What would life be like if Dad stayed home?

I have often wondered what our household would be like if my husband were Mr. Mom.

We’ve gotten a few glimpses of this Bizarro World this year, and to my chagrin, I have to admit that many of the changes would be positive. In fact, it took me several months to figure out any downsides.

One thing is clear, that the differences would be extreme. On the leadership spectrum, I’m closer to Albus Dumbledore, encouraging self-discovery and creativity. I’m always around to give a child a shoulder to cry on or a pat on the back. Michael is closer to George S. Patton offering regimented leadership, high standards and a kick in the rear.

Michael respects discipline, order and, most of all, efficiency. Under his leadership, the house would operate more like Fort Bragg and much less like the than the Montessori environment I’m currently running.

Our rooms would be uncluttered, and dishes would be put away immediately instead of becoming the teetering mountains of pots and pans I leave for days on the drying rack.

Toys would be only in the basement. The dirty laundry pile would never get out of hand, and every load would have fabric softener. (I always seem to forget that step.) Beds would be made, bathrooms would be tidy and even the dog would smell better.

The children would go to bed on time, rise on time and eat dinner at exactly the same time every night. They would bathe themselves in an orderly fashion and towels would always be hung.

Meal time would be very different. I’m a big believer in variety, and I love to get the kids to try new things. Michael would rely on a standard rotation of five or six healthy meals  — mostly pasta, rice and chicken with fresh fruits and vegetables. He also hates waste so many meals would be leftovers.

At playtime, I like to bring a chair and a book into the backyard while the kids play. Michael brings sneakers, balls and is constantly inventing new forms of crazy competition. The other day, he was beaming all three of the kids in some kind of violent dodgeball that all of them seemed to love.

A Michael-run house would be efficient, tidy, healthy and fun if you wanted to play Daddy’s games, but I think the family would lose the creativity, excitement and sense of wonder and joy that I think we have with me home all day.

The markers and paints that the kids and I enjoy so much would be outlawed under a Michael regime. Play-Doh would be a No-Doh, and our sandbox would have never been filled. He’s not a big fan of kids experimenting in the kitchen, and a kid slopping through the mud can send him into a rage.

Michael wouldn’t expand the kids’ horizons and make them try new things. And, he wouldn’t be understanding when they were just kind of sad. Sentimentality is not his strong suit.

There would be no special birthday cakes iced and stacked to look like a giant Lego tower or an extra Elmo cake made a week after the baby’s birthday just because she kept saying: “Elmo cake all gone!” In fact, birthday parties, which I take pride in making unique, would likely be outsourced to the bowling alleys, pizza places or whatever company could do it efficiently.

While Michael would get the kids to school of religion or extra-curricular activities, he would make no effort to get to know any of the other parents or teachers. He would not be room-dad, nor would he chaperone the second-grade overnight zoo trip. And, those teachers, bus drivers and coaches would never get a present or a thank you card.

There also would be considerably more yelling in the house – more yelling to pick up their stuff, more yelling to do their homework, and more yelling to eat their dinners.

Holidays would also be less fun. Michael would do basic decorations inside, but no wreaths on windows, lights above doors or bows on the fence.  He might fill Christmas stockings but Easter baskets would never be seen again. He particularly hates dyeing eggs and that plastic Easter grass that inevitably spreads all around the house.

The good news is the kids don’t have live in just one world or the other.

The kids can have their creative, messy time with me in the afternoons before Daddy gets home. I can make their holidays, birthdays and their childhood full of special memories. And Dad can help us be neat, orderly and organized. As a team, our strengths come together to make a pretty happy home for our family.

How would your house be different if Dad stayed at home? Could Dad handle all of the childcare and housework? Would he be neater or messier? Would he engage with other families or keep to himself?

(As more and more men are laid off around the country, some are choosing to stay at home. Features writer Helena Oliviero will be writing about this trend and how stay-at-home dads are affecting family life. Be sure to check it out next Sunday!)

17 comments Add your comment


May 3rd, 2009
5:32 pm

Ughh I hate to think of a Dad run household. Too many games of “tag” with kids tripping/sliding/getting bruises who knows how in the eternal avoidance of being “it”. I am the orderly one (thanks Army), and the “rough-housing” usually drives me nuts- especially in public. This should be a great topic for next week- your favorite Mother’s day gift- something materialistic or just the whole family behaving as they should!!!! I cook more than huuby, although he is capable, and bathing the girls (ewwww pre-teen girly parts for him) so yep that goes back to me too. Pick 5 outfits Sunday night so you don’t go to school looking like a clown. Yes I pack the lunch-although hubby and 10 year old are able to. I think the next topic should be….how many girls’ weekends a year does it take you to stay sane?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 3rd, 2009
7:00 pm

Hey Guys — I posted a new story on Jon & Kate Plus 8 under our Pop Culture section on the right-hand side of the page. The question is: Did Jon cheat on Kate???


