Stay-at-home dads may be the subject of a lot of jokes on sitcoms and in the movies, but the reality is, they work just as hard as stay-at-home moms do. Plus, they get added benefits that working dads don’t get to reap—from more time bonding with their children to improving their culinary skills. So as a salute to stay-at-home fathers everywhere, here is our list of the 10 best things about being a stay-at-home dad.
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1. He learns to cook! Even if Dad’s culinary skills weren’t so hot when he was a bachelor, being a stay-at-home dad changes all that. He’s preparing healthy breakfasts, packing nutritious lunches and cooking dinner for the whole family. That takes some skills!
2. He learns “new math.” Because a stay-at-home dad is helping with homework, science projects and the like, he’s kept up to date on changing learning styles, curriculum and technology. So he’s better prepared to help his kids with their studies, and advocate for them to their teachers if something isn’t working.
3. He’s attuned to trends. A stay-at-home dad, especially if he’s a parent to tweens or teens, will have a much better sense of what his kids like, and which musicians, television shows and video games are popular with them and their peers. While it’s not essential that he be able to sing along to Justin Bieber songs, it does help him relate to his children.
4. He knows his kids’ friends. Again, this is so important for parents of tweens and teens. A stay-at-home dad knows who his kids’ friends are, he knows their parents, and he know who to trust and who to keep an eye on. His kids can invite friends over to their house, and he can get to know them—and keep an eye on them!
5. He can organize the house the way he wants. The stay-at-home mom rules the roost, and that’s no different for a stay-at-home dad. Whether it’s folding t-shirts a particular way, scheduling chores for the kids or buying certain brands of food or cleaning products, a stay-at-home dad gets to call the shots under his own roof.
6. He gets to know his community. A stay-at-home dad drives his kids to and from school, goes to PTA meetings and soccer practice, and takes the kids for walks or bike rides in the neighborhood. He gets to know and participate in his community at a level that’s just not possible for working dads.
7. He really gets to know his kids. We’re not suggested that working dads and moms don’t bond with their children. But a stay-at-home dad, just like his mom counterparts, by virtue of the additional time he spends with his children, really gets to know them, and their moods, likes and dislikes. When one of his kids has had a bad day at school, the first person she’s going to unload on is her stay-at-home parent.
8. He better understands gender stereotypes. The stay-at-home dad, whether he has boys, girls, or both, is bound to be more keenly aware of gender stereotypes and pressure placed on his kids. He sees it when he shops for their clothes, toys and even their school supplies and snacks. He can help build his kids’ self-confidence and sense of identity and individuality in a world that still wants them to be either pink or blue.
9. He gets to play more with his kids. Whether it’s clowning around at bathtime, playing on swings at the park or teaching them to ride their bikes, a stay-at-home dad gets a lot more precious play time with his kids—moments and memories that he and his children will treasure for years to come.
10. All those extra hugs! What does more facetime with his kids translate to? More hugs! With all those extra hours together, a stay-at-home dad is going to get more hugs, kisses and “I love yous” from his kids. Sure, he’ll get more pouting, crying and tantrums too. But at the end of the day, it’s the hugs he’ll remember and cherish.