DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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18 October 2011

Homemaking - selling our brand

I'm preaching to the converted here when it comes to homemaking and the importance it holds in our lives. There are so many homemakers here, from the traditional to the not-so traditional. Some of us are stay at home mums with children to raise, some work in corporate, retail, health or education sectors but still very much retain the homemaker's focus and find that the time spent at home well and truly prepares us for the work we do to earn a living. We have female and male, single and married homemakers, we have gay and lesbian homemakers, we have feminist and traditional homemakers, we have homemakers with many children and some with none. Some live alone, some are part of large families. Some homemakers combine volunteering with their home duties, some are forced to stay at home due to illness or disability but take pride in being a homemaker, doing as much as they can for themselves. Along with all the ways we differ, come all sorts of variations on how we work, income levels that effect what we do and how much we do for ourselves, and personal circumstances that dictate where we live and how we work. 

We come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all. There is no one right way to do this.


One of the things that unites us though is the common feeling that generally we're undervalued as homemakers. We know the work we do at home is vital for ourselves and our families but it's also part of what builds good citizens and strong countries. Usually, if someone doesn't understand or disapproves of what I do, I shrug my shoulders. I really don't care. Not everyone can like me or what I do, I'm realistic, I respect their right to have their own opinion. However, this is different, this is a commonly held view that is just wrong on so many levels. I love what freefalling said in her comment on the last homemaking post: "I kinda feel like I have a wonderful secret that only the enlightened are able to share." I think that is spot on. But then Cityhippyfarmgirl writes: "This is a subject that is close to my heart as I've been a stay at home mum since I had my eldest. I know our choices are right for us, I know I save us a bucket load of money for everything I make from scratch, and source from different places. I know my kids are getting the best start in life that I can give them, and yet still those occasional outdated comments that will come from someone completely irrelevant (bank teller, person on the street etc) cut to the bone." When I read that, I feel it too.


Personally, I love it when I read of a homemaker who works in ways familiar to me. I like reading about people who have made a success out of working from home or working in a tough environment. But I also love to read that Richard has just bought the CWA cook book and he has cut back his outside working hours; that Liz wrote: "I was amused this week when my female housemate, my teenage daughter and me were out fencing the paddock for our new house cow, while my husband was inside cleaning and looking after the children."; and that Shannon and Mel are moving towards a formal commitment with their girlfriends. We are all different. Even those who appear to be very similar to us are different in many ways. Some of us work in our homes, some of us work outside them and some combine the two. And that is fine. How boring it would be if we were all dressed in grey, with blonde hair and freckles. It would be equally boring if we were all brown-eyed red heads, or all dark skinned, or all fair. Diversity is what makes the entire natural world so interesting and wonderful. I would love us to all be proud of whoever and whatever we are and to celebrate that diversity, not be threatened by it.


When I first started blogging about my version of a simple life most of the bloggers on this topic were writing about the politics of climate change, peak oil and group action. Very few wrote about home, family, house work or personal change; I think they were seen as mundane topics and too ordinary to be of any consequence. Well, I thrive on the mundane and ordinary, I dived in! I believed then and still do now, that any permanent change will only come when enough of us change ourselves first, then start working outwards. My change started when I returned to my home and started taking it seriously. When I realised that I could make myself happy by working at home, making this place as comfortable as possible for myself, my family and visitors, that was when I knew how profound and significant our homes could be. When I recognised that the work we do in our homes can enrich and empower, as well as being creative and satisfying, I knew that I had stumbled onto the mother lode. Our homes are our starting points - no matter what we do, home is where we start from and where we return to. Home is that important and it is the work done there that transforms the shell of four walls into a home that nurtures and protects.


