The saying goes that the heart of the home is the kitchen. In ours it’s the utility room. In the old traditional home, it was firmly the mainstay of the wife. She would make sure that the clothes were laundered, ironed and tucked away in place for each member of the household to then grab whatever they wanted to wear the next day.
In the Cahill household, this is my domain. A household of four creates an awful lot of washing, whether it is “the boy’s” tracksuit bottoms mud stained from running about, and obviously falling down, outside, or “the girl’s” many dresses she has worn at the endless birthday parties she gets invited to. Obviously, my wife and I contribute to the pile, but it’s simply endless!
The modern family has no time to rest! Even when the weekend comes along, and it’s a chance for us to spend some time with our friends and family, there appears to be a relentless interest in what I do to pass my days! What do I fill my days with? What are my plans for the future? Can I really run the bath as well as another parent?! OK, so the last one was made up. It’s interesting for me that most of our friends, who are professional people and work for every size of employer, are coming up against many of the same issues that I am going through. They tell me so. Most agree that society has shifted, but employers are being a little slow at catching up.
That said, some of my male friends find it hard to imagine themselves in my position. This may well suggest a stumbling block to greater equality. Whilst some men, like me, are wanting greater equality of roles within the household, others may actively resist it. How do we overcome this? Some men are clearly hardwired to believe their role is solely breadwinner – if they don’t do that, then what else can they do?!
I was looking on LinkedIn the other day and saw a large multinational company advertising their “Reconnect programme”. It’s a way for them to get individuals back into the workplace after a career break that has been between two and 10 years. As is the way with these things, they are tagged and this one was tagged “Reconnect” – makes sense; “Career” – I can see that; and finally “Women”. Ah. So for all those men out there who have taken on the role of stay at home dad, don’t bother applying. It’s not for you.
That’ll be me then – that pile of ironing won’t do itself!
*Dad in the park is Richard Cahill, dad of two.