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Published February 03, 2014, 11:48 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Stay-at-home dad finds comfort in role reversal

Five-and-a-half years ago, my wife and I made an unconventional decision. I would stay at home with our baby while she went to work as our full-time breadwinner.

By: Lukas Brandon, INFORUM

Five-and-a-half years ago, my wife and I made an unconventional decision. I would stay at home with our baby while she went to work as our full-time breadwinner.

We tried day care for a week or two after she landed a job with a local nonprofit, but it didn’t work for us. Something didn’t seem right without one of us at home caring for our child (and she’d found a better job than I had), so I took over the role.

Our family made a decision to make a little less money in exchange for a little more time. We made a similar decision when we moved from Minneapolis to Moorhead, leaving good jobs in the city for a good place to rear a family.

Although I have been employed as a part-time professional caregiver to people with disabilities for years, my main contributions have been in what we refer to as “non-market” work.

Non-market work includes cooking, cleaning, de-cluttering, teaching, disciplining, transporting and full-time loving of one’s children. Work outside of the market has crazy long hours, but is awash in breaks and opportunities for recreation.

As a stay-at-home dad, I have learned not only patience but also the guitar, not only how to juggle priorities but also how to roll spheres on my body as a street performer in downtown Fargo.

My wife has been busy as well, adding writing and birth work as a doula to her professional bag of tricks.

There are noses (and butts) to wipe, but there are also games to play, books to read, and social skills to develop. The dishes, the sweeping, the drudgery and the joy appeared to be never ending.

Yet as all things must, and this too has passed.

Last summer, after several rounds of spousal negotiations, we decided to switch roles once again. I would seek full-time employment of the paid variety, freeing Janelle to pursue her work as a doula and writer (on top of the myriad cares and concerns of being a stay-at-home mom to 6-year-old Dylan and 4-year-old Julia.

A good friend asked me a while back if it was hard to be working full time again, and I laughed and laughed. It is so much easier than staying at home!

For one thing, people arrive on their own in the morning fully dressed and presumably having eaten a healthy breakfast. We can only wish for such amazing self-direction from our children. I never have to ask anyone at work if they need to use the restroom before we leave for lunch. So easy!

All kidding aside, it has been a relatively smooth transition, and I am grateful to be working in the field of social service where I can still feel my work makes a difference and improves the lives of others.

Most importantly, Janelle and the kids are thriving at home, making all of the change worthwhile. Peace on the journey.

Brandon lives in Moorhead, where he parents his 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter with his wife.

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