They get together like any other group of stay-at-home parents, meeting regularly at parks with their kids to talk about naps and housework ... and, that's right, the upcoming Father's Day weekend skeet shooting outing.
It was just another gathering for the Triangle Stay At Home Dads, which began meeting up around 2009, according to co-organizer James Kline. The group has about 110 members. About 20 are active, regularly coming to park outings and dads' nights out. Stay-at-home dads find friends, 'co-workers' through group
The group was kind enough to welcome me and my daughters to their weekly Thursday afternoon playgroup at Observation Park at Raleigh Durham International Airport about two weeks ago. The kids, who ranged in age from infant to grade schooler, played in the sand and ran the kid-sized runways. There were bubbles. The dads gathered to talk, commiserate and get out of the house.
There were jokes about whether the best Father's Day gift would be a 3 1/2 hour nap and a discussion on the usefulness of Clorox wipes. And there was, of course, talk about the upcoming skeet shooting trip.
"We do talk about breastfeeding, diapering and potty training," Kline tells me. But the talk also often veers toward movies, beer (many brew their own) and cars too.
Kline found out about the group through the GreenPea Baby store in Apex when his son, now 19 months old, was an infant. His wife had returned to work and, after sitting around the house for a couple of weeks, he joined online and has been going ever since.
For Kline, the group provides a social outlet for both himself and his son. He shares tips and gets advice from other dads. His son meets up with kids, forms friendships and learns things like how to share.
Even though his days are spent on the playground or at a children's museum, Kline refers to his fellow stay-at-home dads as his coworkers. They get together monthly for a dads' night out where, as Kline puts it, they talk about things that "aren't safe for work."
"These are my coworkers." said Kline, who worked as a project manager in health care IT before he quit his job to stay home with his son. "That's how I introduce them. People will look around and say 'Hey, you don't work.' Yes, we do work."
The group also gets together twice a year for family picnics. Most of the dads are at home with their kids by choice, Kline tells me.
"One of the best things about our group is the diversity of members and kids," Kline wrote me in an email. "We have a spectrum of age, financial status, religion, ethnicity, education and parenting philosophy. It always makes for interesting conversations (even though they only last for 20 seconds before someone is chasing a kid)."
Kline is certain there are many more at-home dads in the Triangle. He's worked hard to get the word out since becoming the group's co-organizer.
"Probably eight out of 10 trips to the store I have the conversation of what I do, how to join and generally spread the word," he wrote in the email.
The group meets weekly from 3 p.m .to 5 p.m. at RDU's Observation Park, a great opportunity for dads who want to check out the group before they join. The group also visit parks around the region on Tuesdays.
For details and to join, go to their page on Meetup.com. Watch my video interview with Kline to learn more about the group and see scenes of the playgroup.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday, but in June, we're featuring local dads.