Stay-at-Home Dad Depression is a real thing.
For a man who was used to being the family breadwinner, or at least following a routine that involved interacting mostly with other adults on a daily basis, the change in the day can be shocking.
Even worse, it can lead some dads down a dangerous path of depression as their former selves are relegated to duties we may perceive as being less important than, say a corporate job.
Even in our current era the plight of depressed fathers is something we don’t know much about: a 2015 Marquette University article states “…Almost nothing is known about how SAHF’s [stay at home fathers] experience depression, nor their experiences and beliefs regarding help-seeking and psychotherapy.”
So, what can fathers do to feel great about being dads and maintain their sense of self?
Check out our 8 tips on how to deal with stay-at-home Dad depression:
1. Understand This: You’re Not Alone
Plenty of men are home with their kids whilst their wives head to work. There’s nothing wrong with that! According to the Census Bureau of the United States, there are 209,000 men staying at home with their kids according to 2016 statistics.
The current census is still taking place, so who knows how many more stay at home dads we will see. And yet, even though plenty of dads are doing this noble job, people still think of it as being rare. (Incorrect!)
2. Ignore the Naysayers…or Educate Them
Read any stories of stay at home dads and you find some humorous, or even maddening, stories of ignoramuses talking to stay at home dads with, well stupid things to say.
Take the story of Billy Kilgore, who walked down the Chicago streets with his son in a cloth wrap. There is one instance in which he reports men in suits furrowing their brow at him.
Just remember: it’s OK to be confident. This is a new era in which men and women alike share duties of parenting and that’s how it should be. Children need both their fathers AND their mothers, and don’t be afraid to tell people this.
Be confident and comfortable, and don’t hesitate to remind them that kids who have a parent at home- regardless of gender- benefit more than kids who don’t.
3. Talk It Over
Maybe this is too little, too late, but if you are considering making the jump to being a stay at home dad, talk about it with your partner first. Make sure you know what you will be doing.
Is this chiefly a childcare gig, or will you be cleaning, cooking and doing errands? Make sure you have a clear list of what you will be doing so you can avoid arguments and conflict with your loved one.
4. Create and Keep A Routine
You read it first- establish a routine so your kids know what to expect, and so you know how to plan your day. And don’t fear if your spouse tells you “This is how I would have done it.” If your kids are happy and healthy, that’s all that matters.
And remember, communicate with your spouse. Let your partner know why you are doing what you’re doing. They might offer insight or ideas on how to improve.
5. Create and Get Involved in A Support Group
Stay at home parents complain of isolation more than anything else. After all, you are surrounded by kids, who can’t carry an adult conversation on. So, you are relegated to endless rounds of “Baby Shark” and whatever the Paw Patrol gang is up to. This can lead a parent to feel frustrated, lonely and depressed.
Use the Internet to find others in your area, or just find a Facebook group that offers support for stay at home parents or dads. Other sites like DaddyMojo or Reddit’s StayAtHomeDads subreddit are great spots to get started talking to other men like you.
You can get ideas, support and tips about being the best stay at home dad you can be.
6. Don’t Be Shy About Meeting Stay at Home Moms
They are essentially, your coworkers. It is very scary at first to walk into a playdate and discover you’re the only dad. The moms might appear uncomfortable at first, too. But, treat it as you would any other setting.
Be polite, be friendly, and just sit back and focus on your kid. Don’t ask too many questions, and don’t get overinvolved. Earn the trust of your fellow moms and gradually you will fit right in.
7. Make Time for Yourself
We get that your schedule is all about the kids. However, failure to plan for yourself leads you down a path of burnout and even depression. While the kids take naps, do your thing: read a book or play a video game. Work out at home or if your gym has childcare, take advantage of it.
Have the kids go to a friend’s house and vice-versa so you can clean and do errands. Make sure you preserve your hobbies and interests- it will help you keep a clear mind and remind yourself of your many identities. You’re more than just Dad!
8. It’s OK to Ask for Help
Sometimes, dads believe they have to do the impossible and get EVERYTHING done EVERY DAY with ZERO mistakes. Guess what?
It’s OK to ask for help or get help. Otherwise you’re going to stress yourself out.
It’s OK to have the kids hang at their friend’s house while you do errands. It’s OK to have a cleaner come in once a week to clean up your home for you. It’s OK to let the kids watch educational TV for one hour so you can relax.
You might have to cut back to afford said services- like babysitting and cleaners- but consider it an investment in your health. It’s worth it!
Wrapping It Up – Stay-at-Home Dad Depression
Dads are amazing people and you are one of them! Be proud of your work and remember, there’s nothing wrong with being confident in your ability to parent like a pro. Enjoy every moment – it goes by insanely fast.
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