Confessions of a work at home dad. How to thicken your skin and enjoy life again.

elephant-820147How did it begin? Why did I choose this type of life? Do people respect a stay-at-home dad or a work at home dad? How do men choose this path? There are trends that show that more men are choosing this option but you are still an outcast, unfortunately. Trying to fit in with the mom groups isn’t much fun at first and they view you as an outcast as well. So being a work at home daddy or a stay-at-home papa has obstacles in your view right from the beginning. Some may say its unnatural for dads to stay home, they’re being lazy and do nothing all day, and they are supposed to be the breadwinner. The problem when men step into this lifestyle is the fact that some people will frown upon it. Basically, they don’t think you’re a man if you’re not supporting your family. Although to me, fixing dinner, doing laundry, cleaning, yard work, running the kids around, and a 1000 other tasks is supporting my family. If anything this is more supportive than making money because you can always make more money. The same sentiment can’t be said for being with your family and creating memories.

How life evolves to thicken your skin.

Now I have moments where my skin appears thin and it bothers me all the stereotypes that are thrown my way. I’ve not had anybody since the beginning say anything derogatory but I can’t help but wonder what they truly think. Anytime somebody is talking about their job whether it be a new job, long hours, or not liking their current career, I clam up because I feel like a square trying to fit into a round hole. Sure I worked at the same place for over 10 years and I understand their problem. I choose not to jump into the conversation because it usually ends with them saying well at least I’m working. They probably sense the awkwardness at that moment and in those seconds I find myself wanting to change their stereotype. I also know they can’t see what I’m working on, how hard I’m working, how often, and what projects I am working on.  I want to have the confidence to tell everyone what I’m doing but I hold back until everything falls into its place. I can handle people judging me because I know my path came out of nowhere and I’m loving it.

Well I would begin by saying that I didn’t actually choose to be Mrs. House Dude. The landscape at my house before included my wife and myself working full-time jobs with two kids. I worked 55 plus hours a week and my wife worked 40. She had the responsibility to do the bulk of the kid work. From meeting teachers, picking them up, and all the other in-between items. I worked in sales so I could be late any night and dinner would wait until I arrived home to the chagrin of my lovely wife. Her career had better perks, benefits, and was more flexible so it worked out well. My job had its ups and downs like any other job does. I would go through phases were I was extremely unhappy and wanted a different path. Then I would go on a roll and have no issues. I just never had a chance to tackle anything else in my life that I always wanted to do. I had ideas for businesses, products, and I could think of new ones daily but I didn’t have time. I would walk in the door between 6:30 to 8:30 each night and after dinner it was wind down time already. Now looking back I can understand why I wasn’t happy. My wife and I were both working hard to make that mighty dollar. The more dollars we made the more we spent. It didn’t matter how much we had it wasn’t enough. So life continued like this until the day I lost my job.

Clouds move to let the light shine in.

I thought I would jump right back into the same line of work but then the clouds opened up and then sun splashed against my face. I thought about it a little longer and decided I should take a step back and examine more options on my plate. I thought we could make some sacrifices on the cash side and give this stay-at-home dad idea a shot. The money we saved on daycare was a good start. Plus, I was a fun dad and my kids liked goofing around with me. This would also give me the opportunity to follow some dreams of mine. The issue there was I didn’t have an immediate idea to get going so I had to brainstorm some ideas. It can be hard to break down what you’re good at and if you can turn that into a business. With that I began my journey of work-from-home dad with my eyes on the prize. The prize at first was to prove the naysayers wrong. My wife didn’t understand how I was using the judging people to motivate myself, but it was true. I never acted disrespectful to any of the doubters I just didn’t let them into my world. People are reluctant to except something strange to them but I didn’t care and I wan’t going to conform to society’s norms.

Reset time: Try to find what you’re looking for and need.

But I want to let you, a stranger, into my world. So no more 9 to 5 and no more day care. This wasn’t a permanent thing just a trial period to begin with. The key for me was to focus on being a house husband while venturing into a new world. I would paint a nice, big smile on my face everyday because this was awesome. My kids loved having me at home versus going to daycare. They enjoyed my meals way more than daycare. They would get home from daycare and be starving. At home they ate like they were storing it in their cheeks like chipmunks. Plus I was able to build my relationship with them and make a stronger bond. The other great component was dinner. I usually made dinner on the weekends and my wife cooked during the week. We always sat at table and ate dinner. They weren’t the healthiest of dinners my wife made but at least we ate at the table and talked about our day. But now with myself cooking from home I had a chance to really step up the meals. I, pat myself on the back, was a better more experimental chef than my better half. There was no stopping the stream of meals and I tried everything.

