Working moms and stay-at-home dads

A recent article from the New York Times about Wall Street mothers and their stay at home husbands has stirred up a furor in the blogosphere. playground update 1And it makes sense, because anytime an article focuses on people challenging social norms emotions rise. “Women working sixty and eighty hours a week? What about their children?” people lament. Or on the flip side: “Guys staying home? How does he handle it? What about his career?” (Pictured: my guys at the park.)

This story resonated with me. Not because I work on Wall Street, or make a million dollars a year (hah!), but because my husband stays at home with our son. We didn’t do it as a statement against traditional gender roles, but because it was right for our family. My husband worked eighty hours a week at a demanding sales job for nearly ten years. He got paid well, but was understandably burned out. I had a job I liked, making about half of what my husband made, but working much more reasonable hours when not on the road. When we started talking about having a family, we tossed around various options. Both of us keep our jobs. I quit and stay at home. My husband quits to stay home. Eventually we came to the conclusion that it would be ideal if one of us could be the primary caregiver. If you looked at our jobs strictly from a financial standpoint, it would have made more sense for me to quit and for the Home Warrior to keep working. But if you looked at happiness and life satisfaction, it was a no brainer.

We planned for a year, saving money and paying off credit card and car debt. For the last few months we lived only on my salary and banked the Home Warrior’s. We also had to revamp our budget, since our income went down by two-thirds—no more shopping sprees, eating out all the time, or fancy gifts. Luckily, we’ve always tried to live below our means. Our house is modest, with an affordable payment.

It’s not always easy having the responsibility of my family’s future solely on my shoulders. I know sometimes my husband wishes he could contribute more financially, and feels a little awkward being the only dad at the park during the day. People seem surprised when they find out he stays home while I work. Like everyone, we think about the budget when we go to the store.

The Home Warrior is much happier, and the Mini Warrior is thriving. They go on walks, play at the park, take naps, and do other guy stuff. I work at a job that I love and can take pride that I am supporting my family. And really, it would be incredibly difficult to keep a job where I’m on the road half the time if my husband also worked outside the home. We are incredibly lucky that we were able to make this choice. Not trying to be nontraditional, just doing what is best for us.

Readers, what did you think of the article? How do you handle home duties and business travel?


  1. We have the same arrangement and my husband felt awarkard at first. Three years into it and now working dads tell him how jealous they are when he’s out to lunch with both kiddos. Men don’t get the support groups and clubs like women do so it can be isolating. We have a few couple friends he can do play dates with but they spend a lot of time at parks to play with other kids. I couldn’t do my job without our arrangement and it just works for our family.

  2. Hey…whatever works for the two of you. Social Norms are irrelevant if whatever you two are doing is working for you.

  3. Mostly I cannot believe this kind of arrangement is news or is in any way controversial. Sad commentary that it is. Congratulations to you and your family for making such wise decisions and for finding a way to best sort out your priorities.

  4. As a guy I have mixed feeling about it but we have done it on short terms off and on when our kids where younger. Now that they are all grown it would be great to be home while the wife works. Think of all the video games I would finally have time to play or the home improvement projects I would have time to tackle.
    I say whatever works for your family but I do think it’s an advantage to have one stay at home parent.

  5. The Swedish government has more or less created financial incentives for most fathers to take at least some paid parental leave to take care of the kids while the mothers go back to work and/or don’t take out the full parental leave themselves. While it’s still relatively uncommon for the highest-income fathers in Scandinavia to take out the entire period of paid paternity leave, it’s a rather common sight to see fathers hanging out with strollers during the workday in parks around town otherwise. There are still more moms than dads out and about with strollers during the workday hours, but the balance is definitely different than it was even ten years ago.

    I was recently at a Global Entry enrollment center waiting outside while people were doing “interviews” during the government shutdown and it seemed like CBP was familiar with “stay-at-home” dads whose travel is paid for by the moms as they asked the same sort of questions asked of “stay-at-home” moms — questions about what work the other parent does.

  6. Congratulations! I read the NYT article a few days ago but I think your brief post is better. In the end, your family made a vitally important choice based upon what seemed right – FOR YOUR FAMILY. In my view, there is no reasonable option other than doing what is best for your family – as you see it. I’m happy for the three of you and yes, to hell with what unconnected outsiders think about it.

  7. Survey: International business travel comments. Although now retired, when I was active and flying, it often depended who you knew and who you … I’m not making a joke; that really was the case. In the real world I suspect that it most often depends upon the nature of the business, how profitable it is and how much travel is required. I’d like to see a policy that governs all employees, reducing the class barriers, but that is not realistic. The spread across the 339 votes is about what I would have guesses.

  8. We have the same arrangement for our family for several reasons. We often feel judged by friends, family and clients, but we are doing what we feel is best for us and our daughter. She is home with Daddy and my schedule is somewhat flexible when I am not traveling. I haven’t missed a well visit at the doctor, holiday or birthday.

    It is amusing to me that nobody thinks twice if it is the other way around (Mom at home, Dad traveling).

  9. I travel every week from Mon – Thurs. My husband used to be in Sales, but it was to hectic with our schedules and trying to raise our daughters 8 and 13. He quit about 2 years ago and has been a stay at home dad. While I sometimes am sad that I miss certain functions due to my travel, I am happy that he is there for them after school and is able to attend and be available for them when they are not at school. They have a relationship with him that I never had with my father, and I still get dedicated time with them Thursday night through Sunday. It’s not traditional, but it works for us!

  10. I am about to venture into uncharted waters. I am moving to Las Vegas to purchase a home and traveling back & forth to Seattle to work as an educational consultant, while my husband (who is already been a stay at home Dad for two and half years) will continue to do so. I have to travel 37 weeks out of the year for Monday – Thursday, until I am ready to transition…

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