Daddy and Tilly feature in the Times article 'The Rise of the alpha dad'. Photo credit: Jude Edginton

Daddy and Tilly feature in the Times article ‘The Rise of the alpha dad’. Photo credit: Jude Edginton

On Saturday I featured along four other stay-at-home dads in the Times article ‘The rise of the alpha dad‘. This charts the increase of stay-at-home dads and in particular those fathers, like me, who actively decided to put their career to one side to look after their children full-time. You may be visiting this blog for the first time having read the Times article or may have heard about  the article but not have a subscription to read it. A timely opportunity then to revisit the decisions that led me to become a stay-at-home dad last year.

Quitting my job was thinking the unthinkable. We’d never considered it as we’d assumed it would be unaffordable but at the same time it seemed to offer the solution to our problems, so one day I took a gamble, did the sums and suggested it to my wife.

This followed six dreadful months of us working full-time while putting Tilly in nursery. We were run ragged, me with a daily three-hour commute to central London and my wife 90 minutes of shuttling Tilly to and from nursery. Our jobs were both demanding, as was our small child and there weren’t enough hours in the week to properly commit to it all.

To make matters worse, Tilly was over-tired from (in hindsight) an inability to nap properly at nursery, making our evenings filled with tantrums. Throw into the mix months of nursery-sourced illnesses passed from Tilly to us and we were ready to reconsider our options.

Looking back, there was a gradual realisation that we weren’t in the roles that naturally lended themselves to our respective strengths and passions. My wife was finding her weekday with Tilly long and stressful, while I felt more suited to child care than I’d expected and was yearning for more. At work, my wife was blazing a trail in her field, while I was feeling increasingly unfulfilled by my work, questioning whether having Tilly nursery was the right option for us. We’d defaulted to traditional gender roles but they weren’t the right ones for us.

Then out of the blue came the catalyst for action. My wife had been offered a promotion but one which she felt needed a full five-day week rather than four days to commit to. This changed the sums for our family finances and made me quietly look into a new option – becoming a stay-at-home dad. The sums appeared to add up – just. I rechecked them. It would be tighter financially than other options but it would remove the stress and difficulties we’d been facing.

My wife was concerned that the numbers stacked up, so over a number of weeks I kept rechecking them. Once we were sure, we tentatively mentioned it to our parents. Happily they were supportive and had even guessed this might be what we’d been considering. My boss was also understanding, although keen not to lose a member of his team if it could be avoided. However we just couldn’t see how a part-time option wouldn’t maintain many of the problems we’d been experiencing. Our minds were made up – it was time to make the leap.

That was summer 2014. Since then the finances have been tighter than I’d forecast. We’ve had to really cut back on spending and start budgeting, which hasn’t come easily and has caused some friction at times. However in transforming the quality of life, it’s undoubtedly been revolutionary for us. Tilly now spends the whole week with family, is happy, well rested and has made some dramatic advancements in development since being at home. We have a great schedule of groups and activities and when my wife gets home from work, Tilly is in a great mood and ready to play. It’s a total contrast to a year ago.

Being a stay-at-home dad isn’t without its difficulties, though. You do find yourself in a small minority with childcare dominated by and focused around mums. I was apprehensive about how I’d be accepted but we’ve got to know a lot of parents and children over the months and there’s often at least one familiar face at the playground these days. If there is a toddler social scene outside of play groups, it’s not one we’ve been invited into yet, meaning that contact with adults is pretty limited. This would drive some people stir-crazy but I enjoy the quiet times for working on creative projects.

I’d admit that I was apprehensive at appearing in the Times article but it’s led to fathers get in touch to say how glad they are that being a stay-at-home dad is starting to be recognised as a legitimate option for families and is on the increase. There’s still some way to go before dads can feel a natural part of childcare activities with the article highlight stories from the other dads who have found them excluded from parenting groups and support, however progress is being made and that’s got to be good for parents and children alike.

Follow my blog, Twitter channel and like my Facebook page if you’re interested to follow the highs and lows of being a stay-at-home dad.

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14 thoughts on “Rise of the stay-at-home dad

  • 5 May 2015 at 11:26 pm
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    I normally only get the Sunday edition of the Times but I made sure I bought a copy of Saturday’s as I noticed both yourself and John from DadBlogUk were featured. It was great to see your stories highlighted!

