Why did we decide to swap roles?

In case you’re new here (Hi! I’m Jessie) I will give you a bit of background about my family and lifestyle.

I’m married to Kane – he’s a commercial diver and skipper and has worked fly-in fly-out (FIFO) for around 10 years.

I’m a nurse of 11 years, with most of my experience being in emergency.

We have two kids – Billie, 5 and Jacob, 3 and we have a dog called Pepa – our OG child.

And for a bit of context around why we decided to reverse our roles as husband and wife.

I was suffering in FIFO life.  I felt like I didn’t have any autonomy or control over my lifestyle – Kane was calling all the shots.  This was also amplified by my intense need to be an independent woman ala Destinys Child.

There is (clearly) a lot of resistance on my part about being a housewife.  It’s like I have this need to prove myself.  This need to be ‘more’ is something I’m working through, getting to the bottom of why I feel this way and moving past it.  It’s been super interesting to explore – especially married to someone who would be happier in ‘traditional’ roles.  But that’s a whole other blog right there.

When push came to shove and Kane was sick of hearing my protest re FIFO he suggested that we swap roles.  Meaning, I become the working mum and he become the stay-at-home-dad.

His plan was that he’d come home for a few months if I would go to work full time during that period.  It’s not the first time he’d suggested it- all the other times I’d rejected the idea, which I think he wanted, to be honest.

But all I could see is that if we continued in the same merry-go-round we were on it would end badly and I thought fuck it if that’s the only option I’ve got, then I’ve gotta take it.

I had to check with my manager that I could up my hours and once I had the go-ahead, it was on like Donkey Kong.  We had a date – he would be quitting his contract and I would be starting mine.

“But all I could see is that if we continued in the same merry-go-round we were on it would end badly and I thought fuck it – if that’s the only option I’ve got, then I’ve gotta take it.”

The lowlights of the role swap …

When we got into the meat and potatoes of the actual swap there were many lessons learned, on both sides.

The first few weeks were fine, then the wheels slowly stared to fall off.

I started to get tired.  I was sick of caring for other people all day at work and then coming home to the unrelenting demands of the kids.

I missed my friends.  I had far less time to socialise or catch up with people and man, I missed them.

I was missing things all the time – it’s like I had so much on my plate, I was constantly dropping the ball.  Always forgetting appointments, emails, things at work – the list was never ending!

Our relationship began to suffer as we were both miserable.

About 4 weeks in, I was exhausted and felt flat.  Kane felt the same and we both knew we still had another couple of months to go.  Fark.

It’s really hard to be in a relationship when you are both feeling low.  For us, normally, it swings either way – if I’m feeling flat he would be able to pep me up and vice versa.  But here we were, both in the trenches, both feeling deflated and both unable to help prop the other up.

The highlights…

I can’t speak for Kane but from our many, many (MANY) conversations, he hated being at home full time.  It’s in his blood to be the ‘provider’ of the household, in the financial sense.  So being a full time snack bitch really didn’t speak to his soul.

There were actually some amazing highlights though, in the time he was home.

I mean, he took on the domestic duties better than I did.  He always stuck to the shopping list, he had meal planning down to a tee, he always vacuumed under the couch (instead of around it like me).  He was actually a bloody good house husband (but he hates me saying that because he doesn’t want to do it ever again).

He’s so good with the kids, was totally happy to do all the things – playgroup, swimming lessons and he even organized some playdates with my friends!  He totally embraced his role and in theory, he nailed the stay-at-home-dad thing and the kids loved having their dad around more.

He also didn’t really complain (me on the other hand, complained loudly and often to anyone who would listen).

After speaking to a lot of couples during this period, so many dads said they wouldn’t be able to do what he was doing and I knew that.  But that’s Kane for ya, he’s a bloody doer.

So, how is it now being back to ‘normal’?

Ultimately, I’m so proud that we gave it a crack – and survived!  Hindsight is amazing, in that I can see what a necessary and valuable experience it was – even though I didn’t really feel that way at the time.

It’s given us both insight into what each other goes through and we have immense appreciation for what the other lives on the daily.

Kane even said, when he returned to working away, how he really missed the kids.  He finally understood why mums always want time away but when they do, they miss their kids – that ‘ol cycle.

Since returning to the ‘norm’ in life, things have come full circle.  I’ve quit my job.  I feel so grateful and happy to be at home, working around the kids – as I write this, they are both wiped out with gastro and I’m so thankful that I can just be with them instead of having to cancel work etc.

Really, nothing has changed from our FIFO life from before the swap but in somehow, everything has changed.  I am far more appreciative of the lifestyle we have, I’m so much happier because I have realized what truly matters to me in life.

The irony is though, if we hadn’t have swapped roles for that period of time, I never would have come to know how lucky I am.  I guess it proves that the best views come after the longest climb.

 

“The irony is though, if we hadn’t have swapped roles for that period of time, I never would have come to know how lucky I am.  I guess it proves that the best views come after the longest climb.”