This article first appeared in Simply Her June 2013 issue.
He learnt to cook for his wife’s confinement
Dexter Tai, 32, business owner
The father of two wanted his wife, who was then expecting their first son, to have only the healthiest, most delicious food for her confinement. He decided to learn to cook, so he could be the one to help her through her convalescence.
Their firstborn, Dylan, is now two years old. When their second child, Max, was born eight months ago, Dexter took care of the confinement meals again. By then, he had become the de facto cook at home. In fact, he honed his skills so much that he started Cookyn Inc, a cooking school, with some friends.
“I usually cook over the weekend and there’s always a carb dish and a protein dish. For example, my family loves mac and cheese so I serve it with roasted chicken and vegetables to balance out the meal.
“Dylan is very adventurous with food. When he finds something tasty, he’ll say, ‘Mmm… delicious’, and that makes me happy.”
His tip for a quick family meal: “Go for Western cuisine – it’s more convenient to whip up. All you need is one pot to cook your pasta and a tray for the vegetables and meat, which goes into the oven. On colder days, I make soup.”
He wakes up at night to soothe his crying baby
Pern Choo, 39, resort planner and architect
This new dad has no qualms about jumping in to look after his 10-month-old daughter, Eadie. He wakes up at night to soothe her crying fits, even if he needs to get up early the next morning for work. “I carry her into the living room and watch a game of rugby with her. That somehow calms her down,” he says.
He’s even dealt with a diaper accident on his own. “One night, my wife was fast asleep, so I got up to change Eadie’s diaper. But she decided to pee and poo all over me! I was struggling to clean her up, put on a diaper, and hold her down at the same time. It was messy, but I managed to do it,” he says with a laugh. Pern even cares for Eadie while he’s doing the household chores. “I see it as my time to bond with her. I strap her to my chest in a baby carrier while I vacuum the floor.”
His tip for being a great dad: “I don’t think about it – I just do it. You have to see each day as an exciting challenge and look forward to the lessons you’ll pick up that day. It’s also important for you and your wife to work as a team. It’s about give and take, and stepping in when your spouse needs help.”
He does all the housework at home
Melvin Ho, 35, freelance photographer
The avid marathon runner cleans, sweeps, mops, does the laundry and washes the dishes – and isn’t shy about it. “I’m quite a homey person, so I don’t mind doing all the chores. I like to feel clean and to see that the house is tidy and well-maintained.
“I know some men may think it’s a woman’s job, but I don’t like drawing the line as to who does what at home. If a chore needs to be done, and nobody is free or around to do it but me, then I’ll do it.”
Melvin’s also a playmate to his two children – Xavier (left), nine, and Ashlee, eight. He invents cute games like “Tickle Me” (where someone gets thrown on the bed to get tickled for a few minutes) and “Fishy Kiss” (where all those involved will pout their lips and try to kiss another person). We think it’s adorable!
His tips for getting the chores done quickly: “I have a system. First, I do the laundry. While the clothes are in the wash, I do the dishes. Then I sweep the floor, starting from the living room and ending with the bedrooms, where I make up the beds. By then, the laundry is done and I hang it out to dry. Lastly, I take out the rubbish and fold the clothes while watching TV.”
He’s takes care of his kids all day
Gary Sim, 38, freelance drama trainer
Gary and his wife were chalking up long hours at work but when their first daughter, Sophie, now five, was born, he quit his job to freelance. He wanted to be home to see to Sophie’s development.
“Kids are young for only so long and you can’t take back the lost years. As they absorb the most information during their formative years, you have to be around to make sure they pick up the right values – how they turn out is really dependent on how you bring them up. It’s just like building a house – you have to start with the foundation.”
Gary is truly a doting dad. He now has a second daughter, Zoe, three. And he plans his freelance work around his daughters’ schedules. He bathes them, feeds them, ferries them to and from school, reads with them, plays with them… the list goes on.
His tips for dealing with the kids’ tiffs: “Whenever they fight, I take them aside to find out what happened so I can rectify the situation. If they are whiny and throwing tantrums, I try to rationalise with them to change their behaviour. When they both want to play with the same toy at the same time, I teach them compromise – they each have five minutes to play with it. If they don’t agree, I take the toy away. If all else fails, I threaten to suspend their privileges.”
He’s the perfect dad to his stepson
Vijayan Sundarajan, 42, IT specialist
He’s been a stepfather to eight-year-old Rishi for just six months, but they already share a bond many fathers would envy. At our photocall, it was obvious how much they adored each other – not bad for a man who used to think he wouldn’t be good with kids because of his short temper.
Vijayan says he prefers to act as a big brother to his stepson, and wants to teach him as many firsts as possible – he recently taught Rishi how to ride a bicycle.
And being an amateur arm wrestler (he’s taken part in two arm wrestling competitions so far), Vijayan keeps up with active Rishi through exercise.
His tips for winning a child over: “Get involved in his life and let your child get to know you. When my wife tells me to act in a certain way so that Rishi will be more accepting about certain things, I can’t. I don’t know how to be anyone else. And by getting involved in Rishi’s life, I’m able to embrace my boy wholeheartedly. Kids love you for who you are and don’t expect you to be any different.”