The Faff Factor (or why I am NOT a maths teacher…)


October 3, 2013 by Dadinator

I was chatting parenting with a parent friend on the weekend (who happens to be a science teacher). We were discussing how things get more difficult and complicated as the number of young kids gets higher. We agreed that the relationship is not linear. In a linear model, each new kid adds a set amount of complexity, or you use the scientific term “faff” to your daily tasks. Here’s how it would look as a graph.

Linear faff

As the title of the graph indicates, we both thought this was BS. Instead the line follows an exponential curve, each kid doesn’t simply increase the degree of difficulty, it multiplies it by itself. It looks like this in a graph:

Note the bigness of the numbers up the Y-Axis on the left hand side of the graph

Note the bigness of the numbers up the Y-Axis on the left hand side of the graph

Thinking about it, and musing over the 1/2 science degree I did in a past life I postulated the “Dadinator’s Theorem”, which I will outline below:



Now. To explain.

Big F is the “Faff Factor”. It represents the amount of faffing around involved in doing something . Going out to the shops. Having a shower. Vacuuming. Whatever. All life involves a degree of faff.

Little f is the normal faff factor of doing the task solo, no kids involved. All tasks have an inate value on the faff scale.

Little n is the number of kids you have.

Now to unleash my inner maths teacher. So if you want to make a tea or coffee, let’s say the normal faff factor -little f- is 2. Here’s how big F would look.

With no kids, F=2 (which makes sense. F is the same as little f)
With one kid, F=4, its twice as hard.
With two kids F=8, twice as hard again.
With three kids F=16 twice as hard once again, see where I’m going with this?


That’s for a simple task with Let’s say it was complex, like changing a tyre on the road, give it a f=10. Doing that solo, no fun but you get by. Put a kid in the mix and it gets harder. Crying, complaining, grizzling, demands for water, boredom, safety etc…

Chuck in an extra youngster and suddenly you don’t have a disgruntled customer, but a full scale class action. The noise level doubles, the demands on your attention doubles and, bless them, they can and will double team you. You also have to ask yourself: Who has the greatest need? What if they set each other off? What if it looks like I’m favouring one over the other? What if I let the toddler out but am looking after the baby and they run off? Etc etc etc….

Its worth noting that the actual difficulty of the task doesn’t really change. A coffee is still a coffee; A tyre is still a tyre; a shower is still a shower. Its more like having to perform the same task while juggling. And the more balls you have to juggle, the more focus juggling takes up….

I’m sure once the kids get a bit older and get out of nappies, don’t need us to put them to bed, learn to make their own breakfast….. This changes. But 2 under 2, The Dadinator’s Theorem holds true….

And for all those out there with multiple births, I salute you.



5 thoughts on “The Faff Factor (or why I am NOT a maths teacher…)

  1. msgnomey says:

    I have no idea how the multiple births parents do it. They all deserve medals.
    My boys are the standard almost2years apart, the oldest will start school next year. Right now is the hardest it’s been for a while in terms of getting stuff ™ done. The older one is full of questions and wanting my approval, trying to understand the world and impatiently trying to grow up. The younger is going through a serious case of the turdy 3s. Everything is wanted and it must happen NOW! Add to the mix the regression and clingyness that goes with separation and moving home and, well, let’s just say that I’m not pushing the younger one into toilet training too much right now. When he’s ready magic will happen.
    Having said that, there are moments when I realise I’ve been busy getting stuff done and my kids are mysteriously quiet, or out of earshot… Or worse actively conspiring together! Those moments are equally heartwarming as they are filled with dread!

    • Like Shack says:

      I know how you feel! I have 5 kids.. One girl and 4 boy. Having multiple children can be difficult at times but worth the journey. 🙂

  2. Vicki Curtain says:

    On the other hand, just read the Maminator’s FB post about the Lad singing a lullaby to the Lass to settle her back to sleep to see that it is not all bad news. Murphy’s Law, however, definitely applies to multiple parenting.

  3. This makes so much sense! I have 4 children. The first 3 there were 2 years between each of them. The simplest task became a huge chore! I look back on those days now and wonder how I survived, LOL

  4. danicelegon says:

    As a mum of 3 boys I wholeheartedly agree it’s exponential and not linear!

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