Stay-at-Home Dad 101: My Hourly Work Schedule

Just binge-watching Netflix all day and letting my daughter enjoy “independent play” with her toys at my feet while I scroll through Facebook on my phone and scarf down whatever the vegan equivalent of Totino’s Pizza Rolls is?

Yeah, that’s totally not what I do all day…

Here’s my reality:

6:07 AM – 6:58 AM

Get woken up by both kids after having likely gotten up in the middle of the night to help my daughter back to sleep who is currently teething. Feed and dress both children, while uploading a new video to one of my 3 current YouTube channels.

7:28

Engage both kids in playing with their toys and/or each other while I unload the dishwasher, or quickly take a shower, or even attempt to feed myself.

8:20

Walk my son across the street to where his school bus picks him up, while holding my daughter who is wrapped up in a blanket.

8:21 – 9:15

Practice Johnny Cash songs for one of my upcoming YouTube channels while my daughter plays with her toys.

9:16

Get interrupted when my daughter walks up to me, places her tiny hand on the neck of my guitar, and says, “No.”

9:17

Spend the next 20 minutes getting her to sleep for her morning nap. Shoot new YouTube videos the entire time she’s asleep.

10:40

Take her back downstairs, start uploading another video to another one of my YouTube channels, and play with my daughter.

11:15

Feed my daughter yogurt and oatmeal, which makes a disastrous mess that I have to clean up. Try to eat Ramen noodles while feeding her.

12:03 PM

While uploading another new video, possibly take her out for a ride to go run a tedious errand like picking up bananas from Publix. Let her ride in the kiddie cart which allows her to believe she’s actually steering.

1:07

Arrive home and feed my daughter again. Attempt to give her another nap. If successful, begin shooting more YouTube videos, or write a blog post like the one you’re reading now.

3:00

Answer the phone as my wife calls to check in, while barely keeping my daughter from curiously pressing the “end” button on my phone the whole time.

3:23

Upload a new video while rolling around on the carpet, gently wrestling with my daughter.

4:08

Go outside to meet my son, who just arrived home from school from his bus.

4:09 – 4:23

Force my son to eat something before his blood sugar level causes him to “misbehave.” Feed my daughter again, while I’m at it.

4:24

Welcome my wife home from work, help her prepare dinner or take the kids upstairs to play while she takes care of dinner.

5:17

Attempt to make it through dinner, while serving as referee for the kids who are never interested in eating food during dinner, while I desperately am.

5:43

Entertain the kids while my wife cleans up from dinner, or vice-versa.

6:41

Head upstairs with both kids and tag-team getting them both ready for bed.

8:17

Now that the kids are both asleep, spend quality time with my wife.

9:15

After my wife has fallen asleep, lead her downstairs to get ready for bed. Upload a longer YouTube video that will upload during the night.

10:37

Fall asleep, assuming I’ll be woken up by my daughter in a few hours.

That’s my day.

Now granted, on Tuesdays and Thursdays my daughter is at preschool from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM, but on those days, all I do all day long is make YouTube videos, upload them, and write blog posts.

It’s actually less work when my daughter is with me all day.

I’m not simply staying at home with being a dad. I’m constantly working on my side hustles when I’m not taking care of my daughter.

I can honestly say I didn’t have to work this hard when I still worked full-time in an office.

Yet still, I prefer to do this.

I would choose this even if it were a choice, which it wasn’t.

To be a stay-at-home dad who works from home.

That’s me. And this is what I do.

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: No, I Totally Don’t Miss Being around Other Adults All Day Long… In Fact, I Enjoy It a Little Too Much!

In looking out for me, my kind and thoughtful wife expressed some concern for my social well-being when my entire office was abruptly shut down back in October. She wondered if I might suffer from culture shock; after I had worked at the same place for over a decade and now I would suddenly be removed from constant adult interaction on a daily basis.

She suggested I might need to find a stay-at-home parents’ group so that I could get out of the house and socialize with people I have some things in common.

Here’s the thing: It’s been two months doing this stay-at-home dad thing, and not once have I ever missed being around other adults all day long. In fact, that’s one of my favorite parts about my new job!

I do not miss being interrupted from doing work to be asked any of the following annoying questions on a daily basis, and then having to respond to them while forcing myself to smile and act nice:

“How was your weekend?”

“Do you have a minute?”

“You’re quiet this morning, is everything okay?”

“What are you eating? That looks good!”

“Got any big plans for this weekend?”

I was just there to get work done. I didn’t need a friend. I wasn’t lonely. I didn’t need to be entertained with conversation or learn about someone’s thoughts about life, before I had my coffee… or after I had my coffee.

