How to Be Supportive To a Stay-At-Home Spouse

2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to be supportive to a stay-at-home dad — but you may also want to check out this Week in the Life of a Working Mom for her thoughts on supporting her partner, whose main job is staying home with their child. 

How can you be supportive of a stay-at-home dad or mom? We’ve talked about how to prepare to be a SAHM, but not about how to support your stay at home spouse, so let’s discuss.  Here’s Reader L’s question:

I want to find ways to encourage and be supportive of my husband, who is a stay at home dad to our six-month-old son for two months now. I’m a second year associate at a mid-sized firm.

Our game plan has always been for him to stay at home with our kids and he was very enthusiastic about it. I know he loves our son, but he is having a tough time being “on” all day with the baby.

I’ve suggested that we find a sitter or a day care we can use a few times a week, but he gets very defensive about that. I’m doing everything I can to help him with the baby and keeping the house clean.

I want to believe that it will get better with time, but I just don’t know. I’d love to hear what others’ experiences have been.

Great question, and I’ll be fascinated to hear what the readers say.  Although I’m more of a WAHM (work at home mom) than a SAHM (since I’m only without childcare/daddy for about 12 hours a week), here are a few thoughts of my own for any stay-at-home parent:

– Recognize that loving your child has nothing to do with loving childcare.  Before I had a kiddo, my idea of being a SAH parent involved playing games, reading books, and gazing lovingly into your child’s perfect little eyes. The reality is that childcare is hard work, particularly in the early years, involving a lot of cleanup (yes, diapers, but also thrown food, dumped toy bins, etc) and mind-numbing repetition (watching him fill and dump the bucket of water AGAIN/reading the same book for the third time in twenty minutes/etc), all interspersed with moments of terror (why are you trying to do a somersault from the windowsill?!?).  Not everyone is cut out for childcare, and it isn’t defeat to admit that and adjust accordingly (either by just resetting mental expectations or finding outside childcare).

– Make opportunities for adult conversation.  Finding friends to have playdates with is essential!  Because Reader L’s son is too young to really “play with” other babies, this is more about finding other stay at home parents with whom your husband gets along.  (You can still be friends with parents who work at home or work outside the home, obviously, but for scheduling availability purposes it’s really best if he finds other stay-at-home parents to befriend.)  When you get home at night, he may want to talk (so. much. to. say!) or he may just need to go lie down and take 10-15 minutes to himself.  Every person is different, and you two need to communicate to figure out how best to support him.

– Schedule, schedule, schedule.  The nap schedule is key to give both daddy and baby a rest throughout the day (and no one enjoys a baby/toddler in meltdown mode), but other regularly scheduled activities are also immensely helpful in planning your days.  At six months, a music class or a daddy/baby yoga class might be a good idea; your local library may also offer story time.  (At this point, classes are more for your husband’s benefit than the baby’s, so spend accordingly.)  As your son gets a bit older he may enjoy a music class or a tumbling class.  Here in NYC almost every neighborhood has a parenting listserv and/or a Facebook group where you can find out about new classes; there are also big chains like Gymboree to look into.

Hire a housekeeper Hiring a housekeeper can be a big help — mentally he’s home all day so he wants to live in a nice space, and having a baby means you suddenly have a lot more mess (how did he manage to fling applesauce so it landed on the inside of the lampshade?).  Being able to enjoy a clean space without having to spend hours cleaning it yourself is a big deal.

– Allow time for personal/professional time.  Yes, babies sleep about 16 hours a day, but it’s wrong to assume that the parent will still have energy to get any work done during those exact hours.  Having a regular babysitter come in for a few hours a week can give your husband a chance to schedule lunch with his old friends/colleagues, to keep an eye on his career/industry, or even just to go out and get a haircut or go to the gym.  Having a regularly scheduled babysitter for date night is also important!

Readers, do any of you have husbands, wives, or partners who are stay at home parents?  How do you support them, particularly in making that transition from worker bee to full-time parent?

Picture via Stencil.

