DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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10 January 2014

Homemaking - selling our brand

Written October 2011

I'm probably 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.


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 - whether we work at home or go out to work.  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 "I'm a homemaker and a lawyer/nurse/miner/carpenter." 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.

30 comments:

  1. Absolutely! Let's be our best advertisement!

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  2. I love your zeal for what you do. We raised 4 children. I worked weekends at a local medical facility while my husband worked during the week. I did scratch cooking and cleaned and so many other frugal things to keep our home comfortable and happy. All of the effort we put in is proving itself now that the kids are adults with families of their own. I get so happy when I see one of them do frugal things for their family. As far as the diversity thing, I use to tell them that when God creates a garden, he puts in many different flowers. It is the same with people. Embrace those you will with no regard to color of skin, hair, eyes, etc. Stay safe and enjoy your day.

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  3. I love this post Rhonda!
    I have just started a series of posts on my simple life on my blog. I'm feeling more confident and proud to tell people about our little secret. I don't care any more if people look down their nose, as I'm finding that the more people I share it with, they look actually quite jealous.
    Warm regards
    Jan x

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  4. I have waited all day for a refreshing post from you; I am never disappointed. You see, my DIL came to our house for the first time last night. We live on a farm, 30 miles from town, in a 100 year old farm house that I have restored a little every year for 20 years. We just got heat in the house three years ago because it has to be done in cash. Yeah. I am one of those.

    She walked in, looked at my kitchen and wrinkled her nose. She took the "tour" without saying One Nice Thing. She just kept taking her hand sanitizer out and using it. Fifteen times. And wouldn't sit on my recovered furniture because, gasp, I have house cats. My house isn't spotless; we live here. But I keep a clean house. It is just an old house with old furniture. Let me add that my only child was raised here just this way. He even helps me make soap when he is home.

    It cut me to the quick that she would stay in the house ten minutes and used her lint brush alternately with her sanitizer. At the end of the ten minutes, she told my son they needed to leave the house because she was having an "attack" of some kind. Personally, I felt it was an 'attack' on my lifestyle...

    This morning, after a good weep last night, I realize that my life isn't for everyone. I make soap, cheese, bread. I weave, knit, garden, and sew. We eat out maybe twice a month. Maybe. We eat from our pantry what we canned. Our meat is from our pigs, our chickens, and a friend's grass fed beef. Eggs are gathered daily from our fat hens.

    Yes, it is difficult to deal with people who don't understand these choices. And, it is particularly difficult when it is someone who is close and will be in one's life. But, I know that I am making the right choices. And I will continue with my commitment to live a life that is more in my hands than the governments, the stores, or agri-businesses.

    And I am glad I have a place to visit where other share these values. Thanks for the time and space to rant. And for a safe place to be who and what I am. Now, I have to go feed and milk the goats! :)

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    1. HI Matty, what a shame. Keep your head high, love. Maybe this is the first time she's ventured out of the mainstream into real life. Hopefully you can show her the value of what you're doing. {{hugs}}

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    2. Hi Matty,

      How upsetting. I think it's quite possible your DIL has OCD. How sad for her not to be able to enjoy your company and your home due to extreme fear of germs. Another possibility is severe allergies - they can be life-threatening for some people. I wouldn't take it personally, perhaps ask your son if one of these illnesses is the problem?

      I think it's inspiring that you've done everything yourself, and by saving up :)

      Madeleine

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    3. Hello Ronda, I found that particular post very inspiring. For me, a senior european city librarian who wants to plan a real but radical change of life, your blog has been a great support. Thanks you so much for being there. A huge hugg from Lisbon, Portugal, EU.

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    4. Hi Matty,
      I shook my head and my heart went out to you as I read your post. That is very sad considering she will be in your life for a long time (hopefully :)) Hold your head high, and be proud of what you do. Wow I'd love a visit so you could show me your day as it unfolds, it sounds like heaven. Just be yourself and I'm sure given time she will come around.
      Jan x

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    5. Hello Matty,

      I also felt sad when I read about you. Perhaps your new DIL just didn't understand. Maybe in time she will want to learn, I hope you become the best of friends. (Hug)
      Angela ( south England) UK

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    6. Hi Matty: I for one would love to be able to pop over and visit you in your old farmhouse. Some people just don't get it, and never will. But she could at least have manners. If she does have allergies, say, to cats or whatever, she could have mentioned that and not made a point of the hand sanitizer: which would not help her allergy in any case.

      Good for you you are fixing up your house like that!

