How to be a Man is a series exploring masculinity and the challenges facing men in Ireland today.
What does it mean being a man today?
Being a man today is no different to being a person. Like most men, I think of myself as a person first and a man second. Yes, I have a penis and testicles, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a fulfilling career. Being hormonal, becoming a father or grandfather or even being child-free are not barriers to becoming a male scientist, a male politician or a gentleman doctor.
Being a man today means celebrating your body, whatever its weight and shape (including all you big bubbly gentlemen) and loving the skin you’re in, even if it’s dull, tired and dehydrated.
How different are you as a man compared to, say, your dad?
I think I am very lucky. My wife and I both work full time, but like my dad (and granddad), I just happen to be better at looking after the kids, laundry, cleaning, food shopping, meal planning, looking after the grandparents, buying presents and family organising. Sometimes it feels like I do everything! All while trying to look handsome, slim and happy. But my wife does look after the kids for me on a Saturday so I can have an afternoon of ‘me-time’ to do the housework.
What is the biggest misconception women have about men?
Women often forget that men are people too. We are much more than our male bodies. We are people in our own right. We are not simply objects for women to look at and admire. Nor should we be defined by our paternity, or lack of it. We are actually multi-dimensional individuals with our own complex personalities. However, this is absolutely not an excuse to let yourself go.
What kind of a parent are you?
I don’t try to be an earth father. I just try to be me. I like to think of myself as a “good enough” father. A “good enough” father believes that his child is all he needs to make him happy, always thinks his child is the most important thing in the world and has at least a week’s worth of meals ready in advance.
I love all the bad daddy blogs where dads admit to not having a well-stocked freezer, buying (not making) kids’ fancy dress costumes, using readymade cake mixtures and relying on their wives too much. They make me smile and wince with recognition!
When was the last time you cried and why?
I cried when I was away with work and my wife forgot to pick up the kids from school. I’d organised everything – the childcare, meals, and activities. I laid out the kids’ clothes for the next day. I even left post-it notes all round the house with instructions! All she had to do was pick them up from school and she couldn’t even do that. Apparently I forgot to remind her so it was my fault. This is true of course, I did forget. She’s always right. Then I got into trouble for the tone of voice I used when I nagged her about it. Even a guru like me can’t be Superdad every day.
What are the biggest challenges facing men today?
The biggest challenge is juggling kids, looking good, maintaining your “happy weight”, housework, job and “me-time”. Sometimes your “to-do” list seems overwhelming. It’s hard to be everything to everybody and keep a handsome smile on your face. We must be kind to ourselves and learn to say no.
What well-known man do you look up to and why?
I look up to James Brokenshire MP. He manages to juggle a family, job, a youthful complexion, healthy hair, a gorgeous smile and male cricket. He spends his “me-time” jogging, hill walking and listening to music.
Complete this sentence: People might be surprised to learn that as a man I ...
...am quite good with numbers. I did really well at maths at school, much to the surprise of my teacher and parents.
Can a man really have it all?
No, unfortunately men can’t have it all – it’s all about striking that elusive balance and sometimes that means saying no to things. Our kids will always of course come first but it’s absolutely okay to have a life away from the kids – be it a part-time, or even full-time job, daddy friends or a crafty little project.
What tips can you give other men?
I always advise men to make sure they stay fully hydrated throughout the day because being even a fraction dehydrated can have a massive impact on your mood and concentration levels. My other top tips are to snack on 6 almonds a day, carve out time for you (I call this “me-time”), don’t be afraid to ask for help and banish daddy guilt. Sometimes it’s okay to say, “Do you know what? I’m not Superman and that’s absolutely okay.”
The Man Who Has It All has a crazy-busy life juggling low-fat yoghurt, glowing skin, a career and healthy snacks. He spends his precious "me time" on Twitter (@manwhohasitall) and Facebook, giving other busy dads sanity-saving tips. His book From Frazzled to Fabulous' is published by Bantam Press next month.