Hello there! I’m Joshua – welcome to Gander Flight!
You’re here because you’re interested in getting the scoop on what it’s like to be a stay-at-home dad.
Over the years I’ve gotten tons of questions based around our non-traditional family roles and I thought I’d take some time and answer some of the most common ones for you.
Let’s be clear here – I’m one man, in one situation. I’m not the Lorax who speaks for the trees– I speak for myself and only from the perspective of my experiences.
I’ve received quite a few questions and I’ll be breaking it up into a multipart series so sign up now to be notified when the next post goes live!
Let’s get into it!
1. How did you decide to become a SAHD? Was it by choice?
Yes, becoming a stay-at-home dad was by choice. My wife is active duty military and we found out that we were pregnant with twins soon after moving back to the US from an overseas tour. We decided that our family would be following her career for the foreseeable future. After considering all the options available to families with new babies it really was an easy decision.
2. Is it temporary or permanent?
If only life were that black and white. It’s both really. I’ll continue to be a full time stay-at-home dad until my wife retires from the military. We’ll swap primary responsibilities to something a little more traditional after that but our goal is to have a few income streams set up that will allow us both to be home with our kids.
3. How long have you been a SAHD?
Going on six years at this point.
4. Do you do all the stereotypical “female” roles that other SAHMs do? Housework, laundry, running errands, cooking, cleaning, meal planning, shuttling kids, etc.
Yes, I do most of them and then we collaborate on the rest. Since we decided that I would stay home I’ve considered the house to be my secondary responsibility, obviously, the kids being first.
Honestly, this is the hardest part about being a stay-at-home parent. I do all of the stereotypical “mom” jobs yet as any stay-at-home parent will tell you, there is not enough time in a day to fulfill all the responsibilities of raising children while living in a home AND keeping that same space up to your desired standards.
My wife is more than happy to help when she is available, and has never expected any of those tasks to be soley mine – but overall the “homemaker” jobs fall under my realm of responsibility – except meal planning, I really, really, dislike meal planning so we collaborate on that.
(If you don’t like meal planning either check out how we “post-meal plan” by clicking here or the photo below)
5. Do you struggle with public spaces being set up for moms, i.e. no changing tables in public restrooms?
A little. To be quite honest I think changing tables in public restrooms are absolutely disgusting. Maybe it’s because I had two babies to change but I’d rather head out and change them in the back of the minivan than wrangle two babies, and a double stroller, in a public restroom. I also made sure to keep a changing pad in our diaper bag so I’d often find an out of the way spot and change them on the ground. All that being said, I did use them occasionally and there were a few times I wanted to use one and one was not available.
6. What do you wish people would advocate for in public spaces that would make your SAHD experience more equal?
It’s not a normal occurrence for me to see the inside of a women’s restroom, but sometimes it’s obvious that the women’s room is much larger than the men’s and maybe that plays a part in why men’s rooms may not have a changing table, there’s physically no room to put one – who knows, just spitballin’ here.
I think as far as bathrooms are concerned I really like the family restrooms – a single bathroom large enough to pull a double stroller into and close the door – I’ve utilized them before with a stroller half out the door and that’s no fun for anyone.
The only other space that comes to mind is gym locker room facilities.
My kids are both boys, so we never had any issues going into the locker room ourselves, but a dad I spoke to at the gym had to take his daughter home to shower after swimming in the pool because females of any age were not permitted in the male locker rooms. At this specific facility boys were permitted in the women’s locker room until age 7.
I understand the policy and its rationale, but installing one family bathroom with a shower could solve this issue.
7. How do you create friendships and a support network with other parents?
Social media is where a majority of my connections have begun. Namely Facebook groups for my local area or groups on MeetUp.com. Typically, they start online and then are fostered in person and begin to grow offline.
My experience, having moved several times as a stay-at-home dad is that once you’ve established yourself with a few people the others seem to take those relationships as green lights to begin including you into their circles.
Friendships and support networks are difficult to establish and really only develop deeply over time – unfortunately as most military families can attest to that is incredibly hard to do when you’re only in a location for a few years at a time.
You do your best where you are, with the resources you have, and gradually create relationships for your tribe every place you go.
8. Where do you turn for parenting advice, do you feel accepted there? (Facebook groups etc.)
Typically, my research begins on social media. Mom groups, and more recently, dad groups on Facebook have been great common ground to seek advice and have beneficial conversations. Although I’ve had a few experiences where folks were surprised that a dad was in the “mom” group I can’t recall ever being excluded from a social media group I wanted to join after I explained our situation.
When the boys were born we had a fantastic Moms of Multiples support group that we were highly involved in and their Facebook group was a lifesaver on multiple occasions.
If you can find niche groups that apply to you (multiples, premature babies, church, neighborhood etc.) those end up being more beneficial as some of the huge groups tend to be absolutely overwhelming. Although sometimes a huge variety of responses and perspectives is what you’re looking for – so I’ve made it a point to search out both varieties.
