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How to Survive Stay-at-Home Fatherhood

Christine Pafumi
June 1, 2012

Russ Jones shares why having a creative outlet is essential to parenthood as part of the Care.com Interview Series

From the moment Russ Jones laid eyes on his first son, the Stay at Homer blogger forgot everything he read in the baby books and said goodbye to a good night's rest - forever. Other than a case of Dad brain and sleepless nights, Jones tells us that fatherhood is filled with lessons that he never expected to learn. See why he thinks parents who "sleep great" are liars, how his wife is still always right, and why you should never, under any circumstances, forget the diaper bag (did someone say blowout?). Oh, and don't forget to take notes, you'll need them!

Tell us about your family.

I have the typical family: a beautiful wife who somehow manages to always be right, a 6-year-old boy who knows more than his parents (allegedly) and a two-year-old boy who is either the funniest, cutest thing in the world, or an insane devil monster. That means we're normal, right? Please tell me that's right.

Why did you decide to start blogging? What is your ultimate goal?

I needed a creative outlet. I haven't found a way to make folding laundry or changing a diaper a creative experience, so I turned to blogging.

Tell me about what you didn't know about fatherhood. What's surprised you? What were you expecting?

I didn't know that parents don't get to have a decent night sleep....ever. Parents that say they sleep great are either lying, or are so insane that they don't realize they are lying.

I also didn't expect my entire being to change at the sight of my first child. It was a shock to stand in the delivery room holding my gooey little raisin son and realizing that I wasn't the same person I was 5 minutes ago. That was one of the most profound, and subtle, moments in my life.

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

The most useful a dad can be in the first few months is to be available. It is true that the dad can sometimes feel left out of the process during the first few months, but it doesn't have to be the case. The first few months the baby is just a sleepy little peanut that is feeding, sleeping, or pooping...sometimes all three at the same time! But dads can and should be a part of that.

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

It doesn't matter how much you read in preparation for the new baby to arrive, because the moment the baby is born, you forget EVERYTHING! So write the following two instructions on your hand, because it's all you really need: Feed. Keep Clean.

How do you stay out of mommy's doghouse? What advice would you give to all the new dads out there?

You could always try doing everything she wants, when she wants it. That would never backfire on you. Also, you can give backrubs at the end of a rough day. I've never heard my wife complain when I do that. As far as advice to a new dad, as it relates to helping mom out, just be a part of the team. Stay involved, consistently.

What is the most difficult part of being a stay-at-home dad?

The most difficult part of being a stay-at-home dad is the multitasking. It really is a requirement to be a successful at-home parent. And as a man, my brain isn't set up for this kind of activity. We simply aren't wired for it.

Has there ever been a time when you have been there to witness a big/funny/cute kid moment and mom hasn't? How did that make her feel and how did you handle that?

When you are at home, you are always seeing cute moments. I take millions of pictures and email them to her throughout the day. The best thing an at-home dad can do is to be aware of mom's feelings, and understand and empathize with those feelings.

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

...seeing the knowledge you are passing on to your kids take root. And playing Legos.

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

My Father's Day is probably more like a Mother's Day where the only real requirement is: Give me a break from those kids!!

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

This dad wants 3 things: something that his kids made, a gadget or something that takes batteries that is completely impractical, and I want to get the hell out of the house and away from the kids.

What are the three best tips you can give a new dad?

1) Stay involved. Parenting isn't "her thing." It's your thing, too. Get in there!

2) Trust your gut.

3) ALWAYS bring the diaper bag. The day you say to yourself, "I don't need the diaper bag, we will only be gone 20 minutes," is the day your child has a massive blowout in the checkout line at the grocery store causing you to drive home with a naked baby and poop on your shirt.

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

Russ Jones is a stay at home dad who uses his blog, The Stay at Homer, to take his readers through an informative and comedic journey through the pleasures and perils of parenting. He started the blog so all parents had a place to go to share information and ideas and laugh along the way. Russ resides in California with his wife and two sons. You can find Russ on Twitter and Facebook.

Image used with permission from Russ Jones.

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