The quiet revival of ‘slow’ home ownership

By Joanna Roughton.

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What makes a house a home? Of all the questions which the Home Renaissance Foundation was set up to muse on, this one remains key.

I thought about it this week in the wake of a report about the cost of moving. In parts of the UK it has now reached eye-wateringly high levels – £31,000 according to one news report.

Why so high?

Increases in stamp duty – a tax imposed on the sale of a residential property – seems to be the main reason. But there are other causes too. Conveyancing, estate agents’ fees, and the cost of physically emptying the contents of a house and removing it to a new location all add up.

Obviously, many people reluctantly acquiesce to part with the cash. In a housing market which persists in being bullish, moving up the residential ladder has become the dominant philosophy for some individuals and families seeking financial security.

And for workers, a new address is often the price demanded by a flexible labour market which requires employees to move to a different part of the country at the drop of a hat.

But the truth behind the statistics may surprise you. In reality, and counter-intuitively, British people are spending longer in their homes. Research by the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association published last year found that the average UK home changes hands every 23 years — up from every 8 years in the 1980s.

A little over 4 per cent of the UK’s private housing stock was bought and sold according to the most recent figures. Three decades ago that turnover figure was 12 per cent.

So much for all those people who view their homes as chips on the housing market roulette wheel, or as temporary digs until the next job promotion comes along.

These figures show that, contrary certainly to my intuition, people and home are enjoying a longer union.

And, if you feel, as I do, that a happy home takes years to create, then there is cause for cheer here.

But why is turnover falling so quickly? Partly, it’s a function of the growth in the rented sector. Sad to say, people are also taking longer to buy their first property. But the research also attributes a desire to be less itinerant on the part of middle-aged homeowners who are ‘staying put’ in record numbers.

Some people will decry this as the inertia of boring middle-aged folk. I prefer to see it as uplifting.

After all, in a world where communal bonds are decaying, social cohesion requires some stability. Remaining in the same home allows families to put down roots. Properties which encourage inter-generational living send those roots ever deeper. Oh, and it means you don’t have to pay £31,000 every time a ‘for sale’ sign is erected in the front garden.

Homes of Hope & Glory

By Joanna Roughton.

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My 13-year-old daughter, Agnes, was nodding-off during Mass this morning.

“It’s your fault Mum,” she yawned. “You got me up to watch the Last Night of the Proms!”.

Aggie has a point.

I think there are some cultural reference points which a family need to share. In a globalising world, it is increasingly important – in my view – to make a conscious effort to expose the next generation to the things which make them who they are.

And so, all the children were kept up late to watch the BBC’s wonderful coverage from the Royal Albert Hall.

Vaughan-Williams, Elgar, Jerusalem. The same line-up every year, the same rousing crescendo.

Some people can think of nothing worse. Hymns like ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ sound a little like an Imperial mission statement, with the lyrical injunction to “make [Britain] mightier yet”.

But I love the gleeful celebration of national identity. Patriotism need not be jingoism. The promenaders who wave their union flags are not lamenting the passing of Britain’s colonial history.

They are participating in a slightly tongue-in-cheek collective act of remembering what made the UK what it is today.

Of course, it would be lovely to be there in person, but TV captures the boisterous essence of the occasion.

It is an example of how ‘the box’ can be an aid to household cohesion. Overdone, as it often is, and TV can seem to have the opposite effect.

This week we learned, for instance, that the decline in family dining is showing no signs of slowing. A survey for IKEA showed that the UK had experienced a 22 per cent decline in weekly family meals.

It is facile to blame TV dinners. For sure, there is a negative inverse correlation between consumption of television and consumption of meals eaten at the dining table.

But the real villain, when it comes to the demise of the family dinner, is changing habitation patterns. The same IKEA survey notes that a quarter of Brits eat at least one meal a day on their own. A quarter feel they simply don’t have the space in their home to invite people to share a meal there.

The truth is that more of us are living alone, in homes which do not have dining rooms and scarcely have enough space for a dining table.

I thought about this when the death was announced earlier this year of Caroline Aherne. This talented comic and actor created a lasting image of a dysfunctional but happy home in her award winning Royle Family.

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If you haven’t seen it, the comedy involved a working class Mancunian family whose life is spent eating, talking and sleeping in front of the television.

