How Stay-at-Home Dads Can Stay In The Game
The "New Normal" Taking Over Households
By: Karin Eldor
Monster Contributing Writer
It seems there’s a “new normal” taking over households today – more and more dads are staying home with the kids, while moms are working their 9 to 5s.
It’s a phenomenon that’s getting a lot of buzz in pop culture (with shows like the hit NBC sitcom “Up All Night”) and a topic that’s getting a lot of media coverage in papers like the New York Times and The Globe & Mail.
Statistics Canada informed that the number of stay-home fathers has risen 39 percent in the past twenty years, and according to The Globe & Mail, in 2011, 12 percent of two-parent Canadian families had a stay-at-home-dad.
In fact, a recent New York Times article called “Just Wait Until Your Mother Gets Home” shined the spotlight on stay-at-home dads, and how today’s playgrounds are filled with dads where it used to be considered only “mommy” territory.
The truth is, with women playing an increasingly more important role in today’s workforce, having the mom stay home with the kids is not always the most logical solution for families. It really depends on each person’s earning power, job flexibility and hours. The stay-at-home dad network seems to be filled with everything from former high-powered lawyers who would work more than 90 hours a week to journalists who didn’t earn as much as their wives.
It also takes into account that a dad’s paycheck might be going directly to childcare, which simply might not be a logical solution, especially once you throw another child into the mix.
So if you’re considering taking on the job of stay-at-home dad for the short or long-term, here are some tips to ensure you still stay in the game.
Consider freelance work
Being a stay-at-home-dad doesn’t mean you need to put your career on the sidelines entirely. There are many skills or careers that are conducive to working from home: everything from social media management, editing and writing, to graphic design and even accounting, can lead to lucrative contract work. A quick search on Monster.ca’s career section can turn up results in the freelance world!
Working as a freelancer is also a great way to include some work on your resume for if and when you decide to return to the workforce, full-time.
Being a stay-at-home dad can be considered full-time work in and of itself; the key is establishing a routine where you carve yourself out some time during the day to actually get work done. This could mean starting your day before sunrise (before everyone else in the house wakes up), using your child(ren)’s naptime to be productive, or working once your significant other gets home. The keys to making this work are discipline (it can be hard to hunker down and be productive while at home), organization skills (your time becomes limited) and establishing a routine with your partner (they will need to understand that when you’re “off duty” after 6pm, for example, it’s because you might have a deadline to contend with).
Some of the dads featured in the New York Times article even confess to “taking notes” on their mobile phone whenever inspiration strikes – and this can even be while at the playground!
Start a blog
Starting a blog is a great way to launch a freelance career and brand yourself in the online world. Being a blogger is also an easy way to flex your creative muscle and find an audience: whether you’re writing about your life as a stay-at-home dad, your daily inspirations, or even about a side hobby you have, there’s an audience for everything!
Join a network of other dads
Blogging and staying active on social media are great ways to engage with other stay-at-home dads and even create new contacts. The last thing you want to do is feel isolated – joining playgroups with other stay-at-home dads or even other parents in general is a great way to feel connected, even when you feel like you’re changing diapers all day!
Think about the future....
The truth is you never know where this stage in your career might lead: you may carve yourself a lucrative enough freelance business that allows you to carry on and work from home. Or you might find that once the kids are in school full-time, you’ll feel more ready to return to the corporate world.
Either way, it’s a good idea to keep your options open by maintaining your contacts and continuing to network – in case you want to make the corporate world your playground once again.