Preparing for your first baby is overwhelming. The to-do list feels never-ending from creating the sacred space that is the nursery to deciding on the right diapers to choosing childcare—even if your own spouse is the one staying home with the baby! One working-mom-to-be, who goes by WoahBabay on Reddit, sought advice for best supporting her husband, a soon to be stay-at-home-father. The comments that followed were filled with both understanding and encouragement, which is exactly what first-time parents need to hear when entering into this new and unchartered territory.
WoahBabay explained in her Reddit post that she’s due with her first child in January and that her husband will stay home while continuing to take online classes for his master’s degree. The Redditor explained that not only does her husband make much less money but also that she’s not interested in staying home after her maternity leave ends. Her hubby, however, is very excited to do so.
WoahBabay and her husband are well into baby preparations. They’re going to hire someone to clean their home biweekly and set up a grocery delivery service. And, WoahBabay won’t be completely disconnected from her family—she works from home at least two days a week, giving her the opportunity to lunch with her husband and baby on those days.
It seems that this couple is ready but, the expecting mom does have her concerns, mainly about supporting her husband and preparing him for a new social life:
“My husband is such an introvert, and while I found a local mom group for myself, he is hesitant to find a supportive network of dads (or moms, but I figure he could relate better to other dads sometimes). I obviously don’t want to force him, but I fear he may get burnout being with the baby all day. He has always worked or gone to school in-person. Between his classes being online and him staying at home, I don’t want him to lose adult interaction,” she writes.
Additionally, WoahBabay wants her child to socialize with other babies to build his immune system.
“Any advice is appreciated, and please don’t hesitate to tell me if I am overthinking things,” is how she wrapped up her Reddit post.
Redditor and partner to a stay-at-home-dad, Rachel1265 had these suggestions, which received the most points:
“Don’t manage your husband’s day. He’s an adult and just as capable of booking doctors’ appointments, making play dates, finding activities as you are. There is no reason to do it for him (unless he’s asking for assistance in these areas, then dive in).”
We completely agree. While she shouldn’t be in charge of her hubby’s daily activities, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to provide him with emotional support, which brings us to more advice from Rachel1265:
“Check in with your husband periodically. How’s he feeling? Does he need a day off? Get out of the house without wife or kids?”
Rachel1265 also emphasized a bittersweet reality for many working parents:
“You’re going to miss some moments that your husband is present for. I try to think of myself as lucky that a parent is there, instead of a nanny who wouldn’t get the same thrill as we do when my husband tells me about it.”
She had this crucial reminder for the working mom as well:
“When you’re working from home, you are working. Don’t spend it compensating by trying to do childcare/housework. You’re supporting the household financially. It’s important you do well!”
Amen. It’s unsurprising Rachel1265’s comment was so popular.
As a fellow working mom with a stay-at-home-hubby, Redditor Mage1984 had this to say:
“[My husband] is also an introvert. But I advised him to go to the park with them as I know there are other daddies with their kids. At first, he didn’t want to, but then he went one time and enjoyed it. It also takes the blues away from being all day at home with no adult interaction.”
Mage1984 shared more of her personal experience:
“The first time around it was really difficult. He did not go out or anything and would be grumpy every day. He wouldn’t even speak to me if I was a bit late from work. And I thought that this can’t happen again now. We are 6 months in and no signs of grumpiness. Baby is also different as it wants to be entertained all day. The first one would sleep so much in the first year. So please give him things and ideas to do. Otherwise, he will be disappointed and feel miserable.”
“This is what I am worried about, him getting grumpy and irritable. He is a big online gamer with his friends, so I know he will continue with that,” the OP responded to Mage1984. She liked the park idea and said that she’d encourage her husband to run errands with their baby too.
Mooncricket18 is another stay-at-home-dad with experience as a therapist:
“He will be on a rollercoaster emotionally. There will be days when he despises the situation and days where he is happy with it. Just be there and understand that his feelings may be a fluid situation. You already sound like you’re supportive so you’re most of the way there. Just listen. And for support groups, just send him to the SAHD Reddit. It’s a small group so it’s easy to keep up with and there’s always helpful people.”
It’s a refreshing reminder from another stay-at-home-dad that this experience will ebb and flow—and that the stay-at-home-dad subreddit is there for further advice and support whenever needed.
Redditor Tusante is another father who juggled childcare while taking online classes:
“Breaks from the baby are an absolute necessity! I highly recommend the stay at home dad Facebook group for him it’s a great support system, it has helped me tremendously!”
Tusante had this to say about the stigma around stay-at-home-dads:
“One of the biggest hurdles is getting past the typical stereotypes that men are supposed to be the financial supporters and not child caregivers. The constant jokes of dads babysitting, or mom needs a break from the kids while you are out running errands.”
He did, however, end on a positive note filled with encouragement:
“Being a SAHD is by far the most difficult and rewarding job I have ever had and I don’t plan on going back to a regular job until my kids are most likely in high school!”
In several months, even with all the prep in the world, we know that WoahBabay and her husband’s lives will change in ways they cannot fathom. But laying the foundation for a healthy social support system is a great way to start putting their minds at ease. After reading this advice, we hope WoahBabay compiles the best of these suggestions and looks over whenever she needs encouragement and a reminder that they’re not alone!