Adrian Kulp is a Clarksburg, MD, stay-at-home dad with three kids under the age of 5. Just like any stay-at-home parent, his days are filled with grocery shopping, diaper duty, potty training and toddler meltdowns. So what sets him apart from the countless other parents doling out Cheerios at home so their spouses can maintain their careers?
We admit, we weren’t rushing to glorify the stay-at-home DAD. Why the parade when a dad stays home and moms have been doing it in droves, forever, with no fanfare? And as such, why a feature article in a local magazine?
Well, it turns out Adrian knows what’s up. He is a self-deprecating, relatable, wildly funny guy. He has an interesting life story and an engaging way to tell it. That, not his gender, is what makes him a great feature article.
Adrian’s life pre-kids included working with the likes of Chelsea Handler and Adam Sandler. His life with kids is cool, too. He has a successful blog, just produced a reality series on A&E, and wrote a book that’s been optioned for a TV show. He’s figured out how to stay home with his kids and support his wife’s career, all while expressing his creative side and advancing his career. It’s a stay-at-home parent’s greatest wish.
As a backstory, Adrian grew up in Pennsylvania and made his way to Los Angeles after college. He worked in the entertainment industry in comedy, eventually at the executive level (thus the ability to impressively name-drop). He married Jen in 2008, and the following year their daughter was born. When she was 10 weeks old, his contract ended, and he found himself job-hunting. Since his wife’s career was taking off, he became the stay-at-home parent. In 2011, shortly after the birth of their second child, they relocated to the D.C. area to be closer to family on the East Coast.
Adrian started his “Dad or Alive” blog in 2010 as a way to express himself and keep his sanity. Reading through it, you get a taste of this quirky dad’s witty writing and keen sense of humor. And his love for his family. This combination is apparent when asked what he likes most about staying home with his kids:
“Aside from my kids, I don’t really have a boss. We’re not on a constant deadline to be somewhere or get something done. Of course, we have a schedule with preschool and T-ball, but it’s flexible most of the time. I love getting to spend this time with my kids – they never cease to amaze and inspire me.”
And what he likes least? “I guess I get tired of laundry and dishes. Maybe we should just become nudists and eat off of paper towels.”
Yes, we can so relate.
What skills have you been able to parlay from your professional experience into childrearing?
I spent almost 13 years working in comedy, as an agent, an executive for Adam Sandler and Chelsea Handler, and was also responsible for booking the comics on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” for a year or two.
The skill that has paid the biggest dividend for me is my sense of humor. Being a stay-at-home dad for three kids has shown me many frustrating moments. The ability to take a minute, step back and laugh about something that would normally send me through the roof has saved me (and my sanity) more than once.
What skills do you take with you from your Stay-at-Home Dad experiences back to the working world?
I guess I have somewhat of a unique situation. My first priority is as a full-time stay-at-home dad, but I’ve also been lucky enough to publish a book with NAL/Penguin, produce “Modern Dads” for A&E, become a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and TODAY.com/parents, and have my blog, “Dad or Alive” optioned for TV by Sony Pictures Television. My personal and professional life have somehow become all twisted up and tangled together like an old phone cord.
Have you networked with other local dads for support?
In real life, I don’t know too many other stay-at-home dads, however, I am part of a very tight-knit private Facebook group composed of almost 1,000 dads across the U.S. and beyond. Most of the dads are bloggers, authors, writers, etc., and once a year I have the chance to connect with them at a conference called “Dad Summit 2.0,” which provides a platform for networking with other dads, as well as brands.
What about local moms? Are you the “beau of the ball” at parenting get-togethers, or is there a sideways glance thing going on from moms?
LOL. I guess I find that it’s not THAT difficult to connect with other guys my age, I’m still a huge fan of baseball, football, hiking and fishing, but most of the time, I have a lot more in common with the moms these days. Generally, I think moms love hearing my perspective on parenting, they love occasionally seeing me squirm – you’ll definitely have some naysayers, but parenting is one of the toughest gigs out there.
What made you decide to write a blog? Did you always want to write a book?
The blog was born out of pure necessity to not rip my hair out in clumps AND find a creative outlet. I went from an extremely social and active executive position in Hollywood straight into sitting in a quiet living room with my kids, who couldn’t even talk yet. Let’s just say if anyone had seen me walking around the house in my robe, talking to myself like a paranoid schizophrenic, I’d probably have been long committed and writing this from the asylum.
I needed a way to vent about my transition into being a stay-at-home dad. As far as the book goes, I think I just got really lucky – the right people were reading my posts at the right time, and I’m just extremely grateful that I got that opportunity.