They are not held up as high-achieving, for they are not. But they are shown to be a successful household because three generations have chosen to live under one roof. They come together in front of the TV. They stay together because they love one another.

Unfathomable mysteries of the downstairs toilet…

By Joanna Roughton.

My husband went to Suffolk for a wedding reception for an old college friend this week. Afterwards, I enjoyed listening to his description of what people wore, summaries of the speeches given, and interesting life stories glimpsed over the wedding breakfast.

One thing caught my ear. “It was the downstairs loo,” he said. “Just brilliant. Old school pictures, campaign medals worn by great-grandparents, maps of the local area.”

I saw another fantastic example of the genre last month, when invited to dinner by a new friend. Her husband, a successful banker, had once scaled Mount Everest. This was not something which had ever come up in conversation, but there, in the low-altitude ground-floor restroom, was evidence of his high-altitude heroics.

Did the guest bathroom always perform this function? When did the Brits – a race noted for a certain reluctance to be ostentatious – decide that it was okay to flaunt their hinterlands to the accompaniment of a flushing toilet?

The logic of this arrangement is clear. For reasons that sometimes defy explanation, the Brits do not like conspicuous celebrations of success. Put charitably, this reflects a creditable humility, a self-effacing diffidence, a determination not to brag and boast.

But there is a way of looking at this aversion to household self-promotion as grey and dull. Why not trumpet to the world, or at least someone visiting your home, what makes you tick? Why not let guests know what it is that fills your heart with pride?

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A British visitor to an American home might wince at the sight of the paterfamilias – his oil painting staring down in the lobby. He would certainly stare up at Trump Tower and see a culture which had less difficulty than his own in turning a building into a personal statement.

So the Brits fudge things. They are, of course, just as proud as anyone else that they have been to a good school or dived in a shark cage. But many of them would look askance at photographs of said activities displayed prominently in the entrance hall.

No, for them, the effect must be subtle and unlabored. They know, full-well, that most visitors will, at some stage, need to take a “comfort break”. They can be certain that, when the bladder requires emptying, a visitor can take their fill of a biography laid out on the walls of a small cubicle.

And this has become an art form almost in its own right.

Some downstairs loos allow the householder to poke fun at themselves, with pictures of bad haircuts at university or awkward falls from a pony.

Others offer a sort of virtual scrapbook amid the sanitary ware, with snaps from family holidays or embossed invitations to memorable parties.

In this regard the downstairs loo can be seen as a precursor to Facebook; a place where people present an image of themselves which appears spontaneous and free-wheeling, but which is actually ruthlessly edited to create a desired effect.

Or perhaps I’m reading too much into things. Maybe it’s just a way of giving a guest something to look at while they spend a penny or two.

A masterclass in getting the kids to do their chores

By Joanna Roughton.

In 2007 my jaw dropped and my tummy heaved with laughter as I watched an internet revelation. It was courtesy of an American Christian comedian, Anita Renfroe.

Drawing on her experience as a mother of three, she took all the things that a mum might typically say to her children in the course of a day – and then set them to the William Tell Overture.

The result – the Mom Song – is simply brilliant and has been viewed millions of times on Youtube.

This week I was again left wonderstruck at the apparent ingenuity of another mother. As with the Mom Song, it comes to us via the internet.

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What cunning!

Unlike the widely shared Renfroe video, I can’t vouch for the provenance of this post-it. Under the headline – ‘Mumbelievable” – Britain’s Sun newspaper carried the story, without attributing it to any particular individual.

But be that as it may. Let’s assume this was an authentic attempt by a savvy mum to get the kids to do their chores.

My first thought, a little disgracefully, was – ‘why didn’t I think of that?’. However, as a ruse, this is one that requires some effort on the part of the mother, albeit just a picture taken on her smartphone, with a few words scribbled on a note.

It is a sophisticated act of virtual nagging.

And, like all the most effective acts of parental chivvying, it requires a gentle form of blackmail.

Indeed, there is something slightly underworld about it. Requiring a photo to be texted each day showing a new object to establish its originality is the stuff of hostage demands, where a newspaper – showing today’s date – is included in the picture of a detainee to prove that they are still alive.

It’s that hint of menace which gives this post-it note – and many of our more efficacious threats as parents – the power to persuade unruly children to do what we want, not what they want.

And this smartphone variation has an additional element for the modern age. By using our children’s addiction to the internet, this mother sets up a reward system which really works.

I would love to know more about who came up with the post-it idea.

It smacks of someone who works in internet security, perhaps a computer programmer who works in the burgeoning area of online validation, who has seen an opportunity to ‘read across’ from work to home.

Was it in fact a mother at all? “Today’s WIFi password can be unlocked by texting a photo of a clean kitchen to mum”, says the opening line on the post-it. Perhaps it was one of ‘mum’s’ grown-up children, or a husband.

Who knows. It really doesn’t matter. As with the magnificent Mom Song, we have the internet – not always a force for positive change – to thank for showing parents a new way to smile at the challenges of parenthood.

What is Good Housekeeping anyway?

By Joanna Roughton.

I’ve just pulled up the Good Housekeeping website and my worst suspicions were instantly confirmed. There were four headline stories. One concerned a celebrity chef and his ‘secret’ girlfriend. Another was about a woman called Katie and why she feels hormonal. There was some advice on credit cards and the virtues of a bar which has banned mobile phones.

Phew.

But set aside idle prejudice. Good Housekeeping may have moved a long way from the core editorial values of sound housewifery and thrifty domesticity, but for all its obsession with glitz and gossip, it can still throw up the odd gem for home-makers.

Last month, for instance, it produced a truly thought-provoking list. Ah – the list. Another staple of the publishing industry. But, no, hear me out. This was a good one. Genuinely useful.

This list sought to identify and prioritise housework, separating chores into those which must be done daily, every week, once a quarter, and annually. You may not agree with the choices made by the authors. But there was at least a sort of coherent logic at work.

Here’s the list:

Daily chores

1. Making the bed.

2. Washing the dishes.

3. Wiping down the kitchen surfaces.

4. Sweeping the kitchen floor.

5. Wiping down the bathroom surfaces.

6. Sponging off the shower walls.

7. Sanitising the sinks in your house.

Weekly chores

1. Mop the kitchen and bathroom floors.

2. Scrub the bathroom surfaces.

3. Polish mirrors.

4. Dust furniture.

5. Vacuum all floors.

6. Change all bedding.

7. Bin expired food.

8. Wipe down kitchen appliances.

9. Clean the microwave (including inside).

10. Sanitise your sponges.

Chores that should be done every three months

1. Wiping the inside of the fridge.

2. Wash the shower curtain.

3. Clean under and behind furniture.

4. Wash pillows and duvets.

5. Vacuum all mattresses.

6. Freshen the drains.

7. Clean inside the oven.

8. Clean out the freezer.

Annual chores

1. Clean the fireplace and chimney.

2. Deep clean the carpet and upholstery.

3. Deep clean the windows.

4. Clean curtains and drapes.

5. Clean out gutters.

Okay, so all a little Mission Impossible. The one which actually made me titter was the daily ‘sanitising of sinks’. Really, with six children, two dogs and a permanently hungry husband. The sinks might have to wait.

But for all this a list for people who do nothing other than housework and have no children or pets, there is still something useful to be gleaned here. I do try to get the oven cleaned every three months or so. I did have the chimney swept annually (when we had one). Even the idea which tops the Good Housekeeping list – making the bed – is a daily ambition I endorse and aspire to (even if it’s not something I always achieve).

I shan’t be trying to tick off each item on this list, as and when required. Anyway the annual gutter cleaning and quarterly ‘drain freshening’ fall into my husband’s orbit.

But for homemakers who sometimes feel they are operating in a vacuum this list does help with calibration. That’s because our efforts on the home front – if recognised at all – are usually judged subjectively (by ourselves, our spouses, children and relations).

Obviously each family has its own priorities. Ours are skewed by the fact we have a relatively large number of offspring. But it is still useful to see an attempt being made at a prescription for domestic success. It may not be consensual or representative, but at least it’s not celebrity tittle tattle.

Summertime Nagging!

By Joanna Roughton.

Do you set a curfew on housework?

Here’s an interesting article by a columnist who thinks a healthy home relies on a deadline, after which the bulk of our domestic duties ought to come to a halt.

She says that after 6pm, it should be time for relaxation.

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It’s thought-provoking idea, and one which has pretty obvious attractions. For stay-at-home-parents like me it is feasible, if largely unachievable. With sufficient premeditation and organisation, everything except the cooking of an evening meal (and clearing up afterwards) could – theoretically – be concluded by six.