May 3rd, 2009
7:25 pm

Hmm. Well, since my husband HAS been working from home for the last 18 years, I think I can speak definitively on what a Dad-run house is like! Before I was self-employed, I worked part-time, short-term, for a couple of companies. Those were the days that my husband had the run of the house. Laundry got done (but not the folding), meals got cooked (but the dishes were still there), beds weren’t made (eh), but kids got lots of stories read to them at bedtime, help with homework, lots of play on the playset that he built for them from scratch, and got to wherever they needed to be after school. He was a little befuddled by the little girl clothing — one Sunday, he carefully dressed her in an adorable two-piece outfit, frilly socks, patent leather shoes and a cute bow — I -didn’t have the heart to tell him that he had picked out her new pajama outfit, I just grinned and let it ride. My motto: “Pick your battles — and appreciate the effort.”

We have different styles — but as the kids have gotten older, we have gradually accomodated to each other’s styles, and if one of us is less passionate about an issue, then the one that feels the strongest about it takes responsibility for it. The one constant: Kids know better than to try to play one parent off on the other — retribution was swift and merciless!


May 4th, 2009
12:10 am

I’ve no doubt that my husband would have been capable of being Mr. Mom, but things would have been done differently, definitely not the way I’d have done it, but the job would have gotten done. He has more patience than I do, but would not do well with tutoring, homework & elementary school projects. He’s a procrastinator and readily admits it. That would all fall into my lap. As much as I dislike schedules, prioritizing is necessary in keeping kids on track. He would definitely be more play and my son probably would have been involved in even more sports.

Seriously, I think my husband would be a high maintenance Mr. Mom. He likes attention and I’m no so sure I could give him what I did as a sahm, if I had been working fulltime. When we were first married, his days off were always mid-week. After spending most of the day alone, because most of his friends worked 9-5, M-F, he was almost bouncing off the walls by the time I got home. (We were renters then, so there was no yard to mow, etc.). I can’t imagine what he would have been like after spending all of his time with a sick infant or child for days. I can recall days like that, yearning for adult interaction, only to have him come home irritable after a rough day at work, traffic, etc.

I know he would have loved being Mr. Mom for the PTA. He enjoys female company and loves to be the center of attention, the big ham. And, he is very entertaining, reporting back on what was going on up there. He went up to my son’s school a couple of times a month during the elementary school years, because, again, his days off usually included a weekday, Monday or Friday. Like I said, he has a bit of an ego, and the attention he got from the ladies at school was an added bonus for him. However, if he was home fulltime, once school started, I don’t think he would have done as much as of the volunteering as I did…he’d probably be at the driving range & golf course, that high maintenance thing again. He has kicked in more at home since I went back to work fulltime, and that is a pleasant surprise. Cooking is not an issue for him…his is a grad of the Culinary Institute of America. If he had to be at home, he would, but I think he is happy the way things worked out for us. Our son will be off to college in the fall.


May 4th, 2009
7:52 am

Gotta scoot…I do NOT watch Jon and Kate: however, I cannot understand what anyone would be doing at this time ( night or morning???) at a bar without their spouse but with someone of the opposite sex.

I am all over the country for business and can only see that this could spell trouble.

Who would feel perfectly fine with her husband or his wife doing this with a “friend”…? Maybe I am too old LOL.

Scenario: “Hi Kate, I won’t be home for a WHILE I am taking a friend out for a few drinks…”
RIGHT! We may never hear the truth here as they are toast for TV if they break up.

Will check back later….and comment on your other topic. Have a great day!


May 4th, 2009
8:42 am

If my husband were at home our house would be cleaner, everything would be put in its place, but all of the “extras” I think are important would be thrown out the window! When my kids were younger we did Toddler Thursdays at the High, free Mondays at Botanical Gardens, Kindermusik classes and saw all the puppet shows we could at the local libraries. I was an at home mom for a couple of years and absolutely loved staying at home raising my kids. I’m absolutely positive they would’ve missed out on those activities if he were at home. Instead, they would’ve been enrolled in all sports activities. With him at home there would be no fussing about getting rooms cleaned or homework completed, nor would there be much tattling (he just won’t listen to it). Fewer hugs would be given and not much conversation would go on.

We have very different styles in raising our kids, but that’s what’s so great about our family. I am the nurturing mother that allows them to get messy, listens to their problems, allows them to help with dinner and yes, I will hug my son if he falls instead of just saying, “He’s okay, he’s a boy!”.


May 4th, 2009
8:59 am

I just really don’t ever want to find out what it would be like!! We all like it fine just the way it is. : )

Although, my hubby would probably act like Theresa’s Michael. They must have been separated at birth! : )


May 4th, 2009
9:46 am

My house would be ran like RJ’s..My husband wants our house to look like it’s not lived in..Everything would be kept out of site, even our tooth brushes would be put away in the cabinet..

The kids would never have a homecooked meal, no birthday cakes, no toys out or on the floor..The girl would never have girlie makeup..It would be a very dull life for us..

He’s a great guy and can fix anything around the house, but day to day dealing with “little” stuff that I do, just isn’t his thing..He wants the house spotless, but expects me to work a fulltime job, deal with the kids, all the wash, all the grocery shopping, all the cooking, while he works and “chills” when he gets home..


