My wife and I have a beautiful 19 mo old daughter. As of a week or two ago, I became a new stay at home dad. This is somewhat new territory for me. Because of my previous work schedule I was home with my daughter 1 and a half days during the week. So adding 3.5 days wasn’t as bad as say adding 5. Nonetheless it is an adjustment for my family.
We are definantly stuggling with the adjustment. First there is the matter of going on unemployment. This in itself might have been that hardest hurdle for me because of the amount of pride that I needed to overcome to go through with applying for unemployment. While I was not the primary bread winner in my family, I was bringing in a substantial amount of money for us. To lose that when I was laid off did take away part of my identity.
The bigger challenge facing us though is that my wife wants my position and I want hers. I want to be the bread winner and she wants to be the stay at home parent. We are both working to try to achieve that balance so she can be at home more often with our daughter, but it is tough. It is tough on our marriage when she see’s me having what she wants; and more importantly what I think she deserves. She has worked hard and worked long hours. She currently works a job 45 minutes away in another state. Her time with our daughter is limited. It is definately putting a strain on our relationship.
With our new life format though, I feel it is up to me to really step it up. I want to make sure that my wife has as much time with our daughter as possible and has to do the least amount of work around our house as possible. While previously our chore duties were divided up 65 percent me 35 percent her, it is now closer to 95 percent me 5 percent her. I’m home all day though, I think this is only fair in that it allows her to spend more time with our daughter and not have to worry about cleaning, cooking, etc.
I already did most of the cooking, I love to cook. I generally try atleast 3 new recipes a week. When you are working on a tight food budget like we do, it is often a pain in the butt to find inexpensive recipes that are also great and unique. On the plus side though, I found out I can grill just about anything, which while it doesn’t help with the food budget, it does help keep our electric bill down. Our stove, whether it’s the over or the burners can raise the temperture in our house quicker than anything else, which makes our AC crank on that much higher.
My main responcibilities now though focus on my daughter. While I was often playing with her on the days I was home from work, I have more and more resoponcibilities that fall on my shoulders that used to be on my wifes or our nannies. I tend to want to play with her, play house, with her dolls, with all of her bouncy balls, outside, at parks. I like to be up and moving and playing like that. I tended to leave the book reading and some of the other development tasks to other people. What I have been learning though is to better incorporate the development into the playing. At the playground we count everything now, the steps, the slides, the swings. While my daughter still thinks 2 is every number, we are atleast starting to develop our own ways of learning that still incorporate the games we like to play.
This is definately going to be a fun learning process for the two of us. While I still wish I were working (the only thing I learned from my dad was that work= self worth for better or worse) I am embracing the opportunity that I have with my daughter, the fun we have. I am definately taking advantage of this. I realize that when her grandparents are around or her mother is around, I take a backseat to everyone. That’s fine, because atleast during the day I’m the center of her world and she’s the center of mine.