1. Avoid complaining. It’s a waste of time. When your wife returns from work, the kids will ignore you completely and dominate her every minute. Unless she’s a riveter, your wife has spent her day with the freedom to surf the internet for 20 minutes whenever she felt like it. See those people outside office buildings taking “smoke breaks” fifteen times in eight hours? Can’t do that with young kids. So rather than complain: disappear. Just ghost. Don’t even wait for her to say “and how was your day?” Sucked, it doesn’t matter, I’m far away, in another room, door shut, asleep.
2. Avoid thinking you’re special. Did you build bone and teeth with your abdomen and then push an eight pound human out of your genitals? No. You didn’t. And don’t forget that, or you’ll be justifiably reminded. The only novel thing about a stay-at-home dad is that most dads don’t do it, and that’s only because of eons-old, messed up, sexist bullshit. Plus, your wife can marry a woman now, if she wants, which is probably a better idea anyway.
3. Avoid sleep. You don’t need this anymore. As far as childcare’s physical challenges, you need coffee, and you need to exercise somehow. As far as the mental challenges, there aren’t any. Really. Think of how many idiots you know who also take care of kids. The bar is low. And if your kids are 7 to 12, they’ll remind you, over and over, of whatever you need to know (“daddy, the bad man says you owe him gambling money,” etc”). Plus, nighttime is your time to drink or watch Ukrainian gangster films or make more kids with your wife, who earns money, which makes her physically irresistible.
4. Avoid making more kids. This is against your interests and will delay your arrival at those glorious years when your kids become teenagers and become lazy, like you, or want nothing to do with you, which is also fine, as long as they stay out of trouble and you stay out of AA, or you don’t get a perm and wear tight jeans way past the age when you should.
5. Avoid buying a house. Weird, right? Every homeowner I know is completely happy with their purchase and enjoys oodles of free time not fixing stuff and is never paying for massive repairs or lawn care that prevents any enjoyment of their house or life.
6. Avoid being shy. You need to talk to other parents or they won’t offer to take your kids for a few hours. Which they won’t, anyway. Or they’ll do that thing where they ambiguously suggest “we need to get them together for a playdate” in the hopes you will invite their kid over to your place. This is the Playdate Jedi Mind Trick, and you must not fall for it or use it, because the latter makes you a douchebag.
7. Avoid fashion. You can’t afford it anymore. More importantly, that wicker fedora and those cargo shorts will only ensure you’ll bond with the cheeseball parents on the playground. Wear your Slayer shirt. It’s not like you have a job. Anyone compliments your shirt, you’ve found a kindred spirit, which is rare among people you’ll have to tolerate just because your kids like each other. Also: shave, you bastard. This isn’t a barbershop quartet, or grad school.
8. Avoid listening to NPR. Why bother? You have nothing to do with the real world anymore. NPR makes you old and anxious anyway, and your kids hate it.
9. Avoid playing children’s music for your children. Until they can beat you in a fist fight, you control the music. Daddy’s gonna spin some Crass today.
10. Avoid listening to other moms complain about their husbands. If they do, say nothing. Don’t even nod. This is never good. There’s no gender fraternity among dads – fuckup on your own time, dude – but if word gets around that you’re a stay-at-home dad, or even a good dad, the other dads will hate you and flash money at you to make you feel bad. Because bet your ass their wife brings up your name when their husband gets home from his incredibly complex job and tries to dodge kid duty by saying he just doesn’t have a feel for kid stuff. If you invest other people’s money, design software, fly an airplane, or pave streets, you can play with a kid. Especially one you made. And, if you don’t, look out: they still grow up.