DARREN LEVIN
DARREN LEVIN

Dads, it’s not babysitting if it’s your own kids

THE other day I overheard a pretty concerning conversation at school pick up.

A bunch of mums were talking about their weekend plans and one of them sounded pretty disappointed about missing a particular sporting match.

"Can't mate, I'm on babysitting duties."

She was talking about her own children!

If you're disgusted by this exchange, don't be.

What I've just described is a total fiction because no mum would ever describe parenting like that.

Dads on the other hand think it's perfectly okay to put their child minding skills on par with a 16-year-old's side hustle - and in many instances that's actually overstating it.

(Teenagers at least know how to microwave popcorn and operate Apple TV.)

We're a pretty long way off equality when it comes to parenting and all the domestic responsibilities that come with it. Thirty years, in fact.

That's how long it'll take for men and women to share household duties equally according to recent figures from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey.

Even more depressingly, a rival newspaper ran those figures with a photo of a bloke pulling his "speciality lamb roast" out of the oven, with the headline: "Chipping in."

That's not really how I'd describe something as menial as making a meal for your kids.

Likewise, if you're "babysitting" your own children in lieu of getting smashed with the boys this weekend, you're not co-parenting - you're probably just inept.

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Darren Levin busy not babysitting two of his three daughters. (Pic: Supplied)
Darren Levin busy not babysitting two of his three daughters. (Pic: Supplied)

Because no one that genuinely shares the role of raising a child would ever use the word "babysit" to describe a situation in which they, the legal custodian of the child, find themselves in the wholly unsurprising position of looking after them.

If this does happen to you, do not panic.

Just follow every word of detailed instruction that's been painstakingly written out for you and taped to the fridge.

The fridge is the white box that keeps stuff cool. No, that's the washing machine. It's the other white box. The one to your left.

These handover notes are your bible.

Do not stray from them or try and improvise.

Sorry to break this to you for the ninth time, but Elvis - your son, not the singer - has a nut allergy so don't make him a Nutella sandwich.

He'll go into anaphylactic shock and you won't have time to watch a YouTube tutorial on how to use an epipen.

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Adam Strathairn is doing dadding right. He won the YMCA father of the year at the Werribee Sports and Fitness Centre after being nominated by his kids Oscar, 8 and Ava, 11. (Pic: Mark Wilson)
Adam Strathairn is doing dadding right. He won the YMCA father of the year at the Werribee Sports and Fitness Centre after being nominated by his kids Oscar, 8 and Ava, 11. (Pic: Mark Wilson)

Use only the meals carefully labelled and time-stamped with today's date in the freezer.

These meals will need to be microwaved (remove foil first) before serving. I repeat. The meals cannot be served in their current frozen state.

Bedtime is 8pm - no exceptions. One of the kids that isn't Elvis may ask for a story. That's okay.

Dust off those reading skills and try not to read anything that may give them nightmares like the Financial Review.

If they ask for food or lollies do not get sucked in. It's a ruse.

They're trying to steal more waking hours, so put down that packet of snakes and stash them away for later.

You'll need some Red Snake Energy to get off of the couch.

Look, I know you're the CFO of a multi-global company but changing a nappy is not only beyond your capabilities, it's incredibly gross.

Calling your EA on a Saturday night to help is unfortunately outside the remit of their employment, so best to just coat the room in air freshener and - like the Xmas party pash with Colleen from accounts - pretend it never happened.

Follow all the rules and you may miraculously make it through the next two hours without burning the food - or the kids. But If all this is sounding super complicated, don't worry. Elvis is in the building to answer any questions.