I was folding 400 tiny knickers and socks for an hour the other night, when it finally dawned on me. You’ve been playing us men for fools. I’m not the only one who has come to this realisation.
The latest figures from the UK show the number of stay-at-home dads dropped from 241,000 to 232,000 in one year, reversing a trend that has shown a steady increase since 1993.
We men have finally figured out what happened.
After centuries of being the ones left holding the baby, you women clearly got together behind our backs and decided it was time for a change.
This is understandable. We expect you to take a career break and mind the kids, despite the fact you got higher marks than us in college. (Or maybe because you got higher marks than us in college. We can be very bitter at times.) Anyway, we’ve finally figured out your plan, to get us to pull our weight: Don’t tell men what it’s really like.
Don’t tell us that child-rearing is four loads of laundry a day and Jack wiped out three onesies with his exploding arse, and it’s still only 9am.
Don’t tell us that daytime children’s TV is more disturbing than Jeremy Kyle. (The positivity on Paw Patrol will wear you down in the end.)
Basically, don’t tell any man what you know, which is that child-rearing is skivvying, but with worse hours and no pay.
Here’s what we’ll do now girls, you said, hatching your evil plan. We’ll tell the men that being a stay-at-home Dad is a great way to escape their dead-end job.
That it’s all lattes and getting the eye off a yummy mummy in the supermarket because you’re so cool and hands-on. Actually, just tell them that last bit. Men will try anything to get the eye off a yummy mummy in the supermarket.
Your strategy worked, big-time. All over the world, men gave up work, so they could spend more time rearing a one-year-old, who has an emotional range that veers between hungry and tired. It couldn’t last.
My guess is a lot of stay-at-home dads got together for a meeting of their own, where the one-item agenda read: What were we thinking? Yummy mummies in supermarkets, probably.
Because what woman wouldn’t be attracted to a sleep-deprived madman, wearing an aftershave called Vomit Pour l’Homme?
We’re wise to that one now. We’re also wise to the fact that pushing a child around a shopping centre on a Wednesday morning doesn’t make us look any more Scandinavian.
Up until recently, the best way to sell something was to tell the punter it will make you more Scandinavian:
Punter: “That chair looks really uncomfortable.”
You: “It was made in Denmark.”
Punter: “I’ll take four. And give me a packet of those horrible, dry biscuits from Sweden while you’re at it.”
We’re done with Scandinavia. We’ve come to realise that all those Scandi Noir TV shows were just The Bill, with slightly better furniture. We’re also wise to the Latte Papa scam.
Latte Papa is the on-trend name for a stay-at-home Dad in Sweden; you’ll find photos of him in lifestyle magazines, a handsome hipster, pushing his gorgeous kids down a cobbled street in Stockholm, with two women in the background, whispering: “I definitely would.”
Well, we realise now that Latte Papa is an actor, part of the wider plan to lure us into giving up our jobs. It was Latte in his name that gave it away really. Sorry girls, but that was just trying too hard. Just to be clear, I’m not really a stay-at-home Dad.
I mind the kids one afternoon a week, and do my share of cooking and cleaning. But I’m more hands-on than a lot of dads, who would probably struggle to pick out their child in a line-up. And I’m in the minority in Ireland, where only 6.8% of the people who described themselves as homemakers in the last census, were men.
Given the experience in the UK, it’s likely this number will go down over time, as more and more men go: “Stay home with those crazies? You must be joking.”