The home is also a “business”

By Antonio Argandoña

On 10 October the Home Renaissance Foundation held a meeting at IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain, to launch the book The Home: Multidisciplinary Reflections, which was published last March. Instead of the standard presentation of the contents of the book, this session consisted of a brief presentation and a round table discussion on the part of academics, publicity agents, professionals and parents, talking about the home as a business. The following is a brief summary of my opening presentation.

Book HRF

A business is an organisation, and the home is also an organisation, i.e. a group of people working together for some common goals that will benefit all of them, though probably for different reasons. This definition contains five key elements:

  1. The people. In a business everyone is usually, though not always, there because they want to be. Participation in the home is not always voluntary: small children, for instance, cannot decide whether or not to remain at home. What matters is that in a business and a home alike, everyone counts: the family members, those who help from within it and from outside, relations and neighbours… all of them are shareholders, directors, employees, suppliers and clients.
  2. In a business each person has his or her own reasons for being there. The employees, for example, may wish to be paid, learn, improve their career, have a good time, make friends, etc. The same is true of a family, but here it is very important that all of them are at least to some extent prepared to do things for one another.
  3. Shared objectives. In a business, the central aim is the actual existence of the business, because everyone obtains from it what they need: clients receive goods or services, the employees receive pay, training and a career, the owners receive profit. The home is an organisation with multiple purposes: reproduction, nutrition, training, care, physical and psychological security, acquisition of an identity; plus restaurant, school, hospital, playground… a place to live, develop skills and talents, grow in knowledge, capacity, build attitudes, values, and virtues… and also learn to “replicate” the organisation, i.e. form another home in due course.
  4. Intentional participation, because, in the words of a colleague of mine, “the necessary and sufficient condition for an organisation to exist in reality is that there is a set of people who are motivated to belong to that organisation, with all that their membership implies. The organisation should aim to maintain and strengthen their motivation, without which the organisation would disintegrate.” When one member starts to think that he or she would rather be somewhere else, the home begins to break up.
  5. Coordination and direction are also needed. In the context of the home this is not necessarily hierarchical, or necessarily democratic: it probably changes over time. What matters is that everyone feels involved in this coordination, each according to his or her possibilities. The baby’s involvement consists of crying, laughing, eating and dirtying its nappies, because all of that is what motivates the rest to take on their respective responsibilities.

To sum up: a home is an organisation that one is always (or almost always) part of, sometimes without explicitly deciding to be. It is a community of persons each with their own reasons for being there, but above all, with an interest in the home’s fulfilling its function and continuing to exist; and it can be replicated in new places, albeit with changes. The key of a home lies in its members’ readiness to work together with others, including people from outside, to make it a place of training in knowledge, abilities, attitudes, dispositions, values and virtues, in regard to different family members at different times. And meanwhile the home offers services to its members, which are an opportunity to live together and fulfil that particular function. The home is an excuse for living together. For that to happen, everyone needs to be prepared to do everything when the time comes: each is necessary, and each member has to find his or her role at each moment. I explained this with a phrase of my own: in the home, each member has to be ready to iron an egg or fry a shirt.

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Joanna Roughton, a 21st-century homemaker

By Ángela de Miguel

Joanna was a mother of six, wife, and journalist, who left frontline journalism to dedicate herself to her family full time.  She never regretted the move. Knowing that her home was now working better made her happy, and she knew how lucky she was. In a Homemakers Project interview, she said that her current “job” was certainly no less important than her former one.

As a journalist, she had been senior editor for Reuters in Hong Kong and Singapore, and then Head of Foreign News at Sky News in London. Only someone who has travelled the same path knows just how gripping that sort of work is. But in an editorial meeting after having her first child, she realized that her priorities were now elsewhere.

Joanna and her husband, Colin Brazier, supported Home Renaissance Foundation from the start. Convinced of the need to talk about homes and how important they are for society, they were the ones who suggested our latest study, the Global Home Index, on the values required to make a home.

For several years, Joanna’s posts on the Home Renaissance Foundation’s blog were a way of keeping in touch with her previous job. They are well worth reading – direct, touched with irony, and still keenly applicable today.

Although we worked together in the same thinktank I met Jo face to face just three or four times – a downside of teleworking. Those few meetings were gems; she really was a woman for all seasons. She won me over in the first minute of our first meeting. She always had a smile that expressed the joy of her Christian faith, she was charged with energy, and combined optimism and realism. All of these features were used by her from day to day in building the home that she captained, a-swirl with six children, horses and dogs, and a husband at the beck and call of breaking news.

She knew the pitch and how to play it. We can be sure she has left a stellar example that will be followed by her children under Colin’s guidance, and that from heaven she will continue cheering on her wonderful family with the same strength she always showed. Rest in peace, Joanna Roughton.

