Sunday, 13 April 2008

Stay-at-home-dad

A few weeks ago I officially became a stay-at-home-dad when Kaiko got a full time job. Champagne flowed freely on the day my dream was realised! I know many men who go to work primarily to get away from their wife and kids but not me, I love this life! Up at six every morning, make lunch boxes and breakfast followed by the school run, playgroup for Millie on the odd day, picnic in the park if it's warm enough, another school run, make dinner, go to gym - ahh, this is the life!

But I have come to realise that people who make the decision to look after their own children, which generally means giving up a job, belong to a minority group who instead of being congratulated, receive no support from the government and are in fact, persecuted for doing the right thing!

After having a chronic cough for some 20 years I was diagnosed with having a type of asthma - one day into the medication and it was like having a new set of lungs! Only trouble is, now I'm a stay-at-home-dad with no money coming in all these sprays and inhalers are a bit expensive. Having never claimed any sort of social security I know nothing of the system but thought that as a full time carer I would probably qualify for free prescriptions. After several days of looking for a number to call I was told I would have to call Jobseekers. So I did, and it went something like this.

Me: I'm calling to check if I am entitled to free prescriptions.
Bored Voice: Are you claiming Job Seekers Allowance?
Me: No, what's that?
Irritated Voice: Are you looking for a job?
Me: No, my wife works and I look after the kids.
Jumped up Prick: Well why don't you get a childminder and work like everyone else?
Me: Because all the childminders are full and the private nursery costs £800 a month. Besides I don't want job seekers allowance, just free asthma medicine. And even more besides I don't want a childminder - I want to look after my own kids.
Bored Jobsworth: Sorry I can't help unless you are looking for a job.
Me: I hope this call is being recorded for training purposes.

I was a bit stunned by this! Would he have talked to me like that if I was a housewife rather than husband? I grew up (and worked!) in an age when it seemed half of England was on the dole and living on handouts but the first time I could use a bit of help its implied that I'm a lazy bastard who doesn't want to work! Luckily since then I have discovered Family Tax Credits and although I am still not eligible for free prescriptions we will at least get some tax back every month, so the inhalers stay.

Despite the opposition I remain undeterred and a very happy Stay-at-home-Dad!

19 comments:

Sweet Irene said...

People who stay at home and take care of their kids are underrated and not much appreciated by society. I was one of those dinosaurs who was lucky enough to be able to stay home. I filled my time with doing lots of volunteer work and somehow that doesn't look all that great later on in life when you go out and look for a "real" job. Like I said, we are under appreciated.

Maggie May said...

Well, Sam, you are an excellent Dad, whether at home or away!
Your daughters adore you!

Suburbia said...

It's great staying at home with your children. Sod the money, who can replace the time spent with them when they're young. However,as a woman, I did lose my confidence over time. People would ask 'what do you do' and when I repied 'I'm a mum' they sort of lost interest!

david mcmahon said...

Enjoyed the post Sam. And as a hands-on Dad, let me tell you that the so-called ``pirate daughters'' will look back on this quality time with you, with great fondness.

Sam said...

David - thank you for your kind words and the post of the day! That was a very pleasant surprise.

Suburbia - fortunately making money has never been that important to me, as has caring what people think of me! Every day is an adventure!

Irene - I have deep respect for anyone who looks after their children and still has enough energy to do voluntary work!

Momma said...

I commend you on your choice to stay home with your kids! My husband did the same thing when I had a job requiring me to travel. He even joined up with the Mommies after the school bus left to have coffee and gossip. :-)

Way to go!

Peace - D

P.S. - Found you through David.

CrazyCath said...

Good on you Sam! Great post and good to see the site going from strength to strength!

Re the prescriptions - similar problem here especially with multiple items. A Pre pay prescription costs about £35 for 3 months or £95 for 12 months. Well worth it. Ask at your local chemist. I do the 12 month because I have about 7 items each month. If I paid each time without a Pre pay it would cost about £50 a month. So it is well sorth it although I still object to people on Job seekers being allowed free prescriptions and yet SAHD or long term incapacitated like me have to pay...

Strange world.

Debra in France said...

Good on you!!! I applaud people who choose to stay at home and bring up their children, rather than give this job to a stranger whose morals and values you don;t know. I do not have children, partly because we didn't want any, but also because we couldn't never have survived on one wage. Although my mother in law would have had the children while i worked (as she did with her own daughters kids), I didn't want that. You are brilliant for doing this, and you and your family while reap the rewards of this for the rest of your lives. Debra x

Liz said...

Oh good for you! I am such a believer in a parent staying at home to look after the children. I mean, why have children otherwise? I suppose some genuinely can't afford it but when some say that they mean they can't afford it and have holidays in florida. Oh look now I'm ranting. Welcome to blogging. It is totally addictive.

