My Surprising Life as a Stay-at-Home Dad

Dad with baby

I had always imagined myself working in an office even after I became a father. I could see myself coming home and having the old-fashioned sort of life.

However, after I became a part of my first startup in 2003, I started to look at things differently. I began thinking about staying home, being a father first while maybe running a little business out of the house, spending as much time with my kids and wife as I wanted.

Lucky for me, the job market helped me make my decision. When I graduated from law school, I was already a new dad, as my wife and I already had 8-month-old twin babies at home. We felt isolated where we were living in Akron, and we wanted to move closer to family, so we planned on moving back to St. Louis, MO. I even took the bar there and passed, but with the economy the way it was, it was hard for me to find a job in St. Louis. Plus, my wife already had a good job in Akron, so we ended up staying.

I’ve continued looking for work, but an opportunity has not presented itself for me -- at least not one that can beat my current gig: SAHD. As a stay-at-home dad, I rarely have a day that I would consider average. My babies are my alarm clock. Most days my wife leaves for work before our two girls are up. I get them up, make breakfast, and then try to do a little work on the businesses, all while still entertaining 2-year-olds. We work on our numbers and ABCs, and generally try and have some fun. I’ve started two companies from home as an attempt to find a way to contribute to the household finances, but my priorities are my girls.

The ability to spend time with my girls this way is something I never thought I would have the chance to do as a new dad, and it is the most rewarding experience of my life. As with anything new, though, there are trade-offs. The reversed roles of my family, and the fact that I had more of a traditional upbringing, have taken a lot of getting used to, and a lot of pride swallowing. It is not always easy, but I have always told myself that nothing worth having comes easy.

While trying to balance and redefine my role as a stay-at-home dad, I’ve had the opportunity to watch my girls grow and develop into little people. I love playing with them, and I enjoy their company. As a young physician, my father worked 36 hours straight, had a short time off, and then went right back to work. I saw him for fleeting moments when I was little, and never really had the chance to spend any time with him; something both he and I wish had been different. The fact that I get to spend almost every waking moment with my daughters is an amazing opportunity. Regardless of the frustrations, time constraints, and other events, it’s something I relish every day.

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

by Derek Haake