Stay-at-Home Dad

In a culture that celebrates being “busy,” it can be hard to quit. I’m now in my third year as a stay-at-home dad. When I first started, Benedict was just six months old. He slept most of the day, and so I had to find things to occupy my time. I did some freelance web design work and blogging, and my schedule was mostly my own.

Then came Felicity. And now, Lucy. In a few blinks of an eye, I have three kids in my charge and Benedict is up and ready for action nearly 12 hours a day.

I didn’t adapt to this disruption very well. I kept taking on the needs of the kids and adding them to my project to-dos. My Things library was constantly full of late and overdue items. I was behind on cleaning and home maintenance tasks. All of the time that Alison spent at home, I used to try to get caught back up. I never quite made it. In all of this, I noticed how I was getting more agitated. I was struggling to put my priorities in the proper place and struggling to get done what I set out to do.

It’s time for me to press pause. I’ve mothballed all of my projects and now am singularly focused on my primary job: stay-at-home dad.

While this life may seem easy or glamorous, it comes with many of the same challenges that parents in the workforce face. In-depth planning, focus, and patience are all part of the job. There’s also an element of social isolation. There are lots of dads like me out in America, but we haven’t organized and the moms aren’t sure they want us to be a part of their groups. It’s not miserable, but group activities once in a while could be fun.

By walking away from commitments to myself that I can break, I know that I’m walking towards being a better dad. There’s nothing wrong with leaving the workforce to take care of your own children. Seeking the applause of your peers as you climb in your career will only lead to sadness. Doing anything for the sole purpose of gaining praise is a mistake. I’m not ashamed that my full-time job is to cook, clean, and raise my kids. So when people ask me what I do, I’ll tell them with a smile, “I’m a stay-at-home dad.”

© 2019 Chet J. Collins