Stay-at-home moms are fairly prevalent in our culture. They're often the main characters in books, movies, and on TV shows. We respect a woman's wish to work and a woman's wish to stay home and raise her children, and we know that the choice is a personal one. While stay-at-home moms are a staple of the entertainment that we consume, and there are a lot of resources for them at community centers and elsewhere, the same can't be said for stay-at-home dads. It's pretty rare that we hear from them unless it's a movie like Mr. Mom, and if we do hear about them, it's usually played in a comedic tone.
The truth is that a lot of men do stay home with the children while their spouses work, and they definitely deserve to be part of the parenting conversation. It's safe to say that for the most part, they experience the same ups, downs, and struggles as moms who stay home, and it's about time that we started hearing their stories. After all, being a parent is being a parent, and there are some things that remain the same.
Here are 25 stories from stay-at-home dads. They may be eye-opening.
26 Many Dads Do This By Choice
Some people think that dads stay at home because they have to (maybe they lost their job or their significant other took on a high-paying, demanding job so it just made sense). The truth is that some stay at home because they want to. It's totally their choice and they can do whatever is the best fit for them and their family.
That was the case for this dad who posted on Reddit: "I quit a career to be a stay-at-home dad. I loved it. My children were my life and it was unreal."
It's good to hear that some men actually leave their jobs because they want to be stay-at-home dads.
25 It Can Get Lonely
Children bring so much love and joy to their families, but there are some ups and downs to parenting like any other experience in life.
Some stay-at-home dads feel lonely because of a lack of resources and groups, which doesn't seem to happen when a woman is a stay-at-home mom.
As this dad said on Reddit, "As far as issues I didn't foresee, it's really lonely. Mom groups are easy to find, but dad groups, you really have to search for. There are many days where I just don't talk to other adults, and it makes it harder to relate to other male friends since our jobs are so different."
24 They Think It's Important To Leave The House
As this dad shared on Reddit, "Being a stay-at-home dad doesn't mean you literally have to stay home all day with the kid. Get out of the house often... When my kids were little we would go to the library, the park, indoor play places, the gym, out in the yard to play."
He also shared that if it was freezing cold, the supermarket was a good option. He said, "The key to sanity is getting them out of the house."
We might assume that staying home with our kids means literally being in the house all the time, but that doesn't have to be the case, and everyone will be happier if you get out a bit.
23 The Fights Are The Same
We often hear about couples arguing when one stays home with the kids and one works, but those tend to be revolving around wives staying home and husbands going to the office every day.
As it turns out, according to one stay-at-home dad who shared his story on Reddit, the fights are the same — but the genders are swapped.
He said, "As for things I didn't foresee, the one thing that hit me was how all those fights parents have when one stays at home happen with us just gender-reversed. My wife gets mad that I'm 'home all day and it seems like nothing gets done' and while some days I'm lazy, mostly I'm busy with 10 different things at once."
22 Two Dads Started A Food Truck While Watching Their Kids
We don't always hear stories of stay-at-home dads who started a really cool and interesting business after making that decision for parenting.
Someone shared on Reddit that two fathers who live on their street stayed home with their children after they were laid off and their wives got jobs. They said, "One year later and the two of them have started a food truck together and it's gaining popularity. Their wives support them 100% in the endeavor and I've seen them develop an impressive schedule of watching five kids between the two of them while their wives go fight the corporate fight. I find it quite impressive that these two guys, who are typical macho dudes, marched right into their new roles."
How cool is that?!
21 They Might Go Back To Work Later
One dad who posted on Reddit stays at home with their kids and his wife has a job that pays over 100-thousand dollars. Not too shabby! He raised an interesting point, however. Some men who decide to stay home do want to get jobs later on, perhaps when their kids become old enough to go to school full-time.
He said, "I definitely would like to return to work after my children reach school age. My wife is currently pregnant with another child though, so that could be quite a while, haha. I don't see much of a point to being a stay-at-home dad if the kids are in school most of the day, you know?"
20 They Love Being A Dad
I would definitely hope that if someone is making the choice to stay home with their children, whether they're a mom or a dad, it's something that they really want.
The same dad as above also shared more of his story on Reddit and said how much his family means to him, which is really sweet to hear. He talked about his experience of staying home with his children, "The biggest benefit is all the time I get to spend with my children. I've always wanted to have a family. It's something that's very important to me."
19 They Fit Into The Role While Looking For A Job
For other stay-at-home dads, they decided to stay home with their kids while they were also job searching.
One dad posted on Reddit and said that when he had trouble finding work, he decided to be a stay-at-home father, but then he was interested in finding a job again. "Stay-at-home dad here in Australia. My boy is 3yo [sic] and my wife, bless her, works as much as possible to support us since I've had huge issues finding a job recently. People literally call you lazy and a bum for doing it. At first, it was by choice but now my son is in daycare 3 days a week and I'm looking for work."
