1 May 2012

Finding your value at home - part 2

I received a followup email from Joannie that said: "I have a girlfriend only 18months younger than myself (I’m 36) who has two gorgeous boys aged nearly three and 14months. She has been making the difficult decision as to whether to return to paid work after her second round of maternity leave. She was telling me she feels so torn about wanting to raise her boys herself rather than grandparents or child care but she’s struggling to deal with her feelings of “not contributing to the home financially”. We have been discussing this in great detail and I’ve been left feeling how sad that Mothers or Fathers that don’t re-enter paid work force are left feeling guilty and unworthy. As if what they do each day is not important or valued anymore.

Not contributing to the home financially! That makes my blood boil. When you leave the workforce to work at home, it is your job to manage the home with the money available to you. What is careful shopping for bargains, meal planning, stockpiling, making green cleaners, baking bread, making soap, cooking from scratch, recycling, mending, buying in bulk, caring for children? What are all these things if not contributing to the financial viability of the home? There is more than one way to contribute. Homemakers work as part of a team - there is a homemaker and a breadwinner. Both equally important. They can be a male homemaker and female breadwinner, or the other way around, they can be the same sex. One makes the money, the other uses it wisely to care for the family and pay the bills. If we don't value these partnerships of one breadwinner and one homemaker or two breadwinners who are part-time homemakers, then we lose out as a society.  Our countries are populated by families with children who raise those children to take on the role of breadwinners and homemakers when it comes to be their time. We are not a solely a commercial enterprise. We are not working primarily to keep the country going, although that is a valuable side benefit, we're working to provide a good life for our families. We have a human component that is vital and without it we fail - morally and commercially.

Never forget that a dollar saved is better than a dollar earned - you do not pay tax on a saved dollar.

 Opa and Jamie having breakfast on the weekend. Jamie was happy, he had his banana and his favourite gorilla toy.

I challenge all the homemakers here to record the savings they make over the course of a month. There will be savings, I have no doubt. Work out also how much it would cost to return to the work force - in work clothes, transport, lunches, haircuts, everything. When you add child care costs into that equation, often it doesn't make financial sense to go back to work. When it does, the benefits of parents rearing their own children should be considered along with whether both parents want to work. In some families, both parents want to work, in some both parents need to work. In other families, a decision is made that one will go out to work and one will stay home to work. All decisions are valid for their own reasons and no one has the right to say that the decision someone else makes to work at home or in the workforce is not right, or not enough. We can all help this along. Stop judging others on the choices they make. I support homemakers, I support women who have to work and who choose to work. I support all women. I hope you can too. If you're in work at home or in the workforce, respect the choices other women make, even if you don't agree or understand it. Everyone has their own story, and you never know how destructive your words might be. Either offer your encouragement, or say nothing.

Enough chocolate chip biscuits were baked to do us through the week and to package up a few for visitors to take home.

So, let's get back to the subject at hand. If you do decide to stay at home, make the conscious decision that your career is working in your home. Homemaking is your new job. Learn as much as you can about what you need and want to do - there is no one size fits all in this, each one of us is different. Manage your family like a little business, you'll need to have short term plans, long term plans, work to a budget and look after your assets. This is real work and often you'll develop self reliance along with all the other skills you develop at home. And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing that will help you all through your life.

When you decide to work in your home full time, often you may have to spend sometime moving things around to better suit how you will work. Modern homes and renovated home are usually set up more for entertaining than for home production and family life. At the very least you should set up your kitchen to suit how you work but if that works well, maybe you can move and rejig how the rest of the house works for you too. Forget about what others are thinking - live as you wish, develop your skills and your self confidence and become more self reliant. There is no greater gift you can give to a child than to be there, to express love and support and to show them that the life you've built makes you happy. If you can do that, you'll be a fine role model along with being a fine parent.


One of our Barnevelders perching on top of the tap!

Never let anyone demean the work you do at home. If you have small children, what better work could you have than to guide them, teach them, protect them and to show them, by example, how wonderful life can be? The home is the best place to learn life skills and to pass what you learn on to your children. As children grow, they still need you as their guiding light. Teenagers will benefit from knowing you're there when they come home from school. Giving them your time, in addition to your never ending love, is the best investment in their future.

