New research says more people believe family suffers if women work full-time - what do you think?

(165 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Aug-08 14:34:22

The research is reported here. Do your experiences back up the findings, or contradict them?

homepride Mon 29-Sep-08 17:11:15

I think mums and dads need to take a more practical approach to childcare - me and my husband sat down, looked at what needed doing in our lives and divided it up. I stayed at home because my husband earned more money and we thought it would be unfair for both of us to be over an hour away from our children and put them in nursery 10 hours a day, I do the cooking all week, the cleaning, ironing etc because I'm at home. He works really long hours so it would be totally impractical for him to do it. He does all the shopping and cooks at weekends, gets the kids breakfast & dresses them before he goes to work in the morning. It's not ideal, he would like to see more of the kids and I would like some time to myself but by and large it works for us.I know alot of people have absolutely no choice but to go back to work and obviously someone has to but I don't think it matters who. Whoever is best placed to do it. I'd be interested to know what people mean when they say 'I had to go back to work full-time because we couldn't afford for me not to'.If that means you couldn't afford to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, fair enough, if it means you can't afford to live in the big house you would like, have 2 holidays a year and drive 2 cars, maybe you should re-think your priorities. We bought a smaller house than we could have if I'd gone back to work, drive a 12 year old hand-me-down car and go on holiday once every 2 years but I truly believe my kids are better off for having one of us with them. After all kids don't ask to be born, we choose to have them and they need their parents.

blackrock Sun 10-Aug-08 20:02:19

It is not actual, but only what people perceive.

I know that if my husband and i both worked FT family life in our house would suffer.

We are lucky that we are both PT and juggle childcare between us and 1.5 days of nursery.

Our lives are happy and relaxed. This is what suits us and would not suit all. Friends of ours work longer and seem to cope well.

TinksMama Sun 10-Aug-08 08:45:29

Not meaning to gloat or claim that my husband is a gift from above, BUT..... Whilst my husband goes out to work FT so do I. But whilst I cook every night, he washes up. While I bath the children, he puts them to bed. I do the clothes washing and iron the childrens clothes, he irons shirts and jeans. Don't be fooled, he didn't iron or wash up when I met him! We both realise that if we are going to be happy we need to contribute, at home and financially. wink

If I didn't work, we would suffer, either the mortgage would go unpaid or we would literally starve!! sad

I do think there is a massive presumption with the above mentioned studies on women haven professional full time jobs, what about women who just do a standard full time job? Take me for example, earning a modest wage, working FT doing admin, hardly the professional power jobs so commonly associated with working mums who go to work early and get home late.

TishTashToys Sat 09-Aug-08 22:40:05

I read this bit of the article....Kat Banyard, the campaigns officer, said: "Women still shoulder the bulk of caring and housework at home" and that to me is where a lot of the problems come down to. How can a woman work full-time AND then do all the housework? And I'm not saying this is the man's fault, if anything it is the woman's because I don't think enough women demand equality IN the home. When all tasks and work roles are shared then we might be able to move towards real equality.

LadyG Sat 09-Aug-08 17:36:55

I think the fact that attitudes have changed from 15 years ago to become less supportive of working mothers has a lot to do with the long hours work culture which has really taken hold since the early 90s and means that essentially many women are single parents during the week as well as working full time - in many cases it is mum who does the 5 O Clock dash home to do nursery pick up or take over from the nanny while dad doesn't get home until after bedtime.Speaking personally I found this very hard going and found it wasn't good for me on a work or home perspective and therefore by extension for the family.

seekinginspiration Sat 09-Aug-08 16:43:40

No doubt in my mind, when two parents work full time there will be bad consequences; the only exception being those rich enough to employ fully trained nannies who generally know how to parent better than parents. Much as I can't believe I'm going to agree with Eton schooled Mr Cameron I think there should be an allowance for one parent staying at home, when two parents make a commitment (marriage or civil partnership) to bring up children together. When the married man's allowance was available couples sometimes stayed together through the tough first two years just because of the allowance, and then found they still loved even liked each other, after the sleep deprivation and toddler years passed.

