I wasn’t always a stay-at-home Dad.
Like many men my age, I had a full-time job that took me out of the house on a daily basis. I got up early, grabbed coffee, settled the kids with the sitter or loaded them into the car for day-care. Next, I dropped off the wife & kids, before my 9-5 work.
I analyzed utilization trends for a company that had just been acquired by a larger umbrella corporation. I was on a good career path. My work was paying for some certification courses, and I was passing them with relative ease. There were, of course, some of the usual, cross-generational, differences about the office, but generally they were worked around and workflow was improving.
So what happened?
It was a double-whammy of trouble that rolled out.
First, I had a tumour in my leg, and I needed surgery to have it removed. The diagnosis came in February, and I informed my employer like a good little worker. I received the usual platitudes, inquiries for surgery date (which I had yet to receive), and so on.
COVID-19 hit by the end of the week, and we were all sent to work from home. Grandma handled childcare, as the daycare was now closed (even to those with parents in Healthcare), and we were expected to continue to work.
Personally, that was awesome for me. It meant homemade espresso instead of Keurig. A daily commute became a thing of the past. And I would rarely be distracted by the telephone, office politics, overheard conversations, etc. My productivity ballooned.
I quickly caught up on a backlog of work, prepared company newsletters both in advance and on the fly, and made some significant steps in other work projects that would make things smoother on whomever took over my position when I moved up.
A month later my workplace eliminated my position due to “lack of work.”
So I searched for new employment. Because of COVID, there wasn’t any.
Becoming Dad at Home
I no longer needed Grandma to take care of my kids, so I took over childcare full-time.
My wife works in healthcare, and actually had her shifts increase from part-time to full-time plus OT. So her hours at home went from reasonable, to limited. Due to maternity leaves, retirement, and an unexpected death at her work, her hours have yet to return to a more normal level. We don’t anticipate it will happen anytime in the next two years.
It’s spring, and my eldest wouldn’t go to school until fall. So, I focused on spending as much time with my kids as I could. After all, a surgery to remove my tumour could happen anytime.
I took on most of the household duties. Not just cooking & dishes. I also handled most of the early learning, activity-running, event preparation, shopping, laundry, sweeping, mopping, and a myriad of other things that I didn’t realize was going to come with being at home. Add COVID-level safety precautions on top of it all, and it can become a mighty list.
Economy & Schools Re-opening
Months went by, and COVID restrictions began to lighten. I re-activated my teaching license, in the hopes of stepping back into a teaching role. I mean, they would surely decrease class sizes in order to keep COVID from becoming pandemic in the school population right?
Not only did classes sizes not decrease, but those that chose to no longer attend school in person, now get to watch their teacher’s blackboard from a webcam and hope they can keep up. They actually cut teaching positions, forcing some teachers to handle 2-3 online classes in addition to their class at school.
Still, once things got underway, I figured something would come up.
I didn’t really think it was going to be my surgery. Nor a three-week close-to-zero-movement recovery. Nor did I think it would be a continued search, without any realistic leads, for a position.
Accepting the Future
I had been a Dad at Home for a spring and summer. The school sent my kid home “sick” on the 2nd day of class. They also introduced the 14-day or 24 hrs after no symptoms & a negative COVID-test policy, so it quickly became apparent that both parents could not work the same way that we did pre-COVID.
My wife makes good money. If we didn’t have debt, I’d say great money, but that’s how it falls. Since there’s no daycare bill, it’s actually cheaper for our family if I stay home. Soon-to-be-constant sick calls from cold & flu season in kindergarten already looms on the horizon.
With all that in mind, it means I’m staying home for the foreseeable future. I’ll be taking care of the house daily. Tending my youngest all day. Watching my oldest when he’s home from school. And most importantly, making sure everything runs smoothly so my wife doesn’t have to worry about things while she works to keep the city healthy.
I started to piece this together once I accepted I was going to be home on a more permanent basis. After all, there’s a lot more to being a dad at home than most people (myself included) realize.
What to expect
I’m going to piece this site together as I go. You can expect a lot of tips & tricks, links to sites with resources, some homemade materials of my own, and a heck of a lot more. I’m going to review some of the products we’ve experimented with as the kids have grown up, and I’ll compare them.
This site is aimed at helping you make decisions about how to help your family, and how certain things affected my own.
As with anything related to parenting, your mileage may vary. Not all kids & families react the same way, but if my experiences are useful to someone, that’s the goal.
I’ll be releasing articles twice weekly. Other website updates may come in between, as I have something to add.
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