You may have jested the following line to your partner when they've come home purporting exhaustion from a big day at work: "Who do you think you are? The Prime Minister?"

But for New Zealand's first man, Clarke Gayford, it's a reality he knows all too well, from late nights, early mornings and concerted efforts to make date nights or steal Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern away for a 15 minute lunch break at parliament.

Speaking to The Hits hosts Laura, Sam & Toni, Gayford revealed what life is like as the partner of Ardern and stay-at-home dad to their daughter, Neve, who turns 2 in June.

Neve Te Aroha Arden Gayford, with her dad, Clarke Gayford, listens to her mother Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speak at the treaty grounds at Waitangi. Photo / Getty Images
Neve Te Aroha Arden Gayford, with her dad, Clarke Gayford, listens to her mother Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speak at the treaty grounds at Waitangi. Photo / Getty Images

"We had nights last week where, with coronavirus really starting to ramp up, she wasn't home before midnight. She's often up before 5 in the morning, most mornings. So the workload is there, constantly.

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"When parliament's sitting, I'll always make sure I'm down in Wellington and we'll try and figure out when she's got 15 minutes for lunch, which is sometimes not at all, but we always just go barging up to her office and get in there."

He says although the determined pair are well "in to the swing of things", some weeks are harder than others but they still try and make time for each other.

"You just get through it as best you can. We try and find things, like I just had a text from her saying, 'Do you want to try and plan a date night sometime soon?'"

He joked: "Forty-five minutes in a food court, here we come."

He confessed one of the things he craves is something many of us take for granted in a relationship.

"It's just trying to do normal stuff. You just want to do the most normal things that you can possibly do," says Clarke Gayford of his busy life with baby Neve and partner and PM Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Getty Images

"It sounds strange but I cannot pick up the phone and ring my partner, she's just that busy. Some days her schedule is 15 minute blocks, with meetings in that, so it's very very difficult just to have that communication going."

He says that's why the couple and their daughter tend to holiday overseas, "just to have a break. And even then, her recognition in Australia's huge now.

"It's just trying to do normal stuff. You just want to do the most normal things that you can possibly do."

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He noted he was glad he has a background in media going into his position as New Zealand's first man.

"It is pretty intense, in that you all of sudden get all of this attention that you don't necessarily want, and you can't switch off."

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"It was a real adjustment period going in to it. But you believe in what your partner's doing and she's out there giving it her all ... you just know it's not forever.

"Remember when you're growing up and that whole saying, 'Who do you think you are, the Prime Minister or something?' It doesn't work in our house."

Asked what he finds toughest about being a dad, he said: "Kids are hilarious in the sense that, when they first come out, poos don't smell as bad as they do two years down the track.

"And when they first come out they don't move. And then they start moving a lot. It's like you get slowly frogged in the pot with a small child. Then you look back and you go, 'this is exhausting, how did we get to this point?'"