For some working parents, it makes sense to have the man become a stay-at-home dad. How can you support your partner as a SAHD? Great tips from the readers with general advice on how to be supportive of any stay-at-home parent.


  1. Step 1: Earn the money that enables your family’s survival.
    Step 2: Repeat Step 1.

    • Totally missing the point! Money doesn’t bring happiness, well-adjusted children, or a healthy marriage. Not having any causes a lot of problems, but this post is about how to support someone staying at home to care for children.

      • I understand what the post is about. I’m saying, she is already supporting her spouse—literally. He should be grateful that someone is providing for him, period. If he’s ambivalent about that (and he should be, imo) he should at least be smart enough to share his angst with anyone EXCEPT his meal ticket. I’m having a hard time accepting that someone who leeches off their spouse would have the nerve to complain about it. It might not be a fun life, but it’s nothing compared to the pressure of being the breadwinner.

        • Anonymous :

          this is a joke, right?

        • We are not talking about one spouse “leeching” off another. We’re talking about partners who have decided that it makes the most sense for them to have one partner that works and one that stays at home.

          You obviously have some serious issues about this topic.

        • Right, I am so sure that the full-time job of caring for a child has no pressure whatsoever and is totally comparable to leeching off of someone.

        • Leeching off their spouse? Ouch. He’s taking care of their kid. I’m not exactly sure how that constitutes leeching and using her as a meal ticket.

          I admit I have shot down my husband’s inquiries about being a SAHD, but his salary isn’t much more than the cost of putting two kids in daycare. If he stayed home to take care of our hypothetical kids, it would hardly be leeching and it would save me the hassle of having to take kids to daycare/pediatrician since all the good ones are near my office, not his.

        • I’m just going to assume this is not a serious reply. But on the off chance that it is— WTF? He is keeping their child alive every day.

        • I sense a great deal of sexism directed in the dad’s direction in this reply. News flash: men don’t have to be the breadwinners any more. Nor do they have to grovel in gratefulness because they’re being “provided for.” Marriages are a partnership. And staying home doesn’t make a guy less of a man.

        • I completely agree! I used to be a nanny for four kids (including one 12 month old) and I would gladly trade my law job for being completely supported to care for the kids!! Being a lawyer is a hundred times more stressful and 100 times more miserable.

        • Yowza.

          Your comment would maybe qualify as tough love IF there was no childcare involved. I’m currently unemployed due to having moved to a different country to join my spouse, and it’s tough with no friends and no job. I do things I hate like ironing (husband and self used to outsource it) because I’m leeching and accept that I need to do what I can to minimize expenditure.

          But looking after a child all day would be HARD. And time-consuming. Stay-at-home parents of young children aren’t leeches and deserve both respect and sympathy from the breadwinner.

          • I assume that Quinn is not married or a parent, as her comment demonstrates little insight into either of these things.

  2. Anonymous :

    I think you could approach the babysitter or PT daycare as “PTO”. I mean regular, paid, employees get vacation time (or at least they should), so tell him to think of this as a break so he doesn’t burn out. In his mind he may be thinking “omg I can’t even take care of a baby full time if I get a babysitter, I can’t do anything” but in reality we know that everyone needs a break from childcare. I would also try to split childcare 50/50 when you get home from work. Treat his SAHD position like it’s a paying job. If he was going to work FT every day you would both come home and conceivably both help out with cleaning up, cooking dinner, bathtime, putting baby to bed, etc… If it’s really not working out you can suggest that he goes back to work. There’s nothing wrong with him going to work and your child going into daycare if it’s the best for his sanity.

  3. I hope my husband to be (whoever he is) will be suportive of ME staying at home to care for our children. I know that I will be a GREAT mom b/c I am already a great Aunt. Dawn alway’s like’s it when I come by, even if I do NOT bring cupcake’s. Rosa has forbid me to bring them b/c she want’s Dawn to grow up slim, and Rosa spends to much time on her I PAD already, Ed says.

