I had to sit down to listen carefully to a radio programme this morning, discussing this news. A growing number of school age children are still wearing nappies.
The assumption is that that it is underclass parents, people who can barely drag themselves from their filthy pits to tend to their almost-inhuman offspring, who are responsible for this epic neglect. Those people who called in to the radio programme to talk about their personal experience of this phenomenon felt they don’t have enough time because they're at work. The research suggests their attitude isn't limited to people who call radio programmes.
They work all week and on their days off they don’t have the energy to commit to this very basic task. They can’t bear the thought of having to clean up the inevitable and quite normal mistakes that occur during toilet training so they don’t bother. Helping their child move from an infant stage to that of an appropriately independent and capable child takes a couple of weeks, and these parents can't spare that time.
Quite obviously, the majority of parents from every background manage to toilet train their children. I’d propose that a parent who cannot manage to care for their children should have Social Service involvement whatever their background – the excuse that you’re too tired after work to bother with your own children is preposterous.
There are any number of employers who would happily work their employees into the ground and resent any workplace legislation that gets in the way of making a profit. I’m suggesting that if an employee feels under such profound pressure that they cannot take time off work to toilet train their child then something is dangerously out of balance. Dangerously. Even the DWP doesn’t insist that a lone parent work until their youngest child is 7 years old.
But there’s so much greater status in being employed rather than being a single parent on the dole. At what point does caring about your status become more important than caring for your child?
The cri de coeur from colleagues, clients, friends and family seems to be “I need more time!” Advertisers agree and focus either on how this product will give you time to complete more tasks or how this product will give you time to pamper yourself.
In the US the average working week is 60 hours, which means that a large number of people are working longer than that and the average maximum UK law allows is 48 hours a week. But of course people work more and commuting isn’t factored in.
Every single client of mine is pushed for time and many have read inspirational books on the subject which seem only to tell the reader that they’re a lazy, disorganised failure.
"Lack of time is more perception than reality. The problem is the lack of commitment to your priorities after you've set them."
"The amount of time we have does not matter, but rather the way we use it. Make time for what's important to you: connecting with others, working in a career you're passionate about, being proactive about your health by being physically active."
Ah, if only we all had the opportunity to work in a career we felt passionate about, the money for a gym subscription and the enthusiasm for it after a 9 hour day.
It’s obvious that if we can we should move towards employment we at least don’t dislike and live as healthily as we can but if it was as easy as that we’d all be leaping joyfully into work like spring lambs. Most of my clients feel trapped by circumstances and powerless to do anything about it but all find that the investment of one therapeutic hour per week gives them the opportunity to consider what is actually important to them: not to their families – vital to wellbeing as families are – or their employer or employees but to them as an individual.
Some people say they’re anxious about their finances, not because they can’t afford the bills but because their lifestyle is well above their means. Usually they’re actually anxious about maintaining a certain status. It’s less about the self-soothing of shopping (though that’s a habit worth breaking) and more to do with the narrative that a person has for themselves: I’m a professional and I deserve this; my friends will think it’s strange if they see me in the same clothes or if I don’t go out with them every Friday night; what will one particular person say or do?
Status, ones place in a hierarchy, can be a powerful root of anxiety and can keep people pointlessly scampering on a treadmill. Understand it, make sense of it for yourself and you may find that you’re able to make saner, healthier, happier choices about how you spend your time.
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