Daddy’s Day Every Day

The No. 1 way to make this working mom jealous? Interview several stay-at-home dads about the joys of spending every moment with their sons and daughters.

“There’s never a missed first step, never a missed first word. I knew the day would be here because I’m with him every single day. I watched him practice. I knew when to have the camera out because I knew that today was going to be the day when he tried to go from the couch to the coffee table,” said Austin Dowd, stay-at-home dad to 2-year-old Emory.

Sounds awesome.

I know every day isn’t fun-filled and full of milestones, but a growing number of dads are choosing to embrace the ups and downs of full-time parenting. “It was our choice for me to stay at home. Even before we were pregnant with him, it always seemed like the better fit. So far, it definitely seems that way,” said Dowd.

David and Ella Sias                                                      Austin and Emory Dowd

Dowd has stayed home with Emory since he was 3 months old, when his wife, Mary, returned to work and a blossoming career at a medical software company. For a few months Dowd was homebound with his newborn son, but when he was ready to find social interaction for Emory and himself, he encountered a few bumps in the road.

“When we first started trying to get involved with play group, it was really hard to find groups that were open to having stay-at-home dads involved,” Dowd said. Dowd found that for many moms’ groups, open breastfeeding and the discussion of other women’s issues made them hesitant to welcome dads.

Dowd discovered the then Raleigh Stay-At-Home Dads group on, a website that helps people of shared interests plan meetings in their communities. The group’s leader and current members were inactive, so Dowd took on the role of organizer and attempted to get the group up and running.

“We started off having playgroups at the house. At first it was nobody, nobody, nobody then all of a sudden eight guys showed up,” recalls Dowd. The Dowds’ Cary home, with its central location, drew dads from Raleigh, Durham, Apex and Cary to the playgroup meetings. Dowd changed the group’s name to Triangle Stay-At-Home Dads, and they now scatter meetings throughout the municipalities.

Shane and Emily Snider

“Now, the playground now is much more for him than it is for me,” Dowd said. “Whereas when we started out it was just for me to go out.”

The group has grown to almost 100 members, with two regularly scheduled playgroups a week. Dowd says most playgroups draw between four and 10 dads. “The guys in our group are very outgoing. We’re looking to get out and meet up.” he said. They’ve even added a Dad’s Night Out event this year.

Shane Snider attended his first meetup with the group in April, after an Internet search for stay-at-home dads groups led him to Snider stays home with his 16-month-old daughter, Emily, and balances full-time parenting and working from home. “I’m in a unique position to be home with her and not spend extra on daycare,” Snider said. “I work when she’s napping and when my wife is home.”

The Sniders’ arrangement is common among work-from-home parents, but Dowd thinks these dads may not see themselves as stay-at-home dads. “Stay-at-home dads are more common than people do perceive. Not a lot of people are outward about stay-at-home dads unless you are another stay-at-home dad,” he said.

Austin Dowd organized the Triangle Stay At Home Dads Meetup group as a way to socialize with other families with young children.

Snider is a wedding photographer and admits his decision to stay home with Emily was last-minute. He closed his downtown Raleigh studio and started working from home when his wife returned to work as an environmental scientist at RTI International.

“I have really had to learn time management skills,” Snider said. “It was easier when she was less mobile.” He added, “Taking on more responsibility helps me to be a better dad. I understand her needs better.”

Attachment and closeness are some of the many advantages to being a stay-at-home parent, mom or dad. For Dowd, “It’s definitely the most fun you can ever have with a full-time career. We’ve decided that no matter what happens in the future, there will be some way that I’ll be at home full time with him.”

That’s not to say there aren’t also hardships, particularly scaling back the household from two to one income. “Finances are the hardest part. We sometimes have to play financial magic to keep a life we are comfortable with without borrowing money,” Dowd admits. “But this is what we chose. I don’t know if it would be easier the other way. This is what we wanted.”

Despite the growing number of stay-at-home dads nationwide, Dowd still encounters surprise when he explains his situation to others. “We go to the Kroger down the street. Every time I’m there with Emory, one of the cashiers says, ‘Oh is this dad’s day out?’ and I have to remind him, ‘Every day is dad’s day out.’”

Dowd says the Triangle Stay at Home Dads group is open to any parent, male or female, to join at any time. “They just have to be comfortable talking about cars and beer.”

Join the Group

Tuesday Playgroup
10:30 a.m., location varies

Thursday Playgroup
3:00 p.m.
RDU Observation Par

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