Four years ago, as a fledgling parent, I went to the At-home-Dad Convention in Chicago and tried my best to absorb the wisdom of all the old-timers in attendance. These guys all had one common denominator; many of them were “Type-A” personalities (a few former military). One of the dudes in my biased sample of experienced fathers told me something that I’ll never forget, “You better be a good house husband or your wife may just fire you.”
I haven’t been the best house-husband. I’m tired a lot. I have a short attention span. I’m impossible to wake up. I don’t often cook. I’m horrible with schedules and often make decisions by the seat of my pants. In essence, I do not fit the profile of a “Type A” personality. Not that that’s an acceptable excuse.
The internet often stokes the flames of the flaws I’ve listed above. Between reading blogs, checking e-mails, writing posts, and doing part-time data entry, I’ve lost any motivation to be a better “first dude”. And my vice has only become worse now that my kids have matured enough to play independently.
Two things have happened recently that have put me on a path toward house-husband rehab. The primary thing is that my wife called me out on my behavior. I didn’t have a decent answer for her and had to admit that I’m slightly ADHD, slightly depressed, and slightly lazy.
The second motivator has been my friend Stacy (mentioned in my last post), a recently retired nanny, who took the time to write me out a strategy for better house-husbandry. It sounds so pathetic, but I needed an intervention to help me be a better person, husband, and father.
So, I’m writing this here so that she has a record of my public promise to her that I will change. The difference in my attitude between this week and last week has made my family much happier. I think it’s worth sharing what I’ve done to improve myself.
Here are some tips on being a better house-husband, but keep in mind that these tips are directed at myself, rather than at most house-husbands.
- Write out a schedule for the week. Make a plan. When will you clean? When will you spend quality time? What activities will you play? Etc.
- Be a man and wake up with the kids, make the family breakfast, and start the morning at the table. If that means not staying up until 2am, then so be it.
- Wash dishes after every meal rather than waiting until the end of the day.
- Try to get the kids to play outside every day.
- Plan specific activities to do with the children. I’m trying out a new web site called Productive Parenting; they email an age-appropriate activity every day for FREE.
- Read chapter books while they eat at lunch time.
- Find creative ways to let the kids help with lunch and chores.
- Keep a cleaning schedule and force yourself to stay on it.
- Keep yourself off the internet and your kids off the TV.
- Get out the recipe book and start cooking dinner for the family.
You might be wondering how I’m able to write such a long post if I’ve turned over a new leaf. It’s because I’ve scheduled time to do that during naps. I shouldn’t have to give up my blog because I’m ending my internet addiction. Or, at least, I’m not willing to do that. You just might see less of me, but that’s OK because there are many of us writing for the blog now.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has had to overcome the same problems. I’d also love to hear any advice for activities to do with my kids.
Time to go clean a toilet and fold clothes. Wish me luck on staying motivated! I’ll need it.