It’s a rare week when the papers don’t run an article regarding Mens slack effort when it comes to them doing their fair share of the household chores.
Stats abound and for the benefit of this article I’ll give you one (from UN women no less and not just the general opinion of my wife). Apparently, even in this more enlightened age, women do 2.5 times more unpaid work than men. Now don’t panic, this is not going to be a piece about how useless and lazy men are. We already know. And as I already stated, not a week goes by yada-yada…
No, this piece is to tell men where they are missing a real trick. According to Facebook executive, Sheryl Sandberg “couples who share chores equally have more sex…choreplay”. I haven’t seen any personal proof of that yet but I could try harder. What my proper tip is this…IRONING, the king of all the domestic chores.
I think I saw the great benefits of ironing subconsciously from my father-in-law. Thanks V. Male readers are probably now envisioning a huge pile of crumpled laundry, waiting to be ironed and thinking that ‘if I wear a jacket, that crumpled shirt doesn’t need ironing anyway’. Well, if you want to look like a scruffy arse, that’s your lookout. The reason ironing is the best chore is TV and the watching thereof. If you are prepared to attack the laundry mound then you can also watch TV and no one can accuse you of slacking. Winner!
My father-in-law obviously realised this early on, because he is now the master of the iron. This is how it works. Set up your ironing board in a suitably convenient spot (tip: it needs to be near a power point, a table for stacking the completed work, a good viewing spot for the telly and preferably not in the main thoroughfare. You don’t want a scalding iron on top of the cat/kid.)
Once the ironing board is in position, international rules clearly state, that you have dibs on the TV and its programming. If you have banked enough wrinkled clothing, this could be at least 2 hours. That’s a Tarantino movie (just) or 4 episodes of Veep or 2 gut ripping chapters of the Walking Dead. Score. It’s also an opportunity to watch the game your wife said you definitely couldn’t watch because she wanted to watch Heston Blumenthal on the other side or to catch up on all the great boy shows (cars, Hitler, criminals, engineering) you banked in your cable-providers hard-drive. Now, if you want to avoid arguments (even though you should be being thanked for doing such a laborious job as the ironing), it helps if you have other TV/Tablet options in your household. This gives you the negotiating edge “but honey/kids, I’m doing this really boring job for you, at least I should be able to choose the show, why don’t you etc.…” (note: if you don’t have these other screen-options, best do the ironing when the residence is empty. This also applies if you want to watch MA+ shows or Porn).
Negotiation successfully concluded, make yourself a suitable beverage (preferably not Alcohol. booze and Ironing never mix as we all know), get that super-glide, steam frothing bad-boy cranked up, set the ironing board to your required height and press play. (Tip: don’t choose a show which is too complex, involves subtitles or has got really strong accents because you are working on that devilish crease, so every split-second you will be distracted by the task in hand and soon lose track of what’s going on).
Two hours later, the job is done, the creases are vanquished, you’ve had some quality TV time and everyone is now in your debt. Now that is my sort of chore.
Something I’ve not really touched on too much before is my experience of being a stay-at-home dad, house-spouse or as I recently read somewhere, and very much my favourite, ‘Domestic Engineer’. This job is a generational phenomenon, one which our parents and grandparents would have not understood or approved of as little as 25 years ago.
I can’t say it was a burning ambition when I was growing up, I think it chronologically went more along these lines: spaceman (6), fireman (8), policeman (10), spy (12), football player (14), rock star (16), and then millionaire (18). So, I was a bit out of my depth and shocked when in April 2004 I found myself being, to use the technical term, the primary carer. The reason for my successful application for this job was: I had provided the sperm, I had no career to speak of, my wife had quite a serious career to speak of and I had nothing better to do with my time.