I would like us all to form a united approach on this. If people don't understand us, don't know what we're doing, or wondering if we're sitting around all day watching TV, let's tell them. When someone asks you what you do, tell them: "I'm a homemaker. I'm looking after my babies/elderly father/volunteering/working part-time" or whatever it is you're doing, and "I'm learning to knit, cooking from scratch, growing organic food in the backyard, I'm working on cleaning the house without harsh chemicals. I make soap. I'm saving money at home so we can pay off our mortgage faster."  or whatever your version of the way we live is. Tell them your "wonderful secret". If you just baked the best bread you've ever made, tell your friends and everyone else who will listen. If we have to listen to all the babble about "bling", smart phones, "I can't boil an egg", Jimmy Choo shoes and how they can't get by without their extra shot vanilla latte, then they can listen to us talk about how we finding meaning and satisfaction at home. Now that's fair trade! Let's tell everyone who will listen how we spend our time and do it with pride and a smile.

Let's be our own advertisement. 


55 comments:

  1. Thank you for this pick-me-up. I've been a homemaker for 10 years and just recently (finally) got into the groove of things.

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  2. I've been a 'stay at home' Mum for 31 years. I have raised and still raising my own 6 children and 1 adopted child, 5 long term foster children and over 60 short term foster children. I love being at home and can't think of anything else I would rather be working at.

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  3. Thank you so much, Rhonda, for today's post. I appreciate your generosity of spirit. And I applaud the courage required for you to include ALL of us in this community. I have been a faithful reader almost since you began this blog. No matter what the topic I always had a sense that you were a person of great integrity and felt "spoken to" even if I didn't fit within the typical demographic.

    This post means a lot to me-----thank you.

    Rosemary from Oregon, USA

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  4. I really like this post!! I think you said everything we think and feel and then some! I get those negative comments as well sometimes from people who don't understand ....but these people aren't as happy and satisfied as me , and I just feel compassion for them.
    Yes you are preaching to the converted, but like ripples in a pond , it spreads further and further everytime you say it.

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  5. I would like to say I enjoy your blog very much and get alot out of it.. I would like to know why you put parchment paper in your bread pan? thanks.. Brenda

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  6. I love being a stay at home mum and am proud to be a homemaker, my problem is that when you have to fill in forms and state your occupation there is nothing that really fits the bill of what we really do!

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  7. Thank you for your encouragement, Rhonda! You are such a great writer and your blog has been very educational for me! I am learning not to let others get to me with their comments even though I am sensitive so it is hard for me!

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  8. Best Blog Post ever. You hit the nail right on the head Rhonda. Thanks Sister.

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  9. I love this post. This is MY life! Everything revolves around family life for us. Our home and garden are EVERYTHING and I am constantly working on new skills (sourdough, spinning, knitting etc.) that seem all important to me but others may see as time wasting or boring. Funnily, my post today ties in with this. Hubby's roles and mine aren't always traditional! http://greenhavengoodlife.blogspot.com/2011/10/addiction-of-spinning.html

    Thank you Rhonda, you have such an ability to see the bigger picture!

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  10. Rhonda,

    Love this post and all your posts on homemaking! You always help make me feel valuable. :-) I love raising my girls and I wouldn't have it any other way!

    blessings,
    Jill

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  11. Yes! Let's (be our own advertisemnt)!

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  12. What a fantastic post Rhonda! My goal for this week is to not feel bad when others ask am i 'still' not working (the twins are only 14months now for goodness sake...12 months seems to be the official return to work policy somehow!)or to feel old and'wierd' because i don't want the latest phone or gadget...but to do as you suggest and spread the word about what i am actually doing as a homemaker!
    Thank you for again opening my eyes and helping me to feel just that little bit better about myself and my choices. Jode xx

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  13. I would love to see this empowering message within your post also broadcast by politicians - that people can add so much to family life and society as a whole by taking on the role of homemaking. I think I must be dreaming though!

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  14. I really like your sentiment here - such a great reminder to have pride in what we do. But also of the fact that we have something to teach, something to give. The changes we make to our lives now will impact the communities we live in over time.

    And that's exciting!

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  15. Absolutely brilliant post Rhonda!

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  16. Hooray to Rhonda for saying out loud what we all feel. I am a Homemaker and I am proud of it!

