For the last 13 years, I’ve been some form of professional web developer, and for the last 21 months, I’ve been a dad. We’re lucky enough that my salary means Sophie (my wife) is able to be a stay at home mum. We both love this arrangement, as we don’t need to sort out child care, and as I work remotely from home, our daughter gets to spend a lot of time with us.
Note: We decided before she was born that we didn’t want our daughter to have an online presence until she was old enough to decide for herself. This is why I won’t be referring to her by name. My apologies if that makes this a little awkward to read.
In August this year, Sophie had to be rushed into hospital for life-saving surgery, which thankfully was successful. She did however have a long recovery period, so for two weeks after the surgery, I didn’t work.
I spent that two weeks being a full time dad, carer, and house husband.
Under normal circumstances, I work 9:00 to 5:00 Monday to Friday, while Sophie looks after our daughter and the house. Outside of those hours we share the housework and childcare. One downside to this is that Sophie gets to spend a lot more time one-to-one with our daughter than I do.
However, during those first two weeks of Sophie’s recovery, I did all the childcare, and all the house work. My days started at 7:00am, and usually didn’t finish until 8:00pm, when we’d had dinner and I’d done the washing up. I’d get a couple of hours off in the afternoon when our daughter was napping, although that was often spent doing house work. And this was seven days a week.
It was the longest days I’d ever worked, and by far the hardest job I’ve ever had. But it was also the most rewarding.
This new routine also highlighted the effect my usual sedentary lifestyle was having on my health and fitness, as at the end of the first few days of being a full time dad, I’d lay down in bed with aching legs. I’d not done anything specifically strenuous on those days. Simply running round with a very active toddler all day was far more exertion than my puny legs were used to. It’s prompted me to get back into running, as well as look into setting up a sit/stand desk (I did have a standing desk for a while, but ultimately abandoned it. That’s s story for another post).
I loved getting to spend so much time one on one with our daughter, and we definitely connected more. She’s such a joy to be around, at an age where she’s putting a lot of small, adorable, and often hilarious sentences together. This also means she is able to express how she feels, and even engage in something resembling a conversation.
I also had a lot of learning to do, things like what washing machine setting to use when washing bedding, and how to time preparing our daughter’s meals. One of the most important lessons for me was learning more of her abilities, and just how much she is able to do now. As a result, I feel more at ease when she is experimenting and exploring. I’ve always been the more cautious parent, which I think is in part because I don’t spend as much time with our daughter, so I’m less aware of her capabilities.
We also learned new ways of making each other laugh, which often ends up in a positive feedback loop turning from giggles into uncontrollable laughing fits.
I enjoy programming, and I love my job, but at the end of those two weeks, when Sophie was feeling well enough to return to a more normal routine, I honestly didn’t want to go back to work.
I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do the job I do. It’s physically easy (although often mentally exhausting), the pay is great, and I can do it from the comfort of my own home.
That being said, if money wasn’t a factor, I’d chose being a full time dad every time. It’s the best job I ever had.