I often get asked what it’s like being a stay-at-home parent. Many of those that ask, want to say “what is it like being a stay-at-home dad?” Somehow this experience is supposed to be different for me then it is for a woman, it’s not. I am just a parent that stays at home with his kids. I have zero hang-ups about it, well zero major ones. Since their birth, I have been hyper-aware that they are only children once and that like the rest of life it goes way too fast. I have talked before about how children change me in ways I didn’t expect, but the biggest difference for me is that I just want to be with them. The highs, the lows and everything in between. I would much rather be sitting in a camper reading them a book and enjoy the fleeting moments of life than drinking beer out by the fire. Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy both but hands down without question, I would rather spend the next few years enjoying whatever the moment is with them. That doesn’t mean I am willing to give up who I am, I still enjoy some free time, and I make sure that my kids aren’t my entire bubble. In many ways being a stay-at-home dad is very much like having a regular job, the pay isn’t the same, but that’s not the point. Here are five ways I think being an At-home parent is the same as working
Work hours – I used to work for this large company where 40 hours a week was just the minimum of hours you would work, and it was often closer to 50 hours…easily. When your job is reasoning your children, there is no off; you work from when they get up to when you go to bed, the work week bleeds into the weekend, and it quickly can become a bit of a groundhog day. I legitimately sometimes don’t know what day of the week it is. I love it and would not trade it but some days, I miss the silence of my commute home!
Demanding coworkers – I worked with some real characters before but can you imagine you coworker barging into the bathroom with you or calling you into the bathroom to look at their latest “release.” We argue about timelines and where to have lunch. There is no booking system for the TV in the conference room and just like my career before no one lets you get past the first slide of a presentation.
Boss expectations – This could be a whole blog post in its self, but for the sake of work-life balance with the boss lady I will keep it short. My boss wants the house run like her father ran it when she was growing up. Things need to be a specific way. Just like having a real boss, expectations and perception can be tricky for everyone to navigate. A simple example, if you wait to file your paperwork at the end of the day and the boss sees stacks of paper on the desk all day they could assume you’re are sloppy. They may not realize that his part of your process and is why you can get so much done throughout the day. It may be easy to pick up the files at the end of the day instead of throughout. OK, this isn’t about files it’s about dishes. I would rather do them once than have to worry about them all day. BOSSES!
Too many projects – just like a “real job” we have too many projects, I am not sure how we both survived working before. I have a project plan and to do list that would rival any I have seen at my previous employers. Similar to that company we are usually over budget and running late!
Buzzwords -Align, Laser focused, boiled the ocean, move big rocks, whatever your favorite workplace buzzword there is are plenty of ones I now use. Not that these are unique to being an at-home parent, but the volume of usage goes up exponentially once you’re with your kids 24/7. Potty, screen time, time out, lovey, boo boo, “use kind words,” “keep your hands to yourself,” “freeze,” “don’t eat that” “keep your hand out of your butt and “not for play” are just a few of my favorites.
Clear job description – You start a job and think it’s one thing and then it morphs into something else. I mostly took the job of being a glorified manny for my children. Shannon and I have always shared the housework (well the ones that we do, we do have someone mow the grass and someone clean the house twice a month…don’t hate! Or judge! But as time has gone on I have taken on more; managing the family calendar, laundry, house cleaning, home maintenance, doctors appointments, financial management, grocery shopping and pretty much anything else. That’s not to say I do all of it, cause I don’t at all. Shannon still does a lot, but my role has expanded and without me always knowing that it should. My job is to support the family and Shannon job is to bring home the bacon, so this isn’t a complaint about doing the work, it more about how the shifting nature of expectations can cause conflict. Thankfully we have navigated this relatively well but checking egos and changing expectations can be/is difficult in the workforce and at home.
I have had some ups and downs since I last posted. This at-home gig is challenging, and I find that it’s very similar to working a “real job,” for me the hardest part is that I feel like my life is in limbo, I am home with my kids but for how long? And what after that? Our original plan was to take it year by year, and that’s I still think is a good idea but it’s hard to settle into this job fully when you are not exactly sure how long I will be sitting at this desk.