It was important to me and my identity that I was perceived as approachable, helpful, and a good communicator. So I successfully disguised the fact I am not actually an extrovert, but instead, an outgoing introvert.

I’ve heard the difference between introverts and extraverts explained this way:

If an extrovert is someone who feels energized by being around other people all day and but then feels drained when they are alone again, an introvert is someone who feels drained after being around people all day and then has to “recharge” in solitude afterwards.

Yeah, the 2nd description, that’s totally me. I love to interact with other people… just not while I’m being paid to get work done all day!

But now I don’t have to worry about any of that anymore. I no longer have to act like a supervisor who works in an office.

The culture shock that I am actually experiencing is a good one.

Now the only people I see on a daily basis are the members of my own family- and occasionally, some of the nice employees at the Publix just a mile from the house; which is about as far as I travel through the week anymore.

The ultimate irony is that I truly consider myself a people person. In the total of over a decade that my wife and I have been together, she is definitely used to us being out in public, and me making seemingly random yet relevant conversations with complete strangers.

But I think the difference is that in an office, I was forced all day long to be social, which distracted me from the work; which was the reason I was paid to be there.

As a stay-at-home dad though, I no longer have to anticipate that at any second of the day, I might be interrupted from my work by another adult seeking confirmation in their identity or escape from boredom.

My work now is to care for an awesome 7 year-old boy before and after school, and an adorable little girl all day long. And then when she’s asleep, I work on my freelance writing jobs and YouTube videos; which is how I’m financially supporting my family now through a growing amount of supplemental income.

Granted, I’m working from the time I wake up at 6:00 AM until the time I collapse around 10:30 PM; if I’m lucky enough that my daughter doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night.

But I love it. This is great. I was totally able to do the whole “work in an office” thing. I did that for over a decade. Now I have confirmation though:

I was meant to be a stay-at-home dad who works from home as a freelancer. My time has arrived to accept and embrace my new identity.

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I am Running an Unlicensed Before-and-After School Program in My Home

My wife typically leaves the house for work around 6:00 AM. If I’m lucky, my kids will both sleep in until 7 o’clock. Usually, I’m not lucky.

Usually, one child will wake the other around 6:20, which means I’m taking care of two young children for the next 2 hours, as my 7 year-old son’s bus doesn’t arrive until 8:22.

It’s a solid 30 minutes just to get them dressed and fed, which leaves another hour and a half to let them play, but while trying to keep them from getting themselves into trouble.

Over the past 2 months that I’ve been a stay-at-home dad (who also works from home as a freelance writer and YouTuber), I’ve learned the art of getting household chores done while they are entertaining each other.

For example, I’ve learned I can effortlessly unload the dishwasher while they have their post-breakfast picnic on the living room floor. I am also constantly uploading YouTube videos for my 3 channels, on my laptop which sits on top of my daughter’s plastic school desk.

Their post-breakfast picnic immediately transitions into an intense indoor recess, where the main attraction is for my 7 year-old son to run as fast as he can past my year and a half old daughter while she stands up and cheers as he runs straight toward her, but only grazesthe sleeve of her shirt, without knocking her down.

So far, injuries. I feel pretty good about that.

The next event is for my son to run as fast as he can while my daughter lays down on the blanket, and then he jumps over her and her bowl of cereal, without his feet touching either his sister or her bran flakes.

This activity also amazingly currently holds a 100% injury-free record.

For the 45 minutes in which they are both home after my son gets off the bus and before my wife gets home from work, I typically just take my kids upstairs in the playroom while they casually play with toys and watch me try to beat my high score on Mario Kart Wii.

Hey, it’s better than the before school part of my daddy day care, right?

I’m pretty sure the state of Tennessee would deny me a license to run a day care like this from my home. It’s probably for the best.

Dear Holly: Do You Realize We Have Different Sized Feet?

1 year, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

Throughout the day with you at the house, it is necessary for me to at least straighten up the house as we go along; from each activity you choose. This past week, you have been entertaining yourself in the meantime by taking it upon yourself to go get my shoes from the closet, carefully put them on, then walk around the kitchen in them.

And it’s not something you did just one time. Instead, this has now become a daily routine.

The moment you see me cleaning up the table after you had a messy breakfast consisting of yogurt and oatmeal, which you insist on feeding yourself with no help from Daddy, you quietly retreat to my shoes.

It’s funny because 10 minutes or so can pass, and the whole time, without me giving you confirmation of what you’re doing, I will look over the counter and catch you meticulously working to put my shoes on.

