Jel Edwards is a stay at home Dad in Brighton and has a daughter Myla, 6 and a son, Reuben, 4. He has been a Stay at Home Dad for most of the last 5 years. We talk to him about his life and his experiences.
Q1.Tell us a little bit about your decision to be a Stay at Home Dad (SHD) My wife, Shirley and I were both working full time when our daughter was born. I was employed on a contract basis while Shirley was on a more defined career path. Shirley was keen to continue her career and I was happy to take a break from work and stay home with our daughter. I had such a great time that I volunteered to do the same when our son came along. I went back to work while Shirley was on maternity leave but took over again when our son was one year old.
Q2. Take us through your typical day I’m usually up at 7am. I drag the kids out of bed at half past 7 and get them ready for the school run. My blood pressure usually spikes around 8:20 as I get them out of the house. After dropping Myla at school my son, Reuben and I will hang out together. He has a couple of clubs he goes to for swimming and gymnastics but if it’s a free day we’ll go to the park, beach or meet up with friends. It’s back to school to collect Myla in the afternoon and on to any club she has lined up. Then it’s home to prepare dinner and we’ll chill out before the bath and bed time routine. On a school day they are usually in bed by 8 o’clock.
There are the chores to be done at home but I generally try and fit those in when the kids are both out at school and pre-school.
Q3. What are the reactions of other Mums on you being a Stay at home Dad?
Pleasantly surprised I think. They’ve all been very encouraging and supportive.
Q4. Are you welcomed into the Mums and kids clubs? I have always been made to feel welcome although I didn’t really make a big effort to make friends at the clubs we went to when the children were very young. I’d occasionally stay for a coffee after the club had finished but I was more interested in having fun with my children than getting to know the Mums. As the children have got older and settled into longer term clubs like gymnastics I have got to know the other parents better and have developed some good friendships.
Q5. How do other Dad’s react to you being a SHD? I’ve had a mixed reaction but generally people are positive and encouraging. I’ve had Dads who have young kids say “I couldn’t do what you’re doing”. Guys who have no kids have said “I’d like to be doing what your doing” and I’ve spoken to Dads who have kids that are older and leaving home who have said “I wish I could have done what you’re doing”.
Q6. How has being a SHD changed your view of yourself/self-image? When I initially stopped working I did go through a phase where I was worried about no longer earning money and how people would view me. It took a bit of time to turn my way of thinking around to seeing what a great opportunity I had. I’d been working for twenty years and I’ll probably work for another twenty so taking some time out to enjoy one of those great life experiences was good for me. I feel I’m generally a calmer and quietly confident person now. I view things from a different perspective and there’s less stress. I also decided that while being at home I wouldn’t completely switch off from being productive in a professional way. I wanted to continue learning new skills so I created projects and set myself goals. I completed some of those projects too!
We’ll hear more next week from Jel on his life as a Stay at Home Dad!