The Downside to Being a Stay at Home Dad

Sad Dad

Earlier this week I touched upon the positives of being out of work and raising a 2-year-old.  Now it’s time for the negatives.  So, if you will, please follow me on a trip toward the Dark Side.

Let’s get started.

Negative Development #1:  The Pressure of Expectations

When you’re at work eight hours a day, you’re expected to do your job during that time.  Naturally.  When you’re out of work, however?  Well, you’re expected to do other things.  Like raise your child in a proper manner, for instance.  But that’s not enough when you’re a stay at home parent.  When you’re at home, you’re also expected to maintain that home too.  After all, you don’t want your upstanding, moneymaking wife to come home to poop on the floor.

So, what expectations are there for me now?  Well, keeping poop off the floor, for one.  But I’m also expected to keep the fridge stocked, vacuum the floors, clean the cat box, do the laundry, run to the pharmacy, take the kid to the doctor’s, etc.

Now, let me make one thing crystal clear:  My wife isn’t pushing any of this on me.  At least not aggressively.  She may nudge me here and there, but these are expectations I mostly heap on myself.  And that’s where the negative aspect of this development comes in.  It’s not that I’m unhappy going to the store to buy diapers and milk.  It’s that I pressure myself to not come off as a complete bum.

Negative Development #2:  No More Excuses

So why do I feel this pressure?  Let me give you an (ironic) example.  There’s a tire with low pressure on our car.  I know this because the dashboard displays a strange symbol when this happens.  It’s been like this a few weeks now and I haven’t done anything about it.  I don’t know which tire it is, I don’t know how low the pressure is—although they do all admittedly look okay with the naked eye—and I realize it wouldn’t take very much time at all to fix.

Yet I haven’t done it.

The other day my wife and I were driving in to the city when she made a passing mention of needing to fix the tire pressure.  What followed was a pregnant and awkward pause.  We both knew that I was in the best position to fix it and that I had had plenty of time to get the job done.  So I jokingly remarked, “Well, I haven’t had the free time.”  Oh, ha ha and ha.  Very funny, slacker.

What I’m getting at here is that I no longer have any excuses for being lazy.  If I shirk any household duties, I don’t have anywhere to hide.  I had the time to do it and didn’t.  When I had a job I could always excuse these instances as being a product of not having the time.

Unfortunately, those days are over.

Negative Development #3:  Nowhere to Go (At Least Not Now)

I’m starting to go a little stir crazy.  I just don’t have a lot of options for getting out of the house anymore.  You see, I live in Massachusetts and it is pretty cold and nasty outside.  Has been for what seems like forever.  I also am not in a position to spend a lot of money, being without a job and all.  Say what you will about work, but at least it got me out and about on a regular basis.  Now, however?  There just aren’t a lot of available options.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s perform a rundown:

  • The Library:  It’s free, a means to get new books for my daughter, and a destination for other children.  These factors make this an ideal destination for me, which is great.  But I’m starting to exhaust it, frankly.  There’s only so many times you can go to the library before boredom starts to set in (and not only for me).
  • The Yard:  Stepping outside the door and just playing in the front or back yard is always an option.  A free and easy one too!  But with foot-high walls of dirty, hard-as-concrete snow everywhere, it’s not particularly pleasant to do right now.  It also doesn’t really help with the Overlook Hotel/snowbound feeling either.  Staying on the property isn’t exactly “getting out” you know.
  • The Park:  I am lucky that there are two playgrounds and one park in very close proximity to my house.  Unfortunately, for the same reasons cited for not spending time in the yard, they are mostly unavailable right now.  Springtime can’t come fast enough.
  • The Store:  I could always go to a store or the mall to get out of house, even if I’m not planning on buying anything.  But taking Audrey to a store, no matter the type, is a risky proposition.  I’ve chased her through store aisles before.  She squeals with delight as she stays out of my reach and I’m finding myself apologizing to all the other shoppers.  It’s not fun.  There’s the whole money issue too.  Sigh.
  • A Restaurant:  I could always take Audrey out for lunch.  There are lots of great places to eat in town, actually.  But this option runs into that whole money thing again, and taking her out to a restaurant can be a fairly stressful endeavor at times.  The last time I took her out, for instance, she grabbed a slice of pizza and smeared it all over her face.  I don’t respond well to that, so most of the time it’s best left avoided.  Unless my wife is around.
  • A Museum:  I should use this option more often, actually.  There are a lot of great ones in my area.  But, once again, we’re looking at the money issue.  And, keeping a kid in line at a museum can be crazy stressful too, as described in detail here.  So…yeah.