Once you’ve got them both on, you then make your way over to me, with such a cute little smile on your face.

I’m not sure you realize that we have such different sized feet- and therefore, that my shoes are ridiculously over-sized on you.

You figure that our whole family should just be able to share each other’s shoes; even though you have the tiniest feet in the house and I have the biggest.

It’s great that you are able to find such intriguing entertainment in wearing my shoes. I have to admit- you’re pretty easy to entertain.

Sure, you like your dolls and their baby stroller, but it’s like Daddy’s shoes are just as much fun!

You make my job as a stay-at-dad pretty easy. Not only can I get a little bit of housework done, but I also get free entertainment as well!

Love,

Daddy

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: What I Eat During the Day, As a Vegan

The thought seemed intimidating when I was first immediately launched into my new career as stay-at-home dad:

“But what will I eat?”

Turns out, the answer was simple. I eat the same stuff I ate every day back when I commuted nearly an hour away to an office; only minus the oatmeal with trail mix and a banana.

I eat a little less because I am a little less hungry, and I suppose that might have something to do with the fact I’m not getting outside to exercise as much. When I worked at the office, I took my breaks walking or biking or running outside; as for now, I have an 18 month-old daughter and cold or hot weather to consider.

My calorie consumption begins each morning with a cup of instant organic iced coffee. (Honestly, it’s only 2 calories; but I’m not counting!) The entire container only costs about $5, the same amount of just one Starbucks latte.

While I could opt for the unsweetened vanilla almond milk in the fridge to add some flavor and creaminess, somehow along the way I discovered I genuinely like the taste of cold, black coffee.

But I do bring out the unsweetened vanilla almond milk about an hour later for my official breakfast, which is the manly vegan smoothie I invented. My recipe is high in protein and total fat, but contains very little saturated fat and zero cholesterol.

The ingredients, in addition to the almond milk: A whole banana, a cup of frozen blueberries, a half cup of plain oatmeal, a teaspoon of chia seeds, a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa or carob powder, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Then I put that all together in the blender for about 20 seconds.

My lunch is quite predictable for me as well. There’s a brand of organic ramen noodle available at Whole Foods and Sprouts, called Koyo. They are around a dollar a package, and I cook 2 of them for my lunch. They are also high in protein, like my smoothie. I typically go with the “low sodium” version, but if it’s not available, I don’t let it bother my conscience: I usually consume under my daily allowance of sodium, since I don’t eat meat.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon, I may go for another cup of coffee, but I’m typically not really hungry after having consumed so much protein and good fats earlier in the day.

Depending on what’s for dinner, I may start prepping for when my wife and son get home. What’s really great is when my wife has already put together a crock pot meal the day before and placed it in the fridge. I can have that heating up during the afternoon so it will be ready for dinner. Plus, I can throw together a festive salad.

If I do stray from my ramen noodles routine for lunch, it’s only to finish off any leftovers from the night before, like my wife’s homemade vegan pizza; and maybe a bowl of cereal as well.

And consider, this meal plan is coming from a guy who said most of his life, “I got to have meat! I need more meat! I’m still hungry. I could never be a vegetarian. I couldn’t do it. Especially not a vegan!”

Obviously, there was dynamic character growth in the person narrating this story.

But I have embraced my identity as a manly vegan; and here more recently, as a stay-at-home dad as well.

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Don’t Drink (Coffee) and Drive (the Grocery Cart)

I found out this afternoon while doing a mid-week grocery store run for my wife, that it’s not as easy as one might think, to push the grocery cart with a kid, while drinking coffee.

As I entered the Super Kroger in Spring Hill, Tennessee, I thought to myself, “Okay, this is my first time as an official stay-at-home dad buying groceries. Enjoy this errand and make it part of your identity. This is part of your job now. So… what would my wife do in this situation to make it more fun?”

And there it was, Starbucks. She would definitely buy a $5 coffee to begin her journey. So I ordered an Eggnog Latte with coconut milk, as my daughter played inside the two-seater Kozy Coupe-looking car attached to the front of the shopping cart.

I tried to order the manliest drink I could think of, but unfortunately, they don’t make the Spicy Mocha that High Brew in Franklin makes: cayenne, cinnamon, and mocha.

Once the nice young man handed me my unregulated caffeinated beverage, I made my way towards to organic section. But immediately, I found out it’s quite difficult to make a right turn when your right-handed and are pushing a shopping cart with a giant car attached to the front of it, still while holding a $5 drink in your other hand.

How was I going to make it all the way through a ten acre grocery store without spilling my coffee?

The answer: I wasn’t.

