How did I become a stay at home dad? The short story.

In a few short words, my wife and decided that I stay home because we must have health insurance. Well…we were on my wife’s health insurance – so decision made.

That, in a nutshell, is how I became a stay at home dad.

 

How we actually made the decision. The longer story.

Of course, there is more to the story. 

We wanted our daughter to be taken care of by family or someone we knew well. When that did not pan out, we figured the next best thing would be one of us.

When my wife and I first met, we jokingly said if we ever had kids I would stay home with them. She was and is very career oriented, but little did I know that would actually be the case. In fact, we both decided that we were never going to have kids.

You know that went out the window when she took that fated test and it came back positive.

In all seriousness, we had to figure out what we wanted to do and all signs pointed to me taking care of my daughter. A few caretakers were seriously considered, but none of them panned out. This silly idea turned into reality during my wife’s maternity leave.

As a contractor, I was already working fewer hours than ever to take care of my wife before she even had the baby. Then when the baby came, my unpaid paternity leave went from being two weeks to four weeks, and eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was not going back to that job, ever.

 

I was fine with it, I was not happy at that job ever.

 

Something changed me during my wife’s maternity leave; I realized that I was really good at taking care of my daughter. It came naturally and in those early infant moments, it felt as if it was meant to be. 

But being a natural father was not the only reason that influenced my decision. My wife and I discussed the following questions, and I internally thought them through as well.

So take a look at the questions below, hopefully, they can guide you with your decision in becoming a stay at home dad. All I can say is it was one of the best decision I made for my family!

 

 

 

 

#1 Can you afford to stay home?

These days it is all about having a dual income, especially when you have children. So make a budget and figure it out. Now if your job is higher paying and has better benefits, then this may not be the best decision for you.

If your partner is making more or if you make about the same and can survive on one paycheck, it’s seriously worth considering.

Also, look into the cost of childcare. Will an entire paycheck go to paying a daycare or a sitter? Or even worse, is childcare more costly than what you get paid? If you work to pay for daycare, then staying home may be good for you.

Another thing to think about, if you do quit your job, are you ready to budget? You will most likely not be able to afford luxury items. My wife and I stopped going on road trips to see our favorite bands, we stopped eating out, going out in general and were frugal with everything.

Those things usually happen when you have a baby regardless, but it was extreme cutting back for us as we adjusted to living on one income.

Not having any extra income. Our savings have suffered and our debt has grown. It is the honest truth.

 

I put this down as the number one consideration because for us it was a critical deciding factor. In fact, our answer to this question is BARELY!

 

We can barely afford for me to stay home. We live in Texas and while the cost of living may be lower than other places, this city does not pay well. My wife’s job can cover the bills and a few other expenses.

I have always worked odd jobs, and I still do. I work when my baby is sleeping and I even take her to ‘work’ with me (I will have a future post about my side income). 

 

#2 Are you ready for society to judge you?

In our society today, stay at home dads are becoming more of a norm. But that does not mean all of the stigma associated with it is gone. 

Are you prepared to answer that you are a stay at home mom when your partner’s boss asks what you do for a living? Some people just are not.

But if you are a stay at home dad, say it with confidence and do not feel that you have to follow it up with an explanation.

Are you prepared for the surprised look people make when you say you are a stay at home dad? People do make a face and ask questions. Many pretend they are okay with it but their expression says otherwise.

Many people will assume at least one of the following:

  • You are lazy and do not want to work
  • You can’t keep a job
  • You are not manly
  • You are the world’s greatest dad
  • Your partner is power hungry
  • You were forced to be a stay at home dad

Most thinking is negative rather than positive, so just be prepared for that. Your reassurance through all of this is that your child has the best possible childcare you can provide. 

 

#3 Do you have the ability to take care of a child?

Were you ever that person who could not even keep a goldfish alive? We all have our doubts, but instincts and raw human nature really do kick in when you have a child.

 

Most importantly, this child will depend on you for everything, it is a HUGE responsibility.

 

But it is still worth thinking about if you have the stamina and patience to take care of a child, especially a baby. 

Male or female, we all have our doubts. It is not a gender role, it’s a human role. It is your life and the job is 24/7.

