Single parent and stay at home dad (but only for three days)

April 28, 2013 15 Comments

stay at home dad single parent

This week. The same week every year. Where my wife flies off overseas, and I get the house to myself for three days and nights to overheat the Xbox and overcook the meat feast pizza. Except this year is not the same. This year I am not alone. The boy is here. I am dabbling with single parenthood. I am a single parent adoptive stay at home dad.

It was a week I had originally been looking forward to, but that was before the boy moved in. I love spending time with the boy, but the realities of stay at home dadness sometimes stray a little further than my pre-dad fantasies.

I quickly realised that this doesn’t matter though. This week is not about me.

The lead up to the week was stressful, for all of us, for a variety of reasons. It always is, this time of the year; my wife taking responsibility as she does for all that is happening at the office.

One thing an adopted boy doesn’t need is stress. He has seen enough to last a lifetime, and his parents should subject him to nothing close to stress so quickly into placement. Adoption cannot stop life though, you cannot alter everything.

The three days as a result, started with the boy eyeing me wistfully…


Wifers had booked a taxi at 4am, so with a groggy wave of the hand, I bid her farewell. I kept my alarm on, so as not to break routine too much. 7am, and I awoke to squeeze in a shower before I returned to a boy pensively staring at his teddy, and look up at me with a face bearing the weight of the world.

My heart was broken for him, and I desperately wanted to shift his mind to something devoid of worry, and filled with colour, light and magic.

I tried throughout the day, but the spark ever present in his eyes had dimmed ever so slightly, and he held me, just an ounce tighter than the day before.

I stuck to his routine, and even managed to get him to laugh once or twice, but he was different that day, and a sadness swept over me. I hated that the boy felt low, but I hated even more, that I couldn’t resolve it.


I rose to a totally new day, and a revitalised son. Again managing a shower before his eyes fluttered, I returned to the room to be greeted with his Cheshire cat grin that we were now so accustomed to.

Our social worker was visiting, so the boy and I tidied up, and by that of course, I mean the boy wreaked havoc, and I followed him with a hoover. Today I was glad though. His impish little grin and the mischievous twinkle in his eye had returned with gusto. I never thought I would be so relieved of that fact.

The day went well, sunshine and fresh air, playfulness and laughter. I put him to bed confident that his stress had all but disappeared.


Today was treat day. I took him to see some exotic birds. To fill his brain with new adventures and let him soak up some brand new information, that would hopefully provide him with joyful memories and rich subjects for his dreams.

He enjoyed it, mostly, and his signs of attachment showed he had made incredible gains. As he was lapping it up though, I was going downhill.

A feeling akin to a hangover grew and by the journey home I had all windows down to save me from passing out in the car.

By the time we had returned, I was good for little other than lying on the couch. Strong medication provided a two hour respite; enough time for me to feed the boy. I was not the father I was previously though, and he knew it.

The bedtime routine was laboured, and when I put him down his eyes were wide open. There was no chance of him sleeping at that point.

The drugs had worn off, and I was preparing myself for a mission.

The doorbell pinged to life.

I lumbered downstairs and opened up the door.

My wife stood there as tired as I was, but I have rarely been so glad to see her.

I greeted her with a hazy smile, and explained the boy was awake.

She offered to go and see him, and he welcomed her with his traditional beaming smile. I was pleased for both of them, possibly hoping that equilibrium would now be restored.

Most of all however, I felt my breath slow down, and a heavy hand retreat from my shoulder. My shift was over, and the constant responsibility had ended; if only for a short time.

His excitement spilled over, and the night turned into a battle after all. To share the front line with my wife though, was something I will be eternally grateful for. A stay at home dad I am. A single parent father I am not.

I awoke the next morning though, having learned something about myself. I awoke with a new found respect for real single parents. Their shift is never over.

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About the Author:

Andrew is an adoptive father, and stay at home dad. Having adopted his son in January 2013, he is a new adoptive parent, but well versed in the adoption process. He is a married, coffee drinker, Xbox addict, and a Marketing graduate. Andrew McDougall is an alias he uses to protect the identity of his adopted son.

Comments (15)

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  1. Charly Dove says:

    An utterly captivating post, just brilliant :)

  2. Natasha says:

    Excellent post! I love the way you write and the story you told. Being a single parent is extremely difficult, but so rewarding. It sounds like you have learned both of these main characteristics of single parenting. Although exhausting, I’m sure you enjoyed every moment of it.

    It must be so great to have someone to share all the adventures with. I wish you all the best!
    Natasha recently posted..Days 82 – 85 Stress is Not My MasterMy Profile

  3. A lovely honest insight – too often us parents are made to feel that we can’t have needs of our own :)

  4. Lovely article, showing how much you appreciate your family life. :) My friends and I, who sometimes have husbands working away through the week, always call it “doing the single parent thing”. It IS tough on your own and single parents thoroughly deserve to be bigged up for it. :) No matter how enjoyable it is (and it is wonderful), parenting is easier in a team of “shift workers”. ;) lol x

  5. Rachel says:

    Definitely a different year for you! This post is such a tribute to single parents. I couldn’t agree with your sentiment more. There are so many times I’m happy to hand my daughter off to my husband.

  6. Yep. Parenting is just relentless. I think that’s the hardest thing every new parent has to come to terms with. It’s a massive shock to the system. Sounds like you did a top job though. I think it’s good for everyone to have a few days of total responsibility – makes you appreciate your partner…
    Actually Mummy… recently posted..Brain fog: Wot so Funee?My Profile

  7. Alison Fisher says:

    Another great article thank you!
    There is no doubt about it, parenting is hard graft. As a single parent and a single foster carer I have often questioned the quality of my own parenting. I always come to the same conclusion. There is no such thing as perfect parenting. We alĺ do the best we can. I rely hugely on a fantastic support network to allow me some time for myself and couldn’t do what I do without them.
    Alĺ the best and enjoy your little man!

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