Our bedroom is just barely lit with the rising sun, yet my 2-year-old is already wide awake and whispering in my ear, “I want to go!” – one of the only phrases we can clearly understand from him. He’s our wild child. Always ready for the next adventure.
I rub my eyes and check the clock. 5:30 a.m. I sigh. My 4-year-old is sprawled across our bed, and I wonder when he came in (and where did his pajamas go?). At first, I’m frustrated that I can’t sleep in, but those big blue eyes are full of excitement for another day, and I can’t help but smile. My wife and the baby are still sleeping, so I leave them be. I know she was up a few times last night.
I quietly move to the living room to start our morning checklist: start an episode of Bluey, take the dogs out, get the toddler dressed, start breakfast, water the plants, empty the dishwasher…I’m sure I’m forgetting something. With four boys at home, there is always something to be done.
I haven’t quite figured out a great routine yet. Not like my wife did. I’m not sure how she managed the household and working from home while I was also working (and traveling), but she did it effortlessly (with a few rants and tears, of course).
A few weeks ago, we made the decision for me to leave my full-time job to be a stay-at-home-dad, and it might be more stressful than working. Although, I’m sure my wife would disagree. The lack of quality (and affordable) childcare made it an easy decision in the end, and my wife can focus more on Raising Arizona Kids (while I focus on raising our Arizona kids).
Embarrassingly, this is the first time I’ve had to take on more responsibilities at home, so the first few weeks I was asking questions that made my wife’s eyes roll. But now, I’m an expert at diaper creams, milk warming, vacuuming, and story time. I’m still not allowed to do the laundry (you forget the detergent ONE time…), but I’m a lot better at checking the dryer to fold clothes.
With school back in session, I’m getting used to packing lunch boxes and being the on-call parent if a kid gets sick, needs to be picked up, or needs a parent to attend an IEP meeting.
According to the Pew Research Center there were 2.1 million stay-at-home-dads in 2021 (up 8% since 1989). But, when strangers (and the occasional family and friends) find out I quit my job so my wife could work, they’re shocked. But I guess I understand why – I could have never envisioned this being my life. And man, I totally understand why my wife was always so stressed and overwhelmed. Small children are not for the weak (but they are a ton of fun!).
Fathers play an important part in their child’s life, and in this section we want to have some “Dad Talk.” You’ll find personal pieces from dads about the different roles fathers play in their children’s lives. One dad shares what it’s like to raise children with disabilities, another offers thoughts on the portrayal of dads in society, and you’ll find insight from one dad about the importance of sharing in parental, household, and family responsibilities.
I’m still settling into this role and learning the ropes (it’s sort of my first rodeo, you know), but I’m embracing this unique chance to spend time with my kids. I know I’ll never get these years back.
When I joke that I don’t have a job, my wife reminds me, “no…you have the most important job.” And that makes it all worth it.