I have two weeks left of full time work in the office, before I reduce to a 24 hour week. Hurrah! Then I’ll definitely write a book / finish the house / screen print a t shirt. Absolutely.
Two weeks, then, where I can pretend to be in a position to talk about having a stay at home parent for a husband. Obviously my situation is my situation, and other people have had totally different, errr, situations – but, here I am, on the front line of being a full time working mother with a full time stay at home husband, and here are some things I have learnt:
Things people say
- Women will say “my husband would love to stay at home. I’d never let him. Hahaha.”
- Men will say “I’d love to stay at home. My wife wouldn’t let me. Hahaha.”
- Both will say something like “your husband is so lucky.”
I didn’t “let” Bill stay at home. Like most people I’ve met with this set up, it was a logical decision for me to go back to work. We just want the best for our children and in terms of stability, that meant me going back to work and Bill staying at home. Feel free to think I’m a superhero wife of dreams, but that’s not really how it is.
Of course Bill is lucky, but I don’t think he’s any more lucky than I am. I have, for the past four years (on and off, admittedly) been free to go to work, without having to worry about my children at all, knowing that Bill has been looking after them. I’ve not had to do any drop offs, or worry about the childminder getting pregnant, or stay at home to take care of them when they’ve been ill. When Hallam was two, I went to Canada, all by myself, without having to make any special arrangements for childcare. And now, in the mornings, I just need to worry about myself – which is plenty to worry about in the mornings (WHERE ARE MY HEADPHONES/PHONE/BOOK/WHAT AM I GOING TO HAVE FOR LUNCH/CAN YOU TELL MY HAIR IS GREASY?) – Bill sorts out the children and sometimes helps me find clean socks. In the evening, Bill cooks (apart from if it’s omelettes, which are my strong point in the kitchen.)
Lucky? Of course. We have two lovely children. One calls pistachio nuts “moustachio nuts”, and the other says “no way!” seventeen thousand times a day. They run back and forth between the front and back doors of our house shouting “BATMAN!!!” and they sometimes sleep past 7am.
Things people assume
- That you earn a lot of money.
- That you are totally career driven.
- That you love your job.
- That you are jealous of your husband/stay at home mothers
I’m not saying I’m not totally career driven or that it wasn’t my life’s calling to be what I am (HI COLLEAGUES/MAYBE MY BOSS I DON’T KNOW) but – gosh, this is a massive assumption to make. I don’t suppose the same people go around accusing men of being workaholics who won’t take a career break and simply can’t step away from the office, because they aren’t staying at home with the children?
I’m not jealous of Bill or other stay at home mothers. Sometimes I have thought maybe I am, but actually, I like working and I want to work. Just, not ALL WEEK LONG FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I NEED SOME TIME TO MEMORISE A POEM AND WRITE MY NOVEL.
Bonus, possibly generic parenting, observations
- Contrary to what strangers at weddings think, just because you go to work, your children will quite probably still want you in the middle of the night / when they are ill. Not your stay at home dad husband, who doesn’t have to get up in the morning and do a presentation at work, but “mummy mummy mummy mummy no daddy MUMMY mummy” at 3AM.
- Children will sleep late during the week and wake up before 6AM at the weekend.
- Flexible working is brilliant, as are employers who will accommodate your need to go to Sing and Sign on a Tuesday in lieu of a lunch break.
- People seem to think you’ll give up breastfeeding after about a week. I’m not sure whether that’s because they think I’m actually not at all interested because of going to work, or because that’s just what people think of breastfeeding full stop. (Either way, I did a lot of breastfeeding AND I’m a money hungry career bitch wife to a stay at home dad, so there.)
- There is never any time, and it just goes so bloody scary fast.