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Planning to be a stay at home dad

(39 Posts)
TheSprogfather Sat 22-Mar-14 22:27:38

We're seriously considering me giving up my full time job and becoming a SAHD, and would be keen to hear the experiences of others who have gone down this route.

My wife and I finding that us both working largely full time and having our DD in nursery for several long days each week isn't working for us. I really relish the time spent with our 14-month old DD, while my wife finds full days of childcare a struggle. Although we both earn similar money, my wife really gets a lot out of her work and needs to focus on it full time, whereas I'm get little fulfilment out of my job. Also, nursery seems to lead to ongoing colds and illness for our DD and her getting overtired.

It will mean a substantial income cut but the figures look to stack up, as we save on nursery and my commuting costs. I do have concerns about getting back into the job when DD goes to school; I'm thinking of doing some freelance or consulting work one-day a week to stay up-to-speed with my profession but difficult to know how this will pan out.

I've read posts about SAHD feeling isolated from the parenting community. I'm hoping this won't be the case - getting along to activities each day looks to be a good way of providing structure to the routine - but again it's another concern.

I have encountered several comments when taking DD to the doctors and like that make Dad doing a childcare seem really unusual. I hope that in 2014 we're not quite such a rare and curious breed. Would really like to hear others' experiences.

pookamoo Sat 22-Mar-14 22:30:35

It sounds like you've really looked into it and it would work well for your family.

DH and I shared the childcare when I went back to work after having DD1 (now 5) so we both went part time and he had some days with her. You're right about it not being "the norm" though - when DH took her for her MMR booster, he was asked whether "her mother knows you are bringing her" !!

Good luck with it all, it sounds great! smile

Pooka Sat 22-Mar-14 22:34:46

I have several friends who have successfully done this on a part time basis - so both the father and mother working part time and sharing the care of children completely down the middle. In their cases, it made financial and career-sense for them to do this.

I believe strongly that it is entirely down to the couple how they want to work things out. I'd love to have this set up but unfortunately it makes more sense for me to step back career-wise because dh earns much much more than I did. He also really loves his job! I've kept my hand in a bit with freelance work, and this is building up now our youngest is 4 and will start school in September.

So basically - I suppose I'm saying that men are increasingly being SAHD and I don't think it's like it was a decade or more ago. There are loads of dads in the playground of my dc's school, some of whom SAHD and some of whom just have interesting shift patterns so are just as likely to be around in the day as their partners.

MyNameIsKenAdams Sat 22-Mar-14 22:35:56

Its much more commonplace now and I think while it might take a bit of time to settle in, it would be the same for SAHM or SAHD.

Try and arrange an activity per day for the week. Give some structure and also introduces you to others. Weve just signed up to a Messy Play class running for a term and theres a few dads take their toddlers.

pookamoo Sat 22-Mar-14 22:36:29

ooh hello Pooka this is weird!

(sorry - thread hijack!)

Yes we often see dads at toddler groups too, and on the school run.

screamingeels Sat 22-Mar-14 22:52:12

DH has been SAHD since DD was born, she's now 6, and DS is 3. He would rather poke himself in the eye with a sharp stick than go to toddler group - so he doesn't, but they go to the park a lot, and swimming, and library (and b&q).

There are a lot more dads around than you think, not generally SAHDs but dads with odd shift patterns, night workers, partners sharing care etc. In fact the oddity about our set up where we live is not that DH is SAHD, its that there is one parent who doesn't work. There aren't many SAHMs either.

Pooka Sat 22-Mar-14 22:59:20

Ha! pookamoo - just noticed name! Great minds... wink

WilloughbyWallabyWoo Sat 22-Mar-14 23:20:57

DH is a SAHD and I wish he wasnt. Not just because its what I would prefer to do, but am the higher earner and so am stuck working, but because he doesn't enjoy it. It seems it stress him out and so I return from work with him huffing and puffing or in the middle of an argument with dd1. I don't know how to get him to take things in his stride more. One thing I have tried to get him to do but he can't for health reasons is wear dd2 around the house in a sling so that he can cook and wash up etc without worrying about keeping an eye on her.

He takes dd2 to a group once a week and doesn't particularly enjoy it but doesnt hate it either, although actually I think the whole point of going to things like that is for the child not the adult so as long as its well organised and the child enjoys it, one should just get on with it, really.

DH is also completely without friends, he is no longer in touch with those he had pre DDs, and I think he suffers for it as his stress could probably be kept under control if it was put into perspective.

