Updated: Apr 26, 2019
Gift-giving guides for men are littered with impractical and unnecessary tech gadgets that most men would not actually buy on their own. The things that a Real Live Dad who spends a lot of time at home with his kids really needs can’t be found on any online list…until now!
Use the three recommendations below to start a practice of non-material, year-long giving that the father of your child(ren) will truly appreciate. Give Notice When I’m home alone with my kids, the routine is pretty simple: we play, eat, make a mess, maybe do a little laundry, and then 20-minutes before my wife is scheduled to get home, we frantically rush around the house trying to make it look like we spent most of the day cleaning and organizing. Then, when my wife walks in, she can enter without having to yell at us slobs for not taking care of simple tasks that would have been done had she been home. It’s not a perfect process, but it works.
It works, unless there is a non-communicated change in the schedule.
Should we be graced by the early arrival of Mom and not had the time to adequately prepare the home, we can all expect the wrath of a betrayed soul.
So, the first and maybe most important thing that you can give a Real Live Dad is Notice. Twenty minutes is all we really want. A simple heads-up makes the entire family’s life a little easier and more predictable. A similar 20-minute notice is appreciated in other related situations, including but not limited to when you will be ready to leave for any given event, when you have friends or family visiting, and when I am supposed to pick up some combination of children from some carpool arrangement.
Give a List Along the same lines as giving Notice is to give a List. We all know there are things that need to get done around the house, random crap that is needed for school projects, and groceries that need to be bought. Trusting that all of these things will be done, gathered, or purchased by a busy dad without specific instructions is blindly optimistic.
Now to be picky…prioritize the to-do list. If the list contains paint the bedroom, change the bathroom light, and remodel the kitchen, it is important to know which of those tasks are expected to be urgently completed.
As with most gifts, this one is not perfect. There are some pros and cons. If the list is reasonable and clear, this gift will work to benefit everyone involved. Dad gets needed direction and the family gets what they need for day-to-day functioning.
Reasonable is the key word here. There are obvious limits to time and money that can be put toward specific tasks. The prioritization of the list items becomes more important as the length of the list increases. It is also important to note that if there are items left off of the list, no matter how obvious it may be that these items need attention, the Dad who was gifted with the list cannot be held fully accountable for any items missing from the list not being attended to.
Lastly, be careful about presenting the list as though it is a gift. Yes, the article says ‘The Three Best Gifts…’, but don’t wrap this one up in fancy paper with a bow on top. Just provide the list to make our lives a little more straight-forward. It will be appreciated, but in a subtle way that may be underwhelming to you if you’re hoping for a huge ‘Thank You’.
Give Credit Every spouse could use a little more Credit…a little more recognition for the things that they provide for the family. And not just the monumental things. I’m talking about the everyday, mundane tasks that need to be done. The tasks that are assumed will just be done because they need to get done are the tasks for which we all need to give more credit to our spouses.
This Credit can be gifted, like all gifts, in two different ways. The credit can be offered in a private, one-on-one setting, as a simple ‘thank you’, or ‘I noticed that you…’. For the more sentimental among us, a hand-written card is a beautiful gesture. Hand-written may be the best card option since I am yet to find a Hallmark card that says ‘Great job finishing the laundry’.
For the truly generous gift-giver, the Credit can be offered in public. In the olden days, that would have meant actually talking with a group of people about your appreciation of your spouse and all that she or he does to make family-life more manageable. Fortunately, such extensive and social praise is no longer as accessible, and the anti-social, time-crunched alternative can be accomplished in about 45 seconds via a post on social media. While comparatively pathetic versus real-live commendations, social media recognition will still be an appreciated gift.
How to Give The best gifts are those given with intention. Being intentional with the way you frame the giving of the recommended gifts can make all of the difference in how they will be received. In the end, however, you have to be confident that the gift you give is authentic to your relationship. If you’re not convinced the Dad in your life would appreciate these gifts, a thoughtful book or a nice pair of socks will probably do just fine.