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Stay at home dads of the world UNITE

by retirebyforty on August 6, 2012 · 43 comments

in baby, early retirement

stay at home dad not easy

He has got my Greek God physique.

Being a stay at home dad is not easy. It takes a certain personality to be able to raise a child and deal with the switch over from working full time. Personally, I think most guys are not really cut out to be a stay at home dad.

Housework

Let’s face it, most guys are terrible at household chores. When I was a bachelor, I vacuumed about once a year or so. When we were both working, Mrs. RB40 did most of the chores. I think I did more chores than the average husband, but you can tell me if I’m right. I cooked dinner about 50% of the time. I dealt with the kitty litter. I drove and took care of the car. I occasionally cleaned the bathroom. Does that sounds about normal for a husband?

Now that I’m a SAHD, I try to do more chores in the daytime when Mrs. RB40 is working in the coal mines.

  • Vacuum every few days. This is much better than the once/week we did before. Baby RB40 drops cheerios and cookie crumbs on the carpet pretty often.
  • Cook on the weekdays. This way we can have dinner around 6:30pm. I’m a fast cook and can get food on the table reasonably quick. Mrs. RB40 usually takes more time so we only let her cook on the weekends now.
  • Laundry. I’m doing most of the laundry (two to three loads/week) on the weekdays now. I leave the delicates to the Mrs.
  • Dishes and general picking up around the house. I do the breakfast and lunch dishes after lunch so there won’t be a huge pile in the sink. Mrs. does the dishes after dinner. We usually pick up all the toys before bedtime.

The main reason why the mom can get resentful at SAHD is that she has to do a bunch of chores when she gets home. I’m not great at doing chores, but I’m willing to improve so Mrs. RB40 will have less on her plate after working all day.

Temperament

It is very easy to get mad at a kid. Baby RB40 can’t communicate very well yet and many times, I don’t know what he wants. I’m a pretty patient guy and only occasionally lose my temper. This is essential to being a parent because the kid is learning. We need to teach him to function well in the world. I think most men are direct communicators and find it hard to deal with a small child. I have always liked playing with kids, though, and that is an essential part to being a stay at home parent.

Physiological

It can be difficult to transition from being a breadwinner to being a home maker. Strangely, I don’t have any qualms about the transition at all. I guess I was so unhappy with my job so getting out that situation made me feel great. I also have a pretty thick skin and generally don’t care what other people think. I really don’t mind that Mrs. RB40 is the main provider now. We joined our finances when we got married over 12 years ago and all our income goes into the family. It doesn’t make much difference who earns the money as long as the family finances are on solid footing. I’m quite happy to be a SAHD right now, but we’ll see if I can maintain this positive attitude in the long run.

Support network

Being a SAHD can be a lonely experience. Most men will miss the social and collaborative environment of the office and that can be difficult to replace when you are a SAHD. It’s hard to find a support group because of the obvious reason. Most stay at home parents are moms and most groups are mom-centric. We have been taking Baby RB40 to story time at the library for a few weeks now and I can get along pretty well with the moms there. I also met another stay at home dad/writer so hopefully, we can get together and share some notes sometime. I also just found Portland Dads at Home, a local dad network. I plan to joine this group soon.

Keep Active

I think it’s essential to keep active and have fun with your kid. The weather has been nice since I’ve became a SAHD and we have been taking full advantage of it. We go out to the playground, parks, libraries, museum, and other public spaces. We went to a bunch of free concerts and events this summer too. I don’t know what we are going to do when it starts raining again. Winter will be tougher since we won’t be able to go out as much. I think there are a few indoor playgrounds, but we haven’t been to any of them. I guess we’ll figure it out later this year.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

John August 6, 2012 at 2:29 am

a good article. I think that my wife does most of house chores even though both of us work, but her job starts soon, so it means I have to pick up the slack now. keep up the good work!

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 11:16 am

Help out your wife and everyone will be happier. :)

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Kurt @ Money Counselor August 6, 2012 at 7:22 am

It’s a great joy to read these posts about your time with Baby RB40. So glad you quit that job! And yeah, I think your right about aiming to make it a bit easier on Mrs. RB40 around the house. Nothing more frustrating than coming home from a tiring workday to a bunch of household chores.

Good luck!

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 11:18 am

Thanks. Housework doesn’t come natural to most men, but we still need to help out as much as we can. Mom already has a ton of things to do when there is a baby around.