18 Some Dads Work From Home While Taking Care Of The Children
We often hear about the debate on whether to work or the choice to have children. These two decisions are usually shown as a head-to-head battle since it can be tough to raise children and have a full-time job at the same time. Of course, many people do balance those two things successfully; it's totally possible.
Some stay-at-home dads work part-time, or from home full-time, which I think many people forget about.
One shared his story on Reddit: "I know there are others in the same boat here. I'm a SAHD with four kids—10 down to three—but I also work from home full-time for an online education company. During the school year, three of mine are in school, so I can manage the toddler OK. But summer is nuts with all four home."
17 They Become Friends With Other Stay-At-Home Moms
We often make friends in similar situations, whether at work or school or because we belong to the same club or group. It makes sense that we would befriend people who we have a lot in common with and can relate to. It's nice to have shared experiences as well.
That being said, some stay-at-home dads become friends with fellow stay-at-home moms, which definitely makes sense. One posted on Reddit, "I've been a SAHD for two years. My friends during this time have primarily been SAHM's. It's simply a convenience thing. Who else is free to have play-dates with? In the group I'm a part of, there are five mums and myself, though when we have big group things on weekends, the partners come if they can too."
16 They Are Super Organized
A lot of posts in a stay-at-home dad thread on Reddit are about sticking to a schedule and following the same routine every day.
We might hear about moms being super organized and keeping track of their families schedules, always knowing where everyone has to be and what is going on, but it turns out that stay-at-home dads are just as organized. They have this thing down to a science, pretty much, and they have certain times of day when they feed their kids, play with them, and take them to various activities, depending on whether they're babies or toddlers or older.
15 They Can Feel A Loss Of Pride At Times
It's a transition to become a stay-at-home parent when you were working full-time in an office before that. It's definitely going to feel different.
For some, they feel a loss of pride since they don't make the main source of income anymore or maybe they're only bringing in a little bit of money now that they're staying home with the children.
One dad shared his story on Reddit and said he didn't anticipate "the blow to pride." He continued, "It's hard going from the breadwinner to only earning supplemental income while raising two kids. People look at you differently. I feel like I have to defend my role but I work two jobs - three if you count parent."
14 They Have Complicated Feelings About Staying At Home
Parenting is full of ups and downs for sure, and some stay-at-home dads seem to have complicated feelings about it. Of course, they love their children and everything, but it's not always rainbows and sunshine.
It's good to hear firsthand accounts of the stay-at-home dad experience. One said on Reddit, "I have been a stay at home dad for 14 years to two kids who are 18 months apart. It has been extremely hard and extremely easy at various points. I have loved it and hated it at different points in my life." It seems like many parents could relate to that honesty.
13 They Can Have More Of A Bond With Their Kid Than Their Partner Does
Parenting can be a tough reality for some, but if you're the person who is spending the most amount of time with your young child, then chances are, you will have more of a bond with them. It's kind of just the way things work out when you're with them all the time. This is true whether the mother or father stays home.
As one stay-at-home dad said on Reddit, they can have more of a bond with their kid than their wife does. He shared that his experience has been, "the closeness that you'll have with your child. My wife can get jealous because my son will gravitate to me more than my wife."
12 People Will Ask Them If They're The Babysitter
Sometimes people say things to dads that they would never even think of saying to moms; like asking if they're babysitting the children. It might be hard to believe that people would say that dads who are looking after their kids are "babysitting" because, of course, they're not babysitting, they're parenting. But, unfortunately, dads do hear things like this, and it must be really frustrating.
It seems that many stay-at-home dads share the experience of hearing the babysitting comment. One dad posted on Reddit and said, "I’ve gotten the babysitting thing once or twice from old ladies but never Mr Mom."
11 They Do Domestic Chores, Too
Most would assume that moms who stay home with their kids do all kinds of domestic stuff; from cooking and cleaning to laundry (and a lot of laundry at that). Some might not assume that dads would do the same thing when, of course, it makes sense that they would. There are chores that need to get done and the person staying home would do them, right?
One stay-at-home father shared his story on Reddit, saying "Seriously, though, doing some housework that your wife used to do is very much appreciated, whether or not she even notices."
10 They Don't Always Feel Respected
Everyone wants to feel respected and appreciated. When you're at work, you want your co-workers and managers to think that you're doing a great job. When you're at home with your family, you want your partner and children to love and appreciate you. It's totally normal to feel this way.