    I wanted to tell the HIVE that Margie made Potatoe salad, but b/c it was so hot out, we did NOT eat it b/c it was sitting on the deck for 1/2 hour while we ate other thing’s. Mom did NOT want to have diarea, and she has a VERY sensitive stomach. Dad did NOT like the look’s of it b/c there were some black thing’s in there, even tho Margie said it was Pepper. The manageing partner ate it and he did NOT have any after effect’s, and he is here today, barkeing orders to Lynn to do thing’s. Frank is mad that he was NOT invited to the party, but it was not suposed to be anyone else. The manageing partner is haveing a firm party for cleint’s later, and he is welcome to come then.

    The manageing partner said I could bring Myrna, b/c I think he want’s me to get there company in as a cleint. They do Financeaial Stuff, so I am NOT sure I can do much of that, other then Loan Agreement’s! YAY!!!!!

  4. For my dh, who is a SAHD not 100% by choice, the biggest thing I can do to support him is remind him that his contribution to the family is very valuable & important. We have found that society (at least in our circles) is not always accepting or understanding of a SAHD, like they are of a SAHM.

    I also try to make sure I’m present in the evenings & not thinking about work or whatever else may have me preoccupied, and I do whatever I can to help with the housework. I’ve been the SAH parent and I know it’s no picnic.

    Supporting a SAH spouse is, in my opinion, much more than just bringing home the bacon.

  5. Baconpancakes :

    I think this is a great question, and I support the PTO mentality towards a babysitter. I have female friends who struggled with the emotional wear of being a SAHM, feeling unproductive and having poor self esteem related to their lack of a career, and they eventually went back to work. But I have to raise an eyebrow and wonder how many working fathers with SAHM’s put so much effort into making their wives feel happier about staying at home to raise their children. Sadly, in my friends’ cases, their husbands tried to be supportive, but simply couldn’t understand why, if their wives were home all day, there would still be laundry to fold when they came home.

  6. Anne Shirley :

    Why is this a problem that needs fixing? He’s doing a hard job, and finding it hard. Let him figure it out on his own a bit- especially if he’s been defensive about your ideas so far.

    • Nothing suggests she’s looking at it as a problem to fix. It sounds like she just wants to know how to be a better wife (not in a “she’s a bad wife now and needs to be better” way, but just in an “I appreciate my husband and want to be the best wife I can for him” way). Nothing wrong with trying to be a better spouse.

    • goldribbons :

      This was my reaction as well. If you feel your SAH spouse needs “support” or “encouragement” you’re basically saying that they’re not doing enough, or that they’re not good enough at what they’re doing. I fully support the idea of PTO for SAH parents but this reader’s question sounds more like she’s just anxious that she isn’t involved.

    • Really? I really think she’s just trying to be supportive but isn’t sure what the best way to do it is. If I were a SAHM and having a really hard time with it, I would hope my spouse would reach out and try to help me. I would be crushed if he just said “you’ll figure it out on your own.”

      • Anne Shirley :

        But she suggested hiring help, and he reacted defensively. Which to me suggests that he’d rather cope on his own for a while and she’s the one pushing to make life a barrel of roses instead of letting the hard stuff be hard.

        • I wonder how much the gender dynamic comes into play here. I know a lot of moms, especially first-time moms, who have a certain idea of how housekeeping and baby-raising should be done, and they freak out if anything is not up to their really high expectations.

          Flip it around and ask how you would feel if you had started a new job in a very male-dominated field two months ago and you were struggling with some aspects of it and (no matter how practical a suggestion this was) your husband suggested hiring someone to do your work for you a couple of afternoons a week. I know I would feel like this was just confirmation that I couldn’t hack it.

          The actual truth is very, very few first time parents (male or female) are really perfect at being “on” with a four to six month old all the time. When I was on maternity leave, I felt like since I wasn’t “working” for those 3 months, I should at least be keeping the house clean, doing the laundry, and occasionally cooking. Nevermind that 1) I’ve never been good at that shit even without a baby; 2) I was recovering from a difficult delivery and having a rough time adjusting to having a baby; and 3) I’m such a perfectionist that I was trying to do everything perfectly and failing miserably.

