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WE'RE GLAD TO BE STAYAT HOME DADS; REALITY BEHIND FIGURES SHOWING RISE IN NUMBER OF FATHERS GIVING UP WORK.

Byline: Karen Bale

THE number of dads staying at home while their wives go out to work has trebled in 15 years.

Last year, 62,000 men described themselves as house-husbands, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And a recent survey by car insurance firm Aviva claimed that as many as 1.4million men in the UK are stay-at-home dads, while their wives are the breadwinners.

As more and more women go back to work full-time and are faced with extortionate nursery fees for their children, it seems more fathers are choosing to stop work to do the school run and the housework.

Martin Roberts, of parenting magazine FQ, said yesterday: "We have promoted and championed the stay-athome dad for eight or nine years.

"We predicted the rise back then and we believe it will continue."

But how do stay-at-home dads cope? We spoke to two Scots househusbands to find out how they manage.

TIME WITH THE KIDS IS PRECIOUS

COLM Black, 55, has been a house-husband for two years.

He lives in Inverness and brings up his three boys - Hamish, 10, Struan, eight and Eoin, six - while wife Isabel works as a special needs teacher.

He said: "I worked in a family project for the Church of Scotland but was made redundant in October 2009.

"At the same time that I found myself unemployed, my wife was offered a job.

"Our lives turned in a short space of time and I found myself a stay-at-home dad.

"It all happened very quickly but we looked at our circumstances and thought, 'We're being pointed in another direction, let's go for it.'"

Colm decided to embrace the chance to spend more time with his boys - and to set up the business he'd always wanted to.

He said: "I set up a company called xplusy.co.uk, for educating couples and giving support to parents.

"I work between 9.30am and 2.30pm while the kids are at school."

Colm does the school run twice a day, helps the kids with homework and takes them to various clubs.

He said: "I do a lot of housework, some of it I'm not very good at it, but I try."

Colm admits it's hard devoting so little time to his business - but his children are his priority.

He said: "It can be frustrating as you're selfemployed and you would like to keep working all day.

BUSY 3 Colm "But I have to say to myself, 'My kids are coming home, it's their time.'"

Colm said he found it tough at first, when youngest son Eoin was still in nursery and he was the only dad collecting him.

He said: "At least, as I'd worked in family projects, I was used to being around mums with small children.

"But I know there were many dads at toddler groups who found it difficult being the only dad among 20 mums.

"It is difficult making friends, though.

"Making friends with women is another thing, I wouldn't do that. I was careful about it."

However, Colm is delighted to have had as much time with his youngest son.

He said: "That whole first year that I was at home Eoin was still at nursery and at home a lot.

"Even three years on, he remembers that. That time with him was precious."

Colm admits there are time he wishes he could give his wife a break. He added: "I'd like her to have the time to go for coffee during the day, the way that I can.

"We imagined that's how it would be. But we've adapted our lives and it's working."

IT'S HARD BUT I DON'T REGRET IT

EDMUND Farrow, 38, has been a stay-at-home dad for 12 years.

He quit his job as a computer programmer when their youngest child, Matthew, was born.

Since then he's brought up Matthew, 11, Daniel, nine, and Joanna, seven, while wife Elaine, 37, works full-time as a university researcher.

He said: "We decided before we even had children that I would be the one to stay at home.

"As far as personalities are concerned, I'm better able to be at home. I can be home with a sick child all week and not go mad, while Elaine needs to be out and about meeting people.

"We had the luxury of not having to decide on the basis of finances, we were earning a similar amount.

"I stopped work before Matthew was born, so it's 12 years since I've worked.

"I was only 26 so I hadn't been in the job particularly long, just a couple of years.

"I never thought I'd end up being a stay at home dad but I've enjoyed it."

Edmund, of Edinburgh, found being a house-husband most challenging when the children were little.

He used to be the only man at parent and toddler groups, among 30 women.

He said: "Everyone was happy to talk to me and find out why I was there but, on the other hand, I had to start the conversations.

"Faced with a choice between one of the 30 other women or the lone man, they would talk to other women.

"So it was just a case of brazening it out and starting conversations. I had to just not be afraid of the situation.

"It was tough when the kids were small.

Joanna, in particular, didn't sleep at all when she was a baby.

"So, for a year or two, I was wandering around, barely knowing who I was.

"I think anyone at home looking after a child is going to feel isolated on occasion. It's about trying to get out the house at least once a day.

"That's one of the reasons I set up my website, DadsDinner.com, to tell housedads there are some of us out there."

Edmund, though, has never met another stay-at-home dad.

He said: "You often see dads at the school gate but usually they are sharing childcare with the mum or they work shifts or night shift."

Now, after 12 years at home, Edmund says it would be difficult to get back into work.

He explained: "It's got to the point where finances come into it. Our arrangement works well for us anyway but now my wife has had 12 extra years work experience over me.

"If we swapped over now, I'd be earning half of what she is."

These days, Edmund does the school run - and spends the rest of the day cleaning and doing other chores.

And he even volunteers at a parent and toddler group one morning a week.

For six years, he took his children to the baby groups - and decided it was time to give something back.

been He said: "I prepare the snacks, do the washing up and tell them a story.

"Sometimes women do a double take but they don't find it desperately strange.

"It tends to be other men who are surprised. They ask me why on earth I want to stay at home with the kids and look quite scared at the prospect."

Edmund does most of the chores but he's not very good at some.

He said: "To say I cook is maybe going a bit far. I think moving stuff from the freezer to the oven is what I do."

But he loves staying at home. He said: "It can be hard but I've never regretted it.

"With any job you have days where you think, 'What on earth am I doing?' It's the same being a house-dad. It's been fantastic looking after my children and to watch and help them grow."

CAPTION(S):

busy Colm WASHING Edmund does most of the housework DAY OUT Edmund with kids Matthew, Daniel and joanna HAPPY Colm Black with his sons, Hamish, Struan and Eoin CHORES Edmund does the washing-up
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 27, 2012
Words:1304
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