Let’s face it, the prospect of becoming a stay-at-home dad is downright scary. You probably have a thousand questions running through your head. How will it affect your household income? Will life get too boring? Do your friends think stay-at-home dads are losers? Are you going to have a hard time getting a full-time job later? Most of all, is it going to be worth it? The answers to these questions depend on your family’s specific circumstances. For most men, however, the answer to the last question is a definite yes. Here’s what makes full-time childcare rewarding for stay-at-home fathers.
Stay-At-Home Dad | What Makes It Amazing?
1. You Develop a Closer Relationship with Your Kids
One of the biggest benefits of being a stay-at-home dad is getting to know your kids more. Your friends who work outside the home can probably tell you: They don’t know their children as well as they probably should.
Working moms seem to transition well from office life to bonding with their kids once they get home. Yet many fathers tend to go straight from the commute to the couch, as their own dads did.
When you become the primary caregiver for your munchkins, you can’t help but get to know them as the unique little people they are. You’re the first to know when their favorite color changes and whether they’re feuding or best buds with their sibling this week. This is a privilege a lot of parents don’t get to enjoy.
2. You Recapture Some of Childhood’s Magic
Do you know one of stay-at-home moms’ best-kept secrets? When you’re home with your kids, you get to throw yourself into a whole world of imagination, without being the least bit self-conscious about it. The adult world can seem drab and harsh, but kids’ environments tend to be more colorful and nurturing. They also tend to be more exciting.
When you’re out and about, you’ll take your children to playgrounds, kids’ museums, and fun restaurants. At home, you’ll make your own Play-Doh figures, build treehouses, grill corn, turn a bedsheet into a superhero cape, and build blanket castles. During quiet times, you’ll read fanciful books to your little ones or cuddle up in front of a Disney movie.
In the working world, goofing off and indulging in fairy tales is discouraged, but for stay-at-home dads? That’s just good parenting! After all, no one needs to know how much fun you actually having doing all of these activities with your kids.
3. You’re Helping Your Kids See Beyond Stereotypes
Just by being a stay-at-home dad, you and your wife are helping to reshape traditional gender roles in your children’s eyes. You also help break some myths and misconceptions a father who stays at home deals with constantly. For your sons, that means they’ll learn being a loving and involved parent is as “masculine” as being a high-powered executive. For your daughters, they’ll understand they deserve a husband and a co-parent who supports their career aspirations and can be an equal partner in the challenging task of raising children together.
Flipping the script in your own home means creating a better viewpoint for when your kids. When they are older and have their own families, they may view gender roles with a broader perspective.
4. Your Marriage Improves
It would be wrong to claim that a “traditional” father doesn’t participate in any household and parenting chores once he’s home. However, we know stay-at-home mothers often feel they don’t get as much support in their roles as they could.
If you and your wife have flipped the script, however, it can deepen your relationship. That’s especially true if you and your wife take turns staying home and going to work. You’ll develop a deeper appreciation of the challenges of both worlds and the contributions each of you makes.
5. You Forge Tighter Bonds with Other Adults
You may be surprised to learn socializing with other stay-at-home parents isn’t the cutthroat world of soccer moms and PTA volunteering you may have heard.
In fact, parents who take their kids to the park and to story time at the library can tell you there’s just no room for pretense. Parents tend to confide in one another about their fears and frustrations.
Are your toddler’s nightmares normal? Is your baby taking too long to crawl? Is all-day preschool going to be too much for your shy little guy? What about your own life? Is it OK to carve out time to start writing that novel?
These are concerns that can cause parents to lose sleep whether they work in the home or out of it. You often can’t share these fears in a traditional workplace. There, other dads either won’t care as much as you do or will label you as too distracted by home concerns.
Being a stay-at-home dad means being in a world where parents who get together forsake small talk. In fact, “going deep” in that supportive environment is the norm. Granted, those conversations may have a lot of interruptions from diaper changes, to snack time, to playground drama. Between those parenting tasks, though, you have the chance to forge more meaningful friendships than you might have in the breakroom at work.
6. Some Parts May Come More Easily to You than for Mom
Whether it’s cultural conditioning or a natural “wiring” issue, many women have trouble losing themselves in those small moments of parenting that can make it so special.
The laundry is always calling, or they’re worried they’re going to be late to the pediatrician appointment. Those nagging concerns too often keep stay-at-home moms from getting on the floor to play or having those deep rambling conversations that are so important to kids.
Men seem better able to compartmentalize, which can be both a blessing and a curse to their co-parents. That laser focus comes in handy when it comes to staying in the moment with the kids rather than worrying about vacuuming.
Many modern moms have also broken away from these societal guilt trips, but it’s a hard habit to break. If being “in the moment” is something you can bring to your kids’ lives, embrace it! The beauty of having a co-parent is that you each of you contribute special skills and unique perspectives to family life.
7. You Have the Time to Reevaluate Your Life
The early years of parenting don’t leave much time for self-reflection. Yet once the kids start spending some time in preschool and elementary school, you may find yourself with the time to develop new skills and interests.
Some parents use this time to begin taking classes toward an advanced degree, perhaps with the objective of starting a different career or higher-paying job should they return to the workforce later. Others develop a burgeoning interest into another source of income — it could be woodworking or designing roller coasters, every option is an opportunity.
There are still some stay-at-home dad depression issues to overcome. A stay-at-home dad not being appreciated or understood by his friends or colleagues may add to that. However, if he is surrounded by a supportive family, then it won’t be much of a problem in the long run.
Whether it’s meditation or an activity, all these pursuits are part of developing new aspects of yourself that you didn’t have a chance to do before becoming a stay-at-home dad.
How does it feel to leave your job and be a stay-at-home dad? Glen Henry shares his lessons in this video from TEDx Talks:
Don’t be discouraged if you’re a new stay-at-home dad and suddenly wonder if you’ve made a mistake leaving the workforce to raise your kids. At first, you may be learning the ropes of scheduling activities and stretching a grocery budget, especially if you haven’t done these tasks in the past. Once these challenges become second nature, you’ll start to understand why being a stay-at-home dad is such a great job!
Are you a stay-at-home dad? What’s the best thing about it for you? Let us know your thoughts below!
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