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22 July 2009

The gentle art of homemaking



Day three of readers questions and this subject seems to be a favourite one here - homemaking. I really enjoy writing about this because I think we don't have enough homemaking role models and, as a job, it's often devalued by people around us.

And why is that? Why is homemaking as a career seen as such a dull and dead end thing to do? I think it has a lot to do with money. Homemakers aren't paid in hard cash, homemakers, my friends, are paid in love and the warm affection and appreciation of a close family. But it's not worth the time worrying about how we are viewed. Like most homemakers I just get on with the job and let the comments land where they may.



I know that my life is better now that I take care of my home and family as my main concern. It wasn't always the case. I used to dislike housework and paid for home help when I was working outside the home. That kept me at arm's length and I never really knew the significance of caring for a home until I gave up work and came home. I really returned to my home in its fullest sense. I stopped the nonsense of not wanting to do housework, and that was the making of me. I realise now that the day to day tasks of homemaking - the bed making, sweeping, cleaning, laundry, cooking and a hundred other things, created the person I have become. Those tasks slowed me down enough for me to focus on my work, to value it and to see that making a home comfortable, safe and warm remakes me and gives my family a gift like no other.

What else could help prepare our families for their day as much as a warm, clean bed, a good healthy breakfast and encouragement as they walk out the door? Where else but at home could we raise our children with a feeling of being loved, safe and wanted? Who else could stand as a strong role model for a child but a loving and confident homemaker who teaches by example the values of self confidence, hard work, honesty and common sense? And BTW, I think common sense is not so common and it is a skill to be taught like any other.



My children have left home now and are building good lives for themselves. Now my homemaking nourishes Hanno and I. I am grateful that I came home when I did and discovered the true feeling of living well in a place of my own making. Nothing else gives the satisfaction of knowing that the efforts of my day give me a place to land when times are tough. I know that we can regain our strength here, no matter how hard we have worked, and I know that whatever I put into my home is returned to me ten-fold.

There is a lot to be said about the art of homemaking. I could write here all morning about the tasks that build character and demonstrate love and care but what I want to encourage in you is the knowledge that no matter what you hear or read about being at home with your children, what you're doing is one of the most important things you'll ever do. Don't listen to the naysayers, don't judge yourself or your calling to be at home by what others may say about it. Keep reminding yourself that nurturing your family with the results of your daily homemaking tasks help make you and build character. Know, deep down to your core, that raising children to be decent, hardworking people who will go on to contribute to their country and build their own family is as important a job as any other.



I have just had two days at work, today I'll be here at home all day. Nothing makes me more content knowing I can potter around, doing this and that, getting through my daily tasks. Hanno will wake soon, we'll have breakfast together and then start our work. He will probably be outside while I work inside but we'll meet for morning tea on the front veranda later in the morning. Morning tea together, sitting in the sun, talking about our plans, is one of the rewards of this life for us. It's a simple thing but it symbolises the gentle nature of our lives now, rewards us for what we've already achieved and sets us up for what is to come. The rewards of being a homemaker are many - they may not involve cash but they're there for the taking, and they are renewed everyday simply by working in our homes.

All graphics from here.

42 comments:

  1. Rhonda Jean,
    Thanks so much!
    I love your posts and homemaking ones in particular.
    When your book comes to be I will be one of the first in line to buy a copy for sure!
    God bless,
    Helen(grammea)
    grammea22@verizon.net

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  2. I used to think I would be a career gal all the way. While I do get satisfaction from my job (not necessarily from dealing with the internal politics that seems to go with all jobs), I could think of nothing nicer than being a full-time homemaker. Sadly I don't think the money situation will ever allow it.

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  3. Thank you Rhonda for a very important post. I have just recently became a homemaker and since finding your blog, I enjoy being at home and don't wish to return to work.

    I probably will in the future (my dear husband of two years is currently fighting cancer) but I will treasure the time I have now to stay at home, taking care of him, his father (who lives with us) and my 19 year old son (who soon will be leaving the nest).

    I enjoy my housework and can usually be heard humming while cooking dinner (which my husband jokingly comments I am off key) but I love puttering around with my three men all close in the home doing their own thing.

