When I met my husband, he stated firmly that there was no way, no how, that he would ever be a stay-at-home dad. But here we are, 5 years into parenting, and not only has Jason had stints as a stay-at-home dad, but I’ve been a stay-at-home mom too. At various intervals, we’ve both worked fulltime and had the kids in daycare, I’ve worked half-time and had the kids at home while he’s worked full-time. I’ve worked at home, out-of-the-home, and in other countries. He’s worked as a locum vet, so we’ve also had long stretches of him being away, alternating with him being the primary caregiver. You name the parental balance – we’ve done it.
Certainly Jason’s opinions about being a stay-at-home dad have changed. He actually really likes it – he’s cleaner than I am, and more fastidious about details like the kids getting to school on time. So when he’s home, those things are “done right.” But he also developed a lot of empathy and understanding for stay-at-home moms. He knows what the social isolation is like (hence, the birth of poker night.) And he understands how much work it actually is, to keep the hearth warm and the homefires burning.
But there are still things he doesn’t get. Like, when I am working from home, I am WORKING from home. Which means, I don’t have time to sweep the floor, feed the kids, do laundry and still plan my courses and send out my orders. That’s something he’s never done – worked from home. So too often, I get “well, you are home, so why don’t you…” He wouldn’t be asking after the laundry if I was planning at my office at the college or had Africa Sleeps stuff in a small office out of the house.
But mostly, we are on the same page. Of all these scenarios, we do best as a couple and a family when we are both working part time. And when we are both reasonably close to home, and accessible to the kids. The exception is that I need to get away a couple of times a year, either to Ethiopia for Vulnerable Children or for an academic conference. It gives me fresh air and supports my identity as a professional woman.
I actually prefer working half time… I would say that I’m about 3/4 time at the moment, and it’s busier than I would like. I’m a person to fill my days anyway! But it seems like the kids, friends, the house, the dogs etc. aren’t getting the attention that I would like to give.
I know that when our clinic and shop open, which is looking like the weekend before the May-long, we’ll both be super busy. But our hope is that, eventually, he’ll be working 4-5 days a week, and I’ll be able to focus on volunteering and entrepreneurial/academic things, while teaching a course or two on the side. This has been the goal all along, but we certainly didn’t think it would be 3 years of the two parent two step to get to this point. At least we’ve gotten good and balancing each other off, and being flexible!
In the meanwhile, Jason’s working long days at regional clinics, so he can be home at night. I’m working 1/2 time at the college, and volunteering/working the other half on Vulnerable Children and Africa Sleeps. This semester, the girls have after-school care two days a week, which should enable me to get two long days in, so I’m available to them and mentally present after school the other three days.
I’d love to hear about your scenarios – stay-at-home, 1/2 time, working at home, working out of the home, etc… and how you manage the juggle between two parent households!