 

#4 Are you ready to take on the most difficult, non paying job out there?

I am sure you hear this all the time:

 

Taking care of babies/kids is the hardest job out there, I would not want to do it

 

or

 

Being a stay at home mom is the most difficult job a woman can do

 

It gets said all the time because it is true. It is really hard work.

When they are babies and can’t talk, you have to guess what is wrong with them.

When they are toddlers, they are filled with pure emotions – the tantrums!

Taking care of children is like being a detective, psychic, care provider, teacher, etc., all at once it is nonstop and since you are home, you want to clean the house, cook dinner and help out…but sometimes you end up creating a bigger mess.

There is a delicate balance of expectations when you’re home all day. You may want to work on say a blog post, while your daughter has other ideas. So you end up with two sentences and she slept in your arms all day (screaming every time you moved).

Yes, that is the reality of it. About 99% of your time goes to your child and you are extremely lucky if you get to poop.

 

#5 Can you get past not being the breadwinner?

Just step away from the mindset where everything is black and white or right and wrong. We live in a much dynamic world, where earning money does not have to occur in an office. Where entertainment does not have to come from a huge corporate network. Most importantly to us, childcare does not have to come from solely the mother. 

The amount of stay at home dads has doubled, it is at 7%. Check out this article on the statistics of stay at home parents: Almost Twice as Many Dads Now Stay at Home. 

While we do not live in the past where men were the sole providers, there is still the lingering aftertaste of that society. But that is not what being a stay at home parent is about.

It is about taking care of your child to the best of your ability. So if your partner’s best ability at this moment is to work, then so be it. If your best ability is to take care of your child at home or otherwise, that is your choice. But do not let labels stand in your way.

Change with the time and let time change you.

 

#6 How does your partner feel about it?

This question is big.

You have to discuss your thoughts with your partner. Their opinions matter too. 

Especially since this is a big decision that will affect your entire family. Go over questions like the ones in this post. Talk about them, write lists, discuss the pros and cons, really delve into what you expect from each other as you approach making this lifestyle change.

Just because you are staying home does not mean that you have to cook every meal or run every errand, but maybe your partner feels like you should – so set expectations. Divide responsibilities and figure out how to make it work.

Figure out exactly how you both feel about this decision. Is your partner reluctant? Find out why. If you are excited about it, share your reasons. The more you can both explore your reasons for and against you staying at home, the clearer your decision becomes.

 

#7 Are you ready for a huge life change?

This question goes beyond your partner, individuals you know, and society as a whole who have their own opinions about what you should do. Are you ready for your world to be turned upside down?

Here are a few examples:

For starters, your identity changes. You are no longer that guy, the husband, or even the coworker. You become the dad that stays home with his kids.

Your social world changes. You know all the people you used to talk to at work? Well, all the adult conversations you were used to kind of diminish to a minimum. Remember your boss always telling you what to do? Nope, that is gone too, now you have the toughest boss that does not know what he or she wants, can only scream and dictates your entire day. Talk about micromanager!

Even what you think about yourself changes. Sometimes no matter what, you can’t do anything right. Other days you can be super dad and can’t be stopped. Some days, you will question what you were thinking when you decided to take over the child-rearing responsibilities. It is normal to question who you are when your whole life changes.

Nonetheless, you will think about yourself differently and that in itself is a huge change. So be prepared for that. Remember, change is not always bad. In fact, it can be a good thing. I feel like I am becoming a better, more patient person.

 

Final thoughts

If you are reading this and are considering staying at home, consider yourself lucky. Many people do not even have a choice to stay home.

On the other many dads do not even consider it. So kudos to you for taking this decision seriously. In the end, it is yours to make, nobody else’s.

Just keep this in mind, raising a child is one of the most important things that most of us will accomplish during our life. In the end, make sure you do what you can to create a productive member of society.

Really think about it and if you have any questions about being a stay at home dad, you can email me directly at jeremiah@notapowercouple.com.

Or you can leave a comment below and I will get back to you. Best of luck in your decision and if you do decide to stay at home, welcome to the brotherhood!

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