Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Posts Tagged ‘working

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

with 12 comments

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.”

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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.

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Written by CommonPeople

February 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Please accept my apologies for being a bad mother

with 17 comments

Surveys. Don’t you love them? One week there is a scientific piece of research that tells us a glass of red wine three times a week is good for the heart.

Fast forward a fortnight and there is a contradictory “evidence”: drinking three glasses of red wine a week can increase incidences of “certain types of” cancer.

I do try to take them with a pinch of salt (not too much, because I don’t want a stroke. Perhaps I should take them with a pinch of low sodium substitute), but there are occasions when, in the name of science, anthropology or just sheer mischief making that studies make me want to scream (primal scream therapy is alleged to help with emotional problems).

This week – for there are these pieces of research popping up weekly – is the “news” that working mothers are breeding obese, TV-addicted children who never eat fruit and vegetables.

According to research carried out by Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Institute of Child Health, University College London full-time working mothers were bringing up the unhealthiest children in the country.

This was followed by women who work part-time. Women who stayed at home had the healthiest children were “stay at home” mothers.

The figures in the report appear to be impressive in that the researchers involved 12,000 children born between 2000 and 2002 who were part of the Millennium Cohort Study.

Mothers were questioned about their working hours, their children’s food intake activity and exercise levels, as well as how much TV they watched or computer access they had.

The findings? Children of working mothers were more likely to have fizzy drinks, eat fewer portions of fruit and vegetables  and watch more TV – and do less exercise.

It is this kind of “research” that just makes me fume. Surely it is parenting skills – not whether or not the mother works – that makes a difference.

Women do not usually have the luxury of choice when it comes to returning to work – most have to work to help pay the mortgage/rent, the bills and put food on the table (whether that’s a bag of chips or a full Sunday lunch).

If they do have the choice and they decide to stay at home – that is fine. It is also fine for a woman to go to work.

Yes, we might feel torn in two when leaving the children when we put on the working suit and leave the vomit-stained jumper at home, but that doesn’t mean we forget what vegetables look like.

Bringing up children has nothing to do with whether or not a woman goes out to work. Basic parenting is a learned skill, but we need vegetables and fruit, too. That doesn’t go out of the window when we go to work.

Most of us have the knowledge, but probably need a bit of support when it comes to time management skills. What we don’t need is castigation and snide finger-pointing.

I know this research came out yesterday – but I didn’t have chance to blog about it then. I was busy being a bad mother: out working ALL day (yes –  from 9.30am until 5pm).

I could have written this yesterday evening, but I’m afraid I was too busy making my family a vegetable and wholewheat pasta bake (making my own tomato sauce, thank you), collecting son from his Beavers group and tidying the kitchen before falling into bed at 10pm.

So, please accept my humblest apologies for being a bad mother.

Written by CommonPeople

September 30, 2009 at 7:44 am