    If I do have to return to the dreaded workforce, I will continue to slow down and bake, mend and love my home as I have come to since becoming a homemaker.

    Thanks once again

    Debbie

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  4. This was reaffirming to those of us that have dealt with the switch from working to being homemakers and stay-at-home moms. One of the things that I think is so important is to teach your kids the "common sense" and "basics" of being at home. For example, how to fix a leaky faucet, a broken toilet, mend clothing, and the list goes on. I have met children that simply say, "You pay someone to do that." I want my son to know these things and be self-sufficient when he grows up. I am proud to have a child that knows a cucumber grows on a vine, that eggs come from inside chickens (and that chickens come from eggs), and bread is made from flour and yeast, all at the tender age of 3. These "common sense" things are become uncommon knowledge which is a scary thing!

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  5. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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  6. Hi Rhonda, Read your posts with interest. Acouple of days ago I tried my hand at my first batch of soap. Not sure if it was a total succes as it seems to be very crumbly I suspect maybe not enough. I may either use it for cleaning or throw it away and try again. I had a bit of trouble finding the coconut oil and am wondering what alternatives can be used. When you talk about making it with animal fats could you combine the oils and say ...lard or something.If anything i am determined to do it.
    keep up the good work.
    Cheers.

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  7. If I hadn't made the choice to come home, I do wonder where I would be today. Perhaps we might have had a better house and a flasher car but I do think we would have had a bigger mortgage and bigger stress! I had a choice to make, an invitation to climb the career ladder and apply for a manager's position within the health service with a $70000 salary or to come home to my husband and toddler and be a full-time homemaker.My husband stayed home with our son because I could earn more but I was so envious of him... I wanted to be the one at home playing with my son, watching him grow. I just wanted to pick flowers to put in a vase on the dinner table... the little feminine touches my husband didn't think of. He did all the basic household tasks and looked after our son well but I wanted to do these and more! That was over 15 years ago. I made the choice to come home and I have stayed home ever since. I have never regretted this decision. It was the best career move I ever made! And yes, we discovered we could live on a mechanics wage!
    P.S All my home making dreams re: renovation/decorating aspirations have just been given a sharp reality check by the photos my son brought home from Thailand where he and some other teenage boys helped fix up homes in two slum areas. All one lady wanted was walls on her home to keep out the rain and a roof that did not leak. I have just posted the photos on my blog. They give some meaning to the phrase living with less! I had to ask myself how I would make a home if I lived in such a dwelling.. we are so blessed!

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  8. I can't wait until my husband is done with school and I can come back home! one more year, one more year, one more year.....
    :o)

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  9. Rhonda Jean,

    Thank you for such a wonderful post. It is a great reminder to me that the most important job I will ever have is being a homemaker.

    Best Wishes,

    Melanie

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  10. Thank you Rhonda Jean for this gentle confirmation of our homemaking goals. There are so many woman who try to fill their time outside of their home once their children leave, it is a blessing to be able to read how you still see your home as centre.

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  11. Thank you! Great post!

    I think the reason that people look down on homemaking is because it's a word that originated in a time when women had less value. So, if we accept this role, then we must accept being `less'. For the longest time I hated the word and insisted on being a stay-at-home mom, but NEVER a homemaker.

    I now see the word differently and see it as a person who makes a house into a home. That has incredible value.

    So, while I am now proud of the name, I understand that there are negative connotations for most of women in society. Since they have a different understanding of the word, it means nothing to me that they would look down on it.

    In reality, I don't around discussing that I am a homemaker. I simply talk about what my day entails, and society does not look down on the eco-friendly family-oriented choices that I make. So, while I am proud of the name, it is irrelevant what society thinks.

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  12. You wrote so beatifully what it feels like to be home. When they say there is no place like home they have it right. Home is a special place and we all know the feeling we get when we just think of it. It is our refuge, our nest, our comfort etc. Doing things for my family and creating a home is what life is all about. The work is work but so rewarding. So Very rewarding. It feels sooo right to be here. Jody

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  13. Hear, hear!! A great post. I'd love to spend more time at home and less at work so the time I do have at home not is spent frantically trying to keep things clean and tidy. I mentioned to my OH last night that I'd like to get a part time job and spend more time at home & sewing items to sell. He was very negative and didn't think it was possible. I feel that life is flying by at a rate of knots and I don't have time to "stop and smell the roses".

