Doing it Differently

There are quite a few funny stories about Dads and their attempts at homemaking in our family folklore. Like the one about a dad who served the children sausages and eggs for dinner every night (for quite a number of nights) when his wife was in hospital because that is all he knew how to cook. Or the dad who was changing the nappy of a toddler eating a chocolate biscuit and let’s just say he was handed a piece of biscuit to share that turned out not to be biscuit!

And while these stories might make us giggle, even on the two hundred and thirty seventh retelling,  there is no denying that when it comes to being left in charge of the parenting or homemaking, most Dads do it differently. Not necessarily better or worse…just differently to the way Mums do it.

Where I am a bit of a routine junkie, especially when it comes to food and sleeping, Dad 101 is much more flexible. When he is in charge all the regular things happen, just not necessarily in the order, timeframe or style that I would have them happen. And from what I hear from other Mums, that tends to be pretty common.

For example, two weekends ago I (along with quite a number of Australian mamas) headed interstate to a blogging conference and by all accounts the papas who were left at home with small people did a fine job. I heard the story of one Dad who admirably managed a night with a vomiting preschooler and the next day had big boxes out for a spot of imaginary play. Another took three children aged 6 and under to the museum for the day.

And at our house? There were excursions to the swimming pool (where Dad 101 may or may not have missed catching Immy – who can’t swim independently – as she jumped to him in the pool) and into the city for sushi lunch and a visit to Daddy’s work.

There was paint. And glitter :)

There was Immy’s favourite dinner – yellow rice…albeit in front of the television.

And when they picked my up from the airport she was wearing mismatched clothes and it looked like her hair hadn’t been brushed for the four days I was away.

But she was happy and full of stories to tell and really that is all that matters.

As for Dad 101. He used to say that he would love to be a stay-at-home-Dad…

Now he says he could never survive being home fulltime!

How does your partner manage the children and household when you are away?

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  1. My Hubs has always been hands on with the kids, a great dad…and a fantastic co parent. When he was injured at work a couple of years ago, he went on disability and I went to work. I feel like the temporary swap did both of us a lot of good. He found out just how important those eating and sleeping routines are, and now sticks to them faithfully. I found out that having things done “Dad’s way” is just as good (sometimes better) than sticking to my way all the time.

  2. My kids were the same when they met me at the airport! It’s good for us as full time mums to remember that dads are capable too, even if they do things “differently” ;-)

    (Must tell SquiggleDad he got a special mention in this post…)

  3. My husband took my youngest camping on the Blogopolis weekend – with a mate and his three-year-old daughter. He described it as “full-on”. HA! Yes.

  4. He just never could. And now he has to have a girlfriend or his mother to help him. Sad, but true. But I know many men do awesome jobs!

  5. I go to tafe 2 nights a week leaving at 530…the children are both feed and washed and in Pj’s….daddy does do it differently….the shows they watch together (the yellow family….bart is so funny) makes me shudder but he’s dad and I have to let some things go because there time together is precious and special and the smile on Master 4’s face when he knows it’s tafe nights is priceless “you mean it’s just dad with us tonight? Yippi…but I’ll miss you mum”. Usually daddy in our house is only home sunday and by monday I know he is very happy to say good bye…”honey, don’t know how you do it”. I feel appreciate and to be honest I have much more patience at the little things.

  6. The earlier you figure that Dad’s do things differently and accept that, the better off you’ll be! :) My Hubby does an awesome job – yes it’s different to how I do things – but it’s fine, and besides, our son has an absolute ball every time!!

  7. I’m away this weekend for 2.5 days. Yay to that. I’ve stocked up on snacks, I’ll prepare meals. If the weather is ok he likes to potter around the vegie patch and get the kids involved. But if the weather is not ok, he is stuck. He is like a caged animal. He lets the kids trash the house because he does not believe in cleaning up when they are going to mess it up again. He will let them play the playstation for as long as they like to avoid each other driving one another batty.
    But as long as everyone is alive and well and he cleans before I get home, I really don’t mind.

