Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Archive for February 2010

How my son’s fundraiser was boosted by Twitter

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The power of Twitter, eh?

Those of us who subscribe to the 140-character-a-time micro blogging site know how useful and how much fun the site can be.

And we know it doesn’t matter how much we might bang on about it, those who have no interest are not going to sign up.

But I am not going to apologise for this short blog post, which sings the praises of Twitter. Again.

I’ve already written about how Twitter got me involved with a fundraising project for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

But kind-hearted tweeters also helped my son last week when his efforts to help a school fundraiser were – ahem – less than successful.

Youngsters at his school made bookmarks, crafted Scoobies and other arty items. My eight-year-old wanted to do his bit. He drew 23 pictures – stick men scoring goals; stick men reading and walking into bookcases; stick men telling jokes – and said he’d sell them for 5p or 10p.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=children+drawing&iid=3119792″ src=”6/e/5/f/Drawing_Children_8292.jpg?adImageId=10169355&imageId=3119792″ width=”234″ height=”230″ /]

He sold one. And one, older, pupil who should know better, told him his pictures were stupid. He was devastated.

I posted a message on Twitter, saying he’d sold a single, solitary picture. Why? Because I follow – and am followed by – quite a few “mummy bloggers”. I thought they’d understand.

There were reactions, naturally, but three tweeters: @DanSlee, @Dovefarm (who retweeted the message to her followers) and @MillfieldLammie were so touched by the mini tale that they PLEDGED MONEY FOR ONE OF HIS PICTURES.

Isn’t that just wonderful?

Of course, they sent the money, too. I won’t embarrass them by divulging how much they posted to us for the school’s Haiti fundraiser, but needless to say that my son would have needed to sell significantly more than the 23 he originally drew.

He thought they were kind and was pleased that grown-ups had recognised that children’s efforts – however small – were worthy of attention.

After a few hours of being down about his little pictures being rejected by his contemporaries, he was buoyant again.

For him, the power of Twitter was real.

Thank you for helping Haiti.


Written by CommonPeople

February 11, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Woman returns to work seven hours after giving birth – but is that a good example for us?

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There have been innumerable studies over the past few years about women returning to work after having a baby.

Some focus on the guilt that many women with babies feel when they have to leave their precious bundle for the first time; others look at the support they receive in the workplace.

Then there are the surveys that examine the adequacy or otherwise of maternity/paternity leave; the issue of parental leave and parent-friendly hours when the babies start school.

So, how did it make you feel when you read that the headmistress of private school St Mary’s Calne School, Wiltshire, returned to her desk just SEVEN hours after she had given birth to her third child?

Dr Helen Wright tells The Daily Mail (February 7, 2010) that she believed she was setting a good example by taking her hours-old daughter Jessica to the office with her.

“Most mothers want their daughters to have the exhilarating excitement of a career they love and the joy of a family,” she tells the paper.

“I have that and I want to show the girls at St Mary’s that that is not an impossible dream.”

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=newborn+baby+and+mother&iid=847135″ src=”2/b/5/d/FILE_Changes_Announced_f45f.jpg?adImageId=9999322&imageId=847135″ width=”234″ height=”326″ /]

But what example has she actually shown the girls, by returning to work so soon?

I have to admit to reading the report with a heavy heart, especially when she makes the remark: “Why can’t there be a third way – taking your baby to work with you?”

Now, I appreciate Dr Wright is cosseted in the world of private education, but is she honestly advocating that we all turn up to work with our babies, nappy bags and a truckload of toys?

I wouldn’t even dare ask the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses, Chambers of Commerce – or the HSE for that matter – for their opinion on this nugget of wishful thinking.

Women have a difficult enough time anyway when it comes to returning to work after a few months’ away from the office.

A survey by The National Childbirth Trust in November last year revealed that 39 per cent of those questioned admitted they found going back to work after having a baby “difficult” or “very difficult”; 31 per cent claimed their relationship with their manager had deteriorated once their pregnancy had become known.

There is a raft of legislation and policies that protect women back into the workplace, but many of the 1,500 mothers who were surveyed said they still did not receive the support they needed.

There is no easy solution to this: many women are happy to return to work full-time after having a child, while others may want to reduce their office hours or become a stay-at-home mother.

But Dr Wright has done nothing for women who are wracked with guilt over returning to work. We can’t all be super mums. Many of us are torn daily as we drop off our children at the schoolgate or nursery as we troop off to work, relying on others to pick them up at 3pm.

We might want our careers, but many of us (me included) have realised we cannot have it all. Something has to give for a while.

Written by CommonPeople

February 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Should children help with the household chores?

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It’s something I tell myself each time I plough through my children’s bedrooms: they should be doing this themselves.

As I wade through the books, cuddly toys and a plethora of assorted Gormitis, Transformers and Star Wars statues (son, eight) or curling tongs, nail varnish and clothes (daughter, ten), I think back to my childhood.

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Unlike many of my peers, I was never forced to carry out household chores. I had friends who had to do the washing-up from nine years old; others had to tidy their rooms to get their 10p a week pocket money (yes, I am showing my age).

But I do vividly recall being asked to help clean the house on occasion – whether this was for pocket money, I have no idea. I remember because my brother thought there was something medically wrong with him after I shoved so much bleach down the toilet, it foamed to the brim when he flushed it (it was summer. He had hayfever, hence absolutely no sense of smell).

I don’t want much from my children when it comes to helping out: I just want them to make their beds – I  don’t think throwing a duvet over is too taxing – and have them tidy their rooms once in a while. Other friends’ children manage it.

Should I pay them for doing it? I’m not so sure I  agree that children should gain financially from doing something they ought to be doing anyway. It sets a bad precedent.

Do you ask your children to do chores? At what age did you get them to do their fair share? Was it picking up their teddies at two? Getting them to fold their clothes and place them in a drawer at four?

Or do you think that as a parent it is your sole responsibility to keep everywhere spick and span?

I’d really love to know your opinion.

Written by CommonPeople

February 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

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