Last fall I went back to working full-time while my husband resolved to about a year off work to be home with our second child. Here in Finland, fathers are encouraged to be at home with their kids and any parent can take up to three years of leave from work to care for their children. However, dads are still a minority among stay-at-home parents. Back in Italy, it is not socially acceptable. I would like to give space to the voices of dads who chose to be the main carer for a long period of time. Is their experience any different from the one of moms’? Do they appreciate their choice? What are the struggles and the rewards?
On the first post of this series “Daddy’s Got This” I host the words of Carl, a stay-at-home dad caring for two daughters and blogger at The Dadtastic Voyage. You can follow his thoughts also on Twitter, Facebook, or peek into his family life on Instagram.
If you want to tell your story, reach out and I’ll be happy to host your post in my series “Daddy’s Got This“. And now, the stage is Carl’s.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the good, the bad and the ugly parts of being a stay-at-home parent. The ‘ugly’ part is obviously covered by my general appearance. But what about the good and the bad parts? Since my toddler has stopped having a tantrum because of her iPad not working I thought I’d discuss them with you.
Let’s start off by covering the good and the bloody amazing parts…
Spending time with the girls
Being a stay-at-home parent means that you get to spend a lot of time with your children. Although tough, this really is one of the best parts. Time is a precious thing, so I’d much rather spend mine playing with and developing the little one rather than doing other stuff like being at ‘real’ work. I know not everyone has this opportunity and I’m guilty of taking it for granted sometimes: choosing the laptop or phone over them and putting Cbeebies on just for five minutes peace – however, I hope that constantly being around is a good thing and is something they’ll appreciate in the future.
One of the best things is seeing them develop. In two and a half years, Olivia (now three) has transformed from a baby who’d just learnt to crawl to an actual, all singing, all dancing, all day long chatting, little girl. She’s got her own little personality, she’s learnt to communicate and she knows what she likes and dislikes. Knowing that the time I’ve spent with her has helped turn her into this amazing little girl is pretty awesome.
That’s right, you heard me, one of the best points about being a stay-at-home parent is that you don’t have to work. Sure, it’s hard work – but it’s not the same as having a job. My boss comes in the shape of two small girls who have me wrapped around their little fingers, and I’m paid in endless pooey nappies and sticky kisses.
No more commuting. No more conference calls. No more wearing suits. No more ‘Living the values.’ Yes, being at home still has pressures and stresses but they’re different to those of being employed. Having children shows you that some of the things we get so stressed about at work really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Catching Up On Box sets
I’m a big fan of watching TV. I probably shouldn’t as it sets a bad example. I tend to have it on as background noise during the day, then properly watch something when the munchkins nap. I’ve got through quite a few box sets and shows over the last couple of years. Something I’d not be able to do if I wasn’t at home, obviously.
I’m a huge superhero fan, but because the missus doesn’t like watching them at all, I’ve found these are the perfect programmes for during the day. I’ve watched a number of shows including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Agents Of Shield, Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, to name a few. Then there’s the stuff that me and the missus watch together on an evening like The Office (English and American), Man Down, The Fall, Line of Duty, Bones, to name a few more.
Maybe I need to cut down on the amount of TV I watch…
So they’re three of the many things I think are good about being a stay-at-home dad.
Dealing with Isolation
As a stay-at-home dad, you will feel alone. There won’t be office banter – outside of the interrogation over who put the chocolate bar in the washer – and no more water cooler gossip. A lack of adult interaction can create a lonely place. I fight the 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
Staying intellectually stimulated
Doing nothing but watching the most recent Cbeebies programme every day probably isn’t enough of a cognitive challenge for most stay-at-home dads.
The Breadwinner Wife
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.
Despite there being some bad points as there is with anything in life, 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.
About the author
I’m Carl, a thirty-something, happily married guy, who blogs as The Dadtastic Voyage. I Live in Leeds, West Yorkshire with my wife (Rachel), two daughters (Olivia and Robyn) and two puppies (Joey and Phoebe). I started this blog to share my experiences, learnings, failings and random thoughts about being a Dad. This is partly to document our lives, partly to give a Dad’s perspective on being a parent but mainly to keep me out of trouble. The Dadtastic Voyage blog chronicles my experiences as a Dad to my two awesome daughters. It all started in 2015 when the missus went back to work and my life as a stay-at-home Dad in a very mummy-focused world of parenting began.