Women who go out to work and girls at school may have difficulties but at least they can go home and leave their problems behind them. A woman who stays home to look after young children, elderly parents or invalids can’t do that. Her charges won’t let her. Somebody has to be there all the time and often she’s the only person available. So she soldiers on, steadily getting more and more angry, or more and more depressed, as the children or the invalids get more and more difficult.

Lack of help-The trouble is that we have changed our life-style so much in the last fifty years that nowadays almost the only people left at home all day are women who are looking after small children, elderly parents or invalids — in other words, people who have precious little time to spare to help their neighbours because they are so busy themselves. The big sisters, maiden aunts and next-door neighbours who used to help mothers at home are all out at work. And to make matters worse, families are far more mobile these days. Most of us will move house several times in the course of a marriage. Few will settle down within a few streets of their parents. So your mother could be hundreds of miles away just when you need her most. A woman at home coping with the cramps or the aching miseries can feel very isolated. There doesn’t seem to be anybody to turn to.

There is, of course. But their help might be difficult to find, especially in the early days when you’ve just left work and you haven’t got used to life at home. Your allies are the other wives and mothers who live near you and are at home looking after their children. You’ll find them in the clinics or out shopping or at gatherings of various local groups such as the Pre-School Playgroups Association, the National Childbirth Trust, Gingerbread and other clubs for young mothers. For addresses of their head offices some of the organizations listed there will have local branches and it is worth trying the phone book, the library or the information department of your town hall to see if you can track them down. You’ll have to be prepared to offer to help them when you can if they’ll help you. There’s nothing like a fellow sufferer to help you and in helping others we usually help ourselves.

If your periods are painful or you suffer from the aching miseries, you will certainly find a young baby far more difficult to handle and the chores will seem more of an effort. Try to plan ahead, so that you only have the absolute minimum to do on days when you’re off-colour or in pain — no shopping expeditions, no washing other than the baby’s nappies and smalls, no ironing, only necessary cooking (unless you enjoy it and it cheers you up) and no cleaning. It is possible to cut back for a little while, even when you’ve got several small children, although it needs quite skilled planning. And of course when you’ve found them, you can turn to your friends and neighbours. Just to have someone around who’ll hold the baby while you attend to the toddler is bliss when you have been struggling alone. And so is a second pair of eyes, to watch out for the possibility of trouble because you might be off-balance or too tired to do this yourself.

One of the advantages about being at home is that you are your own boss. If you need a quick snack, or a hot water bottle, you can have it immediately. Getting the rest you need is more of a problem, especially if you have toddlers to contend with, or a baby who doesn’t seem to sleep. So if a neighbour offers to take them off your hands for a little while, make good use of the time and go to bed and sleep as long as you can. And always remember what a great help relaxation can be. If you are relaxed, you are not wasting any of your precious energy; you are also reducing your tension and keeping yourself calmer than you would otherwise be. Again I can’t stress too much that you. Should confide in your husband or partner and enlist his aid whenever possible.


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