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Daddy Bootcamp: A Day in the Life of a Work-at-Home Dad

Christine Pafumi
June 1, 2012

One dad compares being a work-at-home dad to being put through military boot camp as part of the Care.com Interview Series

When David Vienna became a father, he saw two options - chronicle his experience as a work-at-home dad in a blog or check himself into the sanitarium. Luckily, the choice was simple. Through his writing on The Daddy Complex, Vienna is letting the world know that dads are, in fact, not "clueless boobs."

Vienna sums up the best parts of fatherhood for us: acting like a circus chimp and a hobo sleeping out in the car to get some rest to name a few. Find out what it's like to endure the sleep desert of parenthood and why Vienna thinks we all need to get a good shrink.

Tell us about your family.

I have 3-and-a-half year old fraternal twin boys. Their personalities are quite different. Boone takes his time to fully understand something before engaging while Wyatt usually leaps right into an activity, throwing caution to the wind. Caution is the name of his toy train.

In the blogging world, there is so much out there about moms. What role do you think Dad blogs can play in that space?

Dad blogs can play the exact same role as mom blogs, but I feel like we need to be louder because advertisers, films and even news outlets still see fathers as clueless boobs. I want to grab the media by the lapels (assuming the media has lapels) and shout, "Look outside! It's the future. We have hand-held computers and cars that park themselves and real jet packs. Dads are fully functioning parents. Now, where can I plug in my hover-board?"

Tell me what's surprised you about fatherhood? What were you expecting?

I didn't fully comprehend the sleep desert parents must cross during the first 14-16 months. I tell people, short of military boot camp, the first year or so of your child's life will be the hardest thing you ever experience. (And though I haven't actually experienced boot camp, I have seen Full Metal Jacket, so it counts.) Most of that is due to the absolute dearth of substantive rest, especially with twins.

There were rare occasions when either my wife or I would volunteer to be on duty so the other could try to get a night's sleep. But, even if you're not caring for a crying newborn at 3 a.m., the crying still wakes you up. I remember a few times going to sleep in our car in the driveway. I felt like a hobo, but at least I slept. Plus, I learned how to cook beans in a can.

The first few months of parenthood can be trying - as a dad, how did you feel most useful the first six months?

I felt the most useful in the first six months when I stayed up with a fussy or crying baby. My wife had to go into an office every day, so it was important that she get rest. If it was late and I couldn't get the baby back to sleep, I would sit in the living room with the child propped up on my knees facing me and I'd watch a movie, usually with the sound off. By the way, with no dialogue, Death Race 2000 is even more ridiculous.

What is the one piece of advice you wish you had before becoming a father?

The one piece of advice I wish I had before becoming a father is "Find a shrink now because you'll need one."

What is the most difficult part of being a stay-at-home dad and how do you fit blogging and writing into your day while keeping the family happy?

The most difficult part of being a stay-at-home dad is everything, just as it is for moms. Even the most menial tasks like paying a bill seem insurmountable. As my boys got older, however, it got a bit easier. Or rather, I adjusted to the schedule imposed by my boys.

In the early days, I would try to do most of my blogging at night. I guess I still do, but I monitor online chatter more now than I used to. I'm able to keep the family happy by acting like a circus chimp.

What is the hardest part about being a dad?

The hardest part of being a dad is convincing myself military school is a bad idea.

Finish this sentence: The best part of being a dad is...

Making my boys laugh.

Tell us about the best Father's Day you've ever had!

I've only had three Father's Days so far, but they've all been pretty awesome. The only ritual/gift for each one has been that I get to sleep in. And that's something I never get tired of. See what I did there?

Kids want to know: What does Dad want MOST for Father's Day?

All I want for Father's Day is for us to have fun as a family. A '69 Pontiac Firebird convertible wouldn't be bad either, but family fun is fine.

What are the best tips you can give a new Dad?

  1. Don't try to do it all yourself.
  2. It's okay to ask for help.
  3. Hang in there, you're doing fine.
  4. And don't feel the need to rush a dirty diaper off. Your baby might not be done.

Get more laughs and tips in the rest of our Care.com Interview Series: Daddy Survival 101 ยป

David Vienna, work-at-home dad and The Daddy Complex blogger, was named the 4th Funniest Dad Blogger in the world by Babble.com. He is a professional writer and produces content that is seen online, onscreen and onstage. Vienna resides in California with his wife and his fraternal twin sons, Boone and Wyatt. You can find David on Twitter and Facebook.

Image used with permission from David Vienna.

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