Historically, I have stayed home with the kids while my wife buys the groceries early on Saturday morning. I have yet to memorize where everything is in that grocery store so big it needs its own zip code.

Some of the items on the “scavenger hunt” were in the baby section, some were in the organic section, and some were just mixed in with the regular stuff.

In case my Instagram photo doesn’t show the details, then just believe me:

Each time I suddenly had to jerk the cart to make a turn in time, or simply bumped into the corner of the aisle I was trying to enter, an eager ounce of the Starbucks magnificently shot out of the adult sippy lid of my coffee cup and landed in the cart.

Needless to say, my daughter’s clothes still smell of Eggnog Latte, as she had eventually exited the faux Kozy Coupe and asked me to place her in the normal kids’ seat; right where the majority of the two dollars’ worth of Starbucks had made a miniature puddle.

I know there will be a learning curve to this stay-at-home dad thing, but today I learned that I shouldn’t be drinking Starbucks and driving the grocery cart.

How I Accidentally Became a Stay-at-Home Dad Back in October… Finally, I’m Ready to Talk about It

Imagine the irony. The very same week I was driving around in a $50,000 car, the 2017 Lexus IS 350 to promote here on my blog, I became unemployed. That fancy car then began serving as my vehicle to begin a new job search.

Yeah, that was a crazy week.

And really, it’s been an interesting month and a half since then. Let me catch you up on what I was hiding from social media this whole time…

It was simply my fate. I was already a vegan daddy blogger and a YouTuber. The demographics were there. So it only made sense that a guy like me would end up as a stay-at-home dad.

On October 18th, after having worked for over a decade at the same company in the Human Resources field (recruiting, onboarding, and retention), the new president of the company basically shut down the whole branch where I worked in Tennessee.

Imagine the psychology: Spending over 10 years of your life at the same company, seeing the same people day after day, appreciating the solitude of the same hour long commute to and from work; simply having a predictable routine which made me feel like I was financially providing for my family.

And then suddenly, it all ends. The plug is pulled. Not just for me, but for an office full of people who suddenly have a new full-time job: to find a new full-time job.

I admit, I was privately struggling with it. Even though it wasn’t my fault, nor the fault of the dozens of other people who were laid off that day as well, it still felt like a death, of sorts.

That job was part of my identity. I was always grateful for it. It was my first real job out of college; and really, my only full-time job.

During the next 30 days, I applied for over 60 jobs online; plus, I signed up with 4 different staffing agencies. It all resulted in one legitimate job interview, but they ended up hiring someone else for the position.

Through all this, it was important to me that no one else knew I had lost my job and that I was in search of a new one. I didn’t want the free world asking me everyday if I was okay, or asking if I got a new job yet.

To put myself in that situation would make me feel like I was some sort of victim- which I am not. I always choose to be victorious; never a victim.

The way I’m wired, I didn’t want anyone to know about any of this, until I had a success story to tell.

Just as I was about to cross the line of “not okay anymore”, right before Thanksgiving my wife presented me with some amazing news which I was quite thankful for.

As she is the one who handles our budget, she joyfully explained to me that since losing my job, we have been continually putting more money into our savings account each week; not less.

When I asked her how, her immediate response was, “I know it has to be a God thing.”

She went on to break down all the ways we were saving money:

We are no longer paying for two kids to be in daycare full-time.

Our daughter, who was growing up in day care, stopped getting sick, so our doctors’ bills ceased.

I am no longer filling up my car with gas each week; only monthly now.

While that may not sound significant, my wife told me that considering the cost of two kids in day care, my job was ultimately only making our household $200 per week. I was being paid appropriately for my position where I worked, but my wife has a Master’s Degree and therefore has been making a bit more money than me for a while now.

So actually, those little things added up to more than cover the $200 per week difference.

Me? A stay-at-home dad?

It would have been too crazy of a plan; for me to leave my steady job of over a decade. But that steady job came to an end; with over 10 years of Human Resources experience as a souvenir.

We wouldn’t have chosen this. It wouldn’t have seemed like a smart position. But it’s working for our family right now.

And obviously, I truly enjoy getting to actually spend time with my awesome kids. Even my wife and I have more quality time as well, including the fact she is able to call me everyday on the drive home from work. We have more time together as a family now.

Granted, I’ll remain on the look-out for a great job in Human Resources, as I never stopped applied for jobs. And while my daughter is taking her nap each day, I work diligently on further building my YouTube channels, which I predict will eventually exceed the $200 weekly difference.

But as for now, I have officially made it part of my identity. Last night, I changed the “work” section on my Facebook profile:

I am now a stay-at-home dad.