Lazy Dad's Guide To Avoiding Christmas Shopping

a man fails at wrapping christmas presents
a man fails at wrapping christmas presents

Christmas shopping is a mother's job, right? Present wrapping, too, agreed?

That's the festive gospel according to a fellow housedad I know.

Two years ago, he and his wife were forced to swap roles after he lost his job.

She is now the breadwinner and *Pete is primary carer to their two young children, an eight-year-old girl and a boy aged five.

Before that life-changing event, his wife took sole charge of the festive gift grabbing and parcelling role.

But after the role swap, he had to step up to the plate and take responsibility for all things domestic.

The cooking, the cleaning, the nagging, the whining. And, yes, the sourcing, the shopping, the wrapping of his family's entire Christmas.

Until he messed it up. Deliberately. Lazy so-and-so!

Pete's explanation for this selfish act is that he was so hacked off with losing his job that he found the adjustment from executive boss to domestic god a chore bigger than a washing machine-load of dirty duvets.

He resented the relentless packing and unpacking the dishwasher; loathed the fiddly, finickity untangling of children's pants from the washing machine to hang them up to dry.

Something, I'm sure, all reluctant housedads can relate to.

And when Christmas came around, it seemed to triple the burden of servitude. Presents to find and buy and wrap.

Cards to write and addresses to track down for relatives he'd barely spoken to.

He hated every second of it.

So he decided to play a psychological trick on his perfectionist wife – and screw everything up.

Well, not everything – for that would be grounds for divorce – but a few things.

Some irritations that would get her goat so much it would make her roll her eyes heavenwards and despairingly sigh that if she wanted the job done well, she would have to do it herself.

Which, the following Christmas, she did. And has been doing ever since.

His ploy was a simple one: he put the wrong labels on a few of his children's gifts, so that the girl got her little brother's Club Penguin Puffles and he got a girl's nail-painting kit.

In reality, they hardly noticed and expressed the same kind of delight as if they'd all been given keys to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

But his wife noticed. And she was fuming.

"Can't you get ANYTHING right?" she intimated as the children exchanged their gifts.

But that was nothing compared to her reaction when her mum phoned to thank her for the present Pete had wrapped and dispatched.

"Thank you so much for the whisky," she said.

Then added: "I don't drink whisky."

Before politely lying: "But I'll give it a try. What a lovely thoughtful gift."

"Shit!" said Pete. "That wasn't meant to happen. That was meant to be my DAD'S present and when I called him, my fears were confirmed – he'd opened my mother'-in-law's gift of a rather classy bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pape."

"I can't stand wine," Pete's dad growled. Oops!

Pete said: "I didn't meant to mix up THOSE presents. Perhaps I was truly incompetent after all!"

But despite that accidental faux pas, the overall result had the desired effect.

From thereon, Pete was OFF Christmas shopping duty.

No matter how hard his wife worked to pay their mortgage, no matter how much stress she was under at work, she commanded from on high that Pete was not, under any circumstances, to buy so much as a Christmas card. He couldn't be trusted. She would do it from now.

A victory for the self-centred genius of a lazy dad's ability to wriggle out of anything to do with domestic responsibility.

OK, Pete deserves to be sent to the stocks and pelted with rotten eggs and squishy tomatoes. But this objectionable skivvying – frankly, lying (seemingly exclusively male) - trait isn't just confined to him.

According to a recent survey, a third of men admitted to deliberately messing up household chores so their other halves don't ask them to do it again.

For example, men admitted to just squirting a bit of bleach down the toilet instead of cleaning it properly, leaving smears on shower glass, windows and mirrors and dusting around objects instead of moving them.

Cleaning the bath and shower, washing up and even hanging clothes out to dry are among the chores men are most likely to botch to avoid having to do them again.

And as a result, two thirds of women don't trust their partner to do the cleaning, with 60 per cent even claiming they would rather their other half left it to them to take care of.

The study, of 2,000 people who live with a partner, found 43 per cent of men admit they usually do a bad job of the household chores.

Four in 10 of those wanting to get it done as soon as they can so they can do back to what they were doing.

Another 34 per cent just can't be bothered to spend much time on it; while more than a quarter are only doing it to keep their wife or girlfriend happy.

And almost one in 10 even claim they don't need to put much effort in as their other half will only go over it again anyway!

A spokesman for Victoria Plumb, which conducted the research, said: "Most guys will admit they don't always pull their weight when it comes to the cleaning, but it's worrying to see so many purposely do a bad job.

"Hardly anyone enjoys cleaning, especially the most hated chores like cleaning the bathroom, and it's likely to your partner wants to avoid having to do it as much as you do.

"But intentionally doing something wrong, or half-heartedly in the hope you won't get lumbered with the task again in the future is a risky game.

"Your partner could see right through your plans and end up asking you to help out more often as a punishment."

Which is why, when Pete's wife reads this, he may find himself cooking Christmas dinner for the whole family – and then doing the washing up afterwards!

*I am not Pete. Honest!