How I Survived My First Year as a Stay-at-home Dad
My wife runs a hawker stall with my in-laws and they spend long hours at work. For five days in a week, my wife leaves the house at 2am and returns home only after 4pm. During her pregnancy, we agreed that I’d be the primary caregiver as I’m working from home as a digital marketer, and we didn’t wish to put our baby in an infant care.
A New Journey Unfolded…
It was exciting at first to imagine the life as a Stay-at-home-Dad (SahD) and I read up a lot to equip myself with the necessary knowledge. The day finally arrived when we welcomed our baby girl Kyra to our family. I tried to learn as much as I could from our confinement lady. As my wife was suffering from serious tailbone pain, she could only focus on breastfeeding and recuperating, while I took care of Kyra myself. Diaper changing, bathing, coaxing her to sleep… I realised then that there was no way to be well-prepared until you’re “on the job”.
Time – A Luxury…
I am an introvert and used to think that I suited the life of a SahD. However, I was wrong. I’ve to give up many things I used to do in order to take care of my little one as I simply had no time! I stopped running and cycling. I quitted gaming. I drastically reduced the amount of time I spent on social media for leisure. The most important thing that I gave up was solitude. Being left alone was my way of recharging as an introvert but I barely had time to sleep well, let alone time for myself. My wife could only take care of our girl for about 3 hours on a working day as she needed rest for work, leaving me with our girl alone for more than 20 hours a day.
Family, friends, acquaintances and strangers were mostly impressed or surprised that I was the primary caregiver for my child. While it was not as uncommon as before for fathers to be involved, it was still quite rare for one to be the primary caregiver.
Depression Crept in…
I used many modern practices for her well-being even though it was troublesome to implement. We didn’t let her watch TV or have screen times. I started sleep-training her since she was 1.5 months old so that she could sleep better and longer. Since she was about 6 months old, we’ve been preparing solid foods for her using the principles of baby-led weaning (BLW).
All the efforts and the lack of recuperation took a toll on me and I spiralled into depression when she was about 7 months old. Mood swings and even suicidal thoughts hovered my mind and it was difficult for me to open up. Thankfully, my wife noticed the change in me and intervened before it got worse.
Appreciating the Fruits of Our Labour…
With her support, things got slightly better but I was still on survival mode, constantly looking forward to her return daily to provide some relief. It was only when Kyra was about 11 months old, I discovered that through witnessing her many milestones and healthy development, or simply hearing her laughter made me truly enjoy spending time with her and saw our efforts pay off. To help me document and appreciate her growth, I started creating videos of her and sharing it via a Facebook Page. It’s also a platform for me to share the ups and downs of parenthood.
A Less Hectic Typical Day Now…
Now, Kyra is 13 months old and we can start off the day at about 7am with her morning milk, before letting her play by herself while I do the laundry, wash up, take care of the pets and do a little bit of work. I’ll then bring her to the market for a little walk and buy groceries. We’ve lunch together at home before her nap and while she’s sleeping, I find time to do some serious catching up on work. I’ll then cook lunch for her and play with her before her 2nd nap while juggling work at the same time. My wife would sometimes return home earlier to prepare her dinner while I play with her or finish up my work. She usually goes to bed by 7pm and sleeps through most nights.
Apart from a father’s inability to breastfeed, I think there’re very little differences in a child brought up by a mother or a father. There’re affectionate fathers and there’re impatient mothers. There’re practical mothers and there’re indecisive fathers. Every parent has a unique set of character traits that may be a positive or negative influence to a child.
In a world where feminism is increasingly gaining popularity, I find that fathers like myself are given far too much credit for what we do. It’s always nice to get praises but I believe that the daddy’s role is the same as the mum. I’m only doing what a typical Mother has been doing since the dawn of humanity! I’m only a parent, trying my best to raise and prepare a child for her days ahead.
This post was contributed by Kris, a Stay-at-home Dad and writer behind Facebook Page – Just An Ok Dad. He shares cute conversations, funny videos and little “awkward” moments with her daughter Kyra. Feel free to check out little Kyra’s adorable smiles and milestones!