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Where noble deeds are done

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What's to miss?

I have the soul of a housewife.

Some people might find that condescending and if you're one of them, go suck on some Shower Power and feel free to grovel at my front door when you've run out of tinned tomatoes because I have a dozen cans in my cupboard.

I make an awesome housewife. I never mix white clothes with colours, I find washing dishes therapeutic and I work a supermarket aisle with a toddler under my arm better than Adam Goodes does the SCG boundary line.

I never run out of milk or toilet paper. I pay bills (almost) on time and can vacuum and text simultaneously. I adore Monday mornings because you go to work and I fold the washing and watch the NFL live from the US.

Having been a stay-at-home dad for three years now, it amazes me how keen some parents are to get back to work after childbirth, even when their other half's wage can adequately support the family.

Given, these people probably have higher levels of ambition than me, but I can't think of one thing I miss about working full-time in an office except, perhaps, Cabcharges and reading the newspapers in the dunny on someone else's dime.

Granted, I do feel a twinge of guilt that I should be working harder when I'm at the beach on a Wednesday morning with my daughter. Then I realise being able to spend mornings at the beach with your child is exactly why most people work hard.

I guess others do it for material possessions and power. They might as well stop reading this column, you're lost to me, the rest of this'll just make you feel angry or superior.

As for critics who suggest "I'm perpetuating a stereotype that stay-at-home parents lack ambition", have another sip of Shower Power. I'm talking about my own drives and experiences here - not passing judgment on anybody else, so please leave your barrow at the door to the All Men Are Liars beach house.

What I can say with absolute certainty is, having experienced the gamut of menial labour to management, as well as creative work and number crunching, I can't think of one job as important or that gives me more joy than raising my daughter, washing her clothes, feeding her, guiding her.

The writer Dorothy Dinnerstein made the observation some years ago many dads were opting for "home-making" because "the world of public events ... is getting so lethal it's really hard to look at it uncritically if you are reasonably intelligent and sensitive".

Being at least one of those things, I can see she's not suggesting people are killing each other in the workplace (except in the US) but that the professional world has become such a brutal, competitive arena, scrubbing the shower stall and hitting the park with your kid can be a rather relaxing alternative.

Some of us just don't thrive in the cut-and-thrust of office politics, thus why I have the soul of a housewife. I see as much value in what I do for my child, in our home, as anything I'll achieve professionally.

Most of us want to know our labour is achieving something worthwhile and it's enormously clear to me something important is happening when I'm with my daughter, quietly showing her men can be loving, nurturing and do the ironing.

It always puzzles me when people say they need to return to the workplace for "stimulation" when they actually seem to mean "socially valued pre-occupation". Stimulation can be had for the price of a library card.

If you cut down on the amount of stuff you tell yourself you need, I reckon a lot of people would be surprised how much money is "enough".

Anyways, I've got dishes to do.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.

75 comments

  • Glad to hear you're enjoying your time at home with your daughter, Sam. There's something to be said for dropping levels of testosterone men experience when caring for children....read a study about it not long ago.

    Just hope you hold on to your new found peace of mind. It was only recently you were lamenting on how expensive RE is in Sydney, and how it is impossible to buy around where you live. Most of us have families where both partners are employed just to be able to pay the mortgage (if we're lucky enough to have one) but if you can avoid it, good for you!

    Working from home is great, but if there is not much other adult interaction & conversation, it gets awfully tedious after a while, especially if the last thing your partner wants when they get home is to talk about their day. Mostly they just want to be waited on hand and foot ('cause they had a hard day!), not exactly what the stay at home parent wants to do, after waiting hand and foot on a baby/toddler all day....

    As a single parent, I understand your situation is different - enjoy it while it lasts, they grow up way too fast!

    Commenter
    why
    Date and time
    October 28, 2013, 4:17PM
    • Did you see the Cheeseheads send the Vikings packing? Haha..

      Anyhow, yes, I know what you mean. I don't have a kid myself but do babysit my sisters' kids every now and then. One of 'em is autistic. Surprisingly, he's the easiest to care for. He minds his own business as long as he's fed and you never messes with with DVD collection.

      I love how they appreciate everything you do, especially when you cook something they haven't tried before.

      Being domesticated also brought a slew of vocabulary: silicone, anodised, standing time, sift, caramelised, mirepoix, etc.

      I find washing the dishes the most therapeutic. You develop a system of glasses first, cutlery then plates. And you know how long exactly to leave them draining before you dry 'em.

