Jun
18

Should Both Parents be at Home?

Father and son walking

Children need to spend lots of time with their Dad's too

In my last post on “Housewife Superstars” I shared my beliefs about mums being at home with their children – I am aware that not all share this belief – each to his (or her) own – whatever works for you. This is simply my belief based on what I have experienced in my life.

I also commented that I thought that dads should be at home too and today I came across an article called “What About Dad’s?” that discussed the role that dads play in their childrens’ lives.

What memories do you have of your Dad when you were growing up?

When I was a baby, my Dad was working full time during the day, and studying at night. My Mum has told me that when Dad was studying, he’d have the door shut to the room where he was studying in the evening & I would sit or lie next to the door because I wanted to be with him. I don’t consciously remember this, but there must be some unconscious memory of it and a belief about what it meant to me because the tears are welling up as I write this. As I think about how my relationship has been with my Dad over the years, there has been a constant yearning for approval from him that perhaps stems from him not spending as much time with me as I would have liked. As an adult, I know that he was doing the best that he knew how.

Now that I have my own children and I’m experiencing being a parent first hand, it seems sad that traditional parental/gender roles dictate that the father/husband leaves the house to go to work for in excess of 40 hours per week to support the family, and to add insult to injury, he misses out on spending precious time with this family he is supporting.

I see the struggle my husband has between this need to create an income for us to live and the desire to stay at home with our little boy (who just turned one and is an absolute treasure). It’s not that we don’t have the tools available to us to be able to create an income stream working from home – we have multiple opportunities available to us, I think it’s more that he doesn’t (& maybe I don’t either) fully believe that this is actually possible. There certainly aren’t any men in our immediate circle friends that have this lifestyle that we could model. So now we are keeping our eyes and ears open for families where the dad does “work from home” and has ample time to spend with his children. We are looking for some inspiration and in return, we would like to be the inspiration for others who think this way of life would suit them too.

I know this isn’t for everyone – there are jobs that require a persons’ physical presence away from home – all I’m saying is that if this is you and you want something different, perhaps it doesn’t need to be for the full-time work week – it’s time to start thinking outside the box and really take responsibility for your own life and create it the way you want it. And if your first reaction is “but this is the way I want it” – that’s fine, but before you dismiss the idea outright, probe a little deeper, it could be that you’ve convinced yourself you want it that way because you haven’t ever thought it could be different.

Imagine how amazing this would be for children to have both parents at home with them – little children love being with their parents – they thrive from the attention they receive from their parents. Imagine how great it would be to share the care and upbringing and all the amazing milestones with your partner. You would both be there to see the “firsts” and if you weren’t it would be because you consciously chose to be elsewhere (maybe having a much needed massage or exercise session) and not because you felt you had to be at work. There would be no crying when little children are dropped off in the early hours of the morning at daycare, no crying when daddy (or mommy) leaves home in the morning to go to work, not to be seen again until late in the evening, parent tired and stressed from a day at work, needing his/her own space for some mental downtime – a child doesn’t understand this, all they see is that their Dad (or Mum) doesn’t want to spend time with them.

I find it strange that if the years of 0-7 (the imprint period) in a childs’ life are the ones where they are “sucking” in all their experiences like a sponge, why are they left to be cared for by strangers at a daycare centre (in the case of both parents working) or missing out on the input from one parent (in the case of one parent working and one staying at home)? Shouldn’t it be the parents having the greatest influence over their children?

Currently my husband works from home one day a week and I see how much our little boy Daniel loves spending time with Warren on the days that he his home. On the days that it’s just Daniel and me, we have a great time together and he adapts to his environment – that’s the great thing about kids, in the early years they just accept it, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be thinking about how this may impact them in the future.

In my ideal world, Warren and I would both be at home with Daniel (or travelling or wherever, just all together), spending time with each other, teaching Daniel about the world and creating the income to support our desired lifestyle. Having said that, I am still happy to be in charge of doing most of the cooking and half of the cleaning 😉 and I would still like Warren to be in charge of the “heavy lifting” types of jobs around the home, but as for “having” to go to work in a job, I think we’ll be finding other ways of earning money.

What is your ideal family/working/home situation? If you could truly have it any way you wanted it, how would it be for you?

I’d really love to hear your thoughts.

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About Helena

Helena is a stay at home Mum to one funny, intelligent and very curious little boy. Helena & her husband are working towards creating a location independent lifestyle that will enable their family to homeschool, travel and experience the world together.

