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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Take Your Child to Work Day is April 25

By Shannon Carpenter

April 25 is Take Your Child to Work Day. As a stay-at-home-dad, I have to show my children the wonderful world of unpaid labor. I’m a cook, maid, chauffeur, therapist, child psychologist, activist, nurse, and occasionally a bullfighter when a toddler doesn’t get a nap. Economists say that’s worth $126,000 a year, but I don’t even get a tax break!

My day begins at 6 a.m. because standard operating procedure for a stay-at-home parent does not include sleeping in. So, before the rooster yells, I’m already making pop tarts and sucking down coffee as if it’s jet fuel. 

Next, I sit for my first anxiety session of the day. For two minutes, I contemplate life’s bigger questions. Will climate change wreck the world so that my kids have to live in a sea shanty one day? Are we close to a war that will cause the draft to be reinstated? Have I taught my kids enough to thrive in the apocalypse? Anxiety is one of the many benefits of my job. That and not having any PTO. Ever. 

After I’ve totally freaked myself out, it’s time to get to the business of being an at-home parent. Primarily, that means touching really gross stuff. Kids (and life) are messy, and someone needs to clean it up. Fun fact, hydrogen peroxide can get biological stains out of a carpet. Do what you will with that information. 

At lunch, I make something, the kids refuse to eat it, and then I eat it myself. Another benefit of an at-home parent is the excellent over-eating nutrition plan. I’ve gained 20 pounds. 

After lunch, it’s time for another anxiety session. How’s the economy doing? It’s probably best not to look as a one-income family. 

Afternoons are for adventures with the kids. Did you know that the World’s Largest Ball of Twine is a real thing? We’ve seen it! And so is the World’s Largest Pair of Underwear. (I’ll need them if I keep eating everyone’s meals.)

Ready for quitting time? No, that’s not 5 p.m. I’m still working well past dinner. For bedtime I will spend a good two hours doing baths, reading, and trying to get the kids to sleep while wondering if I have transferred my anxieties onto them. 

But then I shut the door, and the house is quiet. I spend the next hour doom-scrolling, but then it hits me: I get to take the kids to work with me every day. I get to be the one that teaches them about the world. I am their rock. 

For the last hour of my day, I realize all the memories we have made and realize that there is no other job I would want to do. I am where I belong. 

Then, one of the kids gets sick in the middle of the night, and I’m back on the clock. 

Shannon Carpenter is a professional humorist and the author of The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad: Your Essential Manual for Being an Awesome Full-Time Father.