When Dad Stays Home: Five Tips For Managing When Dad Is Mr.Mom

It used to be that the job of being a stay-at-home parent belonged exclusively to the moms. Today, however, more dadsare taking on the role of full-time parent. In fact, the United State Census Bureau estimated that 158,000 fathers identified themselves as stay-at-home dads in 2009.


For many, the loss of Dad’s income may make a decision to leave the workforce a difficult one. In addition, Dad may be concerned about his ability to re-enter the workforce after an extended absence. Although these challenges require careful consideration, many parents find that they are able to work through them in order to enjoy the benefits of having a stay-at-home parent in the house.

The Benefits Of Having A Stay-At-Home Parent

The Benefits Of Having A Stay-At-Home Parent

Families who commit to a stay-at-home parent report that there are substantial benefits that outweigh the sacrifices. Those benefits include:

  • Eliminating costly childcare expenses associated with daycare centers, nannies or babysitters.
  • Ensuring that your child will receive reliable and nurturing childcare consistent with your desires and values.
  • Allowing your family to be better positioned to create the right balance between worktime and familytime.
  • Providing your child with access to nutrition and activities that are tailored to fit his or her specific needs.

An Involved Dad Means Happier Kids

An Involved Dad Means Happier Kids

There may be additional benefits to designating Dad as the primary parent-at-home. According to one report written at the University of Texas at Austin, “children who grow up with an involved father do better in school, are less likelyto drop out, have higher self-esteem, experience fewer emotional and behavioralproblems, are less likely to engage in criminal behavior, and are less likely to engage inhigh risk behaviors such as drug use and early sexual activity.” In other words, spending more time with Dad makes for happier kids.

Five Tips For Families With Stay-At-Home Dads

If you are thinking about designating Dad as parent-of-the-day, here are five tips to help you get going:


Define Dad’s Job Duties

Define Dad’s Job Duties

Before Dad quits his day job, the family should consider what will be expected from the at-home parent. Will Dad do all of the cooking, shopping, cleaning, and laundry? Or will Mom be expected to chip in as well? Don’t wait until problems arise. Define the duties of the job early so everyone knows what to expect. But feel free to make adjustments as time goes by and your situation changes.


Build In Some Break Time

Going to work all day is exhausting. So is staying at home with the kids. Agree that Dad will need some “me” time when Mom gets home from work. Not only will Dad feel better if he gets a chance to recharge, but Mom will benefit from spending some quality time with the kids.

Of course, make sure to build in a few minutes of “me” time for Mom too. Getting a chance to decompress will help everyone feel better.


Decide How To Handle Money

Decide How To Handle Money

Many dads are afraid to quit working and rely on an allowance from a breadwinning partner. To help the family adjust, set clear ground rules on how money will be handled. Set a budget together and agree to treat all income as family income. Removing vocabulary about “your money” versus “my money” will enable the family to better work as a team to achieve common goals.


Recognize That Dad Does Things Differently

Recognize That Dad Does Things Differently

Mom has her way. Dad has his. They are not necessarily the same. Respect that Dad will do things differently than mom and that it’s OK. Agree to some basic ground rules about how the household should be managed. After that, accept the fact that there are different ways of doing things and move on.


Don’t Let Traditional Gender Roles Define Your Life

Be prepared to answer questions about your non-traditional arrangement. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family that you’re pleased with this arrangement and that it works for you. If your friends describe Dad as unemployed, make sure to correct them and explain all the work Dad does each day. Tell about how it adds value to your family and makes everyone happy.

Don’t get tangled up in gender definitions. Feel free to send Dad to the PTO meeting while Mom changes the oil in the car. Figure out what works best for your family and do it. Don’t let stereotypes keep your family from functioning in a way that makes the most sense for you.


Whether you’re a mom or a dad, being a stay-at-home parent can be a rewarding experience. And even though it may not be the norm, having a stay-at-home dad can be enriching for the entire family.

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