I’ve been doing this SAHD gig for over six solid months now, and there have been some big discrepancies between what I envisioned and how it’s actually playing out. Think Who’s The Boss vs Camp Chippewa from Addams Family Values.
- The Important Stuff. Given Tracey has traditionally used the kids as an excuse to get out of day sex on weekends, and given we have two days a week where all the kids are at schools or pre-prep, there is a lot less daytime nudity and meeting of genitals than I envisioned. I’m starting to think being able to seeing my face might be the problem.
- Fun Little Road Trips. I enjoy taking the kids to school. I thought this would suck, mainly because I used to drop them to school on my way to work and it usually involved stress levels rocketing through the stratosphere and heading for the Sun, where presumably I could cool down. But once I took out needing to be somewhere ten minutes before we left home the little drive took on a whole new, rather chatty and pleasant atmosphere.
- The Physics of After School. Time works differently now. The two hours between the end of school and when I used to arrive home from school is only ten minutes long, whereas the ten minutes I’m parked at school waiting for the final bell can take two hours. It’s totally messed up and physics teachers who aspire to Nobel prizes need to step outside the classroom and work on this. I’d suggest they start at 2.50pm – they’ll have all the time in the world to think things through and still make it home in time to watch I Dream Of Jeannie.
- Stuff That Used To Be Fun. I can’t fully explain it, but cooking is suddenly a chore. I’ve always loved occasionally cooking meals for the family after work, but suddenly it’s not the fun downtime activity it was when I was pushing pencils all day. Maybe it’s because the fridge is right there now and I’m not starving my way through the afternoon, daydreaming about what I can cook myself up when the klaxon finally goes off. Or maybe having to do it daily has killed my creativity. Or maybe I’m just over the kids criticising the way I’ve heated up their baked beans.
- Like Nature, I Abhor Vacuuming. What with being able to see where you’ve been from the lack of dog hair and grass, I thought running a vacuum over the carpet would be therapeutic, but it isn’t. It draws my attention to popcorn kernels and mandarin seeds in bedrooms which means someone has been eating in their bedrooms. The really frustrating bit is the kids are at school so I can’t yell at them. Plus the vacuum only seems to need emptying when I use it. Which I freely admit, isn’t as often as I should.
- Time Management. When I held a 9 to 5, I never really understood why Tracey couldn’t do more in the eight hours I was away from the home. All she did was drop the kids at school, grab some stuff at the shops, take someone to the doctor, run a mop over the place, a load or three of washing and give the kids a bite after school. What did she do with the other six hours? Naturally, I was always happy to offer up some pretty sound, a-grade, quality advice to my wife on how she might better schedule her day. I don’t think it’s any secret I thought I was going to show her up a bit when I took over the apron strings. Six months into this stay at home dad gig and I have no idea why she didn’t divorce me.
- Child Behaviour. Oddly, it still sucks taking Miss4 shopping. I really, genuinely, stupidly thought I would turn this around and she’d become a pleasant companion while I picked between Red Delicious or Pink Ladies. She’s still a friggin’ nightmare. “Put me in the seat!” “Take me out of the seat!” “I want to push!” “I want to stand in the trolley!” “I want that!” And to anyone who’s seen this happening and thinks I’m a patient man…it’s only because I know you’re there. I feel you looking. I understand you have to look because her bellows cannot be ignored. But I am not patient. Though I am, apparently, a reasonable actor.
- Standards. I’m much more okay with mess now than when I was working. I think I was a dick about it because I used to leave a messy home, go to a clean work, than come back home to a mess, so it stood out. Not that Tracey wasn’t cleaning madly. I know that now. I know the place can be display-home clean at 3pm and oh-my-god-we’ve-been-robbed twenty minutes later.
- My Opus Laundry. One of the first things I did was to ‘organise’ the laundry. For example, I bought baskets for the cupboards so I could throw things in and not bother folding them. They’re exceptionally good at being crushed by the doors on the odd occasions when the kids slide them shut. But this was a small footnote of a much bigger plan. Because I don’t know which bit of pink belongs to which of my four little girls, my biggest stroke of brilliance was to bring in the Dot System, whereby I put dots on clothes so I know whose is whose. One dot for the oldest girl down to four dots for the youngest. As things get passed down you simply add a dot. The only flaw with this plan was I had Miss4 helping me when I dotted stuff. Turns out she didn’t know which bit of pink belonged to which girl either.
- The Odd Job. My priorities around the house have changed since I quit my job. I thought I’d be using my weekdays to do those things I always put off on weekends – painting the fence, fixing furniture, washing walls and giving a toss about the garden. But the fact is, since becoming a stay at home dad, all I’m really interested in is putting up some top quality block out curtains in our bedroom. Then I should hopefully start to get some important jobs sorted during the day.
Raising a family on little more than laughs”
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