Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I am Running an Unlicensed Before-and-After School Program in My Home

My wife typically leaves the house for work around 6:00 AM. If I’m lucky, my kids will both sleep in until 7 o’clock. Usually, I’m not lucky.

Usually, one child will wake the other around 6:20, which means I’m taking care of two young children for the next 2 hours, as my 7 year-old son’s bus doesn’t arrive until 8:22.

It’s a solid 30 minutes just to get them dressed and fed, which leaves another hour and a half to let them play, but while trying to keep them from getting themselves into trouble.

Over the past 2 months that I’ve been a stay-at-home dad (who also works from home as a freelance writer and YouTuber), I’ve learned the art of getting household chores done while they are entertaining each other.

For example, I’ve learned I can effortlessly unload the dishwasher while they have their post-breakfast picnic on the living room floor. I am also constantly uploading YouTube videos for my 3 channels, on my laptop which sits on top of my daughter’s plastic school desk.

Their post-breakfast picnic immediately transitions into an intense indoor recess, where the main attraction is for my 7 year-old son to run as fast as he can past my year and a half old daughter while she stands up and cheers as he runs straight toward her, but only grazesthe sleeve of her shirt, without knocking her down.

So far, injuries. I feel pretty good about that.

The next event is for my son to run as fast as he can while my daughter lays down on the blanket, and then he jumps over her and her bowl of cereal, without his feet touching either his sister or her bran flakes.

This activity also amazingly currently holds a 100% injury-free record.

For the 45 minutes in which they are both home after my son gets off the bus and before my wife gets home from work, I typically just take my kids upstairs in the playroom while they casually play with toys and watch me try to beat my high score on Mario Kart Wii.

Hey, it’s better than the before school part of my daddy day care, right?

I’m pretty sure the state of Tennessee would deny me a license to run a day care like this from my home. It’s probably for the best.

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KinderCare: Jack’s Baby Boarding School

August 31, 2011 at 7:40 pm , by 

Nine months.

For over a month now, Jack has been going to “day care.” But after seeing what it’s like, I can’t even use that phrase any more. He is enrolled in a KinderCare Learning Center, which I like to call his “baby boarding school.”

My preconceived ideas of “day care” consisted of a room full of crying babies while Disney movies entertained the older kids down the hall. That is not at all what Jack experiences Monday through Friday at KinderCare.

One of my roles as Jack’s dad is to transport him to and from KinderCare each day. Honestly, it’s not one of those difficult routines where he furiously cries in fear as I drop him off each morning. Instead, he is greeted by a familiar face that is warm and welcoming. The ratio of babies to adults is 4 to 1. And even though Jack is only 9 months old, it is obvious to me that he is being engaged by his teachers as well as his surroundings.

My wife and I get a daily report letting us know how many dirty and wet diapers he had, his nap schedule, his general mood, and specific comments about how that day at KinderCare was different from the rest. Our favorite comment so far was, “Jack really had a great time outside today. He enjoyed playing with the mulch.”

That just cracks me up. It figures. Despite the toys and fresh air in the yard there, the thing he would find the most fascination in is the mulch. Classic Jack.

Without a doubt, I am convinced that his enrollment at KinderCare has enhanced his social skills.While being there, he doesn’t have my wife or me there to interfere or favor him in his interactions with the other babies. In his micro-society, he learns to interact with them on a level playing field.  And that’s important to me.

Obviously, I want a well-balanced kid, not one that has been overly comforted and has lived a perfect life of ease. I like the fact he is used to the routine of me leaving him for a while, knowing that I am coming back to pick him up. I want him to know that he can be okay without me being there every minute of the day.

That being said, I only work a block away from KinderCare, so I’m never really all that far away. And despite his need for independence from me, I like knowing that I can be there in two minutes flat.

 

Misadventures in Daycare: Summer of 1987

Three months in the Alabama Slammer.

The smell of burnt scrambled eggs is so distinct. Somehow the cooks at my summer daycare in 1987 managed to consistently make sure breakfast was less than gourmet quality. For me at age six, I treated daycare like prison. I was forced to be there. I was made to sleep on a cot for an hour even though I wasn’t tired. I had to watch TV shows I didn’t want to see, like Reading Rainbow marathons. For the most part, I kept my head down and stayed out of everybody’s business. I wasn’t there to make friends. I was there to serve my time and move on.

At least my partner in crime was there with me. My sister Dana, being 3 years younger than me, was with a different age group for most of the day. But from 2 to 3 o’clock all the kids were in the same room for nap time. The entire floor was covered with grungy green army cots we had to balance on and pretend like we were all sleeping. Baffled by all these strange kids around me who for some reason actually seemed to enjoy being there, the only person I would talk to was my sister. Not only was she easy to talk to (she was 3 at the time) but she thought I was funny.

One day during nap time on the cot next to hers, I held up my hand near her face, waving hello. Then I pulled in three of my fingers to my palm to make a gun. Next I pulled in my thumb and pointer finger to make a fist. She was impressed with my ability to wave, make a gun, then a fist with the same hand in a matter of seconds. A woman in charge saw me do it and said in front of everyone, “Nick, put your hand down and stop bothering your sister.” I didn’t care enough to explain that she liked it and so stood convicted of my new crime.

By the end of the summer though, a wonderful event occurred. A prospective parent brought their child in to visit the place, all dressed up like they were from Connecticut or something. While giving the tour, one of the ladies in charge of the place showed the parent and child where the restroom was.

She opened the door only to find there was a boy sitting down on the toilet with his shorts around his ankles. He didn’t lock the door and therefore was exposed to the parent, child, and everyone facing that side of the room. It was great. That made my summer at Lad & Lassie Day Care worth the while.

Classic.