If you are feeling isolated I would recommend addressing it before it gets you down. If dads are difficult to meet then perhaps create a facebook group for your local area?

I am now at the point where I would rather DH got a job even if he only earned enough to cover a child minder, but it sounds like, as its your choice, you'll enjoy it a whole lot more.

Xfirefly Sat 22-Mar-14 23:26:15

BIL is a SAHD and is fab and he loves it. he goes to toddler groups and says all the mums make a fuss of him (or so he says) . a lot of older family members slagged him off for it saying it was weird and because he was controlling hmm but he really isn't.

notaflamingclue Sun 23-Mar-14 08:02:17

My DP is a SAHD to our 1yo DF. They fill their time with swimming, a few toddler grpups and trips out. He doesn't hate it but we've agreed that when the second comes along (in about 8 months!) he'll go to work at least twice a week and I'll go part time. I feel like WWW does - it's ok for a bit but unless it's all you've ever wanted to do it's not sustainable long-term for everyone. I'd feel like that if I were the SAHP too.

notaflamingclue Sun 23-Mar-14 08:02:57

DS not DF!!! That would be weird!

Beepbeepnow Sun 23-Mar-14 08:36:07

My hubby is a sahd, it made more sense as I earn more and am in a secure job, whereas he didn't have a permanent job. Ds is 14 months now and hubby is at the point where he has had enough. He tried a toddler group but it was all mums and he hated it so he dos his own thing taking sd to park, out for walks, visit grandparents. We wish we could change roles but financially that is not possible so we muddle through the best we can. Dh is ready to get back into work so is looking for part time work but that is easier said than done!

georgesdino Sun 23-Mar-14 08:38:45

Dh is doing this soon. Loads of dads are off work here or off in the day so hes just planning to hang around with his friends.He will be going to the library music group and things like that. Its 50% mums 50% dads on school drop offs here as even if not sahd, some are part time, lots on shifts etc.

tribpot Sun 23-Mar-14 08:47:47

Sounds like this is the right decision for your family. I think you're also right to be concerned about keeping your hand in at work - you may find it's easier to explore that once you've handed your notice in. I had a number of contractor gigs come up once it was known that I was leaving (and thus no-one had to be worried about poaching).

One of our local libraries runs a club called Saturdads - obviously aimed at working dads, no great surprise there. You will probably find you are the only dad at a lot of the toddler events, but as she gets older this will be less likely. Lots of dads on the school run, too - seems to be a mix of families where both parents work so they share the late start after the school run, dads working shifts and so on.

My DH is a SAHD but that was motivated by the fact he is too ill to work as much as anything. He couldn't do any social things with ds when little as too difficult to manage physically and having to make conversation with strangers would have stressed him out. So ds went to pre-school and then nursery for his activity stuff.

primigravida Sun 23-Mar-14 08:47:57

I have a couple of friends at toddler group who are SAHDs and they really enjoy it. There are a lot of SAHDs in our neighbourhood. We have two on the toddler group committee and about five who regularly attend toddler group. There is a SAHD who runs the local music group and does a very good job.

There are a lot more dads involved in weekday childcare than when I was a child. My dad was the only dad involved in pick-ups and drop-offs when I was a kid but now I would say it would be between 30-40 percent dads at school pick-up and drop-off.

Theyaremysunshine Sun 23-Mar-14 08:53:11

Dh and i both have some time with the kids. Dh works 4 days and i do 3. Nursery for 2 days.

What i would say is that i find having the kids more stressful than Dh because i have them both (11m and 3yo) where he just has the toddler, and because i do all the other stuff (cleaning, tidying, organising) on my home days and he just plays and goes out to places. I'd hate dh to be a sahd for this reason. If you're up for all the other home jobs though then that's great.

Also, think about what you want in 5 years time, 10 years. If that involves pt work be prepared for how hard that can be to find. Could you go pt now and just give your dc 1 or 2 nursery days? I'd say the same to someone considering being a sahm btw.

I couldn't be a sahp. Even mat leave left me feeling a bit isolated. Really hope it works out for you and wish you all the best

PickleMobile Sun 23-Mar-14 08:54:23

Sorry no advice apart from go for it! But I love your name OP!

georgesdino Sun 23-Mar-14 08:57:18

Theyaremysunshine - Dh does nearly all the cooking, cleaning, car journeys, having friends children over etc thats the sahds job there is no way Im coming home to all the home jobs.

