The Reluctant House Dad: Thank Heavens For Mother Christmas!

14/08/2014 16:56 | Updated 22 May 2015

Girl drawing red reindeer nose on mother's face

When it comes to present-buying, dads are bigger spenders than mums, according to new research.

In a survey of 1,000 parents, just under a third of dads said they'd spent more than £250 on a single gift for their child in the past, compared to only a fifth of mums.

Nearly a fifth of dads said they happily spend more than £100 for each present, compared to a tenth of thrifty mums. And 20 per cent of fathers reckon they'll spend more than £1,000 on gifts for their child, compared to only 7.4 per cent of mums.

Let's ignore men's 'mine's bigger than yours' Pinocchio tendencies for a moment and take this research at face value, but ask the question: why are dads spending more than mums?

Is it because, like my wife, they spend most of the year working their backsides off and so want to make Christmas extra special for their children? Or could it be they find it hard to show their feelings through words and hugs and so show their emotions through gift-giving?

Or could it be that, by and large - and still, despite strides towards equality - men are the main breadwinners in society and so they're the only ones who can actually afford £1,000 for Christmas presents? A THOUSAND POUNDS!!! Aside from celebrities, footballers and bankers, who earns so much money that they can spend £1,000 on presents for little Jemima and Johnny?

Little Tikes Play Expert, Dr Maggie Redshaw thinks these 'doting dads' are going over the top.

She said: "Doting Dads certainly seem willing to spend a bit more on a perfect gift for their little one. Celebrating any milestone like a birthday or Christmas, as well as good school reports and bravery is great, but remember it doesn't always need to be expensive.

"Often your little ones just want to spend time having fun with you, so whilst I'm sure they appreciate the gifts, a day in the park with their favourite toy and you can be just as rewarding, especially in their most formative early years."

All of this has made me feel rather inadequate as the Big Day approaches. For the term 'Father Christmas' is a bit of a misnomer in Housedad Towers. 'Mother Christmas' would be more accurate.

It is a time of year when my hard-working wife and mum-of-three frees herself from the shackles of labour to go Yule doolally.

It is her favourite time of year by a mile – and woe-be-festive-tide if anyone (me) tries to put a toe on her territory. That's when her Santa Claws come out!

For 11 months of the year, I (reluctantly) rule the domestic roost: all the cooking, all the housework, all the homework-nagging, all the playdates, all the class teas and school plays, while my wife works her derriere off to pay the bills – and to pay for Christmas.

It is her manor: the military planning; the window shopping; the struggling through town laden with bags; the ordering online; the writing cards; the choosing the tree; the decorating. She's like Kirsty Allsop on speed.

The only thing she'll let me do is cook my goose. And who's complaining? Certainly not me.

Christmas is a time when I kick back from house husbandry and let the missus take the strain.

And not just in graft terms, either: the wife's wallet takes a fair old pounding, too.

It's all for one reason: she wants Christmas to be perfect – absolutely perfect – for her three children who she sees so little of ever since she and I were forced to swap roles when I was made redundant three years ago.

The avalanche of Argos and Amazon parcels has been forcing its way through our front door for a couple of weeks. Every day, sometimes three times a day, a brown box arrives with God knows what inside. I'm just there to sign for her spending.

And as far as I'm concerned, it's her money – she can do what she likes with it. If spending it on the kids makes her happy, then Ho! Ho! Ho! to that.

But it can – and does – lead to friction. If I so much as brush a bauble on the tree, she's on me like a lioness on a fawn, with claws drawn.

If I suggest a gift the youngest might like, she raises her eyebrows in the way I've seen her mother do to her dad when he's suggested turning the telly over to the cricket.

In fact, the only power I have over Christmas in our household is in the present I choose for her, which she helpfully encourages me towards by leaving catalogues open at well-thumbed pages lying around the house.

Still, it's only for one month of the year. And as long as she gets me that 16cm Tojiro Beba knife I've been craving, who cares? As long as she doesn't ask me what I want it for.

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