After his wife suggested that he stay home to take care of the kids instead of going back to the job he absolutely loathed, Glen Henry did not expect to be crying in front of his bathroom mirror after just one week of full-time dad duty. The stress and isolation he felt from being a new stay-at-home parent overwhelmed him, until he saw an opportunity to learn from his experience and grow as a father.
The now-dad of four runs a YouTube channel, with over 183,000 subscribers, called Beleaf In Fatherhood, where he dispels stay-at-home parenting myths and documents his parenting journey through videos including What I Learned From My Kids’ Frustration and Kids Explain Why Men Struggle With Vulnerability.
In October 2017, Henry gave a TEDxMidAtlantic talk, which amassed over 1.2 million views, to share how his experience as a stay-at-home father gave him crucial insights that he believes are the key to raising happy, healthy, thoughtful children, while also keeping yourself sane and thriving as a parent. Since then, in addition to writing his own children’s book, The Chocolate Babies in It’s Bedtime Now, Henry has helped launched Johnson’s® Tub Talks in partnership with the parenting app Peanut, to bring together childcare experts and thought leaders in the parenting space.
If you’re about to embark on a new chapter as a father, take a big breath and review these five important pieces of advice Henry has gained from the grueling, exhausting, enlightening and precious role as a stay-at-home dad:
- Be present. This is my number one rule. Your baby will grow so fast and you will miss important moments if you aren’t present, so make it your priority.
- Be a part of their bed and bath time routine. Especially with newborns, a father needs to create bonding opportunities with his kids because they will naturally seek their mothers. Bedtime and bath time are moments when you can begin to create traditions that will help develop a unique bond with your beautiful creations.
- Record everything. You will thank yourself when your kids get older. Videos and pictures are great reminders of (possibly) sweeter times.
- Be interested in the things that they are interested in. Having children allows you to rediscover simple things. It’ll inspire you to be mesmerized by small joys you’ve grown to ignore. As adults, we are conditioned to just see and not experience. For example, when my kids ask about the moon, I am able to absorb the beauty of something that I used to take for granted.
- Find your own confidence in fatherhood. I want to encourage fathers to lean into their parental instincts. Just like mothers, fathers have paternal instincts that they need to embrace because it will benefit your relationship with your children.