Some men do plenty more than their share

In 'The Independent' this month a young mother complained that her working partner wasn't doing his bit at home. Hang on, says Stephen Cox, who works part-time and cares for his baby son, it's not like that at our house

SOPHY ROBINSON'S complaint about men not doing their share of the domestic load ended with "He should be doing more to help you - show me a man who shouldn't."

OK, I will. Sophy, a mother of three children under ten, gave up her seat on the board of a communications company to work freelance from home; her husband works very full-time in the City. Guess who ended up running the house. In our house, it's the other way round. Sarah, my partner, works full- time as a librarian.

Last autumn, I gave up a salaried job in PR in the voluntary sector to look after our baby son and the house, while trying to build a freelance career. We use a child-minder two days a week, (yes, I collect) and Sarah works from home one day a week. Nevertheless, I end up doing most of the domestic chores - for example, all the cleaning, most of the washing, all the cooking, etc.

I'm not claiming sainthood, and the only prize we'd win would be a wooden spoon from the environmental health department. But we've made a conscious choice that we want one parent with Theo the majority of the time, and we accept the hassle and financial impact this involves.

Sarah says this isn't a gender issue. "It is about a partner who is at home and a partner who works outside the home. The partner at work finds it hard to be fully involved. I really see myself in this as the man."

If I was working outside the home twelve hours a day, it would definitely affect what I did in the home. As I have to look at the kitchen floor in daylight, I am more prompted to do something about it.

"What about the joy of looking after the children?" Sarah asks. Lots of it is tedious, but I do get uninterrupted playing time with Theo.

Sarah misses him dreadfully and resents the idea that time with Theo is purely a chore. At least, she says, as a breast-feeding mum, she gets given the baby and a cup of tea as soon as she steps through the door.

The man doesn't have that.

"Write about how difficult it is to come home from work, by Thursday so tired you feel your legs have been cut off," she says.

We both know that I could meet Sarah with a rolling pin and a list of chores, but that wouldn't do either of us any good. Sarah has plenty more to say. "I'm sick of reading articles in The Independent by women complaining how hard it is, when they have nannies and cleaners. Ordering the servants around is such hard work!"

What about housework and gender roles in those households where they can't afford to shove the work on to an employee? Too much of the writing by men is about how tough it is. (I use the hoover and deserve the Nobel Prize, etc). I don't agree that, in the round, men have it harder. A career woman who gave up a well-paid job for erratic freelancing and house-care would find it as tough as I did, and she might feel as alienated from the support groups that exist.

Some of the childcare infrastructure can't quite cope with men attending weaning clinics, drop-ins, etc. To be quite honest, I'm too busy on "Theo days" to worry about whether National Childbirth Trust teas will welcome me, or find it odd that I'm there.

Sarah gets evil looks from other women when I take the baby off to change a nappy. I also know couples 20 years ahead of us where the woman spent the first two years telling the man "No, you don't do it like that, let me do it..." and now complains that the man won't do anything unprompted.

Everything Sophy said in the article about negotiating is important. I hate to think how much negotiating we have had to do recently!

Her action plan is fine, as far as it stands. But why assume it is always the man who is not doing their share?

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

    £40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

    Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

    £22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

    Design Technology Teacher

    £22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

    Foundation Teacher

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

    Day In a Page

    Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

    Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

    Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities