Raising children: it’s not rocket science, y’all!

NS July 13th, 2010

After writing about the devaluation of roles traditionally performed by women today over at Fertile Feminism and then reading Potty Mummy’s post about her attitude towards parents before she was one herself, I couldn’t help but smirk when I read this Daily Mail article (I know, I know but @boudledidge linked to it on Twitter) about women choosing housewifery and at-home motherhood over ‘high-flying’ (read: frivolous and/or selfish) careers. Commenter Zoe’s analysis of the differences in difficulty (or lack thereof) of caring for children as compared to office work stunned me with its utter failure to see the numerous similarities between the two. I’m guessing Zoe hasn’t raised any children herself so I’ll break it down for her.

Lets face it looking after a small child isn’t rocket science. It may be trying at times, even a tad monotonous but it’s hardly a stretch for the average graduate [and sitting in a cubicle or office performing monotonous, sometimes-trying tasks IS rocket science?]. Contrast that to the workplace where your performance, commitment and attitude is constantly monitored, measured and managed [you mean the same way that parents, especially mothers, are constantly monitored, criticised and managed by societal expectations, pressures and constraints?]. Tasks and targets are deliberately set to be barely achievable [much like being expected to keep every inch of flesh covered while breastfeeding in public and every toddler tantrum immediately controlled and silenced?], unpaid overtime is expected [both, simultaneously, are a given for at-home parents], salaries are frozen or even cut [divorce and benefits reductions, anyone?] and there is the omnipresent prospect of summary redundancy [30,000 women in the UK lose their jobs every year as a result of their pregnancies; many more lose the potential for pay rises and promotions due to their family commitments, not to mention those who must find a job after the children are in school or have left home]. Not only this but there is the endless efficiency initiatives, budget cuts, head count freezes and vicious office politics [we get parenting advice, studies telling us we're doing x, y and z wrong/not often enough/too much, budget cuts and vicious relationship politics in which we struggle to retain a shred of equality with our partners while performing a traditional role]. Compare this to sitting out the recession looking after little Johnny, who will be at school from the age of four anyway , while somebody else takes the flack and bank-roles your lifestyle [or, you could look at it as the at-home parent bank-rolling her partner by allowing them to avoid paying anyone to care for their children]. Personally I wouldn’t want to be reliant on one person ( call it experience ) so I’ll take my chances in the front line [oh Zoe, Zoe, Zoe; call it experience, but if you think working for The Man night and day puts you on the 'front line' of progressiveness and the cutting edge of modernity, I'm afraid nothing I say will make any difference to you -- you do read and comment on Daily Mail articles, after all].

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some bon bons to eat while I watch daytime television and my children sit silently and obediently at my feet.

Photo credit

32 Responses to “Raising children: it’s not rocket science, y’all!”

  1. TheMadHouse says:

    What a bloody fantastic riposte, it always upsets and infuriates me that people think being a mother is the soft option. No mother would say that. MadDad thinks being a SAH parent is the hardest thing in the world and he goes to work for the rest.
    TheMadHouse´s last blog ..Chocolate Weetabix – ReviewMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @TheMadHouse, My husband says the same. We each appreciate that some days his job is harder and some (most) days it’s mine. It’s not a contest anyway!

  2. notSupermum says:

    Poor Zoe taking her chances on the front-line. Just aswell she’s not a SAHM, she might get a shock at the rate of pay per hour; the 24-hour on call duties; the multi-skilling (taxi service/chef/housekeeper/nanny, etc); the lack of promotion possibilities; the absence of appraisals and bonuses; the lack of lunch hours where you can chat to your friends over a panini and a latte. She’s well out of it.

    NS Reply:

    @notSupermum, Yes, her ‘front line’ comment made me think of being in the trenches, crouching in a ditch with an assault rifle. I sometimes feel like doing that after the 900th question from my 4-year-old. LOL

  3. jen says:

    stupid articles like these don’t reflect well on those of us who’ve chosen not to have kids either….

    NS Reply:

    @jen, I think the existence of the Daily Mail doesn’t reflect well on society in general.

