Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Actually Get Less Sleep, Less Exercise, and Less Time to Relax; Compared to When I Worked a “Real Job” in an Office

I am definitely not complaining. I love being a stay-at-home dad who works on the side as a freelance writer and YouTuber. This is who I am now.

My kids are amazing. My heart melts every time I see them. I am one lucky dad!

Just look at them… ah!

But I will say, if I’m allowed to be honest (?)… back when I worked in the office doing a “real job”, I undeniably got more rest, more time to myself, and even more time to exercise.

As a stay-at-home dad who works from home, I am “on” from the moment the first child wakes up (around 6:15 AM) until the moment I get the last of my YouTube videos shot for the day (around 10:30 PM). Not to mention, it is also my role to get up with our daughter in the middle of the night when she suddenly wakes up; I’m the one who gets her back to sleep, if she’ll go back to sleep.

And all throughout the day I’m racing to get work done, during any break I get, like when my daughter falls asleep for a 90 minute naps; which is how I’m typing this now).

Compare that to when I worked in HR in an office, which was a nearly hour-long drive from my house. Even though I was the one dropping off both kids at their separate day cares, it still gave me close to an hour to work, then an hour from work, to myself.

I could sit in a car for nearly two hours a day and listen to music as I commuted. I had time to be by myself and think.

Plus, I had two 10 minute breaks in addition to an hour lunch break each day.

There was even an abandoned closet in the back of the building where it was an unspoken rule that you could take a nap there during your lunch break; which I regularly did, sleeping on the floor, using a jacket as my pillow.

Additionally, I used the park next to my office as my gym, where it was easy to get an all natural work-out.

Yeah, I don’t have those advantages now. I’m working on blog posts, YouTube videos, or household chores during every free moment I get. And I can’t just take a 20 month-old little girl outside in the extreme temperature, to get exercise for myself.

It’s always a constant race to get work done before my daughter wakes up. (I’m currently about 12 minutes away from that happening now…)

So you can imagine, I find it a foreign concept when I read a comment like this on one of my videos:

“You are a good stay at home dad. My husband would just be napping or watching the TV. I know what my husband’s DNA is, the lazy gene ha ha ha ha ha. Love your videos…”

I love having the privilege of staying at home with my kids while my wife sacrifices by being the one to work full-time; bringing in the majority of our income, as well as insurance and benefits.

But I won’t deny, just like with any job, mine has got its downsides.

Every once in a while, I reluctantly give myself a break, and will take a nap while my daughter is asleep. I’ve done that about 3 times since I began a stay-at-home dad nearly 3 months ago.

But then I wake up and realize how much work I have to catch up on!

Oh… yep… speaking of… She just woke up.

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Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Am Now Officially an Overweight Vegan (176 pounds, 5’ 9”, Age 36, Medium Frame)

I am fundamentally opposed to New Year’s Resolutions. I have always said that if a person is truly ready to make a change in their life, then why wait for some arbitrary date on a calendar?

So for me, the first day of the rest of my life was not January 1st, but instead, it happens to be January 8th.

Last night after I took my shower and put on my size large t-shirt, I couldn’t help but notice how tight it felt. So I did something I rarely do: I weighed myself on the scale.

It took me a moment to accept my reality: I now weigh around 176 pounds. The most I’ve ever weighed was 178 pounds, and that was when I was in my late 20s and still eating meat, eggs, and dairy.

The lowest I’ve ever weighed since high school was 153 pounds; easily fitting into size 31 pants. Check out this video I made just 2 and a half years ago in May 2015, to see me in the ideal weight range for my height:

But there was a subtle change that began just a couple of months later, once my wife got pregnant with our now 20 month-old daughter back in July 2015. As my wife began eating more during the pregnancy, so did I… and I never stopped!

For over two years now, I have been slowly and steadily gaining weight; yet remaining faithful to my diet consisting of only vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. That means no meat, no eggs, no dairy.

In two months from now, it will be 5 whole years that I’ve been a vegan.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this “vegan weight gain”. I first brought it up in September, a month before I became a stay-at-home dad, in my first Dad Bod post.

What’s interesting, as my wife recently pointed out, is I’m actually eating one less meal a day now that I work from home and take care of our kids. Back when I worked at the office, I always had a huge bowl of oatmeal; full of protein and saturated fat, thanks to the nuts and unsweetened cocoa I put in it.

But now that I’m constantly caring for a 20 month-old daughter all day long, plus a 7 year-old son before and after school, plus writing and shooting videos whenever I get a chance, I just don’t have much time to eat… until we all eat dinner as family each night; which is apparently when I make up for any lack of calories.

I am convinced that my strategy to get back to my ideal weight is to aggressively eliminate empty or unnecessary calories; especially during dinner, which is my biggest meal. It’s important to me that I don’t go hungry, but instead, that I stop eating once I get enough food. I need to do a better job of telling the two apart.

