| 13°C Dublin

Carol Hunt: We may not all be like Nigella in the kitchen, but we're worth just as much


Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson


Nigella Lawson

Right. Dinner is in the oven, clothes have been gathered from various untidy bedrooms and put in the washing machine, the dog has been fed and watered, dry clothes have been folded and await ironing and a light tidy-up has been performed on the main rooms of the house.

Kids aren't due home for a couple of hours and only one needs collecting. Phew! Which means, lucky me, I now have a bit of free time in which to actually "work".

By "work", of course I mean real work, the kind that pays the bills and buys the food and keeps my kids from going barefoot on the streets.

All the other stuff? The basic chores that take up the main part of my and every other stay-at-home-parent's - normal "non-working" day?

Sure, don't be daft, that's not considered "work" - that's just, well, house-stuff.

We've already figured out that the constitutional right of Irish mammies (and those 18,000 brave fathers) not to have to work outside the home is just lip-service.

It's not worth the legal tome it's written in. If we didn't, we only have to ask those lone stay-at-home-parents who got their "Congratulations, your child is now seven, it's time you got yourself a real job!" letters this week in relation to their One Parent Family Payment.

Because, as we all know, stay-at-home parents, and in particular those who are rearing their children alone, sit in our jim-jams all day, munching chocolates and watching re-runs of Dr Phil.

In between we sometimes manage to squeeze in a bit of "real" work but only so we have a little hard cash to pay for the biccies and the Sky box.

But we're obviously awfully talented lay-abouts because in-between the biscuit-eating and the telly-watching we actually perform work - which if added together would total a cost of about €40,000 per annum.


Insurer Royal London has calculated that the cost of hiring labour to cover all the chores done by a stay-at-home parent would add up to nearly €800 per week.

The report's author stated that: "Our experience would suggest that both stay-at-home moms and dads tend to undervalue themselves or, worse still, actually place no monetary value on their role."

Well, he's wrong there. During a recent hospital stay when I asked my husband how he would cope if I had copped it, he admitted that yes, he would "miss the dinners".

I may not be a pouting, purring, cleavage-throbbing Nigella in the kitchen (or anywhere else for that matter) but we both agree with the Royal London figures that my culinary services are worth at least €150-a-week if paid for on the open market.

Although perhaps not today because as I write I forgot the shepherd's pie burning in the oven.

Despite the fact that the mortgage would be paid off if I popped my clogs, the cost of replacing the work I do in the home would far exceed that little windfall.


I find that the only people who tend to put "no monetary value" on the role of (mainly) women working within the home, are people who've had shirts ironed and dinners handed to them for most of their working lives.

Buy which I mean politicians and civil servants - the best examples of people who seem to have little idea of how badly the country would fall apart if Ireland's mammies all went on strike some day.

Unlike many of politicians, if mammies actually downed tools it would be noticed: children would starve; homes would be chaotic, schools would close and ministers would arrive into Cabinet with creased shirts - the country would cease to exist as we know it.

Which brings me to a proposal - that we put the money we don't get paid where our mouths are, and strike. Right now.

Feck the (burnt) dinner, I'm off to put on my jim-jams, stretch out in front of the telly and pig out on chocolate biscuits.

I mean, it's not like my pay will be stopped, is it?