In many dual parent households, the majority of child rearing tasks are done by mom. As a result children develop a need to run to mom for nurturing, juice refills, and consoling boo-boos. Whereas fathers, who in these situations work all day, possibly even until their children’s bedtimes, becomes the fun guy who makes pancakes on Saturday mornings and runs around with them on the weekends. Granted, in some households the roles may be reversed with the mom working all week so dad becomes the go-to parent. Irregardless, whenever an imbalance of roles exist, its important to even it out. Here are five ways dads can become more involved with their children.
SET BEDTIME DAYS
Work with your spouse to designate evenings to switch off bath and bedtime duties. Knowing in advance will help deconflict with work, and the shared responsibilities will help spread the work load. If you have multiple children, consider each parent reading a bedtime story to each child and switching every other day.
The key with this plan is to establish your own routine, which is easier done early on in the child’s development. If kids have already gotten used to mom’s routine, there may be cries of “Mom does it differently! We want mom’s way!” Choose your battles and routine breakers, some are better to keep in place.
EXPOSE THE KIDS TO YOUR HOBBIES
If you enjoy fishing, take your children fishing. Cycling? Get them a helmet. Whatever it is you enjoy doing, preferably without your spouse, teach your kids about it. Turn it into an ‘our’ thing. If you don’t have any hobbies, its time to pick one up and learn with your kids. The only thing you have to keep in mind for this is age appropriate activities and safety. If you like carpentry, start out with something easy like hand sanding before moving up to whittling.
HAVE A RITUAL
This tip relates to number 2, but more adaptable based on ages of kids. Create a ritual with your children. Whether it be a cupcake hunt after dinner (hide a cupcake somewhere in the living room to make your kids search for dessert), or Saturday morning errand runs topped off with bagels or a diner breakfast. These rituals might not grow with your children, but at least they’ll become very fond memories of their childhoods.
GET INVOLVED IN YOUR KIDS’ EDUCATION
Studies show children excel in school when their parents are involved in their education. Something as simple as discussing what your kids learned in school that day, helping them with homework, and even taking them to museums, historic sites, or watching historical movies to supplement their learning. Getting your kids excited to learn is easier when they have you alongside them.
JUST HANG OUT WITH THEM
Honestly it doesn’t require jumping through hoops to be a great dad. You don’t have to make the perfect pancake or be keen on this week’s food your picky daughter won’t eat. Just hang out with your kids, chat with them, and make sure they know you’re there for them. Finally, really be there: when your eight year old is recounting the traumatic playground episode listen; don’t turn the TV on or read work emails. As an adult you know he’ll get over the situation, and he’ll likely forget it next week, but he won’t forget how attentive or inattentive your were in his time of need.