Most people who know me know I am a Stay-at-home Dad. And I have been almost since my kids were born. It’s not something I talk about too much, so I thought it would be fun to share my experience over the last 14 years.
When I look back as a young boy, I knew I always wanted to be a father one day. In my far-fetched dreams, I was going to be rich and have 10 children. Of course reality hit after our first two and I was about 3 years into being a Stay-at-Home Dad. I realized then I just wanted a girl and we would be finished. So, after Caroline was born, I ran straight to the Urologist and we were satisfied with having three amazing children.
How I became a stay-at-home dad
Being a stay-at-home Dad was not always my plan. I love to work and steadily worked almost every Summer starting as a 14-year-old and through college.
Interestingly, my wife and I had already talked about me staying at home once my son Hamilton was born because it was so tough for both of us to juggle our full-time jobs and being a parent. We were constantly arguing over who would take the sick days or would get in “less trouble” if they missed a day of work.
I worked everyday until December 5, 2007. This was the day I was laid off from my corporate job. The decision to stay home was made for me, even if it was only temporary.
I was nervous and unsure. It was almost like reading a best-selling Christian novel right from the start. God took me by the hand and guided me through the rewarding yet challenging venture as a stay-at-home parent. I went through so many emotions such as happiness, relief, sadness, worry, humility and much more. I didn’t know what to do.
I wish I could say I followed everything I learned from books and other parents and was a perfect parent but as we all know, that’s not reality. I have made many mistakes not only as a parent, but as a human being. There were many times I got frustrated with my kids and had to walk out of the room to take deep breaths and separate from them to calm down.
I would like to tell you I got on my hands and knees and prayed but I usually didn’t.
I did learn other tricks to calm my children down. For instance, when they were screaming or not taking a nap, I would put them in the car seat and take them on a ride. They would be sound asleep within five minutes.
Someone also told us if we put them inside the car seat and put the car seat on top of a running dryer then we wouldn’t have to drive all around town. My wife and I tried it and it worked like a miracle.
Another big lesson I learned is how babies also calm down when you take them outside. So naturally, I stayed outside a lot once I figured out it works. These little tricks saved my nerves many times.
Learning to parent different children
As each child was born, my life was changed. I used to love to hang out with my friends, I was independent and really only thought about myself. When my children came into the world, everything changed and most of my thoughts were to be with my family.
Another big lesson I learned is how different I have to parent each child.For example, discipline was easy for Hamilton. It got to the point I could look at him and he would shape up.
I remember going to many stores when he would get over stimulated and I would sit him down on the floor and he would sit there watching me for about five minutes. Oh, the looks I got from people walking by were actually humorous. It was better I did than when my mom would swat me in the middle of the grocery stores as the whole world was watching. Oh, how I remember those days.
My second child, Jackson was very competitive and would want to beat Hamilton at everything and when he couldn’t he would get angry. Jackson’s love was wrestling. He loved it when Hamilton or I would wrestle him down on the ground and not let him up. So I would let him wrestle as much as possible because he loved it so much.
To this day Jackson has the best laugh in the family. That laughter comes from deep down in the soul. Some might call it a barrel laugh. Every time we wrestled with him, he would laugh so hard, he would toot and everybody in the room would laugh. Moments like these are something I will never forget, and I had a front row seat to it as a stay-at-home dad.
Other great memories as a stay-at-home dad
I finally got into a great schedule and rhythm with my boys when they were little. And then along came our girl Caroline.
When Caroline was born, she took hold of my heart. She was the sweetest human being on the planet and still is. To this day, Hamilton plays a little game with her. He asks her “Who is the best golfer in the family?” (Hamilton started beating me three years ago as a 10-year-old.) Her response never changes — “Daddy!” This will go on for an hour and Hamilton will get the same response, but I secretly love it.
Waking Caroline for her ninth birthday last week was fantastic as it always is. I usually walk into the room and with my beautiful baritone voice sing “Happy Birthday” to her. This morning, as she usually does, she pops her head up with those big, beautiful blue eyes and smiles. Her smile is — as my boys like to say — epic! I love getting to experience moments like this.
It took a while for us all to adjust to me being at home while Mom went to work, but my wife and I have a wonderful relationship. We are truly blessed. We have had our ups and downs but there is not a day that goes by where I don’t thank my Heavenly Father for such a great wife. She works her tail off for this family and is good at what she does. She loves this family and I feel like she kind of likes me too. We are a team, which is why I think our family structure works so well.
We don’t look like other families
We are not the traditional family in the way where the man is not the major breadwinner. I’ve realized I am good with it. Some people have not agreed with me staying home with my children while my wife works, but many dads have shared with me that they are envious of our situation.
I just believe we have to do the best we can to make sure our children are great. My wish for my children is for them to follow their dreams, be good to their peers and they don’t forget the time they had with their family. Of course, the number one thing I am proud of is their faith remains number one.
I truly believe being a stay-at-home parent was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. It was definitely the hardest job I have ever had. I know there are people who don’t agree with our decision but I’ve learned I can’t worry about them. We as parents have to do the best we can to have a successful family!