By MOLLY WALSH
AS a commentary on the difficulty of keeping up with all the departments in a home, a friend, now the mother of six children, has sent me details of the appointments she had to keep at various clinics last year.
Here is a typical week: January 3I.—V. to Orthopmelic clinic.
February 1.—V. to school dentist (half an hour's journey each way).
February 3.—V, to Orthopmdic clinic.
February 4.—Three eldest children to eye clinic.
As the year progressed the programme got heavier as she herself was attending an ante-natal clinic. 11 is true that her difficulties were aggravated by the fact that one of the children had to undergo prolonged orthopmclic treatment culminating in an operation. But there is no doubt that for single-handed mothers, even the run of the mill expeditions to clinics. dentists, etc., can eat into an awful lot of time.
FEAR OF A FAMILY
T AM certain that it is the fear
that they will not be able to meets all the physical demands made upon them, as much as economic considerations, that make many women fear a large fain i
Yet it seems so silly that what is after all only a technical difficulty, viz., the shortage of domestic help, should prevent, what is to put it at its lowest level. one of the greatest human joys, the satisfaction of having a normal-sized family around Single people and all those with old people to care for are equally hit by this difficulty. I could quote many cases of courageous teachers and business women carrying on a full-time job and looking after elderly and semi-invalid parents, and not being able to obtain suitable domestic help.
My own seilution for what it is worth, if anyone could work out the details, is that our daughters' education should include a year working for a mother with at least four young children. It being part of the bargain that the said mother should train her helper in household management during the year.
I am sure. too, that if only the ice could he broken, and the ridiculous stigma which still attaches to domestic work removed, many middle-aged parents whose families arc nearly grown up would he pleased to do an hour or two's work in the week to help people with elderly folk to care for.
SHORT TERM partial answer, surely, is that we must learn to co-operate more. Recently I had to take my young daughter for a series of treatments at a clinic some distance from home.
It was only at the third visit that I discovered that another child from the same class at school was being taken by her mother to the same sessions. After that we took it in turns to take both children.
Another useful help mothers can give each other is in the minding of toddlers. A friend was telling me how she and another mother living in the same road took cornplete charge of their under schoolage children for a couple of afternoons a week and left the other free to concentrate on dressmaking or on afternoon shopping.
I think this can he one of the most useful sides of the work of the various Family Groups which are the newest form of the Lay Apostolate, and which are doing much to restore the sense of community to family life.
IKNOW of one group which has been meeting at intervals, fortnightly in theory, but interrupted by new babies and holidays for a year now.
There have been four new babies between six families and they have been able to help each other by minding older children during the confinement period, exchanging baby clothes and passing on donated clothes which did not fit their own families.
They had an inquest recently on the value of their eear's work. All felt that in addition to the extra thinking it had made them do about the application of their faith to their every-day problems, they had gained a great sense of community with others and that they valued this above everything.
rrHINK1NG of electrical appli ances for the home, two of my friends were discussing washing machines recently. Joan, who recently managed to acquire one said she was not at all sfire that it was an unmitigated boon, as it tempted her to do an much washing that now she found herself surrounded with unfinished washing in various stages, half dry, too dry and unironed.
Mary said she thought all electrical gadgets were of the greatest advantage to the housewife, because husbands who scorned dustpan and brush or a washtub, were quite ready to take a turn with an electric sweeper or washing machine.
Margaret, who was also present and has four children, but only three rooms at the top of a house. said: "Give me a garden to hang the clothes out and I'll do without a washing machine."
ARE you a " routine at all costs " housewife? Or are you an emanicipated woman who declares, firmly setting forth on a shopping expedition on Monday morning : " I will never be a slave to a mere house"?
There is something very satisfying about a time-table. even if you don't keep to it. In fact the thrill of keeping it is intensified by the number of times one does not quite manage it.
My more fortunate sisters who are born housekeepers can never have the extraordinary satisfaction of the times when the house really does run like clockwork. It never lasts for very long, but when it does happen I am walking on air.