14/08/2014 12:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

The House Dad Chronicles: 10 Multi-Tasking Shortcuts For When Man Flu Strikes

The House Dad Chronicles: 10 multi-tasking shortcuts for when Man Flu strikes

I've been laid low this week. It wasn't just mere Man Flu, you understand. This was more like Superman Flu. Swallowing razor blades, dizzy spells, hot sweats, bone-gnawing chills, cotton wool in my head, gallons and gallons of snot, eyes so gunky I couldn't open them in the mornings.

I felt so much like a deflated balloon I didn't even have the strength to stick two fingers out of the duvet when my caring wife told me to 'Man Up'!

Sadly, like their mother, children are no respecters of a house dad's ailments. You give them one meal and then three hours later, they want another.

They need washing on an almost weekly basis. They need clean underwear, virtually daily. They need to be nagged to stop playing football in the living room all of the time. They need taking to school, then they have to be picked up again.

When you're well, you think they're relatively independent because everything you do for them is done by multi-tasking instinct.

Whip the five-year-old's underpants off and turn them the right way round in the morning at the same time as pouring out three bowls of bowls of different cereals at the same time as shaking the 11-year-old awake for the 15th time at the same time as fixing the wonky toilet roll holder at the same time as unloading the dishwasher from the night before at the same time as making the wife a cup of tea while she gets ready for work at the same time as brushing the youngest's teeth (he can do it himself, but he misses molars) at the same time as packing the middle son's swimming kit at the same time as telling the oldest to get a friggin' move on at the same time as trying to find the youngest's lost sock at the same time as sweeping Cheerios off the floor at the same time as re-loading the dishwasher at the same time as making sure all the book bags are packed before finally getting out of the door.

None of the above is a hassle, nor usually comment-worthy, because it's automatic: just part and parcel of bringing up kids.

But when you've got Superman Flu, everything goes into slow motion and becomes a thousand times harder.


Instead of striding purposefully to school, I've been shuffling along like one of those fat Emperor Penguin dads in the Antarctic, with a fluffy chick balanced on its feet.


Instead of unloading the dishwasher and packing plates and cups away like a circus juggler, every, single, bend, down, feels, like, I'm, crea, king.

And where normally I would happily rustle up a homemade lasagne for the kids and Sous Vide chicken breasts stuffed with porcini mushrooms and ricotta for my wife and I, we've all been on tomato soup. From tins. Which I opened.

So when I did eventually retreat to my pit after the kids had gone to bed, I was peeved to read a newspaper article that said women are the biggest multi-taskers – with around 62 per cent saying they multi-task at least once every hour. Once!

TV producer/writer and mum-of-two, Daisy Goodwin, who analysed the results, said mums had evolved into Domestic Triage Experts.

"The combination of technology and the pressures of modern life mean that modern women are evolving into human magimixes who can do the shopping online at the same time as helping their children with their homework, cooking supper and colouring their hair," she said.

"They are human time and motion machines who never have a shower without cleaning it at the same time, domestic management consultants who are constantly thinking of ways to save time and money."

Although I sympathise with the heroic mums of the world, none of them have ever, ever succumbed to the horror of Superman Flu, have they?

How would they cope with Triage Multi-Tasking MagiMixing then, eh? Well, I'm here to tell you, it's nigh on impossible.

But if these wonder women ever do find themselves similarly afflicted to Yours Truly, here are my 10 MULTI-TASKING SHORTCUTS FOR SUPERMAN FLU-AFFLICTED STAY-AT-HOME-PARENTS

1. Sniff your children's clothes. If they don't smell like the council bin lorry, fold them neatly and put them back in the drawer.

2. Use your children's technological skills to send emails on your behalf while you dictate while ironing.

3. Never leave a room without taking something with you – a banana skin, a sweet wrapper, a stray sock, whatever comes to hand.

4. Boil The Kettle Time Challenge. See if you can unload the dishwasher/washing machine and put all the dishes/clothes away but the kettle reaches a head of steam. Then reward yourself with a cup of tea.

5. Wear a fleece at all times. Use the sleeves to dust shelves and wipe noses on the hoof.

6. When cooking, keep a ready supply of dried herbs and spices to hand. Cook one meal for the kids and when your hard-working (pah!) partner gets home from work, chuck in the herbs and spices and heat up the leftovers.

7. When the kids leave for school every morning, make sure they've got a bag of recycling to put in the bin along with their book bags. (Requires supervision).

8. Attach J-Cloths to kids' feet. Not only does this make their socks last another day, they give the floor a nice shiny finish at the same time.

9. Homework Tag Team. Time the oldest child to do her homework, then get her to supervise the middle child against the clock, then get him to supervise the youngest against the clock. The fastest is trusted to make a cup of tea.

10. Stick a brush up your backside and do The Twist.