NK5BM3 Sun 23-Mar-14 09:03:46

Hello op I have a friend whose dh is a Sahd and he really enjoys it. But the decision was taken due to them earning similar amounts and her not enjoying being a sahm. He is imminently more patient and enjoys it. He I believe also gets on with household stuff.

But he's supposedly writing a book and doing free lance stuff. It really depends on what your current career and job is. If it's easy to get back then fine. If it's not and you intend to then maybe part time or set up a consultancy now would be a good idea.

MoreBeta Sun 23-Mar-14 09:16:41

TheSprog - hello I am a part time SAHD. I gave up work over a decade ago to share SAHP role with DW. We worked together at home too some of the time and so our children went to nursery too. e both valued our time with our children and in being able to work. DW did not want to be a SAHM either but we didn't want to be handing our children over to a nanny or swapping our children in car parks hurtling between planes and trains and totally stressed out.

What I would say is the world is going to look at you in a very different way when you give up work, you will lose friends, you will feel isolated. This is a common feeling for SAHM too but I think for SAHD it is worse because frankly toddler groups are full of women as is the school play ground and you will not be welcomed into their social groups.

My advice is perhaps try to keep some work going, do some study, try and keep some social contact outside the home.

My children are early teens now and I have gone back to work - in a high specialism and well paid role I can do from home. I have also developed a hobby that takes me out of the home for a few hours several days a week.

I love my children as you do and feel very lucky to have been able to spend so much time with them but I also think you have to make sure you don't lose sight of the fact that you are a person too who had a life before children and will have a life after children.

If you read MN for a few years as I have you will se so many struggling to go back to work and in effect re-start their lives. Losing skills, contacts and confidence is hard to get back from.

Enjoy being a SAHD but I suggest you might want to try a mixed approach, SAHD, nursery, part time work and enjoying sharing a life with your children and DW. I think this is a model for the future with Dads sharing properly in the lives of their children taking a break form work and then going back later in life. I am glad I did it but glad too I managed to make it back to work now they are older. I think I am a better Dad for doing it that way.

TheSprogfather Sun 23-Mar-14 21:09:12

Thanks for all the advice. Several suggests of part-time working - we've looked at this but DW is really keen on going full time and my job wouldn't be flexible enough to support the childcare.

It does sound as if being a SAHP isn't for everyone, and I can see how caring for 2 or more would be a challenge, but DD is likely to be our only one, so to me it makes sense to enjoy these precious years with her.

Pookamoo - we're still surprised by old fashioned attitudes to childcare. Hopefully it'll change!

Screamingeels - glad to hear we're hopefully not so rare. Haven't taken DD to a toddler group yet so will have to see how we get on!

Tribpot - good work tips, thanks; I'll look to flag up my availability when the time comes.

Theyaremysunshine / Georgesdino - agreed, the housework is part of the SAHP deal. DW still wants to cook dinner but I like to keep the place clean, time permitting!

MoreBeta - thanks for sharing your experience. Glad to hear it's worked for you, and some good tips about social life and work I'll bear in mind.

TheSprogfather Mon 24-Mar-14 07:43:44

One big challenge I can see with becoming a SAHD will be ensuring DD has enough people contact. She enjoys nursery and is ever such a sociable thing so I'm going to aim for her to have daily contact with other little ones. I've read mixed stories about the openness of toddler groups for SAHDs, which is a shame. Am hoping they're not a closed door for DD to build friendships and maybe even some grown-up conversation for myself.

scottishmummy Mon 24-Mar-14 08:02:31

Honestly,I'd keep hand in with some work.your child will be at school in 3yrs,
and then you'll have nothing much to do.no recent work,househusband role
Much as you need as something for the child,the adult needs a plan too.there's only as do much wheels on bus groups you can attend before it's dull

I don't know ft househusband, i know of couples who share.I hear anecdotally the dynamics with the housewives can be a bit weird.but I wouldn't sweat that,they're weird to other women too

HenriettaTurkey Mon 24-Mar-14 08:08:32

DH is ft sahd to our nearly 2 yo and loves it. He has a great relationship with DS, takes him to all sorts of local groups (they love him) and also swimming, library, trips.

Our only concern is how he'll get back in the job market in the future.

scottishmummy Mon 24-Mar-14 08:15:28

I wouldn't recommend give up work,too risky and a burden for the salaried dp
And your dp needs to throw you a safety net of work,as opposed to wholly what she want
Discuss expectations,consider the changed dynamics,work out finances.Will you get an allowance,or share joint account

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