          I think the best way to be supportive is to listen to what he has to say and then discuss the situation. Is he feeling a lot of pressure to be “on” all the time? Figure out what are really the most important things and times to be interactive with the baby, and then what times aren’t as important. At six months old, babies are starting to get more able to do their own thing for short periods of time. If he’s trying to make lunch, plunk baby in the high chair with a couple of toys (preferably ones that suction cup or can be tied or clipped to the tray so he’s not fetching them from the floor every 15 seconds) or some age appropriate finger food to explore and just check in every now and then. It’s 2 in the afternoon and baby’s usual 90 minute nap lasted 20, leaving a tired Dad without his usual 90 minute nap? A six month old isn’t mobile yet, so put him on a blanket on the floor in front of the couch with some favorite toys and “rest your eyes” for a minute or two at a time.

          Also, when it comes to housekeeping, figure out what things are absolutely essential and what things are just your personal preference. Then, don’t say a word unless something absolutely essential hasn’t gotten done. He left a bunch of bottles in the sink with half an ounce of milk/formula in each and they are curdling? Gah!!!! He shoved all the blocks in one bin instead of separating the wooden alphabet blocks from the Megablocks? Resist the urge to separate them. Resist, I say!

          And don’t say a word if he does things differently than you would do, unless it actually causes a problem. So, he washes the baby’s clothes but just tosses all the clothes into their respective drawers instead of folding them and matching the socks up in pairs? Shut your face. He washes the baby’s clothes on hot and all the whites are now a dingy greenish color and everything shrunk? Go ahead and suggest that he can avoid both problems by washing everything on cold.

    • Is this that much different from the question of how do I support my biglaw associate partner who works all the time? Everyone needs support and encouragement at times when performing a hard job.

    • I did get a whiff of this too, but there’s really not enough information. DH was a SAHD when our girls were younger, and is now a self-employed WAHD who remains the childcare first responder. The best advice is communicate, communicate, communicate. But, don’t fall into the trap of trying to solve. I have no idea if the writer has this issue, but a lot of times, moms over-claim the childcare expert mantle, and don’t credit their husband’s often very different ways of doing things and handling the stresses of FT parenting. Be a safe place for him to express his frustrations, but if, say, he doesn’t want to join a SAHD group, no biggie. Kat’s point about not liking childcare being different from not liking kids is a great mantra, and doesn’t get too far into the advice/problem-solving territory. Also, keep in mind how quickly routines change when they’re this age, so what’s a chore one month isn’t an issue at all any more the next. Second piece of advice: you’re doing the housework??? Hire a cleaner, ASAP. Third piece: sex, as much as you both can.

  7. I would imagine that for men who stay home there is the additional issue of it being outside of the traditional norm, even if the norm is slowly starting to change. This may make it very difficult for him to find parents who can relate to spend time with, esp. depending on where you live. This may not be very PC to say, but I would think it’s probably very important to make him feel “like a man,” for lack of a better term, whether it’s through extra compliments or just being careful to not call him things like “househusband” or “” (or not – he may love it … I’m just making a general point here).

  8. Lordy knows I could not stay home with my 17 month old, without regular breaks in the week, so my thoughts go out to him (and you, trying to navigate this). I really think an hour or two of childcare a few times a week would be essential to my survival. Can he join a gym with childcare? Hook up with other stay at home dads in your neighborhood? It is going to get less boring, as the baby starts moving around and interacting more and can go to classes, etc. But long term, I think he needs to get over his objection to help. A baby sitter twice a week for 2 hours will go a long way towards maintaining his sanity. There should not be any shame in that (and you can tell him that my hubby stayed home for a week with our six month old, when I went back to work, and was truly astonished at how hard it was….he was wrecked after every day). You are also going to need some coverage for busy weeks, when you can’t get home for bedtime. There is “staying at home” and then there is “staying at home when your spouse is a biglaw associate” and I think the latter requires even more support than the usual.

