Number of stay at home dads increasing
“How do you handle a bossy preschooler?”
“Advice on a newborn and a toddler”
“Need advice on night time potty training”
These questions are regular posts on a parent forum website, but believe it or not, it’s not moms clicking away at the computer. These everyday questions posted on Dadstayshome.com are from stay at home dads (SAHD) from around the nation.
According to US Census Bureau, there were an estimated 154,000 stay at home dads in 2010, and the numbers continue to increase. With more women in the workplace than ever, SAHD are becoming more familiar in local play dates and classrooms.
Twelve years ago, Goose Creek dad Brian Davy received odd looks when he first arrived to a play group with his son, Peyton. Seeing a stay at home dad was a rarity at the time and some of the moms wondered why he was there, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Davy and his wife, Valerie, were married 11 years before they decided to have children. Due to his hectic travel schedule with the Navy, neither wanted to have a child while Davy was away. But when Valerie got pregnant he took a desk job.
“We both assumed she’d be the one to stay at home. I wasn’t making as much money as when I was traveling with my previous job. I wanted to go to college on the GI Bill so we decided, I would take night classes part time and take care of Peyton full time,” says Davy, who received his associates degree in computer technology.
As an office manager at a local concrete company, Valerie felt good about the decision. “We both wanted our son to have a stay at home parent if at all possible and it just worked out that he was the one to stay home,” she says. “I had already been working for many years at that point so it didn’t seem too out of the ordinary for me to be going to work. At that time though, we did not know very many—if any—stay at home dads so it was a little more awkward for Brian. I also hated to leave my baby that first day but I was glad that I was leaving him at home with his daddy.”
The Davy’s welcomed their daughter Meg to the world in 2004 and Brian’s duties began to expand. Along with taking care of his son and daughter, he also began taking care of his sister-in-law’s two children, Jamin and Jolie Ward. For them, nothing was routine. “Jamin and Meg are the same age, so when they were in diapers it was like I had twins,” Davy says. “As they’ve all grown older, our routines change with age.”
Often you will see Davy at Westview Primary School helping out Meg’s class or on field trips with Peyton’s class at Marrington Middle School of the Arts. And yes, he cooks, cleans and does the yard work. But he credits Valerie’s organizational skills and her support of their unconventional approach. “It’s a complete role reversal but it’s been a good balance. She’s very structured and organized and I’m the opposite. We’ve always agreed that it has worked out this way for the best and for a reason,” he says.
Valerie will hear the occasional comment but she takes it all in stride. “He is a good stay at home dad because he is a kid at heart. He enjoys our kids and likes to be involved in what they are doing,” she says. “I am a good working Mom because I am dedicated to both my job and what is going on at home. I keep a weekly calendar that helps us all know what it is going on each day.”
But she admits, “We certainly have good days and bad days but I think overall this arrangement has worked really well for us. Our kids seem to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted so we must be doing something right.”
As the kids have gotten older, Brian recently took a job at the airport doing security every weekday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. He’s back home in time to get to the kids’ events and classrooms and picks up where Valerie now has stepped in. She gets the kids up and to school and helps them with their homework at night now that he goes to bed early for his new job.
But even after 12 years, Brian is still the only man in his children’s groups but now he’s just part of the gang. “At first, the moms think you’re out to hit on them or something,” he laughs. “Now when we all go out to lunch, it’s me and 12 moms sitting around a table. It’s become a good joke between us all.”
For new stay at home dad, Chris Hall, spending every moment with his one-year-old son, Jaydon, is a dream come true. When Jaydon was born in April 2011, Chris had an overnight job so his wife, Frances, kept her day job at the Charleston County Library. At night, she would take care of Jaydon while Chris worked.
However in February, he was laid off and turned lemons into lemonade with the help of social media. When Hall started being a full-time stay at home dad, he turned his daily outings into some fun. “On my Facebook page, I started posting multiple photos of Jaydon at locations around town and called it ‘The Roaming Baby’. Every photo was at a unique location with the business name behind him.”
Hall, a social media guru, then created a blog highlighting ‘The Roaming Baby’ called ‘The Adventures of Jaydon and Daddy’ and expanded the content to include posts on what it’s like to be a stay at home dad, father/son trips and play dates. Along with the blog, he created a Facebook Fan Page and a Twitter page, which has more than 300 followers. The blog has already won awards for its content.
“Right now, Frances and I love the fact that one of us is raising him and he’s not with a stranger,” says Hall. “He’s learning more about us, who we are as a family. I take him to the baby garden at the library where he interacts with other kids. I’m the only male there. At first, I got some strange looks but now the moms come up and talk to me about Jaydon.”
Hall eventually will go back to work but right now, he’s basking in the light of being a stay at home dad. “I love it. It’s just amazing how fast he’s growing. I’m a big kid anyway, playing with him, teaching him how to walk and playing with his toys. I just have a great time. He’s such a happy baby. We’re all so thrilled and lucky. ”
To follow along with Jaydon’s adventures, visit http://jaydonanddaddy.com or on Facebook and Twitter.
Ryan Nelson is a freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Ryan_NelsonSC.