Own your life.  What you do everyday is so important. Every one of those days make up your life. Your daily work will help define the person you become so whether you're the manager of a dozen employees or the homemaking mother/father of two or ten, put your best into every day so that you get its full value. If you can find a good balance between work and the time to enjoy what you work for, you'll be in the best position.

ADDITION: My thanks to Madge who sent this newspaper clipping relating to this post. Thanks Madge.

63 comments:

  1. I'll lift my glass of home-brew to that! :)

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  2. Spot in Rhonda! I stopped working when I was 7 months pregnant with our first child and now 17yrs later I am still at home. I have always tried to manage my home and finances as a wise steward in our home but have found small ways to contribute to the income with a little home based business. It can be done. To the friend who is considering not going back to work I can only encourage her to stay at home with her little ones if she is financially able and her husband willing. The rewards are so huge and this time with her children can never be redeemed. Lovel post again.

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  3. Thank you for this post, it reinforces to me why I became a Stay at Home Mummy x x

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  4. The warm fireplaceMay 01, 2012 5:53 am

    A powerful post Rhonda i wish someone had told me this 27 years ago, i feel very positive from this, i had never looked on it like a business ,it is ,and i shall make mine profitable!
    Sue

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  5. I love this post (and yesterday's). I find it hard to keep in mind that my work is valuable and needed - my in-laws are less than supportive of me staying at home, and I've just reached the stage where virtually all of my friends have returned to work outside of the home. I needed to read this today. Thank you!

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  6. I have always loved being a stay at home mum- even when it's not easy with 6 children underfoot all day!

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  7. Yes, Amen from me too!

    I love your line 'we are not soley an commercial enterprise'. So true.

    I get asked this alot myself, especially from single, independent friends. There is a little adjusting if you are used to being so independent, but that's what the partnership of marriage is all about.

    I also second your advice to make your house a home that suits your needs as they are now. We finally figured that out last year and we are so much happier in our house now.

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  8. I wish this blog had been around when I had my daughter 22 years ago. My husband and I made the decision that if we had children I would stay at home, which I was happy with, after all that is all I wanted to be was a wife and a mother. Having said that when people asked me what do you do and I replied I am a stay at home Mum, it was like my life wasn't worth while, and it made me feel as if I wasn't contrbuting, thankfully I found another stay at home Mum, and she had the same response, we discussed the issues and decided it was their problem not ours. I enjoyed brining up my daughter and being a homemaker, I still do, so I suppose what I am trying to say is, don't feel down graded, if you can work out a way to stay at home do it, it is so rewarding, and I love evry minute of it.
    Michelle

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  9. After reading this post, I feel I barely have time to leave a comment. Yet again I am inspired to jump up and get on with my day of homemaking. Sourdough to make, beds, washing, chooks to feed. I love my role in our family!

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  10. I was a stay at home for years and return to work force when the boys where in middle school. Here it is 7th grade.
    But for us it never would pay for me to work full time. My wages would just go for day care. I knew my mom wouldn't baby-sit full time for us. Forgot his dad at all.
    No my husband wages where never big. Usual in the winter he receive unemployment benefits.
    So we even stuck a little bit in saving, keep all the bill current and the boys always got to participate in there school and community.

    I once read a book on the value of a stay at home mom and this book place them the level of a mid manger.

    Coffee is on.

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  11. How I wish everybody could hear this message! You have really brought this point across so clearly and without any prejudices - you are right, every one has their own story and lives accordingly....who are we to judge others?
    Rhonda, I've been a home maker for all of my 26 years of mothering and still your words are like rain on parched earth. Thanks for sharing this so eloquently.

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  12. Yet again a great read. Liked the bit about not judging people we do all have our story, let us all continue to be encouragers.

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  13. couldn't agree with you more!! great posts!

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  14. when costing going back to work don't forget to include doctor and chemist bills for all the "bugs" that are picked up at day care, not just for that child but siblings and parents.Parents will also have to take days off if kids are really sick or if they get sick themselves, seriously, it adds up !

