The Basics

So you're thinking of becoming a housedad? Well, there are a few things you should know. Actually, there's a shedload of things you should know but, before we start, there's one thing you really need - a victim. Of course, from here on in, I'll be referring to this victim as 'your child' but, realistically, you'll be feeding this child, choosing his (or her!?) clothes, designing his haircut, vetting his friends and shutting him in confined spaces. You'll be the one to teach him the ways of the world, the nature of God and your own bad habits. It will be your decision whether he can cope with sitting in THAT nappy for another ten minutes while you just finish the washing up. The power will be yours! Remember this even in the darkest hour of the years ahead and use the power wisely. Take a deep breath and maintain control. Being a housedad isn't hard. (Although developing an evil laugh can make it more fun. Mwha, ha, ha!)

You may have your vict-, er, child, already prepared. If so, feel free to skip forward a few sections. If you have older children then you've even further to go unless you want to stick around for the sake of nostalgia. I'm going to cover things in order. I don't have much choice really – it's the simplest way, and the kids ate my brain long ago.

Making Babies

First off, don't get cracking straight away. It's worth discussing with your partner what you both want from parenthood as early in the process as possible. My wife and I decided that I'd be the one to look after the kids before we even decided we were going to have any. (Really). Sorting things out now will give you time to arrange finances, pensions and everyone else's expectations.

Worst case scenario:

Bob and Sarah are going to be parents but they don't want their children to spend most of the time in childcare. Sarah enjoys her job and is driven mad by repetitive tasks and Teletubbies. Bob hates his job but earns twice as much. He could watch the same episode of The Tweenies 500 times without suffering brain death. They have a large mortgage and no savings.

Worst case solution:

Bob stays in his job, Sarah gives up hers to look after the child. By the time they realise their mistake, Bob is too tired from lack of sleep to find another job and Sarah is mad. Bob starts finding Laa-Laa more attractive than Sarah. Everything goes BADLY.

Ways out:

Obviously this was a disaster waiting to happen for a long time and they should have planned the transition to a single income years ago, making savings and maybe living somewhere different. Still, accidents happen, and there are other options, including:
  • Bob changing jobs and them both working part-time, with little Jessica in nursery when there's an overlap.
  • A financial review. Bob may well earn twice as much but how much of that is eaten by tax, national insurance, travel, expensive sandwiches and stuff to cheer him up? Also, there's extra income from tax credits and child benefit to consider.
  • Sarah could invest in a fluffy yellow outfit for 'special occasions'.
  • A combination of the above, mixed with help from family, a bit of thought, open discussion and a realisation that no solution need last forever. Everyone's situation, desires and finances are different but there are always options. Think ahead.

Doing the Dirty

OK, you can get cracking now. Don't leave it until you have every last detail planned and an enormous pot of cash – children are tiring, you'll need some remnant of youthful energy yourself. Do go to the cinema. Take a spontaneous trip with only spare underwear for luggage. Have your last cigarette. Drink hot coffee. Eat something other than chocolate.

Oh, and don't kid yourself. It may take an average of six months to conceive but think of all the people it takes years and then do the maths. Be prepared.