Number of stay-at-home dads is on the rise

CHEVY CHASE, Md. (NEWSCHANNEL 8) -{ } In today's modern American family, dads aren't the only ones bringing home the bacon.

In fact, in a growing number of households, dads are the ones staying home and cooking it.

In the Wade household in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Jeff Wade says he enjoys the one-on-one bonding time he has with his sons, 4-year-old Noah and 18-month-old Ezra. He’s never too tired after work to play with them, because they are his “9 to 5" - Jeff is the stay-at-home dad in their family.

“I go around with this stroller - this double stroller - which is awesome, and I get so many smiles, and looks and comments walking down the street,” Jeff said. [In] “Bethesda, wherever I’m going, people are like, ‘that’s awesome, good for you, thumbs up.'”

Wade is one of a growing number of American dads who are making the conscious decision to stay at home with the children.

“My salary was going to pay for a year of daycare so it made no sense for me to be working,” he said.

After their second son, Ezra was born, Jeff and his wife, Rachel decided that she would continue to work and Jeff would take care of the kids.

“I’ve been home for 18 months," Jeff said. "It’s fun, it’s crazy, it’s exhausting. You know what you’re getting into, but you also get your eyes opened.”

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled from 1.1 million in 1989 to 2.2 million as of 2012. Twenty-one percent of today’s dads say they are home to be the primary caregiver, compared to just 5 percent 25 years ago.

“Your pride gets knocked down often - you can’t worry about messes, you got to let things roll off your back, but it’s worth it for hugs and there’s lots of fun moments every day," Jeff describes.

The good times aren’t exclusive to dad and the little ones. Groups like D.C. Metro Dads coordinate weekly playdates and offer dads a support network as they navigate the surprises of parenting.

“There’s sports, beer, but there’s bottles, diapers, Bjorns and strollers," he says. "It’s everything all smooshed together, but it’s been great."

Jeff doesn’t plan to return to work full-time until the youngest of his children is old enough for school, although the family is discussing part-time work. In the meantime, he enjoys his job.

“Don’t hesitate. Especially, if it’s really going to help you," Jeff says to other men considering stay-at-home status. "Our big thing was financially. But if it is the only way you have to go, don’t be scared.”