DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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3 January 2014

The secret life of a happy homemaker

Written in 2009


Don't let them fool you, there is joy to be found at home. If you listen to the people who don't know that, you'll be thinking that being at home, and the chores to be done there, are demeaning, demanding and disgusting. If you read magazines, they'll tell you all about how to do this and that, they'll give you lists of "the best 10 holidays ..." and tell you 20 different ways to serve a chicken leg, but they never write about the satisfaction of homemaking, or the joy to be found by making your home a safe and cosy haven for all who live there. That is my job. ;- )


I used to be one of those people who looked down on housework as something to be avoided at its best, and demeaning at its worst. But when I came to live a simpler and gentler life, I discovered along the way that doing the work needed in my home, slowed me down and made me think about my daily work in a different way. The work remade me.


Instead of whizzing through the housework as fast as I could, I slowed myself to do each job well. That slowness allowed me to think about the task as it was being done and how that task connected to the others that followed. I realised then that all those connected tasks made our home what it is - and that it could either be the comfortable and nurturing place I wanted to live in, or a chaotic jumble of disconnected and generally unfinished chores that didn't encourage anyone to relax and put their feet up. I wonder now if having that chaotic home caused me to go out shopping for things to fill our home - I think I might have been looking for comfort in the shops instead of hand making it at home. That's what we've been encouraged to believe - that if we need something we will find it in a shop somewhere. We are taught at a young age that we buy happiness.

I'm wiser now, I know now that my happiness is made with what I already have at home. There are no special requirements needed; rearranging, keeping everything clean, changing with the seasons and making odds and ends, gives me more satisfaction than shopping ever did.


So how is happiness and joy found in the normal course of the everyday? Shhhh, it's a secret, but I'll let you in on it. It's found by slowing down, focusing on what you're doing, taking pride in a job well done, and repeating that on a daily basis. When you get into the rhythm of your home and work towards making every square inch of it comfortable, the work itself gives the reward because you make your home exactly what you want it to be. Housework isn't difficult, and remove all thoughts from your head about it being completed every day. Every woman knows that housework never ends, so take your time. Slow down and do it well, stop thinking about getting on to the next task, just do what you're doing, then take a short break. Don't make it tougher than it is. Look at your work when you've finished and think about how that space works for you, could it be changed? Could you rearrange things to make it better? Is it just right? Good! Then tell yourself you've done a good job and feel happy that you did it. It is okay to be proud of your work, despite what anyone tells you.

Working slowly through your work will slow you down too. If you stop rushing, so will your brain and heart. Slow down and enjoy what you do, well, most of it, I doubt too many people enjoy cleaning the toilet or washing nappies. But even those things are part of us, so carry out those chores as best you can and enjoy the ones you like.


I don't have children to look after now, but I used to and I know that my routine now would have suited that time of my life very well. Now I do my every day chores slowly throughout the day - I make the bed, sweep the floor, bake bread, tidy up and cook, and alongside those everyday chores are others that are peppered through the hours. They make the day interesting because they are different every day. All of the photos here today were taken in my home during the course of one day. On this particular day, I cut open THE pineapple - the one that has been growing for two years in the back yard, and we tasted the finest, juiciest, sweetest pineapple ever. Brussel sprouts, two packs bought at Aldi at a very good price, were blanched divided up into four meals and added to the freezer. A handsome worker in the backyard removed an unstable frangipani and allowed co-workers to scratch in the bare soil, hoping for some fat grubs to eat. Tea was taken on the front verandah. The sewing room was tidied and a tablecloth made with fabric from the stash.

It's nothing special, is it? But it makes me feel good and it satisfies me. Making your home a place that sustains you and your family is one of the most important jobs you can do. Times are tough, there are all sorts of things going on in the world that are difficult to understand, but if you make your home a place that comforts, a place where you can relax and be your true self, a place where your children feel safe and warm, a place where you show your family the joy of living simply, then you are doing a really significant and essential job that takes the hard edge off the outside world. So when you shake open the sheets to make up that clean bed, when you set the table with knives and forks, water glasses and a flower in a cup, when your beef stew and dumplings is slowly bubbling away welcoming your family as they come home with the smell of home cooking, when you sit with your tea, when you sweep the floor, when you sew or knit or cook, I hope you find happiness in your home, because I know it's there. You might not have discovered the mother lode yet, you might just be picking up fragments every so often, but keep at it and you will be rewarded.

30 comments:

  1. I love this post, Rhonda. My favorite thing about coming here is how reinvigorated I feel about my role every time I visit. I feel empowered and energized!

