Portions of an interview I did for Indy’s Child magazine are in the June issue. This is the complete interview I did for them.
1. How did you and your wife decide that you being a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) was the right decision for your family?
It took about a year to make the decision. We’re really quick to make decisions, can’t you tell? My final year of teaching was a disaster. My wife was in the middle of her Medical Residency, working the equivalent of two full-time jobs.
My typical day went something like this…I was getting kids up at 6:15, out the door with frozen waffles in hand at 6:30, daycare by 7, walk into my school without a minute to spare at 7:30, work till 4, home by 5, throw dinner on the table, eat, clean up dishes, put the kids to bed and repeat again the next day.
Our two kids were in daycare almost 50 hours a week that year. Because of so much time in daycare they were constantly sick, which caused me to miss work and stress out over making sub plans and finding a substitute all while taking care of a sick kid. In fact, I’m stressed now just thinking about it. That year I missed over 25 days of school. I felt like I wasn’t able to be as good of a teacher as I could have been, or even as good of a husband or dad for that matter. So we started running the numbers to see if me staying home was even a possibility, we took out the cost of daycare and gas from my paycheck to see if it would work. It was close to being a wash and we were leaning towards me staying home, then we found out we were having another baby, that sealed the deal.
Also, because of my job I was able to take a paternity leave. I sort of looked at it as my trial period and knew if things were too hard, or just not what I thought they would be by staying at home, then I could always go back to work after a year.
Luckily, from Day 1 as a stay at home dad, I never looked back.
2. What is the biggest challenge being a SAHD?
Being a SAHD can be isolating. When you are working and have a regular job you have other adults to talk to during the day. You don’t have to seek them out, they are just there, at work. People to talk with about current events, sports, etc. If I didn’t actively try to find other dads to hang out with I would be spending my days discussing Auto Bots and Transformers with my four-year-old and reliving Queen Elsa’s coronation, every damn day, with my daughter.
It’s hard to get used to being the only guy around a bunch of women all the time too. Most of the activites I take my preschoolers to around town are full of SAHMs with an occasional dad thrown in there as well, but many times I am a lone pair of blue jeans in a sea of yoga pants. These are usually the same events where the librarian refers to all the parents as Mommys. I’m like, “Hello, there IS a dad here. Clearly we’re not all moms. That deep voice singing along to Five Little Monkeys, that’s me. Can’t you just call us all parents? Is it really that hard?”
The good news is, if you are willing to put in some effort, finding other dads that stay home with their kids isn’t really that hard. I’ve met some great dads by attending monthly dads groups in the area. Also, people at parties are always willing to hook you up with other SAHDs once they find out you are one as well. And, just going to the park during a weekday morning is a good way to find dads that are home with their kids. Chances are if you see a guy pushing his kids on a swing at 10am on a Thursday morning, he doesn’t work a typical 9 – 5 job.
3. Biggest reward?
I don’t know of one GREAT BIG reward that has come from being a stay at home dad, but I can think of a million little rewards…
I get to spend all-day, everyday with my two youngest children. We go to the library, the park, the museum, a friend’s house or just hang out around our house.
Now that our oldest daughter is in elementary school, I help her get on the school bus in the morning, I’ve been able to go on field trips with her, volunteer in her classroom, attend her school concerts, have lunch with her at school, and be home when she gets off the bus at the end of the day.
We get to visit my wife at work and occasionally take her out to lunch. When we do go visit her, my kids know exactly which of her co-workers have the best candy.
I’ve become a better cook since I started staying home, and now I get to cook what I consider “decent” meals for my family every night.
I spend many nap times writing, something I never even knew I enjoyed before I became a SAHD.
Our family life has been less stressful in general since I started staying home.
4. Do you ever feel like the stay at home moms you interact with don’t take you seriously?
Nah. I don’t know why they would. It’s not a dads vs. moms thing. We all have a common interest, being with our kids. We’re all fortuante enough to be able to stay home with our kids. When I was working in my son’s cooperative preschool, I was one of two dads that would work in the classroom, and the teacher, the kids and the other moms loved it when one of the dads was there.
5. What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone considering becoming a stay-at-home dad?
If you’re considering it, you should probably go ahead and do it. Your kids are only young once. It is a great way to spend your days…and nights…and weekends. Sure, the pay is terrible, there are no days off, and your bosses can be little dictators sometimes, I’ll give you that, but what other job can you spend your days playing at the park, swimming at the pool, making worms out of Play-Doh, Lego spaceships, not shave for a week, wear sweatpants whenever you want and occasionally eat ice cream for lunch?
I rest my case.
6. What is your favorite thing about blogging on indyschild.com? Or what
is your favorite post?
One of my favorite things about the blog is I’ve unintentially created an online scrapbook of my kids growing up. I’ve only been doing this a couple of years and I look back at previous posts and read stories I would’ve otherwise forgotten if I hadn’t written them down.
I also like the feedback I get from readers. Most of it is parents teling me they can relate to my stories and are glad they aren’t alone in the wierdness their child creates. Occasionally I get really cool emails from readers that mention how they look forward to my posts because they always cheer them up. The most memorable email I received was from a lady that wrote to me saying she read all my old blogs as she was going through chemo because they made her smile. That was awesome to hear.
I like that blogging uses a different part of my brain than being a SAHD. Sometimes parenting, especially parenting a newborn, can get monotonous; change, feed, spit, cry, poop, repeat. Writing my blog gives me, I guess I would call it, “a creative outlet” if that doesn’t sound too cheesy.
Writing for Indy’s Child has also given me some cool opportunities like being guest speaker at a family festival and doing local news segments with my son about beign a SAHD, and of course, being on the cover of this magazine.
I have a lot of favorite posts, I can try to narrow it down to 10…
Our house is a lot like a college bar- The title pretty much sums this one up.
Lactavalanche- The story of our freezer full of breast milk.
Disposable Zeroes- Why Cloth is King- Diapers, diapers, diapers.
The Pee Bag- My failed attempts at capturing my son’s urine for the pediatrician.
Today is my daughters first birthday and all I can think about is the movie Fight Club- The most personal post I’ve ever written.
Dear 18-year-old self- Most personal post, runner-up.
Breastfeeding superhero- Kudos to my wife.
My own Personal Hell- You guessed it, Chuck E Cheese’s.
Training Partners- My marathon story.
Back to Back Birthday Parties- “Just the bear panties for you today, sir?”
I just want to brush my teeth- Harder than it seems.
Ozzie Smith and the Missing Puzzle Piece- The story that took 25 years to write.
Improvements to school picture day- Can they make this any more complicated?
Part of the Madness- Our family trip to the NCAA tournament.
All these posts (and 200 others) are available at indyschild.com or can be accesses through True Confessions of a Stay at Home Dad Facebook page.