  4. Nova says:

    Great post…….sorry I can’t think of anything more intelligent to say, I’ve spent the last sixteen years staying at home bringing up the children! ;0)
    Nova´s last blog ..It’s never too early…My ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Nova, Ha! That made me snort coffee up my nose a little. Wait, can you understand these words I’m typing? ;)

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AliceElizabeth Still and others. AliceElizabeth Still said: RT @Mum_TheMadHouse: RT @thenoblesavage: New post: Raising children is not rocket science, y'all! http://bit.ly/akIFXw Super post, a mu … [...]

  6. Susie says:

    LOL-loved it.
    Susie´s last blog ..The Kindness Club- Week 14 PromptMy ComLuv Profile

  7. Sandrine says:

    Thank you for another great post. As a working mother I certainly find that being ‘at work’ is a lot less demanding than being at home feeding, teaching, cleaning, and entertaining children! And even then, I reckon it’s a lot easier for me and for my husband when we do it at the weekend and during holidays than it is for my friends who stay home with the kids all the time! Just take a look at a woman or a man working in an office and a stay at home parent: who do you think looks like they’re on the front line? Basically, you can’t win. If you work you’re a bad mother, but if you don’t, you’re a slacker! Can we please criticise men now?
    Sandrine´s last blog ..Portraits of Autism 2My ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Sandrine, Yes please, let’s!

  8. jfb57 says:

    Great post!

    Read another great one at Modern Military Mother http://is.gd/dqFNK

    The Mail certainly started a debate!

    NS Reply:

    @jfb57, Thanks for pointing me that way, I left a comment over there.

  9. Rachel says:

    Oh, to be there five years hence to watch Zoe eat her words as she struggles to control the behaviour of a gang of recalcitrant mini-me’s in the Huggies aisle of Asda…..
    Rachel´s last blog ..The Aftermath of an Autistic Meltdown- Wordless WednesdayMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Rachel, Hee hee! In an evil way, I do hope Zoe has a few sproglets and gets to eat humble pie, over and over again.

  10. Thanks for stopping by – that Julie is a wonderful lady! I think women will always be repressed unless they can find an intelligent balance between selling your soul to the male breadwinner and/or selling your soul to your job. Also, articles like this one all they do is pitch women against each other again and they don’t serve to address any chance of the much needed balance they simply serve to keep women attacking each other and men sitting back and gaining on all sides.

    Until women unite and start operating as an effective community it will be hard to progress. But unlike feminism of the 70s I don’t think the equality drive should be without leadership and based on all women being the same. Humans need leaders that is how we are programmed. The answer lies within us and we need to stop attacking each other and handing the power over to the men.
    A Modern Military Mother´s last blog ..The Domestic Goddess Is A FeministMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @A Modern Military Mother, Well said, I completely agree. Was lovely to find your site!

    A Modern Military Mother Reply:


    Thanks – yes, yours too – lovely to meet another fellow feminazi ;) Am adding you to my blogroll.
    A Modern Military Mother´s last blog ..The Domestic Goddess Is A FeministMy ComLuv Profile

  11. Potty Mummy says:

    Oh my god. OH. MY. GOD. Is this woman for REAL? (Now I’m getting all het up and that – THAT – is why I don’t touch that paper). But great reply and thanks for the name check… (You know that my post was all firmly tongue in cheek, right? Right?)
    Potty Mummy´s last blog ..Drowning – If your summer holiday involves water- read thisMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Potty Mummy, Right. :)

  12. Kelly says:

    Thanks for picking apart Zoe’s comment. Which was all mansplainy and full of about eight kinds of ignorance and asshattery directed at we bovine at-home mothers (hmm… would she frame her comments like this in talking about an at-home male carer?). If only Zoe and her thought process were a rarity… but she’s not.

    I look forward to the day when men involve themselves in these conversations, and are invoked more often as being authors of social policy and construct that is harmful to families and singletons alike. I look forward to the day when SAHMs, work-for-pay moms, and women without children (by choice or not) are given respect and compassion and stop tearing into one another.
    Kelly´s last blog ..quick hit- parenting- television- -amp the culture of moral imperativeMy ComLuv Profile

    NS Reply:

    @Kelly, Yes, if only Martin Luther King, Jr. had included gender equality in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Or if any male leader addressed and tackled the problem seriously, without fear of being labelled ‘gay’ or a ‘traitor’. Sigh. One can keep hoping, I guess.