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  17. Hurrah Rhonda, for reminding us not to be selfish with our wonderful lifestyles but to tell everyone we meet about it so they can decide if they want the same satisfaction and enjoyment from their lives too!
    Cheers,
    Robyn

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  18. Lovely post Rhonda. I'm sure the more that we sell our lifestyles away from the hamster wheel of "more money, more spending", the more people will want to join us.

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  19. Thank you for your honesty in writing. That is what I love about coming over and reading. I'm a homemaker and proud of it. I was just watching some ladies while I was at the 4H office waiting on my son. I asked myself, "Could I really be happy working outside the home?" No, I truly could not. I love my "job" I would not be happy anywhere else.

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  20. Such a terrific post. So true. I usually do not tell people to much what I do around my house. The other day I had a fundraiser at my house for Red Cross and while sitting and eating cake and sharing a cuppa I showed some of the things I had made recently and the feedback was so awesome. I actually used about 10 home made items as prizes. The comment was made as to why I hadn't said anything about what I do. This made me think and then your post has made me think even more. I hate pushing myself onto others is one reason - secondly I suppose is the fear of what I am doing is boring in some way to them - and thirdly as I age I just can't be bothered as often to try and tell someone something that they do not want to hear. All very negative in so many ways. I am reassessing. Thanks and Cheers, Wendy

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  21. Brooke, you put into words exactly what I was thinking. Homemaking is revolutionary!

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  22. Thank you for this, I just wrote about my desire to be proud of my "Working Away From Home - Maker" status too.
    http://mollymakesdo.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/the-work-away-from-home-maker/

    I like to think of it as proudly claiming my vocation as a wife and mother, though the "hows might be different from others called to same, but it's the fact that we welcome it that's the important part.

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  23. Good point - I do listen to a lot of babble about smart phones, what the Kardashians are up to, and how caffeinated people are...so why not chat it up about how my radishes are growing, how I make my own deodorant, and what I've made from scratch! ;)

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  24. reading your post today, it dawned on me that there is a HUGE difference between being a stay-at-home-mum and being a HOME MAKER...

    I guess I hadn't really thought about it much before, but I now realise that the person who was not 'sold' on the concept was ME

    all these years I have been home with the kids, but I haven't truely been a home maker... today you've opened my eyes to how important MY role in this family is... and I'M EXCITED!!!

    thank you

    Sharon

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  25. I wish there was a "like" button on all these comments as well as the post! Thank you again, for your homemaking posts. It is a constant battle in my home-making life to feel good about what I do, to feel that it is "enough" and stand up to the pressures to work more, have more, do more, be more. I love my life, my family is happy and sane, and I want to keep doing what I do. Nothing else in life has made me happier or more eager to learn or hoping to please (myself and others). No job outside the home has ever done that for me. Like you, I thrive on the mundane and ordinary, and I kinda wish more people did too. Maybe they could give up the rat race then! It's not that I'm never bored or restless, but I try to keep that in check. I figure that every job has its good and bad moments, and it's human to complain, but for the most part this homemaking job is where I want to be.

    Thank you again!

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  26. I've been blessed to have had my chances at being both the high-powered business woman and bread-winner of the family to being a home-maker who wants nothing more than to just make a nice home, grow my veggies and herbs, then collect my fresh eggs from the backyard. But, during my years of business, I had to pay for domestic help and YES I did feel inadequate because I could not do everything. Being able to maintain a home on such a high level is indeed an art-form. To ENJOY it and do it with gusto shows that keeping home sacred to all who step over the threshold should never be a skill diminished by small thinking. I can say with experience that I'd much rather be capable of running my home than running a hopping business. The home life will be much more thankful in the long run. I promise. Business deals are shallow, temporary and do not leave their mark, no matter how big of an ego we might have...it is not really that important. Home is always important.

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  27. Great post Rhonda. I have been a SAHM but work part time also for 13 years or so. I have always "sailed my own ship" so to speak and you have set me thinking about talking to others more about what I do to simplify, save and thrive!

