Time for Parenting...
...because raising children is a full-time job
September 2001 Newsletter
Incensed by the Census
I wonder if anyone else felt as annoyed as I did, when filling in their census form? I suppose it was to be expected that 'work' was not deemed to include raising my own children, but it rubbed salt into the wound that spending as little as one hour a week caring for an elderly neighbour or a sick friend was considered worthy of record.
'Did you do any work last week?' asked the census form. Yes, I did. Ninety-eight hours, actually, with two unexpected night call-outs and no time off in lieu. But there was no provision on the census form for me to declare this.
My job, last week and for the next umpteen years, is to invest in the future of Britain by raising well-balanced, emotionally stable, morally-aware children. This is not really 'work' though, because it brings no revenue to the Chancellor's coffers.
This census was nothing to do with finding out what we do, but only about how profitable we are. Let us hope that during the next decade we will see more broad-mindedness on the subject of women who work as full time mothers, and that the census form for 2011 will include, at the very least, one small box that we are supposed to tick.
- Mrs. Y Jackson, Thirsk
A balanced life
I am a full time mum of older children, girls aged 15 and 12! I am so glad I have been a FTM. The rewards are showing and a recent head of year at school asked me 'how do you do it?'
It has not been easy and my husband has been my supporter all along. The 'stigma' of no status etc and the lesser money has often got at me.
A few years ago I enrolled on a secretarial agency and have done (very) occasional work which has been an encouragement that my skills are still OK - but oh so tiring - and has made me a worse parent, got me all confused and made me decide I will only work through an agency, in order to have no responsibility that way.
Now the older daughter is beginning GCSE work, she needs my support and to know that I am happy and not fussing around.
What am I doing in the week? I now visit younger mums with a view to encourage them in their role; I am part of a church team one morning a week, we have 'open house' for the elderly and a talk to encourage them (and us). I love this, everyone values each other so much.
I also go on computer courses and read around what my children are learning. Both girls love books and it's been one of my pleasures to seek out good ones. I read somewhere 'just a mum' was asked what she DID in life! She replied I'm writing two books', meaning she was raising two children with long-term ambitions! I found this really helpful.
I'd like to encourage you in what you are doing.
- Hilary Risbridger, by e-mail
In reply to the contributor 'I am at my wit's end' (Spring 2001) - I was moved by the candidness of her self-expression and want to say: there is hope. I hold an honours degree and worked as a graphic designer since 1987, having 3 children in that time.
Several factors - in particular problems with carers - caused me to leave work in 1999, before having our fourth child. Since then, my husband's business 'went down' and we are pretty hard-up. I miss my job but this is a crucial time for my children, age 6, 4, 2 and 9 mths.
I may work from home later but the children have many needs and I am the best person for them. My husband used to miss the money I made but he is mostly supportive of my decision and is shouldering the challenge to provide alone.
My (female) boss said when I left: 'you will be doing a much harder job now' and it is true. At least I was alone on the train to work; now I am surrounded! I do take a short weekly break for myself - just a swim or to meet a friend - which keeps me sane.
So this is really to say that despite our tight circumstances and my own ambition I still believe my job as a mother is the most important and rewarding. Life at home is not 'wasted'. Take heart and good luck!
- C. Alonge, South London
To add to my dissatisfaction with government policy, Gordon Brown announced in the budget that single mums of under-fives will be compelled to attend a DSS interview regarding job opportunities. So now I'm faced with having to justify what I'm doing, under interrogation.
I was outraged that they had the nerve to claim to care about families. And I speak as a long-term Labour supporter!
- Kim Symes, Carlisle