Who are we?
Our campaigning group was launched in 1991 in the face of relentless social and economic pressure on mothers to return to paid work outside the home when their children are still very young. It is run by volunteers and supported by mothers, fathers and grandparents throughout the UK. We also get messages of support from people who want to see more value placed on 'care' and the work that's done in the home. The situation for a parent at home has worsened considerably in recent weeks and months (early 2013) and there is no recognition of the fact that a mother gives up all or most of her income when she looks after the children for a period of time, often in the early years, but sometimes in the middle and teenage years as family circumstances change and evolve.
We are now facing an unprecedented level of interest in our work to highlight the voice of mothers and the needs of young children. It is clear that single-wage families are being sidelined in policy (whether it's mum or dad at home taking care of the children, while the other parent is the main earner). The message from government is 'go back to work' and for young children to go to nursery, often full time. There is very little understanding in policy circles of a child's need for family time and the loving care that babies thrive on at home.
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To JOIN US look up this section: http://www.mothersathomematter.co.uk/join-us
A new FACEBOOK 'page' has just been set up called MOTHERS AT HOME MATTER TOO linked from this page. People are keen to share ideas about how we can challenge family policy and start to build a more family friendly society - one where home life and invisible 'care' work is valued.
Contribute to the MAHM Blog by writing to our info@ e-mail address. We're interested in articles from parents as well as from experts in their field - Economists, Child Psychologists and all who have an interest in this debate.
Alternatively write to PO Box 43690, London, SE22 9WN. We are all volunteers so bear with us as we try to respond as quickly as possible.
What are our main aims?
They are: a) to highlight a child's needs for loving and consistent family care b) for the mother's voice to be represented in policy because at present there is no mechanism for listening to invisible mothers at home c) to challenge a family unfriendly 'system' which makes it increasingly difficult to devote any time to raising the children. Although the govt talks about 'choice', due to taxation policies affecting hard-working single-income families, there is very little choice for most people.
One of our aims is therefore practical: to campaign for changes in the tax and benefit system, which discriminates against parents with one adult caring for children, who pay proportionately more tax than a two-earner couple on the same household income. A truly family friendly taxation system such as transferable tax allowances or income splitting would recognise that parents operate as a team during the years when they are busy raising a family. Families should be taxed as a household, not as individuals.
When parents lose one income due to family responsibilities they need support through fair taxation in the same way as two-income parents call for tax breaks to help with their childcare costs. Providing care at home is not cost free. A level playing field for all children means supporting care provided by a parent in the same way as others call for help towards paid childcare.
Our second aim is to enhance the status and self-esteem of mothers at home. A mother working in her own home makes a vital contribution to the welfare of society. This should be recognised and respected. We need politicians to hear the voices and concerns and priorities of mothers at home - it's not a stage that lasts forever, but it's arguably the most important stage of all.
Our final aim is to promote understanding of a child’s need for sensitive, loving, family based care. A child’s mother is ideally suited to providing the reliable one-to-one care that a young child needs in the crucial early years. Separating mother and baby too soon can be detrimental to their joint health and well-being. We've noticed an increasing number of open days to introduce parents to 'baby rooms' set up in nurseries - and this is fast becoming accepted as the 'norm' but is it? We applaud the work of dedicated staff in childcare settings, but many countries make different arrangements so that children don't have to start in nursery so early in their lives.
Who are our members?
Membership is open to mothers, fathers, grandparents, working parents and anyone who supports our aims. Many of us are mothers who, against all the social and financial odds, are at home with our families because this is where we feel we're needed at this particular point in time. Some mothers work from home or have moved on to part-time employment, but continue to support us - and some are back in full time paid work responding to changing family circumstances. We also get messages of support from other groups - eg health visitors, researchers, parenting workers, teachers, childminding mothers, as well as politicians and journalists, themselves parents, who are aware of every child's need for loving care.