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Time for Parenting...

...because raising children is a full-time job

March 2003 Newsletter

Equal, not identical; new members write; "Your Dad's a teacher"; What the papers say; What is work?

What is WORK?

The Importance of Words! Three FTMs reflect on the thorny issue of mothers and the 'W' word!

I was recently talking to my aged County Councillor who said that neither his mother nor his wife, who brought up their four children, had ever worked. He was quite literally taken aback by my quick retaliation: "Don't you dare say your wife never worked"; then I smiled, and thus ensued the obvious conversation! Then the other day I got out a Full Time Mothers' leaflet to send to him and my eyes fell on the last words of Item 3 of the "Aims": " ... return to work" !
This is not a criticism - we all hiccough with it! and have frequent discussions about it. Rather it's an observation. But I do feel it's the single most important social hurdle to knock down (and I've been trying for 30 years!). So ...

The Words we use - whether spoken or printed - act largely at a subconscious level to the recipient (including ourselves). So that if we are to change social attitudes to full time mothers, then it is imperative that we learn to hear alarm bells every time the word "work" is used; for in most cases it means "paid-employment". Thus, not a "return to work" but a "return to paid-employment".

If someone asks me if I "work" or have a "job" I say "Yes, but I don't get paid for it; do you mean in paid-employment?" Despite the frequent discussions on this subject in the FTM Newsletter, if you look carefully you will nevertheless find numerous references to "work" which really mean "paid employment". To change society's understanding, obviously we've got to take the lead!

I realise that, when clarifying the kind of work someone does, it is perhaps rather cumbersome to have to write out "work in paid employment" every time, rather than just "work"; so once we've become accustomed to the phrase I would suggest that, in these days of abbreviations, we could simply say WIPE. Thus one might refer, for example, to "...government encouraging mothers with young children to WIPE". That turns the tables rather nicely, don't you think!

May I say a big Thank You to whoever suggested, some time ago, the title "Director of Personal & Social Development". I've added "Educational" in there as well. I use it all the time, preceded by "Semi-Retired...". One official responded "Oh, that sounds grand" (with an upward intonation); when I added "..also known as full-time Mother" she just said "Oh" (with a downward intonation)! It was the Women's-Lib movement during the '60s which made women feel guilty for "not working" ... so we're just turning the tables of guilt - for what has proved to be a very socially-necessary result. Please ... set those alarm bells working!

I developed Crohn's at 12 years old and have survived longer than the medics predicted because I had a full time mum who followed her instincts and did what was right for me. I now have two children and gave up my paid part-time job (9-5, five days a week) for a full-time career in child development with an annual salary of fun, joy, satisfaction and a euro-size mountain of ironing which is great for hide and seek. I'd better not touch it for the next 10 years then! Both children are home educated.

I am also a volunteer with the Red Cross and was introduced to a class by a fellow trainer as "just a mother". He saw nothing denigrating in this statement until I reduced his status as a retired Naval Officer to, "and he's an old sailor with a nicotine addiction." He's never done it again.

It was a great relief and joy to learn of an organisation of like-minded people to champion our status.

'There is a movement to ban the phrase "working mother", and I'm right up there with the placard wavers. The stay-at-home mothers want the phrase "working mother" banned because it implies that looking after young children isn't work. I feel it should be dropped to expose the guilty secret that all "working" mothers carry around - that a day in the office is a breeze compared to a bad day at home.

A friend recently admitted that she earned slightly less at work than she paid for her two children's daycare. "I tell people it is to keep my hand in," she confessed. "But the real reason is because it is so much easier going to work than staying at home." What a skiver! Let's campaign for working mothers to be renamed skiving mothers.'

Going back to work after having the twins was not an option so I started to look at ways that I could work from home. I am fortunate enough to have discovered Phoenix Trading - a greetings card company who sell a terrific range of cards, gift-wrap, invitations etc. which are all exclusive designs and retail at around 50% of high street prices. I now work from home and sell these cards to friends, families, neighbours, local nurseries, mums and toddler groups, schools, etc.

Wherever I go I know that I am coming into contact with potential customers - who do you know who does not send cards? I have no targets, no pressure, I do as much or as little as I like - I'm in control. The potential to build a long-term business is enormous. It is very empowering to successfully operate such a family-friendly business whilst nurturing our children without the need for childcare. For a free information pack on how you too can be a 'Phoenix Trader' please call Katie on 01472 290515 or email katie_clarke@hotmail.com.