Carving a budget out of one salary instead of two was a scary undertaking for Andrew Yanoschak. But after 11 years of being a stayat- home dad, he’s become a pro at stretching a dollar.
“The key is not to overextend ourselves,” he said.
Andrew and his wife, Cheryl, were living in Ohio when his mechanical engineering job was eliminated. He could have relocated to Texas to keep it, but didn’t want to live apart from the family, which at the time included two young children.
“My wife was enjoying her job, so it Was an easy decision to make,” he said. “I haven’t looked back since.”
The family has since relocated to the Salisbury area of Chesterfield County and has grown to include three children – Rachel is now 13, Jessica, 11, and Michael, 9.
“I thought some people might think it wasn’t a manly thing to do,” said Andrew, 44. “That really hasn’t been the case. Everyone has been very supportive. And I’ve been busier than I’ve ever been.”
When the children were younger, everything revolved around naptime and lunchtime, Andrew said. Once they were old enough for elementary school, he filled in the gaps by volunteering at church and school.
“And I do a little better job cleaning now because I have more time to do it,” He said. “I thought once they were in school I’d have plenty of time. I thought I might even get a part-time job. But I find myself involved in so many after-school activities” like soccer matches, guitar lessons, and basketball tryouts.
“It’s been great,” Andrew said. “It’s great to be home when they get home. We did the daycare thing for a while, but every day I think how lucky we are that one of us can be at home with them to be there to support them.”
Still, raising the children is a team effort. When Cheryl gets home from work, she helps with homework while Andrew gets dinner ready or gets to work cutting grass. On weekends, she might take the kids shopping for clothes while he completes a home repair project.
“Even though I stay home, it takes both of us to hold the fort down,” Andrew said. “That fortunately leads to plenty of opportunities for us both to keep close to our children.”
“There weren’t many men on the playground then,” he said. “It was mostly moms with their children. But that’s all changed. I see a lot more guys out there.”
According to the Census Bureau, the number of working moms who are the only breadwinners in their families rose in 2009 to an all-time high of 963,000 – or about 4 percent of the workforce. The number of stay-at-home dads edged higher, to about 158,000. That’s up from 140,000 in 2008.
“I think it’s becoming more acceptable now,” Jim said. “For our family, it was a very practical choice. It’s a decision we are both happy with and comfortable with.”
Jim, 30, was between jobs when he and his wife, Maria, had their first child, Cassidy, in 2003.
“I was teaching English as a second Language abroad,” he said. “When that came to an end, the timing just seemed right for our situation.”
The fact that Maria’s salary as a program manager was higher than her husband’s sealed the deal.
“I always tell him that he has the harder job,” Maria said. “Being at home with the kids is hard because you are doing the same thing day in and day out.”
The job is made more difficult because Cassidy is five years older than the Collins’ second child, 18-month-old Owen. What makes her happy certainly isn’t going to keep Owen content.
“He wants to follow her around,” Jim said. “He wants her attention. She wants to hang out with her friends. It’s sometimes difficult to keep both of them happy, but every parent is faced with that.”
One common interest is the pool. Dad also has luck taking them to the YMCA, play groups and playgrounds. During the school year, Jim has more flexibility. Cassidy will be in second grade this school year.
Even on school days, though, there is little downtime for a stay-at-home dad. Jim has plenty of chores – from cleaning and cooking to handyman repairs and yard work – to keep him busy. Plus, Jim is a part-time student studying accounting.
“I take satisfaction in what I do,” Jim said. “I have no problem scrubbing out toilets and vacuuming. It’s all part of the gig.”
The reward? Spending so much time with his children.
“I believe I’ve developed a stronger bond with my children because I stay at home with them,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want that?”
“When my wife became pregnant, she was making twice my salary,” he said. “I liked my job, but with the pay difference, it just made sense for me to be the one to quit and stay home.”
Today, the Tutings have three boys. Logan is 6, Liam, 4 and Wyatt, 2.
“I think I was destined to do this because of my personality,” he said. “You definitely need the right type of personality.”
Doing what was once considered “woman’s work” has not damaged Todd’s ego. This 37-year-old is not afraid to wear the family apron.
“The only ego blow is if you look at it that way,” he said. “It’s a huge role reversal for sure, and that’s hard to adjust to.”
Every day, Todd cleans house, does laundry, oversees naps, fixes meals and keeps three energetic boys entertained. Lucky for him, most of his diaperchanging days are over.
“Nothing really fazes me,” he said. “The work is just something that has to be done.”
For Todd, the hardest pill to swallow was trading in his Ford F-150 truck for a minivan.
“That was a sad day,” he said. “But we had to do it. When you stay at home, you learn to suck it up and you give up what your needs are. You look at what’s right for the kids and the family. That’s what being a parent is all about.”
Still, Todd does turn to others for help from time to time. He joined the Dads And Kids Club of Richmond a few years ago and today is the support group’s organizer.
Formed in 1998, the club has about 60 members who meet regularly for social outings, play groups with the kids, and networking.
“Just getting out and having fun is healthy for anyone,” Todd said. “When you are with small children all day, you need some adult conversation.”
Unlike working parents who report to traditional workplace settings, Todd can’t call in sick or take a day off.
“It is exhaustingly time consuming,” he said. “And it’s easy to get burned out. That’s why you really need to have a support group or another outlet. You need to make time for a man-cation.”