Finding the Right Setup as a Part-Time Work at Home Dad

This is the fifth post in our Liberating Working Dads Series.

LWM_DadsBack in the days before children, my wife and I came to an agreement. Whenever we had kids, she would be the one who would work and I would be the one who stayed home with the kids. It just made financial sense, as she earns about 2.5 times what I made.

Eventually she got pregnant and the whole thing started to play out. My job at the time was a terrible place to work, so the prospect of quitting and staying at home was not something I minded in the least. Then, in early March, my decision was made for me. Due to a budget crisis (aka lack of money at a very small company), I was let go by the company (that left them with a whopping 2 employees, down from a peak of 40ish). So there it was, no need to quit, I was officially an at home parent. Never mind that our kid wasn’t born yet, we were about to move and I got us MOVED. I’m talking everything unpacked and put in place in 1 weeks time. I got stuff DONE!

In July 2010, our first son was born. My stay at home journey was delayed for 3 months while my wife was on maternity leave, but eventually she went back to work and I was off to figure out my way.

What I found, however, was the I missed some of the things about work. Not the crazy bosses putting ridiculous time lines  for crazy/unneeded projects, but more the part where something tangible was created by ME. Where I could see the results of my actions immediately and know that I had accomplished something.

At first it wasn’t hard to make time. Isaac was taking 3-4 hour naps during the day and I could get work done. But then the naps shortened and the awake periods lengthened, and I had to find a way to optimize my time. So here’s what I’ve discovered helps a lot:

1)     Get dressed for the day. I don’t put on khakis or jeans with a button up, but I get out of my pajamas and into some shorts and a decent shirt. This just puts a validation in my mind that’s I’m going to get stuff done. Note that this works for things unrelated to work, it makes me more likely to clean up the house, run errands, etc.

2)     Set a schedule. For a guy who designs websites and edits audio and other techy things, I don’t do well with an online schedule. I am a pen and paper guy when it comes to that stuff. So I will sit down at night and write out the 10-20 things I want to accomplish the next day. From as simple as “Empty dishwasher” to “Design home page of website”. Sometimes I get really gung ho and will actually break my schedule down into time chunks (that tends to end semi-poorly however).

3)     Pick a spot to do work. I am lucky enough to have a spot in the house that’s designated as “my office”. Granted it’s located in the room that is the playroom for my kids, but that actually means that I can work while they are sleeping or while they’re awake (okay, not so much when they are both awake right now since one is 6 months old, but EVENTUALLY!!!). When I sit down at the desk in my office I know that it’s game on and play time is over.

4)     Don’t take too many assignments at once. Especially as we added a second child to the family, this one is becoming more and more crucial. My wife brings home the main income, and my first job is to take care of the kids. Any income I can bring in on top of hers is gravy. Remembering priorities is key.

But the absolute most important thing for a part time work at home (but mostly stay-at-home) dad is to remember that my wife is gone all day from the kids, so a big part of my job is to make sure when she gets home it’s just kid time for her. I’m not the greatest at it (it’s one of many areas where I am a work in progress), but I try and have the house clean enough not to make her want to clean. And I try to cook 1 or 2 days a week (she’s way better at that than me, so usually I just do the dishes). I know that if I were the one who was gone all the time I’d appreciate it (and, let’s be honest, expect it).

adam-and-boysAdam is a {mostly} stay-at-home dad to two awesome boys, Isaac (2.5) and Elliot (.5). When he’s not trying to keep Isaac from breaking any more bones or Elliot from gnawing through fabric, he runs a small business, LoneStar Multimedia, out of the crevices of his house. He finds peace mainly through playing rugby and working out (thank the Lord for child care at the gym). When baseball season hits he can also be found watching the Dodgers on with both boys, educating them about the greatest game known to mankind.  You can find Adam blogging at Hanging with Dad.



  • MarMat says:

    Thanks for sharing! It resonates a lot.
    My H is not a full SAHD. He’s a consultant and & has more flex time, while I carry the benefits.
    It amazes me how well you guys can adapt and stress less about day to day chores & kids. Congrats on a nice balance.

  • Shannon says:

    I would love to respond to your blog, but I forgot about it when I read that you are teaching your boys the GREATEST GAME KNOWN TO MANKIND!

    Baseball fans for the win!
    Shannon recently posted..Honestly, The Happiest Place on Earth?My Profile

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