Gender roles :: Being a stay at home dad?

Things have been really hectic here lately. Adam has been unsettled at work with co-workers moving on and general discontent with the company, and I’ve been manic. Utterly manic with work. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve been discussing him finding a part time job or perhaps even staying at home for a few months in order to help me out and find something that either brings balance to him OR for him to stay at home.

I remember when Adam hurt his back just after we came home from DisneyWorld and he had to see a Chiropractor, he was so helpful with the things he could do. The things he could help with (and was advised to keep on with lest he just sit there and make his back worse) were things that I’m now struggling to make time for isn’t the day to day, and being the neat freak that I am, I’m beginning to find the piles of laundry in the kitchen; the dishes piled high and the toys everywhere, a touch suffocating.

I guess the problem is, we’ve always taken on the more “traditional” roles of family dynamics – I have worked part time, taken maternity and been the secondary earner in our home. Suddenly this isn’t the case and it’s something unexpected. I think as a family, despite both holding firm beliefs revolving around gender equality and men or women staying at home to raise the family without judgement cast, it’s a very different thing to believe in it and to do it. There is still a very poor attitude towards men who stay at home to take on what was the traditional role of raising the kids and maintaining the home. One you don’t *truly* appreciate until you’re faced with the decision. For us, it’s becoming a matter of semantics – child care costs are pretty shitty, and my work allows me to be mega flexible around childcare, but also (especially now I’m suddenly so busy) we want to make sure that we encourage the children to develop socially, so that means continuing with preschool for Edith. I’m often finding myself working unsocial hours because I need to lose a few hours in order to pick her and the boys up from respective places, not to mention dropping them off… would it perhaps make more sense to have their dad fulfil that role, yet he can’t because he is at work over the school hours with no option to flex.

On the total flip side, while it would be wonderful to have that extra support so I didn’t feel that the burden of maintaining our home and collecting the kids and working all these extra hours, what if I have a bad month? I think anyone who is self employed and doesn’t pay themselves a “steady” wage, where your work is entirely dependant on what you can and can’t fit in, could relate to “the fear” that they might not make enough that month to cover the bills… or the children’s party… or the school dinners, school trips… the list is endless isn’t it? We’ve become accustomed to a life with two wages, so what would happen if we cut back to one?

Lastly, Adam has always been a worker (apart from that blip in his early twenties that saw him speed through 5 jobs in 2 years, and the only thing he went hardcore at was FIFA – we don’t talk about that blip…) as a teenager he worked his way up through the hospitality system to become a very respected General Manager of an affluent hotel by 21. He worked relentlessly, and now as a wine merchant, he often works far more than he should because he has a standard that he wants to maintain. So how do you go from being an employed person, who has a separate life and dedicates so much of their time to their job, to suddenly not having that home/work divide? I know it’s something I found hard when I was on maternity leave, something that thousands of women (and more so than ever, men too) struggle with, hence the societal pressure to justify what you do with your time and call being a stay at home parent your job.

It’s a tough one, ideally we’d both like to stay working, but at the minute it’s beginning to feel like something, somewhere has to give… and I feel like if the roles were reversed, that wouldn’t be a question.

22 Comments

  1. June 14, 2017 / 10:31 am

    I’d love to be a stay at home dad. But with the deal my wife and I have with our employers, it wouldn’t make sense. We maximise our family time whilst both having full time jobs. God knows how we wrangled it and it does add to the tiredness factor but we both get away time (albeit at work) we both get 1 to 1 time with the little man and we still get plenty of time as a family. There’s not much room for anything else but in these early years (4) that’ll do us. As it happens I am now coming to the end of a 6 month medically induced sabbatical so I’ve essentially been a SAHD anyway. I’ve loved it. I say, if you can make it work and have the finances you need to allow at least one of you to be home then, and if that person is up for it (it’s a big step) Then go for it. Whether that be mum or dad is, these days irrelevant. Great article Harriet.

  2. April 13, 2017 / 3:24 pm

    We decided when the missus was pregnant that I’d be a SAHD as it made most sense for our family. We had 10 months together when the missus was on mat leave, then I became full time SAHD. Now, I juggle that with being a full-time blogger – the flexibility to do it all is pretty awesome, although a bit of a challenge! End of the day, you’ve got to do what’s right for your family and this setup has worked better than we ever anticipated.

  3. April 13, 2017 / 8:57 am

    It shouldn’t be a big deal. I gave up full time work to become the main carer of my kids in 2011. My wife’s career has subsequently pwoered ahead. I, meanwhile, have accidentally launched a career as a blogger/vlogger/writer and I fit it around family life. This, to me, sounds like the situation you’d find yourselves in.

    I don’t know the ages of your kids, but the real stress for a SAHD in my opinion is in the very early years. Everything is very unfairly swayed towards the mum. now I have a child in the school system and a second about to start, things are not too bad. Sure, I still come across lazy, latent sexism from time to time but not as much as I did. It needs more guys lke me to take the plunge to make it the accepted norm so tell your husband to come over and we’ll have a chat about it. We’ll get on well, i like wine.

