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Monday 14 May 2012

A day in the life of a stay-at-home dad: "Why I'm Mr Mum"

So, it's Monday.

What are you doing?

Trudging off to work, but not before doing the mad kiddie school/daycare drop-off?

Or watching your partner head off to his job, while you care for your child/children?

Or maybe you're rearing your new baby and thinking, "Gosh, if only he knew how hard this job is day in, day out. He gets to go work. Just one day of this and he'd crumble."

Ever wondered what it'd be like to be part of a household where dad stays home while mum goes to work? Full-time.

So, as Michael Keaton depicted with hilarity in the classic movie 'Mr Mom', the man of the house stays home to deal with breakfast prep, temper tantrums, bum wiping, sibling fighting, clothes folding, dinner prepping, and the myriad other tasks mums usually do while dad is 'bringing home the bacon.'

Surely your partner doesn't dare utter the words, "So, what have you done today?". Imagine if you didn't do 'it', as depicted in this fabulous photo below:

Read about one man's real-life role reversal story. Edy and his wife Anne-Marie have swapped their 'traditional' roles [more on why in Edy's next piece]. He left his high-pressure IT job to raise their child. Since that happened seven years ago, they've had two more kids. Anne-Marie has gone back to work each time, while Edy has stayed home to rear the kids and manage the home. Read his fascinating day-in-the-life story:

"Usually, my day starts early – real early. Of our three kids, our youngest two are early risers – 5.30am to be exact. One or both will come into our bedroom and need to go to the toilet. Rarely, we may be lucky and the kids will go and play in their rooms for a while, but mostly, it’s off downstairs – time to turn on the coffee machine and get the day under way.

It’s 6am and breakfast time – Rice Bubbles, English muffins with Vegemite, or on a weekend, dad’s scrumptious pancakes. By about 7am our eldest child, Charlie comes moping down the stairs complaining about how noisy his brother and sister are and how he didn’t get enough sleep… please!

Charlie is in Year 3, and Henry is at Currambena preschool 3 days a week (starting kindergarten next year). Gemma is also at preschool (local KU) but only 2 days a week. This year, thankfully, we’ve managed to get the preschool days to overlap which has been a blessing – two days to actually “do” stuff.

While the kids are having breakfast and watching some TV (I know, I know), the kitchen is open making school lunches and tidying up a little before my wife comes downstairs with her “quick, I’ve got to get to the ferry or I’ll be late”. Then it's bundle the kids into the car, and race off to the ferry or train.

Back home and Charlie is off to school, which is thankfully just across the road. Time to get the rest of the day happening – usually with a load or two of washing. Its staggering how grubby kids get… luckily, the littlies still like to help out.

On a non-school day, I’m busy with one thing or another - swimming lessons, Humpty Squads (coordination games for the kids), Occupational Therapy. Or, at home, I’ll fill up the day with games, stories, or trips out to the shops – Playdough and using the blackboard is always a favourite, though. Sometimes we’ll have play dates with the neighbours or preschool friends.

At some time during the day, I’ll start thinking about dinner. Both the littlies have long given up their day-sleeps, so lunch time is usually the best time for dinner prep. If I’m feeling particularly motivated, I might try something adventurous like a risotto, or a slow-roasted chicken or lamb leg. Otherwise, pizza pockets are a hit in our house (tortilla wraps filled with spiced mince, and “hidden” veggies), as are kebabs, tortellini (or any pasta for that matter), or whatever else happens to be in the fridge.

Being a bloke, we’ve got all the kitchen gizmos – but my favourite by far is the bread maker. It turns out beautiful pizza bases, which is just as well because pizza is one of the kids’ (and our) favourites. It also goes very well with my pizza oven.

By now, it's afternoon, and Charlie is home and getting ready for his after-school activities – golf, fencing, soccer training or swimming or play-dates with his friends. When he’s not “out”, it's homework, or some “chill time” in front of the computer or his iPad which he just got for his eighth birthday.

The mind boggles as to how I’ll juggle all this next year when Henry starts after school activities too…

I’ll sit down with the kids at dinner time, which is usually at six. After dinner, we start our evening routine which consists of bath time, pyjamas, and “family game time”. This, on a good night, is a production line. First Gemma gets in the shower, then Henry (while Gemma’s getting her pyjamas on). Lastly, its Charlie’s turn (while Henry gets his pyjamas on).

On a bad night though it’s bedlam – water everywhere, shampoo in the eyes, tantrums, you name it – it can be awful. But, once the kids are washed, their teeth are cleaned, and they’re in their pyjamas, we have “family game time”. By this time, Anne-Marie is home from work so we sit down together and play a game – UNO, snakes and ladders, 'hiss', 'shopping trolley', or something which everyone can do. Then it's story time, and off to bed. By now it’s 7.30pm.

If Anne-Marie hasn’t had dinner yet, we’ll sit down together and catch our breaths over a glass of wine and some food. Otherwise, we just collapse into heaps on the sofa and watch one of our favourite TV shows – MasterChef, Top Gear, the News, or failing that, whatever other brain-numbing show is on.

By nine, its time to bed for the wife. I’ll stick around and clean up the kitchen in preparation for the morning’s shenanigans, then I head off too."

What do you you think of Edy and Anne-Marie's arrangement?

Would you do the role reversal thing, too?


  1. It's a nice arrangement. I think that it's not easy step of changing role. Thanks for sharing this arrangement.

  2. It IS a nice arrangement, and it clearly works really well for them. And that's what marriage is about, right...? Whatever works and creates harmony in the home x