Excitement and fear. These are two emotions I feel right now. It’s partly a middle age thing but also a stay-at-home dad thing. My kids are growing up and getting to a point where I can plan for the future and, career wise, do something entirely different with my life. This is both exciting and a tiny bit terrifying.
The question is, what should I do? What can I do? What am I qualified to do after a decade at home?
Am I looking to earn serious money? Am I actually looking for another career or a job? Crucially, am I looking to work full-time or part-time? So many questions!
I didn’t really expect my life to go off in the direction(s) it has done. I never thought I’d leave the workforce and become a stay at home dad. I also didn’t appreciate that it was quite such a radical thing to do (not my opinion, but others have told me it is radical).
Okay, so quick clarification on that point. I haven’t called myself a stay at home dad for some time. I’m more comfortable with the term main carer.
What’s my problem with being called a stay at home dad? Well, since my kids have been at school, I have been very active as a content creator and blogger. I have combined this work with school runs, childcare and all that goes with it. The ‘stay at home’ label just didn’t quite seem right. Main carer is a more fitting description of my status.
If I look back over the past decade, I transitioned from stay at home dad to main carer dad when Izzy, our youngest child, started school a few years ago . I sense another transition is on the way because Izzy will start high school in a couple of years. To me, that seems like a good timeframe to retrain, upskill and make plans for the future.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. While I have no intention of giving up this blog, when Izzy is at secondary school, it will give me a chance to explore other options.
The fact I recently passed GCSE maths, correcting a wrong from my school days, opens up various possibilities for me. I didn’t sit the exam with a particular career-focused aim in mind, but now I have the qualification I’ve been looking around and come to appreciate that not having GCSE maths was both life and career-limiting. I maybe didn’t realise it, but I have undoubtedly missed out on various job opportunities because of my failure to obtain GCSE maths when at school.
My poor children have to tolerate regular lectures from me about this. They are frequently told maths and English GCSEs are vital and they will not be allowed to leave school unless and until they have passed them both!
I also have to face the reality that my children are slowly but surely becoming less reliant on me. An empty nest is a possibility within the next ten years. I’d be foolish not to prepare for it and have something in place to fill the void of school runs, after school clubs, preparing meals, constantly tidying and ensuring everyone has PE kit and school uniform.
I’m not the sort of person who can take life easy. I don’t want to slide into becoming a full-time, semi-retired homemaker. Some people would be happy with that, but it’s not for me. I figure I have another 20 or maybe even 30 years of employability left. I want to make a difference in that time and do something constructive and positive.
The question of what to do when the kids have grown up is a dilemma that women have long faced. As it’s becoming more socially acceptable for dads to take on the role of the main caregiving parent, increasing numbers of men will face this dilemma too (no need to get carried away, it may be more socially acceptable for men to be caregivers, but only tiny numbers of men are in my position).
I have been asked many a time what I think men need to keep in mind when thinking of becoming a stay at home dad. I always feel like I’m supposed to crack a joke about changing nappies. In fact, I’ve always said that men, just like women, need to think about two things:
- What they want to do when their children have left home and
- They need to think about their pension contributions.
I have long given both issues a lot of thought. I’m now in a position to take action. I know I’m a few years away from actually making any major changes to my life, but decisions are being made and the preparations are already underway. Wish me luck.