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  15. I feel heart broken as I read this and yesterdays post. Never never minimise your importance as a mother &homemaker, I am a single parent and must work full time to support my family and I hate it. I would dearly love to be able to be a stay at home mum. I think we forget that bosses and jobs don't really care too much about you, and money comes and goes but our time is precious & the time you miss with your kids you can never get back. Treasure it.

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  16. "If you do decide to stay at home, make the conscious decision that your career is working in your home. Homemaking is your new job."

    Wow, I wish someone had said that to me three years ago when I made the decision to stay at home to raise my son.

    These words are empowering AND motivating! Thank you so much.

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  17. You are right on the costs, Rhonda, as there's ample shiftwork available here but the shifts are flexible and short so you never know until the beginning of each week when you will be working and due to the distance to town, wear and tear on the car and the cost of petrol it's hardly worth the effort.
    All fine if you live in the CBD or surrounds but a bit impossible from a rural perspective 40+km away.
    I save quite a bit of money by being a DIY SAHM and working short irregular hours with lots of travelling would not improve my life, or my family's, at all.
    Robyn

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  18. This a fabulous post! I work fulltime outside the home at the moment (though I have been a fulltime and parttime inside the home worker too) and I can honestly say the tide is turning as I often hear comments about how 'sad' it is that I work fulltime. It would be great if everyone would just accept each persons choices as you do Rhonda!

    I completely agree that noone should demean your choices! Again another great post.

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  19. Another thing that women who work primarily in the home can do is volunteer in their neighborhood. Two friends and I who are on our town's Green Team, have built gardens and gotten our local schools to recycle and compost. This past Sunday we held an increadible Earth Day celebration for our town. It was organized by about 5 people, and had over 60 exhibitors and vendors, hundreds of attendees and real community spirit. I am proud of my husband's work that gives me the opportunity to be proud of my contributions to our kids' school and community. Check out the work of our green team here:
    https://sites.google.com/site/waylandgreenteam/

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  20. Great post Rhonda, both today's and yesterday's. Well done, I am a SAHM and I love it. So does my husband, he hates it when I go out to work, he sees how stressed out I get, and he prefers to come home to a well kept home with a nice meal and a happy wife! Women can be each other's worst enemies, and we can also be our own worst enemies. Be happy with your choices, whatever they are.

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  21. I have been a SAHM since our first child was born 11 years ago and love it. As you say Rhonda - we respect everyone's decision whether they work or stay home. It just seems the choice to stay home is under attack more. I have had to struggle with the feelings that I'm not 'achieving' enough by being at home when comments such as "I need more than changing nappies to fulfil myself" are said to my face. Staying home raising children is a career at that point in ones life. Apart from all the truths about saving money by staying home, I also feel comfortable that for this time of my life while I choose to stay home with the children, the family allowance from the govt is my income. Between that and my husbands income we are thankful to be able to survive quite well. I love that I'm around to be able to volunteer at the school and be there with my kids too; to go and join them at an assembly and to bring them to soccer and have the mental energy also to hear them when they come home. It's a great job! I love that I have time to join someone lonely (or not so lonely) for a coffee and volunteer in my church and local community and spend time helping my children learn the same. Maybe one day when they are grown up I can add more to our income but for now we work with what we have and we're loving it. Wishing all Mums not only strength and health in our jobs inside or outside the home but also moments to treasure - ones that you or your children will remember always.

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  22. That is a very good point you make about modern homes being designed for leisure rather than home production and family life. We had our final "Living Better With Less" class for this course on Sunday and one of the young women remarked how equipped she thought her kitchen to be but now she is redesigning storage space and accumulating jars, bottles, strainers, "real kitchen aids" she said. The same I'm sure could be said for modern gardens too.
    Part I also brought very clearly to mind an incident I had a couple of years ago at a fund raiser cocktail party. I was speaking with the professor for whom we were raising the money for his medical research and in the course of conversation as happens, he asked me "What I did?" "I am a full time homemaker"I replied. There was a moment of confusion and speechlessness (he and I are similar age) and I realised he was unsure whether this was a congratulations or commiserations moment so I rescued him with "...and I have never in my life felt so fulfilled and whole" The sigh of relief from him was audible and he became excited and genuinely pleased to discuss my "career" option. It was then that I realised as a society we have created some very real stigmas. It became clear to me that there are a raft of men out there proud of women and their skills for nurturing and home-making as much as any other career choice but they are quite scared to admire it for fear of being accused sexist and anti-feminist. I applaud the feminist movement and achievements but like everything, it's about balance and we have let the pendulum swing too far one way. My husband is very proud of me and values what I do but it was still a thrill to see admiration in another man's eyes and I know he was encouraged to think he might one day find a girl like that too.

