I am a 28-year-old boy. I’m from Nebraska and I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve lived in four different towns in this state. I was born in Columbus, picked up my associate degree in Milford, worked in Omaha for a bit, moved back to Columbus, then moved to Lincoln to be with the woman who would eventually be my wife.
What led to your decision to be a Stay-at-home Dad?
The original decision was mostly financial with a side of desire to raise our own children rather than use daycare. The software coding/testing job I had when Chris was pregnant with Jupiter brought in little more than the average cost of daycare in our area, while Chris was the Pharmacy Manager at a large pharmacy chain and made more than three times my salary.
How did the people in your life react to your decision?
The closest members of my family have been mostly supportive. At first there were some skeptical looks, however, their skepticism has long since been put to rest as far as I can tell. My family also knows me well enough to not be very surprised by any decisions of mine which go against social norms.Friends have been supportive. My chosen group of friends are mostly socially liberal, so I expected as much. Most people say things like, “you are lucky to be able to do that.” I tend to agree!
It is constantly changing, so I will tell you what it is currently like. My son starts knocking on his door at 7:00 or so to let us know that he is awake. Soon after that I go into his room and say good morning. Then we eat breakfast, bathe, brush, etc. This all takes a one or two hours depending mostly one Jupiter’s mood. I am usually doing housework during all of this as well.After all the morning stuff is done we either stay at home and I do house work while he plays and “helps” me out a bit, or we go out. When we stay home, he loves filling the bird feeders and helping sort the laundry by color. When we go out it is either to find a playgroup or take care of the grocery list. On some Wednesdays we have a playgroup with some other stay-at-home dads in the area. On some Tuesdays we go to the local children’s museum for Mom’s Club, at which I am usually the only dad.We have lunch around noon and Jupiter goes down for a nap after that. I use the time to get housework done, study, or (during the right time of year) get yard work done.
When he wakes up from his nap we either have a snack or supper depending on what time it is. Chris is home by that time too, so she is helping out too. Jupiter likes to help make supper too, so anything that he can do to help, we let him.
When bedtime rolls around we help him brush his teeth, change into pajamas, and read a story. Chris and I usually run, watch the tube, or read until we retire for the night.
What surprised you the most about staying home with your son?
One day when Jupiter was about six months old I did a simple google search for SAHDs. What I found was that less than 100 miles from me in less than a month there would be a SAHD convention. I also found a great resource in athomedad.org where I have met a great community of other SAHDs. There is even a non-profit organization, called DaddysHome Inc, which oversees the yearly convention and other resources for SAHDs.
I was surprised by how well organized the SAHD community was. Since we are still relatively uncommon compared to moms who stay home (at least in the Midwest), a lot of us have turned to the Internet to find what our female counterparts find within their own neighborhoods. The result is an excellent database of local dads groups, information for fathers, and a lot of long distance friendships.
Do you ever miss work? Do you anticipate going back when your son starts school?
I do not miss the 9-to-5 lifestyle at all.
I plan to do some sort of work once Jupiter and potential other child are in school, but I hope to find something that I can telecommute to or, better yet, do independently. My background is in IT, and I am currently studying software development, so it is likely that I will be able to telecommute. I really enjoy being able to work my schedule around what I need to do for my family.
What are the benefits to staying at home? Drawbacks?
The largest benefit which I can think of is simply getting to watch and assist in my child’s development. I have always been interested in the nuances of human behavior and find it very interested to watch those behaviors form.
Another benefit would be the freedom to schedule my needs around his. Maybe this is a drawback for some, but it has pushed me to find the ways to have a flexible schedule. For example, I found the school I did because it gave me this freedom. I do not have to go to class on the schedule of some professor who stands in front of a lecture hall.
The biggest drawback is seclusion. I do not interact with other adults as much I would like. I counter this by going to various playgroups and the occasional “Dads Night Out” with the local Dads group. Social media also counters this quite a bit. I am pretty lively on Twitter and Facebook when I get a chance.
What advice would you give to other guys (or anybody!) who’s thinking about staying at home with their kiddos?
The advice I have for other guys looking to stay at home is to reach out to your local dads group or start one if there is not one. Also, realize that there is a social stigma about dads raising their kids. Some people think that women are inherently better at it, but the fact is that every parent learns how to take care of their children. It is something that some new SAHDs have trouble dealing with. I was no exception.
My advice for all parents who want to stay at home is to make sure you and your kids have an opportunity for social interaction with peers.
Do you guys have any questions for Kirk? Are any of you Stay-at-home Moms?