There are other options that I’d like to explore, but Audrey is too young for them.  I can’t take her to a skating rink yet, or even the Plaster Fun Time right down the street.  What I really need to find is a stereotypical group of housewives who meet up, let their kids run around together, and drink wine, smoke butts, and complain about their unappreciative spouses together.  Now that sounds fun.

Negative Development #4:  Daytime TV

Oh God, it’s even worse than you can imagine.  During the day there’s The Price is Right, and everything else.  Hell, I’ve got Rocky Balboa on the boob tube right now.  It’s that bad.  Oh sure, sometimes something good will come on—Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, basically anything with Kurt Russell really—but those moments are few and far between.

And then there are the commercials.  Daytime TV commercials are certainly NOT targeted toward thirtysomething males.  No, they’re for old people and women.  Mostly old people.  All day long there are ads for low male testosterone, leak-proof undergarments, and, of course, personal mobility devices.  Hell, I’ve even started to sing the Hoveround song at home.

I’m not proud of that.

Negative Development #5:  Snacks Snacks Snacks

What else is there to say?  Snacks!  Too many snacks!

Negative Development #6:  What Day is it Again?

Seriously, I really don’t know.

Negative Development #7:  I’m Damn Tired

As sapped as I was after a day of dealing with customers, I am far more tired after a day with Audrey.  That kid has a bottomless pit of energy and it’s hard for this creaky old body to keep up.  I can do it in bursts, but I certainly can’t sustain it for long.  Sometimes I’ll just lie on the floor and let her crawl all over me.  “Get up, Daddy!” she’ll say.  “Daddy needs to rest now, honey.”  She’ll then grab my hand, start pulling on it, and reply with, “Daddy, GET UP!”

Sigh.  In case you ever wondered why the title of my blog is “Waiting for Momma”, this is the reason.  Daddies need their rest.

Stay at home ones especially.


6 thoughts on “The Downside to Being a Stay at Home Dad

  1. Not sure if this would help you here Kent but here it goes. Putting air in your tires would help with your tires wearing out more evenly and make your car safer but not necessarily make that annoying light on your dash go away. See, what happens is that all your tires have a sensor inside the pressure valve that tells your computer when your tires need air which in turn lets you know via this annoying light on your dash. The problem comes in that some cars require this sensor to be reset. For almost all cars resetting the sensor means taking the tire off the rim as it has to be done from the inside (thank you car manufacturers for taking something so easy as putting air in our tires away from us… but I digress). This will cost you roughly $30 per tire and since you don’t know which tire it is you should plan on spending $120 (the computer is laughing at you) as this involves taking the tire off the rim, using the tip of a screwdriver to push the reset button on the sensor, putting the tire back on the rim, re-balance and remount. Sorry for the science but maybe next time you could say “but honey, I braved the harsh conditions and put air in the tires yet the light won’t go away, we could spend $120 (per my mechanic friend) or just live with the light on the dash.”
    Hope this helps

  2. Hey I hear I am right there with you. I found an inexpensive gym that has child care for 2 hours and let me tell you that time is awesome to just clear my head and re-energize myself. And I started to make a habit of buying groceries 1 day at a time so I can go do something. Hang in there. Once it gets spring and summer time it gets a whole lot better.

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