Written by Benny | Daddy Poppins
How I took the plunge and the advice I have for new stay at home Dads
So my wife’s maternity leave for baby number 2 was almost up and all the plans were being put in place; which crèche she was going to, how we’d divvy up the school run with the neighbours, what the little man would do after school, how to make sure one of us was off in time to collect the little princess from the crèche, you name it. It seemed like we were project managing for the expansion of a multinational corporation.
Then one night I popped the question. No…. not the marriage one, we’ve been together nearly 20 years and have been married for almost 10 years. (I’ve been promised I can get remarried by a singing Elvis in Vegas for our 20 year anniversary)
The actual question I popped was……
‘What if I stayed at home and minded the kids?’
‘You’d have to actually mind them…. and clean, you do who how to clean don’t you?’
‘Yes, I know and yes I can’
‘Hmmmmm, then why haven’t you for the last 9 years, eh?’
‘Because you’re so good at I didn’t want to interrupt’ (tongue firmly in cheek)
…..*a look that could melt the polar icecaps
‘I’m only messing…….about the cleaning, I’m not messing about staying at home’
‘Really!, you never said’
‘Well, I’m saying it now’
At the time I was working as an auctioneer and had been for over 10 years, I was getting up and doing the school run then heading off to work. Most nights I wasn’t home till well after 7 and the look of relief on my wife’s face when I returned was palpable (or angry depending on the time). But usually she was delighted I was home, just to have someone else there to help or provide some kind of adult conversation. (She’d just lived through a whole summer where the only conversation was either… ‘Da Da Da Da Da’ or Minecraft related).
But my work was never over, once home my phone was still always buzzing away, there was always an email to be written or a text to be replied to. I found I couldn’t switch off and I must admit I was frazzled. I was taking the long days and stress out on everyone around me.
‘You’re just home!!, will you get off your phone!’
‘I just need to answer this or I’ll have to deal with it tomorrow’
Not only that but I was missing out on my kids growing up…I’d see them for an hour in the morning as I rushed around making lunches and making sure breakfasts were eaten, then for another hour (at most) at night as I put them to bed. I was working to pay the bills and missing out on life.
‘What’s the point in bringing kids into the world if you aren’t there to watch them grown’, I thought
So after my wife’s initial shock at me making the suggestion we sat down and worked out the figures. How much were the childcare costs? Where could we tighten our belts? What were the tax implications? Do we need a second car? How will we afford a second car? Money-wise, could we afford to do it? Family-wise, could we afford not to?
Once we realised it could be done we took the jump! I handed in my notice and we advised family and friends (and the crèche we’d booked). We got all kinds of reactions….
‘Really?, are you sure that’s what you want?’
‘That’s great news, I’m delighted for you’
‘Ha, good one………. you are messing, yeah?’
‘So your going into very early retirement!!’
‘You’re going to give up a good job? What about your qualifications?’
‘Feet up at home for Benny eh?’
‘Oh, he’ll be great at that!!’
‘Ah kept man eh?’
‘He’ll go mad sitting at home’
‘Nice one, that sounds handy out’
Let me assure you, I never thought I was getting an easy ride. The decision was made strictly on a ‘quality of life’ basis. (I’m still open to working as well, just not 60 plus hours a week to pay the tax man and someone else to mind my kids).
So far I’ve been a stay at home day for 2 and a ½ months and its been……interesting. I have crazy days and quieter days. You can find out how my first day went here. Its nothing I didn’t expect.
There’s been; mishaps, exploding nappies, temperatures and tantrums. There’s still stress but its.. ‘lets get out the door on time’ kinda stress rather than the ‘lets close a deal worth thousands’ type.
I set up a website and have been documenting life as a stay at home dad in Ireland under the pseudo name Daddy Poppins. I’ve always been keen on writing (having previously written property articles for the local paper and some prize winning short stories as a teenager). Seeing as us SADH’s seem to be a rare breed in Ireland, I thought it would be fun to let people know all about it (and have a place to belt out a few puns and dad jokes).You can find it at www.daddypoppins.com
So whats the worst thing about being a stay at home dad? For me it is feeding the the little one the kind of slop that I wouldn’t usually put near my mouth (and the realisation that now we’ve tightened our belts I might never get that ‘singing Elvis wedding’) but I’m sure others would say ‘dirty nappies’ or the ‘lack of adult interaction’.
From my limited time at this my advice to new SAHDs would be:
- Make sure you get out an about or you’ll feel a prisoner in your own home, even if its a walk to the shops or playground. (We go out for brunch once a week).
- Join a Dad group online, there may not be too many stay at home dads in your area but there is plenty of encouragement and people experiencing the same issues as you to chat to.
- Write a blog!, when there’s poop up to someone’s shoulders you can stand back (both literally and figuratively) and think, ‘this’ll make some great material’. (*unlike the material you’ve just witnessed being made)
- Visit a Parent Toddler group, these places aren’t strictly for the ladies. Hence the term ‘Parent’. (*Do not confuse the terms Parent and Toddle and Breastfeeding support, as you may not be as welcome there)
- Get to know your neighbours, while online support is great, its brilliant to build relationships with other parents around you. We’re all in the same boat (its usually slowly sinking under the weight of used nappies)
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help, get the support of those around you.
- Be the best Dad you can be, there’ll be advice from everyone. Choose your own style of parenting, adhere to the advice you like and smile and nod at the advice you don’t agree with.(*even if its my advice). The bottom line is your kids need to feel loved. That’s it in a nutshell.
I’m on Twitter @DaddyPoppinsBlg where you can find me giving a ‘Dad’s eye view’ on life
and on Facebook at Facebook Daddy Poppins where I spout the kind of nonsense I can’t fit into 144 characters.
Great talking, you should pop round for a coffee sometime (or just check out my blog)