The Stay at Home Dad: Entrepreneur Edition
Guest post by Eric Stauffer
The term stay at home dad often conjures up the image of a father taking the little one(s) to Mommy-and-Me classes, doing the laundry during nap time, cooking dinner, and generally doing the necessary activities around the home to keep the household in good working order while mom is at work. For some, it is a choice made as a couple for a variety of reasons. Perhaps mom’s job pays more, has better benefits or just allows for a work/life balance in a more reasonable manner than dad’s career. For others, such as myself, it just sort of happens on its own because of the current circumstances.
As an entrepreneur at heart, I have always been looking for the next big idea and dreaming of working from the spare bedroom in our home. Grabbing lunch in the kitchen, playing with the kids for a few minutes, and then heading to the home office to finish up was always the goal. As our first child’s birth started drawing closer, a recent project had begun to grow into something more than a hobby, and my wife and I decided that I should stay home and work on it while she went back to work after the baby was born.
What a great situation I was about to be in. Work all day from home, play with the little guy and take him on walks. It really was my dream starting to come true. Not only was I going to get a lot of face time with my son, which a lot of dad’s would kill for, but I was also going to have a lot of time to work on my business.
Everyone has heard that babies and kids are a lot of work, but you really do not understand until you actually have one (or two, or three…) My thoughts of waking up, catching up on emails with my coffee, feeding the little guy, putting him down for a nap and getting to work quickly went out the window. I had it all planned out in my head how my day would go, but someone forgot to tell my son.
The first three months my wife stayed home on maternity leave and it was great. I am positive I took that time for granted, but they always say hindsight is 20/20. My boy is six months old now and we are starting to figure each other out. We have finally discovered his preferred napping schedule, and that has helped with work time a lot. Before there was structure, a to-do list was a pipe dream. Trying to meet deadlines became very tricky, and the ability to write apology letters for late assignments became second nature.
These first six months have taught me so much about prioritizing your work and home life and here are some of the most important:
- Keep a List – Keeping a running list of everything you need to do is priority one. Without it you will become lost. I cannot count the number of times I have been in the middle of something only to be interrupted and forgot what I was doing. Prioritizing the list is also crucial because there is no guarantee you will get to everything that day. If you are out of food, you better get to the grocery store first because you don’t know how the rest of the day will go
- Keep People in the Loop – If you work with people on a regular basis, make sure they know what you are juggling at home. Friends and colleagues are much more understanding than many may think. But you also have to come through with your obligations. Using the kid excuse too many times can be like crying wolf.
- Get Sleep – This one is almost laughable at times, but it is so important. Proper sleep will allow you to get a lot more done in the limited amount of time you have throughout the day. For those who think this is impossible, turn off the TV. You will be amazed at how much time you can save.
- Find Some Uninterrupted Time – If you can scrape together as little as an hour a day that your spouse or partner can take the kid(s) and leave you to yourself, you can knock off the most important work items on your to do list. Whether it is getting up an hour before everyone else or sitting on the laptop instead of reading the latest James Patterson novel before bed, a guaranteed time to work is critical.
- Work Together – Probably the unsung hero, you and your spouse or partner have got to work together and be on the same page. It can be stressful handling everything on your plate at once and that is why you have a teammate. Figure out a schedule that works for both of you and help each other out as much as possible. We have a saying in our house in regards to chores and miscellaneous tasks: “If you have time to do it, just do it.”
As a final note, I have the privilege of going through all this with my wonderful wife. For those that are doing it on their own, my hat goes off to you. I wish I had some advice for those running solo, but I unfortunately do not. However, I do anxiously wait to read your article (whenever you find the time to write it.)
Eric Stauffer is a merchant services consultant and work/stay-at-home dad. His firm helps small businesses that are looking for credit card processing from companies like COCARD and Pivotal Payments. As a small business advocate, he reviews merchant contracts and helps business owners negotiate the best deals.