The (not so) Secret Diary of Daddy Dave Care
“Have you got the day off from work?” is probably the most common thing people ask me when I’m out and about with my daughter during the week. I always reply with the same explanation, so it makes sense to do the same here to introduce myself:
“Hi, my name is Dave, I’ve lived in Hersham/Walton for 10 years and I’m a ‘stay-at-home’ dad!”
Taking advantage of the new paternity leave legislation in 2011, my wife and I decided that it would be a great opportunity for me to take three months paternity leave to spend time with our lovely daughter Amelie. With the combination of a very supportive wife and the fact that I loved doing it, here I am two and a half years later, still a stay-at-home dad.
This usually gets the response of:
Men = “lucky you” (they think I sit at home watching sky sports all day)
or “okay” and a look of horror (they think I’m crazy)
Women = “you’re brave, good for you” (I know you mean well, but not sure how to respond to that one)
or “It’s hard work isn’t it” (it definitely is)
The thing is, now I don’t really think about it; I’m just doing the same job as stay-at-home mums – it’s no easier or harder because I’m a man. There have been lots of ups and downs over the last two and a half years (as all parents know), but I’ve loved the experience. A good day at work doesn’t compare to a good day at home, but I’d take a bad day at work over a bad day at home.
If I look back on the daunting early days at home with Amelie, I was very lucky that we met a great group of friends at the NCT classes. After Claire returned to work and I took the childcare reins, the “NCT ladies” quickly accepted me in to the group and named me “Daddy Dave”. We met up at least once a week and still do the same now (Amelie says hi to Alex, Josh, Olivia, Emilia, Baby Lucas, Baby Charlie, Baby William, and Baby Arabella).
The time has flown by and when I look at Amelie now I can’t believe there was a time when we were worrying because she couldn’t/wouldn’t walk or talk or eat. Now she runs everywhere, eats everything and doesn’t stop nattering away … we are definitely in the ‘why?’ (and ‘what?’, ‘when?’, ‘who?’) stage!
After all this time there are still two things that I struggle with – singing and children’s names.
Singing in public, I hate it!
I have known my wife for 14 years and I think she has heard me sing once. I’m generally quite a shy person with a terrible singing voice. Amelie has always loved Jitterbugs at the Burhill Sure Start Centre and we have gone along to the sessions since she was a small baby. Thanks to Emma-Jane (who runs the class) I have managed to get away with mumbling very quietly for all this time. Despite my dislike of singing, Jitterbugs is brilliant and I highly recommend it! (See the Burhill Sure Start Centre website below for dates, times of sessions).
The second thing is other children’s names. Usually the only man at weekly activities I stand out, so most people remember my daughter’s name. Unfortunately I struggle to remember all the other children’s names. So if I refer to your child as ‘your little one’, apologies in advance.
So what would I say to other dads considering staying at home? – Do you have endless patience, like tidying rooms for them to be trashed ten minutes later, do you like making ten cups of tea a day (but only managing to drink two of them), do you like making dinner for it never to be eaten, do you like the most intelligent conversation of the day to be about whether Daddy Pig wears trousers? … then it’s for you!
But ultimately if you have the opportunity, I’d say go for it … it will be harder than you think it will be, but it will be a fantastic experience.
A few things from my week
Best thing we ate this week:
Beef and vegetable casserole. Great if you’re spending the afternoon at home and a good way to increase the vegetable count.
Best thing we did this week:
Toddler splash on Thursday morning at Guildford spectrum. Bit of a trip from Hersham, but great fun and there is an upper age limit for kids so there are only adults and toddlers in the pool.
Best thing we made this week:
Bit of a cliché, but the cardboard box car (see picture) made out of an old box and some tape. It’s kept Amelie amused for days. She’s taken all her toys for a drive and is now spending her time designing the interior.
Website of the week:
Burhill Sure Start Children’s Centre for Hersham residents. Friendly staff with good advice, and a good opportunity to meet other mums and dads in Hersham. Our favourite activities are Jitterbugs and Play and Learn.
Best tantrum this week:
A good five minutes of grumpiness from Amelie, followed by 15 minutes sitting in the bedroom not talking to me because I wasn’t able to do her hair like Olly Murs. To be fair I did try, but couldn’t work out how to do it.
Amelie’s quote of the week:
“Singing is difficult” (when asked why she wasn’t singing at Jitterbugs)
“It works for me” of the week:
Disco bath (glow sticks optional). If Amelie is refusing to have a bath, normally a shout of ‘disco bath’ does the trick. All you need is something to play some music (of course safe for the bathroom) and a torch. Admittedly, it’s not much of a disco, but it gets her in to the bath.
Advice needed for me this week:
Amelie is no longer in nappies at night, but is waking at 5am to use the loo. Then that’s it, she’s awake and raring to go for the day. Please just tell me it’s a phase (we all need an extra half hour in bed).
More by Daddy Dave Care & Amelie: