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11 Things NOT to say to a Stay at Home PARENT

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By Al Ferguson

Al Ferguson is the CEO and founder of The Dadsnet.

Published on 06/07/2017

I’ve been a stay at home dad for a little over a year now. It has been, without a doubt, the best decision I could have possibly made. Watching my dear son grow up, develop and become the incredible boy that he is, has been the greatest honour I will ever achieve in my lifetime.

And it’s really only just begun!

Being a stay at home parent is also the most challenging things I’ve ever done.

I know that I am incredibly lucky; many parents wish they could stay at home to raise their children, but predominantly for financial reasons, they can’t.

Being a stay at home dad is wonderful. Each and every day is different but is always full of fun, laughter and love. It doesn’t come without its frustrations though, perhaps none more so than those ridiculous things people say to you when you tell them you’re a stay at home parent. For all those stay at home parents reading this, you can feel my pain with this, I’m sure. And for all those who aren’t, add these to your “do not say out loud” list!

Things NOT to say to a Stay at Home Parent

  1. It must be nice not having a job

I do have a job. Parenting. All day, every day.  I don’t have a boss ( other than Ted ) but raising a child is a job. I work hard at it. Every day. 7 days a week. 24 hours a day. I work hard. Just without the salary. or the sick days.

2. You must have so much free time

Whoever says this clearly has never had a child. Or seen a child, even from a distance. They don’t stop moving, talking, playing, fiddling, demanding, eating, poking, asking! Free time? That has to be a joke! Sometimes, they’ll add, “Do you get to put your feet up when he naps?” My usual response is, “Yes, yes I do. And I have a magical, fairy that cleans the house, prepares dinner for the family, washes all our clothes, hangs them out to dry, does the food shop and puts the Peppa Pig playset away for the 16th time!”

No. Stay at home parents have ZERO free time. In fact, I’m certain that I had more free time when I worked. At least I got a coffee and a lunch break!

3. I wish I could lounge around all day!

Don’t we all!

4. Your partner must have done very well for themselves if you don’t need the extra income.

Yeah, or we couldn’t afford the childcare. And decided to prioritise time with our children over money, scrimping and saving to make this possible because we think it’s what’s best for our family.

5. What do you do all day?

Hmmmmmm. Let me think. I parent. I do my utmost to keep Ted safe, clean-ish, fed, watered and happy. I play shop-keepers, I pretend to drink a cup of tea prepared by Ted, I try vehemently to drink a real cup of tea (instead, end up playing hide and seek with it!), I paint pictures and prevent the carpet from being painted at the same time, I kiss poorly’s to make them better, I make things out of play dough, I answer the question, “WHY” a billion times. I dress up, I wipe noses, I wipe bums.

I am a cook, a teacher, a cleaner, a scientist, a gardener, a chauffeur, a nurse and a parent.

I do a hell of a lot, each day. And then I repeat it all the next day. And the day after that.

6. How do you survive without money?

I don’t. I am always a little shocked when people ask about our personal financial situation. I would never dream of asking anyone how much money they earn or how they organise their finances in their home.

But, for the record, I’m in a fairly unique position where both Jen and I can just about scrape by from running The Dad Network. We made the decision very early on that time with Ted was far more important than any amount of money. Luxury holidays, nice cars, new clothes, none of that matters to us. Watching Ted grow provides us with a far greater happiness than any material gain ever could. That’s our personal choice.

7. Since you don’t work could you look after my kids too? Walk my dog? Pick up my parcel?

No! I’ll be busy taking care of my own children, which takes up all my time!


8. Don’t you miss adult conversation?

A tricky one, really. Many stay at home parents will say yes. And that’s reasonable and understandable; being an at home parent can be isolating and you can go stir crazy with just the monotone noise of a baby’s cry all day long.

But I went out to baby groups and to the park, found other parents and chatted to them. I also speak to Ted, a lot. And he has a lot to offer. He often has me in stitches and often asks me questions that require effort to answer; so we find out together whether it be via Google or trial and error.

I seek out adult conversation when I need it, but I’m also more than satisfied talking to Ted about the wonders of the world around him.

(And sometimes a conversation with a child is far less irritating than one with an adult!)

9. I bet you watch Jeremy Kyle all day!

For those who don’t know, Jeremy Kyle is a daytime TV show over here in the UK. So the person asking me this is implying that I spend my day watching TV. They couldn’t be further from the truth, as you’ve gathered if you’ve read this far through the article.

And besides, if I was going to watch any daytime TV, it’d be Come Dine With Me!

10. Will you ever go back to a real job?

I have a real job. The very important job of raising my children.

11. Aren’t you bored?

My life as a stay at home parent is anything but boring. I don’t have time to be bored!

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  1. Adam Bain

    I am a stay at home Dad of 2 (18months boy & 3yrs girl). The ones that get me are when your out & someone says “is it Mums day off” which is insulting on 2 levels, or “Mum must have dressed you/done your hair”. But my personal fave, because I was a graphic designer I get asked a lot, “why I don’t try working from home”. Like I have the time to fit that in.

    • James Mcdevitt

      I am the main carer of a 2 yo girl and now a 10 wo boy, my wife works mon – fri and i work weekends. The two comments that always boil my blood is ‘are you babysitting today? No im the dad!’ Or like the odd time i have forgot to do something like slice grapes for snack and i hear ‘don’t worry you will soon get used to it.’ I am used to it i just forgot to slice grapes i still have them packed in a tub not a big deal!
      Work stuff that brothers me is asking me to work other shifts extra because I am off, time and time again i have to explain im not off. Where mums in my work never get the same sort of hassile to justify their shifts.
      Sorry turned into a bit of a rant but kind of a sore point as i feel still in this day its not overly accepted that a dad can be stay at home/main carer.

  2. Fred

    My least favourite thing said to me while I cared for our children was “ oh, is it your day to have them?”
    Like a father without his wife present, obviously means they are separated.

  3. JT

    Being relatively new to being a stay at home dad with my 9 month old girl it has been difficult hearing some of the naive and oftentimes invasive questions about our decision (personal finances, etc) from not only strangers but also close friends and family. It seems to blow their minds that I don’t have a “real” job, and how we can make things work financially. Even when people don’t say anything at all it just takes a look from them when they hear I am a stay at home dad to know exactly what they are thinking in their heads.

    It’s all about priorities and to choose family over money is a sacrifice. A stay at home dad ought to be commended for that in my book. With that being said, the best part about being a stay at home dad is that I don’t need that recognition from society to feel good about my role just those moments I get with my wonderful daughter that no one will ever be able to take away.

  4. Andrew

    Have to say reading this there so much truth in this ive had a lot ot deal with over the last few months my parnter and i cant be together as she has a history of neglect on children which i was unaware of so has litterally left me home holding the baby shes 5 months now and ive been doing it solo since she came home with me at 3 days old i do everything and more for my lil one shes my 3rd child so unlike some ive got that extra know how which is a bonus but no child is the same ive had people come upto me in the street and say the same sort of things like ohh is your daddy giving mummy a rest ……..i say no actually shes not in her life ive done it all since she was 3 days old solo they then scoot off with there tail between there legs its pathetic to think we live in a world where simple things are misjudged i for one feel for all parents because we dont do this because its easy we do this because its hard and to have the affection from a daughter or son makes this world a lil better for everyone

  5. Rhys32

    So much admiration to everyone whos a stay at home parent. I only do once a week and it is hectic. Awesome and fun and sooo valued. But from before breakfast to after bedtime it’s one of the busiest days of my week! Credit to you all ????

  6. Kevin Mills

    The answers in article all seem very defensive and a indirect bashing of the non parents.

    Having a child is a choice, your choice. You can’t automatically assign blame to people who choose not to have kids or can’t have kids.

    Not all of us are stupid enough to ask these insensitive questions either.

  7. Simon H

    Coming from nearly seven years experience as a full time stay-at-home parent, one thing I would say is that, like most things in life, parenting is as hard or as easy as you make it. I have five children ranging from a ten year old down to 15 month twins, and while my days are pretty full on, I would never say it is hard. I enjoy it too much to call it hard. We have our routines and our patterns and we get on with it… Breakfast, dressing, school run(s), toddler groups, lunch, chores or fun in the park, school run(s), dinner, bath, bed, rinse and repeat.

  8. Alexia

    I am a stay at home (working at home) parent to a 5 yo, 3 yo and 10 mos! What i found most overwhelming and still learning to handle ….is the relatives and close family that assume that I must be enjoying myself so much and send my poor husband to work all hours! But it all comes down to no judgement rule thay most people find so difficult to follow! Mind your own business you can’t even begin to imagine how important it is for the family to have one of the two staying at home!

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