Life as a Stay-At-Home-Dad
Growing up I don’t recall ever hearing or knowing of a household with a stay-at-home-dad. It was always the mother’s who brought up the kids. I still travel home to Swaziland frequent enough to know that although I still don’t know of any stay-at-home-dads, there are more mothers working today. In South Africa, it’s a different story. There seems to be a growing trend of men opting to stay at home rearing the children while the partner goes off to a 9 to 5 job.
According to Statistics South Africa reported back in 2012 that there were about 60,000 stay-at-home-dads in South Africa. This trend is being fueled by the country’s economic difficulties, company retrenchments that force some dads to work from home supported if they are fortunate, by a domestic helper. However, the cost of childcare is on the rise, so couples sometimes see the option of dad staying at home as the most feasible.
When hubby was retrenched three years back he decided that why he applied for another opportunity he wasn’t going to sit around. He started working from home and used this time to bond more with our son. He took over the running of our home, making meals for the family, dropping and picking up our son from school, taking him to extra-mural activities and attending the odd birthday party. Mingling with the moms became the norm. Often he is the thorn among the roses. He loves it because he is spending more quality time with our son, watching him grow and evolve, while also working towards growing his new business.
Are there challenges for a stay-at-home-dad?
Hubby had to learn quickly how to manage our son. From appropriately dressing him to making sure he was eating right and keeping our son entertained – no using the TV as a nanny! Initially, he missed the office environment and the catching with colleagues over a cup of coffee. It’s all changed now. He gets the best of both worlds as he gets to run around with our son making sure he gets to where he should be and schedules his business meetings around that which is working. Life is what it is, he has learnt to adapt and make it work. He will be first to admit it hasn’t always been easy.
Although hubby is totally cool with staying at home, that he isn’t earning a salary does occasionally weigh on his mind. He has always been independent. From the time we first met he has never been one to depend on others financially, even at the darkest of times. So, him assuming the stay-at-home-dad role that isn’t contributing financially like once did has been a huge adjustment.
There are benefits though…
He is adored by all the kids in our son’s class, so much so that at times our son jumps in demanding that they all leave him alone …”Leave him, he’s my dad …” is heard loud and clear and all obey. Then, of course, he knows all the other children’s mothers making it a lot easier for him to mingle at the birthday parties. I feel so lost.
Seriously though, now he has time to go cycling with our son during the week, take him to the zoo and so many other exciting activities that before would have to wait for the weekend. He even plans play-dates with the other mothers during the school breaks. Hubby is definitely more involved in our son’s life now, his even has heated discussions with the moms in the school WhatsApp group.
The impact on our son…
Our son loves that dadD is “always” around. He understands when hubby needs to go to a meeting and that he will be back. Somehow with me working full-time and hubby at home, the love and attention he demands just seem to balance. It seems to be enough.
I’ve checked with hubby if given the chance he would go back to the corporate world. His response has been constant. If I’m able to have the flexibility I have today so that I can be there for our son daily, sure.
That answers it doesn’t it?
Greg Volkwyn that used to call into the 94.7 Breakfast Show on Business News back in the day with Jeremy Mansfield, and married to the then CEO of Primedia Broadcasting.
David Beckham, yep the world-famous British soccer player is the main caregiver since retiring. Adores preparing the kids’ lunch.
John Lennon (yes the Beatles dude) decided to give up music for a while to raise his son Sean.
The truth is that our society is changing, job cuts are becoming the norm and not the exception. The stay-at-home-dad some even working from home is on the rise and it’s a great thing for both dad and the children.