Today is the first day of Team Dad. After ten months of maternity leave, my Wife has returned to her part-time job, and due to the cost of childcare, we’ve decided that from now on, for three days a week, I’m going to be looking after Toddler and Baby.
I already knew my Wife was good at juggling the feeding, changing, caring, washing, and bathing. But now I recognise her total genius. Because what no-one tells you about childcare is that past changing a nappy, every job is ridiculously easy. The trouble is there’s just so many of them.
Take getting the kids up in the morning. Fundamentally, they just need to be fed and changed. Sounds simple. But for that, you need to cook their porridge while changing their nappies while running upstairs to find their clean clothes while cleaning the bibs you forgot to clean the night before while getting them a drink and ultimately, completely forgetting to have breakfast yourself.
Those are the issues I might have anticipated. What I didn’t know is that on waking them up, I’d find Baby’s nappy had leaked, soaking her clothes and bed. I also didn’t expect them to so vehemently resist eating their food – Toddler because she wanted me to read Jack and the Beanstalk, Baby because she was more interested in banging her spoon on her feeding tray as though it were a drum.
After I’d swept the floor clean of crumbs of toast, we got to playgroup an hour late. I saw that as a major achievement. Then Toddler wet herself just as we were about to leave, and again once we got home. Three months of potty training wiped out in one morning.
In the afternoon, there was respite. Baby had a nap, Toddler played happily in her new indoor tent, and I sat down with the paper and a cuppa.
Then, a smell. And not one filled with the kind of pleasant notes identified by wine experts. After dragging toddler out of the tent and into her fourth set of clean clothes, there was a cry from upstairs. Baby was awake. Defeated, I poured my cold cup of tea away.
In the evening, after I’d swept the floor again – this time because of a constellation of cake crumbs – my Wife arrived home and asked how the day had been. “Hectic,” I said. She replied only with a knowing smile.