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What are some of the most common problems we have to watch out for as stay-at-home dads? Here are the ones I have experienced and is currently experiencing since 2017:
1. Worrying About Finances
I will start with the obvious one. It seems we all have a never-ending battle with worry — especially when it comes to our finances. But financial distress for stay-at-home dads (SAHD) is a level higher. It’s because we have an extra limited time, opportunity, and energy to engage in a business or job.
We should already be happy if we can get 4 hours of uninterrupted work time daily.
Unsolicited advice: Lean toward jobs that will pay you based on results and not with time. — The best if you can find ways to make money passively. On the other hand, prune out unnecessary expenses and simplify your living.
I wrote two articles you might find beneficial:
- How much do stay-at-home dads make? — My actual numbers. It is an essay on more or less how much a SAHD can make in a year. It also includes a list of work we can do to earn money at home.
- Assets and liabilities management: Our simple plan to financial freedom. Here is an article where I shared how we climb our way out of debt. I wrote how building our assets and simplifying our lives can turn our financial tide around.
According to helpguide.org,
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
Not because we are at home means we are more relaxed. It is the opposite. When you work outside, there is a clear line between the office as a place to work and home as a place to rest. That is why the mere thought of going home excites us after we finished our shift. But when you became a stay-at-home parent, those lines get blurred out.
When do you work? And when do you shut off? Being a stay-at-home dad is a 24/7 job.
Unsolicited advice: You have to establish a healthy schedule for you and your family.
Visit this link if you wish to know how my schedule goes — A stay-at-home dad schedule: What do we exactly do all day?
3. Feeling of Hopelessness
Did we work our way through college for this? Didn’t we burn the midnight oil, so we can build our careers and achieve our dreams? What happened? Why am I holding a broom now instead of pen signing contracts? Why am I in the bathroom brushing the toilet and not in a conference room conducting a meeting?
I never understood the power of hope until I got into the pit of hopelessness. Life is exciting when we are in our twenties. There is so much to anticipate:
Who is going to be my wife?
Will my baby look like me?
What career will I have?
But now the cards are opened, and you will find yourself asking: now what?
Hopelessness is a terrible feeling. It is a fight for meaning and purpose in life. It is a struggle to find something that will get us excited. With God’s grace, I am glad I am over with that phase. It was a period I never want to experience again.
Unsolicited advice: More than prayer, creating a visual dream board will help you a lot. Pin all the places you want to go, things you want to buy, and achievements you want to accomplish. Also include verses in the Bible that gives you hope.
Pro-tip: Put in your calendar where you want to go two years from now. For me and Lalaine, it is Disneyland and Universal Studios, Japan — September 4 to 11, 2023.
Yes, we do a lot of things, but over time, it becomes too repetitive. It is like watching the same movie or listening to the same music over and over again. You cannot help but to get sick and tired of it one day.
Activity does not mean we are not susceptible to boredom. As described by WebMD,
Boredom is an emotion or signal that lets you know that you are doing something that doesn’t give you satisfaction.
What the statement mean is we can be busy and bored at the same time.
What are the signs of boredom?
- There is a lack or no interest in any activities.
- Unable to remain interested for long periods.
- We could not rest or relax.
- There is no feeling of excitement.
- It is difficult for us to stay motivated.
Yet, boredom is not the problem per se. The danger is where it can lead us to.
Research shows people who are always bored are at risk of alcoholism, and drug abuse. It can also lead to eating disorders, gambling, and pornography addiction.
Unsolicited advice: Get yourself engage in a hobby. And then find a group of people with similar interests to keep you motivated.
I love writing in general, but my current hobby is blogging. I enrolled in an online class called Project 24 by Income School to help me build a successful website. But more than that, it kept me engaged and excited to accomplish every task they have in their roadmap.
5. Stressing about What Others Think About You
One of the earliest struggles I had when I became a stay-at-home dad was how to answer the question, “What do you do?” Nowadays, it is usual for old friends to ask one another what they do for a living.
I could simply answer, “I am a stay-at-home dad.” But no, my answer is usually, “I am a stay-at-home dad with some online businesses and properties for rent. I had two other businesses before, but sadly it didn’t work. Yada yada yada…”
Why do I have to explain myself? How come I find it hard to answer such a simple question?
I know I am not the only one. Some of my friends could relate when I opened up about this topic with them.
Is it because we worry about what people would think of us? Or maybe because we do not want to feel defeated? — This type of cross-examination often becomes an arena where you size up each other.
Or lastly, is it possible that we could be struggling with identity crisis?
I do not know.
Professionals and business owners often do not have problems with this question. Doctors, lawyers, architects, and such can answer it without a sweat. But for us SAHD, the “What do you do?” question will always make us feel a little uncomfortable.
Unsolicited advice: We should embrace our role as stay-at-home fathers. Do not mind what others think. We could be the most successful person in the universe, and people will still find something to say about us.
6. Lack Of Resources and People To Talk To
The thing about being a stay-at-home dad is you have to learn it on the fly. There are not many resources to teach you and not many people who can relate to you.
I became a stay-at-home dad pre-pandemic. The mental struggle of being at home is not something people can easily relate to during that time. Even my wife could not do anything but pray for me whenever I am in the middle of a panic attack.
I went to several counselors many times. But I never found a single dad who says he understands what I am going through. I have to learn how to navigate on my own with God’s guidance.
The good news is when the pandemic strikes, I am already equipped. In a way, I can empathize and encourage people who are mentally affected by the lockdowns.
Unsolicited advice: Pour out everything to your wife even it may seem to be senseless. Pray for wisdom. Be open to seek and receive help whenever available.
I shared my mental struggle in this post: Dealing with anxiety.
7. LIMITED Opportunity for Career Development
I am unsure if it will benefit your resume if you put stay-at-home dad as one of your job experiences.
It is a concern not particularly applicable to me since I have no plans of working outside. My wife and I have already talked about it. We both agreed to go all-in in our online businesses and investment portfolio. But for SAHDs who have plans to apply for work in the future, this can be problematic.
Education, experiences, and age are significant factors to secure a decent position. You may lose years of credential-building opportunities when you tie yourself at home.
Unsolicited advice: You have to take the extra mile to find ways to build your credentials at home. Look for 100% remote work or enroll in professional courses with certificates.
The Learning Dad Blog is an affiliate of Coursera. It offers unlimited access to 3,000+ courses, Specializations, and Professional Certificates. Follow this link to see the offer: Coursera Plus.
Bonus: Finding Focus at Work
It is awkward to say there is a bonus problem. But I have already hit published and told myself how come I had forgotten the battle I have to face each day.
It is not easy for stay-at-home dads to find their focus for work. People will misinterpret our visibility as availability. Since they see us each day, most people will think we aren’t doing anything with our lives. Our children will always want us to play with them. Our wives may need help with this or that. Friends or family may see us as their first option whenever they need favors.
We have to face the reality that only a handful of people will understand us. Most of them will think we are only watching Netflix or ESPN all day.
Unsolicited Advice: Be transparent with your time. Set a boundary by telling your children and wife when it is your time for undisturbed work. It is best if you have a space in the house where you can lock the door.
As for friends and family, we have to learn how to say “No.” — And how to say it nicely.
I hope this post does not deter you from becoming a stay-at-home dad.
Consider the list above as a heads-up to help you make better decisions for your family. I will not encourage nor discourage anyone from being a stay-at-home parent. Each family has its unique needs.
But despite the hardships, either way, let us be the best dads for our family.
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Thank you for reading!