A day in the life of a stay-at-home dad
Kevin (38), a self-taught hardware and software technician, is father to a lively 4-year-old boy, James. As a stay-at-home dad (or SAHD), Kevin cares for James through the week, while James’ mom works full time.
Kevin shared his average day with us, providing some unique insight into the life of a SAHD.
Are you an SAHD? What's your day like? What's the strangest reaction you've had from people when they find out you're the primary caregiver in your home?
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James wakes up anytime between 5:00 and 6:30am. We aim to get him to playschool around 8:15, so my partner Kate usually serves up breakfast, which we all eat together and then we take turns getting James ready for school. I’ll drop him off if Kate has work commitments. She works from home but attends daily meetings out and about, so she usually leaves around now and returns in the late afternoon.
I tidy up the kitchen when I get back from school drop-off, then I follow up on my part-time job. I can’t fit in more than one call-out per day, so if I have a booking, I’ll head out to attend to that before school pickup. If I don’t have too much admin or housework, I’ll use this quiet time to spend time on my hobbies, which include wood art and tinkering with my car.
I’ve found it’s good to keep myself busy with something creative that I love doing. Being able to say “I made that” is a really good feeling. Creating art stimulates me, keeping my mind active and adding to my life.
I do a lot of handyman stuff around the house too, and help friends or neighbours with handyman work or baby-proofing or IT issues when they ask. I’ve even had to chase spiders out neighbours’ houses!
One thing I struggle with as a SAHD is when I get lost in the work I'm doing and then realise I have to fetch James from school. I'm the kind of guy who will just keep going with a project, I like to get things done, and having to stop and pack up until another time can be very frustrating. I’ve had to come to terms with that.
I pick James up from school and we head home, where I make lunch for us. It’s usually something easy like a toasted cheese sandwich or a snack plate of fruit, cheese, veggies and cold meat. After lunch I tidy up again, trying to get James to help me – usually to little avail.
Then we’ll play together for a bit: Lego, reading, throwing a ball and hide and seek are popular. Plonking him in front of the TV in the afternoon isn’t an option: we’ve chosen to limit screen time to 30 minutes on the weekend.
If I haven’t scheduled a playdate for James, we often head to a local park in the afternoon. Playdates are always with school friends and organised a few days in advance. Sometimes James will go home from school with another trusted parent, or a school friend will come home with us for a few hours before getting picked up by their parents. I’ll make them lunch and then let them run all over me – I’ll be a walking pinata for the next three hours!
At the park, I get some exercise as he rides off on his bike and I have to chase after him. Despite being the only SAHD I know, I’ve never had any negative encounters, everyone has always been supportive. I think people find it refreshing, seeing something different that challenges the norm.
In our situation, it made the most sense for me to stay at home with James. Kate was already the breadwinner and being James’ primary caregiver gave me the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds: I can still do what I love, and James gets to have a parent around 24/7.
By 4pm we’re back home for supper and bedtime routine. We always eat dinner together at the table, making a point of this being family time. I do miss eating alone sometimes, in front of the TV, but maybe one day I’ll get that back.
Being a SAHD, being on-call all the time, is extremely hard work. I miss unbroken sleep, I miss my friends who I don’t see as much as I’d like. I miss the freedom of being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. The adjustments that must be made when you become a parent can hit you quite hard.
By supper time, when I have been hands-on with James all day, my temper tends to get a little short with him. I have to keep reminding myself that it's because of that and I have to keep my cool. I know this comes with the territory though, and James just has to look at me with that cute face, and all the frustrations melt away.
After supper, it’s time for a bath, which generally falls to me. Kate has a bad back from years of carrying James to get him to sleep, so I do the heavy lifting now. We take turns reading to him until he falls asleep. In the evenings I try to get some work done or work on my wood art.
I used to enjoy PC gaming, but that’s fallen away as I just don’t have time anymore.
Are you an SAHD? What's your day like?
What's the strangest reaction you've had from people when they find out you're the primary caregiver in your home?
Tell us by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.