    Best,

    Lucy

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  28. Great Post! Well said!! I AM a proud Homemaker!!

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  29. When I read this post it reminded me just how very lucky I am. Where I live, and the people I choose to be in community with, would never, ever, make a derogatory comment devaluing the work I (and they) do as a home maker and mother. Perhaps it would be different if I lived in a city? I find in my country/regional area there is a lot more appreciation, respect and understanding of this lifestyle choice.
    I still work p/t in my hard-earned career, and I cherish that work, too. (Plus we need my income for our family to function!)
    But, right now, with little children, home is where I spend most of my time and find myself most fulfilled.
    Thank you for another thought provoking post Rhonda.
    x
    Megan

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  30. Hmm...that's food for thought.

    I'm not sure what makes me so hesitant to call myself a homemaker.
    I think it's too limiting - we need a better, bigger word.
    Certainly I'm not ashamed of what I do - but you know what - I think I feel a bit guilty.

    As I've mentioned before, I like to call myself a general bludger.
    And even though I work all day growing vegies and baking and making chutney and preserves and making and sewing stuff and all the other million little things - I really do feel like a bludger in one sense, coz what I do, doesn't feel like work.
    Plus I don't have any kids.
    And I don't have to work to bring in a wage - not coz we are rich!

    I think I feel guilty, coz I'm lucky enough to get to stay at home and do something I love, whereas I think the majority (not everyone, of course) of the workforce would much rather be elsewhere than at their jobs.
    In typical Aussie fashion I don't want to appear to be blowing my own horn or rubbing others' faces in my obvious happiness and fulfilment and in the fact, that I am as "free" as a bird to go where the day takes me and am beholdin' to no one.

    Again, another Aussie trait - I don't think I want appear "too up myself"!

    Oh hang on!
    I've just had a thought!
    Maybe I DO want people to be jealous of what I do?!!
    And calling myself a Homemaker doesn't achieve that - but insinuating I'm some sort of hedonistic free spirit, DOES.
    OMG!! - I am "up myself".

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  31. Always love stopping by your blog :]

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  32. Hi Rhonda,

    Terrific post. I had always worked outside the home in management positions that required long, long hours, until advanced breast cancer knocked me on my butt. When working I still considered myself a homemaker though, maybe not in the traditional sense. I didnt have time to bake a lot, I had an ironing lady, I didnt have time to knit or crochet, BUT our home was our soft place to land, our safe haven. To me, home is the place where you know you are not going to be judged or criticized, but where you feel safe, loved and accepted. Providing that place for yourself and your family also makes you a homemaker.

    I feel lucky in a way, to have the time now to do all those other things like baking, gardening, and learning to sew.

    Tarnie

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  33. I love this post...I have been struggling lately. I have 3 children 4 years-18 months. I really do love staying at home with them...I am learning how to sew, knit, and can our food. I am loving "getting back to the basics." But it is still hard. Sometimes I beat myself up about what I'm not doing or what I want to do but don't. I have this ideal in my head and it is hard not to compare. I know that that is wrong, but that is how it is. So thank you for the post...it gives me something to think on.

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  34. Wonderful, wonderful post

    I remember the days my hubby would come home from work and ask what on earth I did all day. It use to infuriate me! I would make lists, upon lists of what I did, until I thought it was not worth my efforts. Finally I said to him " what does the farm look like when you get home?" His answer, " the same as when I left". I replied " Have you ever be able to accomplish that with seven kids around?" He tried and once and said I can have the job back!

    From another 'engineer of household management and finances and the science of domestics and animal husbandry' too many letters behind the title to to put down.

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  35. Thank you for such a great post. I have been a SAHM for almost 10 years now. My husband and I can't imagine any other way our family would function if I didn't stay home, homeschooling our two girls. I have to say that I may be in the minority here, but I have never come across any negative attitudes toward my postion, from people I know or from strangers. Either people keep their opinions to themselves or I just don't notice them, but I receive nothing but positivity from others. Maybe it's where I live, Orange County, California. It's pretty conservative here. A lot of moms stay home.

