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Full Time Mothers

campaigning for real choice for families

Book Reviews

Family Policy, Family Changes; If You've Raised Kids You Can Manage Anything; What Mothers Do; Endangered; Why Love Matters; A Mothers' Rule of Life; Seven Myths of Working Mothers; Choosing to be different; Baby Hunger; The Miseducation of Women; Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families; Broken Hearts; Mother Love; The Smart Woman's Guide to Staying at Home; Ghosts from the Nursery - Tracing the Roots of Violence; Work-Lifestyle Choices in the 21st Century - Preference Theory; The Social Baby; Expecting Adam; Good Food for Kids; Access to Maternity Information and Support; Single Parents in Focus; The London Baby Directory; Marriage-Lite: The Rise of Cohabitation and its Consequences; Anything School Can Do You Can Do Better


The Smart Woman's Guide to Staying at Home

Melissa Hill Reviewed by Jane MacRae

Having thrown in a career in merchant banking to concentrate on home and family, Melissa Hill writes from experience about the transition and how to deal with the its fears and pressures. Worries about surviving on one income, fear of loneliness or boredom and responsibility for the children, are robustly tackled using reason and experience.

Melissa identifies the issue of self-image as central to the work v home dilemma. Women too often feel that self-respect and the respect of the world are dependent on a job-title. Melissa convinces the reader that life at home can be both fulfilling and expansive.

Inspiration and direction come from recognising the needs around us - at home, in the community and beyond. Melissa explains how to sustain a positive, un-cynical, optimistic attitude when dealing with those needs and how compassion and self-confidence will grow.

Underlining the fact that all actions have a far-reaching effect, she tells us not to underestimate the continuous contribution we make to well-being: 'Selfishness and compassion, both, have the unsettling power to ripple across countless lives.'

As we are drawn into this unexpected world we begin to appreciate its liberating potential : not only are we unrestricted by a 'job-description', we are also free from having to protect our ego. As to being a good 'role model' - a happy mother who feels free to be herself is a truly good example. Melissa adroitly lays this vision of a satisfying and useful life alongside the problems of life at home, giving practical advice on coping with an unstructured day, not being in control, getting through the chores.

On the tricky subject of marriage, Melissa suggests that attending to 'your relationship with your husband first [means] you can more easily create a loving, relaxed and secure environment for your children.' Trusting each other in your different capacities, recognising mutual dependence, expressing appreciation and gratitude for each other's work all contribute to the creation of a happy, stable household.

What Melissa has to say about children is characteristically sensible : nurture them, don't over-schedule their lives, allow their talents and personality to emerge - and question the so-called 'experts'. Don't be a martyr - when you need a break, ask for help!

This is a book for every mother: those who feel torn between work and home, those who are about to give up work but feel apprehensive and those already at home who could use some encouragement and inspiration.

Vermilion ( Random House) 9.99

Melissa Hill will be speaking at our 2001 Open Meeting on 14 November , when copies of her book will be on sale. For more information visit: www.melissahill.co.uk