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  14. Thanks again Rhonda :)

    I think Karen's right, being a homemaker is looked down on as in the past it's been given less value. There's also been a long time when it was not a choice for a lot of women. There's a big difference between doing things because you want to, and because you have to, in my opinion.

    I'm learning the value of homemaking from your posts, Rhonda, and interpreting it in my own way. I'm not in a position to stay at home full time, and I do have mixed feelings about whether I'd want to.

    However, I'm learning to love and appreciate the time I do spend at home, to be involved with the tasks I do and to learn new tasks, to bake bread, make jam, sew, and generally to be happy here.

    I think sometimes it's best to do what you can, with what you have, where you are (I've seen that a lot lately!), and not feel you need to wait til you can be at home full time to make the most of your home, use the time you have available!

    Best wishes,

    Jenni

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  15. Well, I don't quite get it. I like cooking and gardening, and they are useful and creative pursuits, as is choosing paint colours etc. But I can't quite grasp the thrill of vaccuuming, doing the washing and so on, any more than I see the excitement in cleaning my teeth. These things are certainly necessary, but they are dull and monotonously frequent. Your thoughts?

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  16. Once again a wonderful post.
    Thank you!

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  17. I was lucky enough to be at home until my daughter was 9. I love being a homemaker. I was more myself during that period of time. I was up at 7, in the garden by 7:30 to beat the heat and my day consisted of making a home for my family. It was the most rewarding job I have ever had and my daughter had the benefit of coming home after school and just being a kid.

    Divorce put me back into the work force and let me tell you.. how I long to be that homemaker again. I don't have time to work a full time job, mentally my career is still at home even 10 years later!

    Thanks for such a fabulous blog, I enjoy your writing so much, it brings me back home.

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  18. I love this post. The importance of what goes on at home cannot be emphasized enough. I believe it centers us and my kids and husband know that I'm here and available for when they need me. I truly believe that if I had had a career all these years, the dynamics of our family would be so different.

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  19. Homemaking is such an underrated position in life! I truly hope that one day, my future husband and I can afford to have me at home with our little ones!

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  20. Hi Rhonda;
    Thank you for this post. I've been reflecting on this and other entries about homemaking/staying home etc in other blogs.

    I think we can love both - home and work. It is hard to balance the two of course as the work around homemaking seems constant and never-ending!

    I believe that there are some jobs/careers we have that we really love - whether its being at home or in the payed workforce. I am lucky to be SAHM at present and can see what a fantastic oportunity it is to be able to live at a different pace, learning new things, while raising young children. I also loved and miss my paid job and look forward to returning to it when the time is right. My partner and I will have to find ways of ensuring that we are able to continue with homemaking as its a very important part of children's lives for future living.

    While society is still denigrading of homemaking/homemakers I think what is slowly changing is that men/fathers a little bit more open to the idea of sharing the reponsibilities of looking after their home and children too. This can only make for better relationships and possibly more general acknowledgement that homemaking can have its never-ending, mundane and tiring sides (maybe this is just my thinking given that I am looking after small children).

    Also, as a woman in society I am really thankful that I can have the choice to work - as a homemaker at home or in the paid workforce. This was not always the case for women and its still not for many women throughout the world.

    Lastly, I love being part of looking after our home and children and I know I am contributing to our future generations in a positive way. I can also really appreciate the contribution we (men and women) can make in the paid workforce - be it as a scientist working on discovering cures for diseases, a carer looking after people with disabilities, a librarian or person at the checkout that enjoys working with people. We forget that we need people who work, not just to acquire things and spend money but to make life livable in all its forms!