ShyBaby Fri 08-Aug-08 19:20:41

Sorry, I dont think any comment I could make would be valid, being a lone parent and not a "family". As a lone parent I am encouraged to work full time to instil a sense of self worth and a work ethos into my children. It will also make me feel better, give me oodles of confidence and enable me to feel independant.

(Repeats, robot like).

Having no other source of income, my second choice would be to rely on benefit. (handouts). But my house would be cleaner im sure.

I guess the rules are different for one parent families grin

fizzbuzz Fri 08-Aug-08 18:25:50

But Tinysocks, my mum worked full time (she had no choice, my dad was very ill and later died)from when I was 3.

I never felt like that about her. I was close to her and involved with her all her life, and did lots of caring for her at the end. In fact I admired her for coping as she did.

Sounds like the problem is more with the daughter than the mother.........

ElfOnTheTopShelf Fri 08-Aug-08 18:07:50

Yes, there has to be balance, but IME mothers who are classed as "working full time" are doing 30-35hrs ish, not the 14hr shifts for 6days a week as people expect - thats rare where I am.
In my department, one woman has an 8 year old and she does 25hrs over five days, one woman has three under three and does 35hrs over four days, a couple of us have one child under 3 and we do 35hr.
We're on flexible hours too, and I can work from home if necessary/wanted.

TinySocks Fri 08-Aug-08 17:44:23

Elf, I agree with you, but I think it's about having the right balance.

ElfOnTheTopShelf Fri 08-Aug-08 17:11:45

Being a WOHP doesn't mean the children grow up assuming they were not wanted or not having a good relationship with their parents.
Both my parents worked, but I'm really close with my family. We go up every Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, mum and dad have their house full with me, DH, DD, my sister & BIL, my other sister and her boyfriend. We're a very close family.
My DH OTHO rarely sees his SAHM.
I dont think being a WOHP or SAHP defines whether you have a good relationship with your children as they get older.

I think DH & I have a much better relationship with our DD (we both work) than one of the SAHM's I know who tells her children to get out of her sight / feck off upstairs / cant wait til you're 16 and you can move out...

TinySocks Fri 08-Aug-08 10:41:26

I think it's all about having the right balance.

Two real life examples:
a) My sister's best friend (now in her 40s) had a full time working mum. This lady worked really hard, gave them loads of lovely nice goodies. Now in her old age, the mum is desperate to be involved in her daughter's life, but my sister's friend told her: Sorry mum, but I don't need you.

b) When I was working, one of the directors of the company was a woman with a teenage son. She was constantly travelling everywhere, working long hours. I felt sorry for that boy, what made her think that because he was now a teenager he no longer needed her?

I don't want that for my family. I am a SAHM at the moment. I had a wonderful career for 11 years before having children, earned plenty of money, travelled, worked hard.
I don't want to be SAHM for ever, at some point I will go back to work, but I wouldn't mind a job with less responsiblity, flexible hours, earning less so that I can spend time with my boys, they are my priority now.

Thisismynewname Fri 08-Aug-08 09:59:00

Often on these kind of threads I read comments that being at home with children until they are 3/5/even 15 sometimes is "best".

It may well be, but I'd really like to see some definition of why it is best/what is better about it.

Best in what way? Emotional security/academic outcomes/social skills/later career prospects.

Does being a SAHM cover all of those angles and more, really? When I read these comments I'm left thinking, is it just the children of working mothers that end up in therapy/never go to University/can't maintain relationships and end up divorced/ roam the streets committing anti-social behaviour. Is being a SAHM really the vaccine for all of these social issues?

Poverty and it's impact on child outcomes is so often overlooked in these debates, and yet it's proven to have the biggest influence on child outcomes, not whether or not a mother works.

solidgoldbrass Thu 07-Aug-08 22:16:37

The thing that's really wrong with all this crap is the idea that just because you have a vagina your thoughts, feelings and opinions are totally irrelevant to your function as domestic appliance and breeding machine ( a lot of 'mental health professionals' a couple of generations back spent most of their time either drugging or bullying women into compliance with the happy-housewife myth). If domestic service and childcare really were all women were naturally capable of then there wouldn't be so many women so good at other things, so frantic to do other things - nor so much ruthless propaganda about women's 'natural' submissiveness and servility.