    • Harriet April 13, 2017 / 1:35 pm

      Ha thanks for the fab comment John – I’ll send him over, red or white 😉

  4. April 4, 2017 / 8:24 am

    When I left a full time job under threat of redundancy and took a short term contract which ended after 5 months I was terrified of going from me working FT and the wife PT.
    My wife converted to FT and I stayed at home for a year. I loved it and I feel it was a great way to bond with the kids.
    Everything is heard towards mums but in most cases, if you make an effort so do the mums and they realise your not some sort of weirdo, your just a parent doing the best for the kids.
    It will be hard but you will live to your means and be better and a closer family for it.

    Goodluck!
    L

  5. March 29, 2017 / 9:12 am

    My husband is and was a stay at home dad for a couple of years. He is now dipping his toes into self employment as our little monkey started nursery…

    I think the biggest issue he has had is that so many things are geared towards mums and even when they are for parents, he is always the odd one out. So very difficult for him to make true friends. So there has definitely been some isolation which probably would not have happened had I been the stay at home (I’m also the more sociable of us anyway!).

  6. March 7, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    Interesting – and one we’ve been juggling between us for years now – I went back to work (I ran the design studios at House of Fraser) when SF was only 4 months old, and my OH stopped work as a video editor on the telly, simply because his working hours were insane, and it just wouldn’t have worked for us, we then took it in turns – I was off for a year with RB and then we swapped again! You just make it work, there was never any question of it being a gender thing for us – He does the lion’s share of shopping/cooking and we both work from home now – as long as the kids see that we are both supporting each other, I think it can work really well! xx

  7. March 7, 2017 / 11:20 am

    We’re in a similar position at the moment, my other half is about to take a year off as a career break to be a stay at home Dad (not quite making the full leap yet) allowing me to keep building my business which is just so busy right now. Weirdly part of his background is in wine too (think his ideal job is, er, tasting craft ales). I’m not sure how flexible your husband’s employers are but a little experimenting is always a good option. The gender stereotypes are so frustrating though, honestly I think before now if he’d applied to go part time it would have been hugely detrimental to his career – as it was mine before I jumped ship. Just so wrong xx

  8. March 5, 2017 / 11:17 pm

    I’m sure if Pete earned more than me, he would be SAHD, there shouldn’t be such a stigma around it! Dads are just as awesome as mums so why can’t they stay and look after the kids?
    My dad helped looked after George when I went back to work and nobody questioned it. Besides, it’s what works best for you as a family 🙂

    Rachael xo // http://totsandtantrums.blogspot.co.uk/

  9. March 4, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    It’s about whatever works best for your family. Hope it works out for you all xo

  10. Jemma
    March 3, 2017 / 12:56 pm

    It’s all about what works for you and your family, I guess there’s no rules, just what fits and feels right 🙂

  11. March 3, 2017 / 10:44 am

    I think it is tough but you have to do what’s best practically for you as a family. Even if it means you both working part time and working things around that x

  12. March 3, 2017 / 6:16 am

    I thinks for todays generation, it’s already normal to have a stay at home dad. What’s important is that you have a mere understanding and common goal in life on how you’ll run your family. It’s always between you and your husbands decision.

  13. danasia fantastic
    March 3, 2017 / 12:19 am

    That’s such a difficult position to be in. It’s a shame that there’s still such a stigma about men staying at home with their kids.

  14. March 2, 2017 / 10:33 pm

    I am glad that you and your partner are challenging traditional parenting roles because honestly there should be no issue with being a stay at home dad. What is it you work as alongside blogging?

  15. March 2, 2017 / 10:07 pm

    Even though there still does seem to be poor attitude towards men who stay at home, I think that whatever works for each individual family is what’s best. It really should come down to what each person wants and needs and what will work in a way that is optimal for all. It would be scary to give up that second income though when the other income is a self-employed income. I believe everyone who is self-employed knows those fears that you describe. I hope that you are able to come up with a solution and things will settle down for you soon x

  16. March 2, 2017 / 2:19 am

    That is such a tough one and I guess there are really know rules to follow! Things always have a way of working out and it sounds like you have a strong and open relationship so I am sure you will get there! Good Luck!! L x

    • Harriet March 2, 2017 / 9:23 pm

      Thank you Lyndsey – I hope so x

  17. March 2, 2017 / 12:03 am

    In my circle there are stay at home dads and it’s never really been questioned. It’s always just a case of who’s work is more flexible and who earns the most. In my case we were both high earners but I was a contractor and when we had kids we needed a steady income so I stayed at home and OH went to work. Even with ne staying at home our house is a constant mess just because of family life with three kids. I’ve decided to give into the mess and just d what I can. As long as the kids are happy then we’ll allow a bit of mess to stay 😉

    • Harriet March 2, 2017 / 9:23 pm

      I wish I could – I get to a point where I feel suffocated by it!!

  18. March 1, 2017 / 11:29 pm

    My hubby will continue working when we have children and I imagine I’ll be a stay at home mam as he works away from home and earns more than me. If not, I’m sure he’d love to stay at home as a full time dad xxx

    • Harriet March 2, 2017 / 9:24 pm

      It’s all about the balance of who earns what and who wants to do what isn’t it?

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