up” ‘til almost 10 PM. Of course, when I said no naps I wasn’t talking about your baby. I was talking about you. Most days your baby will sleep and sleep a lot. However, your baby will take 15 minutes of rocking, 10 minutes of shushing and 5 minutes of praying (even if you’re an atheist) to fall asleep. As soon as your baby falls asleep you will want to check your email, return that phone call, go to the bathroom and try to take a nap yourself. But, you won’t. Your baby just woke up and your baby’s crying.
4. When your baby starts crying go to the bathroom. Don’t lock yourself in or anything. Just take care of business because once you pick up that baby you have no idea what you’re in for. Is it a few gentle rocks and a short lullaby before he falls back asleep or is it a marathon fussy feeding capped off by a poopsplosion requiring the use of 98 wet wipes to clean up? It’s a crapshoot (no pun intended) so you might as well be prepared.
5. Know how to work your remote control. If you have to hold your baby for two hours while he sleeps, you might as well watch something awesome and to watch something awesome you need to know how to use your remote control. I have and use direcTV. You should too. And, if you sign up now you can save $100 by giving them my account number and giving me yours. Just do it. You’ll thank me later. The beauty of the remote control of course is that you can play with it like a toy. I’ve streamlined one of my “favorites” into only High Definition Movies and Sports. I also programmed my DVR to catch shows, movies and games based on Teams, Actors and Titles. And I even optimized my video and audio settings all while holding a baby. Hello future!
6. Crying is okay. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, then you’ve seen your partner cry. Sometimes, hopefully not often, you’ve even made your partner cry. Maybe you bought the wrong ring, forgot about Christmas, or showed up two hours late to take them to the company picnic after you spent all Thursday night shopping for the perfect shoes to go with her new sun dress. I said I was sorry. I consider these tears normal, even somewhat healthy and rectifiable. Jacob Marse flowers in Pasadena is a good start, or if you’re really adventurous and don’t care about having sex anytime soon try edible arrangements (it’s fruit cut up into shapes!). Baby tears are different. First of all they don’t have tears unless they have a blocked tear duct, which for those of you who don’t know happens to 1 in 100 babies and goes away, usually, within 9 months. No, baby tears usually mean one of four things: The baby is hungry, the baby is tired, the baby is uncomfortable or something else. If the baby is hungry feed it. If the baby is tired rock or sing or swaddle or pray them to sleep. If the baby is uncomfortable then change them or add clothes or blankets or take away clothes or blankets. It’s the something else that will lead you to tears. In most cases the something else is boredom and the baby can be soothed by playing simple games like “daddy’s funny dance” or “carry baby around the house pointing at things and telling baby what they are in an excited voice!” If none of these works, start from the beginning. If they still don’t work, call a doctor.
7. Go Outside! This is a must. Walking in LA, besides being a terrific song, is a great idea. I happen to live in a part of Burbank where I can walk up into the hills or down towards downtown. When I don’t feel like seeing anybody I disappear into the hills and stroll leisurely around until the baby sleeps or gets hungry. If I want to know that I’m not the only one left in the world I’ll shoot downtown and be overrun by humanity especially if I brave the mall. The trick is to get back before the crying. But, hey, isn’t that always the trick.
8. Get used to cold food. Leftovers are awesome. Most of the time they reheat easily in the microwave, but even if you run out of time you can still dig in to last night’s pizza or pasta or salad. The thought of a hot lunch still makes me giddy, but I have two 3-day old burnt grilled cheeses in the trash that serve as a reminder that the idea of cooking while caring for an infant is great in theory, but difficult in practice.
9. I’m going to stop here. Not because I ran out of rules. I could keep going, but I’m tired and need my sleep. Besides, rule number 6 was really long and my edible arrangement joke sidetracked me. Before I go let me leave you with this: your baby doesn’t care in the least if you eat cold food, or shower, or get outside. They don’t care if you can work your remote control, have to pee or are really, really tired. They are, for a few short months, or is it years, the boss. When they cry they’re telling you they need something and it is up to you to give it to them. Hopefully you will be right more often then you are wrong. And, don’t worry about it too much. You get to do it all again tomorrow.