“What’s it like?”
“Do you like it?”
“Do you miss work?”
I’m not sure if first time stay at home mums get asked these same questions, I’m guessing some do. But as a guy, the interest from people when they find out I’m at home full time can be quite intense. I’ve found there are three main reactions. At one end, there are those who are genuinely supportive - you can tell these people straight away. At the other end there are some who look at you like you’re a little crazy. (I suppose deciding to be at home with 3 girls under 2 is crazy!) It’s the reaction from the ones in the middle who are the most irritating. The ones who say “oh, good on you” but their tone, facial expressions and body language suggest otherwise.
There are various reasons why a man may choose or need to be at home; financial, health related or other circumstances. It may be short term, or it may be for a few years but whatever the reason, they should be treated and respected the same as if a woman was at home full time. Despite a push for equality with the sexes, there are some stereotypes that are inbuilt in our society, like the fact that men should be the breadwinner. For me, I’ve always seen my wife as my equal. I’ve never had a problem with her being at work full time. Sure, there were adjustments for both of us to make, but we made them and got on with it.
There is a great article on Stuff that I found last year about Stay at Home Dads. In the article it says that “According to Statistics New Zealand, at the 2013 Census only 36,000 Kiwi men had dialled back their careers to become stay-at-home dads, compared to around 195,000 women.” That’s a lot more dads at home than I would have thought! So even though it's still not "normal", it is slowly becoming more common.
To answer those questions I get asked, the truth is that is it hard being at home full time. It is especially a challenge moving from a corporate world and yes, I do miss it. There are also lots of frustrating and tiring days. There are accidents, spills, poops and tantrums.
But none of that compares to the joy of spending time with my girls. Getting to bond with them in a way that most fathers don’t. Seeing all their firsts and being a major part of molding their lives, a major part of guiding their path and helping to shape decisions. I’ve learned to make the most of the moments I have at home. Soon they'll grow up and those moments will be gone. They won't want to sleep on my chest, they'll want to go play outside or with their friends or on their iPad. I won't be able to steal kisses whenever I want to. Eventually, I won't even be the most important man in their lives. It's a unique (and for me, once in a lifetime) experience. If another guy was contemplating it, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go. Work will always be there. Time with my girls won’t.
What you do you think? What would your reaction be to someone becoming a full time dad at home? Comment below or on my Facebook page!