A FATHER has spoken about the challenges he faces being a stay-at-home dad.

Dan Flanagan left his job in a media agency three years ago after becoming frustrated with the long commute.

He said he would barely arrive back home in Ripley Road, Worthing, before his son’s bedtime.

The 44-year-old said: “I worked out I travelled 240 hours a month to work. I could’ve spent that time with my son, Natty, who is six.

“It’s not easy being a stay-at-home dad. You get raised eyebrows from a lot of people.

“A few years ago I went to mother and toddler groups. There were very few dads there and we didn’t feel welcomed.

“There were questions you have to deal with like ‘why haven’t you got a proper job?’ and ‘are you here just to have an affair?’.”

The only other option for Dan was visiting soft-play centres. He said he was “surrounded by people sitting on their phones”.

Dan said: “It’s difficult for dads to talk because there aren’t many support groups. Some people think it’s strange to see stay-at-home dads because it’s different to our traditional views of parenthood.”

Dan has been married to his wife Sally for eight years. She works as a play therapist while he is the founder of a magazine for fathers, Don’t Believe The Hype.

Dan said: “When I was six, my dad gained custody of my three older sisters and me. It was very unusual at the time for dads to win custody over their kids.

“It was a challenge for him to juggle four kids while managing an architect practice. When dad wasn’t home we looked after each other. He was always busy but he always did his best to care for us.

“He was old fashioned so he didn’t talk much about how he was feeling. We lived very far away from relatives so immediate support wasn’t available.”

This motivated Dan to start a new fathers’ group, Dad La Soul.

He said: “The group aims to eradicate the social isolation experienced by dads and give them a fun, welcoming environment where they can spend time with their kids, without judgement.

“Being a dad can be quite a lonely life, but men don’t like to talk about that.

“But once you get over those initial barriers and have conversations, you start to see a different side of blokes. We don’t just want to talk about beer and the footie.

“Dads with jobs, stepdads, divorced fathers and stay-at-home ones are all welcomed.”

There are more than 50 fathers and children who meet monthly at Dads La Soul.

Activities include beatboxing, DJ workshops, film-making, robot crafting. The aim is to help fathers and their children bond.

This month, they have comedian Aidan Goatly as a special guest for their next meeting.

Dan has big plans for the group and hopes to expand to towns and cities across the UK and beyond in the next few years.

He said: “As men get older, they often become trapped in tiny social circles. But lots of dads are making friends in these monthly meetings.”