  13. Brilliant reply – it couldn’t be improved upon. I would love to be a fly on the wall when Zoe has children…..
    nappyvalleygirl´s last blog ..The Gallery holidaysMy ComLuv Profile

  14. Geekymummy says:

    Going to work is hands down much easier than taking care of kids all the time. Unless you work as a preschool teacher. I’m nit a rocket scientist but i am a scientist, and my day job is a breeze compared to being a mum. I bet any rocket scientist would agree. What a very silly article. Hers, not yours, yours is great!
    Geekymummy´s last blog ..Whos the bossMy ComLuv Profile

  15. A truly brilliant retort – I am clapping out loud. Who the hell is that woman anyway? How totally narrow-minded and er, wrong. Thank god there are people like you to put these things into some sort of intelligent perspective. Grrrrrrrr.
    Hot Cross Mum´s last blog ..The Great Pancake CaperMy ComLuv Profile

  16. [...] for this blog after reading the words of Noble Savage, someone I admire quietly from a distance. This post in particular, although there are many that seem to ring home, the situation that I find [...]

  17. Monika says:

    I have to say though the reason I find being a stay at home mum is because of the lack of targets and monitoring and motivation that you get in the workplace. Yes I read parenting articles and worry about whether I am doing it right but it isn’t the same as having yearly targets like I do at my part time job as an evening supervisor in a call centre. I find it far easier to feel motivated at work as I am working to meet specified service levels and make sure that my team hit their targets what at home thecwirk that needs to be done is relentless and mostly goes unnoticed (if you are doing it right) and therefore receives no thanks or acknowledgement of work done well.

    I love my kids but the home environment is different to the work environment and the biggest challenge is the tedium and loneliness. The challenges faced aren’t going to be as stressful as some you would find at work – it depends upon what sort of work you do and what decisions you have to make.

    Self motivation is the key to being a stay at home parent and is exactly what I lack in which explains most of my failings!

  18. nixdminx says:

    I feel sick after reading the Daily Mail article; all the women are very young and they seem to have chosen couples who have been together since they were at school. It’s hardly representative but it is also a response to the Sunday Times magazine which ran a similar cover story a few weeks back. I’m reading the Womens’ Room at the moment so I do have a wry view of these families; it’s all transient. Would love to revisit them in 20 years. I don’t care what people do as long as they don’t patronise and criticise other people who have chosen different paths. When I read the article there was a small news item detailing Denise Van Outens coffee shop visit where she didn’t get her breasts out. How misogynist can the media get?

  19. Maris says:

    For one, work is confined to the perimeters of the office or work place only. Your office responsibility ends when you clock out and just resumes when you clock back in the next day. But with parenting, it’s a 24/7 job that lasts beyond our earthly existence. We can’t just quit on our kids no matter how terrible their behaviour would turn out to be. Putting up with the challenges of parenting and raising kids to become the best they could be is a lifetime responsibility that no parent ever has the choice to turn their backs on! Once you’re a mother, you’re a mother forever. Although I have always been a working woman and don’t have kids(let alone a husband) just yet, I am well aware of the difficulty that comes with being a parent, particularly mums (I’m very close to my mum, that’s why).
    Maris´s last blog ..Breaking The SilenceMy ComLuv Profile

  20. Mary Clark says:

    Hope you got the obedient kids to give you a mani and pedi while they were sitting obediently at your feet.

    I despair sometimes.

    Thanks for taking her to task…hope she reads it and learns something…parents, non-parents, feminists, traditionalists; none of the labels matter in the end, in a way, because we are all women. We need to stick together.
    Mary Clark´s last blog ..Standing In Line- Sometimes With EnemiesMy ComLuv Profile

  21. Strawberry says:

    Yes yes yes yes yes! I can’t believe how much/often people don’t realise what’s involved in staying home with your kids and, more than than, what is lost. Hell, I didn’t realise until I was a couple of years in. On the one hand, I wouldn’t change it for the world. On the other, I’d change it in a heartbeat. …But I didn’t say that. Oh no I didn’t.
    Strawberry´s last blog ..Thank God for the PeacetimesMy ComLuv Profile