There are a number of reasons, stay-at-home dads (SAHDs) are becoming more common as fathers opt to stay at home and look after children while their partners or spouses go to work. The most common situations responsible for fathers at home are when the woman is earning more or is at a more critical juncture in her career, when the man is more inclined to look after children, when the parents want a more involved family life for their children, or when the father has a job which allows him to telecommute or works freelance.
Stay at home fathers have not always been easily accepted in society and most SAHDs today find that this attitude is still evident, especially in some cultures. When men become fathers at home, they are challenging gender-based stereotypes which have existed for centuries, and this can make some people uncomfortable. The debate over whether men can perform the daily upbringing duties for children as well as women is being laid to rest. While their parenting styles may be different from women, fathers at home are showing society that they are sensitive, responsible and nurturing caregivers.
Deciding to Become a Stay at Home Father
Before taking the plunge, remember that going from a full working week to a full-time father at home is not as easy as handing in your papers. Stay at home fathers have to be prepared to put up with barbs and jokes at their expense, from family, friends and society. On the other hand, there is a sense of fulfilment and achievement from rearing your children right and watching them grow and learn.
Discuss the move with your partner, keeping in mind any financial constraints that may arise from the loss of your salary. Budgeting for one partner to stay home is vital and avoids unforeseen problems cropping up later. Count the money saved by a father at home as well – expenses on child care, day care, taking the children to and fro all add up, and money saved is money earned.
For anyone, man or woman, moving from the buzz of a professional life to a life at home can be a drastic lifestyle change. It also means that you will spend more time with children and talking about cartoons, story books, toys and school days. Make sure you take the time out for yourself to meet and interact with other adults, and pursue your own interests. Search for support groups for stay at home fathers, either online or in your locality. Most groups will provide benefits other than socialization, such as baby sitting, tips on child care, outings and picnics and other events.
Tips for Stay at Home Fathers
Being a SAHD is a rewarding and fulfilling job, but it also means putting the interests and needs of your children before yours. Here are some tips to make it easier, and to help you make the most of the time you spend with your children:
- Taking kids out doesn’t mean you have to supervise them all the time. Sometimes you just need to find the right places: swimming pools with kiddy hours, indoor play areas and gyms for toddlers, children’s parks, reading sessions in your local library, playgroups that are supervised by other parents – all these are good options for you to sit back and watch your kids have fun while you relax.
- Teaching children through learning games is always a constructive way to spend time together. Even tasks like going shopping, cleaning up the house and making dinner can be learning activities if you approach them creatively. Allow children to participate in these tasks, and divide responsibilities according to their age.
- Creating a routine for children, especially young children, adds a sense of stability and helps them learn what you expect from them. While you don’t have to stick to it by the minute, keeping a regular time for bedtimes, school mornings and meals provides a structure and timetable for both you and your children.
- Make sure you keep up-to-date with the developments in your profession as far as possible. If you plan to rejoin the workforce when the children are older, it’ll be important. Take classes to keep skills updated, and if you are considering a career change, this is a good time to do your homework.
More than anything else, remember that you can’t take care of your children if you don’t take care of yourself. Take time to do the things you love and enjoy, and you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to be a full-time stay-at-home dad.
- Stay-at-Home Dads Forge New Identities, Roles – Washington Post
- Parenting Tips: Stay at home fathers – eSsortment