Smart is already on Instagram

SMART Home Management is the more practical project of Home Renaissance Foundation. SMART is a new vision for running your home.

In 2012 a group of people became aware of the need for homemakers to see their role as a profession, and of the demand for developing the skills necessary to become competent and to avoid being overwhelmed by the work of the home. To this end, SMART Home Management was set up to provide holistic courses that offer training in every aspect of the home, from family relationships to de-cluttering a room.

A total of 315 women have participated in the SMART workshops, learning new skills as well as how to apply these in their own homes and in the wider community.

So now, thanks to social media, we wish to share with you this interesting initiative through Instagram, the most visual social network.

You will find plenty of advice on Instagram about order in the home, tidying, cooking or cleaning and we think that while they are full of useful tips, there is a need for something more structured.

Most of the tasks and activities of the home are concerned with education and the vision of the home. We believe in good management and the well-being of all the members of the home, which makes such a big impact on our lives – so let’s take good care of it and learn how to manage it well!

If you have an Instagram account, please, follow us and share it with your contacts!

Judge for yourself! 

This is very simple. You don’t need anyone to tell you whether or not you’re managing your home well. You already know.

untidy

Open the door, observe and answer the following questions:

  1. Do you and your partner form a solid, respectful union, apart from the inevitable bickering that most couples succumb to? Are you capable of solving the day to day problems that arise in the home and tackling together the more serious issues?
  2. Do you both share the responsibilities and household tasks? The amount you each do doesn’t necessarily have to be equal in percentage terms but simply the distribution of tasks that best work for you in your home.
  3. Does communication flow well between all the members of the household?
  4. What is not working? Think about it without kidding yourself. Can you solve those problems with the participation and collaboration of your children? Don’t forget that the home belongs to all those who inhabit it, although adults have more responsibilities than younger members of the household. Remember that teamwork is always the best solution!
  5. As parents, and remembering yourselves as children, do you feel that your children are growing up in a true home?
  6. Is there anything in your home that you think could be improved? It doesn’t consist in thinking of an idyllic home as an example, because all of us would want a bigger or better-located house, with more light, more rooms or a larger kitchen or with a butler to serve us! Simply think of your home –  is that the place where all its members (parents, children, grandparents) are loved for what they are and receive the necessary and basic attention to grow and develop as human beings?
  7. Finally, do you think that your home is that place you always look forward to returning to?

If the answer to this last question is yes, congratulations. You’re building that home that everybody deserves and many don’t have.

If the answer is no, don’t feel overwhelmed, everything has a solution, it’s just looking for someone to guide us in what we are not good at and trying to improve it. There are no magic formulas, those tips that work in some houses, might not work in others. The key is to detect and recognise that something is wrong and get the proper diagnosis.

After all, the home is the first community we belong to and the most important company of our life. Let’s take good care of it!

Our book is already on sale

The Home BookHRF has much pleasure in informing you that our book ‘The Home’ edited by our Director Antonio Argandoña has been published.

It is the first major work which takes the home as a centre of analysis for global social problems. Experts from a variety of fields reveal the multidimensional reality of the home and its role in societies worldwide. This unique book serves as a basis for action by proposing global legislative, political and institutional initiatives with the home in mind.

We are bringing out this interesting publication about the home in conjunction with the prestigious Edward Elgar Publishing who offer a print edition and an e-book through Google Play.

1) The book information page is here

2) The official online ebook version will be here

Please find here a PDF promotional flyer announcing this book, which you are welcome to distribute to friends and colleagues, or post on personal webpages. The Edward Elgar Publishing Marketing Department will be very happy to set up special offers for any groups or associations you belong to, to help further promote the book – do let us know if this is something we can help with.

We would encourage you to mention the book on any blogs or other social media channels you use.

Thank you very much and enjoy reading this book!

What is HRF?

We would like to start by telling you what HRF is from scratch. This does not mean that all we have said to date is invalid, we simply want to restate. For 12 years, we have generated a lot of information resulting from our research, and we now want to make it available more widely. We also want to take advantage of our new, improved website and we are bringing it to your attention so that you can use it when necessary. Let’s begin!

1. What is HRF? An International Think Tank based in London. Sometimes, another immediate question follows: What is a think tank? A laboratory of ideas that launches lines of thought into society.

2. What is HRF’s aim? We seek a ‘social revolution’ in the home environment or as our slogan says: we want to renew the culture of the home.

3. What does that mean? Well, homes are very important for society and many people have neglected them for some time, so we want to encourage people to return to giving homes all the attention and care they deserve.

