More daddies are staying home with the kids. Fulltime.
According to a Pew Research Center study, about 18% of American parents stayed home with their children in 2018.2 According to Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends, 60% of Americans say a child is better off with at least one parent at home. And 17% of all stay-at-home-parents in 2016 were fathers, up from 10% in 1989, the first year for which reliable data on fathers are
Using data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the National At-Home Dad Network estimates 7 million fathers are a regular source of care for children under the age of 15 in the United States.
There are benefits:
VeryWellFamily says “…it can be less stressful…” and that staying home is one way to simplify your life and focus on your family.
According to WhatToExpect, ninety percent of Millennial and Generation X dads say parenting is their greatest joy, and 86 percent say they work hard at becoming a more effective parent, one survey found.
WhatToExpect also suggests that partners of stay-at-home dads report greater satisfaction and equity in their relationships with each other.
According to CNBC.com, in 2017 41% of mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners in their family, meaning that a growing number of married women are out-earning their husbands. As a result, some dads who make less money than their spouse are opting to stay home in order to avoid child care costs.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 33 states and Washington, D.C., day care is more expensive than college.
But there are also downsides.
According to Fatherly, many couples with a new baby are so busy trying to figure out how to be parents that they don’t have the time and energy to monitor how their relationship is changing. It isn’t easy to find the time and can feel hard to justify focusing on yourselves instead of your child. It’s crucial, however, to make checking in with each other a priority to make sure you both feel heard and understood and like you’re both putting effort into the relationship.
And then there is the financial impact. As your family goes from a two-income to a single-income family, concerns about what would happen in the event of job loss are heightened.
There can be a stigma as traditionally, stay-at-home fathers tended to have lower educational attainment than their working counterparts, according to a Pew Research report.
Emotional impacts can be high as well for the parent “left behind” at home. Their extended family may be less inclined to help out with child watching.
Care.com suggests to give the stay-at-home parent ample breaks to avoid burnout and recognize there will be good days and bad days.
Now for my take:
I have my own set of responses for questions I receive from the parent who is NOT at home all day with the kids.
1. “Wow. The place is kind of a mess.”
Really? I’ve cleaned the apartment six times, already. In fact, I’ve not stopped cleaning all damn day. Those trains have been in and out of baskets twice, those Legos have been constructed and deconstructed thrice. I used 7 of my normally-inconsequential 22 minutes of decompression during nap-time to CLEAN. Meanwhile, do you have any idea where the race cars even go? It’s not my fault you haven’t adapted to stepping on Thomas the Train barefoot without whining…like a baby. Instead of commenting, how about quietly grabbing the kitchen spray and wiping down the table, yourself…while entertaining the kids. I’ll be doing shots on the john.
2. “What did you do all day?”
If a fellow SAHP asks that, I respond, “Nothing,” But that does NOT allow you to insinuate I sit around watching soap operas. Admittedly, when you ask this, I’m stumped for details and say, “I dunno.” How do I adequately explain endless iterations of train/lego/princess make-believe? I dunno. Funny how the kids watch iPads every time you’re alone with them. They never watch it with me.
3. “You’re kind of yelling a lot.”
Really? I double-dog dare you to spend hours herding cats and chanting “Let’s put your shoes on”, after which you realize pants are drenched with urine, so you have to fight a squirming child to change the pants and underwear (having removed aforementioned socks and shoes), then chase the delightedly-squealing naked child around, while you’re shouting “Please come here” because you’re so f’ing desperate to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. After you’ve done the above thrice daily and said, “Come get your shoes on” 137 times, see if you won’t raise your voice by 5:30.
4. “Please, I just need 10 minutes to myself when I get home from work.”
Really? Please do me a favor: on your way home, stop at Starbucks or a bar or a make-your-own-pottery place and have your “me” time. Until those kids are dead asleep, you get no silence. OK?
5. You mean you didn’t get those ________, today? (Fill in the blank: sponges, toothpaste, goldfish crackers, Dawn dish soap?)
Really? We’re out of Dawn? You mean the Dawn you could have grabbed on your way to work with adults, or from work with adults, or during lunch with adults? Please do not imply “What did you do all day?” (see #2 above) because NO: somehow I did NOT take my toddler tornado into a drug store to get Dawn. But the kids are alive. Get your own damn Dawn tomorrow.
6. “You need a break. Get a sitter.”
No shit. But I was fine until 6:15 when I expected you home but then you called saying you’d be another hour and that’s when I lost my shit which doesn’t mean I needed a babysitter it means you needed to plan your day more effectively so I wouldn’t lose my shit. Kapish?
7. “When was the last time you showered?”
8. “You just need to make it a game.”
Really? Toddler tantrums just evaporate if I “make it a game”? They’ll willfully share trains, change their paint-stained pants, clean up 77 crayons, and brush their own teeth IF I MAKE IT A GAME? By the end of the day, I’d rather ban all toys, bribe the room-cleaning, and physically force the pants-change because I’m merely counting the nanoseconds until bedtime. No more gamesmanship.
9. “Um…you think you might need a haircut?”
Funny how I don’t seem to have time to check the mirror. Schedule it for me-including the sitter-please? Oh, and…see #7
Please add your own requests for stay-at-home-parents happiness, below. My kid just found a book of matches. Gotta go make the donuts…