Being a House Husband
Employers are now required by law to give serious consideration to requests from parents of young children for part-time or flexible working arrangements. This law in theory allows a mother or father to ask their employer to consider their right to part-time work (this was originally only available for mothers). Currently a father is entitled to 2 weeks paid paternity leave (£100 per week) and 4 weeks unpaid leave in the first year of their child's life (Mothers are entitled to 52 weeks).This article is my personal experience of being a house husband; it was a fairly brief experience but challenging in many ways.
Time for a Career Break
When my little boy was born I decided a break in career and time at home with my wife and son would be fantastic, I was at the time commuting 2 hours per day each way so had very little time with my newborn.
My wife was on a 1-year maternity leave and I gave up work to be at home with them both when he was 4 months old. I soon found that my normally structured and routine life of working was thrown into turmoil; my wife and I found it very difficult to manage our time and spent many days achieving nothing and somehow feeling exhausted.
I also felt I had lost my sense of purpose and my self-esteem dropped as I felt as the 'Man of the House' I should be out earning money(very Victorian I know). The benefit to my son was immense, he was equally comfortable with both my wife and I and his personal development was rapid with two parents to play and learn with everyday.When my wife returned to work after 1 year (3 days a week) and I was left to look after my son things really got hard. I have spoken to many men who have said that their wives have it easy and that they wish they were at home with the kids and not at work - I'm afraid this is absolute rubbish!!
No Time For a Break
When you are at home with a young child there is no time for a break, no time to stop and chat with your mates, go to the gym, nip to the driving range - all things you can do when working! When your child sleeps you need to prepare their next meal, put the washing on, tidy the house, vacuum, pay the outstanding bills, tidy up after the last meal etc. etc. I used to find myself clock watching from about 4 o'clock desperate to hear the door open with my wife returning from work.
Longing to Return to Work
Another thing I found difficult was to spend a day playing and reading the same books over and over, pushing my son on the swing for hours on end and no real conversation - I hate to say it but I longed to be back in the office on many occasions!!
Now then, on the other side, looking after a child at home and running the house is not an easy job but the rewards are amazing. To see your child learn to crawl and then to take their first steps, to hear their first words and to feel that they are as close to you as they are to their mother is a truly wonderful thing.
To appreciate how much work your partner does whilst you are at work is something I think we fathers should all experience - it will make you love and admire your wife more and make you appreciate why you should get home earlier from work to help with the bedtime routines.