Clarke Gayford says he's proud of being a stay-at-home dad as it's allowed other men to step forward and also be proud of their role in the family.

Talking on Radio Hauraki's podcast A Few Good Men, the country's first man talks about life as a father to Neve, how far the country has come in its ability to speak about mental health, and getting time to himself to go fishing.

He says juggling work and family commitments happens thanks to a lot of planning and a calendar.

"Being a couple is just a series of problem solving, isn't it, whether it's deciding where to go for dinner, how to read a map without breaking up.


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"[It's] logistics. A calendar, lots of input. I do enjoy it when friends who don't have children want to catch up on a Saturday and then that's it, I'm like, 'a Saturday? I can't work with that ... will it fall between nap times?'"

Fresh back from a trip to Hawaii filming for his TV fishing show, he said having a background in media, including radio and television, had helped him prepare for the attention he receives as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's partner.

"I have been incredibly lucky in the sense that the gig that I've found myself in now, through what my partner does, I'm just so lucky that I had a media background so that I was slightly prepared for the things that were to come, and the tricky questions from journalists and the unwanted attention and trolling online and all that sort of stuff.

"I had developed a fairly thick skin although you never want to develop too thick skin because you stop being a human at some point."

That 'thick skin' didn't mean he was invincible to what was thrown around on social media. He could see why a new trend was emerging out of Silicon Valley, in the US, the "digital detox", when people temporarily switched off from the digital world.

However, with the negatives were the positives, including being almost a role model for other stay-at-home dads.

"I think I'm also kind of embarrassed. I'm not the first person to be a stay-at-home dad by a long shot, and so and I'm not a guru and I don't have any of the answers, I'm just figuring it out like every other dad.

Clarke Gayford pictured with a catch from his TV show Fish of the Day earlier this year. Photo / File
Clarke Gayford pictured with a catch from his TV show Fish of the Day earlier this year. Photo / File

"I have been sort of embarrassed in the sense that people want to talk about it on that level."

He said there had been "really nice moments" as he's walked in between Parliament and Premier House with Neve, as other dads chat with him.

"I've had a lot of dads who will go out of their way, cross the road, to come and have a yarn and it's almost like they reveal the secret badge on the lapel of their jacket and they come forward and say 'I'm a stay-at=home dad, too' and they're genuinely excited about an opportunity to talk about it.

"They love it because it is a great, hard, difficult, joyful thing to go through particularly if you're stuck at home all day on occasions.

"But in those moments it's nice, and it's nice that Kiwi guys come up and chat to you about that sort of thing because you think would that have happened, 15 years ago, 20 years ago? Would they have been comfortable to live in that space and talk about it?"

As for coping with it all, Gayford said he was lucky he had helpful and supportive grandparents that meant he was still able to go and fishing trips for his TV show.

"There's what you imagine having a child would be and then there's the day to day reality where it's every day mate, 'oh you need breakfast this morning', 'oh a mid-morning snack' .. and repeat and I have just been so lucky that I have got something, a TV show, that I can sneak away for a few weeks here and there through the year and grandparents.

"I'm so lucky."

As well as being left sometimes "frazzled", Gayford said there were many "fantastic moments" bringing up a child.

"There's so many moments of joy and fun as well and it gets easier. Well it does, and then it doesn't when they start walking, and then it does, and then you start toilet training.

"You are slowly walked into the process."

As for the country's progress on dealing with mental health and the confidence people now have to speak publicly about it, Gayford said it simply came down to the will of the people.

"Politics at its purest is the will of the people. We are in a society of osmosis in the sense that people ... have pushed that conversation... [people] have come forward and dragged it into everyday conversation and it's become more accepting.

"We've moved collectively towards this together and it's nice that it has been recognised and that systems and funding and things have been put in place and are starting to take effect."

As for a holiday over the festive period, Gayford said they plan to get back to his home town of Gisborne to catch up with family, enjoy some sunshine and "hopefully" a spot of fishing.