I have worked full-time for the last 9 years since finishing undergrad at Lipscomb. I worked full-time in Nashville while I completed my master’s degree and during the few months of our oldest son’s life. I worked full-time as our family moved all over the place from Nashville, TN to Guntersville, AL to Decatur, AL to Kokomo, IN. I have held several different positions including youth minister, children’s minister, Domino’s delivery expert, local store marketing director and operations clerk.
FROM STAY-AT-HOME MOM TO CAREER WOMAN
When we met and got married, my wife Jennifer was a court reporter, but she has mostly been a stay-at-home-mom for the last 7 years as we have grown our family and gone from one adventure to the next. Now the next phase in our journey is upon us, and the tables have turned. After staying at home with the kids the last few years, Jennifer went back to full-time work 3 weeks ago today. Read about her experience here. It has been very different having her gone all day while I take care of the kids and the house!
FROM CHILDREN’S MINISTER TO STAY-AT-HOME DAD
Obviously I love working with kids, as I have been doing children’s ministry and youth ministry since college, but leading a children’s ministry is not quite the same as leading your own children all day every day. Jennifer and I have always made it a huge priority to be the primary teachers and moral instructors of our kids, especially during their younger years, instead of just sticking them in day-care. I know plenty of single-mothers who have no choice but to put their kids in day-care so they can work full-time, and I know lots of great married couples who also put their young kids in day-care so that they can both work. Often times it is financially necessary to do this, but we both decided years ago that we would live on whatever money God provides and whether we were rich or poor, one of us would always be a stay-at-home parent until all 3 kids are in kindergarten. God has blessed this commitment, and we have been able to live on tight budgets, while still getting completely out of debt (except for the mortgage). Because of this commitment, I think we have great relationships with our kids, and while we are not perfect parents, our kids know that they are always a priority to us.
The latest leg of our journey has placed me in the position as the stay-at-home parent now, and it has been quite the experience so far. It is definitely not all fun and games, but after all these years of working all week, in many ways it has felt like everyday is a Saturday for 3 weeks straight. I know this is just the new-factor, and eventually I will get used to living life this way. Here are some of the things I have experienced in my 3 weeks as a stay-at-home dad…
THROWN INTO THE FIRE
In many ways I was thrown into the fire with my new role as a stay-at-home dad. We moved into the new house on Friday, June 19, and Jennifer went back to work on Monday, June 21. The house was maybe half unpacked, and I had no idea where things went, like the kids laundry that I just kept in laundry baskets for 2 weeks. Other things like cleaning supplies, I simply could not find. So when Lucy (the dog) peed on the floor, and Sam (the youngest son) peed on not 1 but 2 different couches taking naps all in the same day, it was a little stressful trying to clean up all that pee without the right cleaning supplies.
We did not have internet the 1st week, so no Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Instant Video, not that it mattered since none of the TV’s or Roku’s were even hooked up yet. Our backyard playground is still in pieces, so playing outside has not been an option for the kids (as if they really want to play outside when it’s 95º). Keeping the kids entertained that 1st week with no TV’s or playground while also trying to unpack boxes and figure out where laundry goes… well it was rather difficult for me.
FABRIC SOFTENER IS NOT THE SAME THING AS DETERGENT
I think I have done more dishes and laundry in the last 3 weeks than I have done my entire life. For the whole 1st week I thought I was doing a pretty excellent job keeping up with all these household chores, especially the laundry. When Jennifer was home that 1st weekend, I asked her how she usually washes a certain type of clothes, and she responded with, “You should use the Gain with the fabric softener.” So I went and looked at the different bottles in the laundry room and replied to her, “All we have is original Gain. It does not have fabric softener in it.” Jennifer then said, “No you have to use the Gain detergent AND the Downy fabric softener.”
Bringing much laughter from Jennifer, I finally said,
“Downy isn’t detergent? I guess all week I’ve been making our clothes really, really soft without actually getting them clean then!”
Jennifer may never let me live that down, but for me it is just like the 1st time I ever ran the dishwasher at my 1st apartment in Nashville, TN with my friend Ryan. I filled up the spot for dish detergent with liquid dish soap, not knowing there was a difference. We came back to the apartment that night to find the kitchen and dining room flooded with soap bubbles. We had to pull up the carpet and use box fans for 2 days to get things dried out! So this incident with the fabric softener is just the latest (and surely not the last) of humiliating stories about my experience doing housework.
DISHES NEVER END WHEN YOU COOK EVERY MEAL!
While I have had some hiccups doing laundry, I have worked hard to keep up with the piles of dishes, piles that never seem to end when I cook at breakfast and lunch every day (Jennifer has still been cooking most of our dinners). I’ve gotten used to cooking many of my own meals since this past winter when I started trying to eat healthier (including lots of veggies), but now I have to cook my own veggie quesadilla and grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids at the same time, which means lunch takes forever, followed by lots of dishwashing.
Today was a perfect example of what lunch looks like for me these days. My little brother-in-law spent the night last night, so I had to cook lunch for myself and 4 kids. On the stove I had teriyaki chicken, veggies and rice cooking for myself, and on the skillet I had 6 grilled cheese sandwiches cooking simultaneously. I also had to go wipe a couple poopie bottoms while all this food was cooking. Fun times!
IT IS VITAL TO GET THE KIDS OUT OF THE HOUSE
Both for their sanity and my own, I have found that I must find ways to get the kids out of the house. This will be easy enough once they all start at their new schools next month, but right now we all get a little restless when we stay inside too much. Luckily during these 1st 3 weeks in Guntersville, we have had a few church outings at my mother-in-law’s church. The 1st week we had VBS every night. The 2nd week we went to a water-park, and last week we went to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.
RUNNING IN THE HEAT
When I worked full-time, I typically went running early in the morning, but now Jennifer has claimed that time to run with her new running group before she goes to work, which leaves me 2 options: Run in the 90-100º heat of the afternoons in Alabama or run late at night. I usually run in the afternoons now when Jennifer gets off work, and I have never run so much in such hot conditions. It has been a major shift for my running, as the heat has been brutal, and the humidity makes the air hard to breathe. My pace has been much slower, and it has been more difficult to run the same distances as I used to run in Indiana. Hopefully my body adapts over time to the different running conditions here!