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  36. I work part-time, but love to be a home-maker the rest of the time, baking, crafting, and now thanks to you I have already made soap and laundry liquid, although for many years I had already tried staying away from chemicals just buying "green" detergents, shampoo,etc. I know that when I speak to some friends about making soap, etc, they look at me as if I just landed from another world, but I can´t be bothered what they think, I will follow my ideals and thankfully I have a husband who supports my ideas. Lovely post Rhonda!!

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  37. Here here! I have been a stay at home mummy for almost 2 years now,but it's only been in the last couple of months that I've really stopped caring about what other people think of my chosen profession and just started enjoying the fulfilment I get from being at home with my daughter. I love what I do, I love that I can be with my daughter during these few precious years, and I love that I am becoming the person I always wanted to be, but for a long time didn't feel like it was ok to be- a wife, mother and homemaker. Thank you Rhonda! Jess

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  38. Thank you so much for this post, Rhonda. I have never doubted the decision to stay at home with our children. But I often felt the urge to rectify this decision when the chilfren were older and I was asked what I was doing. Now people sometimes assume that I am in early retirement, and I don´t always have the courage to correct them. But after reading your post, I will!

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  39. Rhonda, I have always been very proud to be a homemaker and have always felt very lucky to have the chance to have such a rewarding career! I have never thought of it to be outdated or looked down on and have never felt it either until just recently... I have just finished filling in two state school enrollment forms for my daughters who start prep and high school next year. These forms have a numbered code to survey the socioeconomic status of the families in the area who attend the schools. I found it very demeaning when the code I had to use for my chosen career path was categorised as Unemployed!! I might not make top dollar but I personally believe that my chosen home life is far richer than those doctors, lawyers and bankers listed in Category 1...

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  40. I value and respect those who work inside their homes and those who work outside their homes, those who volunteer and those who do not or those who combine any of these options. People can find meaning in one sphere and then jump into the other role and then move back to the former area throughout their lifespan.

    Mothers who don't get paid & brain surgeons who garner a very high wage can both feel that the lives they have chosen are wonderful. What's important, in my opinion, is not to judge the other one as "less than" or "better than".....to have confidence in what one does and not to define oneself by what one DOES, but rather by WHO (or WHOSE) we are.

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  41. Dear Rhonda,

    I don't know if you have noticed but lately there is an upward trend in your posts of "them" and "us"... it wasn't like that when I first started reading your blog 3 years ago, your writing used to be more just and gentle. I just wanted to point out this observation, as someone who is a loyal reader enjoying your posts.

    Jimmy Choo shoes and BlackBerries are part of this world, just like gardening and bread making. I say the career people should respect the homemakers and vice versa, but all the while keeping in mind that we can coexist.
    It is thanks to many high flying career people that we can sleep safely at night, can get a good lawyer when we need to, buy the products that we need in homemaking.
    And it is thanks to homemakers that the kids are brought up nicely, family ties kept strong and love nourished. I don't think one is more important than the other.

    I am a homemaker too and I know it is a lot of work in a house, it never ends. But I also know that if every woman was a homemaker, things wouldn't be so nice.. let's remember that for millions of women, working outside of the home means financial freedom that can save them from opressive families, or even being traded like animals in some countries.

    with love,
    athina

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  42. athina, with respect, I think you misread the post.

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  43. I just love that last part. Let's not just listen to what they think matters but tell them what matters to us.
    What I find funny is that sometimes if I do tell people about my weekend, baking bread, tending the garden, they ask me how I manage to do it all. What they don't see is that I didn't have time to go shopping or watch TV for hours. It's all about priorities I guess...

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  44. I just recently found your blog and I enjoy it very much. I have been a SAHM and homemaker for 13 years and have had the same experiences as you, even if we live in different countries (we live in Quebec, Canada). My husband and I are very grateful to be able to offer a quality of life to our girls and they appreciate it so much. I think it is nice to finally find people who understand exactly how I feel!

