What Does a Stay-at-Home Dad Do All Day?

In the monthly series of posts about what I do all day, I missed doing one at the end of February. I can’t remember what exactly caused me to miss it, but I’ll blame the extreme cold temperatures, excessive snow, and shortened month.

These posts have typically read, clean, feed, clean, feed, and so on, in some pattern sprinkled with odd little nuggets of parenting humor. For this post I’m sharing a day that I actually worked. My sister-in-law jokes that when I say I work, what I really do is go to the movies. This is what actually happens.

Wake up at 640 in the morning. I’ve continued using the Sleep Cycle app to monitor when I’m most restless within a predetermined window, and wake me up within it and the results continue to be good.  I head downstairs to make my coffee and get out a pad of paper. The pad of paper is a new idea, and one that I’m taking from BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits course.

It works like this, I have three goals that each take thirty seconds or less and do them for a week. Fogg emails us to check in and give support to our pursuits. In the morning I have two goals, one is to get the pad of paper out. I get it out and that’s the extent of my goal. I don’t have to make lists, write notes, or brainstorm. I just set it in front of me and take a moment to look at it between starting my coffee and rousing our children. Twice this week I’ve had productive brainstorming and sketching sessions and it feels like a good precursor to myday.

My other tiny habit  is to be excited for the day ahead. I’ll think a positive affirmation like I am excited for all that today brings  or I can’t wait to see what today presents to me. On the first two days this didn’t get much traction, but this morning it did. It caused me to start signing and bouncing around our kitchen, and dancing with my wife before she left for work. I was so excited that I forgot to eat breakfast.

My children needed oatmeal not affirmations, so I headed to their rooms to ge them up. By 710 I had them out of bed and dressed. I’ve started making oatmeal and having it warm on the table for them when they arrive. If they eat it great, if not I’ll eat it later. (Except for today when I forgot to eat)

By 730 we have eaten and brushed our hair and have left for school. I drop both kids off and am home around 815 when I take the dogs for a short, 3/4 mile walk, and then get dressed for work. I didn’t lay my things out the night before so I scrambled a bit to include everything I need. Not until later did I realize that I forgot an arm band to use to go running with. Nevertheless, I’m out the door around 900 to drive to the first school I’m visiting.

My job is to observe student teachers during their lessons, give feedback, and assign grades. It’s a nice job and I enjoy seeing new things, tips, and tools in the classroom. My observation began at 930 and lasted until 1045.  Working with these undergraduate students reminds me that in life a lot about your job depends on who you work with. All of my students this semester are very good and it makes my job a lot easier.

From 1045 until 1115 I commute to the Defiance College campus and listen to podcasts. Having access to these quality podcasts reminds me how lucky I am. That I exist in an age of technology that allows for on-demand listening of some of the smartest, humorous, and intelligent entertainment is amazing. Here are some recent things I’ve listened to.

At 1115 I’ve settled into a spot at the campus library and start to work. Thanks to my morning moment with the notepad I’ve got a list of things to do.  That list included; grading students paper, assigning grades for observations, continuing the draft of a parenting book, creating meeting notes for the afternoon, writing a blog post, and updating some blog posts for 27GoodThings.com.  This  took me until 115.  I realized I was doing a lot of writing, so I decided to track that too.  This two hour block yielded about 2700 words.

After two solid hours of good writing I felt my brain slowing down and fingers felt like I had winter gloves on. This has only been a recent addition to my creative work. I’ve found that as a stay-at-home parent I try to do the list of things above in whatever pockets of time I’m presented with. On days like this I may have a four or five hour block of time, but I can’t keep a focused pace for that entire period.  I take a break to do some much needed grocery shopping and pick up some birthday gifts for our daughters.  By 230 I had finished shopping and made it back to the library.  The internet was flicking off and on so I transcribed some notes I had been wanting to get into my Evernote account.  I also wrote a blog post until 315 when I headed out to run.  My word count for the day is up to 3200.

After three miles, a bit of rain, and some stretching, it was 400 and my meeting started. Each week I meet with the undergraduate students that I do observations of and early in the semester these meetings included a lot of cheerleading and “You can do it!”moments. Now they’ve transitioned to looking forward to the time past student teaching including doing interviews and finding the right job. At the meeting I share a quote from Scott Adams and give them a quiz about what they enjoy doing and what they are good at. The quiz is modeled after Cal Newport’s ideas and, incredibly, it goes just as I planned.  At 445 I was in my car and by 530 I arrived at my in-laws for dinner.  That’s right, not only do they watch my kids all day, they feed me a hot meal when I pick them up.

It’s 630 by the time the kids and I arrive home and after taking the dogs out I get them snacks and we get ready for tomorrow.  I take a shower, pickup a bit around the house, and check their bags and make sure that whatever clothes they think they are wearing are clothes they can actually wear.  Around 800 I start a load of laundry and start reading books with them.  By 845 the kids are in bed and the laundry is hanging to dry after a brief tumble to fluff it up.  

My wife and I settle on different ends of the couch and turn on a show as we each finish a bit of computer work. At 1000 I put my computer away and read Micheal Lewis’s Home Game until going to sleep at 1100.

Writing this blog post took my daily word count north of 4300 words for the day.

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