If online forums are anything to go by, many stay-at-home dads (SAHDs) have taken the role as their hand has been forced, commonly either through redundancy or child care fees outweigh lower paid jobs.
There is however another group of SAHDs, which by all accounts is growing in popularity and the one in which I can proudly claim membership. We are the voluntary SAHDs, those who have actively chosen to leave, suspend or fundamentally change our working lives in favour becoming the primary carer for our families.
Although still something of a curiosity in many people’s eyes, there can be a number of reasons to choose to become a SAHD. Here are my top five:
1. Work-life balance
The biggie. This is all about prioritising the most important parts of your life such as family and career, where possible allocating each of these the proportion of your time that with you make each member of the family happy and fulfilled. There are loads of different solutions and becoming SAHD is one.
If your partner makes more money than you, it’s reasonable to look beyond traditional parenting roles and to whether it’s makes more sense for dad to become the primary carer.
Child care is expensive, certainly before three years of age. You can save a load of cash and directly lead your child through many early milestones by being at home with them.
It’s not uncommon for both parents to work in stressful, demanding jobs. Trying to juggle this with childcare can be even more stressful and may not be the best solution for the overall wellbeing of the family unit.
Let’s forget traditional gender stereotypes. Some women prefer to focus on their jobs, have the better career prospects and get the most satisfaction from their work, whereas some men would like nothing more than to care for the children and take to the role more naturally (yes, this happens).
There’s no doubt that being a SAHD wouldn’t suit everyone. Around 1 in 10 dads are now the primary carers in the UK, a proportion that’s on the increase but still a relatively small minority. Some men simply wouldn’t get fulfilment from a full-time caring role, and that’s fine. What we are seeing, however, is a gradual breaking down of the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to parenting that previous trapped mums or dads in roles they’d rather not carry out.
The opportunity is now here to for each family to find the best solution to manage its own unique situation. Gender roles are being levelled out in parenting, encouraged by the new maternity/paternity leave rules that allow flexibility to plan time with the baby.
I’ll be blogging more about the decisions we made to led to be become a SAHD in future posts. Do get in touch if you are a SAHD or are considering it.