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    • 6 May 2015 at 10:19 pm
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      Thanks, Tim, I’ve had really positive feedback both online and in person from the article

      Reply
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  • 7 May 2015 at 6:31 am
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    Well hello agaon Dan. It was a delight to meet you on the photo shoot and a pleasure to appear in this article with you. Your story is so similar to mine it is untrue! I’ve also had men and indeed women contact me with supportive messages (and of course, the jopys of a Mumsnet thread querying why we were referred to as Super dads. Not ideal but, hey, if you’re being discussed on Mumsent….you’ve arrived!!). Sure we’ll cross paths again soon enough Dan. In the mean time, keep flying the flag for us stay at home dads.

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    • 9 May 2015 at 8:25 pm
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      Thanks, John, it’s been an interesting experience being one of the faces of the stay-at-home dad trend and like yourself has led to positive feedback. Perhaps the similarity of our experiences means others out there are finding the same and hopefully we might help some others planning the same to avoid the pitfalls, especially financially. As you say, I’m sure our paths will cross again – the UK dad bloggers scene is still small enough!

      Reply
  • 7 May 2015 at 9:39 pm
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    My husband stayed at home for the Tubblet’s first five years. I earned the most and, when we did the sums, it just about worked. He was much better at the mothering thing than I ever could be. He retrained after the Tubblet started school and is now working full time as well. It took him awhile to break into the ‘toddler scene’, as he found the other mums were a bit suspious of him as stay at home dads were even less common back then. It helped that he went to groups where we knew the other mums from church so they vouched for him. Congratulations on being in the Sunday Times! #brilliantblogposts

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    • 9 May 2015 at 8:33 pm
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      Thanks for sharing your story. Our experiences must be reflected by a greater number of families across the country and I hope some will read about our stories to help them on their own way. It’s interesting to hear that your husband retrained – I imagine fitting work around school has its challenges.

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  • 9 May 2015 at 8:18 am
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    I think it’s fantastic for anyone, being mum or dad, to be able to stay at home! We both work full time and like you, everything’s a bit manic. I do 99% of the running round with Zach before commuting, the other half travels 3 hours a day for work and we mostly get the tired, tantrummy toddler in the evening and a while half hour of fun before bedtime. I hate it. Unfortunately neither of us can afford to give up work so we just have to make do with it. When you are feeling brave enough, make your own toddler group! Or just invite people for play dates. You never know and it’s better than waiting to be invited 🙂 #bigfatlinky

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  • 9 May 2015 at 8:42 am
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    I know of another stay at home dad who was made redundant when his wife was pregnant. Due to the financial pressure that this put on them, his wife went back to work when their baby was only 10 weeks old. He has looked after their daughter 5 days a week from this point and they have since had another baby. Not only does he look after both of them but he runs a business from home. I think he is amazing. He struggles with taking the children to groups though as feels quite pushed to the side and alienated by the mums there. Hoping that he will find one that is more welcoming soon.

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  • 9 May 2015 at 7:08 pm
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    Really interesting to see how things are decided and how it works out. In real life I don’t know anyone who has the father stay at home, although at work there are a couple who do a 9 day fortnight to help out on the extra day. #brilliantblogposts

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  • 9 May 2015 at 7:20 pm
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    Popping over from the #bigfatlinky for the first time to your blog. It was a great write up in the paper and the same in this post. I only wish my hubby could be a SAHD as we suffer with the same problems you did to a degree. Maybe one day! I’m pleased it’s working out for you. KA

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  • 11 May 2015 at 12:02 am
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    Really interesting post. My husband is a SAHD too, and yes, finances are tight, definitely. It is difficult to live on one salary – then again, trying to pay for full time nursery would have left us in the same financial stick too with the added stress of ferrying our little one to and from nursery. It is nice though having a stay at home partner, makes your life so much easier and you can be together as a family easier rather than rushing around all the time.

    I didn’t get to read the article, but it would have been very interesting. Shame about the paywall.

    #brilliantblogposts

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  • 11 May 2015 at 1:11 pm
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    Great to see you in there and I’m glad that in hindsight you have found it a positive experience and received positive feedback from others. Thanks for sharing this and for linking up #bigfatlinky

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  • 11 May 2015 at 10:33 pm
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    Brilliant to read yours and John’s stories, really hope it inspires many more fathers to take on the SAHD role and look at a more flexible way of working. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts. Please do link back or add my badge if you can, thanks.

    Reply

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