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  2. Thank you for posting this very sweet and knowledgeable post. Slowing down is wonderful, and truly shows home can be where the heart is.
    I am 55, and a caregiver to two elder parents who have Alzheimer's and dementia. One is in a nursing home, the other is at their home. I am a guardian also, with much stress and responsibility handling three places plus their income and my family's income and responsibilities. It is so stressful, but my home is my solace and respite from the world and my issues with my parents. It is hard, sometimes a tearful day, but home is the rock my heart sits on and is at peace.
    Thank you for sharing, and making being home a special place. May the younger readers find peace in your words, as I have.
    Regards from Nebraska USA

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  3. Greetings from Wisconsin, USA!

    I love the way you write. I am calmer and more focused after reading this short post. Wishing I was at home slowly washing my dishes instead of on break at my office.

    The photographs are wonderful. Love seeing all the green vegitation that surrounds you - especially since it is winter in Wisconsin and we are heading into -25 degrees farenheit in the next few days!

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  4. Everything you said here is SO TRUE. Although my home isn't exactly what I was hoping for having when we moved here this past summer, it is turning into a haven of peace and a place that makes my whole family smile. It is right! You know, sometimes the very thing we pine for and don't get is replaced by something very surprising that we had no idea would bring us such joy.
    Thank you so much for your website/blog. This is a haven on the Internet, and I feel so happy here!

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  5. Oh Rhonda....you word it so perfectly. Thank you for re-posting this, I'm going to link to it from my blog. Big hugs, xxx

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  6. Thanks for the lovely post, Rhonda. I just noticed that you have the 'Pinterest' button coming up on your photos. Were you able to add that without changing all that complicated code?

    Have a great day and I hope you don't melt. We are due for 38 degrees today and 39 degrees tomorrow. Unbelievable temps for us here in Toowoomba!

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    1. You have to add to the code, Chel. I followed these instructions: http://www.digitalkonline.com/blog/how-to-add-a-pinterest-hover-button-to-your-blogger-images/

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    2. Rhonda, I have read that before but am not quite brave enough to fiddle with the code in case I muck up how everything is set up on my blog. I might look into it again and see what happens. I noticed that one of my blog photos ended up on Pinterest which somehow was pinned by someone else even without the button so I should have another try.

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    3. You don't need to add the code to pin them but it makes it much easier for you to pin and others to pin your photos.

      You can do a backup of your template first and it it wrecks it all, you can restore the old template. It's pretty simple. If you were here, I'd do it for you.

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    4. Thanks Rhonda, I will give it a try later on. We are going out soon to cool down in the aircon at one of the shopping centres as the house is getting too hot already. Then maybe take in a movie in the hottest part of the day. I can always sleep through it. LOL! 38 degrees! Just ridiculous. :-)

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  7. I am new to your blog and so happy to have found you. This post is beautifully written, calm & lovely. I find great joy in taking care of my home. I was turned around years ago when I read Martha Stewart referring to housework as "housekeeping". That made it all clear to me. I am keeping my home clean, organized and efficient and I LOVE it that way. I have fresh flowers on my table almost every week and orchids in bloom frequently. My closets and cabinets are tidy and my home is filled with things I treasure. It is a joy to "keep" my house!

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  8. I too am enjoying this slower life style. I would not trade it for any number of "things".

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  9. Thank you for this! I always get so much out of your posts. I love being at home with my boys, however I do struggle with the housework side of things...My focus word for 2014 is "deliberate" and I will endeavour to apply it to this aspect of home life as well.

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  10. This is a very nice post; certainly something which could be repeated regularly without fear of anyone getting tired of hearing it! :)

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  11. I look back at my 24 years as a stay-at-home mom with great fondness and always loved homemaking. Then I had to go to work out of necessity and it always pained me to listen to other women talk as if staying at home with their children is the last thing in the world they would want to do. I've never understood that mindset! I'm recently widowed with seven children scattered about the country. They are blessing my socks off with their attentiveness, making sure I'm taken care of. And my home is still my refuge after a day in the working world. Thanks for sharing this secret with the world! :)

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  12. I've been reading your blog since 2008 and it is posts like this that make me yearn to have more free time to spend at home. My home is always clean and tidy ( I work in our family owned business during the week) and my 2 children are grown up and have left home but I long to be able to learn how to make a quilt top, crochet those granny squares, knit more dishcloths, sit and read a novel. I do love baking and make bread rolls and biscuits and cook mainly from scratch, I just don't have the time to do more. I guess it will come one day....

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  13. You have a knack for saying the things I think. A slower more deliberate life has yielded so many unexpected perks - and I found that when I slowed down and did things right - well...I really could make homemade noodles just like Grandma (she used to putter and make me crazy by being so slow!) Live and learn eh? Thanks!

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  14. What a warm post, Rhonda! Thanks for sharing it.

