The 2020 pandemic has loosened the structure of all our lives. People are less bound to the idea of the 38-hour work week, which has injected a lot of flexibility into our lives. As the pandemic continues to shift our daily routines, many fathers are exploring the possibility of becoming stay-at-home dads. With more flexibility in the workplace, and social norms evolving, this choice has become more accessible and acceptable than ever before. Potential stay-at-home dads looking to make the transition can learn from their current childcare providers for guidance. Careful consideration of the logistics, costs, and rewards involved is essential. In this blog, we will explore these questions from a place of childcare knowledge and ultimately ask the question: is this the right choice for your family?
Being a stay-at-home dad offers a unique opportunity for fathers to build strong, lasting connections with their children. The time spent caring for and nurturing young ones can create a bond that some fathers may never experience otherwise. Having a positive male role model in your child’s life – especially for boys – is a strong indicator of their later success in relationships, careers, and even school. According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, children with involved fathers are also less likely to engage in risky behaviours such as drug and alcohol use. It’s invaluable for boys to connect with a role model of mature masculinity, family, and community. The benefits of having a male role model can apply to any father figure, but the time and attention provided by a stay-at-home dad can be particularly impressionable. Unlike the traditional 9-5 working father, the stay-at-home dad has the opportunity to be fully present in their child’s daily life, from mundane moments to milestones. This connection can lead to a bond that lasts a lifetime.
Being a stay-at-home dad can have different financial implications for your family, and it’s important to consider these before making a decision. The hybrid or flexible work-from-home model that many employers are now offering can make it easier for dads to be more involved in their children’s lives without sacrificing all income. This can be a great option for dads who want to balance work and family responsibilities and maintain their career trajectory. However, it’s also important to recognize that dialling back your career to pursue a family-oriented lifestyle can result in sacrificing a higher-paying job or promotion opportunities, even if you are still earning a wage.
The novel experience of being a stay-at-home father is that they may have a slight advantage over women when it comes to age bias in the workplace. Research suggests that men may be viewed as more experienced and capable as they age, while women are often viewed as less competent or desirable as they get older. This means that men may have an easier time rebounding from a stint as a stay-at-home dad if they choose to rejoin the workforce, while a woman may struggle with a stagnating career after taking maternity leave. This underscores the importance of addressing gender bias and promoting gender equity in the workplace so that all parents have the same opportunities to balance work and family responsibilities without facing discrimination or penalties for doing so. Consider whether you need a dual-income stream in your household and whether the other parent earns enough to support the whole family. If the breadwinner is laid off, do you have enough in an emergency fund to cover living expenses? These are all decisions that need to be made with your spouse.
When you become a stay-at-home parent, be ready to lose the large part of your social life that is comprised by being in a workplace. Say goodbye to your water-cooler buddies, dads! It’s essential for fathers to work on making ‘dad friends’, especially in the face of potential social stigma from other men, observed when a man defects from a traditionally masculine role. Society tends to view child-rearing as a female responsibility, which can make some men feel out of place when they take on this role. Therefore, it’s essential for a new stay-at-home dad to build up a network of those who understand his situation and can relate to his experiences. These friendships can be formed through local parent groups, online forums, or even by striking up conversations with other dads at the playground. Having a community of other stay-at-home dads to share advice, commiserate with, and swap stories with can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Building this network can also provide opportunities for children to socialise and play with other kids. So, before you trade in your suits for sweatpants, make sure you’ve got a solid support network to handle the transition.
In conclusion, being a stay-at-home dad can offer numerous rewards and challenges for both the father and his family. Regardless, building a network of supportive friends and peers can help navigate the new role and ensure a successful transition into a fulfilling and rewarding experience. If having a stay-at-home parent isn’t right for your family, daycare provides accessible care that will still leave room for plenty of father-child bonding. If you want to talk to one of our educators about your options as a current Little Zak’s parent, we can help you guide your decision.