Celebrating the diverse and blurred role of a modern-day father, we’re here to highlight the more hands-on and creative approach our dads are adopting, as society continues to move away from the traditional and gender-specific roles of parents.
For many stay-at-home dads (part or full-time), their days are often spent endlessly negotiating snack-time, dealing with toxic nappies, navigating the playground, keeping up with milk or juice demands, enthusiastically taking part in ‘art and crafts’, and diffusing tantrums. Experiences that are all too familiar, to the majority of mums!
Melbourne local, and dad of two gorgeous girls, Sophie (2.5yr old) and Maya (8mths), Dan, gave us an insight into the benefits and challenges of juggling his part-time work with his role as a ‘professional dad’.
Q: So Dan, tell us how you came to juggle part-time work with your role as a ‘professional dad’? Was it something you and your wife, Lauren, always had in mind for your family unit?
A: It was certainly never something we ever imagined! Although we always considered the idea, we just never thought financially it was something we could do. As an AFL Scout, my job along with many others, reduced in hours when COVID hit, which forced us to embrace the change, and creatively adapt. Lauren, who was pregnant with Maya at the time, instantly became the sole income earner, which automatically shifted my responsibilities to ensuring her work was completed with the least amount of interruptions, while Sophie was at home. Being part of those special moments, as messy, sticky and wildly hectic as they are, is just awesome! Of course there’s moments, even days, that are more challenging than others, but overall, it’s been really cool.
Q: You’ve just touched on it above, but what are the aspects you’ve found to love or loathe during this time!? Have you been able to identify any challenges, and how have you overcome them?
A: Other than just being part of the kids’ everyday world, when Lauren gave birth to Maya, it was awesome knowing I had no external pressures from work to jump back in, which enabled our post-baby bubble to organically evolve, and simultaneously encouraged a beautiful bond between myself and Sophie, which otherwise may or may not have been so strong.
Challenges wise, there’s been a few small hurdles, including the continual balance between work and dad-life. Working part-time, while Lauren cares for the kids, and alternatively, caring for the kids whilst Lauren works, has meant there’s no down-time, which is tiresome for sure! Yet, this has also led to a deeper understanding of parenting, and a true appreciation for those who care for their kids full-time. Although I really thought I knew what happened whilst I was at work, until I did it(!!), I didn’t fully understand the fatigue that comes with it (laughs Dan!).
Q: As society continues to move away from the traditional ‘mum and dad’ roles within a family, how do you think this more creative, flexible and diverse set-up where the father isn’t always the sole-worker, is going to affect generations to come?
These days, everyone we know, whether it’s due to COVID shifting the way we work and subsequently the way we ‘parent’ or, if it’s directly in search of personal desires, so many families are balancing contrasting parenting styles compared to that of our parent’s generation. For me, my mother raised her four children full-time whilst my father worked. It was what you did back then, and it came without question.
For our family, it’s certainly been a positive experience, and has brought us all closer together. As a couple, Lauren and I are more connected and accepting of how each other are feeling, whether that be tired, inspired or simply, content, which leads to a more balanced approach. I believe it will further encourage couples to consider structuring their family unit in a way that works for them, at any given time, rather than what is socially contrived.
So, whether you wake on Sunday to breakfast in bed, some well earned ‘me time’, or the tight squeeze of a child's cuddle, know your bad ‘dad-jokes’ and holey socks are always met with belly laughter and love.
Happy Father’s Day!