This is the story of how I left a job as a manager in industry and became a househusband. It's the story of how I left behind budgets, balance sheets and delivery deadlines and entered the world of nappies, pushchairs or strollers and teletubbies.
by Andy Walsh
I realize that I was lucky to be able to make the choice. Most men would see themselves as the major wage earner in their family. Thankfully, my wife, Angela, has a career of her own and is able to support us on her money alone.
I left university in the late nineteen-eighties and took up a job in engineering. My career took my family up and down the United Kingdom. During that time, we managed, somehow, to fit in three children, while Angela continued in her chosen career of nursing.
It was in my last job that I first began to think about a lifestyle change. Angela had decided to take a break in her career after the birth of Ethan, our youngest. I was running a factory and I wasn't enjoying it. Manufacturing is a hard industry to be in with pressures from competitors all over the world. If I am to be honest, I hadn't been enjoying my job for a while.
It was while we were on a family holiday in Brittany that we decided to think about making a change in the way we lived our lives. While Angela and I relaxed over our cheese and wine, we talked about my job, our current lifestyle and how I could change things to make life more tolerable for us all. I resolved to change my working patterns on my return. No longer would I allow work to intrude on my family life.
My new approach worked – until lunchtime on my first day back. Then, I descended back into the hell that I'd left before as one problem followed on from the next. I felt out of control.
So that was that. We decided to look at a lifestyle change with Angela going out to work and
with me staying at home. Angela was eager to return to her career after an eighteen-month absence.
Angela started to apply for jobs. She soon received an interview for a job in Cumbria, which she was subsequently offered. I had already come to an arrangement with my boss regarding my position and the length of time that I was to continue working with the company and so we were thankful that Angela had found a job so quickly. I was looking forward to staying at home and making up a little of the time with the children that I had lost when I was working. Angela was to work and I was to become a househusband.
We put the house on the market, packed up our belongings and moved to Cumbria, on the edge of the Lake District, where we knew the quality of life would be excellent.
The reaction I got from friends and family was mixed. Most of the openly hostile reaction came from women. “You'll know what hard work is now” seemed to be a common theme. There was also, and continues to be, an
assumption from many women that I wouldn't do all the jobs that need to be done, that I'd not do all the ironing, the washing and the cooking. In reality, Angela and I have always shared these jobs. There was no way that I was going to be like a fish out of water by staying at home. Most men seemed puzzled – some were amused. Thankfully, many of the people closest to me were supportive and were quite positive about my new situation, realizing how unhappy I had been in my last job.
So, in the last year, we have halved our family income, moved to a smaller house, started life in a new part of the country and reversed roles. I would now have it no other way even with all the problems that I have mentioned.