Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Zen and the Art of Daddy Day Care

During the summer, I’m one lucky gal. My teacher hubby is at home most days, so we swap childcare duties and work time as needed. His parenting style is different from mine: he scolds less, plays more, and isn’t nearly as productive (and yes, that is a good thing!). I’m definitely learning a thing or two from him. Here are a few pieces of daddy parenting wisdom, courtesy of my husband.

Put Your Feet Up, Already

Chasing after a four-year-old and a one-year-old all day is no easy feat; sometimes it’s downright exhausting. Instead of complaining about how tiring it is (like I would do), he does something more practical: he takes a break when he needs one. He doesn’t neglect the kids, but he does zone out in front of ESPN for 10 minutes when he needs a breather. And get this: the kids survive. They usually take a cue from him and slow down too, snuggling up to him on the sofa or grabbing a book and reading. The result is a happier, less harried parent and kids who appreciate the importance of a well-deserved break.

The Joy of Single-Tasking

On my days with the kids, I’m a multi-tasking whiz. Often, I’ll start the laundry while they watch Sesame Street, fold clothes while they play, answer emails while their pasta boils, and wipe down the counters while they eat lunch. On my husband’s days with the kids, he specializes in single-tasking: he just spends time with them. At the day’s end, there may be unfolded laundry on the floor and dirty dishes in the sink, but the kids are happy and centered.

It’s OK to Stay Home

Like many stay at home moms, I’m rarely at home during the day. I go a little stir-crazy starting at my four walls, so I plan activities and playdates to get us out of the house. This also lets me squeeze in errands so I can feel marginally productive (see above re: multitasking). But Steve doesn’t share my affinity for the carpool lane. Under his watch, the kids have rediscovered the joy of their own backyard. He pulls weeds while Bianca catches butterflies and studies spiders and Mia digs happily in the sandbox. Everybody’s happy, and we save gas and hassle. Steve for the win!

Soon, summer will end and we'll be back to full-time mommy care, complete with multitasking and schlepping around town. I know I'll be a refreshed and ready to get back to our regular routine--and just maybe, a little less harried and a little more relaxed, thanks to my lessons from Dad's Daycare Academy.

Messy face, dirty shirt, laundry basket on the floor: hallmarks of daddy day care (but doesn't she look happy?).


PIXbyemily said...

love. LOVE. L.O.V.E. this post. With Joe working from home, often, I have found myself wondering if it is a male /female thing or just me. So refreshing to see it isn't just me. We are blessed to have such active husbands shaping our children!

Kimberly said...

all of this is so true. . .sometimes I want to be annoyed that my husband is NOT multitasking but you are right--the babe is always happy so I guess I should start taking some lessons from him as well. :)

Christa Melnyk Hines said...

Great post, Malia! I have to admit that I don't always appreciate how my husband has no problem putting his feet up and taking a break, but I really could learn something from him. Plus, it helps my boys settle down and learn to relax a little, too. What a great way to hang out with their dad!

Malia said...

Thanks for the comments, Em, Kimberly, and Christa. I'll admit that I have days when I don't completely "appreciate" his parenting style. It's a day-by-day thing. Depends on how much laundry is on the floor. :)