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8 Housework Rules All Dads Really Need To Follow

Housework is often blamed for relationship failure. But it can also be your friend. Avoid a costly divorce and custody battle, with Pat Fitzpatrick’s 8 Housework Tips for Dads.

1. Step Away From The Washing Machine

The male brain cannot absorb the Rules of Washing Clothes. Some of our best men have been looking at it for years, and we’re still nowhere near a solution. Here is what I’ve learned so far. A minimum of three items that you put into a 40 wash should have gone into a wool wash, and now they’re ruined, you stupid man. An item from Penneys can be put in any wash, it doesn’t matter, sure I’ll just get another one. And finally, the only way to find the towel you were warned not to forget to put in the wash, is to turn the machine on. At this point, the towel will make itself apparent to you, outside the washing machine, whose door is now locked for 120 minutes. You are so dead. There are two solutions here. Buy an expensive new machine that will allow you to add items mid-wash. Or else throw the towel in the bin. Option two is your friend here.

2. Make Space For The Cleaning Lady

Irish people are slow to hire a cleaning lady, in case their pass-remarkable cousin says that one is up herself. This usually lasts until a child arrives. Two weeks and 736 housework arguments later, it emerges that the hourly rate for a cleaner is 10% of the amount a solicitor will charge to manage your divorce. Enter the cleaning lady. However, this is Ireland, so this new cleaner must also become your friend. You will be like some kind of Mrs. Doyle, badgering the poor lady with offers of cups and apologising for the state of the jacks. (‘I told him there was something off about that curry.’) There are no winners here. So, when the cleaner comes to do her job, give her a break and head out for a walk. 

3. Handheld Is Your Friend

Just a quick word on handheld vacuum cleaners. Buy 40 of and scatter them around the house. They’ll save your back from a load of bending down to pick up crumbs from the couch, and some of the more expensive models have enough suction to pick up a small child. That’s all you need to know there. 

4. You Own The Dishwasher

You need to embrace your inner-housewife. Why? Because the alternative is playing with your kids. This isn’t to suggest they’re not lovely and all. But every second spent loading the dishwasher is another second not spent building a wooden railway, so your two-year-old can smash it apart. That isn’t even fun the first time. Seasoned parents will often race their partner through dinner to get the coveted dishwasher gig. The key is to spend ages re-loading it, to fit in the final cup. This is often accompanied by the sounds of your partner screaming, “Why did you ask me to build it for you so?”, from another room. You and the dishwasher - these are the real golden moments.

5. Gardening?

You’ll find a lot of new Dads banging on about their geraniums. This has less to do with a love of gardening and more to do with the fact that you can shout, “Keep away from me, I’ll going to turn on the strimmer” at your pesky kids. It’s basically the outdoors, me-time, version of loading the dishwasher. Which is why it doesn’t count. I checked with the authorities in this area (my wife), and apparently any outdoors work doesn’t count as housework. So cut the hedge all you like. But there’s a pile of laundry to be folded when you come in. Just so you know.

6. Avoid The Socks

Speaking of laundry, not all washing loads are equal. As in, some have two sheets and a pair of jeans. While others have small people’s socks. This matters when you are hanging them out. Let’s just say a laundry basket of kids’ undies is enough to make you wish you’d joined the priests. (It’s that bad.) I did the sums recently while hanging out such a wash. My kids clearly have four arses and 8 legs each. Here’s the lowdown. The kids’ sock-wash line-hang is two hours of your life down the tubes. So try and hand it over to someone else. 

7. Mammy Likes A Remark

You know how it goes. Your mother calls over to pawn off some pork chops that are out of date tomorrow. “Sure, just throw them in the bin if you don’t want them.” As if you don’t have enough to do. You are folding the laundry when she calls. “I see she has you well trained.” “What’s that supposed to mean, Mammy?” “Just that you never did that when you were living in my house.” “You wouldn’t let me.” “I would if you offered. I’m delighted to see you’re willing to do it for someone else. Even if you’re folding those t-shirts the wrong way.” “Is it possible for you to sit there without passing comment?” “Not really. And that’s no way to talk to someone who just brought you some lovely pork chops. They’re in date and everything.” The take away here? Don’t do housework in front of Mammy. It never ends well. 

8. They’re Not Helping

The sentence that a four-year-old hears the most? “You’re old enough to clean up your own mess.” Actually, that’s not entirely true. Those are the words spoken by her Dad, on the verge of tears because the front room looks like a bomb wouldn’t need to hit it. Based on extensive research, I can now reveal what the four-year-old actually hears. “Please put one piece of your jigsaw puzzle back in the box before wandering off to dress the cat as a pirate.” In fairness, I was a messy child, so my daughter didn’t exactly pick it up off the floor. The problem is, she doesn’t seem capable of picking anything up off the floor. I’ll guess I’ll just have to learn to live with it. And so will you.   

Got a rule to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

Pat Fitzpatrick lives in Cork city with his wife and two small kids. He gave up a decent job in I.T. in 2008 to head for the lucrative world of writing. So don't hire him as a life coach, investment advisor or anything to do with your career. His Sunday Independent newspaper columns have been entertaining Irish people through some tough times. Pat is a regular on the on the RTE Today show with Maura Derrane and Daithí O’Sé and pops up frequently on radio shows such as the Right Hook. All of this is a bit too much like hard work, so he has started writing novels which will hopefully fund an early retirement to a hammock in the back garden. His first novel, Keep Away from those Ferraris, is available online and in shops outlined here http://www.patfitzpatrick.ie/novels/. Pat’s kids are both under two, so if you don’t mind, he is now going for a quick lie down.

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