Monday, October 12, 2009


It's the second week of school holidays here in Sydney, a time which I used to dread because it was very hard work. I challenge any mother to deny the fact that full-time holiday care for young children is very difficult. Or perhaps I am alone in this feeling, perhaps there are mothers who sail through their children's school holidays blissfully unaware of mothers like me.

Now that my two little commentboxes are teenagers (one about to graduate) I have almost forgotten those school holidays. But this morning I listened to a radio talk-back show about some new study which has found that television is detrimental to children's development and health. "OH PHOOEY!!" I found myself shouting through the steaming water of my shower, and suddenly all of the bitterness of those years came rushing back. Not bitterness at the children, but bitterness at a society that get its kicks from endlessly researching child development and then dumping that information on innocent, unsuspecting, naive mothers.

Mothers are doing all of the hard work, they are there, on call, 24/7. Mothers put aside their own needs and desires so as to raise their families, and all they want is an hour or two every day to have a break while the kids watch some television. Give them a break, researchers. Or better yet, why don't you research the emotional and psychological well-being of mothers who DO NOT let their kids watch television, and then research the impact those mothers have on their children at the end of a long, hard working day.

There are so many things I miss about the younger years of my family, but one thing I am delighted to have left behind is the constant criticism from the media aimed at mothers. The endless arguments about breastfeeding, crying it out, thumb-sucking, circumcision, nappies, haircuts, television, schooling, organicbloodyfood etc etc etc. The minute you have a baby it seems that everyone has an opinion. Why don't they research the impact television has on 50 year old men? Or the impact of junk food on 30 year old single women? Or the environmental impact of cardboard coffee-cups?

That's what I found most difficult about mothering young children - no privacy. Suddenly, everything you do in your home becomes public property. So to all the mothers of young kids on school holidays who are feeling guilty about putting on a Wiggles video so that they can write a post or cook dinner or stare into space with a cup of tea - stop feeling guilty right now!!! You are doing a brilliant job, one for which society should be thanking you. You should be provided with a FREE Wiggles video every year as a public service, and you should be encouraged to take breaks from your work - just like every childless worker in society who enjoys endless coffee breaks, lunch breaks, entire evenings of healthy relaxation, and quiet, fulfilling weekends.

So there.


Anonymous said...

Great post! I think there are huge problems with the way motherhood is constructed in our society, particularly by the media. They can do all the research and experiments they want, but in the end, every woman knows what's best for her and her family.

Duyvken said...

You are a dear, dear woman, Eleanor.

I'll be back online soon.


fifi said...

Hear Hear.

I totally agree!!!

And I am one of those mothers too...what I would have done without bananas in pj's I don't know.

Janet said...

Couldn't agree more. Sometimes I even watch television with Grace - at one stage we were both quite obsessed with the teletubbies - her tastes are growing up a little now.

I love that telly gives me a peaceful breakfast time a couple of days a week and there's nothing like it to keep your child resting when sick.

Suse said...

I would never have got a shower in those early days if not for Playschool and the Wiggles.

Anonymous said...

Indeed! Having preschool children is the hardest job around (except maybe for nuclear reactor disaster cleaner-upper). A bit of TV is a godsend to a mom. When my first was a newborn I felt like I had a 10-pound weight, albeit much-loved 10-pound weight, attached to myself with a strong rubber band. I could only get a certain distance away from him and then the band would snap me back. That was torture for me, an exceedingly independent and rather introverted person who needed her alone time.

Stomper Girl said...

*stands up and cheers loudly*.