Grant Hale’s résumé gives a glimpse into why the former Cummins employee traded in a career-track position for the challenge of a lifetime — being stay-at-home dad for two young daughters.

“Responsible for the health, safety, well-being and security of daughters along with management of all household issues,” his résumé lists under his job description.

“Create, problem-solve, manage and coordinate all activities, as well as oversee physical, emotional, educational and social development of two daughters, ages 4 and 1,” his résumé states.

Hale was a field program officer for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border in 2007-08, leading a field office working with relief agencies to work on development projects in the war-torn area. He also worked as a program analyst for the USAID Office of Food for Peace Institutional Support Project in Washington, D.C., and was a graduate student intern at the United Nations Foundation there.

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But that was then.

Today, Hale admits there is a challenge to his role as a full-time, stay-at-home dad that he never imagined in his days before starting a family in Indiana.

“I was in a war zone on the border with Pakistan and none of that is as stressful as raising two children,” he said, with tongue-in-cheek humor as his wife, Dr. Amy Hale, grins at his analogy.

“I guess I thought if you can handle the Taliban, you should be fine with two little children,” his wife said, laughing at her husband.

But Grant Hale is serious when he talks about the difference between being on his own in life, visiting 47 countries, some of them danger zones, and how it now compares to the responsibility of caring for a family, a wife and two little girls.

Making the move

In June 2013, when Hale gave his notice at Cummins where he was working in global purchasing, he became the primary daily caretaker for his daughter Margy, who will soon be 5, and later for Nellie, who will soon turn age 2, as his wife moved into her new job as the family care physician for VIMCare Clinic at Columbus Regional Health.

Now, his thoughts often revolve around the girls’ well-being, health and happiness — instead of conference calls, business trips and computer screens.

As he talked, Nellie crawled into his lap and pointed to her father in a photo wearing a Kevlar vest with the Afghanistan landscape behind him, and said “Daddy.”

“I have this sense of accountability that comes from the responsibility of taking care of them,” he said. “I’m responsible for their health, safety, daily welfare — every aspect of their lives. So if they don’t get sick and they meet all their developmental milestones, that’s success.”

As he embarked on his new role, he created a job description for a stay-at-home dad that he keeps on his phone and can recite fairly quickly.

It begins with short-order chef and security detail and includes the roles of best friend, psychiatrist and teacher.

And there’s also coach, nurse, chauffeur and wardrobe director, although he admits to being challenged at some of the roles on his list.

In wardrobe, Grant Hale leans more toward wanting to dress the girls in the style he finds comfortable, cargo shorts, camo-print clothing and T-shirts, while his little girls are more often in clothes that their mother has selected — which this time of year includes cotton sundresses.

And although he lists hair stylist, on his job description list, he describes that responsibility as one he has not yet mastered.

“I can’t do pony tails or braids. I don’t do hair,” he said, grinning as he admits he’s watched the YouTube videos on it, and still struggles. “I tried it, and I stay away from it. It just doesn’t go well.”

On the other hand, there are things he does excel at — including the good-natured horseplay that dads and kids enjoy. He can easily lift both girls in his arms to give them hugs, and listens to them intently when they tell him where their day is headed.

“We do adventures,” he said of how he spends his days with his daughters. “I do love the freedom that we have. We can decide every day what we want to do.”

Many times, Grant Hale allows his daughters to set the agenda, whether it’s taking a walk down to the woods near the Flat Rock River to explore what’s off the path, or taking a wagon ride to explore their near-northside Columbus neighborhood. There also are trips to kidscommons children’s museum and The Commons playground downtown, and to nearby parks.

There have been moments when their mother has had to take a breath when the girls have asked for their dad instead of her, something she has come to understand.

“It took some getting used to,” she said.

But the parenting roles aren’t really flipped.

Amy Hale describes it as more fluid than many other families may have, as the two seamlessly move between the two girls and what needs to be done for their active family.

On the first day he took over as the stay-at-home dad, Grant Hale started a blog, which he hasn’t continued. But Hale remembers writing just how overwhelming the first few days were, then just taking care of Margy, and how much he learned.

