Mommy's job strictly not for the faint-hearted dads

Many fathers are embracing the responsibility of staying home to raise their children while their partners are out labouring at work.
Many fathers are embracing the responsibility of staying home to raise their children while their partners are out labouring at work.
Image: 123RF

The days when dads went out to bring home the bacon while moms bore kids and stayed home are over.

Leroy Mtombeni was laid off last year but says he always secretly desired to be a stay-at-home dad.

"I lost my job a few months ago and was forced to stay home. However, I will admit that I had always secretly thought about staying home and starting a business," says the 38-year-old from Roodepoort.

Nothing brings him more joy than spending time with his nine-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.

Having grown up with a single parent, his mother, he says he knows the importance of fathers taking an interest in their children's lives.

"For most of my life I saw and knew mostly my grandmother and aunties, occasionally interacting [usually at parties or some special event] with uncles and men.

"When my children see me present, listen to my thoughts and views, and watch me interact with them, family and friends, it strengthens their foundation of what or who they will be in the future."

Even before he lost his job, Mtombeni was actively involved in raising them.

"I was there when they were born. And, although I hated the entire labour ordeal, I wanted to be one of the first to hold my children when they entered the world. From that moment, I have always been present in everything."

A typical day in his life starts when Mtombeni wakes up at 5.30am. "I prepare school lunches and get the kids ready for school. Once they are at school, I usually feel like I've accomplished something and the thought of 'me-time' pops up in my mind.

"But then I get home to their messy bedrooms and kitchen, and that thought of joy quickly vanishes among the dirty dishes.

"After an hour or two, I enjoy a second cup of coffee, open my laptop and begin working for about three to four hours before fetching them from school."

Moonlighting as the team coach, he must prepare a football lesson plan for the team.

"At 5.30pm, football training ends and we meet mommy en route home. By 6.30 and 7.00pm, I need to get the kids to shower or bath, help with homework and dance or sing along to the latest nursery rhymes."

By 9pm, he is utterly exhausted - more than what he felt as an employee.

"I sit struggling to keep my eyes open with my wife on the couch while she tells me about politics at work, much to her frustration," he laughs.

He says he would challenge anyone who chooses to ridicule him for being a hands-on dad to take on this role.

"It isn't easy and once they try it, they would think twice before ridiculing 'a mommy's job'. It requires a person to be selfless; and to work most of the day. Before, I thought it would be easy.

"I thought I would go to gym in the morning and watch Netflix all day. But that hasn't happened - not even once. I work all the time."

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