December is a dodgy time for Dads on the home front.
Some guys still think that their partner will appreciate a new gadget for Christmas, to help with the housework. (This is very dangerous territory, even if it’s a top-of-the-range Dyson.)
Others lose the run of themselves and publicly declare “I’m going to do more around house”, as their New Year resolution. (I call this three-pint sentiment.)
Dads need to know what they are getting into. There are two types of housework carried out by a bloke. The first type is when he is single, widely known as the Glory Days.
This involves scraping three-day old tikka masala off a plate, dusting the TV before a big match and wondering if you might get another week out of the sheets. (No, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they go in the wash.)
And then, for some guys at least, kids come along. Suddenly housework is something that needs to be done every waking hour you are inside the front door.
You have no idea how to do any of this housework, because your mother wouldn’t let you into the kitchen growing up, in case the neighbours thought she was in league with the devil. You need to learn and learn quick, because your partner’s patience level is now set to ‘Hungry Wolf’. (That’s a new setting we all get when kids come tumbling into our lives.)
Here is what I know about housework for Dad.
IT’S GERM WARFARE
A week after baby is born, you do the big shop and arrive home with a surface cleaner that kills 99.99% of all known germs.
It’s the same surface cleaner you’ve been using for years. Your partner takes one look at it and starts crying. How dare you expose your child to .01% of all known germs, says she, regretting the day she ever set eyes on you.
Here’s the deal. Your partner is now engaged in a war with 100% of all known germs. You are either fully behind her, or else you have sided with the germs, against your own child.
COOKING DOESN’T COUNT
The one bit of housework men can do, doesn’t count. A lot of us learned how to cook seabass with fennel, when we saw how much female attention it attracted for Jamie Oliver.
The problem with seabass and fennel is that two-year olds don’t like it. (Adults don’t either, as it turns out, but it was Jamie, so we said nothing.)
Here are the rules for a home-cooked meal, if you want to it to count as housework.
1: It must involve emptying the saucepan cupboard to get to the huge pot at the back.
2: You must include at least two packets of mince-meat. (Irish Angus, aged for 21 days, because anything less means you don’t love your kids.)
3: You should add at least one or more of sweet-potato, kale, lentils, blueberries and organic low-fat yoghurt.
4: You and your partner should agree that the resulting meal is manky, but at least you’re not poisoning your kids with fish-fingers, like her cousin from Macroom.
5: At least 50% of the dinner should be ladled into Tupperware containers, and placed in the freezer, never to be seen again.
CUTTING THE GRASS ISN’T HOUSEWORK
I know, terrible news. Unfortunately, the definition of housework for a man is ‘Work inside the house that makes you sad.’
Cutting the grass fails on both counts, because it’s a few magic moments outside, away from Calpol and poo talk.
The same goes for cutting the hedge, painting the gate, putting out the bins and other outdoor jobs.
A HELPING HAND
“What are you getting me for Christmas, Pat?”
“A cleaning lady!”
“That’s no good to me, Pat. I’m Irish. I’ll stay up until all hours cleaning the house before she comes. I’ll also insist on becoming her new best friend because Irish people can’t handle having staff, given that we were a downtrodden race for so long, and the famine and everything. Can we not just do the cleaning ourselves and spend the money on something else?”
“Like what, a divorce?”
A VACUUM CLEANER DOESN’T COUNT AS A PRESENT
It’s worth repeating. Some of our best men bought this for their partners, as a thank you for all the work they’ve done with the kids and everything.
These men are still paying for that gesture, in a variety of different ways.
YOU NEED TO SUCK IT UP
That said, you need to spend at least €200 on a decent vacuum cleaner.
That 13-year-old yoke, with the eyes, is useless now there are kids in the house.
Particularly since it can’t pick up seven shredded breadsticks, fours bit of broken dinosaur and a two-year-old, who is refusing to get up off the floor.
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