I think it goes without saying, but there are haters and trolls everywhere –expect it, ignore it, cultivate the pieces that provide value to your life and keep moving forward.
9. How do you approach your day and scheduling?
Currently, a typical day for us starts with me getting up before the rest of the family – I’m a morning person and it’s the only time I can consistently set aside for myself. I’ll get up and workout, take the dog for a walk, work on a blog post, listen to a podcast or audiobook, or finish up a project that is best done without tiny helping hands.
Then I’ll begin working on getting breakfast ready so we can sit down to eat as a family when my wife is finished getting ready for work. It’s the odd day when the boys are still sleeping by the time breakfast is ready.
After breakfast my wife will head to work and that’s when the boys and I will finish getting ourselves ready for the day. Then we’ll have the rest of the morning for park meetups, playdates, grocery shopping, library storytime, playing in the backyard, riding bikes, or working in the garage, whatever is scheduled for that day.
Some days we’ll pack a lunch and eat at the park, but most days we’ll find ourselves back in the kitchen for lunch at home.
After lunch we’ll have more of the same as the morning – if we went out in the morning most likely we’ll stay home in the afternoon, sometimes we stay out all day, sometimes we stay in all day – it really all depends on whats going on, how we’re all feeling, what the weather is like and so on.
Around dinner time I’ll begin dinner prep and do my best to have dinner at least started by the time my wife comes home. Sometimes we wait and since she really enjoys cooking she’ll take care of dinner – but usually I’m making most of the dinners during the work week.
After dinner we’ll go through our bedtime checklist with the boys, get all of the day’s toys put away, baths, pjs, etc. and we’ll close their day with storytime.
I can’t stress enough how important is is to read to and with your kids. They each get to choose a picture book to read while sitting in moms lap and then we read from a chapter book after they’re tucked in bed. We’ve been doing this from birth. The chapter book portion is my favorite – we typically choose young adult books (mostly from our childhood) and it’s a pleasure to share these familiar stories with our boys and show them a passion for reading.
After bedtime, things will go one of two ways – either there is something that both of us need to work on – money meetings, vacation planning, meal planning, ya know adult stuff and we’ll accomplish those tasks, or we’ll settle in for a board game or an episode of TV to unwind from the day.
Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
10. Do you feel your spouse fully understands the work and effort you put into raising your children?
I think she understands as much as I could ever expect her to having never done it herself. Think about it this way – do stay-at-home parents fully understand the work and effort their spouses put into providing for the family outside the home? Only to a certain degree, because by definition we’re each fulfilling our roles within the family and those roles are not identical.
Even if you’ve been both a working parent and a stay-at-home parent the ages and stages of your children will be different as time goes on. So even though my wife will eventually get her own stay-at-home mom experience she’ll view it through the lens of parenting our boys at that stage and can really only relate to the other stages through my recollection of what it was like.
11. Do you feel your spouse supports you and your need for self-care?
The biggest thing we’ve learned over the years is to plan things out. Put something on the calendar as far in advance as possible. It’s easier to stick to a morning paddle on the lake, or a weekend workshop/conference when it’s been known about and planned for.
Last minute things work sometimes, and sometimes end up a disaster – but events or self-care – like setting aside time to work on this blog – are better handled when everyone is clear well in advance what is to be expected.
12. Do you and your wife share equal and unlimited access to finances and share in decision making processes around money?
Without exception, yes. Since we were married we’ve had completely combined finances in every respect. We’ve worked together to pay down all debt we brought to the marriage. We’re both listed on vehicle titles, mortgages, lease documents, bank accounts, and any other financial arrangement where it is possible to share ownership. We also have access to each other’s passwords for online financial accounts as well as phone passcodes, email and social media passwords and anything else you can think of.
If you can trust your spouse enough to sleep next to them every night then why can’t you trust them with combined finances? Obviously, there are extreme situations where not trusting your spouse with money is prudent, but for the majority of the population it is baffling to me that folks combine everything about their lives except for their money.
In order to keep this interview post from being monstrously huge I’m breaking it into a multi-part series.
Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and sign up for email notifications so you don’t miss the answers to the next round of questions:
- Do you have to “ask” your wife for money?
- Have your relationships changed? Was there any pushback from family or friends?
- What boundaries have you and your spouse set up regarding time on/time off from childcare responsibilities? How did you have those conversations?
- How do you balance the needs of your family and making time for yourself?
- Do you feel your wife has any resentment for not being able to stay home with her children?
- Do you think yourself the better spouse to stay at home?
- Do you ever feel peer pressure or prejudice from other men? Do you feel respected in this role?
- What is the typical reaction when people learn you’re a SAHD?
- What does self-care look like for you?
- Is it socially isolating to be a SAHD?
- How do you find other SAHD’s to connect with?
- Do you find that SAHMs avoid talking to you?
- Do you find the market branding of all children’s activities, “mommy and me” Mother’s Day Out ect, awkward or frustrating? How do you get past the fact that EVERYTHING SAH- related is geared towards moms?