Unfortunately, it seems like part of the stay-at-home dad experience is not feeling all that respected, at least according to this Reddit post: "The downside - not much respect for stay home dads, [sic] in the future employers will look at you funny for the gaps in your work experience, when it's over you'll miss parenting a LOT."
9 It Has To Be Something You're 100% Sure You Want To Do
There are some decisions in life that are really tough to make, like changing careers, taking another job with another company, or having your first child (or even your second or third kid). No one can really tell you what's best for you — it's a personal decision.
Stay-at-home dads believe that this decision is something that you have to take seriously and be 100% certain that it's right for you. As someone on Reddit said, "Do it but make sure that it's because you want to. This isn't something you should do for convenience or because it seems like the path of least resistance."
8 It's Important To Take Breaks
It's totally fine for parents to want a break every once in a while. They love their children so much but a date night is sometimes what the doctor ordered.
One dad said on Reddit that it's helpful for him to have a date night and plan it ahead of time. He said, "The important thing is to plan in advance by sometimes a couple of months. Book your childcare for a whole weekend sometime two months from now. If you just want a night out, try to plan three weeks in advance. It's tricky but we've found a balance that is starting to work."
7 It Can Be Hard To Feel Judged
It would be great if everyone was supportive of someone's decision to stay home with their children, while their partner goes to work. But of course, that's not the way that it is. Unfortunately, many stay-at-home dads feel judged by others.
One shared his story on Reddit and said because he lives in Texas, "it's not exactly culturally popular here" to be a stay-at-home father. He said, "At the end of the day I know it only matters what my wife and I decide, but it’s hard to lean into this decision knowing that we have family who will think less of me or that I’m going to get judgmental looks from people here. It’s hard to undo years of 'the man is the provider' upbringing and I feel like I’m copping out by staying home."
6 They Felt It Was The Best Thing For Their Family
For some stay-at-home fathers, they made this choice because it was the best thing for their family and it felt like the right thing to do. That's really all that you can do and it can be hard when you feel like others are judging you, but as this dad shared on Reddit, that's not important.
He said, "I have been a stay at home dad for 14 years in Tennessee. My wife has a great job and works a lot of hours. We have heard it all. No matter what you do in life you are never going to please everyone so don't even bother trying. The only thing that matters is you, your wife, and your boys. Everything else is irrelevant."
5 They Want Time With Their Partners After Long Days
It's so nice to see your partner after a long day at the office and have dinner and talk about your days. The same thing is true for stay-at-home dads: after the day is over, they really want to hang out with their partners and have some quality time together.
As one woman wrote on Reddit about her husband who stays at home with the children, "I think the time doing something together and talking helps a lot. My husband has very little adult interaction and actually talking together (vs/ watching TV in silence), I think helps him feel more human after a day with crazy children."
4 Finding A Gym With Daycare Included Is A Good Idea
If you're a stay-at-home dad but you still want to get out of the house sometimes, and even work out, is there a way that you can do that? Thanks to this great suggestion on Reddit, there's a really smart way to take care of your kid while getting some exercise.
This guy gave advice to a stay-at-home dad, "Get him a gym membership with a daycare. The exercise is a great way to boost his mood, yet he's close by if he's worried about the kids. Or you could even go together on the weekend and have a nice walk or swim together."
3 They're Doing Important Work Molding Their Kids
People definitely shouldn't assume that the person who goes to work and takes home a paycheck is the only one providing for their family. Unfortunately, sometimes that seems to be a pretty prevalent attitude, even though it shouldn't be.
We know that parenting is hard work and important work, too. Stay-at-home dads are doing a lot for their children: they're always there for them, they're supporting them, and they're molding them.
As one dad shared on Reddit, "SAHD dad here. You are providing. You’re providing a strong emotional and educational foundation for your children, which is something they’ll use their entire lives."
2 It's A Tough Job
Every parent knows that it's tough to raise children, even though it's a beautiful experience that they wouldn't trade for anything.
Being a stay-at-home mom seems like it's really tough sometimes, and the same thing is true of being a stay-at-home dad. This dad shared his story on Reddit and said, "It's a lot harder than it seems." He continued with some really good advice, "Don't expect to be able to relax and watch TV, or get projects done around the house. At the end of the day, you'll be tired and just want to hand the kid(s) off to your wife and check out, but you can't (and if you do anyway, be prepared for marital problems)."
1 But It's The Best Job
We often hear that being a mom or dad really is a job since, of course, you're responsible for everything in your child's life: their food and care, their schedule, their happiness, health, well-being, and so on. But even though it's a lot of work, it's fun and rewarding as well. It's always sweet to hear when dads love their kids so much and are thrilled with the experience of raising children, and that's exactly how many stay-at-home dads feel.
One dad wrote on Reddit, "It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I’m the luckiest person in the world."