I’ve been a stay at home dad now for almost five years.
And whilst many things about being at home no longer phase me, there was a time when they seemed scarier than Freddy Krueger.
Mainly because they were new to me or it was fear of the unknown.
But if you’re considering giving up work to look after your kids, you soon find that most of them aren’t as tricky as you first thought.
Before I gave up work, I cooked very rarely. I have to confess I relied on my wife to do that.
I hadn’t experimented with cooking since I was a student many moons ago.
So being thrown in at the deep end as a new stay at home dad with a toddler in tow was a big eye opener.
I can’t say I was particularly good with pureed food and it’s a wonder I didn’t put my daughter off certain foods for life.
It’s grown easier as both my kids get older although I sometimes struggle to come up with meal ideas.
I still get my wife to cook a lot and I know it’s not her favourite thing to do either.
There’s always something holding me back from going all out with cooking and that’s the fear of rejection!
You know that feeling when your kids sit down at the table to eat what you’ve just cooked and turn their noses up at it.
I’ve tried a few experimental recipes out on them and not many of them have been a success.
Sometimes it’s just easier to serve fish fingers!
If anything went by the wayside when my wife and I were both working it was housework.
You know that feeling when you’ve got visitors arriving the next day and you have to spend hours tidying up beforehand? That was us.
I thought I’d hate housework. It’s boring. It’s monotonous. It’s thankless. And it never stops!
One of the worst parts of my week as a stay at home dad involves cleaning the bathroom and keeping it clean. That and the barrage of washing and ironing.
But actually I don’t mind housework that much at all. It feels good to have a routine.
I consider being a stay at home dad my job and housework is part of that job so I just got to get on with it!
I still can’t get my kids to tidy their rooms though.
Inevitably as soon as I’ve cleaned and tidied up, they undo everything in record time.
There’s two things that concerned me when I took the decision to stay at home to look after the family.
Firstly, would the loss of one wage be too much of a burden and could we cope financially?
And secondly, how would I feel about not putting money into the family pot and living off my wife’s earnings?
I’d initially planned to become a stay at home dad in 2008 when my son was born. I even handed in my notice at work.
That didn’t happen though because I was persuaded by my employer that it wasn’t the right thing for me.
It wasn’t until about a year after my daughter was born that my wife and I discussed the stay at home dad thing again.
I was leaving for work early every day and my wife had to deal with drop offs and pick ups from nursery as I was also getting back late.
If we were going to do it, it made sense for me to be the one at home because my wife earned significantly more than me.
I’d also become disillusioned with the employer I was working at and saw staying at home as a way out.
So I felt indifferent to the idea I wasn’t going to be putting money into the pot. Me staying at home was the right thing to do in our circumstances.
When you’re at home most of the day, you can start to blend into the background.
You might not see friends and ex-work colleagues as much as you used to and it can seem like the world’s moving on without you.
In some ways I’ve already become Mrs Bonner’s husband, rather than being a person in my own right.
If I were an extrovert who craved attention and recognition, that might bother me.
The fact that I’m an introvert who likes to blend into the background makes this aspect of being a stay at home dad quite appealing!
Whilst it’s growing as a phenomenon, there still aren’t huge numbers of dads that stay at home to look after the kids.
One of the things I’ve experienced is criticism that I’m not working or that I’m letting my wife go out to work.
It sometimes feels like I should be the hunter gather and my wife should be at home looking after the offspring.
It’s what’s expected after all. The criticism is often veiled as kind of a joke.
I get questions like, “What are you going to do all day now that both your kids are at school?”.
I just laugh it off usually and say that I’ll put my feet up and watch day time TV.
Lack Of Adult Company
I won’t lie, the lack of adult company can be a tricky thing to get a handle on.
I used to work in an open plan office with more than 50 other people and to go from that to being at home seemed weird at first.
When all you have is someone under five to talk to, it can be quite a lonely existence.
If, like me, you’re still a stay at home dad after your kids go to school full time, then you’ll spend even more time on your own.
I actually like my own company and keep busy most of the day but the lack of adult company could really bug some people.
When you’re at home all day with the kids, it can be a battle of wills sometimes.
It can be hard work keeping them happy, chatting to them, feeding them, playing with them and so on.
Most of the time it all goes swimmingly and everyone gets along nicely.
But then there’s the times when everything kicks off and all hell breaks loose.
It’s times like that which make me wish I was still at work!
Since both my kids are now at school full time, it’s less of an issue but the kids still have their moments.
Many things in life can be frustrating but there’s a certain level of frustration that can come from being at home.
It can manifest itself from all manner of situations and even tiny things can make you frustrated for no reason.
If you let it, it can eat away at you and I’ve read about instances where it can turn into depression or even marriage breakups.
I do get frustrated sometimes being at home but last year I found an outlet for my frustrations.
I go running. In fact, I go running now at least four times a week; usually for five miles or more.
It helps me clear my head and to forget things for a while. It can help to figure everything out.
If you’re feeling really frustrated, you’ll soon find that some exercise can help the situation.
Putting On Weight
I’m over 40 and putting on weight is much easier than getting rid of it.
Couple that with having less time to exercise when you have young kids and being a stay at home dad becomes a perfect blend for putting on the pounds.
I play football with my son and both my kids love to run around in the garden but before I started running it wasn’t enough.
It wasn’t until I bought a Fitbit that I started to do something about it.
Then came the running and I’m now four and a half stone lighter.
It’s a constant battle to keep the weight off though and my middle still has a spare tyre.
If you don’t watch it though, it’s so easy to put on weight when you’re at home.
Going Back To Work
There will more than likely come a day when I must return to work.
I’ve already been asked to go back part time by my former employer but my wife and I came to the conclusion it isn’t the right time for our family.
That time is likely to be within a couple of years though and in some ways that leads to a certain amount of anxiety.
I’ll have been out of employment for 7 years. That’s a long time not being in the pensions industry and things have moved on.
I’m not sure I want to start again and be with all the teenagers and twenty somethings in the office either.
So going back to work could be an interesting proposition when and if it happens.
The average attention span of the modern human being is about half as long as whatever you’re trying to tell them. – Meg Rosoff
Is There Anything Else That’s Tricky As A Stay At Home Dad?
I’m sure there are other things you find tricky as a stay at home dad or for that matter a stay at home mum.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section and let me know what you find tricky about being a stay at home parent.