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Trading places: When daddy is always home

John Mckenzie, a stay at home dad, helps his children Cade, 8 and Jenna, 6,  wash the fresh raspberries that they picked from their garden. The children enjoy picking raspberries from the garden every day. - Photo by Jesse Beals
John Mckenzie, a stay at home dad, helps his children Cade, 8 and Jenna, 6, wash the fresh raspberries that they picked from their garden. The children enjoy picking raspberries from the garden every day.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

There are all kinds of nuclear-family arrangements in the new millennium.

As the CK Reporter concludes a two-part series on stay-at-home dads, we look at a true switching-of-roles. In the McKenzie family, mom works as a certified public accountant, while dad stays at home as Mr. Mom.

“After we had our first child,” said mother Terri McKenzie, “we decided to have a second child pretty quickly. We knew one of us had to stay home.... And I just didn’t have the personality for it.”

Mrs. McKenzie is a career oriented professional who was recently made a partner in Huddleston, McKenzie and Associates, CPAs, of Silverdale.

“I’ve been with the firm 12 or 13 years,” she said, and didn’t want to cut back, or quit. The couple’s children include an 8-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl. “It’s worked out beautifully — me working while (husband) John stays at home. I can work with the confidence of knowing my kids are getting the best of care.”

The McKenzies live in Tracyton, near Silverdale.

“He has a natural nurturing instinct. He’s happy being at home. We’re happy the way it worked out all the way around.”

As a full time stay-at-home dad, John takes care of son Cade and daughter Jenna.

“I’ve been doing it since 1996,” he said. Prior to that, “I worked as an electrician at the shipyard, 14 years.”

“I liked my job,” he said, “but I was traveling more, and didn’t like to be away from home. I love what I’m doing now,” he said. “Though there are days I wish I were punching a time clock.”

He was referring to the very full-time status of being the caregiver. Children take a lot of time and energy.

“In this job, you work from dawn to dusk — sometimes longer,” he said.

In discussing their respective roles years ago, it was decided Terri should keep her job because she makes more money. Her hours are more flexible, too, and she works near home with no traveling.

“We can go and have lunch with her,” said John. “Whereas we’d never be able to do that with my job.”

Mr. McKenzie said “The thing I like most about my job, is that I have the flexibility to take the kids and help out relatives — such as my Mom and my mother- and father-in-law” — with various projects.

Plus, he added, the couple used to have rentals they managed. He found it easier to work on those rentals.

“I’d take the kids and get them to help me.... It was an opportunity to teach them things.”

He said now that they’re older, he gets to help out at their school and be involved with their education.

All the household income comes from Mom, he said, but he’s no kept man.

“I have a couple of dirt bikes I ride. To get the bikes, I didn’t have to beg for the money. We have one account for us both,” he said.

Early and wise real estate investments have also helped the family.

“In doing this job, I’ve learned more respect for my mother and for stay-at-home spouses.”

He said he doesn’t know how couples who both have to work — or how single moms — handle it all.

“Oops,” he said during the phone interview, “I guess this is a good time to end our discussion — one of the kids just came in with a bloody ankle. Time for me to go back to work.”

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