Family life

Stay-at-home dads: How can working moms help?

Jennifer Pinarski feels guilty about spending time away from home and wonders if there's more she can do to help out her stay-at-home husband.

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Jennifer’s husband has started staying home with the kids. Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

Last week, while everyone on social media were sharing photos of their kids’ first day of school, I was struck by the double realization that my son was starting grade two, and that I had a grown-up job that I needed to get to that day. I’m pretty sure I used the word “crazy” to describe my new life as a part-time work-at-home mom.

When my husband and I reluctantly traded roles a few months ago, we really thought that his unemployment would only be a temporary situation. I’d finally gotten the hang of being a stay-at-home mom (yes, it took me three years to figure it out) and my husband admittedly dislikes making lunches and is intimidated by playgroups. But here we are — nearly four months later — and we’re still trying to make the best of our new situation.

Read more: If being a stay-at-home mom is great, why am I unhappy? >

As a stay-at-home mom, my role in our household was very traditional. I did the majority of the childcare, cooking and cleaning and while I may not have always been keen on taking on all those chores, when I put myself in my husband’s shoes, I realized he’s likely just as unenthusiastic about household chores as I am. And just like me, he dreads playing ponies and dolls. And when it come to playing ponies and dolls — well, we’d both rather do laundry any day.

Now working part-time, most days from home, I struggle constantly with the guilt that I should be doing more: more housework, more playing dolls, more Lego, more letting my husband have time to himself (something that I craved desperately as a stay-at-home mom). In the limited time that I have with my children now, I try so hard to make our moments happy and perfect — worries that I never had as a stay-at-home mom.

It’s totally a darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don’t situation. When I tried to reach out to other stay-at-home dads to find out how working mothers can best help their stay-at-home partners, all I got back was crickets.

I can’t be the only one plagued with working mother guilt, can I? Is this a taboo topic?

Tweet me your ideas and tips — @jenpinarski.