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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.

Planning for post stay at home dad life:  A plan on a whiteboard.
Planning for post stay at home dad life: I talk about it a lot, but now the planning has begun.

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:

  1. What they want to do when their children have left home and
  2. 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.  

11 thoughts on “Preparing for post stay at home dad life”

  1. Really interesting read John.
    I’m in a similar position, although don’t have any many years under my belt as you do.

    I suppose I have a shorter “out of work” span so could have more of an advantage.

    I do have an eclectic of skills and qualifications so my options are quite broad. But my question, like yours is “what do I really want to do”.

    P.s. don’t get me started on ‘pensions’.. that’s another discussion all together.

    1. Ah pensions! Yes, touchy subject and one that parents don’t think about enough, especially stay at home parents. The reality is, I may chose to stay in the social media / media / journalism world. But…I am presented with an opportunity to do something completely different. I’d be daft not to consider it, right?

  2. This is a fabulous post John. Like you I have been the main carer for my three and like you my youngest will be at senior school fairly soon.

    And like you, I’m considering my options.

    Interesting times all around.

    If you do start a revolution, give me a call and I will join you!

    1. You would be the first person I’d call Ian because you would be a superb revolutionary! Good luck sorting out your options (wink wink)

  3. Great post and a subject I think many people with be able to relate to.
    While my blog certainly pales into insignificance when compared with yours, the fact is that I’ve been contemplating my “online presence” under the Yorkshire Dad banner for some time. My passion is photography and if I could replace my rather good day-job income with one earned from my passion then I would make that switch in a heartbeat. But, earning for my family comes first and I’m trapped in that cycle for some time yet. But I am working on it as I am sure you with your plans. In a little over 4 years out youngest will move to college and I see that as my target milestone. So, like you, I’m planning to lead a revolution and take control of the planet (or maybe just Yorkshire). Good luck.

    1. The clock is ticking is it Dave? Just another four years and then you start again! And why not? people of our age will probably have to work until we’re 80 or so and so a mid-life career change has to become the norm.

  4. Hi John,
    Don’t underestimate the skills you already possess. You write well, and clearly have knowledge of running websites, social media, podcasting and influencing. All these skills are in demand, and leveraged forge a career, away from your parental commitments.
    Good luck
    Lee (cyber dad blog)

    1. Thanks lee. I wouldn’t rule out staying in the digital world, but I am looking at all options. Anyway, for now and for the next few years little if anything will change. I am simply looking at all options and some qualifications and retraining options qualify you for all manner of careers.

  5. Always great to read other peoples thoughts on this as I will be heading the route myself in a few years.

    When you aren’t in the position of the main care giver you never really consider this kind of decision but once you are in this position, it is very daunting.

    You have a lot of experience under your belt John and a variety of skills, I’m sure whichever path you decide you will be successful.

    Good luck with the decision making John.

    1. You are so right Eddie, when you aren’t the main care giver you don’t really consider this stuff. Thanks for the kids words, I hope whichever path I choose (and digital media is firmly an option) I’ll make a success of it. I will won’t I? Please tell me I will??!!

  6. Hi John – good post. While it’s clear to see the advantages to planning ahead, it still requires lots of discipline to do it. You’re too talented and young to be a ‘semi-retired homemaker’ and it’s clear from your writing that you’re not twiddling your thumbs watching ‘Cash In The Attic’ to fill your time. I imagine you’ll find something interesting to turn your hand to when the time comes.
    And pensions…. sheesh. Don’t get me started,

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