Change is in the air. I can feel it in my bones. Housekeeping, the acts of budgeting, food production, home cooking, cleaning, and caring for a family, is becoming a more attractive option for young people to immerse themselves in. Instead of being seen as second best, it's now up there as being a healthy, dignified, modern, family-centred way of gaining balance and harmony in life. Gone are the days when ambition and promotion win every time. Now there is a gentler option, now it's okay to put yourself in the picture and decide that the work that pays the bills can function efficiently alongside the unpaid work of housekeeping. Working together, they pay the biggest and best dividends.
This week's flowers from the garden are mini gerberas, zinnias, camellias and mock orange greenery.
After too many years of men and women working hard to buy everything they are supposed to want and need, up popped common sense to ask this question: "Why not work less and do more for myself so that I don't need so much money to live?" Could it be that simple? Living well on less, hmmm, it's got a good ring to it. Most of us have grown up with the idea that you must work to have the money to keep up with the Joneses and while that concept is the basis of our Western economies, I believe families have been short-changed by it. While our governments are saying that families are the centrepiece of the nation, they put the economy first; surely they should have equal footing. I’m not advocating we all give up work and stay home to mellow out but it shouldn’t be an all or nothing scenario. There should be an option for job sharing, part time work, two parents working at different times, working from home and home businesses. No one is telling us to cut our desires and expenses so we can give more time to family and to life. The emphasis is to build the economy, work longer, buy more, live in bigger houses and have “good debt”. Up until the second world war, before the days of credit cards and huge mortgages, we all lived very happily with less and by doing much of the work we now pay to have done for us. It's a vicious circle - we work to have the money to live well, but when we see all those things we want, we have to work more to pay for it all. We also spend more on food because we don't have the time to carefully prepare our own food. A quick burger or bucket of chicken may be handy at the end of a busy day but that and being tired and overworked is putting us in our graves too soon.
A small garden harvest for that night's dinner.
I think the economic crisis has been another part of the push towards homekeeping - as people lose their jobs, they concentrate more on saving money in the home and realise they can save a lot and that the work is rewarding. Some have seen the sense of growing food if there is space in the backyard, some have been more aware of their grocery budget and some have started knitting, sewing and making gifts in an endeavour to enrich life and save money at the same time. Thirty-seven percent of American households are actively growing vegetable gardens now. Hanno went to our local market early on Sunday morning to buy seedlings and had to wait five minutes at 5.45am to be served. When he left, over 50 people were waiting at the little stall to buy their precious cargo. We have been buying seedlings on and off at that stall for 12 years and it's never been that busy. Things are changing.
I think blogs have helped drive this change too. Instead of reading only what is edited and thought to be what people want to (and should) read in magazines and newspapers, guided not so gently by the influence of advertisers, along came blogs, where all we have to do it press "publish" to get our unsolicited, uncensored and unedited thoughts out there. Many of those thoughts are pedestrian and supporting the status quo but there were also many subversive blogs that showed happy housewives, beautiful homes filled with love but not much money, people being fulfilled and enriched by working in their homes and a kind of nostalgia for the old days when all that was commonplace. Blogs have shown us that the unorthodox and unconventional ways of those people not caught up in modern "must have" living are a valuable template for a way of life that allows us to enjoy home and family without working till we drop to achieve it.
Home made baked egg custard with nutmeg topping. Shhhh, the cook had a little taste. Both Hanno and I agree it's drop dead delicious. A triple D rating.
Housework and homemaking are sustainable. Whatever is put into it is paid back to the worker, not in dollars but in comfort, appreciation, happiness, satisfaction, calmness, love and security. It's one of the types of work that is self-fulfilling and gently layered. There is no corporate ladder, work can be left until tomorrow and you don't work overtime unless someone is sick, or on the odd occasion when a ballet costume needs to be made or covering the robot costume with tin foil before the school play just has to be done. More and more I see it – families with one main breadwinner, or two casual workers, whose main desire is to work enough to pay the bills but not enough to wipe out those years from 25 – 60. Vegetable gardening, DIY, home cooking, homekeeping, organisation and budgeting are making a comeback. I think a change to common sense has started, I hope there will be no going back.