Just imagine the irony of an overweight vegan. Imagine all those well-meaning, yet concerned people telling me over the years, “Well, just make sure you get enough protein…”

Uh, yeah, that’s clearly not a problem for me.

And in case anyone is skeptical that I am indeed overweight, perhaps because I don’t “look” overweight, just check out the height and weight chart. For my height of 5’ 9” and having a medium frame, I officially became overweight once I crossed 170 pounds. That was about 6 pounds ago.

What’s my motivation to get back into that ideal weight range where I was back in May 2015? It’s not about self-esteem. My confidence is not effected by my weight gain.

Instead, it’s important to my identity that I have control over my own body. In the same way I refuse to let other people control my emotions, I now must refuse to let my overeating habits effect my weight.

No kidding: As I was putting this blog post together, my daughter who was sitting on my lap, looked up at the picture below of my belly, and in all sincerity asked, “Baby?”

I am an overweight vegan. We do exist, yes. But I do plan to change that.

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: How I Take a Shower While Caring for My 20 Month Old Daughter

I’ve now been a stay-at-home dad for 2 and a half months. It’s safe to say it’s taken me this long to figure out the logistics of how to take a shower each morning, while occupying my young daughter somehow during the process.

It also took this long for my daughter herself to become accustomed to the routine of me taking a shower while she entertains herself.

We’re finally at the point where she and I mutually recognize that my shower is part of our daily routine, and I can see now that she finds comfort in that predictable routine.

Here’s how it works:

First, I make sure she has a snack that won’t make too much of a mess. The easy go-to is a small cup full of pretzels. My German-Dutch daughter loves pretzels for breakfast!

So once I’m in the shower, she spends the first half of it munching on her snack while she patiently faces me; seeing me through a small opening in the shower curtain. That way she knows I’m right there.

I’ll throw her a line every once in a while: “Hi Baby, I see you. Daddy’s in the shower but I can still see you…”

By the time she’s done with her pretzels, she takes it upon herself to find Mommy’s make up bag in the drawer. So far, my daughter has yet to utterly destroy anything, or at least noticeably apply any lipstick.

Once I’m almost ready to get out of the shower, I announce that to her, “Okay Baby, Daddy needs his towel. Can you help Daddy?”

She then prides herself in the responsibility of handing me my towel; then I dry off behind the closed shower curtain, before making my way to my awesome Captain America sweater or whatever my wardrobe will be that day.

And that’s how it’s done.

I am Zest-fully clean!

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Reminding Myself that Whatever’s Happening Back at My Old Company is Now O.P.P. (Other People’s Problems)

Back where I worked for over a decade until this past October, in an industry known for remarkably high turnover rates, I was appointed to figure out why our company was losing so many of its workers; a workforce of over 1,000 people at a time, with a turnover which was higher than 100%.

Within the first year, I cracked the code. I figured out the complex industry secret that not even my own company was aware of. (This is a secret that none of the competitors know to this day, either.)

I had invented a 5 point formula to help the new and current employees from wanting to leave the company so quickly; as my system proactively warned them in advance of hurdles that would hurt their ability to make a profit. My system had proven during those 5 years that the number of employees who stayed a year or longer at dramatically increased.

That was my role for the past 5 years of my life. It came so natural to me that I could do it without thinking about it. I had figured out how to prevent the problem and managed a team whose role was to prevent turnover through aggressive onboarding.

Over this past weekend I had a dream that I was summoned back to work there again, as the headquarters of the company realized what a major financial loss it was to no longer have me and my team there. But then I woke up, thinking, “No, that’s not my problem anymore!”

Back in October, it was just my branch in Tennessee that was shut down; which contained the Retention Department that I built up and managed. The other headquarters and other branches are still in business; meaning the company is now without my proven retention system in place.

Apparently, part of my subconscious is still linked to my skill set in helping those individual people who are now confused on why their profits have suddenly slumped since October.

They’re probably being told, “It’s just slow right now.” But in reality, I know the reasons production for certain workers never dropped after my department was shut down; because certain workers continued to apply my method even after I was gone.

Today I happened to drive by the empty parking lot, that just last summer was providing jobs for 83 of us. Employees used to have to park out in the street, whereas now it’s a ghost town.

But whatever’s happening back at my old company is now O.P.P.

It’s other people’s problems.

None of that matters anymore.

I can now enjoy the life of a stay-at-home dad and no longer worry about saving a company money.

Instead, I’m saving my household money by staying home with the kids.

It’s like how despite graduating college well over a decade ago, I still have dreams every once in a while that it’s the semester before graduation, yet I forgot about that one class that will ultimately prevent me from graduating.

I have moved on with my life, even if some small part of me is still functioning in a routine that had become such a big part of my identity.

But unlike the 4th season of Lost, there is no need for me to return to the island to save those who were left behind.

I am not Jack Shephard.

Dear Jack: I Can Walk You to School Now That I’m a Stay-at-Home Dad Who Works from Home

7 years, 1 months.

