24 November 2012

The idle parent

I'm part way through a book called The Idle Parent, by Tom Hodgkinson. I am loving it!

It's on my pillow, where I left it after my siesta.

As a result, this will be a short post. Sleep calls. It's 8.30 pm, and I want my ten hours.

From what I've read I imagine Tom, who lives in North Devon, to be a bit of an intellectual toff who takes little exercise, lives in a stone cottage, has a quiff hairstyle and drinks a tad too much. I really like what he says and how he says it. Tom, you are a man after my own heart.

The ideal situation for parenting, we both think, is a gang of children playing wildly together while the parents hang out and chat, and neither group bothers the other (except of course when the grazed knees and banged heads report in for some comforting). (Tom thinks the parents should be drinking. Booze does little for me.)

This is one of the reasons I had to quit Playcentre. I was there to chat with the other mothers while Jack played with the children, but after a few weeks I made the terrible realisation that we were meant to play with our children. Woops. Throw in the evening meetings and jobs to keep the parent-run centre going, and I was out of there.

Tom thinks parents need to be happy and relaxed, and to do that we need to get enough sleep and avoid stress. "In my experience, full-time jobs interrupt sleep to an insupportable degree: there is no siesta time," he writes. Unsupportable! And intolerable, he could have said.

"The mega-corp doesn't need you; the kids do," he continues. "Unslave yourself.... Hard work will not lead to health and happiness... Better to be penniless and at home than rich and absent."

Of course, parents do need to work to earn some sort of living, say Tom and I, who have standards below which we will not slip.  "...the idle parent aims to make the money-earning enjoyable and creative. So be clever about it."

I have that one sorted out, I think, or almost, but my poor husband is enslaved. Tomorrow I start the design work to divide our third bedroom into a bedroom and a spare bedroom/office, with the hope that one day he will be able to work part-time and from home, while my part-time earnings fill the void, and of course we need a home office to do that seriously.

It may be just a dream, but I'll prepare to make it reality. Unfortunately the renovation will involve a whole lot of money and, um, hard work....

(p.s. I looked Tom up on Wikepedia and he has no quiff, and if he takes little exercise it's not obvious.)

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