The name’s McCaffrey, Rob McCaffrey, and I’m on a never-ending impossible mission: yes, I am a house husband. There’s been a sharp role reversal in our home of late, with my wife Beata teaching full time and me suddenly finding myself with a lot of spare time on my hands.
My new daily routine consists of doing the school run, the family shopping, helping the kids with their homework, and making sure the kids have their swimming kits for Tuesdays. I swap pleasantries with the mums on their coffee mornings and can be often seen prowling the aisles of Spinneys, discussing the cost of carrots and cauliflowers. Looking after the kids’ diaries and social events is now down to me, which means getting to grips with whether I’ve got the right time for Sohail’s party on Wednesday, or Erin’s birthday bash on Friday. I don’t know if there’s a male equivalent of the ‘Jumeirah Jane’ (perhaps it’s ‘Deira Dave’ or ‘Karama Kevin’) but whatever you’d like to call it, I’m now in that club. Don’t get me wrong, I originally came to the UAE to spend some more quality time with my kids. I just didn’t realise quite how much quality I had in me.
I have five in all (children that is, not dirhams), although one’s in Australia playing cricket, and another is in London finishing her degree, which leaves nine-year-old Lily, eight-year-old Joe and four-year-old Tilly keeping me busier than ever. I now cook, clean, chauffeur, mentor, fetch and carry (my wife is actually lying on the floor laughing as I write this, telling me she’s been doing it for years, and it’s about time I did some proper work). Look, I hold my hands up and freely admit it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done. But aside from getting to grips with some hard work, my real problem is that I’ve got the attention span of a gnat and a memory like a sieve: I’m always forgetting to take them to where they should be at the right time, and even on the rare occasions I get that right, then I’ll forget to bring their school clothes home, and our dwindling supply of football boots and tennis racquets are now spread across various Dubai sporting venues. By the time I get home my brain’s fried and I’m generally just relieved I haven’t lost one of the kids. But if I was expecting praise, thanks and hugs when my wife walks through the door each night, instead I get ‘Why didn’t you buy fresh bread?’, which naturally leads to a massive hissy fit, tears and tantrums (mine, not hers). Don’t be fooled, we househusbands are a misunderstood and sensitive breed…
So, like many Dubai mums and dads before me, I’m slowly getting the hang of the family schedule as I jog between gigs and jigs. Lily plays girls’ football on Sunday, while Joe has his football coaching on Monday. Athletics is on Tuesday, with yet more footy on Wednesday. Cricket is every day, along with guitar, piano and swimming. Thursdays is the brilliant Diverse dancing and singing for Lily and the equally brilliant Esports footy for Joe, while Tilly has been breaking records for whining in the back of the car (maybe those extra Chinese political history lessons I’m giving her are getting too much).
Even my once-sacred weekends haven’t been spared. This coming Saturday morning we’ve got dancing for Lil and swimming for Till at the Wellington school. At 1.30pm Joe’s at a go kart party at Sports City, we then have to dash for his footy at the Dubai American Academy at 4pm, and when he’s completely shattered, sweating and gasping for breath, we’ll both run the final 800 metres to Ski Dubai so he can join the other two for evening skiing between 5pm and 7pm. Phew.
And at that point? I’ll be ditching them all to go home and watch the football in a darkened room. I reckon I’ll have clocked up about 1,000 miles in a week. I’ve sung along with everyone from Justin Bieber and Pink to Green Day and The Killers as we travel back and forth, and I’m knackered and more than a bit dazed with the prospect of another school run the following morning. But the truth is, right now I couldn’t be happier: what a brilliant time in my life. I’m secretly dreading someone will offer me a job!