Dec 16 2007

Addicted To Yay!

As the year draws to an end and the festive season begins, the world outside my home just seems to exert a natural influence on my thoughts this week.

I’m not talking about Christmas and the joy of giving, world peace, global warming, or this month’s video releases.

No … I’m really talking about a more introspective kind of reflection. This week I’ve been seriously reviewing my performance as a first-year “househusband” and a “stay-at-home” dad throughout 2007.

Did I really do well at my job?

After taking an honest inventory, I have to admit that I allowed my “third” role — i.e. being a “work-at-home” business owner — to dominate most of my time and thoughts this past year.

My life as a “work-at-home” business owner has been one of working really long work hours, experiencing very slow progress and just relying on pure workaholic determination to keep going no matter what.

As a “househusband” and a “stay-at-home” dad, on the other hand, my life has been very unmanageable.

Yes … I admit that I have been pretty sloppy when it came to looking after the kids and the home this year, despite all of my good intentions, plans, schedules, checklists, 3″x5″ visualization and affirmation cards posted everywhere around the house, fridge-door notices, family meetings (in which I get to announce my new rules and edicts for “the way things are going to be done around here from now on”), intimidatory comandeering (i.e. “blowing-my-lid” and pulling rank when my new rules and edicts are completely ignored), and motivational speeches (yeah … right! As if a 3-year old, a 5-year old and an 8-year old care about being “aligned” to a Family Vision and Mission statement that to them just sounds like “Dad wants us to spend all afternoon cleaning up the house!”).

And while all of this has been going on, my family developed a new motto for me this year … “Dad’s Back!”

No, not the return of the devoted husband and loving father, but what they actually see most of the time when they come into my office to share their lives with me … my back! I have spent most of 2007 sitting at my desk with my back towards my family, while I work furiously away on my laptop.

If you asked my children to draw a picture of their dad, my face would look like a bald spot.

Sure, we’ve had lots of good times and laughs as a family this year too (my family knows I’m laughing and having a good time when my shoulders bob up and down!), but next year I plan to improve on a few key areas.

Here then are my New Year’s Resolutions as a househusband:

  1. I will get my children to school on time. We will arrive at school at least 15 minutes early each day, so the kids can actually get to their classes without running down the hill because the school gong signalling the commencement of lessons went off 15 minutes before we arrived.
  2. I will pick up my kids from school on time. I will not treat my kid’s teachers as extended-hours day care workers.
  3. I will make sure that the kitchen is clean and tidy before I go to bed each night. I will no longer treat the dishwasher as extra shelf space for storing our dishes and cutlery.
  4. I will make sure that I put a load of clothes in for washing each night, then hang the clothes up next morning, then fold and put away clean clothes at the end of each day. I will not wait until the sun has gone down the next day to hang up the previous day’s load of washing, or let the clothes sit in the washing machine for more than two days, then send my kids to school wearing moldy-smelling clothes.
  5. I will do a big shop for all the family’s basic needs for the following week each Friday after I drop the kids off at school. I will not burden Corporate Babe with the task of doing the family shopping, as it is clearly the househusband’s responsibility.
  6. I will participate more in family activities, especially on weekends. I will not treat Saturdays and Sundays as an opportunity to “get ahead” of my work schedule.
  7. I will open the letters containing bills, payment reminders and credit card statements and add these to our “financial management” system. I will no longer toss these unopened into the in-tray and then get all surprised that we owe money to creditors when Corporate Babe and I sit down to do our finances on Sunday evenings.
  8. I will join my family at the dinner table for dinner. I will no longer delay making an appearance when called to come and sit down because I’m “just finishing” something on the computer, nor will I accept Corporate Babe’s offers of eating in the office, so I can keep on working uninterruptedly.
  9. I will remember to turn around more when I’m working at the computer, so my family can actually see my face when we’re talking.And finally, the most important one of all …
  10. I will help to increase the amount of “Yay” in my household.

Let me explain …

I’ve discovered that most people’s lives are unmanageable. Regardless of whether you work in an office for a company, or at home for yourself, there’s so much to do and so little time to get things done outside of our work commitments.

The difference, however, is that working at home and being with my kids allows me to experience something I call the “Yay” factor.

Here are some examples to illustrate what I’m talking about:

Destructo: “Dad … can I have a popcorn bag to eat while I’m watching the movie?”
Me: “Sure … I’ll get you a popcorn bag.”
Destructo: “Yay!”

Exacto: “Dad … can I make my own breakfast this morning?”
Me: “Sure … go make your own breakfast!”
Exacto: “Yay!”

Filosofo: “Dad … can I play “Shark Tale” on your other computer?”
Me: “Sure … go ahead!”
Filosofo: “Yay!”

And my all time favorite (this happened last month when Filosofo was away for a couple of days on a school camping trip) …

Exacto: “Daddy … are you going out tonight?”
Me: “Yes … I have to go out for a couple of hours to see some people, but while I’m away and since your brother is not here tonight, I want you to listen and help Mummy, because tonight while I’m gone, you’re the man of the house!”
Exacto (throwing both arms into the air): “YAAAAAY!!”

I have been given a great gift this year, which is the ability to work from home and be with my children. I don’t intend to waste this wonderful and rare opportunity, especially when all I have to do is lift up my game a little and start looking for “more ways to add yays” into our family life.

Yay!!

The Lazy HouseHusband

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