The stress of being a house husband was peculiar in that, from the observation platform of the person I was before I had a Small, life should have been easy. I was sat at home with just a few chores to do. I mean, how long could it take to clean the house and do a bit of shopping? Everyday should have been like the weekend.
Well, that was true. Until I factored in Small. Tidying the house would have been easy, if the untidiness was at pre-Small levels. Shopping would not have been a hassle, if I hadn’t had a Small-bomb in the trolley. Producing meals would have been simple, if I wasn’t doing it 5 times a day. Washing would have been no problem if it was still a load a week instead of a load a day. And I was trying to do it all with a Small in my arms and when my mind and body were wrecked by weeks of sleep deprivation.
“Ok,” said the pre-Small me, “life is a bit busy but it can’t be stressful because you haven’t got a boss breathing down your neck all day long, demanding results. You’re in charge and you call all the shots.”
Ha ha ha ha! No. Small was in charge. He was the boss and there is no work boss in existence that is as demanding as Small was. There are not many real life bosses that will literally scream and scream until their demands are satisfied. And even those that do exist, will at least let you know what their demands are before they start screaming.
No, life as a house husband was not without stress.
One of the main causes of stress was trying to deal with things that were, essentially, beyond my control but for which I was deemed to have responsibility. Such was my relationship with Small. He was a force of nature but the world was looking at me to contain him. When is the last time you successfully told your boss to shut up and get a grip?
In some ways the stresses of being a househusband were less than those of working life. The financial markets were not going to crash if I couldn’t get Small to eat his lunch and the world was unlikely to plunge into recession because I forgot to buy the cornflakes. But the thing about stress is that it is always there. It is a natural function that keeps us on our toes, always alert. There is no such thing as a stress free life. Life’s pressures expand to fill the stress bucket available. If you remove the current stresses from your life, secondary stresses, that before were mere inconveniences, brushed away as irritants, become bigger and more frightening. They grow and mutate to fill your stress space. If you kill those off, the next level of stresses start to take over.
So, maybe the stresses were on a smaller scale but they didn’t go away when I clocked off for the day because I didn’t clock off for the day. There seemed to be no time when there was not some form of pressure on me to complete a task. It was relentless and my stress bucket was always brimming.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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