For working parents, however, 6pm is often when the housework begins in earnest. What’s their cut-off? 8pm? 10pm? Thank goodness I’ve been able to leave that insoluble juggling act behind.

However, I have to say that much of my most productive housework time happens in the evening. After six in fact. Laundry and ironing often get done only once the children have gone to bed. It means I can commandeer the TV and work my way through piles of clothes while my brain goes into sleep mode in front of some mind-numbing detective drama.

The big household jobs often get done after sundown. My husband (I think it’s a man-thing) likes to tidy a room in one go. He will decide that the study/family bathroom/hallway need a deep clean and that’s him gone for three hours.

He reserves his most frenzied acts of domestic godliness for the bedrooms of our younger children. These are those who are, as yet, resistant to all scolding and exhortations. Kids who, regardless of how big the stick or carrot, cannot be persuaded to keep their sleeping quarters tidy.

I cleave to the view that if our offspring are prepared to live amid squalor then that is their choice. They have (not) made their bed, so they can lie in it, you might say. My husband takes a different – and more charitable – view.

Whatever your approach, it is certainly true that a home has its own distinctive rhythms; periods of inactivity and calm, moment of frenzied activity, and lots in between.

Our home, during term-time, is at its most energetic – and stressful – in the morning. The countdown to the school run is the thing about parenting I shall miss the least, when the children have flown the coop.

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Now, during the school holidays, the tempo has changed. Langour is in the air. Especially in this brief hot spell in the south of England. But the house still needs attention, particularly with six children at home.

Sometimes it feels like the summer school holidays are one long moan. Variations on the eternal directive: “Get outside, the sun is shining!” Mud is no longer a problem, but flies are. The hunt for hats and scarves has been supplanted by the search for suncream. The Sunday roast has been upstaged by the BBQ.

And this is when we need our resilience as home managers most. A house can really slide in the summer vacation. Children, in residence 24/7 have enormous destructive capacity.

Only a system of chores will hold back the tide of disorder. And, being children, this is not a policy which meets with unfettered joy.

But it’s vital to nag, gently if possible, persuasively at least.

For the summer is when we get our children to ourselves day after day. This is the time of year when we can teach them how to become co-operators in the successful running of a home. Without them the housework would finish at 6am, not 6pm.

Outside the home, ditch the flip-flops

By Joanna Roughton.

Imagine turning up to a wedding to find the vicar wearing jeans and a football shirt.

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Newspaper reports this week have conjured up this scenario in the wake of a ruling by the Church of England’s General Synod.

The decision, which will require final approval next year, is the result of a campaign to allow Anglican priests to ‘reach out’ to modern worshippers.

If rubber-stamped, it will permit the ditching of clerical robes for more casual dress, for services ranging from weddings to funerals.

Does it matter how we dress outside the home? Haven’t starchy old uniforms had their day? Shouldn’t people be allowed to wear whatever clothes they feel comfortable in?

At the risk of sounding like a complete battle-axe, I’m afraid that – for me – it’s no, no, no. Formal dress matters. Not because of some outmoded attachment to fusty garb. But because it makes sense.

Only this week, for instance, I went to a school Open Day. This is a scene being played out at scores of sites across the UK at this time of year.

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It is a little like a village fete, with teachers, pupils and parents coming together, in the school grounds, to dodge the showers while listening to the headmaster give an uplifting speech before everyone tucks into sandwiches and strawberries.

It is a punctuation mark in the academic year, bringing the final term to a satisfying conclusion. The children looked immaculate in their school uniforms (compulsory even though it was Saturday).

Shoes were polished, ties carefully knotted, blazers worn in spite of the muggy heat. The teachers no longer wear gowns, but they were universally smart. The head set the tone, sporting a three-piece suit.

And then there were the parents. Most of the mothers had made a big effort. Floral summer dresses were much in evidence, even the occasional trouser suit. No hats – this wasn’t a wedding – but plenty of style.

Then there were the men. A smattering had turned up in ties and blazers. A larger number wore tailored shorts and short-sleeved shirts. A substantial number were unshaved, in sandals or flip-flops, t-shirts, looking much as they would if they were at home on Saturday afternoon, ready for a doze in front of the TV and the Wimbledon women’s tennis final.

Were they worried about looking ‘overdressed’. The invitation did not stipulate a dress code. Perhaps it ought to have done. Without one, a large cohort of modern British manhood feels it has permission to dress as it might on the seafront at Ibiza.

