Winning When Dad Stays at Home

Winning When Dad Stays at HomeThe once traditional roles of dad goes off to work and mom stays home isn’t the case in our house. Roles are reversed, we have a stay at home dad. We didn’t plan it that way. It just ended up like that.

I always struggled with patience as a new mom. Whether it was breast-feeding or crying, I knew I had a hard time getting through each day of maternity leave without losing it myself. But my other half, he on the other hand didn’t get frustrated. He’s always been patient and had a calming sense that worked not only on the baby, but me too! Completely frustrated with the trial and error of being a new mom, there were many moments throughout those three months at home that reaffirmed my desire to go back to work. 

At the same time, a career opportunity with an out of state move came my way and we took it. So as new parents, we set out to an unknown city with a newborn and hoped for the best. It was the perfect opportunity to give stay at home dad life a try! And with that, I went back to work while my husband stayed home. And that was the beginning of our reality.

While it’s becoming more common, it’s definitely not the norm. But it works for us and that’s what matters. He’s mastered this gig! He cooks, cleans, does drop off and meets friends at the park. He takes kids to doctor and dentist appointments. Grocery shops on Mondays and doesn’t cook on Saturdays. We are making it work and I’m grateful every day for the path we’ve chosen.

It doesn’t come without its challenges. We’ve learned a lot over the years and are still adjusting as my career takes on new demands and the kids become involved with activities. I’m also a bit of an A-type, so from day 1 I’ve had high expectations. After months of debating his “job description” and yes this was a real discussion. (I work in HR so “job description” is a regular part of my vocabulary.) Let’s just say we had (and still do) two very different versions of what he should be doing. I lost the battle a long time ago. His priority was simple: keep the baby alive and well. Oh and he enjoyed cooking, so he’d make sure I had a hot meal every night. I couldn’t argue with that. Oh wait – I did.

It took time for me to change my expectations. I had to come to grips with the fact that he’s managing the kids and household most of the time and needs to do it his way. I’ve tried to offer suggestions, but it’s usually met with “I’ve got this”.

Here are tips for winning when Dad stays home and Mom goes to work:

  • Family Meetings are a Must! Spend time talking about the week, co-managing expenses and talking about what’s coming up.
  • Family Calendar to track who needs to be where! With work travel, kid’s activities and softball schedules, it’s necessary to have a place where everything is written down and accessible to both parents! For us, the old school hand written calendar works, but there are plenty of digital options or fancier “family organization boards”.
  • Electronic Grocery List (& to-do list) He does the shopping… I just need to add what I need. Using our iPhones and apps, we’re able to stay on top of what we need from the store, appointments to be scheduled and what projects need to get done.
  • Communicate, communicate and communicate again! There is no such thing as too much communication. Say it, text it, write it down, repeat! Life is moving fast and things easily get forgotten.

Let me emphasize how grateful, thankful and appreciative I am. I don’t have a single worry when I travel (which is a lot). I know the kids are in great hands, in fact, they are better hands than if I stayed home. And I am blessed to have delicious, home-cooked meals when I walk in the door. Dinner time is family time and he prides himself on making sure we preserve that. The stay at home dad gig is a winner in our house!

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