So, yes, i'm looking forward to reading more.

Liz said...

Oh and move to Wales. We get free prescriptions here.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

What a brilliant post! And you sound like one hell of a great dad - I congratulate you in joining the club with the best jobs in the world - being a full time parent.

Just thought I'd mention it but my husband and I get tax credits and we are both entitled to free prescriptions. I get them anyway because of a medical condition but my husband gets them because of his working tax credit. Don't you get child tax credit? If not, look into it - you could be worth a fortune!!

Crystal xx

Jules said...

Yay! Stay at home dad's are THE BEST! By staying at home and not letting someone else raise your kids, YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING!!!

So now, with that off my chest, I actually came over to say thanks very much for the heads up on the screen saver tip. My boys were hovering over me in thrilled awe and amazement as we did it. Thanks again.

Just as an aside..... didn't I just read something about your mum posting her own photo?

Retiredandcrazy said...

Hello mighty Sam, I am a great fan of your mother. My son-in-law is a stay at home dad and what a good job he does too. And he is very macho. I tell you, this job is not for wimps!

Bina said...

Oh. My. Lord. So what are you going to do? And better yet, since this is an old post, what HAVE you done??? Surely there is someone out there who can help you!

Sam said...

Momma - I think the mommies are a bit nervous of inviting me to coffee mornings but some of them do at least talk to me!

CrazyCath - I was thinking about pre-paid prescriptions but I persuaded my doctor to give me 3 inhalers per prescription which works out slightly cheaper. It is indeed a strange world!

Debra in France - thank you for your kind words :-) If only the government were as kind as bloggers!

Liz - I am indeed thinking of moving to Wales!

Crystal Jigsaw - I'm filling out the family tax credit forms today. I'll keep you posted

Jules - thank you for your kind words and if you ever need Mac help you know where to come

Retiredandcrazy - true indeed it's a very demanding job!

Bina - well I am entitled to tax credits so it's not all bad news. It is taking a long time to get all the necessary information though and it would be very easy to give up! Every pound counts though so I will not!

ExpatKat said...

Hi Sam,
I came via David, but I read your mum's blog too. Congrats on being a stay-at-home dad!
I chose to stay home with our kids because I wanted to be the strongest voice in their lives. I wanted to pass on my values and morals not someone elses. My husband's job has proved so demanding that someone has had to keep our 'ship' on course through the years. That's turned out to be me. I get no recognition from the world, but I know that the contribution I make at home is invaluable to my family and we're all better for it. I am in many ways the anchor, creating a stability wherever we live.
You're doing a great job. Your kids will thank you for it one day.

Swearing Mother said...

Hello Sam! And how lovely to meet you, I heard all about you from your Mum :o).

In answer to your question about free prescriptions, indeed you would have been told exactly the same had you been a stay at home mother or a dad. If you're not a job seeker, either sex, or getting some sort of family credit, then basically you are up the proverbial creek minus both paddles.

When I gave up work to have my daughter (she's 30 now), I just gave up work. Full stop. No money. My choice and all that. There wasn't even family allowance for the first child, nothing. The only way to get any more money was to say you were going back to work, get your salary paid for a while and then change your mind about returning. Even then there were tales of having to pay it all back, so most of us didn't bother. We couldn't even sign on unless we were really prepared to go out to work and leave the babies, and some of us just couldn't do it. We were just flat broke but somehow we managed.

Nowadays it's much harder to make ends meet what with inflation and house prices etc.,even with both parents working, but there is much much more in the way of benefits than ever. Unfortunately those of us who choose to give up work to take care of a family are regarded as either a) rich, b)demented or c) very lucky. Being at home with the kids is now thought of as a luxury, especially by those who could not possibly survive financially on one salary, which in a way it is. I know many young mums (and probably some dads) who are heartbroken having to leave their little ones all day because they can't afford to stay at home and bring them up themselves.

I think it's very poor that anyone with a chronic illness should have to pay for treatment (apart from the "season ticket" which could save you money), and quite frankly I get fed up everytime I take in my prescription for blood pressure tablets when they ask me "do you pay?".

Of course I pay, I've always paid, in fact I think I am one of the very few who actually do pay, but in a couple of years I will at last be saying "no, I don't".

And about time too!

You're doing a great job Sam, when your kids are older they will remember what it was like to have you at home to take care of them. And, believe me, you'll look back on it as one of the best times of your life.

said...

hello there, i happened across your blog quite randomly from mine when i looked up other people liking morris dancing! just to say that i hope you get your free meds sorted out - your family sounds wonderful, and good for you for making the brave, fun decision to be a stay at home dad! obviously the man on the phone mustn't have had that pleasure as a child or he would have been nicer!

have a nice day :)

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