And why not? The answer is so blindingly obvious that it really should not need underlining with an instruction about dress on the invitation.

If we expect our children to be smart, it behoves us to do the same. If they have gone to the trouble, so should we.

Otherwise we are sending out mixed messages. Be smart, take care of how you present yourself to the world, we are saying on one hand. On the other, in our appearance as parents, we are saying quite the opposite. Don’t care, don’t mind how you look, dress doesn’t matter.

There is another reason for the men to ditch the flip flops. It is less compelling, but still valid.

Donning a blazer in spite of the heat, suffering a little modest discomfort, expresses an individual’s determination to respect the institution which has extended the invitation.

It is a mark of respect to the school, in this instance, and by extension, to other parents. It is not mildly masochistic, but a show of reverence. Far from being ‘showy’ or ostentatious, the effect is the reverse. When enough men gather in shirts, ties, blazers and suits, the impression is one of uniformity. It turns a group of diverse individuals into a collective.

Yes, critics might call it conformism. A kinder reading would be to see it as a show of unity. These men, from a range of backgrounds, doing many different kinds of jobs, with varying success as fathers and husbands, assert that they sign up to the project.

In short, that they care.

You can keep your larder!

By Joanna Roughton.

The property section of our national newspapers usually yield little knowledge about what really makes a home.

The minutiae of house-price fluctuations, the pros and cons of the letting market, the best mortgage deals.

There is a lot in these supplements which satisfies the belief that, when it comes to investing cash, nothing beats bricks and mortar.

If, like the HRF, you believe there is more to a home than its capital appreciation, its gentrification or its potential to extend, then the best advice is to insert these inserts straight into the recycling bin.

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However, I did come across one article in a property supplement which I thought worthy of a blog.

Partly because it provides some interesting insights into how some people are changing the way they use their homes, but also because – inadvertently – they remind us of how some householders well, just have more money than sense.

The article in London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper listed the latest must-haves for well-heeled homeowners.

There was a dog shower room for pet lovers and a snoring suite for couples whose sleep was being disturbed unto the point of separate bedrooms.

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There was a puff for orangeries and a glowing review of larders. One paragraph extolled the virtues of a redundant front-door, while another tried to imagine life without a walk-in-wardrobe.

All of these ideas have a germ of good sense. As the owner of two dogs, it is my frequent lament that these animals were created for one express purpose – to spread mud and hair rapidly through an entire house.

But a ‘dog shower’. Oh come on. The solution is to wash off the mud with an outside tap, or encourage Fido to wait in a basket or cage by the door until he’s dried off.

As for a ‘snoring room’. Isn’t that just a re-badged guest room?

A larder appeals to the frustrated Georgian in me, as does the orangery.

But, again, this is to fly in the face of progress for the sake of aesthetics or fashion. A fridge will waste less food than a larder.

A conservatory – at least one with some walls – will usually do a better job of controlling extremes of temperature than an all-glass orangery.

And then there’s the notion of keeping the front-door for special occasions. I could lock ours and insist that the children only entered the house by the side entrance.

But, as wartime generals were wont to remind us, no plan survives first contact with reality. My offspring think every homecoming after a day at school is a ‘special occasion’.

They would quickly find a key and press the front door back into active service. Because children are the missing element in the Telegraph’s article.

The home improvement ideas contained in it are for show homes, properties which end up being photographed for Country Life or Homes & Garden.

When a home is bustling with family life, a walk-in-wardrobe is rarely an option. For all but the mega-rich, a snoring room would be indulgence (we have six bedrooms and our two youngest children still share a bunk-bed).

Ditto the larder. If home life is a constant production line of school lunches, rushed breakfasts and multiple sittings for dinner as children return from after-school activities at different times, then what you want is a fridge.

You do not want to amble into a larder to discover that the only cheese in the house has grown enough fungus for a chemistry experiment.

The Rise of the ‘Mompreneur’

By Joanna Roughton.

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It doesn’t take a survey to know that no two stay-at-home parents are ever the same – but it helps!

I strongly recommend to you the work done by Laura Vanderkam. She calls it – catchily – ‘The Mom Gig’.

Laura has surveyed almost 600 full-time parents, who self-identify as stay-at-home-mums.

That must have been the easy bit.

