‘What do you do?’

‘I’m a stay-at-home dad.’

‘Oh…’ An awkward silence ensues.

In conservative societies (and even liberal ones) where husbands are traditionally expected to bring home the bacon, many folks sit uncomfortably with the idea of SAHDs.

Can dads be decent full-time caregivers? What does he do all day?

While a January 2020 study released by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) found that local SAHDs felt social stigma and a sense of inferiority, it is possible to create a more enabling environment for dads who choose to take an active role in childcare and domestic affairs. All that’s needed are a few coping tools.

Success tips

At the same time, SAHDs can consider applying these suggestions to take on their homebound role with a renewed sense of pride.

1. You and your better half need to stand on the same side

Having a supportive spouse is crucial in fending off unsolicited comments. She and your clan of healthy, well-adjusted children are the best testimonies for the benefits of active fathering.

(And mummies, if you are reading this, do let daddy find his own rhythm (translate: no nagging) in solo parenting. At the same time, remember to proactively help out when you are home so as to alleviate his stress.)

2. Ask for a time-out

Just as how SAHMs are often asked to think about self-care, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be doing the same. Make it a point to get together with your friends every fortnight to keep up with your social network and have adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around the kids. Or go catch that action movie that you’ve been dying to watch. Or simply retreat to your bed for an early night.

3. Let go of expectations

Tantrums and messes will happen on an almost-daily basis. Forget about having a spick-and-span home, having the kids nap on command, or even having the energy to still hold a deep conversation with your spouse at the end of the day. Along with the frustrations however, you can expect lots of laughter and spontaneity, and a bond with the little ones that will never be replaceable.