  9. The PTO analogy is a really good one. When I was on maternity leave, it also helped me so much when my husband would take over baby duty right when he got home for a few minutes. By that point, I was so touched out and frazzled, I needed time to myself (at least at work you can shut your door or use the bathroom in relative peace).

  10. DH has been a SAHD for 2 years now. Things I have found:

    1) He needs breaks. Grandma taking the kids for an overnight, or even just for a few hours makes a huge difference. Even half day preschool 2 days a week is a welcome break. This becomes especially important when I am in crunch mode and can’t help much even when I’m home.

    2) Communication. Any heads up I can give him on likely being home late or going out of town. He understands that’s not always possible, but it helps him a ton if he can plan. He also asks that I make every effort to be home in time for dinner, and I make it most nights. Even if I have to jump back on the computer an hour later (and of course my phone is with me at all times), being home from 6:30-8 when the kids are getting tired is really helpful for him.

    3) Outings. Everyone gets stir crazy sitting at home all day. Even just running errands to get everyone out of the house for a bit is helpful.

    4) We pay someone to clean the house 2x a month and pay for some yard work. Even though he’s home all day, it’s hard for him to get outside to do yard work (don’t want kids running into the street), and our views of a clean house just don’t match up, so professional help was needed.

    5) Staying connected. He says one of the hardest parts of not working anymore is the human interaction. It is important to have adult time. So, as recommended above, play dates and other get togethers with adults are really important. Sometimes we meet for lunch. DH has also been able to do a small amount of work (tutoring, for example) that keeps him connected to his former career as a teacher. This will be helpful in case he ever does decide to go back to work from both a networking and resume perspective. It also keeps him connected.

    Everyone always asks DH how he likes being a SAHD. He says it is the hardest job he’s ever had, but he’s so glad he’s doing it.

  11. TJ – I’m looking for a lightweight, either canvas or nylon briefcase for my DH to take to work. His workplace is very casual, but every once in awhile he needs to be in business casual and I want it to be appropriate for both. He doesn’t carry a laptop – just some snacks and papers and random stuff. Does anyone have any recommendations?

  12. While the babe is in that period when they’re sleeping less (than a newborn) but engaged enough in the world that they want active attention but still too young to be particularly fun for long periods of time, it’s REALLY hard to be a stay-home parent. I originally thought I might like to be a SAHM, but at 8 months into mat leave gave up and asked to come back to work early.

    Things I appreciated my spouse doing while I was on leave:
    -Maintaining a 50% contribution to housework and cooking
    -Alternating sleep-ins on the weekend
    -Making sure I got out one evening a week for “me” time (I took classes towards my MA, or went to the gym)
    -Weekly dinner dates – get a sitter for a couple of hours and have some grownup time

    Other things I did to keep my sanity:
    -Regular visits to the drop-in sessions at the local Early Years Centre (free programs for families in Ontario) – great way to meet other local parents
    -Swimming lessons (for the kid), or drop-in play time at the community centre
    -Long walks (we live in a really walkable neighborhood) and trips to the park (great place to meet other SAH parents/home caregivers)
    -“Get out of town Tuesdays”, where I’d do an out-of-town visit to my parents or grandparents or other extended family on Tuesday afternoons (only works for places that are easily babyproofed or while the babe is still pretty slow)
    -Weekly trips to the farmer’s market
    -Playdates – as was noted above, it’s less for the kid than the parent at this age

    Finding the budget for a housekeeper is a great idea, and menu-planning was huge for me both as a stay-home parent and when both of us were back at work.

    There’s no shame in saying that you’re just not cut out for full-time parenting or in asking for help. It’s HARD. It doesn’t sound like it’s the issue for the OP, but it’s also important to consider that baby blues and PPD do affect new dads as well as moms, and it can take months to come on.

