Sunday, December 2, 2012

Celebrate Fatherhood: Life as a Stay-at-Home-Dad | Guestpost by Daddy King of the Household

Sakura Haruka is not a blog just about celebrating motherhood. It shares the joys {& frustrations!} of parenting and of families as a whole. Inspired by my hubby's thoughts on being a dad, Celebrate Fatherhood is thus a monthly series where daddies from all walks of life share insights about what fatherhood means to them, and how we can appreciate their role in a family too.

I sincerely thank all those who took the time to guest post for me. Most of those I approached were very supportive and enthusiastic about this new series, sharing my belief that being an involved dad, and getting the dads involved, is important in building a strong family. If you have a story to share, please email me at sakuraharuka {at} live {dot} com.

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Hi, I am Phil. I was made redundant (retrenched) from my IT job in England in August 2010. We decided to relocate to Singapore where we have more relatives.

My wife started her job in Childcare in March 2011. My role as stay-at-home dad started in Singapore, when Zephany was about 9 months old and Zack was 5 and started his K2. Before I was committed the role as a stay-at-home dad, I admit that like most typical men, leaving the care of children to my wife.

When I was working in England, I worked shift, either from 7am to 4pm or 8am to 5pm or 2pm to 10pm. When I came home from work, if I was early enough for the kids to be awake. I used to ask “how was your day” and “how was school”. Then I played with the kids till bedtime, read a book and put them to sleep.

When I started to be a stay-at-home dad, I soon learned new set of skills, became juggler of 2 different age children’s needs, from trips to the park, feeding them, changing nappies, putting them to sleep, taking Zack to school. In the morning, bring Zephany along to pick Zack up from school at lunch time and in the afternoon, spent time putting Zephany to sleep and playing with Zack. Sometimes I get asked on the street, “where is their mum”, I will reply, “she’s at work” and I was also asked “who is looking after the kids”. I think people expect me to have domestic helper or mother-in-law to look after my children. I told them that I look after them and they are mine to look after. People also seem surprise that a man of 50s can do this or maybe want to do it. Sometimes people think that I am the grandfather, people are not used of seeing an older dad, I am very proud of my kids, especially when Zack said to them that “he’s my dad”.

As stay-at-home dad, I sometimes feel undervalued and lonely during the day where people rushing off to work, I sometimes get jealous of them. I feel left out of life sometimes. Miss the journey to work, chat with colleagues about football, about last night’s TV programs, we moan about going to work, coffee break, miss the “wall to kick at” attitude, missing the day to day life in the office. I miss working life. Some people said to me “you are lucky, not going to work”. Yes I am! But people fail to understand that I miss out on things they take for granted. My role in life has changed now that I appreciate how hardworking looking after children can be.

Now that my daughter goes to childcare and my son in primary school, I feel more undervalued and lonelier. In the morning, when my wife start work early, I bring Zephany to childcare then bring Zack for breakfast or to the park before going to school as he is in the afternoon session. Then I will bring Zack to school in the afternoon. My day is full of getting him ready for school each day, taking him and picking him up from school, making sure he done his homework and checking his completed work. I am all by myself in the afternoon, doing some housework, looking for jobs on the website, etc. I feel useless sometimes, when my wife working hard and I am doing nothing at home. I miss working.

During school holidays, I bring Zack for bike rides, trips to Science centre, swimming, etc.

For those who are reading this and wonder why I can’t work, is because I am holding a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP), I am not allowed to work or companies won’t want to employ me, unless I have a Long Term Visit Pass Plus (LTVP+) or a PR. Some of our friends asked, why can’t I get a PR, my wife and children are Singapore Citizens. We leave that for the government to tell us. We do feel left out and neglected by the government sometimes, where most foreigners who work and live in Singapore get PR so easily and they have no connection with Singapore but my wife and children and also my in-laws are Singapore citizen but the government can’t help us even after few appeals.

Anyway, I enjoy being a stay-at-home dad and am also desperately looking for a job. When I am home alone in the afternoon, I am always looking forward for my wife and daughter to come home. I will meet them at the shops. I look forward to every evening when I sit together with my wife and children by the dining table having dinner, talking about the day at work and in school. That’s the best part of the day.

Well, I can tell you, I have been busy! It’s been frustrating, stressful, enlightening, exciting, fun and fulfilling time. Learned a lot being a father and lots about myself. An adventure that I wouldn’t want to miss out on. I wonder will people understand that it’s not been a holiday, I have been doing an important job where some people might want to but not able to. Being a parent is the most important job. Most fathers don’t spend enough time with their children.

Humans are weird, when we are jobless, we wish to work, when we are working, we wish to be at home. That’s life!

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Phil is a stay-at-home-dad {SAHD} to 2 beautiful children, Zephany who is turning 3 in Dec 2012, and Zack who is 7.5 years old. His wife, Jennifer, works as full-time childcare teacher.

Personally, I do not know of any SAHDs and I'm glad Phil took the time to share his story on the blog today.  We often hear how SAHMs feel undervalued, so it's interesting to hear from the other side and learn that the same frustrations uttered by SAHMs and discussed by guys in the same position too. A recent study found that SAHDs has doubled in the past decade in the U.S.,  and that these daddies are happy in their role. They love what they do and felt pride in being more involved with their kids' parenting. Gender roles are blurring as society evolves, and no matter who brings home the bacon, let's not forget to take the time to thank one another for sacrifices made. Because ultimately, it's all for the kids.


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3 comments:

Brandi Yee said...

Thank you so much for sharing Phil! It really is easy for people to feel undervalued staying at home with kids, and it's interesting to hear it from a dad's point of view. And especially since it's not so much by choice, as you would like to be working. Regardless of the situation, you ARE working hard and providing for your family in one of the best ways possible...being there :) Good luck in your job search!!

Theresa said...

I agree with Brandi! The sahd is very undervalued. Children get their nurturing for BOTH parents, so why is it so accepted for the mom to stay home but not the dad? I applaud you for taking on the job as a sahd. It's not an easy task by far!

Veronica @ Mixed Gems said...

Very interesting read. I can totally imagine how people would think this situation is strange, especially in Singapore. I'm sure everyone I know there has domestic help. Thank you for sharing your story, Phil. Wishing some doors open for you and your family soon.