This week I’ve been given my first taste of what it is like to be a stay at home dad, while not really being a stay at home dad. Like most families here in the US, when my wife delivered she took maternity leave from her place of employment. For the past three-months she has been with our daughter day in and day out. With her maternity leave ending, and night classes in full swing, the time has come for me to spend more time caring for our daughter.
While the company I work for offers paternity leave, I was only able to use vacation time to get paid for my time spent at home. As a result, I was home with my wife and daughter for a little more than a week before returning to work.
The first week back was very tough. All I could think about was my baby at home. Over time both my wife and I fell into a routine of her caring for Natalie during the day and me taking over when I got home from work.
With my wife’s maternity time having run out and child care costs so high, I made arrangements to work from home two-days per week. In addition, my wife is going to school two-nights per week. As a result, I’m with my daughter more now than ever, which is both great and overwhelming.
Last night my wife went straight from work to class. I picked up Natalie and spent the evening with her while we waited for mommy to get home. Not having an extra pair of hands around for a stretch of four to five hours was more difficult than I expected.
In anticipation of having my daughter all day today, I got up a little earlier than usual and started in on odds and ends for work. After a couple of hours my wife was out the door and on her way to work while I fed and played with Natalie. After a bit I changed her then set her down for a nap.
A few short minutes later I was on my laptop and back to work. Just as I started to get into a groove, my daughter woke up and began to cry. The laptop was set aside and I went to her. This cycle of eat, change a diaper, play for a bit, and nap for an hour kept up all day.
When my wife arrived home, I passed the proverbial baby-duty torch to her and headed back to the laptop. While spending all day with Natalie is a lot of fun, it doesn’t lead to a very productive work day. It’s alright though, I’ll trade working hours in the evening to spend extra time with my daughter during the day.