It makes sense for my husband to stay home with our kids.
He is in school full-time and does freelance work from home, while I have a steady 8-5 gig. We wanted our girls to be at home the majority of the time, especially after we learned that full-time childcare is crazy expensive.
But just because it makes sense doesn’t mean it’s been easy.
In fact, if Michael Hyatt is right that there are strugglers, sherpas, and sages, we are definitely in the struggler category–even though we are more than two years into this arrangement.
We are still figuring out boundaries in terms of how much input I should have on their day-to-day routine as well as how much of the household “stuff” he should manage. Since he’s a stay-at-home-work-from-home dad, he has responsibilities that take precedence over sweeping the floor or doing laundry. (But, wow, does the house get messy with three people living in it all day every day!)
We’ve learned that there are not the same types of support systems for at-home dads as there are for moms, and we also have a slightly different perspective than parents who both work full-time. So, for those of you out there facing similar situations, here are a few things that have worked for this family of strugglers.
The Prime Directive
The #1 rule I have given myself is to try and treat my husband the way I would want to be treated if our situations were reversed.
If I were the one chasing two tiny tornadoes all day, would I want him nagging me about the pile of dishes in the sink, how much TV the girls watched, or the ridiculous way they’re dressed? Of course not! So–even though I fail a lot at this–I try to keep that in mind when I feel the need to speak up about something.
I also try to recognize when he needs a break. When I get home in the evenings, I am on duty–everything from baths to discipline to bedtime. He generally still pitches in, but he knows he can retreat to the other room and close his eyes for a few minutes of quiet if he needs it.
Just as I’ve found mentors for school, I also rely on older moms who’ve made it through similar situations to help me out with advice and encouragement.
When I’m tempted to have a pity party, these ladies remind me of the benefits of the relationship my girls are building with their dad and the value of these formative years spent with him. They tell me I’m setting a good example for my daughters, and (usually) I believe them.
Grain of Salt
On the other hand, we try not to take criticism or praise too seriously. While stay-at-home dads are still very much in the minority, we have been told, “Ooh . . . that’s so trendy!”
We’re not trying to make a statement about society; we’re just doing what we think is best for our family. What has worked for us might not work for others. And what is working for us now might not work for us in a few months. (Strugglers, remember?)
As we get closer to Father’s Day, though, I’m trying to make it a point to appreciate the things that are working for us and appreciate all the hard work my husband does as he stays at home.
Here’s your chance! Leave a comment about how much you appreciate all Dad contributes to your family.
Do you know a stay-at-home dad? Leave them a shout out here!