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Monday, February 19, 2007


At The End Of The Day

I love being a stay-at-home dad, but there are a couple of things I envy about working dads...

Most obviously, working dads are lucky to have the adult interaction every day, even if it is work-related conversation. Sometimes I just end up talking to myself so I can stay in practice.

The thing I most envy, however, is your "end of the day quality time".... Not to say that I don't have quality time with my kids. I do... Tons of it. But it sometimes tends to get lost in the chaos of a long day.

Working dads get to have a concentrated quality time in the evening. For you, the joy of seeing your children gives you a huge boost to overcome work-related exhaustion. You get that second wind, happy to be away from the workplace and back with your family. And you give your focus to your kids for a few hours, not minding that they are dragging out the bedtime rituals just so they can spend a little more time with you.

It's a little different for a stay-at-home dad. I don't get a second wind. And as bedtime rolls around I've had my kids pretty much in my face for twelve solid hours. It's even more extreme because I homeschool my son. So, by 8 o'clock my attititude is sort of "I've had enough" while the working dad's is "I can't get enough."

I have to practice a lot of patience with my young son and daughter at bedtime. They don't understand that I'm tired of wiping noses and reading stories. They don't spend the whole day focused on me, so they don't really need a break from daddy. Even though it's bedtime, their little brains are still thinking up curious questions to ask me, like "What's the wildest country on Earth?"

When they finally fall asleep it almost feels like I've been given a special little gift each night of my very own free time, to do whatever I want. That feeling lasts about a second as I remember all the daily chores that still need to be done.

Soon I'm falling asleep and looking forward to the morning when I'm fresh and ready to be with my kids all day again. It never gets old... At least not until the end of the day.


Anonymous Dan said...

I must admit having to go to work does provide a bit of contrast to being at home, i'm sure i appreciate my kids all the more for it.

still envy your position though

4:05 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

I hear ya ... living in the Land of No Second Winds. If I'm lucky, though, sometimes I get a second wind on the weekend.

7:22 AM  
Blogger novaks8 said...

I have been a SAHM for almost 20 years and just started working part-time and I love the adult interaction.

It is a juggling act though with a 16,13,8,6 and 3 year old still at home!

7:39 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Mac said...

There really is very limited "down" time for the full time parent. Even the occassional "sick day" is not the same because your kids still need you to be up and about. But, Oh how fortunate you are ... and one day they will rise up and call you blessed.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Chrisitne said...

You really captured the feeling all of us SAH's feel at the end of the day. Thanks for putting that feeling into words.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous HoorayForSaturday said...

I've been a stay at home dad for three years now and totally agree with everything you just said in this post. Nail on the head.
My problem is that I'm a night owl and cherish my quiet time so much that I don't sleep much at night. I've kind of programmed myself that a good nights sleep is 5 hours.
Glad to hear I'm not alone on your thoughts.

10:29 PM  
Blogger dennis said...

adult conversations?

have you beeen to an office recently?

I gave up on adult conversations when the cubicle rats at my last office job ranted endlessly about how 'Jerry Mcguire' was the best movie ever made.

I'll take the Doodlehoops and Dora any day!

7:04 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Oh, I know that feeling when you close the door to their room and it's like you're letting out one huge breath that you've been holding in all day. I wouldn't change it for the world, but yeah. I know just what you mean.

1:14 PM  
Blogger HLiza said...

I guess you're right..we working parents have the freedom to mingle with colleagus, run away from that 'mummy' or 'daddy' tag for a while and be ourselves during daytime..and the night are for the kids. Ironically i always feel guilty as my time with the kids is so limited, I always feel they would be better off with me all the time..and I envy the SAHM and SAHD so much. Looks like both situations have their good and bad. I still think you're a great dad for being able to do that and sacrifice the 'adult freedom' just for the sake of your family. Keep it up, Phil..just remember, at the end of the day..the kids are so blessed to have all your love and attention.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous brettdl said...

As a working dad, I have to say the "quality time" with my kids is so short it hurts sometimes. And I'm already losing touch with their buys little lives.

12:40 PM  
Blogger boyhowdy said...

I think some of this can depend on the kids. I teach, so I'm home before four, but as weekends (and my wife) remind me, my almost-two and four-and-some have already spent their "best" energy by then. Yes, the bedtime ritual would be wonderful, concentrated time with the kids, if it were not for the fact that my kids are more screamy than snuggly by then.

Maybe it'll change as they do. Maybe not. All I know is...

1. last summer -- a time of no work for daddy -- I got their best hours, and their energy spun off much more consistently throughout the day, as did mine.

2. When I come home, being with the kids for their LESS good hours is worth it both for them and for me, and because it provides time for my wife to have a break, because she REALLY needs it.

It's easy to idealize the grass on the other side. For all of us.

(Oh, and the workday providing adult conversation? Not when you're a middle school teacher, man. Other than my planning time, which I need pretty solo, I'm with 20 13 year olds all day...)

7:48 AM  

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