John Adams writes DadBlogUK and was inspired to start blogging after 18 months looking after his kids. In his post for our Kiddicare blog, John tells us why he gave up a successful career to become a Stay at Home Dad.
There’s a very simple reason why I became a Stay at Home Dad (SAHD); working father guilt. Before I come on to that, let me give you a little background to my situation.
First of all, let’s address whether I am actually a Stay at Home Dad (SAHD). I’ve never come up with a definitive answer to what a stay at home parent, be they mother or father, actually is. It strikes me that most do some kind of paid work and I’m no different.
I work part-time and this has been the case since I waved goodbye to full-time employment almost three years ago. This also meant waving goodbye to a salary that was in the higher-rate tax bracket. The days when I could afford to buy clothes in Reiss are but a faded memory.
You’ll have to make up your own mind as to whether that makes me a true SAHD although it’s how I am frequently referred. What I can tell you is that it’s me that gets the kids up and dressed every morning. It’s me that does the school and nursery run (our youngest goes to nursery part time), organises the play dates, organises and attends the inoculations, stitched all but two of the name tags in my eldest daughter’s school uniform, does most of the food shopping, takes the children swimming and so on.
Don’t get me wrong; this is more of a co-parenting situation. There is absolutely nothing my wife cannot or hasn’t done with the children and she is a fantastic mother. The reality is that she has a great career and greater earning potential. Not surprisingly, these were major influences on our decision when I proposed giving up my old job. Note the language; it was “our” decision as we made it jointly.
So what prompted me to take this unusual step? At the time we only had the one daughter. She had been in nursery five days a week from the age of eight months and we had missed a couple of significant moments in her life because they happened while she was in day care.
Living on the fringes of London, where living costs are high, we had simply assumed that we needed two full-time salaries. I began looking at the amount we were paying for childcare and figured that if we cut childcare costs we could take a sizeable hit on our income.
I put the idea to my wife but made the mistake of choosing a terrible moment to raise such an important issue. We were visiting the in-laws in Scotland and my father in law wasn’t in the greatest health at the time. Let’s just say my Glaswegian wife reacted with the spirit her home city is renowned for.
Despite this, she very quickly came round to my way of thinking. She was quite honest about it; she just couldn’t picture herself at home with children all day. If either of us was going to be the main carer of the kids she agreed it should be me and so I resigned.
As a family, we haven’t looked back. I feel very fortunate to spend so much time with my children, something few other dads get to do. I play a major part in both our children’s lives and I enjoy it.
Being a SAHD isn’t always easy and it was quite a lonely experience at first. Support networks for men in my situation are very few and far between and are non-existent in my locality. It was only when our eldest reached an age where she started making friends that I found myself being invited to “do coffee” with the parents of her friends (I say parents, with a couple of notable exceptions it is virtually always mums). Child Number One has just started school and this will no doubt bring a number of challenges with it. For instance, how will the mums at the school gate react to having an SAHD in their ranks?
I have read of other SAHDs saying there is an awkward line to cross when inviting a mum round for coffee or attending an event where you know you’ll be the only male. Is it possible the mum(s) will get the wrong idea? Does it look suggestive in some way? In the early days I shared these concerns but not any longer. I’m considerably more worried about whether I’ve managed to get the children dressed appropriately and have tidy hair (I frequently fail at both).
I was recently asked by a mum if I found it hard work looking after two children compared to working. I think it’s phenomenally hard work but also very, very rewarding. My only wish is there were more hours in the day and that I could spend more time doing interesting, fun things with the kids instead of having to take them shopping or involve them in other mundane tasks.
So that’s my story. Are you a SAHD? Would you consider it? Mums, how would you react if your partner proposed looking after the children?
Have you ever experienced parental inequality? Read John’s previous post for Kiddicare, about why Dad is not a second class citizen.