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The Four C’s Of A Housedad

By James McLouchlin

“C” as in “Chores”. But not everything is as bad as it looks, writes James McLoughlin.

Back in the days when school was just an educational thing we had the three R’s: reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Since then, I guess they’ve added spelling. Now that we have grown up and put our formal training to good use, we can put aside the R’s and explore the four C’s.

Clothing: First there was the baby shower, and the co-workers send-off, then the well-meaning friends and
neighbours with the new- arrival, bundle-of-joy, welcome-home gift parade.

Then the family members came by, having cleared their storage spaces of gems saved for just such an occasion.

These clothing treasures were known as hand-me-downs (although that term is hardly used anymore, so how about ‘previously owned’?) and hand-me-ups, a.k.a. re-gifting (no, that is not just like the same dress you gave her last year, it is the one you bought).

So now you have enough baby clothing to open a retail outlet chain, or so you think. Once you separate the too big, too small, too yellow and too hideous, you are left with little more than receiving blankets. And they do receive; newborn babies leak. It does not end there, however, because infants spew, toddlers spill … Children are messy.

Laundry is a daily occurence. Get used to it, because nary a day goes by that something doesn’t need to be washed, pre-treated, stain-sticked, rinsed, softened, rinsed again (you missed the softener cycle), dried, folded and put away.

Cleaning: (does not include laundry): Everything in the house that may go near the baby must be washed, boiled and sterilised, including (and especially) your hands. The thick callusses you have developed over the years offer little protection against the abuse they are about to receive.

Such a small creature, with nary an ambulatory skill, can really dishevel a house. But that is just a prelude of things to come; children are messy (see above clothing references).

In addition to spews, spills and drips there are the toys. Toy chests disdain toys. Every time you turn your back on those boxes they eject another toy onto the floor. And almost without fail, they hurl their entire contents across the room as you are greeting your DW at the door.

It is not unusual to fill a toy box three or four times during the course of the day, but she will never believe that, so when she asks about the toys all over the house, just shrug.

Cooking: Cooking is part of the job. Cordon Bleu – does not translate into ham and cheese, and I Boyardee is not a gourmet chef. Spaghetti and meatballs should be served once a week, not once a day.

If your greatest culinary challenge is finding a can opener that works, invest in a cookbook. Breakfast need not be cooked often, because of ter eggs and pancakes (kids quickly figure out that waffles come from the same place) there is little else.

But cereal spends less time in the belly than on the floor, leading to more of the previous C and also introduces another important C into the mix: Cerials! Learn to love them; they stay crunchy (and presumably tasty) three days under cushions. Lunch can be more challenging, because they don’t eat PB&J right away; those staples kick in around toddler and pre-school age.

However, Chef Boyardee can be served here often, as can almost any cheese product. Of course, all of the above meals end the same way: Cleaning. Kids can be very messy.

Child Rearing: The big C. This is the crux of our job. Dirty clothes, messy homes and take-out food, again, can all be forgiven if a happy and healthy child greets mum at the door. All of the above jobs should be done in between and around, not instead of, the child care.

Most people know this, but those who are not home all day caring for children have little idea of how time-consuming a task this is. That’s OK, because if they knew how much fun it can sometimes be, they’d never let us get away with it!

So the next time someone who does not stay at home with children asks, ‘What do you do all day?” show them this article. Just cross out that last line about the fun.

Next: School – Not Quite The Final Frontier

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