‘Care is spelt T I M E’, says Anna Firth, speaking at Mothers at Home Matter Conference in London 2014
And she added this: ‘When mothers speak, the voice of children is heard’. That summed up Anna Firth’s passionate cry for mothers to be involved at all levels of public life to promote the needs of children. ‘If we want society to succeed, we need the family to succeed.
She also questioned whether it’s social engineering to have a tax and benefits system which penalises stay at home parents.
Sadly, T-I-M-E is the one thing that is being removed from parents who are forced out to work at the expense of their family’s wellbeing. Worryingly, whereas nine years ago, 45% of mothers mainly worked inside the home, now only 30% do.
We are beginning to see the cost of the Government’s relentless focus on targeted outcomes at the expense of love and care. Children’s needs are being ignored in the inexorable commercialisation and digitalisation of childhood.
Children between the ages of 12 and 18 are spending an average of six and a half hours on the screen daily. There are very many seriously troubled families in the country and more children with learning difficulties. The oldest and youngest in society are being neglected..
Anna pointed out that, in her experience, in France children aren’t left in childcare longer than is determined good for them according to each child’s individual needs. This contrasts with the kind of advice given by Paul Kirkby, a former Head of the Number 10 Policy Unit, who recommended school hours of 9am to 6pm, whilst reducing school holidays from 13 weeks to 7, stating that teachers would have a broader role in bringing up the children they’re supposed to be teaching!
There’s little recognition that many teachers want to bring up their own children, which is why many have entered the teaching profession in the first place. All too often there’s no reference to the well-being of children, or what their needs are.
Anna spoke with great conviction about the horrific way in which we are replacing intergenerational wisdom with institutions. Individual choice is taking precedence over the well-being of society, and this is an unsustainable economic model.
Society has to recognise that time spent caring is very valuable. It makes much more sense to invest in mothers. ‘Mother love is the fuel that enables a human being to do the impossible’.
by Claire Paye
Anna Firth biography
Anna Firth, a former barrister, lives in Kent with her husband and three children. Anna was a founder member of the Open Eye campaign challenging the Government’s ‘toddler curriculum’ and the target driven approach of early education. She campaigns against the commercialisation of childhood and continues to challenge the ‘cultural childcare norm’. She is passionate about outdoor play and sports facilities and has campaigned to raise awareness of the dangers of the internet in her current role as Deputy Leader (Political) of Sevenoaks District Council and as a local school Governor. She would like to see more mothers involved in Government at all levels and recently lost the postal ballot to be Conservative candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election, by the narrowest of margins. Anna told MAHM it’s ‘Too Costly Not to Care’ and that it would make far more social and economic sense for families to have choice and to be better supported to provide family-based care for dependents when income is limited by caring responsibilities.