A Few Reasons to Stay Home

So, why do you do it? What have you gotten out of it? You have given up a job that allowed you to talk to grown ups all day and get paid for it. Now, you are immersed in Toddler Speak and dirty laundry. When people ask you what in the heck were you thinking, what do you say?

Here is my answer:

I get to work in my underwear. My first job every weekday is getting my two older kids ready for school. I am not a morning person so I do not wake early, shower, change and get all spiffy and happy before I drag them out of bed. I drag myself to their room, then drag them downstairs. After they are off to school, I have to feed my two younger kids and clean up from the morning preparations.

To that point, I had not had time to tidy myself and change into clothes. I wear my robe, of course. I don’t want to shock the neighbors when I take the trash out. By the time I get into the shower, I usually have spent time dressing the twins, feeding them, reading to them, cleaning up after them, maybe doing a puzzle or coloring. Soon, they get involved in something on their own that allows me to sneak away and shower. Some days, that time comes late in the afternoon, but almost always before I make dinner.

When I was teaching high school, they expected me to be clean and dressed before I even arrived at work.

Another advantage being a SAHD is shaving. My kids rarely notice when my beard has gotten unruly. They don’t give me memos about personal hygiene when I go a day or two extra before trimming my facial hair. It is important to note that I have worn a beard for the last sixteen years of my life mostly for the convenience of not needing to shave every day. When I was a professional, I couldn’t go more than an extra day without taking a sharp piece of metal and scraping against my skin. Now, I have a week between playdates. That and church on Sunday and shaving becomes a bi-weekly occurrence.

Not only are there lower expectations of staying clean and well-kempt, a Stay-At-Home-Parent is required to get dirty. In some ways, this is very unpleasant. Cleaning up after a sick child is just gross. Scrubbing a dirty bathroom floor is menial. Getting elbow deep in a huge bowl of meatloaf for a potluck is...well, that’s a lot of fun! Gong outside after a good rainfall to play in the puddles and get covered in mud reminds me of what is truly important. Getting covered in sand at the beach, covered in leaves in the autumn, getting covered in dirt pretty much anytime there is dirt around. These are all reasons why I love my job.

Showering and shaving can be done anytime—any time the twins let me have the time to do it. Being a part of their childhood can only be done while they are still in it, and that only lasts an instant. I think I’d rather stay dirty for a little while longer.

©2008, Mark Phillips

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 Women, it's true, make human beings, but only men can make men. - Margaret Mead

Mark Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance writer. Along with raising his four children, he is developing a franchise called “The Vacuum IS a Power Tool.” It is designed to help SAHDs maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching certificates in English, public speaking, and psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After six years as a high school English teacher and Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. or E-Mail

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