Do you ever worry about your kids growing up, reading the blog posts and being upset with what you’ve shared about them?
Great question. Only recently, as my daughter is almost 6, have I started to think about privacy, the web and at what point I’m crossing the line with what I share. I’m sure that my kids will go through a stage where they could be embarrassed about some of the things I’ve written about or posted online, but in the end, I hope they appreciate how much of their lives that I’ve documented, the great times we’ve shared and the strong relationship they have with their father.
How do you think stay-at-home moms and dads are seen by those who have not braved those trenches? What’s the biggest misconception?
I certainly don’t speak for everyone, but I kind of feel like parents who haven’t “braved the trenches” of being a primary caregiver tend to think it’s easy. Big deal, you give them some Goldfish and throw on a movie – BAM – done deal. Totally not true. I don’t get paid enough (kidding) for the diarrhea blowouts, teething, potty-training, biting, screaming, yelling and deli-line tantrums.
What has surprised you most about parenthood?
I never thought I was capable of having patience. Parenting has broken me.
What does your family like to do for fun in the area?
We love visiting the local orchards, going to the state parks and taking the Metro down to the museums. We also just picked up a 16-foot fishing boat, and I’m sure that we’ll be exploring some lakes and getting our picnic on.
What are your favorite local restaurants/Date-night spots?
Wait, was this question meant for me? At the moment, we’re big fans of any restaurant that will tolerate us. It’s usually a Mexican restaurant, Chik-Fil-A or Buffalo Wild Wings because they have game tablets for the kids.
My wife and I recently concocted an idea to have a date night once or twice a month – I miss good food. I miss being able to eat without having spaghetti thrown in my hair. If there are any restaurants out there in the D.C. area that want an honest shout out – send me a tweet at @dad_or_alive – you’ll probably get the best review ever.
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You seem to have figured out how to stay creative and take on career projects while being the primary kid caregiver. What advice do you have for other stay-at-home parents about keeping up with their careers?
Again, I might be somewhat of an anomaly, as I’ve figured out a way to turn parenting into a lucrative career. I hope that parents don’t lose sight of who they are – it’s important to try to find the time and a way to pursue the things they love, even if it’s only for an hour a week.
What projects are you working on right now?
Currently, I’m working on an outline for a second book, a few blog campaigns including Minute Maid/Coca-Cola and Tylenol, putting the finishing touches on my first full-length article in Parents Magazine (to be published this summer) and trying to get my son to take two minutes and step away from the Legos and not poop in his underwear.
Have you planned how you’ll pick up your career once the kids are driving themselves, or is it all just fuzzy future?
I guess it’s kinda fuzzy for now. I’m enjoying this time with my kids and am working on my blog to evolve with my kids. I’m putting more focus on travel, food and a few fun DIY projects that incorporate the minions. I’m not sure what I’m going to do once they’re all in school all day, but I’ve never been the type to sit still. I’d love to continue writing or somehow work for a brand or an agency that coordinates blogger-brand campaigns. Also, I could see myself as a park ranger.
What do you miss most about Los Angeles?
Wow. Living on the beach. 70 and sunny every day. Coming home from work to Venice, putting on my bathing suit and walking down to the Pacific to get my feet wet. Watching the sun set every day. The food, the people – it’s definitely somewhere that’ll keep you young.
Do you plan to stay in the D.C. area?
I doubt that we’ll ever move back to Los Angeles, but New York isn’t out of the question. My family lives outside of Philly and my wife’s family is in Atlanta – so we’re east coasters at heart and we love being closer to them.
You seem to have been on-the-move quite a bit in your pre-kids life. Do you get restless to travel?
I do. However, having said that, I think that my wife and I have done our best to travel with the kids. I sometimes see it as a pain in the ass, but she has this way of reminding me that it’s an adventure. In fact, we just got back from a 7-day cruise to Mexico with all three. I have to say, we had an incredible time. Zero regrets, a hundred memories.
Which sports teams do you cheer for?
Hold on a second, let me put on my protective gear before answering. Since I’m from PA, I’ve always been a Phillies and Eagles fan. It takes a lot of patience to be a Philly fan, so I guess parenting helps with that.
What do you like to do for fun?
I’m sorry, what the what? Lol. Honestly, I like to use the bathroom alone and on occasion, drive around without the kids with all the windows down screaming along to AC/DC.
For even more “Dad or Alive” fun, visit Adrian’s blog at www.dadoralive.com.
TEXT BY: Debbie Williams & Cynda Zurfluh