Family Business

September 12, 2013

First, let me say that our family is lucky to have the option of having a stay-at-home parent. My wife, with much hard work, has excelled in her career allowing me the option of being the stay-at-home dad and Chief Household Officer.

As Chief Household Officer, my job is to run the family business: The Family.

We don’t manufacture, process or develop anything. We. Just. Are. And it takes a lot of work to keep everything moving smoothly. As a stay-at-home dad in 2013, I look back with great awe and gratitude to the women who performed this role without the benefit of our current level of technology. Thanks, Mom!

The myth that a stay-at-home parent sits around and watches TV all day is not valid for anyone I’ve talked to about this topic. In fact, I don’t even turn on the TV until well after 5pm each day. While I work around the house I listen to NPR so I stay informed on current events.

I have run my own business in the past and did everything from sales, productions, accounting, IT and maintenance. It is the same with the family business.

We have two kids, ages 9 and 11, so my operating hours are between 8am and 3pm. After they get on the bus I get to work. If the weather is good I’ll perform landscaping and grounds maintenance. Mowing the lawn, Trimming the hedge. Tending the garden. Re-seeding the lawn. Weed-whacking. Turning the compost.

Once the outdoor work is done I can turn my attention to administrative tasks. With the iPhone and a desktop computer I am able to pay bills, manage our accounts and monitor our investments via E*Trade. I’ve grouped all our payments around the same time every month; so, once a month I can go through the list to make sure we pay everything on time and on budget.

While on the computer I’ll also schedule our entertainment on Netflix. Since we don’t have a cable subscription, I research appropriate shows and movies for our kids and find more obscure titles my wife and I can watch while the kids are asleep. We try to get the kids to balance their viewing of entertaining and educational shows. My son and I are now watching episodes of Historic Tank Battles and we are both learning more about World War II in the process.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I also do the food shopping and most of the cooking. Cooking, cleaning and laundry are always part of the daily routine and take at least one or two hours every day.  When the kids return on the bus it is time for snacks, homework and then chauffeur duty for sporting activities.

If a handy stay-at-home parent can do their own maintenance and repair, money is saved and things get done around the house. With the help of Google and YouTube you can easily troubleshoot broken appliances and household items. For example, I was able to take apart and fix the $100 Shop-Vac with a $2 part instead of having to buy a new one. I also put siding that was leftover from our home renovation on the old shed to match our house. Last week, I bought a refurbished Kenwood radio, one that allows us to listen to Pandora and iTunes in the car, and installed it myself.  Now we can listen to the kid’s custom stations in the car without commercials.  In years past, I have repaired the dishwasher and the clothes dryer. All these things, if done by other people, would cost hundreds of dollars and strain the family budget. Not to mention the hassle of shopping for and installing new items and removing and disposing of the old ones.

Overall, I believe that all these tasks that a stay-at-home parent can do help the family business run smoothly and economically. And as a result, we create less waste and have a smaller impact on the environment as we are using all our resources to the fullest extent possible.

And, perhaps, most importantly (at least for my sense of self-worth), I feel that I am contributing to the Family Business. Perhaps I will get employee of the month and the good parking spot in the lot.

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