When I was legitimately employed, my son and I would always engage in a little ritual. Every day I would leave for work at the same time and every day I would come home at the same time. When we were living in our 2nd apartment, in order to get to our apartment door, you needed to open a gate and go down an alley. Our door was the last door at the end of the alley.
Upon coming home, my arrival was announced by the clanging of the gate. Every time he heard it, he would scream out “Daddy’s home!”
By the time I got the door open he was all ready there waiting to tackle me.
It’s been ages since then and I still miss that the most.
What I didn’t understand at the time was why my wife was also waiting to tackle me. Occasionally, she would be talking my ear off before I had a chance to step foot inside the door and hang up my keys. Some years later and six months into my being a stay-at-home parent and I finally realize why she was always so happy to see me.
Staying at home with the kids can be one of the loneliest and isolating jobs in the world.
Many men stay at home to keep their kids out of daycare. Some men choose this position because they can’t find a job. This at times makes life harder than what it needs to be (Bayliss & Toonkel, 2004).”Part of this feeling of isolation comes from a loss of identity. Without an outside career to define yourself, you are no longer sure what you want or who you are” (Bayliss & Toonkel, p.13, 2004).
Regardless of your own living situation, I cannot stress the importance of having a social network.
When I say ‘social network’ I’m not talking about Facebook. I’m not talking about any sort of appliance that substitutes face-to-face interactions with computer usage. I’m talking about engaging with people outside of your home.
You don’t need a large group of friends. (If you do have a large group of friends, good for you!) Even if you have one friend, you’re better off than a lot of us. If you hate people as much as I do, get a part time job. Don’t want to do that because of the commitment or the possibility that it might damage your ego? Go volunteer in your community.
Just do something that takes you out of the house.
Your life cannot revolve around your family and the kids.
You need to live for yourself as well.
While I didn’t fall into that trap of putting everyone else before myself, there wasn’t anything that I could do to avoid the loneliness that was waiting for me.
Despite the level of your ‘parenting’, you need to network if the isolation gets to be too much for you. Pick up any book on the subject and you can find countless resources available for you. Seriously, they run the gamut from additional stay-at-home dad books to websites & blogs on the subject. There’s even conventions. CONVENTIONS! FOR PETE’S SAKE!
Caveat emptor: the idea of being a stay-at-home dad is relatively new in the mind of our society. There might not be a lot of kindred spirits in your area. If the isolation is still too much for you, reach out to the mom’s in your area.
Yes, you read that right.
They are there. They are in your neighborhood. Feeling isolated? Cowboy up and break the ice. Hell, if this is what you plan on doing with the rest of your life, YOU NEED TO DO THIS. There isn’t going to be anyone else in your life that is going to whole-heartedly understand what you are going through on a daily basis other than a stay-at-home mom.
Yes, there are numerous things that could happen that “could” that would make this a horrible idea. So what? I’ve been in a few awkward situations before, haven’t you?
Baylies, Peter. Toonkel, Jessica. (2004). The Stay-at-Home Dad Handbook. Chicago: Chicago Review Press.
Smith, Jeremy Adam. (2009). The Daddy Shift. Boston: Beacon Press.
 Fun Fact: According to a Yale University study of adolescents raised by stay-at-home dad’s, there were perfectly normal except for one small difference: they weren’t concerned that much about gender roles. The obvious issue with this would be teasing from kids who do have fixed gender roles (Smith, 2009).