  13. Working Mother :

    He has to be interested in making the best of the situation or

    There isn’t much you can do, other than to create an atmosphere where you treat his contributions as equal to your own. If you don’t really believe that, it will be a problem. If your husband doesn’t really believe that, it will be a problem.

    I think some honesty both to and from your spouse are needed. Acknowledge that it is difficult. Offer to expend some money for him to have time off, but know that men are people, and people are prideful. It may be hard for him to agree to spend money on a babysitter just so he can get out of the house more.

    • In House Lobbyist :

      My husband has been doing this for 3 years now and we are expecting a second in a few weeks. I think it takes a period of adjustment for anyone and especially men. It took my husband awhile to not feel weird about it even though it was his choice. It is a lot less common for men to stay home and other stay at home moms were the worst about it. They wouldn’t let him join their park playground activities or participate in their stroller rides. He know has several moms through the library or through preschool that he meets up with regularly. He has one dad play group friend now too.

      Also, we had a nanny 2 days a week until our son was a year old and then he started preschool 2 days a week. I think having some help through the week is a huge help to the stay at home parent. I also become 100% as soon as I get home – not necessarily because my husband wants to get away but because my son wants momma to do everything for him in the evenings.

      Outings are key. My husband and son go everywhere – coffee shops, pool, gym, library, parks, the mall. I am the organizer so I try to find all the exhibits/events for the coming weeks that they can go to. It helps them both be social and have a change of scenery. At 6 months they did lots of story times and lunches out, a music class and swimming lessons.

      And the biggest thing I try to do is not complain about the fact that the house may still be crazy and we may eat grilled cheese and soup for dinner some nights because it is hard work staying home and I don’t know if I could do it. I have had to let go of a lot of ideas on how things “should be” and let my husband make the day to day decisions.

  14. Wondering :

    Hi Corporette — this is a total tangent, but can anyone give me some quick tips on salary negotiation?

    I just got off the phone with my new boss and the figure she quoted at me was substantially lower than I was expecting. She said it was fine to think it over and get back to her, so I figure I’ll call tomorrow at the same time. I don’t have as much experience as I would like, and there’s a chance I can work towards more certification during the year. But I assumed I would be paid hourly, and it turns out it’s a lump sum/stipend for the year. I’m not sure if I misheard her during the interview or if there was actual miscommunication, but it’s much lower than I’d hoped. I still plan to take the job, but I’d like to see if I can bump it up a t least a little. I know I have the skills to be excellent/valuable to the organization.

    (I’m teaching part-time, if that helps. But general tips are great too.)

  15. A friend of mine is going through this right now – she quit her job, had a kid, and discovered the SAHM route is much more difficult than she was expecting. One thing that might help enormously – do you have any family friends who might be open to a “daddy’s helper” sort of arrangement? In my friend’s case, it was the college-age daughter of a friend’s who comes over for 4-5 hours a couple times a week. That way she can talk to an adult, shower, read, and run quick errands without worrying being uncomfortable about the baby being with a stranger. Those baby and me classes are also super great once you find one with a group of people you mesh with (and it might not be the first one you try – my friend tried four, I think, before finding one with other parents who didn’t drive her crazy!).

  16. Nordies Lover :

    Along these same lines, does anyone have advice for supporting a friend who is a SAHM? I don’t have kids and have little experience with them, so I feel like I’m always saying/doing the wrong thing. I want to maintain my friendship with her, but I never know if she wants to have a break from her kid or if she wants to do things with him because it’s hard to get a sitter. If it informs your answer, they are on a very tight budget.

    • Just ask her. I have some friends who prefer that I come over to their house to hang out. Doesn’t cost them anything and no need to pack up the baby/toddler. Then I have other friends who are dying for a nightafternoon out and would love to either come to my house for some cheap takeout, or go sit somewhere and have a glass of wine without their kid. Now that I know their preferences, I plan accordingly.