    I love reading your blog and always look forward to reading your entries,
    Magda

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  21. I couldn't agree more! Even at the height of the women's lib pro career era of the 70's, I chose to stay home with my children, even though it meant we 'scraped by' financially, and many other women I encountered looked down their noses at me when they discovered I didn't 'do' anything but stay home and mind the nest ;-).
    Love the photos too, and thanks so much for sharing your source.
    Blessings,
    G

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  22. P. S. One of my favorite books that I read over & over during my stay at home years is "Hidden Art" by Edith Schaeffer -- a wonderful book about the 'hidden art' of homemaking that was very influential in my life at that time & still.
    Blessings again ;-),
    G

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  23. What an incredible post Rhonda Jean!
    You really hit the nail on the head about what it is like to be home and take care of a family...
    I cannot wait for your book! Ü

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  24. Great post. I absolutely love being a homemaker. My home is constantly evolving as I work to make it even more of a haven for family and friends. I work part time, so I'm not home as much as I'd like, but I so look forward to heading home after work!

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  25. I had someone put me down recently because I still do my son's laundry (he is living "in town" to be near the University while taking a class).

    This particular woman has a difficult relationship with her teenage children... I can understand why.

    To me it is a way of showing love and support for my son, doing his laundry while he works very hard to get good grades in Calculus and work part-time.

    It may not be the same excitement as when I had a corporate career but I love it. :)

    Great series of posts (as usual).

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  26. Yay! I was waiting for this post. I hope that the book you are working on has lots of pieces like this. Otherwise, I hope your editor signs you on for a book like this - a modern-day housekeeping devotional of sorts. I know I would buy up several copies to give away to new homemaking mom friends of mine!

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  27. Wonderful post, thank you so much for your encouraging words.
    Thank you also for stopping by HomesteadBlogger, it is a nice community.
    Blessings,
    Catherine :)

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  28. Thank you for posting this. I am a stay at home mom and was starting to think it was time to go back to work. My kids are both in school now. And my family feels like I am wasting my life but I disagree. If I worked, I would need to find daycare for after school and in summers. They are still young enough that they can't be home alone. I love being here when they need me, are sick, and LOVE summers with them! Thank you again!!!

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  29. Thank you so much for that encouragement! I really needed it today. Blessings!

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  30. I'll be honest - you can keep homemaking!

    I mean, yes, it's important, and I like to think I do it well, but where is the challenge or interest in vacuuming, cleaning, or doing yet another load of dishes?

    I guess I'm not a natural homemaker. It's not what I wanted to do when I was growing up, and it is something that is very much just a part of who I am and what I do, not the whole of it.

    Which shows how different all of us are!

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  31. I'm a mother of three that also works outside of the home full-time. When I was pregnant with our third child, I remember asking my husband if we could hire someone to come in and help with cleaning. He immediately said no. Not just because of the expense but also not liking the idea of having a stranger in our home. At first I was upset and felt that he didn't really understand all I had to deal with. But once I became more organized (thanks to the FlyLady) and developed routines, keeping house became less overwhelming, even with working.

    I realize now a paid housekeeper could not give the same care and concern I give when cleaning our home. It's an expression of love for my family - "homecaring" (to borrow a term from Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance).

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  32. I think sometimes it's best to do what you can, with what you have, where you are (I've seen that a lot lately!), and not feel you need to wait til you can be at home full time to make the most of your home, use the time you have available!

    Best wishes,

    Jenni
    -----------

    Absolutely! I shared those exact same thoughts on my blog a few months ago. It was something God brought me to after much prayer and frustration over my current season in life.

    http://workinghomekeeper.blogspot.com/2009/05/bloom-where-you-are.html

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  33. Your home should be your comfort spot. Right now I am at work and not looking forward to going home. We were gone for a week, there is much laundry and housework to catch up on, much that has just gotten dropped here and scattered there as everyone hurried back into the obligations of life after vacation, along with catching up at work on all that is not done when I am gone. But after tidying my nest for several evenings and settling in again, I will smile when I walk into my home and sigh. There is contentment there. I had a cleaning lady a couple of times, but they never cleaned the way I would have, so I wasn't happy with it. You know where your own contentment lies, and at home, you can control the contentment for the whole family. I work part time outside the home and the pay isn't that wonderful, but it helps. The extra time at home and the flexibility of part time is my trade off. I have things I'd like to change, but hey, LIFE IS GOOD!! Thank you for your frequent encouragement. I look forward to each and every post.

