5 Things Moms Can Learn From Stay-At-Home Dads


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It’s a sunny afternoon and the park is full of kids. Toddlers whoosh down the slide. Parents rock babies in their arms. It’s the usual routine, except for one thing: Each parent is a man attending a Triangle Stay At Home Dads playgroup. This 200-member organization gathers regularly to socialize and share child-minding responsibilities.

“It’s awesome,” says Austin Dowd, organizer of the group. The other dads agree.

What’s more, they have a few tips for moms. Here are five things moms can learn from stay-at-home dads.


1. Make connections. Because at-home dads are in the minority, it can be alienating.

“It’s important to have other dads to connect with so you know you’re not alone,” says James Kline of Apex, another group organizer and an at-home dad of two. This is true for moms, too. Whether it’s a weekly playgroup at the library or an informal get together with other moms, finding a community of families to talk to and swap child care with can help make the job easier and more enjoyable.

2. Fix things with duct tape. Lunchbots or Ziplocks? Snugglis or Ergos? Amber beads or teething rings? The sheer volume of baby and toddler gear on the market is overwhelming. While the right stuff makes the job easier, it also makes it unnecessarily expensive and burdensome. Stay-at-home dads don’t worry about stuff like that.

“I think dads are less inclined than moms to do what everyone else is doing,” Kline says. “The moms in my neighborhood are more likely to buy the latest gadget for their kids, but we just fix up the old stroller with duct tape.

3. Don’t go it alone. It can be hard to co-parent, especially if one parent works and the other stays home.

“At first, I’d hear my wife talk about the kids and what they needed and for a while I felt like: ‘I can figure this out on my own!’” says Scott Benner, an at-home dad of two and author of Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal, published last April. “At first it was a bit combative. Then I realized that I needed to include her, so I’ve tried really hard to make sure I incorporate her ideas into what I’m doing with the kids.”

It’s good advice for moms, too, who may think they are supposed to have all the answers. Remember, everyone is figuring out this parenting thing as they go along.

4. Forge your own path. In an era of Pinterest and endless streams of parenting advice, don’t get overwhelmed by directives such as, “Is your child overprotected?” “Does he get enough outside time?” “Should I limit her screen time?”

“One thing I learned early on is that I just had to do this in a way that suited me,” Dowd  says. “At first I was concerned that there was one right way, but once I let go of that, it became so much easier.”

The same holds true for moms. Whether you work a high-powered job or are raising the kids at home, let go of expectations and don’t be afraid to forge your own path, tailored to your family’s unique quirks and demands.

5. Take a gender-neutral approach. Sure, men still tend to mow the lawn and fix things around the house, but at-home dads can also soothe crying infants and make dinner. Likewise, Mom can throw a ball with her kids or teach them how to build a treehouse.

“This experience has really taught me that the reactions you have to your kids are based in your responsibilities, not your gender,” Benner says.

Jill Moffett is a freelance writer and full-time mother in Durham. She blogs regularly at jillmoffett.com.

Dads Hold Down the Fort

According to the National At-Home Dad Network, there are at least 1.4 million at-home dads in the U.S. today, and more than 70 percent of dads who stay at home with their kids do so by choice, not because of a job loss. If you’re a dad who stays home with your kids, there are more resources available to you than ever before, such as:

  • Triangle Stay At Home Dads. The group has up to 20 members per event and attracts dads from all over the Triangle area. Learn more at meetup.com/triangle-stay-at-home-dads.
  • Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal. In this book, Scott Benner writes about his journey as an at-home dad of two, one of whom has Type 1 diabetes. He blogs at scottbenner.com/blog.
  • Dad or Alive. This blog is written by writer and stay-at-home dad Adrian Kulp, who has worked for Adam Sandler and Chelsea Handler. He humorously chronicles what it’s like to be an at-home dad in his book, Dad or Alive, and on his blog by the same name: dadoralive.com.
National At-Home Dad Network. This organization offers resources, a blog and an annual conference. Learn more at athomedad.org.
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View map »


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View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
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More information

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2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Preschoolers (ages 3-5 with an adult) learn what wild animals do in winter by pretending to be animals that hibernate, migrate or just stay warm in the cold, winter woods! Take a hike, do a craft,...

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
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Explore nature through play!  The Main Library is partnering with local Tinkergarten leaders Heather Murphy and Kate MacCartney to bring the fun of nature indoors.  Join us as we investigate...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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January Story Time, Puppet Show & Art Activity Puppet Show Incorporated https://www.puppetshowinc.org/ presents the classic Aesop fable The Lion and the Mouse. Activities include a story time,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Carrboro Library
900 Old Fayetteville Road
Inside McDougle Middle School
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Carrboro Branch Library
Telephone: 919-969-3006
Contact Name: Beth Hawkey
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Want a wild start to your new year?When you’re facing the after-holiday blues after packing up the decorations and taking down the tree, never fear. Come celebrate the new year in a thrilling,...

Cost: $20 - $26

Where:
Animal Park at the Conservators Center
676 E Hughes Mill Rd
Burlington, NC  27217
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Sponsor: Animal Park at the Conservators Center
Telephone: 336-421-0883
Contact Name: Taylor Sharp

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
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Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
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Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
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Family Wildlife Series: Owl Prowl Saturday, January 18, 6-7:15 p.m. Venture into the night on a Blue Jay hike.  Learn about owl habits and adaptations as we listen for these nocturnal birds....

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.