May 4th, 2009
10:14 am

Umm… I would LOVE to have Theresa’s hubby at my house, haha! My house sounds like her’s already… laundry, dishes, clutter, no strict bedtimes, etc. But I know having my hubby be stay-at-home dad would NOT help any of that! It would get worse (if that’s even possible)! :)

Jesse's Girl

May 4th, 2009
11:38 am

If he did cheat…..it wouldn’t surprise me. She publically castrates him in front of cameras daily. She treats him as if he is inferior and about as intelligent as a fly. I don’t condone it…but I can understand it in this situation. You have to build your husband up…let him know he is your honey….not a sperm donor with a pay check. Sorry….this girl hates Kate.

Per the topic….if Jesse stayed home everyday, the laundry would always be put away and the floor would always be swept. But the kids new BFF/God parent would be the Papa John’s pizza guy:) I gotta a good one y’all….he just can’t cook worth a patooty.

Georgia Girl

May 4th, 2009
12:15 pm

Jesse’s Girl-
I agree it’s pretty dispicable the way Kate treats Jon but wouldn’t you say that he could stand up for himself to her rather than take it? If my husband spoke to me that way, I would walk out of the room and I certainly would not do whatever he was ordering me to do. Cheating is such a cowardly way out though; it solves nothing. I think it would be much healthier for their relationship and their children for him to stand up for himself and let her know he isn’t going to be verbally abused anymore.


May 4th, 2009
12:44 pm

I’d give my right arm for someone else to do it, and I wouldn’t complain about HOW it was being done!!!! But alas, I’ve done it alone for that last 18 years…..imagine being the only one who does EVERYTHING all the time!!!! I’m a little tired……ha ha


May 4th, 2009
12:52 pm

On topic: My husband would have been a great stay-at-home Dad when our two were younger.

On Jon & Kate plus 8: I agree with Jesse’s Girl. Hate Kate, like Jon. The twins are whiney brats and the six little ones are cute but can be whiney. I stopped watching after the episode when they answered the e-mails. Couldn’t sit through another show. Kate was at the Books-A-Million two Saturdays ago on the southside. She was to be there from 1-3. People got tickets at 9:00 to get in. Went back at 2 and she was gone. The sales clerk told them that Kate said at 1:30, “These people suck, no one showed up, I’m going to the northside”. Now, I heard this from a friend who said she went, but, it is hearsay. I wouldn’t put it past Kate though.


May 4th, 2009
1:59 pm

My husband was a great stay at home Dad with our son. I have mentioned that he worked nights and came home at 7:30, whereupon I headed out the door to teach Kinder in a small town in Texas.

He has been a great father to our children . He took my daughter to the nail and hair salon yesterday. But he has never planned a party nor even paid for it!

That being said…he has no household organization and frankly I am not as picky as I was when we first married as I do not have the energy! I find dishes, cutlery and random clothes laying around in our garage. I found a can opener that he bought me last year and was supposed to return sitting out there yesterday…also a crockpot…he took it to work and cleaned out his car and left it in the garage. He also brought in about 6-8 insulated coffee mugs that were buried under stuff, when he cleaned his tools out.

I have NEVER seen him make a sandwich in 27 years of marriage. A few years back, I left a nice roast in the crockpot with carrots and potatoes and was told…we would rather go out to eat…it is easier and no one has to wash the crockpot. YEP it is easier and too bad we cannot afford to eat out 3 meals per day. He does not do fruits or vegetables except bananas and corn….we call him the beige eater. NADA for a balanced diet.

I know he can use the vaccum, sweep and iron his clothes. I have never seen him mop the floor or clean a bathroom. He has never dusted. He does load and empty the dishwasher and generally take out the trash ( without a reminder). Cooking consists of mac and cheese, breakfast items and any meat we can put on the grill: does putting it in the microwave mean cooking?

He was GREAT about going to school and eating lunch with the kids when he worked 4 ten hour days. He has also volunteered at parent’s nights and went on field trips.

Homework help NO WAY….once he was supposed to calling questions to help my son study for a test and he fell asleep in his recliner.

BUT he can tear anything with an engine apart and put it back together….this includes auto repairs.

If they are fine with living in an unorganized mess with fast food and love…mine would survive.
Fortunately, this is not something I need to worry about as our kids are almost 17 and 22.


May 4th, 2009
2:09 pm

Re: Jon & Kate – who cares? Honestly, their 10th anniversary is June 12th (according to Wiki). Either they’ll make it or they won’t, but either way doesn’t affect my life in the slightest. The glare of publicity and celebrity has finished off more than one celebrity marriage — why should this one be any different? Living life day to day is hard enough — doing it with every hiccup spread across the National Enquirer is just more stress on a family that, I sense, is already stressed to the max.


May 4th, 2009
2:22 pm

Thank you DB, I don’t give a rat’s butt either. These people have no affect in/on my life, so I don’t care. I could care less about any celebrity and their relationships.


May 4th, 2009
4:14 pm

Mom always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I think I’ll stick to that today! :D