When I was growing up and thought about my future, I have to admit that I usually thought about a career rather than a family. I am thrilled that life worked out differently than I expected, and the day after handing in my Masters dissertation, I got married to my best friend. Ten months later out first daughter was born. She’s now four, and her little sister is one.
Right now, my husband is a full-time student doing a postgraduate course. I’m working to support us. This situation actually works out really well for us. I enjoy my work and find a lot of fulfilment in it, and–until my husband graduates at least–I have far better earning potential than he does. So…who watches the kids?
In reality, it’s become a dual job. I work part-time away from home, and some from home as well, so I’m able to have some flexibility in my schedule and spend most afternoons at home with my girls. Recently, though, it seems like we’ve had a lot of illnesses in the family. Both of the girls had chicken pox, then one had a chest infection, and then the other one caught scarlet fever. This resulted in nearly three months of varying degrees of illness and recovery. The reality of our situation is that because I’m self-employed, I don’t get paid if I don’t work. We just can’t afford for me to take too much time off. As a postgraduate student though, my husband has had more flexibility with his schedule. He’s been the one to take over the bulk of the childcare during this time, and has done a great job of nursing the girls, and taking care of our home.
I have to admit that I have really enjoyed our roles “reversed” from the tradition. My husband has done a great job. He’s patient with the girls and does a lot of creative activities and crafts with them. They’ve loved all the time with daddy. He’s also a far better housekeeper than I am (no matter how hard I try, I just am not a very good housekeeper). He stays on top of things like the laundry and dishes.
I love the days when I get up with the girls in the morning and spend some time with them, then go to work. I come home just after lunch, and the girls are happy to see me and tell me about their morning. Plus I can see all of the things that my husband has worked on that morning. Often he ends up cooking dinner in the evening so that I can work (he’s an excellent cook), or we work on it together, and then I’ll work some more in the evening after the girls are in bed. Our household runs smoothly, our home is nicer, and the girls are well-cared for and happy.
Is this a permanent situation? No. It is a great one though. I would be thrilled for my husband to be the stay-at-home parent, or for us both to work part-time and stay at home with the kids part-time.