      Commenter
      Ronaldo
      Location
      Windiest window sill in Sydney
      Date and time
      October 28, 2013, 4:36PM
      • 'Most of us want to know our labour is achieving something worthwhile and it's enormously clear to me something important is happening when I'm with my daughter, quietly showing her men can be loving, nurturing and do the ironing'. Things that make you go 'awwww!'

        Kids. So important. I'm sure there will be many who are silently (and not so silently) very jealous of the time you spend with your daughter while they're at the office. I know which one I'd get more satisfaction from!

        Commenter
        she-raz
        Date and time
        October 28, 2013, 6:21PM
        • Lol...I really respect this article, however housework certainly isn't an aspiration in my schedule. Only does it for pragmatism. Anyway enjoy your housework.

          Commenter
          Gerson
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          October 28, 2013, 6:34PM
          • You sound like a better parent than any office drone. Just reading "New Manhood" by Steve Biddulph, I'm sure he'd agree that you're doing a good job.

            Commenter
            Perthfornow
            Date and time
            October 28, 2013, 6:55PM
            • I'm a stay-at-home mum with a six-month old, which maybe is different. I feel anxious to return to work because I hadn't been at my old job long enough to qualify for maternity leave and I'm afraid I won't be able to get another job because I've had too much time away. I'm so anxious about that in anticipation that I have trouble enjoying my time now. In addition to that, I get sick of having less of a say about everything in the house now because I'm not the breadwinner, and also having my time not be as valuable as my partner's because he has to work. So his sleep is more important and I have to spend hours listening to him talk about his work and do virtually all the housework and I'm just so sick of laundry and washing up right now. I think we always had a bit of inequity but now that I'm not working I feel really powerless. Apart from that, yes, absolutely, staying home and looking after a baby is great.

              Commenter
              SAHM
              Location
              Melbourne
              Date and time
              October 28, 2013, 7:06PM
              • While he does need his sleep, you also need time to do your own thing. I think you should talk to him about the inequality you feel, and maybe get him to look after the baby for a couple of hours in the afternoon for you to do your own thing.
                Not that I know either of you, of course, so feel free to disregard my advice if you think it's rubbish.

                Commenter
                JEQP
                Date and time
                October 29, 2013, 2:10AM
              • so, if you were independently wealthy and your partner was an actual adult who didn't see himself as "the worker" and centre of the universe, which would you choose?

                Seems you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the underlying inequity of your relationship.

                I would implore you to get that sorted tout de suite, or you might find yourself in paid employment and still doing the housework and being responsible for childcare. You deserve a better deal. Good luck

                Commenter
                genieass
                Date and time
                October 29, 2013, 6:27AM
              • Typical woman. Deliberately searches for things to complain about because life isn't like the fairytale she expects.
                His sleep is important. If he fell asleep at work he wouldn't have a job.
                I doubt he spends any time talking about his job. Men don't like talking about nothing. We like to get home, have dinner and watch TV in silence.
                Washing machines do the laundry and dishwashers clean the dishes. You're hardly doing much. If you expect him to do half the housework then start paying half the mortgage and bills. You're welcome to swap places and work 60 hours per week in a job that pays for everything.
                At least you get some enjoyment at home. There's no enjoyment to be had it work.

                Commenter
                Bender
                Date and time
                October 29, 2013, 11:45AM
              • Oh my God Bender. You really do have a unique take on life.

                "His sleep is important" - both partners' sleep is important. I spent the first year or so after each of my kids was born frequently yawning my head off at work, I was in a team of 4, three of us were new Dads, you just get on with it. I have heard of these mythical families where the stay at home parent does ALL the night time wake ups...what a total abrogation of responsibility that is. Both parents contribute to bringing the child into the world, both should contribute to everything.

                "There's no enjoyment to be had at work" - well, you are a tax lawyer, hardly surprising there. Personally I've greatly enjoyed most of my last 26 years of work in the legal system. But mostly because it's been about helping people, plus making lifelong friendships and hey even one wife and several girlfriends (not at the same time).

                "Men don't like talking about nothing" - we must move in different circles. As for the get home eat dinner and watch TV, well I get home, help with the kids dinners, baths, play, homework, and putting them to bed, then one or the other of us cooks dinner and we talk about all manner of stuff. I'd be lucky to watch 5 hours' TV a week. Prefer music, the Net, and playing guitar.

                Commenter
                Stormy
                Location
                Cumberland Oval
                Date and time
                October 29, 2013, 1:03PM

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