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  15. I love my home too, love being at home and pottering about and just cosying up like you do. But we've just retired and bought a small campervan to go off for days away, I love it but I always love coming home again, a few days is enough for me. The other half is talking about maybe taking a couple of months or more to go travelling in Europe and the thought of months away from my home fills me with dread. I keep telling myself that I should look forward to it and enjoy this chance but the thought of coming back to a cold empty house and all my plants dead and the freezer defrosted because we've had yet another power cut is not a happy one! I have a neighbour who could keep an eye on the place but I don't feel it's fair to her to leave her in charge for such a long time, particularly because she'd have to walk up and down a steepish hill every day to get to me. Am I mad or what?

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    1. Sue, your comment really resonates with me. When I was younger and we were renting, we had no hesitation in getting a house sitter in to mind the flat while we travelled overseas. But since we've owned our own home, I hate leaving it for more than a few days, because like you, I love coming home to it. So no, you're not mad!!

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  16. I really liked this post, thanks Rhonda :) battling the heat at the moment and this was the refreshment I needed.
    Blessings

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  17. Today I foraged a few kilograms of self-seeded cherry tomatoes, which I'll freeze, and somehow finding and preparing food is such a simple, profound pleasure to share with my small children. As they grow, I hope to be able to gradually do more and more with them in our home. Thanks for your example!

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  18. Ditto to all the above comments! Rhonda, I finally got hold of your book from our library (it is permanently in a queue there!) and I am thoroughly enjoying it. If I hadn't been following your blog, I would have rushed out and bought a copy, but as I am now familiar with much of the book content through reading your blog, I'm happy to return it to the library when I've read it through a few more times, so the next person will be able to learn from it :-)

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  19. Thank you Rhonda again for thoughtful wise words. I am at the stage of having more time at home now having very recently retired from working with and giving respite to carers of disabled vulnerable adults. It was rewarding work and I feel I was able to give back to the community, BUT I am also thankful for the many things l learnt from co-workers and my clients and their family situations.
    Now there is time to be spent with family, little ones and to stretch to new horizons. Time to refresh old skills learnt when young. To enjoy time for sewing again, potter in my tiny vegetable garden, and learn new skills. Being content.
    New horizons open by way of creating a blog, which has been a slow process but have just got there.New challenges and happenings which are good as they keep the mind active....one is never too old to learn.

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  20. I don't know how you do it, Rhonda -- every day I feel like I'm rushing, rushing, rushing to get things done and if I'm not rushing, I'm not keeping up. I have zero sense of satisfaction from my daily chores around the house, and although I agree with everything you've written, I can't figure out why it does not translate to my own daily life? It's not like I'm a newbie at this, I've been a SAHM (working on and off as well) for 19 years and still...zero job satisfaction. Maybe it's the six children? lol Beautifully expressed as always, much love...xx

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  21. My home is my safe haven..i love being a homemaker..your post is so full of warmth..
    sara

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  22. Hi Rhonda,

    Happy New Year to you and Hanno, and thanks for this post, timely as ever.

    I'm a new mum and currently at home on maternity leave with our 4 month old son. Before he was born (and before I was even pregnant!) I looked forward so much to stopping work and being a homemaker.

    However, whilst I love spending time with my son (I know that he'll grow too fast!), I also find myself getting frustrated at how little else I seem to achieve at home. I guess I had naive visions of finally having time for baking, sewing, knitting etc, whereas the realities of parenthood are somewhat different!

    But I get the sense that our grandmothers achieved more/were more content as stay at home mums and homemakers. Rose-coloured glasses perhaps... but do you have any tips for simple living at this stage of life? Has there previously been a post on it?

    Thanks,
    Mrs Tigs

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  23. Hi Rhonda
    I came to your blog via Bunny Mummy and wanted to tell you I really like your blog and your thoughts on making a home. I find it tough to get motivated about cleaning or enjoying my home but it's one of my priorities for this New Year! Thank you for the inspiration :-)

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  24. This is so true. I love your blog. There is so much information. I just started my own blog. I have been here before, but just joined the other day. I work from home and I homeschool, butI have neglected my home in making it comfortable. Oh, it is comfortable, but not what I could have made it. I have recently stepped back and looked at what I am doing and I want to make changes. I have a daughter that is 20 and she wants to get married in the future and be a homemaker. I am going to send her the link to follow your blog. Really, I think I have not slowed down in my mind. I even need to reread this article and absorb what it says.

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  25. I didn't see this post the first time around (in 2009) and am so glad to see it now. I can remember a time when I thought housework was of very little or no real value. It was just drudgery that must be done as quickly and infrequently as possible. Now I can really see the value and joy in making a home. I couldn't be happier with the turn of things. I just wish more people knew! I'm glad you and so many of your readers are spreading the word.

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