Dads at home: 'At first, I felt like just a teacher on holiday'
SAHD-of-two Lorcán Uí Almhain (31) spends his days running around after Ronán (3) and Deirdre (1) at home in Stillorgan.
Secondary school teacher Lorcán returns to the classroom part-time next month, but like so many mums returning to work down through the years, he admits he's already experiencing separation anxiety.
"When Gillian and I got married four years ago, I was working part-time as a teacher -- so for the first year of our marriage, the laundry, cooking and cleaning was done by the time she got home from work.
"As the seventh child in a family of 10, I've always mucked in around the house. Like most men of his generation, my dad didn't push the pram much -- but I always remember him being there to help in the mornings on the school run and at dinner time.
"So when Gillian, who works in the agrochemical industry, was offered a promotion just as my hours had been cut, I took over at home. At first, I wasn't sure whether I was a stay-at-home dad or just a teacher on holiday -- and didn't really embrace the task fully.
"But after the birth of our daughter Deirdre, it was a totally different story. I stopped looking for full-time work and started 'owning' the role of SAHD -- switching Deirdre to washable nappies, moving to a new play group where we knew no-one and attempting to potty-train Ronán (he's still in nappies).
"As a SAHD, one of my pet hates is when people say: 'Aren't you wonderful for minding the children' -- while it's just seen as natural when a woman does the same. Going to 'mammy-centred' toddler mornings can be daunting for dads -- apart from the kids, I've found that I don't have much in common with the mothers there.
"Luckily, though, we have lots of neighbours with kids so I still have lots of adult company. From September, I'll be working mornings so we've hired a childminder. I do feel a bit uncomfortable leaving the kids with someone else, but keep reminding myself that it's only for a few hours -- and I'll be straight home afterwards!"