A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

What it’s Like Being a Stay-at-Home Dad

*We've partnered with BabyBjörn to show how modern dads are redefining parenting norms.

Have you ever seen a dad walking down the street wearing his baby, and done a quick double-take? Or watched a dad walking into the bathroom to change his baby’s diaper, and been infinitely impressed? We think we’re living in the age of parenting enlightenment, and yet, it’s often surprising to see someone other than mom taking on the primary caregiving role. It shouldn’t be.

We know there’s amazing dads out there sharing the load in parenting. But there’s not enough amazing stories about them. So we’ve partnered with BabyBjörn to share some #dadstories of fathers who are not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk. Often literally...while babywearing.

Meet Andrew Bentley, primary caregiver to 20-month-old Booker and founder of Father Figure, a clothing line designed to empower new dads. The former Google exec was “transformed” by fatherhood; soonafter heading back to work from paternity leave, he felt the pull to return home as a stay-at-home dad. Below, Andrew gets real about parenting, the baby/business balance, and what you should know about stay-at-home dads.

What was your plan for fatherhood before Booker arrived?

Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a dad. My plan was to be as active as possible in his life. To me, that meant sharing in all caretaking activities and taking as much leave and time off from work as possible in his first year. Fortunately I was working at Google when he was born, which gave fathers 12 weeks of paid paternity leave. And even though I had never taken care of an infant, I wanted to change lots of diapers and learn how to soothe him in an effort to be a big part of his early life. My wife, Betz, and I had talked about the two of us alternating in being stay at home parents but it was more theoretical and wishful than anything. Before he was born, I didn't know I was going to stay home with him but I was open to it. We didn't have a plan for either of us to leave our jobs.

What happened when Booker was born?

Going back to work after my paternity leave was difficult. I cried on and off the first day. Even though it got easier each day, I felt that my heart was with him. I went to an 80% role and spent every Friday with my son, and that gave me a taste for what it was like home with him on a consistent basis.

When did you ultimately decide to stay at home with him?

For me, becoming a parent was transformative, and I tried to listen to who I was becoming. I love being a father. In some ways it feels like a calling. After understanding that, it was a matter of trying to make it work, financially and logistically.

So...how did you make it work, financially and logistically?

I realize that it's a privilege to be able leave a salaried job to spend more time with my son. Thankfully we have some money saved, we have our health and we have a great relationship. It's much harder if you don't have that kind of stability. I remember a stay at home dad friend telling me that it's such a blessing and if you can do it, do it. Leaving that paycheck each month was difficult. I don't come from a family with a lot of money so the pressure had always been on my shoulders to create financial stability in my life. Now that my wife is working, that pressure has eased somewhat, but is still there. For a big life change like this, it's important to be on the same page as your partner. Betz has been incredibly supportive of my move to stay at home dad.

It also made sense to leave my job and spend more time with Booker because I wanted to start my own business, Father Figure. I spent the first few months with him full time while working during his naps and at night. I found that too difficult to get work done, and wanted him to get some socialization, so we put him in daycare part time.

How did your perception of "staying at home" match up with reality?

I knew it was going to be the toughest job I've ever had. It's physically draining and there are some gut-wrenching moments, when he gets sick. But almost every day, there's a moment where I am overwhelmed with love for him and my wife.

Was there ever a moment you thought: I made the wrong decision, this stay at home dad stuff is not for me.

The first few months I was having regular dreams that I was back at Google, in meetings and walking around the office. I miss the people the most. And I miss the free smoothies. But I'm very happy spending time with my boy and starting a business.

What are some of the challenges of being a stay at home dad?

A difficult aspect of being an active father is the lack of products and brands that include dads. I had to go out of my way to find baby books that are dad-centric. That's one reason the BabyBjörn #dadstories campaign is so great. They’re trying to emphasize that modern dads are taking on active roles in their kids’ lives, and redefining cultural norms. Our generation of dads is more active than our grandparents and parents, when it comes to taking care of babies. And sometimes we're excluded to the point of feeling like second-class parents.

Tell me about your dad friends.

I do have a lot of dad friends. I do dad fantasy sports with dads, and I'm in a dad’s basketball league that's competitive but friendly. No one fouls hard because we all know the other guy has to race home to help his son or daughter eat some pureed sweet potatoes in like 30 minutes. I am a part of a few dad groups here in Brooklyn. The dads were encouraging when I was considering leaving my job.

It's great to see all types of dads as primary caretakers, loving their children so much. We don't fit the stay at home dad stereotypes. Most of the dads I hang with left or put on hold thriving careers. One of my dad friends is a huge ex-Division One college basketball player. He's taking care of two girls, has a boy on the way, a mother-in-law with health issues, and a bunch of dogs. He's kinda my hero.

How did your experience staying home with Booker help inspire the launch of Father Figure?

The goal of Father Figure is to strengthen the loving bond between fathers and their children with fashionable and functional products. Taking action to feel prepared for your child, whether taking a class or buying a stroller, builds confidence and correlates with the amount of time a new parent spends with their child. Yet, when my wife was pregnant, I felt excluded from the preparation process. All the products and prep activities were geared towards the woman's experience.

What's one piece of advice you'd give a father-to-be?

I recommend spending as much time with your newborn as possible. Even if you don't have a parental leave program, try to take vacation or sick time. And most importantly, get some time alone with your baby. If you can spend one or two weeks without your partner there, it will pay massive dividends. You'll learn how to listen to your baby and your baby will learn to trust you. That's one way to develop a strong and loving bond.

Original photography by Ren’ee Kahn-Bresler for Well Rounded.

*This post was sponsored by Babybjörn. Find out more about Babybjörn #dadstories here.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna


5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

You might also like:

Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

You might also like:

Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

You might also like:

When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

You might also like:

The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.