By Stu Gray
It started a couple of years ago when I left my full-time job to work for myself. My wife was already a realtor working from her in-home office. I made the transition so I could participate more in my son's life and I couldn't be happier.
Our morning routine usually consists of our son waking us up at an ungodly hour, my wife getting up to fix him breakfast and me hopping in the shower. When I finished getting my "hair did", my wife hops in the shower, while I enjoy breakfast with the kiddo, usually with a side of "Dinosaur Train" on PBS.
As my wife emerged glistening and freshly primped for the work day, she headed to her office and I head to mine. Her office is located off the kitchen, while I get up and travel to my office in the spare bedroom. We are the "new" WAHPs (Work At Home Parents) and we make it work.
Being a work-at-home parent and stay-at-home dad has not only made me a better father to my son, but also made me a better husband to my wife. Here are some of the ways working from home has helped our relationship:
1. I make my own schedule.
This is not as easy as it sounds. If our son wants attention, he is going to try and get it from one of us and he will keep on pestering us until one of us gives in. Unfortunately that is tough on our work, especially for me since it is hard for me transition from work to play then back to work.
But because we set our own schedules, my wife and I can carve out that space for him and be his playmate when he needs one. As a family we build forts, draw pictures and make memories that are priceless.
2. I have flexibility.
Outside of the daily work for my blog, I work on a project-by-project basis. No more "looking busy" at a 9 to 5 job. I spent 80% of my time at my previous job acting busy so people would think I was earning my keep. I could finish my job in roughly 8 hours a week, but I still had to look busy the other 32.
Not any more. I work when I have work. My wife works when she has work. Together we adjust, we look at calendars, we reschedule and negotiate when one of us can make appointments, while the other one is super parent. This also means we have time to work together and be supportive of one another and our son.
3. I love what I do.
Being a stay-at-home-work-at-home parent allows me to work on things that I really want to do -- for myself, and for the benefit of my family. I attach my name to projects that make me feel good. My wife loves helping people situate their lives into homes that can be a blessing for them.
We don't do it for the huge bucks that a corporate player might make. We do it because we love what we do. And doing what we love makes us both happy and fulfilled so we don't bring that excess baggage of career dissatisfaction to our relationship.
4. My wife and I are a team.
Both my wife and I are the "breadwinners." We don't lean on just one of us to make our household run. We are parents and business owners. All of the dollars we make go into the bank and help us pay our bills.
When one business is slow, the other picks up slack, or we figure out how to earn more or cut back. It is a team effort. We've found that by collaborating on our work, we learn to work better as a team.
5. My wife and I both participate in the life of our son.
When I was growing up, most of my time with my dad was spent visiting the office and talking to him on the phone while he worked. Don't get me wrong, my dad was a part of my life as much as he could be. Yet, his obligation to a 9 to 5 job limited that family time.
Because I'm a stay-at-home dad, I take my son to school. I have been to several class outings, swim lessons, soccer practices and games that I might not have been able to experience if I was working 9 to 5.
In recent years, many fathers are choosing to stay at home with their kids or work at home.
While some traditionalists look at this trend and decry the end of traditional values in relationships, I am happy with my decision to work at home and spend more time with my son.
By participating in my son's life I am allowed to be the father and husband I want to be and I can't think of better traditional values to uphold.
Of course this takes sacrifice. You may have to downsize and not be living in the biggest house on the block. You may have to work as a team to make enough income to support your family. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
At the end of your life, are you going to care about the trinkets that you bought or the years you lost never getting to know your kids or your spouse?
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
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