Obviously, everyone was shocked when Ella came along, some were even more shocked that I was going to be a stay at home dad, the one staying at home and looking after her. A few people back in England even suggested that I wouldn’t be able to cope. I had already made the promise when Ella came along to be the best version of myself as a dad, for her and a husband, for my wife, the negative comments from people back home only made me more determined to prove to them that they were wrong. I have a laid back attitude to most things but when there is a challenge, nothing stops me from trying to achieve my goals.
Before Ella came along, I was already routine orientated. I was very tidy and organized and had most days planned down to the minute. A lot of people had advice on how to bring up Ella but the only person I have really listened to is my sister, Andrea. She already had two boys and I always admired how well her and her husband, Matthew, had looked after their children. They had always made it look easy. I did take snippets of what other people gave me, but Andrea was always the person I called when I had questions. She too is very organized, so I made sure to take notes on the recommendations she gave me.
I remember her saying that it would be easier for me if Ella had a routine and understood it. That’s probably the first thing I would say to anyone with a child if they were to ask me for advice. Ella has always had a routine. She always napped and ate at the same time every day. 10:30am would be skype time, with family back home and even mummy knew to leave for work and arrive home the same time every day. I am positive this has helped the three of us.
It wasn’t just the time that would remain the same every day but the process as well. She would nap in the same place with the same blanket. During the day I would feed her in the living room and at night I would feed her sitting in the exact same spot. Since she was 5 months old, she has had dinner at the table sitting with mummy and daddy. This is still the same today, even if one of us is not hungry, we will still sit at the table as a family.
Another expert tip my sister shared with me was that babies need to know the difference between day and night. During the day Ella would nap in the living room with the TV playing on low and light shining in, at night everything was dark and quiet and she would sleep in her crib.
Ella has always been a fantastic sleeper and everyone always comments on how well Ella behaves at the table and eats everything so I’m very thankful for the advice from my sister.
Ella has never been to day care therefore I ensure that every day has something educational and fun in it. We go the park, library and the zoo every week. We read every day and she has a number of pre-school books that she loves going through. She loves ‘homework’ and loves practicing her writing. On a number of occasions we have had to remove the books from her room because she would get up at night and start reading. Never have I heard of a child being punished by taking their reading books away!
Our house is stocked well enough for a school, so when Ella doesn’t want to practice her writing, we are painting, drawing, playing with play-doh or some other arts and crafts activity. On top of that, we try to keep Ella’s activities quite varied. So far she has been enrolled in soccer, gymnastics and swim classes.
I’m hoping that one of the benefits of being a stay at home dad is that I will have a special bond with my little girl that will last forever. And that she will always be able to talk to me about anything.
Nothing makes me prouder than knowing that she is turning into a polite, smart and happy little girl and that I have played such a part in this. Time flies when you are having fun!
So, how did Gareth go from trailing husband to stay-at-home-dad? Their journey might surprise you, it sure surprised them!
My wife was contacted by her company and asked if she would consider a move to San Francisco...That was an easy decision.
I thought my world was about to crumble. We were so far away from family and completely alone. It was too much to take in. We were having a baby!