Gabrielle Blair (@designmom) is moderating this panel.
Jory Des Jardins (@JoryDJ): co-founded BlogHer. Did not have children at start of the company; she decided to be primary breadwinner. Her husband, Jesse, did landscape architect work, but became a SAHD when the economy dropped, and they had a child.
Gabrielle Blair and Ben Blair: Have alternated working and being “at home.”
Troy (@troypattee) and Jyl Pattee (@jylmomIF): Met while working in marketing. Got engaged, so Jyl had to leave the company. Later, had children, and Troy had been laid off, so started his own business. Troy lost his business in 2008, and Jyl started her own company (Mom It Forward); Troy became a SAHD.
Jyl: When Troy’s depression hit, his deciding to focus on being a great father helped improve it. They didn’t choose the roles they’re in, which has been a struggle for the marriage, but they made the decision to work through it, and now they’re coming on the other side, and it’s going well.
Jesse Markman: Now they’re both working, so having to prioritize careers and the children.
Jory: It’s a struggle currently. The assumption is when she comes home from work, it’s immediately time to be mom and involved with the children, but needs some “me” time.
Gabrielle Blair: Nice that both of them know how to take care of the children and the household if the other needs to travel; that wasn’t always the case.
Jory: Recommend getting professional help. The didn’t do an “all or nothing” approach to getting help with the children.
Jyl Pattee: Therapy has been a huge help to them. She knows lots of people who don’t get help when they struggle. Always create memories together, too. Memories of nice experiences can make enduring the hard times feasible.
Troy Pattee: Create great family time whether a great destination is involved or not!
Gabrielle: Situations change, even when you figure out how to solve an issue. For example, when they moved to Oakland and had 3 children in 3 schools, they needed to get someone to do the driving for the children so they didn’t have to spend so many hours in the car each day.
Jyl: Assuming the one who works won’t do anything around the house doesn’t work.
Troy: A big part of his depression was his nontraditional role; assumed neighbors thought bad of him because he was at home all day. There’s no resentment or anger toward Jyl about this; it was just self-doubt.
Jory: Was hard when she realized she wasn’t the go-to parent when a child needed something, since when she was little, she went to her mom.
Ben Blair: Default position of being in a role similar to what he saw growing up has only been their normal for a small percent of their life, so it means adjusting expectations.
Troy Pattee: Biggest support group he has is the Facebook dads group. This has been great, since most men have a smaller support system than women, in his observation.
Jyl Pattee: Has a good support system online and offline. Especially with the depression, has found resources online. Visiting Gabby and Ben Blair while in France was helpful, as she looks at them as examples of support systems.
Jesse: Felt had no support network at all as a SAHD. Approaching someone else was difficult at the park, for example, when it’s all moms. His guy friends were jealous and had the perception that he played video games all day.
Ben Blair: There are no role models for the life they’re building. No road map, either. No longer think of it as a journey with a map; it’s more of an adventure, exploring an unknown territory.
Jesse: Realizes that he’s lucky to have all the time he has with children.
Jory: Gravitates toward tasks that involve planning, since that’s her natural inclination. They’ve divided up task based on their talents instead of a “you’re domestic; I’m not” type of labor division.
Jyl: Be deliberate instead of reactionary. Had to think of herself as “the dad” and her husband as “the mom” when trying to figure out how to go forward based on what she saw growing up. Troy doesn’t like that label, as it detracts from his manhood.
Gabrielle: Were married and with children early, in their mid-20s. Did not enjoy being the stay-at-home mom at all. Asked Ben if he would like to do that, but he did not either! So, they figured out they needed to split their days and be flexible with their careers.
Ben: Didn’t want to not have a relationship with his children like many dads with a traditional working schedule do.
Jyl: At a crossroads now. She works at home and has had flexibility.
Jesse: Likes his role now. Despite his having gone to grad school, didn’t think he was going to go back to work, but someone he used to work with offered him a job out of the blue, so took it.
Troy: He has to worry about something that women used to only worry about — returning to work after being a caregiver for years and years.
Jory: Has always been working so has no regrets. Was never a decision; always planned to work.
Jesse: Hard now that back at work because enjoyed all the time he spent with his kids!
question from Katherine (@postpartumprog): How do you deal with the prioritizing that often comes with the difference in who’s making the money (or more money)?
Jory: Her sister has that, too–even though she’s very well educated and is a professor, her husband is the higher earner as a lawyer. For Jory, she claims the precedence, because she’s been the breadwinner for much longer.
Troy: Has asked Jyl to look at all their family’s needs and not just who makes the most money when they restructure their time and priorities.
question from Katherine (@postpartumprog): is there ever any competitiveness with social media between the parents?
Gabrielle: She thinks Ben should have a big audience for the things he says online that don’t get much readership!
Jesse: Doesn’t have interest in being active on social media–it’s not the way he expresses himself.
Jyl: Both she and Troy are on twitter, etc., but she was first. They both feel good about each other’s successes there.
Jory: Need to find time to be together since always seem to plan time to themselves and with the children, along with work.
Jyl: They get pedicures together sometimes. Troy puts the “man” in “mani/pedi.” Her parents took a 2-week vacation together every year, so time for the couple was modeled for her.
Ben and Gabrielle: They will go to run errands together, because they started doing it while living in France, and she couldn’t speak the language very well. Still do it now!
**live blogging update by Michael (@dadcation)**