The fundamentals of childcare are relatively simple, if not always easy. The main goal: to return the child(ren) to their mother in a comparable condition to when she left. This means well fed, clothed and diapered regularly, with no major cuts or bruises from their “adventures” with daddy, and preferably somewhat emotionally stable. Due to the overwhelming difficulty many father’s seem to have with this objective, I have put together a 5 step “Daddy Survival Guide” to staying home alone with the kids.
*PLEASE NOTE: this is a satire, a comedy, my husband is very capable with my children and I have every confidence in him.
Step 1: Make Eye Contact.
The first thing you need to remember when you are home alone with the kids, is to make eye contact. This can be very difficult to do when you are reading that very important news story or watching the rerun of Top Gear. However as soon as you feel that little hand tugging at your leg or hear that piercing wail assail your ears… kneel down and engage yourself with your child. You can often pick out clues from their body language, or the massive bump on their head, as to what has happened even if you cannot translate what they are saying between the screams.
Step 2: Gauge the game.
We love that you are playing with the kids, you are doing great! But before you get too engrossed in the game itself, take a minute to step back and observe your kids. Make sure you aren’t tuning out a crying toddler or missing the fact that someone is being left out or *maybe* some of the kids aren’t enjoying it as much as you are.
Step 3: Toast is not a 3 course meal.
We know you love toast, so do we! We are super impressed you are feeding the kids and paying attention to the time! Before you wrap up the meal however, you may want to consider adding a carrot stick, or slicing up a bit of cucumber. Children are growing little sponges, so you can even add a little protein in the mix if you’re feeling adventurous. It is important to note here that children whine and misbehave as a sign of hunger. We understand how primeval this is and how frustrating it can be, however rest assured that your kids will eventually learn how to control their emotions and not let their hunger dictate how they cope (just look at you!).
Step 4: Safety First!
In the case of two or more children, you may be forced at times to compromise the happiness of one child for the furthered safety and well-being of another. You will want to make sure you can determine which child takes precedence in a relatively short amount of time. For example:
Johnny is crying for your attention while Luke is climbing onto the table to help cut the toast (and cucumbers, carrots, and meat) for lunch.
In this situation, place Johnny in a safe place despite his obvious discomfort and rejection of such a recourse and immediately launch yourself at Luke to make sure he doesn’t cut of his hand. Remember the primary objective is to try to keep the children in the same condition, preferably with all their limbs.
Situations like this will arise quite often and this is the point in which we highly recommend tuning your children out. The screams for attention when you are trying to deal with a higher ranking “situation” are totally fine, take a breath, tune it all out, and be confident in your decision!
Step 5: Be Prepared.
You’re going outside with the kids…. great… we’re super thrilled. As you throw on the nearest pair of shoes on the kids and head outside, we advise you to remember the last time you went to the beach and the kids got a wicked sunburn. Or when you went sledding and everyone was screaming because they were on the verge of frostbite???? Ya, even if YOU feel ok with going outside in your slacks and sweater, you will have a much more enjoyable time (and happy wife) if you do a little bit of prep beforehand. Pay attention to the weather, think about where you’re going. Will it be windy and colder than it is here? Will it be hot and sunny with not a lot of shade? Make sure your children are wearing the proper sized shoes (on the right feet (with socks on)) and are dressed appropriately for the weather.
The children need water (at the very least). If you are unsure whether or not to bring water, check out this handy cheat sheet:
- Is it hot? Bring lots of water!
- Are you going to be doing something active (like walking, running, swimming, biking, etc.)? Bring lots of water!
- Is it cold? Bring lots of water!
You’ve got this!
One of the hardest things of being a father is when you are kind of launched into a situation you just aren’t 100% certain of. Well dads, we’ve got you covered! Print off this handy survival guide and you’ll be just fine!