John Adams is one of the small but growing number of men who have sacrificed their career to become a stay at home father. While his wife works full time, John, 41, looks after the family home and his two young daughters, Elizabeth aged two and Helen aged six. He tells Round Table magazine what it’s like to be a stay at home dad in 2015.
When I explain I’m a stay at home dad, I frequently get asked what my favourite day time television programme is. There’s an assumption us stay at home parents, be us mums or dads, while away the hours drinking coffee while channel surfing.
If only I had a spare moment for such folly! The reality is I don’t have any spare time and can account for every second during the day.
I have the two daughters; Elizabeth who is a toddler and Helen who is in her second year at school. Balancing the needs of a toddler and a school girl is demanding. In fact my wife, who has a job in senior management, often tells me I have the more demanding role of the two of us.
I don’t think a stay at home mum would find it any less demanding. Being a stay at home dad, however, comes with particular challenges.
Firstly, some people simply don’t know how to deal with you. I’ve been the main carer for my kids since 2011 and I’ve had some very odd experiences in that time. I once had a GP tell me I was “babysitting” when I turned up in her surgery with my daughter. There was also the occasion a nurse started physically looking round the room for my wife when I took my youngest daughter for inoculations. I won’t lie to you, I was offended on both occasions!
Loneliness and isolation are huge issues for stay at home mums. For dads, it’s magnified. Women don’t always feel comfortable arranging to socialise with a man. This means you can be left out of social gatherings. This, in turn, means your children don’t get asked on as many play dates.
Even so, it’s not all bad, far from it. I feel honoured to spend as much time with my kids. Few men have this opportunity and it’s great to nurture their talents and watch them grow.
We once had a builder in his sixties working on our house. I thought I’d better explain to him why I was always at home with my daughter and not my wife. I didn’t expect a warm reception but he told me he hadn’t seen his kids growing up and wished he’d been able to do the same as me.
As time passes I get more and more into this role. It’s not easy but I am at the centre of family life. I love providing and caring for the family. It’s a genuine sacrifice, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Oh, and as for daytime TV, if I’m doing the ironing I will often watch something on the History Channel. I can’t stand daytime trash so would rather watch something educational while taking the creases out of the family’s clothes!
John blogs about his experiences at http://dadbloguk.com
John is also the author the book A modern father (…and dad blogger), published in 2015 and available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.