    Lynn

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  45. I don't get to stay at home because I'm single. But I did read all those other blogs you spoke of -- the ones that never mentioned home. Guess what? Yours is the only blog I have continued to read over a year now. I deleted the others. Great work Rhonda Jean. Thank you for making some of my hours at work pass a little more quickly.

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  46. Thank you for this post and your blog. I struggle with answering "So what do you do?" I will try not to mumble anymore and say "oh, nothing. I just stay at home." because that is just not true! I'm going to proudly announce "I'm a homemaker."

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  47. Brilliant post, dear Rhonda!
    Diversity in homemaking rules!

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  48. Here Here! Rhonda, excellent post.
    The one thing that bugs me about being a homemaker is when you have to fill in a form, could be to do with anything. But the question is asked. "Do you work full time or part time or not at all?"
    How do you answer?
    I know I work full time at home, but the question relates to paid work, workforce work.
    There is never a place where you can validate your way of life if you are a work at home person.
    Dayla

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  49. I'm a homemaker. Even during the times I worked outside of the home, I was also a homemaker.

    Now I'm a homemaker with a medically fragile child with special needs.

    My house isn't as clean as it once was.

    Sometimes (like tonight) I simply too tired to make the stuffing for tonight's dinner from scratch and instead grab a couple of boxes of the store stuff that I purchased on sale and with coupons.

    My homemaking has expanded to nursing and homeschooling a little one to fragile to go to school.

    Things may have changed from a few years ago, but the love in my home has grown stronger.

    Tammy and Parker
    www.prayingforparker.com

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  50. i like this post a lot!

    what gets me is how if i was working as a nanny or a child carer all day, getting paid a wage for it, then my work is recognised and valued by our government... but staying at home with my own children doing the same job PLUS more is not recognised or valued by our government (and therefore a lot of society as a result)... in fact we are financially punished for making this decision- which happens to be best for our family... it's a topsy turvy world we live in sometimes...

    i'm always shocked when people with no families who work an 8 hour day to have their weekends to brunch etc ask me what i do all day? do i watch tv? do i get bored? i have small children who aren't yet in school and a new baby (so sleep is a rare treat)...
    amy

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  51. Oh my goodnesss to I LOVE this post!!! You are so spot on. What a wonderful community of homemakers we are growing in this world! And thanks be for us to have a place (online) to gather like this for sharing and support.

    I will be advertising my brand more and more that is for sure....no matter the inital response to "So I picked grapes and made fresh grape juice for breakfast. Next I am going to be making grape jelly!" might be.

    I just about screamed when I read:
    "If we have to listen to all the babble about "bling", smart phones, "I can't boil an egg", Jimmy Choo shoes and how they can't get by without their extra shot vanilla latte, then they can listen to us talk about how we finding meaning and satisfaction at home. Now that's fair trade!"

    Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

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  52. I love to tell everyone that I make a bread that no store can beat. I love it more when I can share some with them.
    Carin

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  53. Hi Rhonda
    I do agree the value of a homemaker needs to be elevated. Today I corrected my friend when she announced she is due to have twins soon and she felt it was not long until domestic slavery was coming her way. I corrected her that it is dometic bliss. Truthfully deep down I didn't agree. I crave for help from all the family. I feel like a slave. Homemakers needs more respect and everyone to contribute. Homemakers also need to be able to work away from the home if they so desire, this means everyone needs to chip in and be "the homemaker"

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  54. I've beed a home maker for 20 months. I feel it is more important to provied a stable home life for my young family at the moment. I no longer grind my teeth at night and the other day my hubby commented that he had not heard me talk in my sleep for some time. Maybe homemaking is for me, it has definatly impoved my stress levels. No more bad stress, just the good stuff now and because we don't need smart phones or Jimmy Choo shoes and I'm happy to do the from scratch stuff, I'm lucky enough to afford to stay home full time. Now I just need to sell my brand. Thanks for the idea.

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Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

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