Fatherhood drawing (© Royalty-Free\Corbis)

One side effect of being an at-home parent is that my life has become routine. I find myself following a predictable schedulewake up, dress kids, prepare breakfast; shuttle kids to school, gymnastics or swimming; prepare lunch or dinner; bathe kids and get them ready for bed. Somewhere in there I try to get some of my own work done. Of course my wife helps out with everything when she's at home, but I basically do the same stuff week after week after week.

The thing is, though, I'm not a routine person. Never have been. I prefer spontaneity. I like to do and see new things every day. It's in my bones. So it's the "at-home" part of my job that sometimes irks me the most.

I'd rather go backcountry skiing or overnight backpacking than do another load of laundry. (Who wouldn't, I guess.) But since the kids are under my direct care most of the time, I've had to find creative ways to balance my desire for adventure and our need for routine. Fortunately a few years ago I found the perfect exploring partner: my daughter.

Yep. Our daylong adventures to the beach or mountains became known as Daddy-Daughter Field Trips. She was only 3 when we started, but it didn't take much to convince her to get in the car for an extended day of fun. She was fine with me picking the destination as long as the trip involved one or more of the following: water, rocks, ice cream, some of her favorite music, ice cream, lunch, ice cream and stuff to doodle on. Did I mention ice cream?

We hadand still havegreat times. She learns a lot about the world and I get to learn Disney soundtracks and let my imagination brew on some much-needed new scenery. When we get home, we get to tell Mom all about the adventures, usually with digital photos. We bring home rocks, sticks and pinecones as gifts, but no ice cream. That usually gets eaten before we get home.
Now that my daughter has a brother it's time to start a new traditionBrother-Sister Field Trips. Hopefully they won't mind having Dad as their bus driver.

Changing diapers all day is dirty business. So is working from home in a house strewn with kids' toys. MSN.com frequent contributor Kristopher Kaiyalahappily married and the proud father of a 6-year-old girl and 1 1/2 year-old boytackles the daily joys and challenges of being a full-time at-home dad in this twice-weekly column.

Read more dispatches from the Fatherhood archive

Sound off on the Fatherhood message board