The value of mum

I’m doing it again; harping on about the importance of mums. About the value of their role, their time, the impact mums have simply being there engaging with their children. Because it’s SO understated. And I’m not the only one shouting…

There was an article in the Independent (click here) recently about studies which show how time spent talking to a baby impacts on their development, particularly their performance in education.

Now I don’t want mums to think they’ve got to start priming their tiny babies for grade getting already, as some parents might interpret this research.

But what it does endorse is the indisputable value of mums at home with their children (or dads for that matter) – and why that time matters so much. Which is very refreshing to know when so many political decisions seem to be geared towards getting mums out of the home away from their children, whilst paying a child-minder to do the job for them but with thirty others. (see here) I find that rather warped thinking!

The worth of the work mums do at home with their children cannot be emphasised enough; it creates the fundamental building blocks of a child’s future development. That’s how vital it is. Mums at home are the child’s first point of reference, first social reference, first understanding of relationships, first experience of language and communication, first introduction to the wider world, first teacher. It is a time when the basis of everything that is to follow is laid down, education included.

And above all it makes them feel loved, secure and valued. Children who feel loved, secure and valued are children who build stable relationships, who value others, who contribute something good to society.

There are no shortcuts in my mind. You have to properly interact, to talk, to engage.

The article says that ‘speaking directly to a baby or reading a bedtime story has a direct impact on how well they will do in school and possibly their career in later life.’ 

Professor Fernald from Stanford University in California says that; ‘Providing children with learning opportunities in their first years of life is as important a part of care-giving as changing and feeding them.

I think some parents neglect to take this on board, maybe because they feel they’re not clever enough to ‘teach’ their kids anything since they’re not ‘educated’ enough themselves (or qualified – as many define being educated). But the simplest of things will count.

Because what really counts is being there to do the talking, reading stories, chatting – whatever level. From doing things together however insignificant like putting socks on or carrots away and chanting and counting as you go, to more creative tasks like making things, cooking, play, building, playing with dolls, making up games. Going out together and talking about what you see. Meeting and playing with others. Feeding the ducks or taking the dog for a walk. Visiting Granny or doing the shopping. It all educates in some way or another.

Your child is picking up messages from you, guidance from you, demonstrations from you, which are teaching them things like how to behave, what to say, what’s appropriate, how to interact, who you love and how to care, as well as language, counting and all the other basics for education later on. And it starts in babyhood.

To do all that you have to be there. That’s why mums at home interacting with their kids do such an important job. This job teaches. It develops. It educates. It teaches the basics of being human.

That’s why we have kids isn’t it? Because we’re interested in raising and developing another human being?

That starts from the moment they’re born. And is surely part of our parental responsibility!

(You’ll find lots of support in doing that in my latest book; ‘Mumhood’ which champions mums from beginning to end!)


6 thoughts on “The value of mum

  1. I totally agree! We made the lifestyle choice for me to stay at home with our children and not do paid work. (They went to school, and I have worked part-time since, but always made it an absolute rule to be able to take them to and pick them up from school, therefore spending as much time as possible with them in the afternoons/evenings) It was hard financially, but you live to your means, and sometimes I think families’ expectations of what they need to provide in material terms for their families is over estimated. Our children never went without, and they gained so much from, as you say, my just ‘being’ there. I always spent a lot of time chatting, explaining, reading, listening, as well as doing fun planned activities. Their Dad would have done just as well, but that was our family choice!
    As primary school teachers, we see so many children coming into nursery and reception classes with very little awareness of speaking and listening skills, singing nursery rhymes/songs, clapping rhythms or playing turn taking games. In our school, these are generally not children from families who are unable to support and educate them in this way, but just very busy families, who for whatever reason are not making a priority of spending valuable quality time with their children. They go out to indoor play areas, cinemas, theme parks, holidays abroad – which are all lovely – but don’t do the simple things that form the building blocks at home.
    I will always advocate mum staying at home (or dad!); the time goes way to fast. I speak as a mum whose eldest (24) is getting married in May, middle child (21) graduating from Uni in June, and youngest (15) going to art college in September after GCSEs. I would gladly do it all over again, and wish I could have slowed time down and done even more with my precious babies!
    Be strong and stand up for what you know is right for your children – no-one else will!

    • Thank you so much for your story Rosie. It’s great to have it here and I always appreciate people giving their time to leave comments. It’s always valuable! Thank you!

  2. thank you for this post i am a stay at home mom i have 4 boys and i feel that mothers who stay at home now are to often looked down on or viewed as failures you should check out my blog if you have time

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