4. How are you going to achieve this ‘social revolution’? We have two clear lines of action: theory and practice.
The theory is simply to demonstrate through research with academic institutions and prestigious disciplines, the importance for society of the work involved in running a home, for example, for the health of its members or the global economy. For this reason, we do research and organize Experts Meetings, Symposiums, Academic Conferences or Policy Events. We think it is the most appropriate way to put the issue on the public agenda and open the dialogue with policymakers.
The practical part is what allows us to influence the reality. Based on the information obtained in the research we have conducted and knowing people with expertise in the ‘day to day’ of the home, we train all those who want to learn about or want to improve, the management of their home to build a happy home little by little.

5. And why do you think a think tank like yours is necessary? Simply because the figures show the following:

– Increase in mental disorders in children
– Increase in malnutrition
– Increase in the number of grandparents living in care homes
– Reduction in families who eat home-cooked food
– Increase in the number of hours children spend alone in front of the television or other screens
– Fall in reading among the younger population
– Reduction in the time that parents spend with their children
– The difficulty of work/life balance.

This scenario could make us feel very guilty or push us to blame society in general, but it would be useless. The good thing about stopping to analyse and observe the problem is that we can diagnose it and try to solve it.

Neither the migration of women into work, nor the appearance of new technologies, nor other external factors are the problem, they are simply new actors with whom we will be living for the foreseeable future. And we should simply adapt to the circumstances, and train as well as possible, to use all those new resources in the most efficient way in the management of our homes.

And that’s why HRF is working every day. To detect problems and try to offer solutions through dissemination, training and dialogue.

Now, we hope you understand what HRF is doing. Then, if it seems appropriate, let people know, tell all those who think they may need a little help in the management of their home. And tell us what aspect or area of the home you are worried about, and we will try to investigate it, to demonstrate to the world the importance of the work involved in building a home.

HRF gains UN recognition

In 2016 HRF launched the Global Home Index research project with the aim of finding out what people think about the work required to run a home. It was a challenging project managing a survey that countries throughout the world could take part in and we gained a real insight into how the work of the home is perceived across the globe.

We allied ourselves with strong academic institutions in research and dissemination, which in turn involved a great deal more partners to analyse the huge amount of data. Our joint efforts finally bore fruit and throughout 2017 we were able to present the results of this global research in more than 20 different countries.

Today we are very happy to announce that the Global Home Index has gained formal recognition by the UN and been included in their list of activities over the past year presented to the Secretary-General. We are delighted that an institution of this standing deliberates and takes notice of our work. We are happy and grateful and may we continue to grow from strength to strength in our forthcoming projects.

Thanks also to all those who participated because without your time and effort this would not have been possible. Here is the United Nations report.

Thank you Peter for all your support

It is with great regret that we announce the death of Peter Denis Sutherland SC, one of our patrons. Thank you Peter for all your support. Rest in peace.

We are transcribing the Announcement from the family of Peter D Sutherland SC:

Peter was 71 years of age and died at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin on Sunday January 7th in the presence of his family. He is survived by his loving wife Maruja, née Cabria Valcarcel, his children Shane, Natalia and Ian, ten grandchildren, his sisters Jill and Karen, his brother-in-law David Brennan, his daughters-in-law, his son-in-law, his wider family and friends. He was pre-deceased by his parents Billy and Barbara and his brother David.

Peter suffered a cardiac arrest in London on Sunday 11 September 2016 on his way to Mass at Brompton Oratory. He was substantially impacted by this and was in hospitals in London and Dublin since then. Despite great efforts by his medical staff and his own indomitable spirit, he succumbed to an infection.

Peter was born in Dublin on April 25, 1946. He went to school at Gonzaga College SJ which helped to instil a strong religious faith and where he formed lifelong friendships. He studied law at University College, Dublin and at the King’s Inns. He was called to the Bar in 1969 and practiced law until 1981 when he became Attorney General of Ireland. He was a member of the European Commission from 1985 to 1989. Between 1989 and 1993, Peter was chairman of AIB plc and a director of CRH plc and GPA. From 1993 to 1995, he was Director General of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and subsequently the World Trade organisation. He was subsequently a Partner at and Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and Chairman of BP plc among numerous other roles in the commercial and not-for-profit sector. In 2006, he was proud to be asked to be United Nations Special Representative on Migration by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan. He was renewed in that role by Ban Ki-moon. In 2015, Peter retired from all commercial activities to concentrate on his UN work.

Shane Sutherland, Natalia McEnroe and Ian Sutherland said:

“Above all things, Peter was a family man, totally in love with our mother Maruja from the moment they met almost 50 years ago. He was a wonderful father: loving, teaching, playful. We are consoled that in his last year we were able to repay some of his love and kindness.

