Digital Dad: Stay-At-Home Mum vs. Stay-At-Work Dad

How is it that a week off work can totally and utterly destroy you? Oh yes, I remember now – I have three kids and a wife (on maternity leave) who required a much-needed break from our three crazies.

I left work, said goodbye to my sanity and headed home. In 10 days I’d be back, sitting at my desk staring at a screen that doesn’t have Paw Patrol on it. The plans and visions I had for my week off were modest to say the least i.e. have a breakfast every morning or have a shower without Thing 2 coming in and launching a bar of soap at me. Simple things indeed, but not too simple as it turned out.

I walked through the front door to be greeted by my beautiful darling wife (I have to say this of course, as she reads these weekly articles). I say greeted but wifey merely opened the door to me. What greeted me were two hyperactive pre-Halloween ghouls and one 14-week-old Lucifer baby. Plans.  Ah yes, plans. I knew in that exact moment that I could put any pre-conceived notions that I had for ‘my’ week off into a box and throw them in the fire. They’d go up in flames just like my week (granted I did have my breakfasts). Boom, there they go.

My beautiful darling wife is currently on maternity leave so needless to say stress levels and exhaustion are set to max. I knew that I’d essentially be the hired hand for the week and I was OK-ish with that. Cue Saturday morning, I was left to look after my three little treasures while wifey headed out for what I hoped would be a short stint in the shops. It wasn’t.

Hired Hand

Things started out well. I took out the PlayMobil for Thing 1 & 2 and waffled to Thing 3 as only a goofy Dad can to a 14-week-old. An hour later I gave Thing 3 a bottle. He fell into a milk coma within 20 minutes so I popped him down for a nap and genuflected on the way out of his room in the hope that he’d sleep for a few hours. I must have genuflected incorrectly because he was up 20 mins later in full screaming mode. Bliss.

I knew that I’d essentially be the hired hand for the week and I was OK-ish with that.

While this was going on our now 3-year-old aka Thing 2 who is being potty trained – or rather he’s training us in the art of giving in and continuing with nappies – proceeded to pee in his clothes and tap-dance in his socks on the yellow pool that lay under his feet. I immediately launched my SOS call-a-friend and Dad, who was out cycling, said he’d knock in for a cuppa. I needed to prioritise, screaming baby or Gene Kelly. I chose the former.

I lifted up the stinkiest baby that ever was and placed him on the carpet. I was sure to breathe through my mouth the whole time but as I opened the nappy what met me was like something from our local Indian takeaway. I nearly passed out. Meanwhile Gene Kelly had stopped dancing in his p**s and was now demanding fresh clothes and new socks. I was demanding new children.

I immediately launched my SOS call.

The doorbell rang. It was Dad. Aka Bungee Cord. As I was changing Thing 3 I lifted my hand up to direct Thing 1 to open the door for ‘papa’. As I moved my hand back, I instinctively rubbed my cheek (face cheek that is) only to realise that I had sh** on my index finger and I had smeared it on my cheek. I looked like something out of Dances with Wolves. Papa came through the door in full fluorescent cycling gear, the colour almost matching Thing 3’s nappy contents. I immediately instructed him to run upstairs and grab a change of clothes for the tap-dancing lunatic.

I lifted up the stinkiest baby that ever was and placed him on the carpet.

Within three minutes calmness was restored. Thing 3 was placed on the play mat, Thing 1 & 2 were happily sitting down watching Ratatouille (v. good btw), I had washed my hands and Dad made the cuppas.

Stressed Dad

My wife had only been gone two hours at this stage but it honestly felt like an eternity. It turned out that she’d be gone for a further 3 hours and it was during this time that I was able to reflect on just how difficult and sh*** it can be – quite literally – staying at home and minding three little people.

Men can give women a hard time for ‘staying at home with the kids’ but in all, honesty I’d swap it in a heartbeat for work. I just couldn’t do it. As much as I love my kids, I’d go crazy if I had to mind them all day long.

As wifey came home, she was greeted by a very happy, very grateful and VERY clean husband who would no longer crack jokes about ‘relaxing’ at home while I headed off to work.

Relaxing it definitely isn’t.

Any comments?

DD

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Study Finds, Women need longer than six weeks to recover from childbirth.

Having a baby is a beautiful experience. Or rather welcoming a baby is a beautiful experience. As a guy I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, even fathom a guess as to what you amazing women go through during pregnancy both physically and mentally. Us guys have it easy. We can just sit back eating Jaffa Cakes waiting for the new little person to arrive. It’s very much a man’s world.

But as everybody knows, giving birth is just the start of it. The demands on one’s body can live long after the birth of a child and although most books and doctors may tell you that you’ll be back to normal within six weeks this just isn’t the case for most women.

Of course, I can only talk about my own wife in this situation but while being pregnant with our second child she developed Symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD which stayed with her for almost three years. For every day of those three years, she was in crippling agony.

Sometimes she was unable to walk, sometimes she was unable to get out of the bed, and sometimes she was consuming more medication than she was food. Three full years of chronic pain – multiple doctor visits, multiple nerve block procedures, multiple physiotherapists and oodles of pain medication but unfortunately nothing helped her.

Needless to say, it took its toll on her and if I’m being honest it took its toll on me too. Anyone who has suffered or is suffering from SPD will tell you just how painful and emotionally draining it is. Thankfully after the birth of our third child, the SPD went away and my fantastic wife is now more or less back to her original brilliant self.

Mother and newborn

The reason I write about this is because I recently came across a study by Dr. Julie Wray – a researcher in Salford University in England – who interviewed numerous women at different stages of post-partum life in order to gain a unique insight into postnatal recovery.

During her research, Dr. Wray found that the standard six-week recovery period is a ‘complete fantasy’ and it can take a full year for a woman to recover from childbirth.

Physical recovery is just one aspect. Anybody who has a baby will know that the emotional shift and psychological effects to becoming a parent – even for a father – can be one of, if not, the toughest challenges.

The study found that hospital wards can have a negative impact on women’s ability to recoup and celebrate the birth of their child, and realistic woman-friendly postnatal services are needed to help women with the transition of becoming a mother.

“Women feel that it takes much longer than six weeks to recover and they should be supported beyond the current six to eight weeks after birth,” Wray explains. “The research shows that more realistic and woman-friendly postnatal services are needed.”

I’m young enough to remember my own mother being in hospital for a week after the birth of my sister (we never ate as many portions of beans on toast as we did during that week. Thanks Dad!). The current generation of mums however now feel like they have to go home before they are ready. As well as this, many mums nowadays hold down full-time jobs outside of the home and have to return to work long before they might actually feel ready to do so. Am I right?

Dr. Wray thinks more and longer care of new mums is needed and thinks it is worrying so many new mums feel the pressure to get back on their feet so soon after childbirth

Do you agree with this? How long did it take you to feel back to normal after giving birth? Let us know your comments below.

Thanks

DD


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