Stay-At-Home Dad Workout

Posted On 12:33 PM by Kevin Jensen | 0 comments

Classic! Thanks to @bubbleupweb for making me aware of this little gem...

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Parenting, Resentment, And Why It's OK

Posted On 8:34 AM by Kevin Jensen | 0 comments

Let's face it, stay-at-home parenting and resentment go hand in hand. Usually it's a deep secret we try to keep hidden and rarely do we talk about it with our friends or heaven forbid our spouse, but when we stop and are honest with ourselves, virtually every day some form of resentment bares it's ugly head. Here's why it's important for you to acknowledge that resentment rather than banish it to the dark shadows of your mind.

If you're a stay-at-home parent you likely fall into one of four categories:
  1. The "Born to be a Mother" Mom: unfortunately this category only exists for women at this point in our society, but these are the parents who from and early age knew that having children and taking care of them was their life's mission. Often this sense of duty is bred from family or religious values that are taught to these young women from infancy.
  2. The "Married into this Role" Parent: this parent didn't think or prepare for being a stay-at-home parent, but once they married and the discussion of having children came up they quickly realized that their spouse just assumed they would put off any career aspirations and be the full time parent.
  3. The "Unemployed" Parent: this parent often falls backward into the role of stay-at-home parent as their lack of employment coincides with the birth of a child.
  4. The "I Choose to Stay Home" Parent: this is the parent that makes a conscious decision to leave or put on hold their career to become a full time parent.
No matter which of these categories you fall into, resentment plays a part in your daily life. For the"Born to be a Mother" Mom it may be resenting the better parenting skills of a friend. For the "Married into this Role" parent it maybe a resenting of your spouse and children over your lost career dreams. The "Unemployed" parent may resent a spouse's successful career or feel forced into their role. The "I Choose to Stay Home" parent might feel under appreciated for their sacrifice. The list could go on and on and unless you feel the need to keep you feelings hidden away, we can all find a substantial list of perceived slights all our own. But before you get down on yourself, here's why it's OK to feel this way:

Parenting is a tough job: no, really. I know we've all heard the pep talks or read the Mother's Day cards that talk about how many hours a full time parent puts in a week, but parenting is as tough a job as you'll find. I know most who read this post already have a clear sense of what I'm talking about, but being on the job 24/7 most of the time and "on call" for the occasional time off (babysitter) is draining in ways others can not even imagine. With this kind of toll, of course you will have times when you feel resentful of others or especially resentful of the little ones who put you to work all those many hours and can be quite demanding bosses.

Getting your feelings out is half the battle: if all we do is push those feelings back and try to ignore them all that will lead to is feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and eventually overwhelming anger. Obviously we love our children, otherwise we wouldn't be doing what we do, but if we let feelings of resentment build up over time. Blammmmo! All of the sudden we find ourselves saying things out of anger to our children or spouses. Often, things we don't even think, but it gives us a release from the pent up anger. Then usually seconds later we feel worse then we did before the outburst. It's a vicious cycle.

I'm not saying we won't ever say things we'll later regret, but minimizing the anger parents feel from built up emotion will certainly help. Obviously having a open communication with your spouse is vital to developing a healthy relationship with them and your children, but truthfully how often do you have the time to sit down and hash things out with them as an outlet? Hopefully weekly, maybe monthly, possibly never? Also when you do have time alone with your spouse it's not fun for either of you if the majority of that time is spent by you getting things off your chest. Usually this leads to less time spent together alone.

Here's a suggestion I have to help get your feelings out and relieve some of the stress caused by internalizing them. Get two small notebooks that you keep with you all the time. In one notebook whenever you feel feelings of inadequacy, resentment, anger, or frustration, record your feeling with a short descriptive entry. Something like, "Why doesn't my spouse ever thank me for the meals I make?" or "Why does my child throw tantrums every time we go grocery shopping?"

In the other notebook record all the moments that bring you joy, pride, or a sense of pleasure at your decision to be a full time parent with a short entry of it's own. Something like, "3 year old daughter helped me make lunch and told me I was her best friend. Nothing better!" or "While reading to my son today he was able to pick out and read several words on his own!"

This record of your feelings, both good and bad, not only allows you to get them off your chest, it also allows you to go back over them on your own or with your spouse and see what was just heat of the moment frustration and what might need more attention or work in your life. This allows you to see that most of the resentments you feel are just a part of the ebb and flow of life and more often then not if we bring them out in the open and examine them they are nothing more than small frustrations that are built into bigger things as we let them fester, hidden away.

More than anything it also gives you a record of why this lifestyle is rewarding. Not just the big accomplishments, but also the little moments that come daily, but sometimes are overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life. Bringing these moments together into a comprehensive record allows you to see the fruits of your labors minimizing the overwhelming stress that can cloud how we feel about ourselves and those around us.
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So this is the inaugural post of meremortaldad.com a site that helps men recognize they don't have be perfect to be a super dad. Let me start by telling you my story.

In 2000 I was happily working for a small company that was quickly growing into a big success at a job I absolutely loved. My wife had recently finished the course work for her PhD and we were busy searching for our first home. Life was good, really good. But then along came child number one. A little girl with the sweetest disposition I had ever known. I was smitten. The good life we were living, now somehow became even better. I knew that this was the life I wanted to live and nothing could ever change that, but little did I know how quickly life would change so very soon.

By the end of 2000, that perfect job at a fast growing company suddenly started coming apart at the seams as the industry I worked in fell into a nose dive of giant proportions. Suddenly the future of not only my company, but also my industry was grim at best. We tried to resuscitate our dying business for months, but in the end the whole industry we were in completely collapsed and we had to walk away. So much for that dream. But as I've found so many times in life, when one door closes another opens.

While enjoying her new responsibilities as a Mom, my wife was also working on finishing her dissertation and teaching an evening school class at the local University. She was so happy she had figured out how to live the best of both worlds doing what she loved while still knowing the joys of Motherhood. Then as my career was derailing, her opportunities suddenly changed too. As I was coming to the conclusion that all hope was lost for my company, she was offered a full-time tenure track position at the University.

Suddenly we had a big decision to make. We knew she would take the position, but what would I do? Either way I knew big changes were ahead. Should I find a new position in a new industry with a new company or should I stay home with the baby and venture into a different life path all together. Well the decision wasn't an easy one to make and over the past nine years I have had days where I questioned my sanity, but in the end I chose to stay home and be a full-time Father.

Now nearly a decade and three additional children later I want to start sharing with others how that decision shaped who I've become. I now realize that no matter your employment status or imperfections, all Fathers have the ability to be super Dads and change not only their children's lives but their own in the process. I hope you'll enjoy reading and commenting about some of our adventures along the way.

--MMD
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