  17. lawyer mom of four :

    I have four kids. The oldest is now 19 and the youngest is 11. Their dad has been the at home, full time, on the ground parent the whole time. Throughout, he has worked part time around everyone’s schedules and we always had about ten hours/week of college student nanny coverage. I’ve always had a big job–first at a firm and for the past 15 years in house.

    Here are a few of my thoughts:
    1. Don’t think you could do it better because you’re the mom–let whatever your husband’s parenting gifts are shine through. And if this is hard, don’t feel bad–I’m continuing to work on this and I’ve been at it for almost twenty years.
    2. Don’t worry about a schedule if your spouse isn’t. Same with planned activities. My kids spent many hours doing fascinating things that I never in the world would have done–watching planes land at the airport, observing construction projects in the neighborhood, riding in the Burley, going places around town.
    3. Some of the stress you’re both feeling is just the adjustment to having a baby and getting used to be parents. I remember when our oldest was a baby–we couldn’t figure out when to eat lunch, or have a shower, much less do the housework or the laundry. Give yourself a break.
    4. For us, a weekly housecleaner has been a valuable luxury. At one point I stopped coloring my hair so we could afford it. Among other things it forced us to pick up. And it diffused a lot of conflict.
    5. Be ready to take over when you get home. It is exhausting being home with little kids, and being home with a baby can be downright mind-numbing. Sometimes talking about it helps. Sometimes not.
    6. Sounds like your spouse, like mine, might not be a real baby person. My husband tolerated (in an appropriate, nurturing way) babyhood, found toddlers much more appealing but really loves teenagers. Thank goodness someone does!
    Good luck. Sounds like you guys are doing a great job.

    • Kudos to you and the trust in your relationship. If it were me I would assume that my husband had schtupped a couple of college student nannies over the years.

      • See I don’t understand this attitude. Why would I marry someone that I thought might schtup the nanny? Why would I marry someone I didn’t trust?

  18. My husband has been at home part-time for 12 years, full time for 10. It worked best for us when we had the young kids in day care from 11-5 even though he was home. For one year, he had our third daughter full-time while the other two were in day care part-time, then when our oldest went to kindergarten the other two were in part-time day care.

    To generalize, men who take primary child care responsibilities don’t form a village the same way that women do. While there has been some coordination with SAHM’s, and he has some SAHD friends, he did not form playgroups, carpools or babysitting swaps the way SAHM’s often do, and did not view “mommy and me” classes as good social time for him. Having part-time day care gave the girls a comfortable place to go and be kids and gave him space to run errands, do chores, get dinner ready etc. Definitely the best option for us.

  19. See, this is my worst nightmare. You work and earn bread and you come home and are still supposed to *manage* your SAH husband. Wondering again how much of the second shift is self inflicted…

    • Anonymama :

      No, you work and earn bread and come home and also contribute to your relationship with your spouse and your relationship with your child. It should be this way for both men and women, particularly during those difficult first years of parenting, or whenever one spouse is struggling with a difficult period. Isn’t that the point of a good marriage, to support someone in good times and bad?

  20. Just another example of a woman bending over backwards to please her man! Men get enough favours in North America – it’s disappointing that he needs to be “supported” for doing something women do all across the globe every blooming day PLUS they hold down a job.

  21. Based on my experience staying home with our kids for their first year, I think the most important thing my husband did was share the following attitude with me: during the day (whatever hours he had to be at the office), we were both working, and his work day did not end when he left the office– instead, from that point on, we were both working at taking care of the kids and the house. Sounds like you are already doing this (and you are probably working long hours in the office), but I think it’s really important. It also helped on tough days when he just took over on the kid front when he got home while I did whatever else needed doing around the house.

  22. Anastasia :

    Well isn’t this timely? My husband will be using his FMLA leave starting next week since mine is gone and I’m heading back to work a little sooner than I’m ready to hand my baby off to a stranger. I’ll be following everyone else’s responses with interest, but for my two cents, here’s what I appreciated (or would have) over the last 3 months:
    Kat’s suggestions to hire a housekeeper and find a parents’ group to meet up with (loved mine.., commiserating and adult conversation were invaluable) are great. We don’t have a housekeeper yet, but I will be hiring one soon. I could barely keep an acceptable level of cleanliness, and I care about that a lot more than DH… I know he won’t try as hard and I don’t want to start fights by nagging, nor will I have time/energy to do it myself. Throwing some money at the problem so it doesn’t strain my sanity or marriage is well worth it.