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  23. Rhonda, this and part 1 are your BEST posts yet :) You have both cheered me and motivated me to carry on confidently and purposefully in my chosen career path (staying home). While it's a little lonely at times, I feel the camaraderie and friendship from across the miles. Thank you so very much XO

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  24. Here! Here! Beautifully said! I'm in my thirties and staying home by choice. So many of my peers unfortunately look down on this decision, but I know a couple young women making my same choice and I try to encourage them whenever I can. I've felt more empowered working in my home than either of the "high powered" careers I once had.
    -Jaime

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  25. Rhonda, i would love to be a sahm to my 3 children although my husband simply refuses me to give up paid work, he response when i bring up this subject is "we don't live in the 1950's anymore" !

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  26. When I married and it was decided right away for me to remain at home. The thought of anyone thinking this was a bad decision was foreign to us. I married right at the cusp of the 60's women's movement and the before and after sentiments were amazing. It was not till all the hubbub and protests on behalf of women's rights that I first began to hear any negative comments about homemakers. Seriously I thought it would be a passing thing. The women I knew then all seemed proud of their occupation at home. I grew up in the 50s when it was so common for women to be at home tending all sorts of things to keep the house running. Watching that your budget stayed within your husbands wages was one of them. Doing that and having a savings account too was the goal. No charge cards then. Single mothers around us taught piano or dance or singing. Some did sewing or tailoring. Some had boarders. The other women helped them when they could with free baby sitting, extra produce from their gardens and of course another women to share life's trials with. Filling in where they could be helpful. I am so glad I had that early glimpse at how beautiful life can be when people care about each other. I am hearing more and more of women taking a step towards staying home now again. I hope they can help to keep this tide going. We need to be kind to each other and with decrement help when and where we feel it is needed. Being home as you and others have said you have a a tremendous amount of things you can do to keep down finances. Plus along the way in the food department you can eat even better than you did on less money. One skill builds onto another and you seem to keep finding new ways to save. The feeling of accomplishment is huge. To know you are passing on these skill to your children is priceless. They will start out in life knowing things it took you so much longer to learn. What took you a while to feel comfortable doing daily they will have done for years and be come natural to them. My husband took a huge pay cut and so I decided to go to work when the children were almost old enough to be out of the house. We did not get ahead by me doing that...we got behind. I was not home to do all the little thing that add up to big savings. I was so tired when I got home I did not enjoy cooking like I had. I just wanted to get a quick meal on the table. I was too tired to enjoy the meal or the family. My husband and I agreed I needed to be home again! We were able to weather the pay cut by cutting back more on things in the home and adjusting spending. The pay never came back on his job but I never went to work outside of the home again. Life is about choices and we are still glad for the life we have. Salaries change and you need to readjust when they go down...if they go up try to keep the same money going out and save what extra that is now coming in. Don't make more money a reason to spend on things before you did not think important. You are worthy!!! Your work place is just now your home and you are the head CEO of it. Sarah

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  27. Rhonda, what a lovely supportive way you have of writing about homemaking. Thanks for the last 2 posts.

    Tanya's post above about telling the professor she is a full time homemaker reminded me of my aunty. At census time my aunty always put "Director of home affairs" as her job or other things along this line. She has only worked two weeks in her married life and her and my uncle have just celebrated their 55th Wedding anniversary. Being a homemaker is something she has enjoyed and valued - hence the title.

    When my uncle retired she did change her title to "Co-director of home affairs" to reflect that she is now sharing the role. I would love to know what her future relatives think of this when they read her census form when they are unlocked in the years ahead.

    I'm so lucky in my life to have the choice and a husband who has supported all my choices.

    Now to get busy deciding on my own job title.

    Angela.

