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PHOENIX - It's one of the storylines of a popular TV sitcom this year. In NBC's "Up All Night," Wil Arnett's character has become a stay-at-home dad, taking care of the baby, while Christina Applegate heads out and pursues her career.

It's a real life situation for some men, including Rob Allen of Phoenix. When his wife started her medical career, he knew his staying home was best for the family.

"She wound up going back to school for a medical program," says Allen. "She needed flexible hours, and I was the one chosen for that (to stay home.)"

About six years ago, he gave up his job working at a Valley radio station to be a stay-at-home dad to their daughter, who is now 11-years-old. He loves the "job," but admits it can be tough.

"It's every day. It's 'I need this, I need that.' Oh wait, I've got to get dinner. I've got to get my daughter off to school. Got to pick her up . . . got to get her off to practice. Pick her up from practice. 'Oh yeah!' I've got to get mom too! I have to pick mom up from work! What time's mom done? Oh yeah, she's staying late." It can be a hectic schedule, and Allen says it's given him an appreciation for men who do this and have more than one kid.

With the tough economy, more men are doing this and many not by choice. It's because they've lost their jobs. An estimated 154,000 American men are now stay-at-home dads. That's up from 140,000 in 2008. The number has more than tripled since 1997.

Allen has this philosophy about being a stay-at-home dad. "Don't think it's unmanly to either want to or have to stay home with your children. Sometimes you may think that 'It's my responsibility to have a job as the man of the house,' but you have to look at it as times have changed."

Allen works part time at Target on the weekends. But by being home during the week, he can do what he says is his most important job -- being there for his daughter.

"I'm there for the good morning and good night hugs," he says. "I'm there for the meals. I'm there to ask her how her day went. I'm there when she has a problem she wants to talk about. I'm there to help with homework."

"I can be the sounding board" when she needs someone to talk to. When she needs to be disciplined "I can be the Commander in Chief, everything."

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