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  34. I totally agree about staying at home with the kids and making an effort to enjoy their company. They are people with needs after all, a brain too, who knew? Future adults. Five short years at home (yes, some days feel like forever and a drag) but then, bye bye as they enter the wider world and we will never have that time with them again.

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  35. Your words were exactly what I needed to hear today. We've been going through a very hard time right now, and I'm lonely (as far as my parents & sibling goes) in my choice of the way we live. Since my husband got laid off two weeks ago, the implication is stronger than ever that I made a wrong choice 26 years ago to be a homemaker; that if I worked all these years we'd be O.K. I still think homemaking is a lost skill, yet an important one. Thank you for once again, pointing that out.

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  36. Rhonda, I just love your blog. It is probably, if not my favorite, in my top 3. This post was beautiful, and I loved it so much. Thank you for posting it. We have cut our income in half since I got pregnant with my first child (over 2 years ago) and though we struggle financially from time to time, we know it is worth it for me to be there for our son. There has never been anything that I have done that has been as important to me as helping my son to grow. There are days when I feel downright lonely, and I think about going back to work, but after I re-evaluate things, I know I'm exactly where I am supposed to be and I know I wouldn't be happy if I was somewhere else. So thank you so much for your words.

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  37. So good to see so many homemakers and so many people receptive to the old ideas.You can't beat the satisafaction you get from a clean chook-house,a tray of biscuits or a well cooked dinner.Mine of yesterday was selling goose eggs to a fancy restaurant who were using them that night for ravioli using a whole yolk!
    By the way I've had two careers, a family and lived in two hemispheres, so well ready to settle into what we laughingly call retirement.

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  38. I'm so glad I found you again. I'm looking forward to catching up on all the great information you share. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  39. Hi Rhonda!! My name is Varla and I live in Italy. I was visiting your precious and beautiful blog. I found it very interesting and I love everything you do, is so country! So cute! If you are agree, I want your name blog in mine blog. If you want to answerme one day, when you'll have time, ok? pinacotecarb@hotmail.it Thanks for sharing your precious tresours! Hugs from here, Varla.

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  40. To be both a speaker of words and a doer of deeds.

    -----------------------------------

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  41. Your blog is so refreshing! I am 23 and proud to be a homemaker. My husband and I made the decision early in our marriage that we would learn to be a one income family. What a good decision that was! Both of us working full time jobs was stressful, the house was always messy and homemade meals were not frequent enough. Our house is peaceful and joyful now and moving to casual work has been a good switch. We look forward to welcoming children into our family soon and are glad to have a HOME not just a house to welcome them into. Your blog is such an encouragement to me! So many people believe me to be wasting talent by, but I truly love building a home, learning to pickle and make bread and just be content! I hope that when I reach your age I am doing just what you are doing and even more content. Thank you!!

    Bethany

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  42. I had a great career until my daughter came and I became a single mom. I loved the idea of raising my child without a nanny but that was just not the case for me. My princess is already 4 and in school and I had to work 2 jobs and go to school full time to make ends meet and needless to say my daughter lost out on so much and I too. It was heart breaking hearing her tell me that she didn't want me to leave or go to work, that she missed me and I did cry several times as this stressed me out greatly and I have finally grown a business, 4 2 family homes upstate and I finally get to stay home with princess and work from home when she's in school and she is so much happier, she gets to have mommy everyday. I agree common sense is very uncommon nowadays, but I am thankful to have had a family of women homemakers that taught me life skills, such as sewing, gardening, reading, writing, cooking, basic engineering, survival skills, crochet, knitting, weaving, glass making, pottery, carpentry etc. I am able to do so much and not having to call someone who will overcharge me for something so simple. My greatest admiration and respect for all the homemakers out there and screw what society thinks. Your home is your castle and you rule in your castle, no one else. I also believe that the deterioration of values in the US is largely due to the lack of support to the children from not having a parent staying at home.

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