Dad's World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

Today is my first day as a stay-at-home dad.

AS I lumbered out of bed on Monday morning, I pictured the day ahead. I’d have to get out the door by eight to get the bus by a quarter past or else I’d have to walk it.

I’d get in, do my thing for three hours, do my second thing for another three and then come home to the boys.

As I sat on the side of the bed fumbling around in a drawer for a pair of drawers, I could feel a changed atmosphere in the air. The winds, or at least a draft, of change were blowing and there was a slightly more relaxed aura about the house. There was no rushing around and the noise levels were lower than usual.

I pulled out a pair of red boxer shorts and it suddenly dawned on me: no buses today, no times to start or times to leave, because today was my first day as a stay-at-home dad. 

I had to say it to myself a few times to get used to it and here I am four days in and I’m still getting used to it.

It’s been something of a baptism of fire, which as I get older, I realise is pretty much the case with everything I do. 

The boys have been good and seem quite satisfied with having me look after them. 

Day one went well but certainly by the end of it I was a scatter-brained wreck of a man who remembered little about how he had spent the previous eight to 10 (or was it 12?) hours of his life.

I was knackered but I couldn’t sleep that night. 

The following morning I felt like an old man after a session of tequila slammers; grumpy as hell. After an argument with Luke over orange juice, Fionn (four) gave his experienced assessment of my first 36 hours in my new role.

“Yesterday you were good,” he said. “But today you are not good.”

You win some you lose some.

There have been challenges and one thing I’m noticing is that boys use a lot of energy and as a result they get tired.

I have been around them a lot of course but I think spending so much time with them in their weekly routine has showed me how much they do and how much they wear themselves out. They need their sleep.

Luke has always loved his bed and every day this week just after one o’clock, he has looked at me doe-eyed and plaintively asked: “Can I go to bed now?”

The other fella is a different matter. He is at a bit of a crossroads. He doesn’t want to go for a snooze and probably doesn’t always need to but he still can’t handle his own floppiness. 

I’m actually convinced that boys can’t handle floppiness until they hit their mid thirties; that’s another article. But if my eight years in Italy taught me anything, it taught me that you listen to your body and when it’s tired, take that siesta. 

On Wednesday after much convincing and a little bit of bribery Fionn went down for an hour and it did him the power of good.

Another thing about being a SAHD (not a very positive acronym), is noticing other SAHDs. 

There’s a healthy whack of dads picking their children up from both Fionn’s school and Luke’s creche and as I drive around (there’s a lot of driving), I’m staggered by the numbers of men I see pushing prams on their own. 

Of course the majority of collectors, carriers, and pushers are women but it is good to see so many men involved although they are certainly more reticent than the mothers, whose confidence in this sphere is tangible if not quite verging on intimidating.

Yes it’s safe to say, it’s been an eye-opening week. 

Alas, I can’t stay much longer to write about it all as I have to go to Dollymount Strand for a walk.

There are certainly upsides to this SAHD game.


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