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  28. Today and yesterdays post have really resonated with me. It was only yesterday and on the weekend I was questioned about when I was going back to work and what have I been doing lately. Both of my daughters are at school one is 12 and the other 8 and I love being home for them each day, cooking biscuits and making dinner each night. The pressure to return to work I feel is quite high, it upsets and frustrates me that staying at home is not regarded as an important job. I see that each decision is made individually for each family and whether it is the right decision for your family or not, it does not mean that we have the right to judge, it is our job to support. Thank you for the support you have given me as a stay at home mother and you have reaffirmed my decision that I am doing what's right for me and my family. Catherine.

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  29. Hi Rhonda, thankyou so much for the post today, i am a mother of 4 boys 3 still at school, i have had some part time work over the years but have mostly been at home and i love it, we dont have new and fancy things, we dont go on fancy holidays, camping in a tent to one of our nearby country towns,but we are happy. Yes we have had some bad financial times but we have weathered the storm, cut back and made do, my boys have a saying is it a need or a wont, they get it. We have also tried to instil in our boys the importance of a parent being home and for them to plan for this when they first get married and before they start having their family. We have been married for 26 years and never had a credit card, car loan etc, only a morgage but have been very happy. Thankyou for your thoughts everyday, you are an encouragement.

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  30. Goodness me! Since leaving the workforce 16 months ago for the birth of my first child, I have never worked so hard! I feel that I contribute so much more being at home fulltime than I ever did at work and I feel much more worthwhile. Saying that, I am extremely lucky that I have the option to stay home and be a fulltime mum to our little girl. Many of my friends are not in the same boat.

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  31. Wise words Rhonda. And as Jane says, since I gave up 'full time work' I've never worked so blinkin' hard. My day starts at 6am, and I'm often still on the go at 8pm. So don't anyone tell me I don't contribute something to my home and the world at large :)

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  32. You always make me think.
    I have been out with the work place for 11 years raising my family. It is something I chose to do it is only in the past 3 or 4 years that I have started to develop my homemaking skills I suppressed them all this time to try and fit in. I now bake, mend, make my own clearers, have an allotment, sew for my family ( which developed into a little business) and try to cook as often from scratch as I can. I have even started to bake some of our bread. I get so much satisfaction out of what I do and have an inner confidence and self reliance. The one down side to all of this is that I am still not open about it with the other Mums at the school gate it's my little secret I think they must think me a bit odd and just don't get it. Women can often be their own worst enemies. Your blog gives me the oppertunity to feel normal and appreciated. Thanks so much.

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  33. I struggled with working out who I am without my job, as Im mostly at home with our two boys. We own our own business which i work in a little and my husband works huge hours. For me it was a double reason not to go back to work. Someone needs to be here to hold up the fort and Financially/practically it does not make much sense. It would cost us around $5000 just on child care alone, by the time I payed the extra petrol say 1 talk/fortnight extra, parking @ $10/day, fast food that i know i would have if i was at work as there is the most fantastic Chinese down the road.....(realistically not a compulsory, but i know i would cave if the rest of the girls were) I would seriously come out maby $6000 year ahead. I can save $6000/year in cooking from scratch/baking/sewing/making our own cleaners/preserving and just recently cloth nappying. The way I see it I save what i would otherwise earn.

    I also struggled with the idea of what i do without work? without that stimulation/challenge? Dont get me wrong I adore the kids but there are seriously only so many poo and fart jokes i can take. ;) Well Im so busy learning all these 'new' skills that I feel both mentally and emotionally fulfilled. Learning to sew really challenges my brain and my problem-solving skills. And i feel so proud to look around and see the things I have made, and the home/life my husband and I are building for our family.

    We do not live on a big income, but we are a team. It is my husbands job to bring in the money and it is my job to see how far I can stretch it, and for now at least, this is how it is, and its good...really good.

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  34. This one's a keeper. Beautifully expressed :-)

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  35. How I wish I'd had these last two posts when I was bringing up my children in the 80's. I chose to be a 'stay at home Mum' even though my ex-husband was a self employed worker who didn't earn much.

    After costing out how much it would cost in childcare and clothes, travel etc for me to work it made more financial sense for me to make every penny my husband earnt matter.

    So many people did not recognise this (including my parents who called me lazy) and I was made to feel guilty, and to have to explain myself over and over.