Jacblue Thu 07-Aug-08 21:38:03

Anyway, what does a woman with a great career, expected to give it all up to raise the children, do when they are grown up? Start again from the bottom?

Why can't we just decide for ourselves without the judgement? My mum stayed at home with my sis and me, but had to go back to work full time when my bro (a happy accident!) was 3 mths old. He's not a screw-up for it. Well, no more than we are!!grin

However, fed up of people saying that my decision to be a sahm was because I'm lazy/don't like 'real' work. Mostly said by people who haven't taken more than a weeks hols at a time with their kids!

Jacblue Thu 07-Aug-08 21:29:15

Haven't read all of this, but imo as long as the mum is doing what makes her happy, be it work or staying at home with children, then she will be happier when she is at home and it will rub off on the rest of the family. It is when they are pressured into doing what they are not comfortable/happy with that the children will suffer.

I became a childminder so that I could stay at home with my kids as that is what I felt was right. For me. I also have friends who would go stir crazy if they had to spend all their time with their children. They don't love them any less, just need their own space and adult time.

ja9 Thu 07-Aug-08 21:18:32

haven't read whole thread..


i work part time (2 and half days - teacher so have the hols too)... and i feel like i am stretched to my absolute limit.

VeniVidiVickiQV Thu 07-Aug-08 21:10:43

Oh I dont agree with the man-hating bit, but, there was a very prevalent attitude at one point whereby if you chose to be a SAHM, or, you didn't go back to work after having children you were somehow inferior.

lovelysongbird Thu 07-Aug-08 20:57:14

jux i think your right.

lovelysongbird Thu 07-Aug-08 20:51:50

my mum worked fulltime, which is a very big part of the reason i wanted to SAH , and did everything in the house, cooking cleaning, washing, ironing, making packed lunches.
feel quite sorry for her really.
it wasnt a good life and she didn't have an amazing job, she worked in an office, she did it to provide for us.
and she got no help from dad at all.
yes dad did the "manly" jobs like diy etc but i dont think that equals all the stuff i listed that my mum dad in hours put in no way.

really people of my mums age where the "conned generation" in my book

lovelysongbird Thu 07-Aug-08 20:47:35

im a sahm, and i love it.

buts it MY choice and i don't like being told thats what expected of me or anyone.

I do think its best for kids to have a PARENT around and yes i mean PARENT not just the MOTHER.
if possible and its better to be in work than poor.

the one good thing about this is, sahm and wohm are united in our refusal to be drawn back into the 1950.

my job is looking after dd in the day, and a damn fine job i do of that too. dh goes to work.

when he gets home we split what needs doing 50/50 like tonight after tea, we both cleared up, he loaded the dishwasher and i tidied around.
then he hoover and i dusted
so the downstairs of the house is spick and span and it doesnt take long when too are doing it,took about 10 mins each.
we work together.

Jux Thu 07-Aug-08 20:43:27

This reminds me of Bowlby who did research with made up data, as the gov wanted to encourage women out of the workplace (where they had been having a pretty good time since the war) and back into the kitchen, in order to free up jobs for the men back from the war.

nickytwotimes Thu 07-Aug-08 20:40:33

new, not knew!

nickytwotimes Thu 07-Aug-08 20:40:14

Don't know if it's been mentioned, but this research is 5 years old, so hardly knew.

I'm a SAHM because that works for us - I never had a decent job, we can manage on dh's salary and I hated my job anyway. Had I been in employment that gave me some kind of fulfillment, or had we needed the money then I'd have gone back.

The notion of a SAHM is realatively new.
My Grandmothers both WOH as did their contemporaries. All working class women did it to make ends meet. SAHMs are a modern middle class luxury.

ElfOnTheTopShelf Thu 07-Aug-08 20:36:00

I know a SAHM. But she has never worked, so it isn't like she gave up a job for child rearing.

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