“Next for Peter came his faith and his country and, finally, his belief in the European project as a route to peace, prosperity and justice for all.

“He was a devout Catholic. This didn’t make him doctrinaire. Instead, it gave him a lifelong instinct for charity and volunteerism. It wasn’t just about writing the cheque – he wanted to be with people. In the year before the onset of his final illness, he ceased his business activities and devoted himself to working with migrants, many of whom were in wretched circumstances. It was never an easy cause and rarely a popular cause. We were so proud that our father worked for the poorest of the poor.

“We were also so proud of his patriotism whether manifested through supporting his beloved Irish rugby team, his support of education at Gonzaga, UCD, Trinity or elsewhere, his formal and informal service to Irish governments of all hues and his work with the Ireland Fund of Great Britain which he was proud to chair and support.

“Others noticed his success in public life and his material success from business. We loved Papa because he was devoted to us and we to him.”

“Grandparents who care for their grandchildren live longer”, says Renata Kaczmarska of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

The Home Renaissance Foundation held its 4th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on 16-17 November in London. The event aimed to discuss the vital role of the home in health and wellbeing, both for individuals and for society as a whole.

Participants from more than 15 countries gathered at the prestigious Royal Society of Medicine to discuss a variety of topics which ranged from the benefits of inter-generational interaction in the home to the power of healthcare professionals to promote healthy behaviour in their patients.

Noted speakers included Sir Harry Burns who spoke of the importance of a nurturing family as the basis for a successful life, and Baroness Sheila Hollins who emphasized the need to change paternalistic attitudes towards people with learning disabilities as “it’s fundamental that we all have a right to a family life and this includes children and adults with developmental learning difficulties”.

Professor Elizabeth Robb OBE gave an insightful talk on the importance of healthy family relationships as the foundation for a stable life, as “relationship education is incredibly important to prevent cycles of aggressive and violent behaviour”. Dr Timothy S. Harlan (Dr. Gourmet) from the USA emphasised the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and the advantages of preparing healthy food at home. Renata Kaczmarska of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs addressed the impact of family policies and the need to support parents in the home, including the thought-provoking finding that “grandparents who help care for their grandchildren have a 30% lower risk of mortality and better physical health than those who do not participate in giving care”.

These matters are especially relevant in a world that has seen rapid change and an increasing prevalence of mental health issues. Despite the great variety of topics discussed, a common theme emerged: the importance of a stable, safe home that provides emotional support, empathy and respect. The home is not simply the physical space where we live, but a complex concept that has an incalculable impact on our physical and emotional health and on society as a whole. A home should be safe, nurturing and valued, and governments have a huge responsibility to implement policies that support this.

Home Renaissance Foundation works to raise awareness and recognition of the work of the home and the benefits of stable homes for society.

International lawyer Miriam González Durántez has called for greater recognition of the invaluable work of the home

Home Renaissance Foundation and its UK-based partner, Mothers at Home Matter, launched the results of the British Report of the Global Home Index at the House of Commons.

The guest speaker, Miriam González Durántez applauded the fact that a very substantial amount of our GDP is generated through the support network of the home but said “historically the home has been run by women who didn’t have any power in society. Their contribution has gone therefore unrecognised.”

Following the idea of British journalist Colin Brazier, of Sky News UK, the survey is a comparative study measuring perceptions on the work of the home in 20 countries.

According to the study, answered by over 9, 000 people worldwide, around 60% of participants strongly agreed that homemaking can teach skills applicable to other areas of life. However, at present few families appear to be regularly distributing tasks amongst themselves (15-25% of those surveyed).

One of the lessons to be learnt from the home study includes healthy eating. With almost half of participants claiming to routinely cook homemade meals, many clearly recognise that the home is a critical source of nutrition and paves the way for future dietary awareness. Miriam González relates strongly to this since she feels absolutely satisfied being a homemaker and having built her own home. Her greatest recognition comes from their boys and she joked:  “I am a Spanish Mum so I find myself doing the same things my mother did and with the same ruthlessness. My boys will recognise that, as far as they are concerned, no-one cooks as well as their Mum!”

One of the things that was discussed when the dialogue was opened was the meaning of success. “I am not more or less feminist for following my husband and leaving my job in Brussels because the decision was born from my freedom of choice”, Miriam González Durantez said.

According to Miriam González Durantez, the concept of success is changing. She would not be a successful woman if one side of her life failed. Both family and professional lives should come together to consider that it is a success. She recognises that her success comes not only from her effort and hard work but the environment where she grew up.

The research points out that the home must be considered in the design of future public and corporate policies. And it should serve as a reference point when considering the societal benefit of a new policy.

Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, who hosted the event, confirmed that she and David Burrowes have lined up a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss future policy that puts the family first.