Dads, do you really want to be left in charge of the baby?


Plans are afoot to shake up maternity and paternity leave. Which is no bad thing. If the Children and Families Bill is passed mums and dads will be able to share the first 52 weeks of baby duty.

In theory this means a mother can be back behind her desk as soon as her newborn has mastered a bottle and the father has worked out how to dress a small human in matching baby-gro and scratch mitts.

But before dads-to-be start telling their bosses they're entitled to a year off and begin booking parent-and-baby origami classes, perhaps they should consider the pitfalls of looking after a young child without the reassuring presence of his or her mother. Here are 10 to mull over:


1. Your lack of breasts will haunt you

Men have always found breasts magical but with a baby in tow they take on even more fantastical properties. Sometimes nothing but a nipple will do.

Unfortunately if your wife or partner is at work, short of cabbing it to her office, bursting into the meeting room and shouting "we need your breasts" you won't have access to them, but you will have an inconsolable baby to wheel home.


2. Paranoia will envelop you.

Hurrying out of a park full of mums with a shrieking child either attached to your chest or bellowing from its Bugaboo isn't a comfortable experience. You'll convince yourself every mother who looks vaguely in your direction thinks you're a child-swiping monster.

And, let's face it, since you haven't shaved for a week, have forgotten to put socks on and are sweating uncontrollably you do look a bit like a psychopath. Still at least your child isn't in a public toilet cubicle shouting "go away. You're not my daddy". You'll have to wait until they're a toddler for that.


3. Your inability to multi-task will be brutally exposed

If, like good modern mums and dads, you decide to split parenting leave between you, expect your domestic inadequacies and innate laziness to be cruelly highlighted.

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When mum is in charge she will tend to the child, perhaps teach it how to speak Mandarin, do a couple of washes, clean the house and prepare dinner. If you manage not to lose your baby and fit in an hour on the X Box, you will proudly label the day a success. She may not agree.

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4. The routine will betray you

When your baby is still awake at 11pm your wife or partner will soon realise that you ignored the strict schedule, letting him have a three hour afternoon nap just so you could watch Star Wars and then wander around the house doing Yoda impressions.


5. There will be NCT awkwardness...

Yes, it's the 21st century but you're still likely to be the only man meeting up for post-birth NCT coffee mornings. And yes it's the 21st century but when everybody but you starts breastfeeding you will have nowhere left to look but directly up at the ceiling or directly down at the floor.


6 ... And you don't have a labour story

Naturally after going through the dramatic, terrifying, wonderful, painful experience that is labour most new mums want to share how it was for them. And discuss the resulting rips, tears and stitches. You may struggle to join in here.

Either you feel as if you're intruding on an intimate discussion you shouldn't really be involved in or you pipe up with something inane like, "all I had to sit on for 18 hours was a wooden chair". To which somebody is bound to reply, "at least you didn't have to squeeze a pineapple out of your penis".


7. Men cannot wee straight

Something strange happens to a man when he finds himself in a public toilet. Free from the constraints of the home he will throw caution to the urine-soaked wind and wee like a caveman, splashing the stuff over toilet seats, up walls and on floors.

Since most men's toilets don't even attempt to provide baby-friendly facilities this means the harassed dad looking for a spot to change his child either has to wipe up another man's wee or lie his beloved offspring in it.


8. You'll forget something

In child-free days leaving the house involved checking you had your keys, wallet and phone before closing the door behind you. Now it involves checking you have nappies, muslins, wipes, more wipes, formula, sterilised bottles, dummies, a change of clothes, Calpol, keys, wallet and phone. You will forget at least two of these things but well done on actually going out.


9. Other men will hate you

You're at a party, making new friends and talk turns to work. The moment you mention you're a house husband, two distinct groups will form among the men in the room. One thinks you've pathetically kissed goodbye to your manhood and taken the easy way out. You don't deserve their respect.

The other will be filled with jealousy, picturing you hanging out in a onesie or sipping flat whites and flirting with their wife while they do the hard work of earning money. Either way neither will like you.


10. You won't be as cool as you thought

Everybody wants to be that unruffled dude-dad who takes everything in his stride, becalms babies with a perfectly-in-tune lullaby and forces a swoon out of every woman he passes. But any pretence will be cruelly shattered when you playfully lift your child above your head and it burps milky puke over your face.