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    7. Yes Matty, I completely agree with Madeleine. Using hand sanitisers and other cleansers constantly, being afraid of dirt and germs, and having panic attacks are classic symptoms of OCD. When I had OCD episodes, I was absolutely terrified of being "contaminated" even though I was in a sterile hospital environment. I had to constantly use hand sanitisers and wash my hands, clothes, room, bedding etc and take multiple showers to stay "clean". I can't imagine what it would be like in an unknown environment. Perhaps you should talk to your DIL about it. Certainly don't take her reaction as a personal insult.

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    8. Matty , I cried for you when I read your post , what a horrible , ungrateful, little madam with absolutely NO breeding whatsoever. You can hold your head up high my dear .You have the better life , idyllic really , we too live in an old house on farmland and grow vegies, have chooks for eggs. Buy a share in a steer or a lamb for the pot. Love living "The Good Life" I make bread, cakes, biscuits , soap powder for the laundry, bench spray 'n' wipe. Body lotions , jams and jellies , gosh the list could go on and on . Enjoy each day as it comes and count your blessings of which it appears you have many Yours Margaret in Tasmania

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  5. We all are the crem de la crem of a home stationary, multitasking and multi skilled workforce that spreads beyond all boundaries, but makes us so unique in what we do, all over this globe. A home maker is the highest position in life that we could possibly aspire to. So, if anyone asks what I do at home all day I will
    proudly tell them that I`m THE DOMESTIC AND FINANCIAL DIRECTOR of my household, responsible for the smooth running of my family`s affairs, multi tasking skill spreading throughout the day to achieve the utter most benefit for the whole household, twenty four seven! Sitting on my arse in front of the goggle box all day would get me fired very quickly from my privileged position, and was not conductive to my job satisfaction, either.

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  6. Love it! I've been met with some funny looks on the building sites when I've told work colleagues that in April I'll be a full time homemaker, part time carpenter. They think I'll be sat round watching TV all day! Having a blog helps set this right.

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    1. Good on you Kev! I'll be reading all about your experiences at home.. I've added you to my side bar. Good luck with your change. I'm sure you'll find it a huge liberation.

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    2. Thanks Rhonda thats great!
      About 18 months ago you put me on your weekend reading list and it really made my blog take off and since then I've enjoyed blogging so much more. It's such an incoragement when your doing things for yourself and family to have comments and input from people doing the same as you.
      Thanks again,
      Kev

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  7. Hi Rhonda,

    I loved this post just as much the second time around. It's interesting that homemaking hasn't been seen as an important discussion, whereas climate change etc have.


    I spent yesterday making heavy,lined curtains for my son's room. This is an antidote to climate change - heavier curtains reduce our need for heating. Today I will be stacking a tonne of firewood and finding a home for the bags of pine cones I picked up recently. Having a fire means we reduce the need for dirty electricity, and using pine cones and fallen gum sticks to start the fire reduces our need for chemical firestarters.

    I spent Tuesday making a huge quantity of sauerkraut and other cultured vegetables with a dear friend. This act reduces the carbon miles our food needs to travel, and a lot of the jars we used were reused, cutting down on waste. Some of the veggies travelled only 20 metres from garden to kitchen - I find that thrilling!!

    Remember the Feminist slogan from the eighties - the personal is political? I think our actions are important and empowering. Instead of ringing our hands at the state of the world we can take responsibility. I do believe all of those little actions add up to big change. And yes, I agree we should be talking about it.

    Rhonda, I hope you are enjoying your break as much as I am :)

    Madeleine.X

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    1. Yes, I remember that slogan, Madeline. In the years since I've been blogging I've seen a sharp increase in the number of home bloggers but when I started it was thought of as a really daggy subject to blog about. I think the home is the battlefront. And you're working well on that battlefront. Just excellent what you're doing. xx

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    2. That stacking wood sounds wonderful There is nothing more I like in winter than a nice fire burning in our fireplace. But where I live, it is against the law to have fires on many days: they are called Spare the Air Days: smog and pollution make things so difficult, so we are not allowed to burn on those days. Those days are happening more and more too; we are also now going into drought: we have enough water for one more year: then we have to declare a natural emergency. Everyone pray for rain!

