As the stay at home dad, you will find that things can get a bit stale while you are at home with the kids, especially infants – they don’t do much. You are dealing with young children and are probably stuck in the house a lot. You can only handle watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so many times, nor do you want to play Hungry, Hungry, Hippo for the 487th time for the day. Get the kids to take a nap, or do some coloring, or playing on their own , and take a sanity break. The following are things you can do to maintain your sanity, obviously while you aren’t taking care of the kids, or answering why don’t cats fly for the 183rd time:
1. Watch television
Some of the things I did early on as the father at home to combat boredom was to watch television. Not soap operas, I haven’t converted to full house frau just yet. I watched a lot of old Mythbusters, Top Gear, and current TV shows on the laptop. So, in reality I watched a lot of streaming Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, what have you. On a side note, I just found out that Amazon Prime now has all the James Bond movies for free instant streaming (except the Daniel Craig versions), and Hulu has the 80’s action TV shows available (A-Team, Airwolf, Magnum PI, Knight Rider, etc). There are tons of shows on the multitude of cable channels, plus old shows and movies on the streaming services, enough that you can be entertained for an infinite amount of time. Not to mention the massive amounts of DVD’s you have on the shelf to rewatch. If your kids are older, you might want to think about what is on the screen. If you let your 3 year old watch the Aliens movies, you may have to deal with nightmares. If they see some old Eddie Murphy movie, there may be some future language issues down the road.
2. Video Games
In relation to the television you can also play video games. There are tons out there on multiple platforms. If you have a video game system, you probably have a bunch of games you can play. I only have the Nintendo Wii (the Play Station and games got lost in the move), so I can only really talk about Mario Kart, and the Lego games. I would recommend not doing live web playing as you have to be able to pause in case the kid wakes up or starts crying. There is also about 18 bazillion games available for your smart phone or tablet.
While movies, TV shows, and video games are also on the internet, but there are other things as well. There are tons of videos on YouTube, plus independent internet only shows like the Kevin Pollack Chat Show. There is also all the social media to keep in touch with all your friends. There is also all the blogs, especially this one. Go ahead and ignore the kid while you finish reading this, she will understand it is for her own good.
Having a hobby will also give you something to focus on when not doing everything else. Try painting, learning an instrument, writing, or building something. I spent a good bit of time building a fountain for my son. I am still working on it, and I will blog about it when I am done. Another recommendation, don’t get an old car and try your hand at restoration. I started restoring a car 6 years ago (that 56 Chevy in my “6 Signs Your Car is no Longer a Sanctuary” post, and it still isn’t done – and I bought a 1948 Austin to fix up, it isn’t done either. That one is for sale if you want it). Get something smaller scale that can be put down as soon as the kids start fussing. Also, babies and axle grease don’t mix. But some things, like painting, you can do with your kids.
For me, staring at the screen all day eventually got tiresome and cabin fever set in. I had to get moving, get out of the house. I was doing some running a couple days a week in the early morning, but sitting on the couch most of the day was wearing thin. Actually, it was wearing wide, even with the running. I started taking the baby for walks. I would take an hour and push the Dashing Daughter in the stroller, or carrying her in the Ergo carrier (a carrier that allows you to “wear” the baby) for a few miles. Once she is old enough, I will put her in the bike trailer. The nice thing about exercise is that it is one of the things that you can increase as the kids get older and are awake more (well, exercise and chores). If you want a really good workout, assuming your kids are old enough, go chase them around a playground. When the Dashing Son was 3 and I was training for a marathon, he would tire me out in less than 15 minutes at the playground “Get me Daddy, get me!!!”
6. Get out of the house
Load the kid up in the car and go shopping. Go to the grocery store, Costco (Sam’s, BJ’s, etc.), the hardware store, or Target/Walmart. You probably need to get food shopping done anyway. You can interact with adults. You get nods of acknowledgement from the other dads pushing a car seat on a shopping cart, and the ladies will say how cute the baby is. If you meet some other dads, you can strike up conversation (tell them about dashingdad.com), arrange play dates at nearby parks, etc. For kid entertainment, there are museums you can go to, plus the Gymboree-type places that have age appropriate classes for the kids. Plus there is always the playground.
7. Go outside
If it is a nice day out, talk a walk, go in the backyard (or the front yard). If it is summer, set up a kiddy pool, or sprinkler, and let the kids play outside. Experience nature, even if it is in an urban environment. Find a shady spot to hangout, throw a towell on the ground and relax. The Dashing Daughter loves being out in “nature.” The sounds of the birds (and cars, planes, and dogs) distracts her, and all the visual stimulation from the plants and trees. It is mid-spring now, so a bunch of our flowers and plants are blooming, so she has even more to look at. The Dashing Dog likes it when we go outside because there is an increased chance I will throw his frisbee (or whatever other toy he brings) for him. Obviously, if there is a hail storm or hurricane, this option is out.
Getting chores done is a necessary evil of any household, and they have to get done. There is laundry, dishes, cooking, vacuuming, yard work, etc. If you are kids are old enough, you might be able to get them to help with some of it, or at least get them focused enough to leave you alone while you get chores done. I got the Dashing Son to “help” vacuum while I got some other things done. Yes, I had to redo the rooms he did, but I wasn’t getting the “Daddy, I’m bored. I am going to go outside and poke the dog with a stick.” Getting chores done means more time with the rest of the family when they get home, more time on the weekend for fun stuff, and an appreciative wife. An appreciative wife means an increased chance of getting some action that night. Assuming, of course, that the one of the kids doesn’t wake up in a screaming fit in the middle of the action.