And with that, the adventure began. I took the job very seriously. At that time in place I was very much in the minority and I didn’t want to give anyone ammunition that Dad’s weren’t up to the job. We lived in a progressive seaside city on the south coast of England but that didn’t stop the mother coven from looking at me with suspicion and perhaps, a little bit of hate. Here was this guy, encroaching into a world very much carved out by Mums for mums. Now I’m a bit of an introvert (that’s a bloody understatement my wife screams in my head), so making small talk and sidling my way into mother’s groups was never going to be easy. Still, a mantra I kept repeating to myself then (as I do now), was ‘it’s not about you, it’s about your son(s)’ and with that I would load us up with all the baby essentials required for the day ( a shit load as it turns out) and head off to gymberoo, swimming and sing and sign classes. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all unpleasant, my son and I did some serious bonding, travelled to every building site in the city to look at diggers (we had a big Bob the Builder thing going then) and I met some really nice people, but I still felt very much the outsider, wheedling my way into a secret society. Also, I didn’t do a lot for my self-esteem and that created problems with life-style choices and mental-health.
Coming to Australia, was very much a re-start, a re-fresh, a new beginning. I instantly felt that my role in life was more accepted. Now, whether this is because of the more relaxed approach to life we enjoy here or that people just judged you on who you are not what you do. I can’t honestly say. The other option, it could have also been that by now, after doing the job for a few years and with another son on the way that I really didn’t give a shit anymore what people thought. This was what I did: cared for my boys and supported my wife with her own endeavours. I had a purpose, I could be proud of the work I was doing. I do definitely think that having two sporty boys helped. I’ve got no idea how girls work. Being around after school to take the lads to assorted sporting practices, getting involved in the clubs and trying not to shout too much on the sideline at weekend fixtures was and is one of my great pleasures.
When I look around the school playground now, I can see at least four other chaps doing the house-spouse thing. It’s not a lot when you crunch the numbers, but it’s a start. The same can be said when I go to the boy’s matches. The amount of beers I could have bought if I tallied up how many working men have said to me that they are either jealous, wish they could go part-time or even go the whole hog and be a full-time dad, would have afforded me my own pub. Come on Dads, man-up, they don’t bite you know – well my don’t anyway.
Of course, it’s not easy. It can be boring and very very tiring. Being a not very patient person, I can reach for the last resort sometimes instead of thinking about why they are doing that and what’s the best way to deal with the situation. Shouting never helps (but can feel bloody good). This is all outweighed by laughing at farts – yes, they are funny, enjoying their successes, burping the alphabet and watching as your child develops into the person you hope they may become. It also helps if you have a righteous mother in your corner to sort out all the crap you’ve created.
I have now held this position for 12 years (yet to be promoted) and for all its frustrations, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My wife and I enjoy a work/life balance which is the envy of many. We are a happy and close family who have been through a lot but have always had each other to get us through. My kids fill me with pride and I can’t wait to see what surprises the little shits have got in store over the forthcoming years.
Well this is all rather exciting. To me that is anyway. First post on my own blog. I’ll be straight up and declare that at present I have got no idea what I am doing. Think of a helpless gurgling baby lying on its back with a big poo in its nappy and with no means to rid itself of the unpleasant stench. That’s me with this blog. I have got no idea about meta (eh?), widgets or any of the other bells and whistle WordPress offer. Like my figurative baby, I will learn as I go along and mostly likely by the horrendous (and no doubt embarrassing) mistakes I make on the way.
My reasons for doing this blog are several. Beside being a middling home-dad, I am also a mature student, studying the art of writing. I love writing, but have no clue where my passion and skills will lead me, so I reasoned that a blog would be a fine place to practice and pontificate on subjects I have an interest in. Those interests are varied, so I have no theme, just the guidance of the crap which accumulates in my brain while going about my daily business.
You will also note that my grammar is a bit of a shocker. Apologies for that, but I didn’t pay attention much during that class. I’ve got a book from the better (as my wife shall be known here) on said topic, so hopefully that may improve things.
OK, exhausted from all this excitement plus the cats just clawed me for some food. All comments greatly appreciated (but I do get mildly suicidal from bad criticism.) Bye for now.