MAKE QUALITY TIME FOR YOUR CHILDREN
TV presenter Esther Rantzen says the decline of the housewife – and the rise of career women – means kids have nobody to talk to. But Emma has had enough of working-mum bashing!
Esther Rantzen has E said that the fact mums now work has increased childhood depression and anxiety as kids have no one to turn to. I feel like I’m in 1930 and should be at home starching my husband’s shirts while thinking up new ways of being an even better wife!
The idea that being a housewife also means you’re a mental health expert is ridiculous, and it’s only over the past 100 years that housewives have existed because, before that, parents and children were working in mills, or being brought up by nannies. Sorry if I’m defensive, Esther, but I have two clever, hilarious and emotionally articulate sons, and I work 60-hour weeks – because that’s real life in 2017.
You don't need to be a stayat-home mum to create happy children, but you need to ensure you’re really “present” when you’re with them. I sometimes get in from work when my boys have just gone to bed, so I’ll spend 10 minutes snuggled up with them chatting about what’s going on in their lives. Other times, we don’t chat, we just hug, and it gives them a loving message that they’re important.
I’m tired of mums feeling like failures as we can no longer offer our kids 24/7 care. The truth is, they don’t need it. That’s why they have friends, books and toys. Quality time is way more important than the quantity.
When I walked my boys to primary school, we’d do nature quizzes, or we’d set off early to play in the park. Now we cook together, albeit pretty badly, giving us a chance to chat and laugh – and it distracts my boys from their phones.
Look at every pocket of time you have and squeeze the best out of it. Banning phones from the dinner table and eating together a few times a week helps connect the family. Getting outdoors is free and makes everyone feel positive. Just a 20-minute stroll in your neighbourhood will give you space to talk about your lives in general.
My husband uses car journeys to school to play my boys music he loved when he was growing up and it has become a habit they all enjoy. Your kids will be OK, as long as they know that however busy you are, they’re your priority. Make that clear in actions and words, and they will be just fine.