    This I did until my youngest was at nursery then I started working part-time, as he went through the school system and I had more time without him I increased my work hours.

    As I did this my husband decreased his and started drinking getting us into serious debt. Our whole world changed over the course of a few years, with him at home watching tele while I worked more and more hours to keep an income coming in, as a result we ended up divorced.

    As you say it takes two, a breadwinnr and a homemaker, and you have to work out the way it will work to suit yourselves, you do both have to know your role though and only change after discussion and agreement.

    A couple of marvelous posts Rhonda, I hope they help some folk come to good decisions about their lifestyle.

    As a little footnote, I am once again a Homemaker, growing all our veggies and fruit, keeping chickens, making soap and other products, selling surplus through Boot Fairs and markets and generally living the simple life.

    My new husband who has a high powered job relishes that when he steps onto our little patch of land he does not have to worry about day to day little things, but can get stuck in to the lifting and shifting and the heavy manual work at the weekends, which he enjoys after a week behind a desk.

    To put in simply we have found our happy split of labour and live our lives more happily as a result.

    Thank you for a wonderful Blog post.

    Sue xx

    http://ournewlifeinthecountry.blogspot.co.uk/

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  36. Nicely said..its so sad that parents have this pressure put upon them..i am a SAHM and damned proud of it..
    sara

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  37. I applied for a loan yesterday and struggled with which label to use. A student or a stay-at-home-mum. It sat heavy in my mind that I'm not contributing financially. Thanks for writing about the value of home making. I know my hubby and kids value it. It's great to read it in your blog too.

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  38. Thank you for what you say, because you say it so well. I never felt when I was a stay at home mother that it was my husband's money. It was our money. I earnt it too! We decided I was to stay at home and I loved to be there. My choice. I am a feminist and to me that means as you say - supporting ALL women in their choices and making sure we have them. Staying at home still means you develop important skills and use your intelligence. We are not all the same though, and need to be able to function where and in ways we feel best able to.

    Women need to recognise their own status regardless of where they do their work and if they are paid or not. Women often are the ones doing the under-mining and it happens if you work or stay at home. People always have nasty judgements to make.

    My husband fully supported me while I was at home (in his attitude I mean). I didn't need to ask him for anything. The bank account was open to me at all times. You both have to believe it is a combined partnership for it to work. If one is resentful then you have problems. I didn't ever have to justify myself to him, so why to the world?

    I never struggled with my identity. I am me and I define who that is. It isn’t inherent in what I do at work or in the fact that I am given a certain status doing a paid job in society; my esteem comes from within from my own value judgements. Other people have a problem with unpaid work which is sad. Tell people you do voluntary work and many will sneer and say 'oh, can't they pay you?' Such a poor attitude!
    Kate

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  39. Another great post even better than yesterdays. Loved the photos especially the one with Hanno and your grand baby and the biscuits look yum. I long for the simple life. Jodie.

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  40. My goodness :) very well put!
    I was a daycare provider for 16 years and I could see how torn some of the Moms were.

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  41. Whew--what a great post, Rhonda! So well said. I have been spending a really ridiculous amount of time lately using my Christmas-present-from-kind-husband iPad to download old Good Housekeeping (as in, 1880-1915 era) mags from GoogleBooks. They're FASCINATING. They constantly make this point -- that women (or men, too, nowdays!) really make monetary contributions to the family by running the household well and taking their contributions seriously.

    As someone above pointed out, of course, it makes us nervous to say this sometimes b/c we're afraid we'll sound sexist (and I'm here to say that some of those articles were anti-women's suffrage), but your excellent point remains.

    Thanks for your always excellent and thoughtful writing.

    kristin

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  42. Such a timely post Rhonda! It really made me smile today, you haven no idea. :) Where I live we get a lot of critics for my choice to be a homemaker, and I've heard so much about "contributing financially" and being "dependent on my husband" etc. We really are a team, but sometimes you forget when others see you in a degrading light. Today I made a fresh batch of yoghurt, picked up some oxtail bones from our local butcher for stew with yorkshire pudding, and I don't feel miserable at all. :D Thank you for this encouraging post. It's a great reminder that there ARE others out there. :)Well, the garden is calling, so I must go.
    Thanks again for posting.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

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  43. I wholly agree with your two posts, Rhonda. But I do have a question: For those women who have never worked outside the home, how do they accumulate any sort of retirement nest egg to protect themselves in the event of a (heaven forbid!) divorce? I love my husband dearly - divorce was never in either of our minds - and thankfully, we are both at an age where we have retirement income coming in, but I'm just wondering how younger women might prepare themselves just in case they are unexpectedly left alone without job experience or income if there were a divorce. My husband and I pool all our money (not a huge amount, you understand), so I've never thought about my having a separate savings account. What is your take on such a situation as I've posed?