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20's Finances August 6, 2012 at 7:55 am

Yeah, I imagine that it is a huge change. My wife and I share the chores as well. I do most of the cleaning, half the dishes, and 2/3 of the laundry. She does the rest of dishes, laundry and all the shopping.

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 11:19 am

That’s good to hear. We do the shopping together on the weekend.

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Don August 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

I’m just a little jealous, just a little, little… okay A LOT!!!

The bit about the wife working the coal mines made me lol at the library…

I’m predicting that you’ll develop an entirely new social infrastructure to fulfill what you missed at the office.

Enjoy it, especially your son (they grow so quickly!)

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

Thanks Don. It’s great to spend the time with our little guy. He is growing so fast and I’m very happy to be a big part of it.

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Hunter August 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

Good read! I can easily relate to just about everything you’re going through. Like anything we choose to commit to for the long haul, there will be good and more challenging days. Use the network you develop when things get tough, and definitely keep a toe-hold on as many interests as you can outside of the house. You’re doing great!

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

Thanks Hunter. It’s pretty tough right now to do anything outside of the house. I think once he’s a bit older and more independent, then I can pursue more of my interests. We’re Siamese twins right now…

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Aloysa August 6, 2012 at 9:47 am

LOL I cannot imagine myself as a stay at home mom. Hell no! But thena gain, I don’t like kids.
It is a huge transition for you. It is not easy to adjust but you will get used to a new pace in your life. I am very curious to see where this journey takes you. :)

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 11:22 am

You probably shouldn’t have a kid. :)
Life is good now right?

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Paul N August 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

Hi it’s me again, I guess I can be the respectful dissenting voice of the full time stay at home dad. . The stay at home dad has both it’s advantages and some disadvantages. You have to make sure your relationship is Rick solid. I suggest you continue your education as part of your stay at home activities. Keep up on the latest tech etc. People always change. Your personalities – your wifes and yours will change after 1 or 2 years. You won’t probably believe me saying this now but they will change. here is an interesting article on the subject.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2182970/Why-stay-home-dad-quickest-way-kill-sex-life-lead-wives-stray.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

Hi Paul, I read that article last night. Hopefully, I don’t feel like that in a year, but who knows. I feel like I’m not the typical guy and can handle being a stay at home dad. We’ll see how it goes. If it get as bad as the article, then I would probably go back to work.
You made a good point about education. I live near the university and I’ll see if there are any interesting classes that I can take.

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Ornella @ Moneylicious August 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

Sounds like you are doing an awesome job and great at multi-tasking! you will build an even stronger bond with your child. that’s awesome!

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I’m terrible at multi-tasking. I have to wait until baby goes to bed before I can do anything productive. :)
Thanks.

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SavvyFinancialLatina August 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Don’t go obsolete! I agree with Paul N. Enjoy your time with kids, but make sure you make time for yourself. From observing stay at home moms, sometimes they become too invested in their kids, they forget what it is not to be a mom or dad in this case.

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm

It’s very difficult at this age to make time for myself. I think when he goes off to preschool, I will be able to do more projects. I’m already obsolete in my old career. I need to find a new career if I want to go back to work. We’ll see if it works out.

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krantcents August 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I could never be a good SAHD! At best, I took care of my children roughly half the time skewed to the weekends. I just can’t imagine doing full time. I think you are right, it is all temperament. We did a lot of things together on Sundays. As my children got older, I enjoyed talking to them We just split the chores.

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Most guys do not have the temperament for it. It’s great that you were involved.

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Kathleen @ Frugal Portland August 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I think it’s nice that you’re doing all the housework — you’re right, that will decrease the missus being annoyed!

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Housework is no fun, but someone has to do them.

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Edward Antrobus August 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm

When we first got married, I wound up being a house-husband. I was out of work, so it was a pretty obvious decision that I should be doing pretty much all of the chores.

Somehow, however, once I started worked (I now work about 20% more hours than she does) I am still the one doing the household chores. I think she justifies it because, even though I work more, she gets paid more.

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Really? That’s interesting. I don’t mind doing the chores now that I have more time. When I worked full time, the chores just piled up until the weekend. :(

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Michelle August 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

The vacuuming every few days is cracking me up, because my daughter will catapult food to the carpeting! We don’t eat on the carpeting, so I imagine that’s what she’s doing. I’ll be honest…as a SAHP, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of housework there is! It just never.freaking.ends. I really think I need to stop blogging and marketing during nap times, so I can have a clean house! The blogging stuff can happen later….when I should be sleeping. Sleeping < clean house? Oh yeah! My sanity agrees.

