Today it is revealed that most of the more than 1,300 teachers polled by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) felt families spent less time together now with more than half saying that families spent a lot less time together than they did 20 years ago.
In response to the survey, one primary school teacher in Kent said: “Many of our parents are commuters into London and therefore work long hours. We have children as young as four who are at school 8am-6pm, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.”An early years teacher from Yorkshire added: “Some children are placed in before- and after-school care from 8am to 6pm. These children walk around like ghosts, do not talk to anyone, fall asleep frequently, do not progress as quickly as their peers.”
In light of this TCW asked mothers of school-aged children, why they shun the modern trend to use breakfast clubs and after-school clubs and instead remain ‘mothers at home’:
At the end of a school day my nine year old is, quite rightly, tired. She has struggled with bullying and playground exclusion in the past and it has been vital for her to have me waiting at the school door for her when she comes out so I can be there for her when her emotions are at the most raw.
I can tell by the set of her face as to what sort of day she’s had and our brief walk home acts as a wind down period for her. My youngest is due to start school in September and I have every intention of being there for her too.
I’ve got three children; almost six, four, and 14 months. I love the fact that I drop and collect my children from school every day and they do too.
It breaks my heart to see my son’s friends (he does mornings in school nursery), being taken to after-school club after a full day in nursery. It is something I refuse to do.
My son tells me he wouldn’t want to go to an after-school club because ‘they don’t love him’. My children have never been. I will not send him.
I have two teenagers and have been there for them full-time for the last eight years. I did however work until they were eight and six and used after-school clubs.
Both hated it and the stressful life we led. Since then, we have all benefited from me being a full-time mother. Even though they are now teenagers I feel it is important to be there to provide a secure environment for them to develop and become confident young people.
From day one of being a mother to my daughter and two years later to my son, I knew that I wanted to be totally dedicated to them, even though it meant putting my career on hold and sacrificing thousands of pounds. I have always told my kids they are worth every penny.
I remember one year in particular when my daughter was suffering from bullying. She was relieved to get to the end of a school day and at its peak, she burst out crying during our walk home.
I was so glad to be able to support her emotionally. It would have been tortuous for her to have to stay longer in the presence of the bullying girl concerned. As it turned out, it took a whole year but all ended well. We worked everything through, the other mother responded really well, and now the girls are really good friends.
In addition, I believe that, having time for fun and relaxation, before the onslaught of completing high school homework or music or sport activities is invaluable for raising ‘well rounded’ kids.
When my older children were at school, I took and collected them every day. It was brilliant to see them running towards me with big grins on their faces, desperate to share their achievements – priceless! Hardly any mums worked then, or did so during school hours, so there was more community between mums, a more relaxed atmosphere, and continuity for the children as mum was there every time for them.
Fast forward to my youngest children, six and four, and now most mums work at least part time, a lot full time, and many children are collected by after school clubs of one sort or another – two in our village alone! You can still tell the children whose mums collect them. They run out, or stagger if they’re tired, straight to mum’s arms, smiles and cuddles all round, and off home. I’ve heard children saying to their mums, “why can’t you come for me every day like …. Mum?” It is heartbreaking to hear mum say they have to work and cannot be there.