Stay At Home Dad
Working Towards Being a Stay at Home Dad
I'm an aspiring stay at home dad. I've done the math, looked at the pros and cons, and found that staying home will have many benefits for our family. My becoming a stay at home parent would benefit my wife, our marriage, our kids, and be best for our family. The challenges are huge but they can be overcome. This page is really just me "thinking out loud" about being a stay at home dad - the benefits, the pitfalls, the obstacles that need to be overcome, and finding a way to earn a living while I stay at home.
One Step Closer to My Goal - Half interest in a rental...
My wife just bought a rental unit for her niece - a house with a small duplex on the back of the lot. Since we're spending the money to fix it up we'll end up with about a 50% stake when it's all done. At current market rates for rent, we should be netting a little over $500 a month. A few more deals like this and I'll be able to quit my full time job and get a part time one.
Why I Want To Stay Home
A stay at home dad is good for kids and families...
Being a Stay At Home Dad isn't just good for Dad - it's good for the whole family. For kids, having a stay at home dad is good for their physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral development. While a Mom tends to comfort a child when they're upset or frustrated, a dad tends to encourage the child to deal with the frustration. A dad also has more influence in how a child (especially a boy) learns how to manage their body, handle social situations, and plays. In families with stay at home dads, the maternal and paternal influences are equally strong. In a more typical family arrangement where the dad works outside the home, the mom's parental influence is very strong while the dad's is insignificant to non existent. Since children benefit when both parents have equally strong roles, a stay at home dad can be very beneficial for children. Being a stay at home dad is beneficial for the parents, too. For dad, being at home means fixing that dripping faucet isn't an interruption to your day, it's part of your job description. It's very stressful to work at a regular job all day then come home and have to do yard work, household repairs, fix the kids' broken toys, and all the other stuff that comes with having kids. For mom, having dad at home means she can work at her career without worrying about who's taking care of the kids during the day, scheduling appointments, etc.
Why not just let mom stay home?
Some people like the idea of one parent staying home but think it should be the mom. I disagree that it should always be the mom. Every family is different, and every parent has different personalities and skills. In my family, it would work better for me to be the stay at home parent because I have the ability to earn money while staying at home and my wife doesn't.
Mr. Mom - A very funny look at Stay at Home Dads...
is a very funny movie about the misadventures of a stay at home dad. When the movie came out in 1983, the concept of being a stay at home dad wasn't very popular, at least in the United States, so this movie was actually a little ahead of it's time. Micheal Keaton is one of my favorite actors and this is the movie that gave him his start. A very funny movie... Mr. Mom
The Challenges of Being a Stay At Home Dad
I'm sure it's not going to be all fun and games...
As much as I like the idea of being a stay at home dad, I realize there are some down sides to it as well. The biggest one is loss of income. My paycheck currently pays all our bills, provides us with health insurance, and puts money in a 401(k) with employer match. My wife's income currently goes to pay for "extras" and into an emergency fund. While we could live on just my wife's paycheck, it would be difficult. I don't expect to be able to replace all of my income if I quit my job, but I will have to replace some of it. Figuring out how to do that has been a challenge and until I find a way I won't be trading my job for "stay at home dad" status. The other challenge will be redefining our roles around the house. Right now I pretty much let my wife run the house as she sees fit. I can see a potential problem if I'm doing all the housework and she has different ideas about how it should be done.
More Time for the Kids
The best part of being a Stay at Home Dad...
For me, the biggest reason to be a stay at home dad is to have more time with my 2 sons. My younger son is 5 years old and he loves spending time with me. With my job though it's difficult. Being a stay at home dad would let me spend a lot more time with him, playing with him, teaching him about things I think are important, instilling values, and just playing. He loves to help me work on my Barracuda, go for rides in our Honda, and help me work on my American Flyer train layout. My older son is 20 and has schizophrenia. I think if I had more time with him I could do a lot more to help him overcome his illness.
Making A Living Without A Job
This is the book that made me realize it would be possible for me to be a stay at home dad. It's not some get rich quick scheme or an MLM plan - in fact it's not a "plan" at all. It gives you a practical way of looking at your life and figuring out a way to earn money without a job - doing things you like and that you're good at.
Stay at Hom Dad Checklist
Planning ahead is essential...
For most guys, being a stay at home dad isn't just something you can just decide you want to do and jump right in - it requires planning. Becoming a stay at home dad will affect many aspects of your personal, family, and social life. Here are some things to consider before decidng to become a stay at home dad:
- Eliminate debt, especially credit card debt. Since your family income will most likely be going down, it doesn't make sense to have to pay interest and finance charges. Some credit cards charge over 24% interest which can take a huge bite out of a family budget. Before quitting your job, make sure you're debt free. The only exception would be your mortgage.
- Cut expenses as much as possible. Learn hot to make a budget and more important how to stick to a budget. If you have an adjustable rate (or high interest fixed) mortgage, now might be the time to refinance. It will be much more difficult to qualify for a good rate after you quit your job.
- Find alternate income. If both you and your wife are working, it might not be possible to switch to a single income without drastic changes in your lifestyle and living arrangement. Maybe you feel like you should be making at least some financial contribution to the family even though you're going to be a stay at home dad. For me it's a little bit of both. In either case you're going to have to find an alternate source of income. Community colleges are a great way to learn new skills and there are many free online resources as well.
- Talk to your wife about expectations. What family roles will each of you have after you quit your job? Will she trust you with cooking and laundry? (CAN you even cook or do laundry?) Do both of you understand the financial implications of dad not having a job and are both of you OK living with those implications?
- Talk to your kid(s) about what it means for dad to stay home. Make sure they understand it's not all just play time.
So you want to be a Stay At Home Dad...