  8. Reading this at airport after leaving REG in charge for day. He def does things differently and it f win me up if I am around – clealry I have control issues. But at the end of the day he’s their parent too and he’s parenting them. So as long as we are consistent on the big ticketitems, and we are pretty much, then I can live with the clothing choices that make me cringe and the constant reminders to offer the ki plenty of water to drinnk during the day!

    • This made me laugh out loud – it is so true! I have never left overnight but Mr Vintage Jelly has had them for a day on his own and that was enough to say he couldn’t be a full time stay at home dad! I have also noticed the way that dads and mums do things differently, it used to annoy me but I have stopped being so uptight about it and it is now fine. Although when I am not there, he does tend to use the TV far more than I do, I keep it off during the day only having a film for quiet time in the afternoon, but he will put it on as soon as they come downstairs and it will be on in the background. I find having it on negatively effects their play. But this is my oly gripe, and the kids certinately do not mind!!

    • I too always ask about the amount of water Immy’s had! LOL

  9. At home with me, the children are eating wholesome home-cooked meals…with Dad, the stove or oven never get turned on (and not a dish gets dirties here)…he takes them for pizza and burgers. Ironic, because he’s the great cook in our household (I think he doesn’t want to clean up the mess)!

  10. Love this post! I had the airport experience too. Dad and girls picked me up and one was in pajamas. hehe But they had had a wonderful time! I do think it is important for girls (and boys too but I’m mom to girls) to have a strong and positive relationship with their dad. I worked..had to let go… to let dad and kids play and do their projects however they want to, as long as they are safe it doesn’t really matter. Thanks for a great post Christie! :) Kristi

  11. LOL, Christie, I had to laugh about the mismatched clothes and unbrushed hair! We have exactly the same issue at our house. I think left to Daddy’s and the girls’ own devices, they would never ever brush their hair or teeth! And my husband hates picking out clothes for them because he can’t match things together at all – Princess Pea, unfortunately, has inherited this trait and likes to pick out her own clothes. I have to just smile every morning as I turn her over to her preschool teachers, looking like a clown, and they say, “Oh, don’t you look fancy!”

  12. speaking as a male who does all the cooking and cleaning (my partners a journo and works stupid hours) us dudes can do it all if given the space to do it.

    • louisianablue2000 says:

      Absolutely. My husband and I both work four days a week and have one day alone at home with the kids each. He is fearless and does amazing things with the kids, they regularly have big day trips out together (a train journey to York to see the Railway Museum with a 3 and 1 year old was his most impressive trip) and he does lots of gardening (we have tomatoes in the garden they’ve grown from seed), cooking (they’ve made their own pizza, including the dough) and art (I came home one in December to find they had made a santa sledge). When I come home from work there is always a home cooked meal on the table and usually a load of washing has been done as well. His clothes matching skills aren’t too bad either.

  13. Margaret Elvis says:

    Young mums are very fortunate today with how much dads become part of their children’s lives. My first husband (father of my 2 children) never changed a nappy (and they weren’t disposables back then) , bathed a child or anything else for that matter that was part of caring for children. When I remarried, my children were quite grown (10 and 12) but my second husband was there for them in every way that was needed. I am not a routine junkie so often think I was perhaps a little more like some dads of today but my kids survived OK so I must have managed all right.

  14. What a deeply lovely post. I have to say my Other Half did NOT cut the mustard on one occasion when I was in hospital with three year old Smudge and his swollen neck gland – nary a jot of laundry was done, nor food shopping, nor tidying up. However, he makes up for it when told this is necessary, and yes, we get mismatched clothes, but we also get Smudge telling Dad how much he loves him and Dad also has a whole ventriloquist act thing going with Teddy that I could never dream of. So they have their own, very special qualities.

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