How being a plumber prepared me for being a mother

plumber and mother

When I was working on the tools and dreaming about becoming a mum, there were days where I thought I would have the parenting gig downpat because if I could handle being a plumber, I could handle being a mother. I actually believe being a plumber prepared me for being a mother and here’s why.

I’m always filthy. I am covered in all sorts of crap. Whether it’s poo, wee, vomit, slobber, snot, mashed up food, crumbs, mud, playdough, paint, glue – you name it I get COVERED in it in some shape or form everyday as a mum. When I worked as a plumber, I would get covered in all sorts of filth. Not all at once of course, but if it was a particular bad day, my hands and shirt could be black as the ace of spades. And it would smell like a freshly laid nappy bomb with a hint of blue loo.

smelly nappy

Everyday is an early start. My kids aren’t too bad at getting up early. Usually 5am is the earliest. When you’re a plumber, starting on a jobsite at 6am means setting the alarm for 4am. So those early starts on the job were great training for my three mini alarm clocks. Thankfully they have taught themselves to wake up daddy before waking up mummy. The gorgeous cherubs give me a sleep in.

I’m an apprentice to my kids. Kids create a lot of mess. Organised toy buckets and cupboards are emptied everyday and are strewn from one side of the house to the other. There is no point packing it up until the end of the day. It’s kind of similar to being an apprentice on a job site. It’s the apprentice’s job to tidy up and keep the ute well organized. It’s tidy and clean in the morning, but after a day of work, there is mess that needs to be cleaned up before knock off time. When you’re a mum, knock off time is after putting the kids to bed.

My negotiation and demand skills are role played daily. My girls love to negotiate. Chocolate after dinner? Movie before sleep? Ice-cream because I had a nap? The negotiation is never ending. The demands are often. I want a drink. I am hungry. I want this. I want that. The more you hang around kids, the more you realise they are like project managers. They demand you on site and negotiate your price. Builders want it done yesterday.

This is Maggie's negotiating face...
This is Maggie’s negotiating face…

I am ignored. My girls won’t always listen to what I say. Sometimes they simply ignore me. Same thing used to happen with old and new clients. As a plumber, not all of my advice would be listened to. Telling people not to do their own plumbing work often falls on death ears.

What did you say mum? Don't climb the furniture?
What did you say mum? Don’t climb the furniture?


I didn't hear what you said mum.
Sorry, I didn’t hear you say anything.

I don’t remember quiet. There can be a lot of noise when you bring a baby home and the noise doesn’t get better as they grow up or when you add siblings. It gets louder. A quiet house is quiet no longer when kids are introduced to it. Same as a building site. There is always noise. Whether it’s the radio, a jackhammer or simple conversation between tradies, the building site is generally noisy.

I’m always being asked questions. Kids ask a lot of questions. No wonder I’m exhausted at night. Clients ask a lot of questions too. It’s just part of the job as a plumber. I remember manning three phones when my dad would go overseas. I would joke about being a transportable call centre. The only thing was I could choose not to answer the phone, but do that to my kids and it makes them shout louder or they pull on my arm until I give them my full attention.

I learned to limit my Facebook time to smoko breaks. I try not to look at my phone or go on the computer during the day when I’m with my girls. But while they are eating morning tea, I will scroll down my newsfeed on Facebook. I used to do the same when I was at work. Sometimes it would be between jobs in the truck or at our 10am smoko break.

Always store spare batteries. Toys that run off batteries have an annoying habit of dying when you really need your kid to be entertained. I always carry spare batteries for these moments. My dad was the same when we worked together, having a pair and a spare just in case for our battery operated tools.

Did your job give you skills to be a parent? What valuable skills did you learn in your job that could relate to your parenting?

I’m linked up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.