Before I wrote my previous post I had a conversation with the lovely Emma Sutton (a published author don’t you know?) and a few others on Twitter, which started off as a commentary on the ‘Gender Divide’ in people’s households. I was sitting there chuckling away because we are a same-sex household so by definition there is no gender divide. The only similar thing we have is that one of us is a stay-at-home parent and the other is a go-to-work, or as we’ve called it, stay-at-work parent. Emma and I felt there was definitely enough material in that to come up with a blog post so here it is.
The above is Emma’s book, the story of her adoption. I was drawn to it because of the similarity in name to my blog title, but upon reading the copyright notice I knew we would get along just fine. If you’re interested in adoption, and like feeling a whole variety of human emotion, it’s a worthy read!
Pros and Cons of Being a Stay-At-Work Parent
These are written by me, the Stay-At-Work Parent:
Pro: You get actual adult interactions on an almost daily basis.
Con: There is no freedom in those interactions, they are almost always about work which you spend the rest of your life trying to avoid.
Pro: You get to come home from work to the biggest welcome from you children EVER! Hugs, cheers, being jumped on, requests to be lifted up etc.
Con: You’ve just spent the last 3 hours in a meeting and didn’t get the chance to go to the loo before leaving, any extra pressure on your bladder from hugs could cause an explosion.
Con 2 (if you’re male): Ever noticed that toddler head height is the same level as your crotch? Enthusiastic running head-first into your crotch in order to present you with a welcome-home hug. Ouch!
Con 3: Inevitably when you get home the children are tired and grumpy, just like they were when you left for work. Tired and grumpy is the only state you see your children in on a work day.
Pro: You get your own money that you’ve earned working all week and you can spend it on WHATEVER YOU LIKE!!
Con: Unless your list of ‘whatever you like’ consists of nappies, children’s yoghurts, and endless electricity and water for non-stop washing machine cycles; no you don’t and no you really can’t.
Pro: That poosplosion that just happened? “Oh, I need to go to work now or I’ll be late” – perfect get-out clause.
Con: If it ever happens at a time when that excuse is not usable, there is no escaping it – “I did it the last 100 times, YOU DO IT!”
Pro: You occasionally get to come home to an empty house and get some all important me time.
Con: You find yourself feeling lonely and missing your family. You even miss that welcome home bladder squeeze (maybe not the headbutt to the crotch though!).
Pro: You often become the favourite parent, simply because you’re not the one who is there preventing “potential death causing acts of childhood wonder” all the time.
Con: Those “potential death causing acts of childhood wonder” can be hilarious to watch and we’re missing them, damn it!
Con 2: You get to see the hurt in your other half’s eyes when your children say you are their preferred parent.
Pro: You can eat biscuits, chocolate, cake, sweets, crisps, and other such goodness in peace at your desk, at your own speed without a child pointing at you and yelling “What are you eating?! I want some too!”
Con: I’m not sure there’s a specific con to this one, it certainly doesn’t help the waistline, but that would be the same even if I was gulping them down whilst hiding in the kitchen cupboard!
Pro: You get to use the toilet without a toddler knocking on the door, invading your privacy, or having a squabbling match with their sibling to interrupt you.
Con: You can only look longingly at the lovely weather out of the window (if you’re lucky enough to have one close enough).
Pros and Cons of being a Stay-At- Home Parent
The following have been written by Emma – nibblesandbubbles.co.uk to contrast my pros and cons.
Pro: you get to sit down and drink coffee without your boss tapping her watch when she notices you are not working.
Con: when the kids are little, that coffee is likely to be stone cold by the time you have finished wiping a snot noodle from their face, changing a nappy, negotiating the release of a toy from a child’s death grip and then hearing the washing machine go ping so it needs hanging out.
Pro: when your partner comes home, you get to sneak upstairs and eat chocolate, because the minute they are home, the kids are all “who?” about you despite the fact that you have walked them to and from school, made their tea, put on a movie (or refused).
Con: You get to do all the hard “we need to leave now” stuff, and encourage them to do their homework, while your partner does the easy-peasy story-time and tickle time bits
Pro: you get to have amazing conversations with your kids as you walk them to and from school – including a memorable one with Nibbles when I told him that tomorrow would be the hottest day of the year and he asked “will we frazzle like bacon?” that had me nearly rolling on the pavement mid-way to school.
Con: you get to watch sit-down protests when they are too tired to walk another step, or find sneaky places for them to go for a pee on the way home because they didn’t need the loo when they were putting their coat on.
Pro: you get to spend – check that waste – an inordinate amount of time keeping up with twitter, because, (god darn it) it is the ONLY source of adult conversation that you are likely to have beyond saying hello to Frank at Lidl, which barely counts because after five years he still hasn’t a clue who you are .
Con: you spend an inordinate amount of time listening to your kids asking “what’s for tea?” and “when is the holiday?” and then refusing to lay a finger to help lay the table before pushing peas around their plate for an eon, until their hunger reappears for pudding.
Pro: you know everything about your children, becoming an instant encyclopedia of dates, heights, weights, shoe sizes, food preferences, friends (here today, gone tomorrow), upcoming parties, the names of parents at the school gates, when the next INSET day is, what their teacher is called and just how many jumpers they have lost this week.
Con: your head is crammed to bursting with all this useless information to the point that you can no longer do the Guardian cryptic crossword because all you can think of is when their next kids’ party is and what present you need to buy for it.
Pro: you get to empty the dishwasher, hang some laundry out, heat up some spaghetti hoops and then act as if you are the one who does EVERYTHING around the house, and it’s so unfair that you are reduced to this housewifery and wish you had a proper job
Pro 2: you also get to sit in the sunshine and watch TV in your lunchbreak, unlike your partner who is now working extra hard and extra jobs to keep your household in nappies, yoghurt and an endless supply of cucumber because it’s the only vegetable they will eat.
Con: is there one? Oh yes – all this stuff takes up oodles of time so your hours for “working from home” are seriously reduced to about an hour a day, which is why your business is not quite as profitable as it used to be (but could be twice as profitable if only you left twitter alone).
Every time we are tempted to compare our lots unfavourably to our other halves (stay at work or stay at home), perhaps we should look at all the upsides of our side of the equation:
For stay-at-home parents like Emma, it is the time they get to spend watching their children grow up, sharing their intimate lives hand-in-hand, giggling together and being there at sports days. Because in her heart, Emma knows that whilst watching her kids take an hour to pull one sock on is frustrating, so are meetings at work when a colleague won’t shut up about the coffee machine or sales figures.
For a stay-at-work parent like me, perhaps being able to get out of the house, even if it is just to go to work, is worth it as it means we aren’t beholden to the day-in day-out routine of caring for children. We don’t get to spend as much time with our family, but we don’t suffer as much with losing our pre-parent selves to our family life.
Despite it all, Emma wouldn’t swap her kids for all the Prosecco in Italy, even if she wishes that they would never say the words “are we nearly there yet?” for the whole summer holiday, and for me the fact the time I get to spend with my children is limited just makes it all the more special, even when they’re at their grumpiest. The highs and the lows, the frustration and the giggles, it’s all part of being a family and we can’t have one without the other.