Dear Jack,

We can literally see your school from our back yard, that’s our close we are to it. Granted, we live inside of a neighborhood, which is inside another neighborhood, which is inside a neighborhood. Therefore, it actually takes longer to drive you to school than it does to walk you there.

So when weather permits, and on the days you don’t have a particular Pokemon card trade set up with a friend on the bus, I have been walking you to school.

It’s just about a 5 minute walk, as we don’t necessarily have to walk along roads or sidewalks to get there.

I enjoy walking you to school. Not only it is a fun way to spend some time together in a new way, but it also forces us both to get some fresh air and exercise in the cold winter months.

Getting to walk you to school was never an option for me before I started working from home. But now, as your sister is at her school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, that gives us two times each week we are able to walk to your school.

While I definitely wouldn’t have chosen for my entire branch at work to be shut down two months ago, therefore forcing me to rely on our family saving money on daycare for you and your sister full-time, I can’t deny that there are many little advantages of not driving 45 minutes to an office every morning.

You and I get more quality time together now. I never thought I’d be able to walk my son to school. I just always assumed as a dad, that would never be one of my roles.

But fortunately, I was wrong about that. I am very grateful that I could be wrong.

Love,

Daddy

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Christmas is Over, Yet I’m Still Home with the Kids

In a normal version of reality, I would be back in my office today. My wife and I would be paying for our kids to be in day care all day, or we would have left our kids at my parents’ house all week while the daycare was closed.

But now, there’s no need. Because… Daddy’s home!

Not only do my kids get to just hang out here in the aftermath of their Christmas gifts as my wife returned to work today, but I myself don’t have to return to an office and force a smile while I have to answer everyone’s annoying questions about how my Christmas was.

I am also grateful that I didn’t have to negotiate with co-workers, leading up to Christmas, which of us would have to work certain days. Where I worked, it was normal that at least one person from each department would have to consider working certain days either on or immediately following holidays.

Now that I am completely removed from that setting, none of it matters anymore. My schedule is now exclusively based around the two young children; one of whom can pretty much take care of himself.

I am still soaking it all in; to experience the days in between the Christmas holidays and the days before day cares open back, with my kids.

It’s funny because when I first adopted my new role as stay-at-home dad, I don’t suppose I really considered that I would be completely replacing child day care during the holidays as well during the summer. Somehow, that part caught me by surprise a little.

But it’s no big deal. I can take care of my own kids all day long. All week long. All summer long.

It’s easier to take care of two kids than it is to take care of adults, actually.

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Why “Mr. Mom” and Even “Stay-at-Home Dad” are Not Be the Best Titles for What I Actually Do

A few years back, it started becoming more common knowledge that anyone who still used the phrase “Mr. Mom” to refer to a “stay-at-home dad” was revealing they themselves were out of touch with modern times.

I feel that I am the epitome of the modern American dad: I have always been extremely involved in not only my kids’ lives, but extremely active in domestic life. There is no irony in a dad doing the dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming the floors, getting the kids ready for school, and taking them to the park on the weekend while his wife is out buying groceries.

In fact, I would argue that a dad who is not that heavily involved in domestic duties would be a dad who doesn’t have a healthy marriage. Yes. That’s how important it is these days.

I have been saying for years now, that in our modern American culture, a man can not be a good husband unless he is a also good father. And by good husband, I mean he is extremely involved as a domestic helpmate, in addition to being faithful and loving to his wife. Good husband and good father in inseparable terms.

But in addition to “Mr. Mom” being an outdated and irrelevant term, I feel the same is happening with “stay-at-home dad” as well. Here’s why:

I am actually working to make money (with my side hustles) alongside also working to save money (by staying home with the kids).

All of my free time is spent generating income for my family.

I don’t binge-watch Netflix. I don’t take naps. I don’t scroll Facebook on my phone.

Instead, whenever I am not responsible for catering to the physical or emotional needs of another member of my family, I am either working as a freelance writer or producing YouTube videos.

(At this point in time, most people still don’t realize how much money YouTubers can make if they do it right… but I have figured out the formula, after years of practice.)

So in addition to it not being ironic to share the domestic duties, I am also spending any free time working from home. And this includes after everyone else has gone to sleep (including my wife) and in the middle of the night when I have to wake up to get our daughter back to sleep.

Does this make me special? I would think not.

I would have to imagine it is quite normal for the modern dad who stays at home with his kids to also have some kind of side hustle going on.

It’s all about having a hobby that makes my family money, not one that costs us money. I submit this is normal.

Since I make supplemental income from this blog and my YouTube channels, it’s this simple:

If I’m not working, I’m not making money.

It technically costs me money to not be working, as every new blog post and every new video I publish increases my SEO and subscribership, and therefore, my income.

Undeniably, it’s important to my identity that I’m providing income for my family in some way, in addition to taking care of the kids; while my wife, who has a master’s degree, is out making the big bucks.

So yeah, “stay-at-home dad” doesn’t quite cut it. Maybe it’s more like “stay-at-home dad who works from home”.