Written by – Laurence Read
Becoming a parent is a daunting, life-changing event. It is scary, terrifying even, for many, as there is nothing that can prepare you for it. It is literally a whole new world that has to be experienced to be understood. What you will have to accept as part and parcel of parenthood, is that there are most definitely ups and most certainly downs! On balance, you will find the positives outweigh the negatives of course, but it is often difficult to remember the positives (“Well done you ate all your pasta!”) when your little bundle of joy is throwing sausages on the floor (“Stop feeding the dog!”).
To this end, it is good to be reminded that there are always good times and bad, and that everyone is going through them. Below, I detail just a few of both. These are my personal top 3 pros and cons to being a full time dad. Obviously, depending on your personal situation, your experiences will most likely be different, but that´s the joy of it, right?
To begin with, I think the most positive thing for me about being a (full time) parent is that I get to spend loads of time with my son (and dog!). I have the luxury of seeing him develop (my son, not the dog) and change on a nearly daily basis and this is an extremely fulfilling experience, especially when he does something new or shows a new understanding or ability. That moment when the child, without prompt or request, picks up a bit of waste paper and goes to the kitchen bin, thinks about putting it in, but then chooses the recycling, can be quite a satisfying time! (Substitute here any activity you might get your child to learn to do of course!).
The flipside of that, is, of course, that it can be horrifyingly difficult to be patient when your child doesn´t do what you want or need them to do. Take, for example, walking in the park with the trike. The child has begged to bring this beloved mode of transport, and has used it all the way to the park. You have obeyed, despite the fact you do all the work pushing it, and it makes a total racket. But of course, when it´s time to leave the park and get back on the aforementioned three-wheeler, your offspring really would rather remain in the park, or, failing that, sit on the floor and scream. This is one of those ´bad´ times we mentioned earlier…
So, back to a good time! As a full time dad, I get a true variety of things to do. My life is far more interesting now than it was in full time employment. Yes, I enjoyed my job, and there were elements I would go as far as saying I loved, but on the whole, being a parent far outdoes the day-to-day doldrums of full time employment (in my book anyway!). I go to the park, walk the dog, go swimming, meet with friends, go to the zoo, cook, listen to music most of the day, sing, dance, paint, draw (badly), and so on. Of course, we also go to baby classes, which, whilst scary and awkward to start with being a lone male, has become a very positive and fulfilling aspect of my life, as I feel I´m helping to break the stereotype of ´babysitting´ my own child (“Oh is mummy at work today?”). And all of this watching my son learn, love and do these things too.
Of course, this leaves me with very little real time to think or plan any future career or business ideas (together with my wife, or alone). You are always either doing something with your child or constantly thinking of the next job that needs doing (cooking, ironing, prepare for class, walk the dog). Linked to this downside is one final challenge – I often find myself worrying about giving him enough ´input´ (e.g. learning, reading) – especially having been a teacher. Despite all the activities we do, it is often easy to think you should be doing something else to help your little one learn. The bottom line is, you do what you can, it will most likely be good enough!
Finally, and to finish on a positive note, I feel a far greater sense of value and reward doing this ´job´ than I ever did in employment. I support my wife with her work and our life together. For example, I try to cook lots of different food, she has the freedom to (sometimes!) go to classes like Tai Chi as I can look after our son. I really feel like I support the ´family´ rather than just ´doing a job´.
Parenting is a stressful, time-consuming, non-stop adventure, but it´s an adventure I am glad to be a part of!