When mom has a better job
SUMMIT COVE – Kaylee sucked her thumb and curled up safely on her dad’s lap in the toy-strewn living room. The children’s music played softly in the background as her brother ran in a circle carrying a stuffed animal.He briefly stopped to ask their dad a question.Steven Jones patiently answered his almost 4-year-old son’s second request for gum with a sweet but definite “no” before continuing.”We decided that I should stay at home because my wife has a better job,” Jones said with a smile. “It just worked out that I should be Mr. Mom.”And he is not alone in that. The U.S Census Bureau estimated the number of stay-at-home dads to be 143,000 about nine months ago – a number up from 98,000 in 2003.Also, 20 percent of fathers with employed wives were stay home during the day with their preschooler and 32 percent of fathers regularly worked night shifts and were the took care of kids while mom was at work. Up from 400,000 in 1970, the number of single fathers is now 2.3 million with 18 percent of those living with their children.And in resort areas like Summit County, where the number of dual-income families is high because of the cost of living, 82 percent of moms work – one of the highest in the country.”The term stay-at-home dad or working mother, I wouldn’t use either because we’re a team,” said Jon Jeffrey Miles, who is home during the day with his children.
‘It goes by so fast’The cost of day care was a factor in both Miles’ and Jones’ decision to stay home with their children, they said”With two kids in day care you better have a good job because money will be coming in and going out,” said Miles, who has two boys. His son Keenan, 5, started kindergarten this year at Dillon Valley Elementary, and Finn is turning 4 this month.According to Early Childhood Options, day care averages $40 a day, and it is more expensive for infants and toddlers or to be in a center than in a home day care.
Miles and Jones both feel lucky to be able to stay home with their children, they say. And while some days mom cannot get home fast enough, they said they wouldn’t want to miss a moment.”It goes by so fast,” said Miles, as Finn climbed on his back and rolled on top of him playfully. “That’s another reason to stay home.”When Miles and his wife, Jennifer Pratt Miles, who works as a mediator, first came up with the plan for him to be home with the boys during the day, outsiders had their doubts that he would keep it up. That was about five years ago, and he is still making it work, while bartending at the Blue Spruce Inn in Frisco four or five nights a week.”You get that a lot – ‘I don’t know how you do it,'” Miles said.
Friends may also have had their doubts about Jones staying home. He and his wife, Patti, who works in the title business, have two little ones. Kaylee is 18 months old and Jack will be 4 on Sunday.”A lot of my friends who don’t have kids think I don’t do anything,” Jones said.But just spending an hour with him, Jack and Kaylee, it is easy to see that is not the case. Jones’ day starts about 6 a.m. with, he said, “typical stuff any house mom would – putting laundry away, making a chicken casserole for dinner and answering the never-ending questions.”It teaches you patience. You learn to let the little things roll off your back,” Jones said. “You straighten out the house and then Jack’s giving Kaylee some juice and she’s dumping it all over.”Even still, every day, these adorable, energetic little bundles of life make him laugh, he said. One of their favorite activities is rocking out to ’80s heavy metal – the songs without bad language, of course. Anything messy, like Jack gluing things to his sister’s neck, are also favorite pastimes for the two.Like any stay-at-home parent, these dads need breaks, and grandparents make that happen. Also, Jones escapes to Keystone to set up ski races some weekends which gives him a chance to regroup. “Just being with them, it can be tough sometimes. You’ve got to have a lot of patience, but any time you’re not with them is time you’ll never get back,” Jones said. “When they’re both happy is the best time because a lot of the time they’re both screaming,” he added with a laugh and Jack emphasized with a scream.