Toowoomba full-time father Trevor Tolson said he had no plans to return to the workforce. (ABC News: Jessica van Vonderen)
Toowoomba father of three Trevor Tolson is one of a rare breed of Australian men — a stay-at-home dad.
He is the primary carer of his children Penny, 5, Florence, 3 and Jack, 1.
Mr Tolson said his favourite “toy” was his 10-kilogram washing machine.
There are endless loads of laundry, but he has the daily routine down pat.
“You get up, you feed them and try and entertain them until you feed them again,” Mr Tolson said, smiling.
“I do enjoy it and it also beats working.”
Mr Tolson said it made more sense for his wife to keep working full-time. (ABC News: Jessica van Vonderen)
The 33-year-old is one of about 80,000 stay-at-home fathers in Australia.
Although numbers are increasing slightly, they are still a small cohort compared to the almost 500,000 mothers who stay at home.
Mr Tolson used to fly planes, carting freight up and down Queensland’s east coast.
Then daughter Penny came along and Mr Tolson changed his first nappy.
Three months after Penny was born, his wife Amanda went back to a demanding job as a partner in a law firm.
Mr Tolson said being at home with the kids beat having a job. (ABC News: Jessica van Vonderen)
Money a big factor
Around that time, Mr Tolson was made redundant as a pilot.
“My wife out-earnt me,” he said.
“We moved from Brisbane to Toowoomba, so our mortgage is far less than it would have been in Brisbane, so we could afford to do it.
Dr Baxter said her research had shown few dads chose to stay at home. (ABC News: Scott Jewell)
“My plan is never to go back to work.
“I’m going to somehow wrangle it with my wife. I’m going to massage her every day and never go back to work, hopefully.”
Jennifer Baxter from the Australian Institute for Family Studies said finances are a big factor for most families.
“There are still very traditional arrangements in the family with the dad very often in the breadwinner role,” Dr Baxter said.
“I think it is pretty hard for families to cut back on that income, for dads to cut back.”
Dr Baxter said her research found stay-at-home fathers were “far from the norm”.
“We’re talking about 4 per cent of couple families, and that number hasn’t really changed a lot since 1996,” she said.
Stay-at-home fathers have long been a rarity in Australian households
(Supplied: Australian Census)
Similarly, small numbers of working fathers accessed the federal paid parental leave scheme.
But some companies now have gender neutral policies on parental leave.
Dion Palin said being at home allowed him to bond with his sons Alexander (L) and Nicolas. (ABC News: Jessica van Vonderen)
Finance manager Dion Palin said he took 12 months’ leave, some of it paid by his employer, when his first son Nicolas was born.
“My wife had just started working on a self-employed basis and didn’t have access to parental leave — and I did,” Mr Palin said.
Still, he said his application raised eyebrows.
“No guys that I knew had done that before, but my boss was a little bit shocked because I guess it came as a surprise to him that one of his male staff was asking for it.”
Mr Palin said his wife couldn’t get parental leave, but he could. (ABC News: Jessica van Vonderen)
He said it was an experience he highly recommended.
“Being with them [the boys] creates a really good bond, a strong bond,” he said.
“They’re only young once and those times you never get back.”
Parents at Work CEO Emma Walsh said having men more heavily involved in child caring also benefits women.
“It improves the opportunity for women to return to the workplace more easily,” she said.
“We would improve the ability to close the gender gap in Australia.”