Sep 06 2008
During a recent weekend “playdate” with another family whose three children are all in the same classes as our three boys, I was lent a book called “Fat, Forty And Fired” by one of the parents.
This book tells the story of an English advertising and marketing executive called Nigel Marsh, who moves with his family to Australia is fired from his job shortly after arriving in the country. Nigel decides to take a year off to spend time getting reacquainted with his family, to rethink his life and to work on some of his personal goals.
The author is a really funny guy and some of the situations he describes in the book are hilarious. In fact, as he started moving more and more into a “househusband” role, I started wishing that I had come up with some of his lines for similar situations that I (and I suspect many other “stay-at-home” dads) have experienced.
But then, something happens towards the end of the book, which left me feeling really disappointed. I hope readers won’t mind me saying this (it’s not like I’m giving away the ending of the new Harry Potter movie, or something like that!) … Nigel is offered a new corporate job, and he decides to take it. After some time has passed and Nigel has settled back into his old working life, he concludes that the fabled “work-family balance” is not something that is possible to achieve.
This really pissed me off.
I disagree with Nigel.
Reading his book made me realize some really important things, which I’d like to share with you here.
The first thing I realized, was that being a househusband requires a much deper commitment than just taking “a year off” from work to spend some time with your family and see how things go. Sure, it can start off that way, but at some point, you have to go from becoming “involved” to becoming “committed”.
It’s like a story I really like about having an “eggs and ham” breakfast. In an “eggs and ham” breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.
I have to be honest and say that two years after agreeing to become a househusband while Corporate Babe returned to work, I am still struggling with my commitment.
Sure, I am more involved, now, but there’s still a lot of things I could be doing better in terms of looking after the kids and managing the household.
And this is where my second disagreement with the author of “Fat, Forty and Fired” arises.
I DO believe that it is possible to achieve a work-family balance.
But not by becoming dependent on working a regular 9-5 job for a regular paycheck.
I believe it can be achieved through a carefully crafted vision, a realistic plan and a profitable home-based business.
The vision must start by believing that a work-family balance is possible.
A realistic plan is then needed to build a lifestyle based on this possibility.
And finally, the business has to incorporate the planned lifestyle and allow us to realize the vision.
Right now, I’m still in the process of putting in long hours trying to build a home-based online business, so I can’t say with complete and utter conviction that achieving a work-family balance is definitely possible.
But I have been working towards this goal for a very long time and I can tell you that I won’t be “copping out” on my commitment to become a successful househusband just because someone comes along and offers me a job with a regular paycheck.
I have nothing against jobs – in fact, I am grateful that my wife has one and that her job is keeping us going. I just know that I don’t want a job … what I want, is to build a profitable business and to become more involved with my kids after school, during meals, at bedtime and on weekends. I want to be able to get up earlier during weekdays not to train for marathons or to compete in swimming events, but so that we are not rushing late to school every morning, and I also want to start devoting a few more hours to managing the house on Mondays and Fridays when Destructo is home with me (right now he only goes to school Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), so that Corporate Babe can come home to a tidy and orderly household after a long day spent working in an office.
Right now, I’ve got three days a week (from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm) to build my business, and the rest of the time to work on achieving that elusive “work-family balance” that Nigel Marsh says is not possible to achieve.
I believe it can be done – that men can have a successful and rewarding career and spend more time at home with their children and family – especially in this “Information Age” economy – and I plan to keep you updated on how I’m doing in my quest in future posts!
The Lazy Househusband