- The truth about being a stay at home dad
- 1. You question your decision
- 2. You get lonely
- 3. You forget how to speak grown-up
- 4. You wonder if you will ever work again
- 5. There is no “me” time (except when I am on the toilet, kind of)
- 6. You can feel guilty
- 7. You wonder if people think less of you
- 8. I know I am awesome at it
- 9. There are days we spend the whole day doing nothing
- 10. I clean really fast and put her in the bath just before mom gets home
- Final thoughts
The truth about being a stay at home dad
You know that quote by John Wooden?
“…the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
That reminds me of being a stay-at-home dad because you have no one really watching you (except your child), and you can do what you want.
You can give in to those, “I want chocolate” cries, and you can let your child have “screen time” all day. You can do no chores, and when your wife gets home, just say, “oh she was a handful, I could not get around to cooking.”
No one would be the wiser.
While that is the case, from all the dads, I have spoken to, it’s not what we actually do. Most dads do what they must to get the job done and most enjoy it.
In fact, the bulk of dads who I know that are unhappy do not complain about taking care of their kids, they mostly complain about their marriage.
For me I have fun with my daughter and enjoy spending quality time teaching her about the world. You will see from my list below it is not the perfect life, but it is what you make of it.
I have my confessions of things I think about and some of the lazy things I actually do (and don’t do). This is the real-scoop about being a stay at home dad, all honest and all true.
1. You question your decision
Like any critical part of your life, you question if being a stay at home dad is the right path to take.
You wonder if you should stick with your career, or if this decision is going to hurt you in the long run.
Although I question what I am doing with my life every once in a while, it is affirmed when I make my daughter laugh hysterically or when my wife is comfortably working, knowing that her baby is in good hands.
Who knows what will happen once my daughter is old enough to go to school? Will she still need me full time?
I already work on the side, so I can put in more hours. Whatever happens, she will always be my number one priority, and I am better than okay with that.
2. You get lonely
Spending your entire day with a young-ling can be lonely. I miss seeing coworkers and having conversations. I also miss feeling productive and doing the old work I used to like negotiations and helping people.
However, loneliness is only temporary. I can always find something to do to use my brain, and my wife is excellent company.
I also hang out with (when we are not in lock-down) friends and family.
Really, it only gets lonely if you allow it.
There are plenty of ways to interact with others.
3. You forget how to speak grown-up
There are days when you spend so much time with your little one you forget what you ever spoke about before becoming a dad! Sometimes you miss having conversations with your adult friends.
Your vocabulary consists of words and phrases like:
- Do you have to potty
- Yes, I’ll play with you
- No, don’t touch that
- Dancing banana
- Where are your shoes
- Yes, it’s yours
- Pick up your toys
- Yes, you are Elsa
All I can say is, while these things may drive you a bit crazy, it is so temporary. Our toddlers and younger kids will grow up so fast that we will miss the days of having cartoons on our television 24/7.
Besides, I would rather have all these baby words and phrases; rather than things teenage parents have to say.
So, I will enjoy this for now, and if I need an adult conversation, I will call someone to chat with.
4. You wonder if you will ever work again
Living in a world of babies and kids, non-stop makes you forget that you ever had a job.
This makes the reality of ever working again far-reaching, especially if you love being at home with your kiddo like I do.
You just feel like it will never end, the caretaking.
But it has to, right?
Kids are kids for only so long, and then they leave (for the most part). It just feels like it is going to last forever when you are in the midst of it.
Despite knowing that there is an end, I wonder what my next step is in my career. Right now, we are going through a pandemic (as of July 2020), and the unemployment rate here in the states is ridiculous. I am glad we have learned to live on one income at this point.
But I wonder what the job market will be like once I re-enter the workforce.
5. There is no “me” time (except when I am on the toilet, kind of)
Sometimes it feels like I never get time for myself.
I take care of my daughter all day, cook for my wife, clean up when she gets home, spend family quality time in the evening, work at night, and in the morning. Then it is another day, and I start all over.
Can you find the time when I get to be on my own? Nope.
Even when I am on the toilet, my wife is asking for something, or my daughter is hovering at the door (with my two dogs there as well).
When my wife gets home, I like to do what I did not accomplish while taking care of my daughter (which is a lot). Plus, I enjoy giving her time to relax since she had a long day away from home.
It is hard not having time to yourself and just being alert all day. My wife and I try to give each other breaks, but it is not daily because time gets away from us.
6. You can feel guilty
There are plenty of things a dad, mom, or parent, in general, can feel guilty of, being a stay at home dad is no different.
You feel guilty about a variety of things
- Not having a full-time job
- Your wife having to work
- Not finishing everything you set out to do even though you have “all day” (which you really do not)
- Not having enough money to make large purchases
The list can go on and on. Bottom line, if you think you are going to get a lot done as an at-home parent, sometimes that does not happen. Things get in the way, and you get lost in time doing stuff for your kids.
While it is reasonable to feel guilty about the things you do not get to, you also need to proud of the things you accomplish.
7. You wonder if people think less of you
I know a lot of times I say not to let what other people think of you get in the way of what you do. But sometimes, when I meet new people, I get embarrassed that I do not have a regular “job.”
Even though it was my decision and perfectly happy with our family situation, I still shy away about it.
A man’s identity is centered upon his career here in the states.
If you do not have one, then who are you?
You know what I have learned?
The people who genuinely care about me, don’t care about what I do or how much money I make. They care that my daughter is having an awesome childhood and that my family is happy.
8. I know I am awesome at it
I am not going to lie, I am a fantastic stay at home dad.
My wife will attest to it 100%. In fact, she insisted I add this to my list.
I cook every meal, keep my daughter happy, make money on the side, have so much fun with my wife and daughter, and the list goes on and on.
I am proud of how I truly take care of my family every day. I honestly do not know if our home life would be as good if I was still out in the workforce.
Maybe we would have more spending money, but our quality of life would be very different.
9. There are days we spend the whole day doing nothing
By “we,” I am talking about my daughter and I.
There are days my wife leaves, and we are wearing pajamas eating breakfast – then my wife gets home, and we are in our pajamas eating dinner.
That is just how some days are when my daughter and I do not want to do much and say screw that whole daily routine thing.
I love those days, though (so do my dogs). They are low key with no pressure. My daughter gets to have me all to herself to play and eat whatever she wants.
I will admit we do not do this all the time by any means.
But days like those are the best. We get back to our regular lives the next day and play catch up on chores and errands.
10. I clean really fast and put her in the bath just before mom gets home
Sometimes when my wife tells me she is on her way, I get up and do everything I planned to do in like an hour (her commute home is an hour).
I clean up, get dressed, throw my daughter in the bath, get dinner started, and just act like I have been tending to the house ALL DAY LONG!
Some days my wife can see through it; most days, she is happy to be home and does not notice.
Those days that she does notice, she laughs it off and thanks me.
Attention new dads! Find more in-depth advice here:
These are my honest confessions on being a stay at home dad. Some guys go through similar feelings, some guys feel underappreciated, but I think at the heart of it all, we all love taking care of our little ones.
It is all the external noise that can get to us.
However, if you do not let the noise get to you, you will be fine. Some days are harder than others like everything. I can imagine if I worked, then I would be wishing I was at home more.
So I am appreciative of the life I am living now.
It also helps to have a supportive wife and family around you. It really helps. Also, having a clear mind, watching what you eat, and living a positive life goes a long way.
The main lesson I have learned over the years is your life does not stop when you stay at home with your kids, your greatest adventure begins.