    Thanks from Diane in North Carolina

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  44. It's been described as the 'home economy' and there is real value there. I wrote about it here http://permaculturepathways.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/home-economy.html Being at home does make a big difference. Sonya

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  45. Hi Rhonda,
    Amen! We do see our home as a business and I am one of two managers. We each have our chores. I have had people ask what I do all day. They say they would be bored. I answer,"I would love to be bored for a day." Then when I tell them of my garden and preserving food. They usually say I wish I had time to do that. I too have no problem with anyone who chooses to work outside the home. We are not all the same. I do believe we can all live more simply though and that's why I love your blog. The things you do and talk about everyone can do.Keep it coming!
    Carol

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  46. One easy way of seeing how much you can save is by costing out jobs you do because you have the time. I had a quote for window cleaning (inside and out) - modern low set house but loads of windows - $280!!! So I saved $280 the other day - took me all day! I do work full time now but gave up work with each of my two boys when they were born, going back to part time work when they were 2 and full time only when the youngest was almost at high school. Like others have said here, I could never earn enough to pay child care and come out ahead. Everyone has to do what suits their situation and we had a time when my husband was unemployed and I had to work two jobs.
    SUE

    Sue

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  47. Three cheers to you Rhonda. Well Done. Mary

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  48. Thanks Rhonda.
    I am home now almost 5 years. It took me the first 2 years to make the mental shift that I AM adding to the house. That I AM adding value. That it IS value! It was hard. My DH supported me so much and motivated me all the way.
    Only the past year or so have I delved into homemaking! Yay! I've picked up mealplanning and cleaning. And some days I loose focus but I am motivated by my families' response! We are preparing for our first real vegetable garden in summer (going into winter here in South Africa) and I am already searching for ways to preserve, can and store our harvest!
    I've taken up sewing this year and finished my first small quilt. My oldest boy asked that I pls adjust it to fit all of us! I am collecting patterns to start sewing my boys' clothes for winter next year. Last winter and knitted scarves and fingerless mittens for them.
    Part of our coming home +-5 years ago we did the costing around working or homemaking! And it was amazing how 'expensive' it was to work!!! That was my motivation to try. From time to time I think it is probably easier to work and where I worked, the work was a lot 'easier' than now being home and in my 'dark' days of 'battle' I wanted to go back to work.
    But I am glad to be home. It is hard work but the returns of raising the next generation (and we added homeschooling too!), caring for my hubby and children, preparing a meal, making our surroundings a home, etc is all worth it!
    My DH says that having his wife home has removed quite some stress from his life!!!!! I never thought that! And it has enabled him to be even more effective. Incredible.
    Thank you for your post and your blog. I come back here while planning and preparing for more homemaking things in our house.
    God bless
    Ananda
    South Africa

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  49. I love reading of such affirmation for the importance and value of life in the home....
    I grew up in a financially 'well-off' family in a small rural community. We were not over indulged at all but there was always feeling that things were possible/within reach and we were encouraged to dream and follow our inspiration.However about us within most families it was a matter of learning to and finding work in order to survive.There were also those who i felt had more choice than they were aware of and i watched them maintain dreary safe routines and the right to complain about it.... I think the work ethic is a strangely entrenched attitude in our society. Such comments as 'to work for your living', 'to earn your living' and even the simple question, 'are you working?' have very deep meaning if you think about them.....
    It's strange how things 'work', it's actually taken me 'till these latest few years to really embrace the choice and freedom of my situation. As a young person I all but torn myself up over working for my own sense of worth rather than my need for money. I had such conflict knowing i did not 'have' to work in comparison to many of my friends and I interpreted their lives as more vital and essential and my own as kind of superfluous and voluntarily....
    Now days I am working at home and in community, mostly unpaid. I love the sense that what i do is not for an economic system alone. Yes my being home does save money but it also enables me to really work for a living I believe in....in nature with care, close to family and community....i love working!

