Part-time, tie, play, toys

Part-time Work – My Choice

Please don’t congratulate me for choosing part-time work.

Many do. When I told people that I was going to work part-time this year, it was often met with glowing responses, as if I were some kind of pioneer in work-life balance. People would tell me how lucky Hannah was to have a dad at home, they would tell me that it was wonderful that I had made the choice to spend more time with my little girl. They told me I would love it, that it would be so much fun. They told me I was lucky to have a four-day weekend.

This is all great and lovely and supportive, but my problem is that they are saying this to me because I am a man.

They don’t say it to my wife.

Emma isn’t told how lucky Hannah is to have her mum at home, and she isn’t treated as if she has made a choice. They don’t tell Emma that she will love it, and that she will have so much fun. They don’t tell Emma that she is lucky to have a four-day weekend.

These things aren’t said to Emma because there is an expectation from many that if a career sacrifice has to be made, it will be done by the mother. It is the mother who should be engaged in part-time work. I know households where this wouldn’t even be up for discussion. Emma isn’t told how lucky Hannah is to have her mum at home because that is the norm. It is the picture people have in their heads. It’s what they are used to, what they know.

Emma isn’t told that she will have fun or that she is lucky to have a four-day weekend because immediately people expect that her reality will be dirty laundry, dirty nappies, dirty high chairs and dirty floors. They expect that it will be her job to make those clean again, to maintain the house. To cook and clean and simultaneously look after all of Hannah’s emotional and intellectual needs. They expect that achieving balance will be difficult, that work will expect too much from her while she simultaneously has the burden of running the household. She is expected to never truly escape the burden of full-time motherhood.

The reality of our lives is that Emma and I are doing the exact same thing. Yet she is often perceived as the mother who is leaving her child to work three days each week, while I am the father who is taking time away from his work to be with his child an extra two days. The difference is subtle, but it is significant.

Hannah is lucky to have her dad at home, but she is also lucky to have her mum. Emma and I are both fortunate that we have been able to negotiate with our employers and find the balance that we crave. We have both made sacrifices in our careers and our incomes for the sake of giving Hannah the best possible start. We both have fun at home with Hannah on those extra days and we both love watching her grow and develop. We share the hard work. We are both surrounded by the reality of the dirt that has to be tamed, it never ends. We work together to cater for Hannah’s emotional and intellectual needs. We both know what it’s like to be housebound and exhausted from a hard day’s parenting, and we both know what it’s like to walk through the door, exhausted after a hard day’s work.

Please don’t congratulate me for choosing part-time work.

Instead, recognise that all parents have choices to make (whether they know it or not). Marvel at the way they juggle their lives as best they can. Understand that for many mums AND dads who work full-time, the separation from their children is painful, but that they perceive it to be necessary. Acknowledge that those of us who are working part-time, mums AND dads, sacrifice pay and opportunities for the sake of time with our kids. Finally, never, ever fall in to the trap of equating those parents, mums AND dads, who don’t work with laziness and reliance on welfare. They are often some of the hardest working people you are ever likely to meet.

Please don’t congratulate me for choosing part-time work, unless you would also congratulate Emma for choosing part-time work.

Please don’t congratulate me for choosing part-time work, unless you would congratulate all parents for the choices they make about how they support their family.

DIY Daddy Blog

10 thoughts on “Part-time Work – My Choice

  1. I gave up full time work years ago to become my kids main carer. At times I’ve worked part time, others made a little money blogging and writing but it’s been me at home. Yes, the congratulatory comments get a bit grating. It shouldn’t be this way, you and I both know it should be “normal” but as one men’s rights activist put it to me, guys in our position are (sadly) trailblazers. Until it becomes the norm, we will be worthy of comment. Not that I agree with this at all. #thatfridaylinky

    1. Never thought of myself as a trailblazer, but if my experiences help another dad to make the choice to stay at home, so be it. Outdated attitudes are stopping some men from realising what could be the greatest experience of their lives. That’s a bit sad. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. I’m on the verge of going back to work after just over a year off to look after my little one. I’ve been looking for part time work, however, given our current situation, it looks likely that full time will be my only way. As a Dad, I understand that people seem to assume that the Mother will also be the dependable one who drops everything, however, this is changing. It’s just a shame that some people (typically of an older generation) seem to feel that they need to congratulate us Dad’s for being parents. Thanks for sharing #thatfridaylinky

    1. Thanks Rach. Most people really mean well, I get that. But you are right, everyone deserves to make the decisions in their lives without judgement. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. This is a excellent post and so very true people’s perception of Dads at home is at times just simply annoying Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

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