Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mr. Mom?

It's July, and that means it is time for my annual 2 week camping trip on Labor and Delivery. Every year, my partner, OtherDoc, takes a two week July vacation, and I take a two week hiatus from sanity. I'd like to think that I'm a fairly busy physician on my own, but when I see 30 patients in a day, OtherDoc sees 60 patients in a day. While I do 10-20 deliveries in an average month, he does 30-40. Put us both together, and it is a recipe for sleepless nights, crazy days, and very little time spent at home. Last year I got so busy, it pushed me over the brink from gestational hypertension to full on preeclampsia, and my own physician had to ferret me out on labor and delivery at 9 pm to tell me to wise up and go home for bed rest. (I delivered 2 days later.)

This year has been no exception. I've delivered 8 babies since Monday evening, and have spent early morning, noon, and night with patients. Mr. Whoo has been left to defend the home front, and, in his usual superstar fashion, he has handled everything in a superb way. CindyLou, my four year old daughter, was diagnosed with strep throat this week, and Mr. Whoo was elected to stay home while I delivered another 3 children. When I got home, I was amazed. The house was clean, the laundry was done, dinner was cooking, and CindyLou was feeling much better. Now, granted, he did just have the 4 year old (I took the baby to daycare for quarantine purposes), and I'm quite certain that CindyLou spent the day plugged in to the Disney channel, but *still* it was amazing. It sparked a conversation about perhaps having Mr. Whoo stay home with the children, full time.

I consider myself more than a little...traditional, if you will. I chose to take my husband's name when we got married, and feminist issues have always been more remote on my radar. (Not that I'm *down with women* or anything, but I just don't have a bee in my bonnet about such things.) Since leaving residency, financially, I am the bread-winner, but Mr. Whoo is also a professional with a good job and great benefits. A few years ago, we would have never considered this scenario, but now it seems a viable option. We've been struggling, with both of us working, to keep above water with the household chores, cooking, shopping, laundry, and keeping the children cared for, fed, and entertained. It makes sense, financially and personally, to seriously consider this option; especially as I look for better job opportunities. I don't think we could sustain it long term, because Mr. Whoo has professional aspirations, as well. He is preparing to pursue another degree to further his career, but, for now, it seems the time may be right. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Whoo won't try to feed the baby chili for lunch, and "girl's night" at the male strip club is definitely out, but I do worry that it may hurt his male pride a bit to be the stay-at-home parent. Any advice out there from those of you that have chosen this path?

11 comments:

  1. When I first went back to work for maternity leave, my husband watched the baby 50% of the time and we had a nanny the other 50% of the time. It was a good experience for him to really get comfortable with her, but I would say he's happier now that we have full time child care and definitely more willing to help out at night.

    However, since you and your husband I'm sure bring in a very good combined income, have you considered hiring someone to clean, do dishes, and do laundry? Our nanny does those tasks now and my god, it's been wonderful. And she does it way better than either of us ever could.

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  2. I like Fizzy's idea. Another might be he using the time to kick-start that other degree he wants. Would he be able to take a class or two while being Mr Mom either in person or on-line. He could use nap time as study time.

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  3. My husband IS the at-home parent. It was our plan from the beginning, since he freelances, and I'm the one with the full-time job that makes the money - and has the BENEFITS! He's a great SAHD, and has been since the beginning. Now that I work from home all but one day a month, I see how much time he spends with our little guy, and how rarely J-man sees the TV. In fact, he sees it more when he's with me, because I use it as a safety device while I make dinner.
    It hasn't seemed to hurt my husband's pride at all, but neither of us is very "traditional" anyway.

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  4. I am an RN on nights in the Emergency Room and my husband is a sahd for the time being until our youngest gets alittle older. He does a good job with him and its nice because his dad was always working 2 jobs and he never saw him. I will say I do get sad because sometimes it seems my son prefers him. I just make sure I get in extra cuddle time.

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  5. I am an Anesthesiologist and typically put in 60-80 hour work weeks. I would love to give it up to my wife. Do you think you can convince her?

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  6. We're doing this. I went back to work when The Bean was 5 months old. Mr. Couz is a paramedic and currently the PoD (parent on duty)... I'm not a fan of the 'stay at home' label.

    For us, it means that he works a few shifts a month (scheduled around my shifts). He's great with Bean, keep the house clean and more often than not he manages to get something on the table for dinner (with a heavy reliance on the BBQ genre of cooking).

    I can't complain. It's working for us, and I know I'm lucky to have him. When the Bean is older (18 months or so) we intend to have him in daycare for a couple of days a week. But we're hoping to keep that to two days at the most.

    If your husband is game, go for it! Warn him now, though... people will stop him on the street and tell him how wonderful he is and basically treat him like a freaking hero for staying home with his children. It's annoying, since I'm pretty sure that's never happened to a woman doing the same thing.

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  7. We came to this by default. We were a two job couple until husband was laid off and too old to find another job in his field. We never planned or wanted it, but it did work out well that he was home in the afternoons when our children reached middle and high school, which I think is much higher risk time than when they are younger. Now they're grown, and he sells insurance part time and looks after his dad the other part. It's been a real stretch for us, we're kids of the 50's, but overall it's worked out pretty well.

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  8. We just split things, which might be another option for you: my dh has a very flexible schedule, and I'm technically part-time (96 hrs on-call per week :)), and we homeschool.

    The only 'problem' is that it doesn't always feel right to me (traditional as I some ways): dh likes to remind me of the time I left before ds woke up, returned very late after he was in bed, did the same thing the next day, and was almost in tears that second night, saying, "I didn't go through all that infertility mess to give him to some babysitter!" Dh gave me a weird look and said, "Uh, I'm his father, not the babysitter!" Oh. Yeah. (Whew! at least I don't have to pay him, right?!) Maybe I'm slightly more dispensible than I thought....

    Hope you can work it out.

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  9. May a breadwinning lawyer butt in? I echo fizzy's advice, above. We have a live-in nanny, and it is money VERY well-spent!

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  10. We did this for a few years when our son and daughter (third and fourth children) were little. My husband did a great job with it, and it created a closeness between himself and the children that remains even now. He is a more "fun" parent than I am, anyway...more creative, more sports-oriented, more likely to go to the park. It wasn't something he wanted to do forever, so once the kids were older he went back to school and then began working. Give it a try! It doesn't have to be permanent if you don't like it.

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  11. I've always wondered how you did it without a live-in. Is it because you're in a rural area and it's not common to have someone come in?

    It sounds to me like what you need is a "wife." Packing two kids up everyday and then fussing about who'll pick them up at the end of the day is stressful. You'll soon find out that being school-aged only makes the variablitiy in day-care arrangements worse!

    Hire someone!

    Since your husband has a career he should keep with it. Not to bring doom and gloom upon you, but you never know what the future will bring. Illness, death, divorce - the ability of both parents to pull in an income is an important float if the seas turn uncertain.

    Unless you have a real strong feeling that you want Mr. Whoo at home instead of a nanny/housekeeper I think add help to your household. It make take a few tries before you find the right person, but once you get the hang of it I think you'll appreciate it.

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