“I thought to myself that even the best nanny or day care can’t have that love we share, and as crazy as this whole full-time father gig is, it’s absolutely the right call for right now.”

Going by the book

Hale continues to do research into effective parenting, including reading books, websites and blogs about techniques, and tries to follow as much of the advice that speaks to him as he can.

“I look them in the eye and I tell them ‘I’m proud of you,’ and I try to show them ways to be strong, tough and independent,” he said.

“But I know how to be cool,” he said. “I play Barbies. We have tea parties.”

Amy Hale describes her husband’s parenting style as relaxed.

“It gives them a safe boundary and then he lets them go and explore,” Amy Hale said. “It’s fun to watch.”

His decision to become a stay-at-home dad came as Amy Hale was finishing medical school and beginning her residency in Indianapolis.

Grant Hale had worked at Cummins for about five years in various roles, from a project manager for the Global High Horsepower Rebuild Centers to a Corporate Responsibility Leader for the Distribution Business Unit.

He was working as a sourcing manager for the Engine Business Unit in purchasing and the couple had decided that Margy would commute with her father and be at the child care center in Columbus when the two had an epiphany of sorts.

“The more I thought about it, it just wasn’t fair to Margy,” Grant Hale said of the plans.

The couple decided to move back to Columbus and Grant Hale took the leap of stepping away from his job at Cummins, and stepping into a world of adventure with his then-1-year-old daughter.

“That’s when we set up the groundwork — we set up a life of unconditional love,” Grant Hale said of the decision. “It’s the framework for everything for the girls. I’m not stressed out trying to be perfect, I’m just doing it our way,” he said. “I feel fortunate that we have that opportunity.”

Initially, Amy Hale struggled a bit with the decision, as she was the parent who wasn’t seeing the kids as much as her husband, although her schedule as a family medical physician at VIMCare allows flexibility in her schedule to spend time with the family.

As the two realized it was a successful solution, they decided to have another baby, with Nellie arriving in 2015.

Not every moment is sunshine and rainbows, and with two children, Grant Hale said there are times when more patience than anyone could have is required.

“You can’t act on impulses,” he said of his role taking care of the girls. “You can’t react … you have to remember they are little humans.”

Grant Hale recalls reading that sometimes you have to tell a child repeatedly that a behavior isn’t allowed.

“When they do something wrong, it may take a thousands of times saying the same thing — and then, she gets it,” he said.

And eventually, as the girls get older and enter school full time, Grant Hale knows there will be a chance for him to pursue professional work opportunities again.

In the meantime, he’s joined the Moms Club in Columbus, and is hoping other stay-at-home dads might do the same thing to provide him with a little camaraderie and support.

And while some days are frustrating, Grant Hale said he wouldn’t do this any other way.

“There is always one moment every day that just melts your heart,” he said, as Nellie attempted a moonwalk backward across the living room, grinning at her parents. “It happens every day.”

About Grant Hale

Age: 39

City of residence: Columbus

Family: Spouse, Dr. Amy B. Hale, family care physician at VIMCare Clinic, daughters Margy and Nellie

Current occupation: Stay-at-home dad

Formerly:

  • At Cummins, served as sourcing manager for Engine Business Unit Global Purchasing (2012-2013); corporate responsibility leader for the distribution business unit (2010-2012); and project manager, Global High Horsepower Rebuild Centers (2008-2010).
  • At USAID/U.S. Military Join Provincial Reconstruction Team: Field program Officer at USAID/Afghanistan, Khost Province, on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border (2007-2008); Program analyst for USAID Office of Food for Peace Institutional Support Project, Washington D.C. (2006-2007).
  • Graduate student intern in the Peace, Security and Human Rights Program, United Nations Foundation, Washington D.C. (2005-2006)

Education:

  • Dartmouth College, master of arts in liberal studies, Globalization Studies concentration
  • DePauw University, bachelor of arts in communication arts and sciences, French minor

Languages: French, Arabic, Hassaniya, Spanish and Pulaar

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.