7 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Stay-At-Home Writer / Dad

Before You Take The Plunge

Staying home with the kids may seem like a no-brainer for the aspiring writer who’s been dying to get serious about his writing career. There are plenty of good reasons to go this route. For most Writing Dads it boils down to more time with your kids, and more time for your writing.

Photo Courtesy of Brenna Richardson © 2013.

Photo Courtesy of Brenna Richardson © 2013.

Yet, before you take the plunge, you need to check the depth of the water.  Failure to do so can lead to a neck-snapping collision with uncomfortable reality. There are several things to consider before telling off your boss and burning the bridges between home and office. This list will help you get started.

 

7 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Stay-At-Home Writer / Dad

 

1) Can you afford to?

We start with the big one right at the top. You need to sit down with your loved ones and calculate the family’s income sans your personal paycheck. If you can’t pay for the mortgage, food, clothes, or running water without your income, do not quit your job.  Keep slugging away on nights and weekends. This is good for your soul. And fodder for  that lachrymose nocturnal monster you’ve been wanting to write about.

2) Can you afford not to?

The tables turn.  Childcare is freaking EXPENSIVE. With a capital EXPENSE. As I’ve mentioned before, putting my Taquito in childcare here would cost us in the ballpark $15,000/ year. That’s more than our rent. We could pay it, then just live at the childcare center. Then we wouldn’t need childcare anymore, I guess. But I digress.

3) How badly do you want this writing thing?

 If writing is just a hobby you piddle around with occasionally like that motorcycle/car/boat sitting somewhere on your property that you plan on restoring some day, then I wouldn’t bother. You will have just as many distractions when you stay at home with your kid as you do with your current job. Basically, if you aren’t forcing yourself into a writing habit now, you aren’t going to write much once you are home all day either.

4) How are you with kids?

An important question sometimes overlooked. Other ones include: How are you with Stress? Vomit? Blood? Poop? Emotional Fragility? Forget the paleo diet, twenty four hour childcare will take you to your caveman roots. Survival of the fittest. Prior experience in these areas is a plus. You may not be able to call your partner every time your little one starts spouting things out of an orifice. Also, some fathers just struggle with being fathers. Some men need eight hours at work so they can be sane and present with their children when they get home. Check your wiring and call me back.

5) Are you willing to cope with stigma?

Gender roles ain’t what they used to be. True. The problem is some  folks haven’t gotten the memo. No matter how enlightened your part of the country, or how supportive your network of family and friends may be, you will eventually encounter a douche. Probably several, fairly early on.  You need a game plan for how to deal with douchery that doesn’t involve physical violence. You will be caring for your kid at the time, remember?  And it’s not just them. If you walk onto a playground in the middle of the day you may clear the place of soccer moms who see you as a threat. Though it can be nice to have the place all to yourself, your kids need to learn how to interact with other people. And so do you.

6) Can You Divide Labor?

You will need to take on some household chores that you are as yet unaccustomed to in your adult life, or at the least, hesitant to embrace. Mostly, *ahem* cleaning things. Your spouse will be tired after work. She may not want to hang out with the kids right away. You will need to discuss mutual expectations before heading down this road.

7) What is the end game?

How long do you plan to stay home with your children? Until they go to school? Until they graduate from school? What happens if your writing is suddenly successful? What if it tanks? The harsh reality is that, though women often deal with dried up job prospects after taking time off to raise a child, the prospects are just as bad if not worse for men. If you leave your job to stay home and write, you may be embarking down a one way street. You need to think long and hard about what your goals are, both professionally, and as a family. Then, you take the steps necessary to accomplish those goals together. A fair amount of frustration can be avoided by simply figuring out where you are trying to go before you get there.

 

Those are some of the big ones. What have I left out? Are you a Stay-At-Home Writer / Dad? What else should people consider before starting? Leave a comment below.

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About 

Joshua Rigsby is a freelance writer, tea drinker, and full-time father based in Los Angeles, California.

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