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Taking risks seems to be in my blood. In fact, if I’m not doing something fairly risky, I find myself seeking it out. Not the climbing Kilimanjaro, or base jumping off the Empire State Building kind of risk, but the swimming upstream when everyone else is swimming down kind. The questioning of the status quo, and decisively doing things differently. I have an indifference for the embedded belief system society has so successfully adopted. At the moment, it’s the ‘women are the carers, men are the breadwinners’ belief.

I think there are fundamental flaws with this attitude. Don’t get me wrong, progress has been made, there’s a general wave of concern for how can we help women balance work and family. Flexible work arrangements, job-sharing, childcare anyone? However, the devil is in the detail. The focus firmly on women contains it tightly in the jar of ‘mummy issues’.

In fact, ‘women are the carers, men are the breadwinners’ was questioned so heavily in our household last year, it was the topic of large sheets of paper with unending lists of pros and cons. Why do we think this? What would it be like if we swapped? What would people say? How would the kids respond? How would we respond? Then one day, off the cliff we jumped. In a flurry of resignation negotiations and number crunching we simply swapped, with a ‘tag you’re it’. I went to work each day with the responsibility of meeting the mortgage repayments and putting food on the table, and my husband took over full responsibility of running the household.

I say ‘full’ for a reason. Most of the reactions from other women has been disbelief that he actually does all the washing and cooking, among all the other responsibilities of running a house that contains three little humans ranging from two to nine, a dog and two chickens. Eyebrows raise in surprise, ‘he cooks every night? When you say the washing, he hangs it out, brings it in, and puts it away?’ Yes all of it, otherwise it wouldn’t have been much of a swap would it? The questions are generally followed by a firm, ‘my husband could never do that’.

Fact – men are not idiots.

Whilst there were a few teething issues… hats left at school, presents for parties not purchased… the children are very much still alive, as is the dog and chickens. I even have to admit some things are done better. Time to clean the oven? A job I would have spent way too long on, or to be completely honest would have outsourced. Husband expertly disassembled it, blasted it with a high-pressure hose in the back yard, bringing it back to new in about three and a half minutes.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, who penned the article ‘Why women still can’t have it all’ said, “You can’t have a halfway revolution. You once had women as caregivers and men as breadwinners then you said, ‘Okay women can be breadwinners too.’ So women get to do both but for men we still completely expect that their primary role is  bread winning.”

“The only way to get to equality is to value care when men do it just as much as when women do it. We need to expect them to do it. We raise our daughters and we assume they will have caregiving obligations at some point. What women like me have done forever in talking to younger women is to say, ‘Have you thought about how you’re going to fit together work and family?’ Why aren’t we asking our sons exactly the same question? Why aren’t we saying to our sons and all the young men we mentor, ‘Well, if you are planning to have a family, have you thought about how you’re going to fit together whatever you’re doing professionally and the care of your children or your parents or anybody else?’”

So here’s to changing the narrative, and giving our magnificent men some credit, as it’s really the only way we’ll start to be equal players in this game of life.

Can you relate to the above? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • They certainly act like it sometimes!

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  • I know a Dad who does all an excellent job at all domestic duties, except house cleaning. Paid employment is full time shift work – some of it nights – so he needs to get some sleep during the day. He is a fantastic cook though he won’t admit it. He does a lot more than his wife does and she works a lot less hours paid employment. She is too busy on a computer when not working and does nothing outside at all. He does at least 95% of the laundry.

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  • Part of changing the narrative has to be stopping wondering and caring what other people think!

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  • I am the primary carer of our 9 month old, and my partner works full time.
    We have a system in place. i’m a terrible cook, he takes care of dinner. I vacuum, wash up, clean the toilet, as they’re all jobs he hates. He cleans the shower because I’m too short to reach. He bathes our son every night, it’s their bonding and play time.
    Men are not idiots. They are just as capable of doing the caregiver/housekeeper role as women.

    Reply

  • Interestingly, I had to go away for a Few days recently, and my husband took time off to be at home with the kids. I left him half a page of notes, and specifically said “it’s not because I think you’re an idiot, it’s because you don’t know all my routines.” I deliberately only covered a couple of vital things.. And he worked the rest out just fine. You know, like feeding them.

    I think some women just prefer not to acknowledge that men are domestically capable.

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  • We have a new baby in our house at the moment and I am in the primary Carer Giver role for now. My husband is the Bread Winner but he also takes on a lot of household duties. We want to make some changes to the dynamic once our daughter is a couple of years old making a shift towards both of us taking on part time earning role and have an equal opportunity to be in the caring role… I very much appreciate my husband for who he is and what he does in and for our household.

    Reply

  • Interesting article. Very valid points. My hubby is certainly no idiot.

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  • I think giving men the chance to tackle the stay at home parent role is a wonderful idea. We are currently looking into this ourselves. Just needing to tweek the budget a little!!

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  • My hubby is awesome! Men definitely deserve more credit!

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  • My partner is not an idiot,he is amazing!

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  • No they are not idiots but mine certainly drives me bananas sometimes when he acts like one…

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  • my hubby has more control over my kids but I think he would watch tv all day

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  • Just decided this today, im going back to work full time as hubby hates his job. hes always worked full time (18 yrs of it so far) where ive worked part time these last 4 yrs, so going to let him have 6 months off as a trial!! hopefully incomes will be ok, he will need a casual weekend job though

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  • No men are not idiots but this didn’t work for me when my husband was out of a job

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  • My husband is amazing and I am so thankful he is not a idiot

    Reply

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