In a world where things are much more often different shades of grey than either straight-up black or white, it’s dangerous to make blanket statements such as the one this article is based on, so I’ll start with a quick disclaimer.
The working Dad, stay-at-home Mum model is not the only model these days. I’m acutely aware of that because I’m largely a stay-at-home Dad. A few of my friends are too. It’s increasingly the case that both child-raising and breadwinning are shared duties these days. However, for the majority of new families, the old model is the only one that works.
Now, though I’m sure there are some Dads who consider themselves a mix of the two, I’m going to talk about Dads being in either one camp or the other – and will leave it to their partners to decide which camp their particular Dad is in.
The Working Dad
Father’s Day for the working Dad should be about celebrating all the good things about fatherhood, and doing the things they maybe feel they’re missing out on.
Quality time with the kids should top the list. If Dad usually leaves early in the morning before the kids get up, give him a chance to take part in the regular morning routine – watching cartoons, having a big home-cooked breakfast together, morning baths, morning walks, whatever the case may be at your place.
The rest of the day should follow the same basic format. Make the whole day about the kids spending time with their father. Plan a picnic lunch with all the grandparents if they’re available (remember, your kids’ Grandads are fathers too). Go out and do something fun for the kids that’s inherently Dad-ish, something Mums generally aren’t interested in: go-karting, bowling, biking. Find a river or lake that rents out kayaks. Take the camera and make some memories.
If you need presents in addition to a great family day out, anything made by the kids is a guaranteed winner. A little paddle-pop-stick photo frame with a photo of the maker in it, for example, or a coffee mug with the kids’ handprints on it. If you’re not into arts & crafts (and I totally sympathise!), then consider something customised with a photo or handprint. There are loads of these sorts of options and they’re great. For my first Father’s Day my wife got me a little keyring with a little metal medallion with Kara’s handprint in it. I love it. It’s the only one in the world.
Stay At Home Dads
For us home-stayers, I’d suggest a quite different strategy.
Father’s Day should be all about showing appreciation for all he does by giving him a break from Dad duties. A long luxurious sleep-in followed by breakfast in bed, or even better a big breakfast at your favourite café, will go down spectacularly well.
Again I recommend some kind of family activity during the day, but with a subtle difference: rather than making it something specifically for kids to enjoy and Dad to share, make it for Dad to enjoy and kids to share. If he’s like most Dads and enjoys a good beer, lunch at a brewery from which he doesn’t have to drive home is one that springs effortlessly to my own mind. Maybe he’s into footy; perhaps you could all go to a game as a family.
Alternately, he may be the kind of guy who craves a day to himself to do whatever he likes, completely guilt-free. If so, don’t take this personally! I’m sure he still loves you all. We all need our space, though, and when you’re looking after small children it’s hard to come by. For some Dads, a day completely to himself could be the best possible gift you could offer. He may even like to spend a day with his child-free mates. Perhaps this sounds inappropriate on Father’s Day… but as someone who recently had a wild night out with the guys, like many nights I’d spent in my 20s, it was a GREAT reminder of why family life suits me so much more now!!
As for presents, again you can’t go wrong with gifts either made by the kids, or customised with their photos / handprints etc. These are always treasured, 100% guaranteed, and it’s completely up to you how much effort you want to go to – there are many options from easy to difficult. However, as with the day’s plans, I recommend gifts that are purely for him. I myself can think of a few things I’d like but can’t really justify buying for myself. If you know he’s got a similar list, Father’s Day is a great time to get them for him. He’ll see it as a reward for being a good Dad, which means it’ll doubly make his day.
For ALL Dads
Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, is all about showing appreciation – whether for being a great hands-on nurturer and homemaker, or for working hard to provide financial support for the whole gang. I suggest reflecting his role in the way you show that appreciation.
In the end, though… as long as your appreciation is genuine, he’ll have a great Father’s Day. Here’s wishing all the Dads out there a great day. Keep up the excellent Dadding!