MONTCLAIR, N.J. — The Starbucks coffee shop on South Park Street was populated in the first hours of daylight on Saturday, but almost exclusively by men. The owner of the JaiPure Yoga Studio on Bloomfield Avenue reported a drop-off in participation of about 25 percent.
The Montclair State University dormitories were emptier than usual, with many female students making their way to a march in New York.
“I told my two children last night, ‘Mommy has to go march,’” Kate Cambor, a Montclair resident, said before boarding her bus early Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington. “I’m not sure they understood. I couldn’t sleep. I was afraid I was going to wake them up.”
The women lined up by the hundreds early Saturday outside the local high school and then climbed into a half-dozen rally buses and headed off to Washington for the march. Many more left Montclair later that morning for the New York rally by car, bus and train.
In their wake, they left behind a progressive bedroom community with suddenly skewed demographics. Routines were radically altered, and many fathers tried to meet weekend demands alone for a change. By participating in the marches and highlighting the importance of women’s rights, the women also demonstrated, in towns like Montclair, their importance just by their absence.
Usually, these chores and deliveries were shared by both parents, in a thoroughly modern way. On this day, many dads were left to juggle schedules on their own.
Douglass Coyle, an investments director at the Rockefeller Foundation, was one of those husbands left behind in Montclair. He tugged on the coat arms of his 3-year-old daughter, Annabelle, after her dance recital at Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts. His 5-year-old son, Dillon, roamed nearby. Dillon would have to arrive at soccer practice by 11 a.m., and then there was a play date set for the afternoon. Mr. Coyle’s wife, Elizabeth Githens Coyle, was already in Washington.
“Doing everything by myself all day long is not typical,” Mr. Coyle said, not so much complaining as stating a simple logistical fact.
Mr. Coyle’s fate was not atypical in this town. More than 84 percent of Montclair voters cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton in the November election, and fewer than 11 percent for President Trump, so this was bound to be a fertile ground for participation in the marches. And while the 40,000-resident municipality was not exactly a ghost town on Saturday, there were clearly some stark changes of habit.
Steve Politi, a sports columnist for The Star-Ledger of Newark, missed the Rutgers men’s basketball game on Saturday to stay home with his two children. He did the soccer-game thing, set up play dates (arguably, cheating a bit) and warmed up some leftover pizza for lunch. He also cleaned the refrigerator.
So even though Rutgers earned its first victory in Big Ten Conference play this season, Mr. Politi, a prolific writer, was not there to describe the win.
“I did have to laugh at the irony of my wife marching for equality in New York while I was missing the game and cleaning out the refrigerator,” Mr. Politi said.
Others followed suit. After his wife headed to Washington by chartered bus, William Jarrett took his children to dance class, a birthday party and a grocery store. The Edgemont Park playground, a popular weekend meeting place for parents and their children, featured a dozen fathers chasing around frenetic children.
Geoffrey Hillback, a Montclair actor and social worker, carried his 8-month-old son, Bennett, in his arms while comforting his 3-year-old daughter, Nicole, after a run-in with another child. Mr. Hillback’s wife, Melora Soodalter, had gone to the New York rally.
“Normally, we split them up, divide and conquer,” Mr. Hillback joked of his two children. “Now it’s a matter of survival.”
Many of the Montclair children had learned to distrust Mr. Trump by hearing their parents speak in not-so-glowing terms of the new president.
“My daughter’s been talking for some time about stopping this Trumpet guy,” Mr. Hillback said.
One father at the dance studio, Scott Keddy, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, said he had been busy explaining Mr. Trump’s shortcomings to his two daughters.
“In our house, we call him the Stinker,” Mr. Keddy said of the president. “We’ve explained to the girls what the significance of the march is. I haven’t quite expanded yet on the notion of impeachment.”
The buses returned late Saturday night from Washington to a quiet, heartfelt welcome. By Sunday morning, most of the women were back to their routines in Montclair. The JaiPure Yoga Studio reported full attendance, and many fathers exhaled in relief.
After his dutiful Saturday, Mr. Coyle went off to play tennis on Sunday morning. It was part of the deal he had struck with his wife.
“He was great, and there was no expectation he wouldn’t be,” Ms. Githens Coyle said. “He’s a parent, not a babysitter. The children are still alive.”