It can seem like a never-ending list of things to consider when deciding to become a stay-at-home dad.
But addressing issues like gender roles, stereotypes, financial situations and household duties will go a long way in preparing to be a successful stay-at-home dad and remaining happy in the role into the future. Looking back to the time our family were on the verge of having the very same discussion (a little over 2 years now) and how I wish I had someone to ask or to speak to about how life-changing it was going to be. As a former retail Store Manager with a 40 hour a week career and suddenly being at home in a ‘job’ that was 24/7 was a bigger transition than I ever thought.
Being a little nostalgic has inspired me to write this post with some little golden nuggets of advice from one stay-at-home Dad to another.
Deciding to stay home probably means forgoing a pretty decent chunk of take-home pay. So it is imperative that you do the maths and make sure that the family is taking steps – with a good budget and a few inessential cuts among others – to help weather the storm and be secure financially in the new role. Once the adjustment is made, you may be surprised to find staying home even has its financial benefits.
Adjusting to a flip-flop of traditional gender roles can be a challenge for everyone involved. You’ll have to come to grips with not being the financial provider and your wife will have to deal with taking on the role. It may not sound like much on the surface, but it will likely need to be something the two of you support each other with and continue to address in the future. After all, you’ll need the ally with all the comments shot at you out and about and at her in the workplace.
As a stay-at-home dad, you will feel alone. There won’t be office banter – outside of the interrogation over who put the candy bar in the clothes washer – and no more water cooler talk about the big game. A lack of adult interaction can create a lonely place. Fight isolation by joining playgroups, connecting with other stay-at-home
parents (groups might not be your thing), finding time with friends and talking often with your spouse to make sure you feel connected to a more mature audience from time to time.
In a busy household with an equally busy wife, it can be harder than it sounds.
Doing nothing but watching the most recent Cbeebies programme every day probably isn’t enough up a bit of cognitive challenge for most stay-at-home dads. Find time to read the news, chat online or watch a movie. Maybe some of that up-to-date knowledge will rub off on the kids.
A routine is essential to managing day-to-day tasks and helping the kids develop. You don’t want to get into a daily rut. Leave some flexibility in your schedule for different types of activities. But make sure you instil good morning, eating and sleeping routines to set the foundation of a good day. It will help teach the kids healthy habits and help dad survive until he gets some backup.
Enriching the lives of your children is a top priority for a stay-at-home dad. Don’t get trapped in a routine where the TV rules all. Make sure there is plenty to do that is fun and educational. Better yet, use your interests to help keep things fresh. You’ll get to have fun too and your kids will get to bond with dad in a whole new way.
Last but by any means least, relish all the good things that come with being a stay-
at-home dad, and there are a lot of them.
It very well could be the most rewarding job you have.
Founder of DadtasticVoyage. Husband, blogger and at-home parent to my two beautiful daughters. Fueled by coffee. Always tired.