The Lonely Life of a Stay-At-Home Dad

I know what you’re thinking. If this is going to be one of those posts where some dad writes about all his troubles because he “doesn’t have it all” you’re going to stop reading right now and go find an inspirational quote on Facebook to share.

I can assure you that I’m not going to complain; I think of it more like sharing a little slice of my life – one that I’m sure to which many stay-at-home parents can relate.

I know how truly lucky I am. I have a wonderful family. I have the incredible luxury of choosing when and how I work – something that very few parents have. And becoming a stay-at-home dad was all my choice, my doing – I have absolutely no right to complain even just a little bit.


The boys fight for my attention at our family photo shoot.

Not specifically lonely when this photo was taken.

But, all choices have consequences that one has to live with. And while being present for my children is the greatest thing I’ll ever do, nothing that matters this much is void of a downside. And the downside for me, sometimes, is that it gets pretty lonely.

Of course, spending so much time with our two boys is rewarding, duh, but just in a completely different way. And while my hard-working wife will tell you that all she wants is a break – just five minutes without anyone needing something from her – I experience the other side: that side where no one needs anything from me, at least no one over 5 years old. And it gets lonely. Not every day, of course, but some days…it can be, well, hard.

If you know me, you know that I can talk. A lot. Too much. When I’m excited about something, you will struggle to even get a word in. If you do get a word in you can feel quite comfortable that there is little chance I heard it because I’m too busy thinking up my next great brilliant line. I know this to be true. If you ask me what I miss most about working within an organization, I will quickly tell you it’s the people. It’s more than the people though, it’s the conversation and the interaction that goes with them. It’s something I thrive upon. And talking to a 2-year-old is just different, though I interacted with many children during my career.

Yesterday, I dropped Ryan off at school at 9am while Carly, our nanny, took Alex to his school at the same time. With a little over two hours to kill I went for breakfast by myself. I go to the same place (great French Toast by the way) because I know the managers and the staff and I can actually have a conversation with an adult when they aren’t serving customers in way more of a rush than I am.  Following breakfast I went back home to clean the garage, as I had promised Amy.

In between I filled out preschool applications, responded to some email, let the dog out more than once, and read about other peoples’ lives on Facebook and Twitter.  My favorite part of the day comes at noon when Ryan sees me at the door at preschool and runs to me with a huge smile and yells a big “DADDY!” followed closely by his lunch request of “hot dog, cheese, French fries and Paw Patrol on the TV.”

Alex comes home soon thereafter and it’s fun while we are all in the house and the boys are fighting for my attention. I feel like a parent. But then Ryan goes down for a nap and Alex works with his tutor and for a few hours, I’m back alone with my thoughts while running errands, filling out more school applications, folding the laundry, scrambling to pick up Alex’s backpack that he left at school, arranging a play date, paying bills, etc. etc. I think about what is the most times one person can get in and out of their car in a day.

The most interesting part of all of this time with myself is that on most days my brain is constantly churning out ideas.  Most of my ideas are bad. Maybe I should run a breakfast restaurant so I can eat endless french toast and torture patrons with all of my talking? Maybe I should write a book…but what would I write about? Maybe I should start a non-profit? Volunteer? Take guitar lessons? Yoga? Swimming? That website idea that would totally make me famous? Maybe I should actually do the three things Amy has asked me to get done this week? Maybe I should spend more time with the boys? Maybe I should GO BACK TO WORK!??

This guy is ready to go to work.

This guy is ready to go to work unlike me. 

I spend too much time on social media and frankly it doesn’t help…it only reinforces how I feel at that particular moment.

And I’m reminded by what Steve Jobs said at his now famous Stanford commencement speech:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

I know the dots will connect.

And my gut is telling me right now that if I don’t stop writing and head to Whole Foods to pick up the avocado rolls I promised Alex for lunch, then I’m going to be in for quite the talking to from a very disappointed 5-year-old.

Nothing is more lonely than that.








Categories: Parenting

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6 replies »

  1. I am a SAHM after having worked with people for over 20 years, a decision we made this past November. My daughter is 5, and I can whole heartedly connect to what you are saying. I miss talking with clients, making appointments, scheduling travel, lunch with my girlfriends (without kids), on and on. At the end of the day however, it’s rewarding to know that I was the one to make the makeup memory with my girl. To know that she’s going to remember that time we rode our bikes to the park and stopped to get ice cream on our way home. Knowing that everyday she is learning a little bit more about me, and I’m shaping the little human she is becoming. There is nothing more rewarding than that time. Even though everyday I miss being who I used to be. Oh the sacrifices we make for our families.

    • Thanks Faye for reading. Really appreciate it. I agree completely — I don’t regret the decision to be with our boys for a minute and I love taking our little guy to gym class or going to lunch with our 5 year old just the two of us. I think my wife would trade with me in a minute. But I do sometimes miss sitting in a meeting laughing with colleagues while we try to solve a problem.

  2. I can definitely relate to this. It’s one of the reasons I went back to work after a year off. I loved having the time with my kids and know that was what I needed to do for awhile but I just couldn’t imagine doing it for much longer. I was lonely. I also couldn’t relate to many of the SAHM’s and found myself feeling stuck in some strange place where I couldn’t really stay emotionally. I don’t regret taking that time off at all, I’m glad I tried it (and grateful that I was able to!)…maybe I’ll even do it again someday in the future. I do believe the right path will happen for you naturally, just follow where you are supposed to be going for now. Whatever feels the most right will be. So glad you shared your blog!

    • Thanks Danielle — I too find it hard to related to many SAHMs 🙂 Thought I now have a good small group of mom’s that I really like. No SAHDs, except online (dad bloggers). I completely agree with you, the right path almost always reveals itself. Thanks for reading!!

  3. I’m a teacher at a junior high school and I think when you work with younger people you inevitably end up feeling a little lonely because they can’t understand you. You’re also in charge of their well-being and have to keep it together for your kids whether you like it or not… Anyways, I think what you’re doing is really brave 🙂

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