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!

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The ‘Living Wage’ passes by those who make Living Progress

-By Joanna Roughton

Do you remember the original ‘Living Wage’? You have to be of a certain age – in excess of 40 – to remember a time when it meant something very different to what it does now. Here, in 2013, it is used by politicians in a modern unisexual context. In short, a wage that a person can reasonably live on, once all their outgoings are taken into account.

But, back in the Life on Mars world that was 1970s Britain, the Living Wage was part of a slogan used by the trades unions to mean the pay a working man had to bring home to support his wife and children. It was about as liberated as Andy Capp. Slowly, the Living Wage left the argot of industrial relations as the unions found themselves representing more and more working women. It is interesting that it is now re-appearing, with its gender specific heritage expunged.

Yet, if you are, like me, a once-working woman who has decided that running a family home warrants a ‘living wage’, you will find that this re-booted debate about how we value the work of women is poised to pass you by.

In fact, and I blush to say it, the old settlement suited me and others like me, better. Back in the Dark Ages of Blue Nun, Ford Cortinas and sheepskin coats, the Living Wage was inherently geared to a society which understood that a home-maker needed support and recognition.

All the major organs of state – the Treasury, employers and trades unions – recognised that, in terms of labour relations, the basic unit of economic production was a working man. And there was an implicit understanding in that solitary metric. A working man came with strings attached. There was his stay-at-home-wife, and his dependents. These were usually children, but often an elderly relative too.

Now, in these austere times, that might seem like an Atlas-like act of heavy financial lifting. But, back then, the biting winds of global competition were yet to arrive and it was possible (just about) to have a productive economy, capable of supporting an NHS, Welfare State, Armed Forces and the rest of it, on a fiscal model where only men were employed.

That has all changed. And let’s not pretend it is all because the political class and big business have decided that they want to work everyone – men AND women – harder. Many women saw home-making as domestic drudgery. A prison cell (Cell Block-H anyone?) they could not wait to escape.

The unions have responded to that and, indeed, some of our biggest now rely on a majority female membership (the first woman to become TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, was elected last year).

But, in their haste to revise what a Living Wage means, they have shown cloth-ears to those capable of producing the least noise – the women left behind by the rush to earn. Those who want to exercise a choice about how they serve the common good.

And, of course, part of the problem is that we cannot apply the yardsticks of cash to running a family home. There is no such thing as Performance-Related Parenting. No well-funded policy research department is crunching the statistics to work out how much money the country could save on expensive social care if only we gave a little bit of help to mothers who look after elderly relations at home.

The great Working Woman juggernaut will brook no opposition. The modern feminist war-cry is founded around the idea that without a career a woman is nothing. Whisper nostalgically about MIRAS – a tax break for stay-at-home-mums abolished by Gordon Brown – and you will be pigeon-holed as a swivel-eyed nutter. Cite evidence about Attachment Theory and the improved outcomes for children whose early years are spent being brought up by their actual parent, and you will be dismissed as a denier.

The semantic journey of the Living Wage, as it has come to be understood, tells us a lot about the direction of travel of modern socio-economics. The state no longer values the efforts of women who do not pay tax. It prefers to contract out child-rearing where possible and looks blankly at the idea that a well-run home can have social goods that are not immediately obvious. The passage of time is not the same thing as progress.