Today, Greg and I will begin a weekly blog series about being a “Stay at Home Family”. Greg is a Stay at Home Dad (SAHD) to our two children and two dogs. Becky’s dad had a stint as a SAHD when she was a baby (before he became a pastor) and then her mom was a SAHM until she was a senior in High School. Greg’s family also had some time with stay at home parenting, so this “way of life” is pretty much our norm. We hope you enjoy this special insight into our daily lives.
In October 2008, I became a single mother. My parents stayed with my roommate, Arianna, and I for the first two weeks and oh, were they a blessing! I had four weeks left in maternity leave to find daycare that would accommodate my 10 plus hour days and be somewhere along my car pool route. Two weeks before I was to go back to work, I toured the one and only daycare center that Arianna would ever call hers. Feeling like it was an “ok” place, I enrolled her and set Mallory and Greg up as emergency contacts.
Dropping Arianna off at daycare wasn’t near as bad as I expected. I was a single mom, after all, so it was in a way a welcome “break”. The pain was knowing we would be there before they opened and I was being charged extra to pick her up just before they closed (unless Mallory got a lucky break and beat me home, surprising me with a text that the ‘lil one was safe and sound at home. Essentially, I was working to pay for the house, the car, the daycare, soy formula, and a little bit of food for myself. Times were not easy.
The routine worked for about three weeks, and then I got the call. “Your child is sick and we need you to come get her so that she doesn’t spread her illness to other kids”, I was told. There I was, 53 miles away from daycare and teaching my students at Green Sea. I texted Mallory, and she was able to get Arianna after securing my car from the carpool drop off spot. I fretted, but knew she was in good hands. At recess, I got a text from Mallory saying she was on her way, we needed to get her to a doctor right away and that they were able to see her. I didn’t understand how my kid who was so healthy that morning could be so sick just hours later. When I saw her, I understood. She looked dreadful and kept vomiting all over her car seat. I was in tears, but so glad I had Mallory with me to calm my crazy.
Turns out, she contracted RSV from another baby whose mother refused to come to daycare to pick up her sick son. I kid you not. This is what I was told when I called daycare to say I couldn’t take her back until she was better, I didn’t know what to do, so we took turns at a few unpaid days from work then I sent her back with plans to un-enroll her days later when we flew back to Pittsburgh. My parents would be keeping her for 6 weeks until I could finish up the semester and move my things to PA.
During the time she spent with my parents, it was obvious I wouldn’t be using daycare again. Arianna, my dad, and I quickly fell into a routine as I started my job and he took her to church meetings and office hours. We were officially an at home care family.
When Greg and I decided that he’d move up with us and we’d get married, he took an evening job and stayed home with her. The two had a crazy bond from the beginning, but this strengthened it even more. Nine months later, we bought our first house about 30 minutes away and so he quit his job. The money I was saving on travel made up for his pay, so we decided to officially become a stay at home family. Instead of me being a SAHM, Greg would be a SAHD. When I got pregnant with ‘lil Man, I asked Greg if he wanted to handle two or if we should explore daycare. We remembered the crazy times of dealing with daycare before, and agreed he’d keep his job as SAHD.
Almost three years into this deal, I have to say, he rocks at what he does. The kids love spending time with him, and it’s comforting to know exactly how our kids are being raised. When the youngest goes to kindergarten, this arrangement is over and Greg will be back in the work force. We try not to think about that but know it’s a reality not far down the road.
For now, this is what works for us. Daycare is costly, and there’s no sense in one of us working just to fund daycare. People probably wonder how we do it, but you don’t know how many times we sit back and wonder how families DON’T do this! We’ll be bringing you some of the ups and downs of being a “stay at home family” throughout this weekly series. Hopefully we’ll be able to connect with other families like us and get your thoughts on the society of stay at home parents.