    Keep your evenings as free as possible. I think I handed the baby off to my husband as soon as he got out of his work clothes every night and sometimes even before. If he had plans at night (obviously he needs a break from the grind, too, so I can’t begrudge him that) I’d put on a brave face and deal with it, but I. Needed. A. Break. I love my baby, but when he’s fussy and won’t sleep and just expelled some bodily fluid on me for the nth time, I just want to not be around him for a while after dealing with him for 12 hours! If you need to take the scenic route home so you’re mentally ready to take the kid as soon as you walk in the door, do it, but be ready to relieve him as soon as you get home, at least for a half hour or so ( at least).

    Encourage your husband to do thing he enjoys (out of the house is best) on weekends and in the evening. I was exhausted and didn’t feel like leaving half the time, but I always felt a million times better if I got away for a little bit. Along those lines, if your husband suggests an outing, go. Nothing made me more angry than when I’d suggest going somewhere as a family and my husband would want to sit at home and watch TV instead. I totally get that he’s tired too, but it just made me feel like I was trapped in the house with a baby and fun life as I knew it was over.

    Finally, lots of gyms offer babysitting during your workout. Minimum age is usually 3 months, so unfortunately I couldn’t take advantage, but I know my husband’s planning to go several times a week. The price of membership is worth it for the babysitting, alone, I think.

  23. This is really timely, as I’m 4 months pregnant, and my husband will be a SAHD. For us, we’ve looking into groups specifically for dads in NYC. There’s one called the NYC Dads Group, that organizes meet ups of SAH and WAHDs and their kids, and the occasional outing for just the adults. Knowing my husband, he’ll be way more comfortable in this type of group than at a Mommy and Me class where he’s likely to be the only guy.

  24. Happy Dad :

    I am a stay at home dad and love it. Reading all the comments make me laugh. There are a lot of people out there that just don’t accept it as a role for men and it’s hard when you encounter them and see their reaction, even when they try and hide it. I took over the role when my daughter was 6 months and my wife and I would laugh at her always getting asked ‘how many days she was working’ and people asking me ‘have you got the day off today?’ Challenging society’s norms was a difficult for both of us early on.
    Leaving paid employment was difficult, even though it was planned and I was looking forward to taking care of my daughter. Like it or not, your work gives you an identity. It took 3 to 6 months before i got over losing that and stopped caring what other people thought of me as a SAHD. Strangely, it was helpful to know that John Lennon was a SAHD with his second son, I’ve heard others Dad’s say this as well. Unfortunately most people think of Michael Keaton rather than John Lennon when SAHD are talked about.
    I searched hard in my city and eventually found a Dad’s group which has been very important to me, as others have mentioned adult company is crucial. I went to my wife’s mothers group once, but it just didn’t feel right. With all my friends working, it’s great to talk nonsense to the guys at Dad’s group and we’ve done things socially with and without the kids. Without full time work it’s nice to belong to something.
    We have also done what others have suggested and had a babysitter once a fortnight so that my wife and I can go out for dinner, as giving time to that relationship is obviously important. Talking over dinner when we’re out is very different to chatting at home.
    We value each others roles in our family and constantly remind each other. My wife is focused on her career and her progression up the corporate ladder, she acknowledges that this would not be possible without the knowledge that I am at home providing great care for her daughter and running the household. I am grateful to my wife that she loves her work and gets paid well enough so that I can be at home with my daughter, watching her grow, guiding her and just having fun with her. We are doing what is best for everyone our family, it has been our choice and we are very thankful to be in this position. When my patience are being tested by my daughter I just remind myself how lucky I am to be in this position.