Can a home made dad have help?
I resisted for some time, but have finally given in. Last week we hired a nanny.
My resistance was fairly easily explained. I had stopped working outside the home to move our family out west. I had embraced the whole dad-at-home thing and my identity had become tied up with doing a good job on the home front. I could cook and clean as well as the other moms. (Though many of the “other moms” already had help.) I could shop and prepare lunches and schedule after-school activities and drive the kids everywhere. And I did a pretty good job of it.
But it was clear early on that I needed to get back out there. Fulltime, stay-at-home parenting can be very rewarding, especially in the early years. But it can be very challenging as well. The web world always interested me and I had been blogging and involved in web technology for some time. Now I had time to sink my teeth into social media and see where it would take me. And so I did.
But as my consulting work grew, so did the pressure on my available time to do the other domestic chores that I have championed here on this blog. And rather than be simply a home made dad, I was stuck on trying to be a super home made dad. I refused to acknowledge that I needed help if I was going to get back into working full time in any capacity.
So the nanny started a couple of weeks ago and so far it’s amazing. The house is no longer a mess through the week and I no longer need to take a day off to clean it. The laundry is done by someone with the patience and job description to actually fold it properly. And when the other tasks are in order, the nanny has some time to straighten closets, clean fridges and generally tend to neglected tasks. Oh, and there’s some childcare mixed in there as well.
This new arrangement has freed me to do a number of things. First, I can now focus more time on my work. But also, I can focus my domestic time on doing the things I like to do, need to do, want to do. I can cook meals on the weekends and some evenings without feeling exhausted by all the cooking. I can spend a few hours with the kids after school and going to and from their activities without feeling I need to squeeze work in every free minute.
Yet I’m still the primary parent in our partnership and that comes with a ton of stuff to get done around the house. There’s shopping and meal planning, staying on top of school details and all the kids’ after-school social, cultural and sports activities, health care (doctors, dentists, sick days, etc.), planning our family’s social and recreational lives, etc.
In the end, like any working mother, I need this help in order to succeed working outside the home. All the while, I’ll be focused on opening hearts and minds to the fact that being a working dad doesn’t mean leaving all the parenting to mom – especially when mom is working too.