Brad Scott walked away from a lucrative career into the unknown world of being a stay-at-home parent. Here is why he feels it is the best decision he ever made.
Seven months ago, after working for the same company for just shy of 19 years, I quit. This was an action that was about 18 years in the making, but I’m not one who is particularly fond of change… I have a wife and two young children, a mortgage, no college degree, and I walked away from a very lucrative career and the only real job I have ever had.
It sounds insane, I know, but after so many years of trudging through mental and sometimes physical anguish, I decided that the old cliché about life being too short to hate what you’re doing is actually good advice. I have lived with anxiety and unhappiness for so long that I decided I had to make a change. So, with the support of my wonderful wife, I left the corporate world to become a stay-at-home dad (or “house husband,” as my wife now refers to me). This was very scary, but it was also a priceless opportunity to spend a summer with my five year old daughter and eleven year old son. The final summer before my daughter started elementary school, and possibly the last summer that my son would consider allowing me to hang out with him. I had every intention of finding a new job – a new career – once the kids were back in school. However, I didn’t realize what a positive impact staying home would have on our family, or how rewarding it would be to me.
We had a truly amazing summer that I will never forget, and that has hopefully made a lasting impression on my children. While we limited our spending, we did not limit our fun. Oddly, I have found that living frugally doesn’t equate to having fewer opportunities, but instead can force you to stretch your imagination and find better ways to spend true quality time together as a family. We spent many days at parks playing tennis, hiking trails, and having picnics. We read books and told stories. We did art projects and sang songs. We spent hours just talking and becoming closer. When you are working and constantly on the go, it’s easy to forget how fast your kids are growing up. It just kind of happens, you know what I mean? Spending all day with your children slows life down greatly. If you are willing to open your mind, you can truly live in the moment and experience life as your kids are seeing it. This is extremely special.
Besides the time I have enjoyed with my children, I have become a better cook, have gotten many projects done around the house, can fold laundry like a bad-ass (my wife might disagree), and have lost 10 pounds. I’ve also found that I am grateful for the things I have, and no longer care about many material items that used to seem so important. After 42 years, I’m really starting to discover myself – and I like the person I’m finding.
Although very rewarding, being a stay-at-home parent is by no means easy. It requires a great deal of patience, organization, and a drive to be productive. These are traits that may commonly be more apparent in women, which might be why there is a definite misconception and double standard when it comes to men who decide to stay home. Many people assume that I lost my job and am always looking for work. Friends and family will often look me in the eye, channeling Dr. Phil, and very quietly, sincerely ask, “Are you doin’ okay?” It’s obvious that they assume I must be depressed and that our family is surely struggling. On the contrary, we are truly better than ever. My wife and I laugh about this often. She has a good job and is capable of supporting us. Why shouldn’t I (or any man) stay home when we agree that it’s a good idea, it’s better for the kids, it’s easier on her, and we are all happier? It’s funny how whenever a woman says that she is leaving her job to be a stay-at-home mom, people automatically respond positively. “Oh, good for you! That will be great for you and the kids!” But you can hear a pin drop when it’s a man making the same statement. Many friends have admitted that they think I’m crazy for the decision I’ve made. I think I’m the luckiest guy around.
A writer and artist named Karen Lamb wrote, “A year from now you’ll wish you had started today.” I read this quote about ten months ago and thought about it literally every day until the day I quit my job. In fact, I was reciting it in my head as I walked into my boss’s office to hand him my letter of resignation. This quote was my greatest source of inspiration, and it pushed me to do what I had to do. I still think about it, and hope it can inspire others. There are hundreds of thousands of people who fantasize daily about quitting their jobs. Change is very hard and very scary, but progress usually happens outside of your comfort zone. If you are unhappy with your job, or any aspect of your life, you have the ability to change it. You don’t have to suffer for years because you feel there are no other options. I am proof that change is not only possible, but that sometimes the grass is in fact greener on the other side.
Being a stay-at-home dad isn’t for everyone, but it suits me. I had every intention of finding another job once school started, but I feel being home is where I belong right now. I love getting the kids up, ready and off to school, and I want to be there when they come home. There is plenty to do around the house during the day, which makes life easier on all of us. If you are looking for a change, and have kids, I would strongly encourage you to consider staying home with them. I don’t think you’ll regret it, and I know your kids will always be grateful, even if they don’t realize it now.
Photo: Flickr/ Jon Bunge
Read more Brad Scott here.