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  8. I love this post too and my thoughts were with Matty above. Nothing worse than a member of your own family DIL behaved liked that it's just plain rude. Obviously a city girl but that's okay however it sounds very rude and obvious the way she behaved with the sanitizer many times I could see why you would have been upset. You were telling her she had to love like this they were coming to your home to visit. Very narrow minded and insulting to be like that on her visit. Sounds like a real culture shock which goes to show you that she may know nothing about how her own grandparents actually lived. Don't let her stuck up attitude spoil your comfortable life. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  9. Thank you for this post. I sometimes feel a bit out of place here because your world was my world 7 years ago, but in the meantime I have had divorce, graduate school, and now a full-time job. I still do all of my own cooking (Apple tempeh tonight and corn bread), make quilts (sometimes), knit occasionally although I don't have a garden anymore as I rent and my landlord tends to pull my best plants out as "weeds". I also make my own medicines from plants and lots more homey type things. I long to be home not full-time but more than I am now. I miss the daily rhythm, although I am adjusting. Now I am working on a couple of small businesses that I can do from home. If I can get them off the ground, I might just have a chance at moving to a job that is out of the house just part-time. Then I could just coast on into "retirement".

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  10. For two years when I have said I am a stay at home mother, I have been questioned with, yes but what do you do. I got sick of answering this so now I tell them to read my blog and they would understand. Soon I hope no one will question people who choose to stay at home

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  11. Tell them you're a Home Executive, it always raises eyebrows and a 'wow!'

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  12. Thank you for this post, Rhonda. I've been home now for over seven years and I have yet to feel completely at ease about it when I talk to other people. I left a good career because it wasn't for me and now I stay at home and am very creative - I knit and sew, I paint, I cook, I bake and I love it!

    I find it very hard though to explain this to people - especially since it's "only" my husband and myself. No children. I grew up at a time when girls were really encouraged into a career instead of "just' being a housewife. In many ways that was ingrained in me and often makes me feel like I took a step back rather than a step toward what makes me feel whole.

    I can also tell that because I have these mixed feelings I have not fully embraced my job as a homemaker. Reading your blog, Rhonda, and posts like these helps me feel good all around about the path I have chosen.

    Thank you!! Silke

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  13. I sometimes feel uncomfortable talking with people about the simple life, who don't understand why I live the way I do. But you make a good point, if I have to listen to materialistic babble all day, why not share my simple joys?

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  14. I remember when I first encountered your space Rhonda, it was almost as if you were speaking all the words that so many of us had a hard time explaining to others. You gave us a voice and a place where we felt good about been at home.

    Simplicity still has its grip on me and my heart. And being at home has benefited all of us. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with all of us Rhonda. Blessings to you,

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  15. All my working life I have always wanted to be home instead of out at work but I had no choice. I was never a career woman, but I had to work to help pay the bills as neither of us are white collar professionals or any other kind of highflying high income type of people. The best job I had in my 45 years of working for a living was the lowest paid, but most rewarding - being a home carer for the elderly and disabled. I absolutely loved going into other people's homes and cleaning them up! I did a few things that we were told not to, such as cleaning windows and brushing down cobwebs from ceilings, but my way was to enter a house as if it was my own, and whiz around like a tornado, doing what needed to be done. My clients were always very happy with me, I might add ;-)
    Today I was at a family gathering and we were talking about ipads and iphones etc. I told them how I refused an Ipad for Christmas because I couldn't justify the expense on what I called a toy. Raised eyebrows all round! One lady is in her late sixties and doesn't want to give up work because she wouldn't know what to do with herself if she stayed at home! I just cannot understand that! Mind you, her house is lovely, tidy and clean when I see it, but she doesn't seem to take pleasure in keeping it that way, just does what has to be done. So nice to come to this website and read Rhonda's wisdom.

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  16. Hello Rhonda. So true what you say and do. I believe we are what we do and say and that others will follow when they see the passion and belief we have in ourselves. Since becoming aware about how we live, eat and communicate about 5 or so years ago, I have been on the path of sustainability. Not to preach to the unpreachable but to have a better life for my family and friends. I too feel like I have this fantastic secret and that life is truly easy and a wonderful place once you accept it. - Like you Rhonda, It saved me from a life of spending and acquisition and slowed me down and allowed me to see. I am grateful for every day that I wake up and can smell the roses. Thankyou for your inspirational site. I look forward to reading and learning more from you everyday. regards Di

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  17. Hi Rhonda. I really think you may be onto something. I always find that whenever I get stressed or busy, taking some time out to do things around the house and for my family really rejuvenates me. Your blogs always get me thinking. I'm new to the whole gardening thing but I'm experimenting and enjoying it. What you write really makes sense. Thanks!

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  18. When people ask me what I do I think I might just have to change my reply. "I'm a librarian AND a homemaker." And I am proud of it. Thanks. That had never occurred to me before--which is probably telling in its own right. I am proud of my work outside my home, but it is not more important than the work I do inside my own home....interesting that I never realized I could claim both when asked.

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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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