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  50. I too was a stay at home Mum for the first 15 years we were married.I had 3 children aged 14,12 and 6. That is when I joined the workforce , through neccessity I might add. It was hard work, juggling a fulltime job and making a home in a new country.(We came from Scotland ). My weekends were spent washing ,cleaning gardening and baking.I shopped during my lunch break. We never went holidays because one of us would stay home with the children during school holidays but we still had fun and our children never felt hard done by because of this. We used to go on lots of picnics to parks and beaches .Their lunch boxes were always filled with homemade goodies.Sandwiches were always made up on Sundays and frozen ready to be taken out each day .I had to be super efficient otherwise it wouldn't have worked.We put money away every week for bills,Christmas and Easter.Now my children are all married with children of their own.They often say how they admired us as they never went short of anything.Always warm at home ,good clothes ,good food etc.My 2 daughter's are wonderful homemakers ,great bakers too, I like to think they learned some of it from me.Never feel guilty about being a stay at home Mum , you are all to be admired.I saw both sides and I know which Mum I would prefer to be.

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  51. Thank you so much for this reminder. My boys are 12 and 18. I tutor and stay at home. Sometimes I feel like society does not see any value in what I do. We struggle and I feel guilty. I also feel lonely sometimes because everyone else works and there is little socialization with the outside world. It is a thankless job at times.

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  52. My 5 yr olds are going to school in the fall, and i have been sitting here deliberating the very decision to go bck to work when my twins go to school. This article was very timely to me. Thank you so much!

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  53. Too much emphasis is placed on both parents earning an income. My husband doesn't work, it's a choice based on his anxiety amongst other things, & we get no support from the government either. It's our choice & a way of life living on one small income. People think it's lazy but I take pride in my work but at the end of the day if he could work we would never see each other & if I passed on tomorrow I would have no regrets.

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  54. I love the phrase "own your life". Whatever decisions I make in life, I want to stand up proudly and say, "Yes. This is who I am and how I have chosen to live my life."

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  55. For one year, I tracked my savings on my old Xanga blog, PennyAnnPoundwise which is still live though I blog elsewhere now. In that year, my slightly skewed figures reported my savings as over $20,000. Why were my figures skewed? Because there were things I simply could not compute into an actual savings amount. There were also things I did on a daily basis that I computed as only one day or one month of savings. Even so, I 'earned' as much as my husband that year!

    Now that our children are grown and flown, we've discussed my going back to work. I have the skills and am by no means limited in my knowledge or ability. I am however, limited by time. I cannot continue to do all I do to promote savings (which includes many new methods since those first figures were computed) in my home and work full time, too. In fact, I doubt I could earn as much 'real' money as I save. It is those figures upon which my husband relies when he looks at me and says honestly "We can't afford for you to go to work."!

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  56. Hi all, I read this post with great interest . Just goes to prove we women are way too hard on ourselves AND each other. However i can not help but add- why do we have to decide hoem OR work, we can do both!. I work part time , which gives me enough time to stimulate myself and earn an income, but also allows me to spend time with our daughter , cook from scratch, have a garden, be a homemaker essentially. With mine and my husband salary we can afford to travel , which is my life long dream. i have about 20 places on my wish list, so to speak, and we are crossing them off slowly. It is a good balance, and working well for us.

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  57. I am glad that you point out that being a stay at home mum or homemaker is a career in itself. I think some of the reason that people dont value it and some people feel guilt for being a homemaker is that there are so many people who dont run their homes like its a career or full time job. I am not saying Ill be the worlds best homemaker, but Ill certainly be trying to do as much as I can around the home to make our home lives more enjoyable and money conscious.

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  58. Well said Rhonda. We all need to value family more and appreciate what it takes to make a loving home. It's so sad to see what the lack of family life is doing to society. I absolutely loved being a stay at home Mum until my children were in high school and wouldn't change it for anything. I now work part time for many reasons but I know the time I put into my family has more than paid off.

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