So now I have to take a quick step back. Before I lost the job I had become heavy. So heavy if you see my driver’s license you will look at me now and laugh. I’m serious everybody does that when I show them. I’m proud of my new look so I don’t mind being chuckled at. But before I was home chef, I had begun exercising. I started slow with jogging not even running and I progressed from almost dying to barely breathing to I can’t do this. Starting a new program at the height of the summer isn’t always the best idea. Especially when you are tying to run at 7 at night and the sun is blazing. But I kept up with the fitness routine and began mixing in different exercises like weight lifting, rollerblading and bike riding with kids, and of course playing tag and hide and seek in the yard. I kept plugging away and I began to talk to friends about exercising. My main question was which will help you lose weight quicker exercising or changing your eating habits? I honestly thought exercising was the way to go. When I was younger I was very active and in good shape but that’s when my metabolism was like a shrew and I could eat anything with no consequences. That time ended when we had our first child and I started building my dad bod. So now I was chipping away at the dad bod. I had exercising under my belt and I was cooking at home but it was time to step up the healthier side.

Counting calories never seemed fun and I remember vividly making jokes about people doing it. Although, now I was going to become a member of the calorie counting community. So I downloaded an app on my phone to start the process and I picked an amount of calories for my daily consumption. Wow, my favorite places with the buffalo wings, bread sticks, nachos, and fries were not very low on the calories. Plus there wasn’t much nutrients coming from them. Ouch, this was not going to be fun. Sure burpees never get easier either but the eating clean and healthy seemed twice as daunting as exercising. But now without the people at work wanting to go to lunch everyday, the potlucks, and the fresh popped popcorn smell wafting into my nostrils everyday, I was able to stick with a new food diet for over three months and I lost 20 lbs.

Now looking back it wasn’t that hard, ha ha!

I was hooked after that but I did fall off the horse quite a bit after those initial few months. I can remember my wife and kids being very supportive of the meals and some were off the deep end. I was experimenting with bean burgers that were too loose, collard greens without bacon or lard, green Macha tea, and cauliflower pizza. The kids stuck it out and they began to love Brussels sprouts which I hated as a kid. I hated onions, peppers, and tomatoes as a kid and now we honestly eat them everyday. I never realized how good zucchini, squash, beans, lentils and tons of other food items that I was never introduced to. So now my family has a good understanding of health and I have to pat my family on the back for being good sports.

Everything was falling into place. The kids, my wife and myself had adopted a new, healthy clean lifestyle and we had become the most active family around. From scootering five hours a day in the driveway, playing sports, or just walking after dinner.  We had become the picturesque family of health and nutrition and I couldn’t have been any prouder of them. Now we still eat pizza here and there, and have burgers and hot dogs, but the times are fewer than ever. The summer weekends are tough when you have a family get-together non-stop, but hey you also have to live your life.

Support from those who matter and finding your tough, never give up house hubby.

How did I make this a reality? One simple answer is my wife. She had a good job, was open to the idea, and was very supportive of my endeavors. I know it can be hard on your spouse too and to the outside world it appears she has a lot on her shoulders. I agree that a special person can only do this. I know if the table was reversed I would not be as strong as my partner. I appreciate everything she has done for me and she continues to help daily. Studies also say a husband not working can put stress on marriages and cause divorces at a lot higher rate than stay-at-home moms. So with all my side projects, ideas, and dreams constantly being talked about I’m positive she can get annoyed. I just make sure to help her with anything she needs too. Our life now is easier, healthier, stronger, and just getting started. By being at home and taking care of all the little things then that leaves more time for fun, family, and faith to see this experiment through with my team.

I make it sound so easy and doable. I don’t want to confuse you it is hard to change everything about your life except for who’s in it. My friends and family still look at me through a lens and I still struggle with what they think. I can’t change what they think nor should I care because I can’t control it. Living this lifestyle has its pitfalls as well. I’m sure some friends are jealous because I sit at home and scratch my butt all day. Or they think it must be nice to have your wife support you while you eat bon bons all week. Some of these doubts are made up in my head too and that is okay. This keep my engine going and finding an outlet is key for me. My outlet is fixing up run down properties, working on health inventions, writing, and of course spending quality time with family. I also strive to have a six pack and not just one in the fridge!

The future is so bright I have to wear shades.

With my health on the rise, several business ideas chugging along, and being able to spend as much time possible with the most important people in my life is my dream come true. You will not always know the outcome, the path, or how hard or easy it will be but why not try. What is the worst that can happen to a person who hasn’t made it to the top of the mountain yet? Having people laugh behind your back and think your not a man. Well guess what they aren’t right unless you think they are! Just like exercising and nutrition you have to start small with easy goals. Then before you know it the spot way off in the distance that you could barely see is becoming easier to see and you’re making new goals to check off. I wish you good luck with achieving your dreams whatever they may be!

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