Friday, 7 September 2012

Will you Recognise me?

Wise words indeed!
How often do you get a 'thank you' for doing the hoovering?  The washing?  Changing the beds?  

A friend of mine refers to these domestic tasks as the 'silent' jobs.  The boring, necessary stuff that has to happen to make a household run but for which you rarely get a 'thank you'.  In most instances it doesn't matter and expecting a round of applause for cleaning the barbeque is taking it a bit far.  But how about for doing the lion's share of bringing up the children?  Surely that's worthy of major recognition.

At work, unless you have a particularly disengaged boss, or your customers are never happy, you're likely to be thanked or rewarded on a fairly regular basis (see 'Paid in Full' for more on that topic).  If you've made (or are planning to make) the switch from working full-time to being at home with the children full-time then this is a significant change and one that I hadn't given any thought to before going on my first period of maternity leave.

Going from an environment where you are encouraged to pursue plaudits and are paid based on your performance, to one where you do something that is arguably more significant but receives less overt recognition is very difficult and wasn't something that was mentioned during the ante-natal classes that I attended.  I think it should be.

It is viewed as the 'right thing to do' to see parents as entirely equal in the upbringing of their children but it would be fairer (and more accurate) to say that the one who stays at home / is at home more, should be given greater credit.  It is a brave man or woman who says to their wife or husband that they have had more influence on the development of their children, but you would never get such daintiness were it two colleagues discussing who had contributed more to a particular project.

Someone who got it right is a very enlightened friend of mine; Nicky.  She saw this coming as she left a successful sales job to have her daughter, and planned to take at least a year off.  She explained to her husband that if he wanted a happy wife, then he needed to make sure he recognised her efforts and achievements, and acknowledged that what she did was just as valid as him dedicating his day to generating the household income.  The net result was as well as the joy that comes with being so involved in your child's early years, she also received acknowledgement and reassurance from the person that she loves that she was (and still is!) doing a brilliant job.

I thought this was such a smart thing to do, and not something that should be restricted to people that are leaving, or putting on hold, a big career.  I think it should be discussed amongst all parents and potential parents.  Our children don't morph into the fantastical people that they become on their own; so why aren't we patting ourselves, and each other, on the back more often?
Soundtrack: Taken from 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' by Simple Minds


  1. I've got to be honest, I don't like the term "full-time mum" or "full-time dad". Whether you're working or not, you're still a full-time mum or dad.

    1. Thanks for your comment John. It's a fair point, and I agree - being a mum or dad doesn't come with an 'off and on' switch. Toni

  2. Thought provoking article
    For us it's all about teamwork whether you are the one away at employment or the one at home with more 'domestic' responsibility, we are both working with one objective in mind - creating a safe environment in which to raise the little ones that we have been blessed with.
    Great choice of soundtrack - brings back so many happy memories and is very much one of my all-time favouites

    1. Thanks Steve. Absolutely right that teamwork is critical. We're good at the 'big stuff' but not always on some of the smaller things - as evidenced by the time when I gave the children an ice cream after foolishly believing their "Daddy said we could have one" story :) Now off to dig out that Simple Minds album! Toni