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I blog when baby is asleep too. These days I don’t get enough sleep at all. Going to bed at 1am is not good for your health.

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Lance @ Money Life and More August 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Ugh being a parent at all scares me right now. Lots of responsibility and it will be a few years before I get there. Maybe I’ll be a stay at home if things work out right.

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm

It’s ok to put it off for a while. We didn’t have kids until our mid/late 30s. We weren’t ready when we were younger.

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Kim August 6, 2012 at 8:05 pm

You should write a cook book for stay at home dads! With my husband being a teacher he is home in the summer while I work. He will make dinner if it is all planned out but has a hard time coming up with ideas and would not know what ingredients to put in things.

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retirebyforty August 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm

That’s a great idea. I’ll keep that in mind for my next project.
Maybe I can write an ecookbook. :)

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Glen Craig August 6, 2012 at 11:36 pm

It is a strange thing at times being a SAHD. You’re right about support. I find there are a lot of people out there that get kinda confused about me being with the kids. I get a lot of “so you have the day off today”-type responses. Yeah, day off. There were SO many days where working a cube job would have been much easier than taking care of the kids.

But there are those people out there that are totally supportive as well as a growing number of dads out there that are taking care of there kids.

In all, it’s an awesome experience. Appreciate the Mrs for giving you this opportunity.

As for vacuuming and cheerios, that’s what the kids are for, right? I mean, a few cheerios here and there are nice discovery snack for the kids, right? Right? Just kidding.

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retirebyforty August 7, 2012 at 7:53 am

Glen, Thanks for your input.
Most people I know are supportive. I haven’t met any detractors yet, but most people here are reserved.
Yes, I would like to Thank Mrs. RB40 for this opportunity. It’s great to have a supportive spouse.
Hahaha, you’re right about the cheerios.
Looking forward to meeting you in Portland. When will you be in town? Maybe we can meet up at one of the free concerts or something like that.

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AverageJoe August 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I’m not a stay at home dad as much as a work from home dad. You’re right about the social aspects of being at home. I’m always thrilled to actually see real people during the day. Most of my relationships are now over the computer.

What’s your rate on doing laundry? Maybe I’ll send you ours! ;-)

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retirebyforty August 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I’m more of a stay at home dad right now. I can’t really do anything while the little dude is awake. I think once he’s a bit older, I’ll be able to work a bit more. Laundry is not a big deal actually. We live in a condo with 8 washers so I could do all the laundry at once and get it over with.

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Al August 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Definitely encourage you to join your local group. After 10 years of being an at-home dad, that was the best decision I made; joining a local group. The second best thing I did was attend the Annual At-Home Dads Convention. This year the 17th Annual At-Home Dads Convention is in Washington DC on Oct. 6. Check out http://www.athomedadconvention.com for more info. Hope to meet you there!

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Virginia August 16, 2012 at 6:15 am

It sounds like you have a really good handle on what is needed to be a successful and happy stay at home dad. I love to hear about men, both working and non-working, helping out around the house more. As women’s roles in the workforce increase, it is important for men’s roles in the home to increase as well. It doesn’t always come naturally and it is something that may require some work. It will help make your wife happier in the long run.

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retirebyforty August 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Thanks. I’m doing very well so far and I’m sure I can handle it for a few years until baby goes to preschool.
Housework is ok. At least I don’t have to send any status report to anyone. :)

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Buck Inspire August 16, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Great stuff Joe! Sounds like you’re adjusting well. Any thoughts of a second BabyRB40 now that you’ve got the daddy thing down?

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retirebyforty August 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm

The boss said we’re done with one so no. :)
How about you?

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First gen American August 29, 2012 at 3:18 am

I find that many stay at home dads and their spouses prefer to call themselves self employed. It seems like there is less of a stigma with that label. I am so glad you picked up the slack. I know more than a few folks who’s husbands are unemployed not by choice but still expect their working spouse to do a lot of the housework. That definitely can lead to resentment. After all, the mrs should also benefit by having less work too.

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retirebyforty August 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Hmm… That’s interesting. Are they bringing in any income to call themselves self employed? I don’t think you can be self employed if you don’t make any money.

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