Home Daddy: One Man's Choice To Be A Stay-At-Home Dad

With the "Mommy Wars" dominating news headlines, it's easy to forget about the other half of the story - the male half, that is. In the endless debates between working moms and stay-at-home moms, the issue of men balancing family and career rarely comes under scrutiny. According to a report released this summer, stay-at-home dads have doubled in numbers since 1989. And many of these men stay home by choice. The report is American, but the situation is similar here: "In Canada in 2011, 12 per cent of fathers stayed home with children while mothers earned money, up from just 1 per cent in 1976, according to Statistics Canada." (Globe & Mail)

In our family, Daddy's been at home with our two girls for almost a year. My husband made the choice to pursue a new career after losing his job. It wasn't the plan that he become a stay-at-home dad forever, but we budgeted for at least 6-9 months. The fact that this may extend to 12 months and beyond doesn't bother us (much).

In contrast to the overwhelming majority of women who stay home, men don't normally choose to stay home and care for their children. Many of them are at home due to job loss or an injury or illness. The job loss my husband experienced was welcome - his work hours were grueling, and I often joked that from May to October I was a single parent. He worked early mornings, evenings and weekends. It wasn't a family lifestyle we wanted to maintain.

There have been challenges to having my husband be the stay-at-home parent, and many of them are related to the stigma we face. Although no one would say it to our faces, we get the sense that "getting back to work" is what men must do. Most women sigh and say "oh, you're so lucky," when another mother is able to stay at home with the kids. But society generally expects that fathers will need to find work again. After all, what kind of man could be satisfied with the life of a stay-at-home dad? I know my husband has certainly had his doubts, and has worried about his future career and our financial situation (which is actually pretty good for a one-income family!)

There's also my own internal struggle - trying to accept that it's ok for me to be away from my kids. And not only that it's OK, but that I actually prefer it this way. I've done it all in the past - stayed home full-time, worked part-time and worked full-time (even double full-time some months!). The happiest I've felt is working 2-3 days/week. I welcome that time away from my children to re-connect with my own goals and dreams, but it's lovely to have the extra days at home to play, bake, cook and (yes, on some days) pull my hair out.

As some wise women have pointed out to me, we're doing a wonderful thing for our girls. They've developed a strong bond with Daddy, and watch their Mommy go out to do the work that she loves. My oldest daughter gets to come straight home after school, and I know my youngest is learning so much with Daddy.

My husband chose to stay at home to make life better for our family, and I chose to go back to work to make life better for our family. Isn't that all that really matters? The only things I want my girls to believe about all this work/family hullabaloo are:

1) Their Dad rocks 2) Their Mom rocks 3) Gender roles be damned!


Living On One Income: Family Budgeting

The other day I shared our family's pet project - living on cash. Today I'll share some of the tips we use to stick to our budget. Our family lives on one income at the moment - mine. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, and is looking at different career options. He needed a change from his past career, and I was lucky enough to land a steady job with benefits. Although it's sometimes been stressful, we are actually happy that he's been able to stay at home with our two girls. It's close to $2000 that we're saving in childcare expenses!

It's a bit of a struggle to survive on one income (and I should mention we do bring in some extra cash through my work as a doula and childbirth educator), but we're determined to make it work! (haha, get it? work?)

We've allocated $400/week to all of our variable expenses - this includes food, transportation (gas and bus), entertainment, clothes/gifts, and "other" (our allowances for coffees or other little luxuries) It doesn't seem like a lot, I know. "What happens if the dog gets sick, or the car breaks down," you ask? Well, our entire budget takes emergencies into account, and we've been squirling away some cash for a rainy-day fund. Fingers crossed, knock-on-wood, and throw salt over your left shoulder that our rainy day holds off for a while!!


  • Read your weekly flyers - make a list of what you need for each store, based on sales. If No Frills is selling butter for $3 a piece, purchase 10 and throw them in your freezer!
  • Price-match - My husband does most of the grocery shopping and he really likes the Flipp app, which we reviewed here.
  • Coupons!
  • Cut back on meat. Yup, I said it. We're a meat loving family, but a bag of dried beans is $1, tofu costs $2 and eggs cost $3 - saves a lot of dough. A meal of spaghetti, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese is very much appreciated at our house.
  • Give up on your ideals for a while: I'm a bit of a foodie. I used to purchase raw milk, meat from a local/organic farm, and most of my fruits and veggies were local or organic. I've had to let go of this for a while, and now I just try to get what looks fresh and is on sale. Our bodies will just have to handle the pesticides for a while!
  • Shop the discount rack. Farm Boy is awesome for  very cheap fruits/veggies that are overly ripe. The discount berries make great pies or smoothies, and sometimes you can find some decent veggies for a stir fry or soup.
  • Make your meals last. A whole chicken can be bbq'd one night, then served with pasta and veggies the next night, and then turned into a yummy chicken noodle soup using the bones and leftover meat. Waste nothing!!
  • Avoid the processed food aisles. This is the priciest stuff you will buy - all those boxes of cereal, crackers, and cookies add up. Lately we've been making our own bread (we have a bread machine, so that helps), our own tortilla wraps, and sometimes even our own crackers! And although they will beg you for them, try to avoid pre-packaged school snacks - kids will survive without them
  • Grow a vegetable garden. We're currently overflowing with produce. It definitely saves some money, although it's hard work! If you can't have a big garden, then just mooch off your friends who need to get rid of their cucumbers ;)


I'm so sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you can't really eat out while you're on a tight budget (and paying off debt).  Resist the temptation to order-in pizza, and make your own. If you happen to get some birthday money, then definitely treat yourself to a meal out - just don't let it happen every week!

A little note about alcohol: we love our beer and wine. At this point in our busy lives, we're not really willing to give that up.But there are ways of making it more affordable. Consider making your own beer or wine, or buy in bulk when there are sales (and maybe if you live in the Capital you may occasionally cross that provincial border to the Land of Cheap-er Beer). You could also just drink less?


  • Handmade presents: your family and friends will love a jar of strawberry jam, pickles, or a fresh pie. If you're crafty (I am not), you could sew or knit a gift.
  • We shop at Value Village now for anything/everything we need. If they don't have what I want, I scour Freecycle or used sites.
  • Consider bartering, the lost art!

Or here's a thought...don't buy new clothes? I am the Queen of No Shopping - I hate it! If you love clothes, shoes, jewelry and purses, you may struggle with this one. Find a good therapist, and try to work through it.


I can't really help much with this one. Gas costs a lot, and so does a bus pass! If you can bike or walk to work, definitely give that a shot. If you can afford a new fuel-efficient car, then you are probably not reading this blog post!


This is the one I struggle with most. I love my yoga classes, spa days, my massages and organic skin-care products. I think all of this stuff contributes to my overall sense of well-being, and even my husband remarks that I'm happiest when I'm doing a lot of self-care. Find a way to do this stuff, but maybe just less frequently (yoga at home, or a spa day at home can also be fun!)

A note about coffee: I refuse to negotiate this one. I will continue to buy my 1 cup of coffee every day I'm at work. The coffee machine in our office kitchen is awful, and you can't ask me to forfeit the daily pleasure I get from sipping a freshly brewed cup of joe. So there. (Side note: I will say that Lattes and other specialty coffees are very expensive - if you're a fan of these drinks, maybe allow yourself a once-per-week treat. We can't deprive ourselves of everything, after all, or we'll never stick to our budget!)

I would LOVE to hear your tips and tricks!! Share in the comments!