Comments

  1. I am an unmarried woman who is just thinking about the future. I would love, love, love this scenario. Both work from home, and raise the kids together. When one has to go out for a little bit, we can just tell the kids “They have to do some work outside the home”. I know this can’t always be the case, but it could work on occasion. If one of us have to work, I want the other one to stay home and be with the kids. I just don’t want it to be ALL the woman’s job. My church teaches that, and as much as I love women getting attention for doing something wonderful. I want the men to share the work and the child rearing years. It used to be this way and in agricultural societies it still is this way, that both parents are home, and working at the same time. I looked all over the web for something like this. I found a site for Stay at home parents and a site stay at home dads. In my case all I would want is to make sure that this is talked about thoroughly and that things are arranged so that the Kids have a chance to play with other kids, and learn how to entertain themselves, but still be around Mommy and Daddy. This is my biggest wish of all. I remember watching an HGTV episode where there where two work at home stay at home parents, this couple had a one year old son, and they ran a non-profit together, an exercise program for struggling youth. Though they where getting an office space over haul, I didn’t care much about that, only that this is what I want. And that has stuck with me ever since I watched the episode 4 years ago.

    Thank you for this post. I hope this becomes a reality soon so that Families can be stronger because I believe families are the bedrock of society. We build strong societies in the walls of our own home.

  2. In an ideal world….. I’d love it if both my hubby and I could work from home. We both work in newspapers and can actually see a point in the future where it will be more economical for companies to have their employees work from home. With homes already setup with laptops and wifi, it’s not out of the question. How far into the future, I don’t know. But I’m waiting for that day….. 🙂

  3. Jacinda says:

    Hi Helena,

    So glad to read an article like this. I am currently a stay-at-home mum with my first baby who is a boy of 7 1/2 months. My partner is an apprentice chef who works atleast 40 hours a week, day and night. I feel like I never get to see him and my parents can only rarely babysit so it makes me feel very unsupported and bored and sometimes I don’t know how to cope. I adore my son, but sometimes the lack of freedom and change in my life makes me feel like I begin to resent him and I don’t like it. I know my partner also misses us and feels guilty that I am often very unhappy.

    I like your ideas of having both parents stay at home, but I know my partner wants to be a chef and I am studying to be a teacher. Anyway, this article has given me hope because it makes me realise that maybe we can both work/study part time and stay home. Why does work have to be full time?

    I think that it is not always easy to find a job which can allow you to work from home and maybe it’s impossible for all parents in society to work at home, but what if society changed so that instead of one parent working full-time and one staying at home, both work part-time (hopefully doing what fulfills them careerwise) and stay at home part-time as well. Technically it should still be the same amount of work time provided to the community. Do you think society could ever evolve in the future to allow for this?

    Please feel free to email me a reply, I’d love to hear from you. =)

  4. I’m a father who, along with my wife, has always stayed at home with our 23 month old son. I was fortunate enough to inherit a small trust fund in my mid 30’s which enabled us both leaving work to do this. My wife and I consciously waited for this money before having children, knowing it would give us this opportunity to be two, full time, hands on parents.

    First of all, I know of NO ONE in our same situation…be it personally or online that I’ve read about. I dedicate my full days to parenting our son, and I think this has only made things negligibly easier on my wife than it is for other full time moms. Our son gets two parents all day. We both go to the park and on play dates. Daddy makes silly faces while mommy spoons the food. Mommy washes baby’s hair while daddy holds the shower head. We end each day exhausted, but this is how we envisioned it and wanted it.

    It’s hard to have perspective or to compare our son to other toddlers as we’re just too close and emotionally attached. Our son is definitely more outgoing than his peers. More ‘flirty’ with the other mothers at Gymboree; the most eager one to talk to the fireman or play with the older kids. His confidence and outgoing-ness attract unusual attention and makes people take notice in public and amongst our friends.

    On the negative side, our son a lot more dependent than most of his peers. He expects helping hands to be there going up the jungle gym bars or down a steep grassy hill, so is behind his peers physically and is less physically daring. We are also constantly battling the ‘spoiled brat’ syndrome where our son always expects to be the center of attention and throws a fit when he feels the world doesn’t revolve around him. We separate ourselves purposefully from him throughout the day so he learns independent, self directed play and self sufficiency which other children learn as a matter of necessity. We’re working on not creating a life long self-centeredness in him.

    One of the drawbacks to our two full time parent commitment is that we can only ever have one child. Biologically, we waited until our late 30’s to conceive. We feel ‘too old’ to go through this again. Financially, we wouldn’t be able to do this again, and to give one child comparatively so much more than we could give a second would really feel too wrong.

    Will our son be emotionally and developmentally superior to his day-cared or mommy-at-home-only siblings? Only time will tell…or maybe we’ll never have the answer. But we sacrificed having the 5,000 sq.ft home or the Rolls Royce to embark on this experiment. That dream of the two of us living in our little flat in Paris won’t be happening, but it feels every day like it will all be worth it. We had a chance that very few people get and we used our good fortune to hopefully do the best possible thing for the life of the little person we love most.

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