Three months ago my wife and I swapped roles after I was made redundant. I made hundreds of attempts to find another job as a manager but failed, so my wife gave up being a full-time mum and went out to work. This blog is a chronicle of life-change and how I cope with being a very reluctant housedad to my nine-year-old stepdaughter and our two sons, aged six and three, and how my Successful Other Half copes with the fallout…
I read this article in the paper the other morning:
‘The daily chores that mothers do in their daily lives is worth a staggering £30,000 a year. Mothers without jobs put in on average 14 hours a day cooking, cleaning, and carrying out childcare. Even with each job performed for the minimum wage of £5.93, the total figure amounts to £30,373.20 a year – higher than the average salary.’
This news came as something of a blessed relief to my dented ego after I turned down a job at the beginning of this week. The job I was offered would have paid a little more than £30k for 37.5 hours a week so I felt I was looking a thirty thousand pound gift horse in the mouth. And then I read that we stay-at-homes are earning at least that through all the carrying and fetching we do to keep our families clean and fed. What’s more, we’re at it for 98.5 hours a week. Every week. Forever. About the same time it would take Professor Brian Cox to run out of superlatives.
But hang on a minute, I hear you say, the article talks about MUMS, not housedads. What’s a housedad worth, then? So I had a look back at the activities of one RHDYT (that’s Reluctant Housedad Yours Truly) and came up with the following non scientific results. These have yet to be verified by She-Who-Makes-All-The-Decisions-Calls-All-The-Shots-And-Tells-Me-What-To-Do, but she doesn’t read this (‘I’m too busy earning money to look at your self pitying ramblings’) so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I’ve used the same methodology as the Cost of a Child report surveyors. But first, here’s was the official survey assigned to full time mums:
Looking after kids, 29 hours, £171.97
Cooking and cleaning, 8 hours, £47.44
Taxi driver, four hours, £23.72
Shopping four hours, £23.72
Gardening, two hours, £11.86
Laundry, seven hours, £41.51
Chores, four hours, £23.72
Ironing, five and a half hours, £32.61
Washing up, four hours, £23.72
Counsellor, one hour, £5.93
Sports coach, three hours, £17.79
Homework helper, two hours, £11.86
First aider, one hour, £5.93
Stylist, three hours, £17.79
Story teller, seven hours, £41.51
Sewing, one hour, £5.93
Serving snacks, seven hours, £41.51
Answering phones, two hours, £11.86
Tidying up, four hours, £23.72
TOTAL: 98.5 hours, £548.52
Well, ladies, that is A LOT of graft. Can the Reluctant Housedad match that effort? Here’s a breakdown of my typical week…
Chore: Looking after kids
Also known as: Sitting them front of the telly/computer and telling them to stay quiet because I’ve got tea to make and if you even think of bickering WAIT TIL YOUR MOTHER GETS HOME
Time: How long is a piece of string?
Chore: Cooking and cleaning
AKA: Heaven and Hell; Passion and Burden; Love and Hate
Time: Cooking goes in the blink of an eye; cleaning lasts forever, in perpetuity
Chore: Taxi driver
AKA: When are they going to be able to walk home from school? I was riding on the back of trains when I was eight
Time: 10 hours, not including waiting time
AKA: Spending £30 in M&S on meat for me and missus and a tenner online for a week’s worth of kids meals
Time: My time
AKA: Why won’t this basil plant I bought in M&S last longer than a day I watered it fer Christ’s sake
Time: A drop in the ocean
AKA: Why do you have to wear that top/trousers/shirt only once you bathe and shower twice a day YOU’RE NOT DIRTY YOU DON’T SMELL
Time: Depends on the stains, depends on the sweat, depends on what I can get away with
AKA: The necessity to go to the pub for an hour most nights. Well it’s a chore when the Doombar’s off
Time: 0.000000000000000000001 seconds recurring
AKA: If I fold it in my special way she’ll never notice the scorch mark at the bottom and if she does she can tuck it in
Time: There are fewer grains of sand on all the beaches in the world compared to the number of seconds that tick by in the duty of ironing. At least it feels that way.
Chore: Washing up
AKA: When are you going to buy me a new dishwasher? You said you would when you got paid but I’m still waiting
Time: No idea. I leave it for the Successful Other Half when she gets home
AKA: Get over it kids s**t happens
Chore: Sports coach
AKA: Does she really have to do so much netball ballet gym? I’M TRYING TO COOK A BLOODY CURRY HERE
Time: Start the stopwatch
Chore: Homework helper
AKA: Isn’t that what they pay your teachers for?
Time: Beyond me
Chore: First aider
AKA: It’s not broken you’ll live
Time: As long as it takes to rip off a plaster
AKA: Stop crying it can’t hurt that much and besides it’s not my fault you want your hair in plaits
Time: How long is a piece of ribbon?
Chore: Story teller
AKA: Child1 read to your brother it’s good practice
Time: Once upon a…
AKA: Ripped jeans? They’re all the rage aren’t they?
Time: A stitch in…
Chore: Serving snacks
Time: The time it takes to shout: ‘Stop playing with your food. That took me hours to make.’
Chore: Answering phones
AKA: What do you bloody want now? I’m trying to pick YOUR bloody kids up from school
Time: As long as I’m not paying, who cares?
Chore: Tidying up
AKA: If you want to live in a pigsty then you live in a pigsty. NO don’t take me literally PICK IT UP OR IT GOES IN THE BIN
TOTAL TIME: Equivalent to the time it will take for all the elements in the universe to break down into atoms, and all the atoms to break down into protons, and all the protons to break down into strings, and for them to vanish into the dark nothingness of the vacuum of space sometime in the far, far future.
TOTAL COST: Take all the lottery wins that have ever been won and times it by the fortunes of Bill Gates, Roman Abramovich and the Sultan of Brunei combined. Yep, that should do it.
CONCLUSION: Housewives and housedads of the world unite. We’re overworked, underpaid, over-stressed and under-valued. It’s time to fight back and fight back NOW (well, after this wash has finished and I’ve hung up the wife’s knickers).