You know that what Dad's REALLY want for Father's Day doesn't necessarily come from a store, right?
While socks can be trendy (have you SEEN my socks collection?!?) and small gadgets or man cave toys are fun too, I think I speak for more Dads than just myself when I ask you (Moms) to remember what YOU asked for just a month ago for YOUR special day.
Did you ask for clothing and kitchen utensils? I doubt it. No, you wanted to be loved and appreciated in a special (likely intangible) way. Breakfast in bed with the kids or taken out to brunch or maybe even being left at a hotel for the night. Not having to do the dishes, laundry or clean up was gift enough!
But are the expectations the same for Father's Day as they were for Mother's Day a month ago? Do we treat these special days the same? Now while the tide MAY be turning - more emphasis, more marketing and more money is still being put into Mother's Day. Why is this? Why are Dads often seen as the secondary parent? The backup. God forbid... the babysitter. Are we doing this to ourselves by living up to the stereotype and not engaging with our kids the same way Mom's do? Are Dad's too complacent?
So what do you do for Dad this weekend? What do you get Dad this weekend? What does he want?
Well, us Dads are more similar to Moms than you may think. We just want to be loved and appreciated too. Maybe exchange the breakfast in bed with sex - a quickie before rolling out of bed to embrace the day (or save this till the end of the day if the kids have already torn down your door). And seeing as most restaurants don't do Father's Day brunch the same way they do for Moms, consider buying some burgers or steaks and having a fun-filled, family barbecue in the back yard!
But don't exclude the kids. Sure a little time alone would be so nice - especially for those stay-at-home dads like me, who are with their kids 24/7, but the whole point of a day like Father's Day (or Mother's Day) is to be WITH your kids. To experience and celebrate it with the tiny humans who made you a parent in the first place!
And if you're REALLY in the spirit of giving, rather than setting him up in a hotel room all by himself - set up a round of golf (or similar activity) for him with his best friend instead. Get him out of the house, away from the kids, away from work, away from all the stresses he is shouldering on a daily basis and let him clear his head for a few hours.
This year I'm hoping to go see a movie, in a theatre, all by myself. It's going to be the earliest matinee of the day, during nap-time so I'm not gone for too long while the kids are awake, but that doesn't matter - at least I'm going to get a couple hours to myself. Now while I've had thoughts of potential loneliness already, and self conscious of being that weirdo who shows up to a restaurant or a movie theatre all by themselves - the thoughts have also hit me that I haven't peed in private in 4 years. The baby monitor(s) have been on non-stop now for 40,000 hours. I haven't walked into a room without being hit with 19 questions since my kids have learnt how to talk. And, I haven't watched a movie of my choosing in a theatre, from start to finish, in one sitting, without being interrupted since London Has Fallen (2016).
Then on my way home I'm going to grab some burgers so that I can have a picnic with everyone in the back yard.
In the end I just want to be told that I'm being noticed and appreciated. That what I'm doing is valuable and worthwhile. And I think this goes for every Dad. If you're a working Dad, you want to hear that being away for 40+ hours a week, earning the paycheque often at the expense of missing milestones at home is worth it. You want to be told that your contributions to the family are appreciated. And you want to be assured that the sacrifices you're making are worth it.
And if you're a stay-at-home Dad like me, the same rings true. We want to be recognized and appreciated for swimming upstream. For being the abnormality in society and often being made to feel uncomfortable for taking on this role. We want to know that you appreciate our efforts at doing tasks on a daily basis that might not come naturally to us. And we want to be validated and encouraged that the decision to stay home with the kids is just as valuable and important as going out and pursuing a career.
For more discussion on the different expectations of Mother's Day vs Father's Day, check out the podcast I co-host here:
Oh, and if you've already ordered that tie that you're now second guessing... just package it up and let one of the kids give it to him. Trust me, watching my kids experience the joy of giving me a gift is one of the most wonderful things I've ever witnessed.