The hard – and interesting bit – was getting all those mothers to keep an hour-by-hour record of how their day unfolds.

After all, the point about running a home is that free-time can be hard to come by. The picture which emerges is as fascinating as it is varied.

“I knew that people had a lot of misconceptions about how stay-at-home moms spend their time,” Laura told an interviewer from America’s Today Parents website.

“People believe moms are sitting around doing nothing, or that 100 percent of their time is consumed by childcare. Neither is the case — which [this] study showed.”

“Our respondents’ lives were incredibly diverse. One mom spent the day substitute-teaching. Another milked goats and spent five hours building a tool shed. A third played tennis for three hours.”

One feature which does emerge clearly is the hybrid nature of modern stay-at-home parenting, or what some have dubbed ‘mompreneurs’ – mothers who run businesses or generate extra income for the family from home.

Of the nearly 600 parents interviewed by Laura, 62 per cent said they contributed to household income. A quarter said they actually ran a full-blown business from home.

A surprisingly small minority of the parents Laura spoke to said they had become full-time mothers because their careers were not family-friendly (just seven per cent).

More than double that number (15 per cent) cited expensive childcare as the thing which had propelled them away from the workplace and into the home.

Laura explained: “They would like to limit their hours, and they want to work from home so they have the flexibility to attend school events and manage their households. There aren’t many traditional jobs that meet these conditions.”

The ‘Mom Gig’ throws up some really interesting insights, not least how children view their stay-at-home mothers and the rise of stay-at-home dads.

And, as the mother of a large brood myself, I took careful note of her survey findings regarding family size. According to her interviews, mothers of four children emerge as the happiest full-time parents because, as Laura puts it, they have gone “all in”.

“Four children will mellow all but the most stubborn of perfectionists. I suspect moms of big families are more likely to take a little clutter in stride, and just enjoy their boisterous homes.”

http://www.redbookmag.com/life/mom-kids/a43578/stay-at-home-mom-survey/#our-survey

Turning the home into a hotel

By Joanna Roughton.

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How must a home change as our children get older?

I ask this in light of the latest data on children who never leave home. Their numbers are rising – inexorably – in pretty much every western country.

Be Home has considered before why this is happening; high housing costs, rising student debt, parents reluctant to part with offspring, and so forth.

But what about the actual impact on the lives of parents?

What, indeed, of the way a house – geared for a clear delineation between grown-ups and children – must mutate into a dwelling place for multiple adults?

In my own life, I see the seeds of this evolution. My eldest child, now 17, invited a group of friends over at the weekend. They would have quite happily stayed up long after I had gone to bed, were it not for the fact that I had offered to run a taxi service to get them all restored to their parents before the clock struck midnight.

But I do not need to look far to see how the statistical bulge in ‘boomerang kids’ – children who leave university only to return to the family nest thereafter – plays out in practice. Both my sisters have children living at home. All of them are in their 20s. One of them is in his late 20s.

Practically, there are side-effects caused by this arrested development. Both my siblings struggle to park their cars on their own driveways – their children have usually got there first!

The same goes for other shared resources. Television lounges tend to work on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and, as such, they are vulnerable to colonisation.

However, while sources of domestic relaxation – be that a sun lounger or bath – come under strain, white goods which perform vital, unglamorous but essential talks, are orphaned.

Boomerang kids, unless met with determined resistance, often still expect to be waited on hand-and-foot.

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My sisters now do more laundry, ironing, cooking and grocery shopping than ever they did with school-aged children.

They receive occasional financial contributions and, when their kids remember, fleeting expressions of verbal gratitude.

And, yet, running a home still appears to be a source of satisfaction, rather than a burden to be laid down. After all, only this week, new research showed that stay-at-home mothers are happier than people who have chosen any other career path.

The findings come – inevitably – from the financial services sector (the insurer, LV). But let’s not hold that against the data, which has a robust feel.

The researchers surveyed more than 3,100 adults working in 23 areas of work. Full-time parents were almost twice as satisfied with their lot than the average full-time employee.

Overall, 13 per cent of stay-at-home mothers said they were dissatisfied in their role. That figure doubles for retail workers and even civil servants.

The figures were converted into a happiness score for each category of job and, ergo, homemakers ranked top, with a score of 87.2.

Funnily enough, at least for parents of boomerang kids who treat the family home like a hotel, the next happiest group of employees? Those who work in the hospitality sector.