What the real house husbands have to say

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By Donna Webeck

Posted on September 3, 2012

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Ok, let’s be honest here mums – hands up who would trade roles in a heartbeat with their husband and instigate a life swap, whereby you leave him in charge of the household chores and the children while you assumed the role of primary breadwinner?

I’ll admit, it’s a tantalising thought at times – especially when you feel your life resembles some kind of unglamorous Groundhog Day.

Now that the newly launched Channel Nine TV Show House Husbands has hit our small screens each Sunday night, many are watching with great interest to see how this contemporary notion translates into everyday life.

Described as “a fresh and dynamic look at Australian family life, with a very modern twist,” it highlights a reality for many households in Australia today. According to the ABS, the phenomenon that is the “House Husband” is on the rise. At last count 12,000 stay-at-home-dads were in charge of the home and children signalling an increase of 35% per cent in two years.

Chris Shepherdson, a 38 year old former exhibition project manager from the Melbourne suburb of Edithvale, is one of these 12,000. As primary caregiver to George (almost 3) and Poppy (11 Months) he explains why this was the path his family chose.

“My wife was earning more money and I saw an opportunity for a career change by starting my own business and working from home.”

Craig could well be the envy of all his mates as he describes just why he adores being a stay-at-home-dad.

“Apart from the obvious bonding and sense of achievement, I get to play with Hotwheels, play in the park and watch Pixar movies all day!” he laughs, adding, “I also think the kids benefit from having one of us at home.” This sentiment is echoed in the final scenes of House Husbands, where the four main characters (Gary Sweet, Firass Dirani, Rhys Muldoon and Gyton Grantley) concur that even the most hapless parent being present is better than the alternative of none being at hand.

Not that Craig is inept, oh no. He happily assumes all the roles expected of the at-home parent, as well the typical “Dad only” type chores like outdoor maintenance and the like. However, he admits it’s not all sunshine and playtime. “There are few more relentless jobs than an at-home parent” he concedes but agrees it gives mothers who desire to further their career a golden opportunity to do so, minus the guilt or financial burden of placing children in care fulltime.

Woollongong mother of 2, Danielle Norris, is one such mum. Returning to the workplace after the birth of each child, she handed over the reins to husband Mark. She confesses there were mixed emotions at play, even though she knew Mark was more than capable.

“I was jealous and sad, but definitely not concerned.” She acknowledges.

For Craig and the talented cast of House Husbands though, there are still prejudices encountered while their wives are out earning the lion share of the family income.

“I think some people have an assumption of incompetence in regards to men and children and I’ve learned to ignore the patronising smiles I get from others. I was once out with another male friend who was outraged on my behalf when a female friend saw us and said ‘Oh look, how cute. A father looking after a baby.’ Like I was a monkey riding a tricycle!”

“There is also that faint sense of cynicism from some people who ask questions like “When are you going back to work?” which I interpret as “How long can you get away with doing this?”

It’s clearly time for mothers at the park to make room for their male counterparts though as the stay-at-home-dad ‘trend’ is here to stay. As with anything that breeds fresh appreciation for what each parent’s role in their family unit entails, I’m sure we all agree that this is very much a good thing!

Where you watching House Husbands? What did you think?

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Donna Webeck.

Donna Webeck is a freelance writer with an immense love of all things literary. A mother of one, she is passionate about prose & more than a little obsessed with her idol, Oprah. Donna also shares her myriad of musings on motherhood, current affairs and lifestyle at her blog www.nappydaze.com

Website: http://www.nappydaze.com

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