18 May 2011

My home is like a small business

When I was working, and particularly when I was in my 40s and early 50s, I was very ambitious. I wanted to be happy, successful and have a thriving business. I ran my own company, producing a town newspaper for one of our big mining companies, was well as reports and training manuals. I loved taking control of this little business, producing products that people needed and knowing that I was making a success of something that I wasn't supposed to know much about - writing about mining. Times have changed now, but back then women were supposed to be in the office, not writing about how to operate dump trucks, underground workshops and control rooms.

I got to a stage though when I couldn't continue in that field. I stopped enjoying the trips to the mines, I didn't like working in a mostly male environment and I hated the travel. I retired early and wondered what I could possibly do that would replace the feeling of strength and satisfaction I once felt working for myself.

Enter homemaking and being a stay at home wife.

Soon after I made my change I tried to make sense of housework. I had never enjoyed it and felt it was an annoyance that interrupted me going out and enjoying myself. But when I came home to stay and realised that I probably wouldn't work for a living anymore, I knew deep down I had to somehow find at least some satisfaction in my work at home.  Little did I know the mother lode of happiness was waiting to be unearthed.

In the beginning, I wondered how on earth I would be able to fill the day, and not just one day but every day that was to come. I was reading all the time, thinking about how I wanted to live and one thing was clear, I didn't want to work again. So, if I knew that, the oppositie was also true, I would be spending a lot of time in my home.  I started a few experiments in cleaning and rearranging things and it didn't feel that bad at all. I was lucky in that I enjoyed my own company so I went from there to wondering if I would get to a point of enjoying being at home.  I'd always loved cooking so I started cooking, then I baked bread and tried to perfect my plain ordinary lunch time loaf. That worked! I made very good bread. I started making the bed every morning, worked on making some natural cleaners, then soap, and before I knew it, I was happily occupied all day.

After a couple of months at home I got to the stage of going to bed happy, content with what I'd achieved and making plans for the following day. I was thankful for each new day and the opportunity to discover new ways of doing my work. New thoughts were beginning to emerge and I was smiling a lot more. We have always lived with elements of simple life - we had been keeping chickens and gardening for many years, so I decided to expand on that. I started planting more vegetables, then tried to grow everything we would usually buy. That lead to more new recipes, a homemakers journal to keep all the information in and gently, from one day to the next, real change started happening.

I came to realise that homemaking is very much like running your own business, and just like a small business, you get out of it what you put in. I had to work to a budget, there were performance indicators to guide me and the amount of work I did reflected on the entire enterprise - I could make it or break it. My business meetings were replaced by family gatherings, making a presentation in front of a group became cooking a meal for a celebration and while I was not paid by cheque or direct debit, I was certainly paid in love and appreciation from others, and that wonderful feeling of satisfaction. When I looked back on my short history at home, I was amazed that I was happy and interested in what would happen every day. But the thing that surprised me the most was the feeling of strength, enrichment and fulfilment homemaking gave me.

I know now that there are many ways to be a strong woman. Running your own company and being successful is one way but you also demonstrate strength and significance as a mother, matriarch and homemaker. You are keeping your family functional, happy and focused. You are the person who makes it possible for many others to do what they do. You are the one who makes a safe, comfortable haven for the family. Your cooking nourishes, your cleaning keeps them safe, your organisation keeps them on track. Your wisdom helps lead your family. Your decisions mean something.

I still think the work I do in my home is like running a small business. I have different departments, a have to stay in the black with my budget, there are quite a few people I try to keep happy; but there is also a huge point of difference.  Never once in all my time working for a living, even when I had my own business, did I feel really in control and free to do whatever I wanted to do, as long as it didn't sink the ship. I feel that every day now. There is an extraordinary feeling of freedom working at home. There are no rules except those I make for myself, I can do whatever work I feel like doing most days and there is no one looking over my shoulder.  I know many of you feel the same about your own homes, whether you work there full or part-time. I doubt I would be as happy in any other place now.



  1. What a great post, and completely in line with my way of thinking. It's a pity employers don't think the same way when the situation is reversed - running a home IS like running a small business so women returning to work after having a family DO have many transferable business skills, and this is sadly often overlooked, certainly here in the UK anyway.
    Great post.

  2. Rhonda, I agree and this was Very Well Stated! Thank You!!!

  3. Hi Rhonda! I LOVED this post. You are so right, our homes are like a small business. The work we do here each day is a very fruitful and worthy job. I love working at making my home a welcoming place for family and friends. I enjoy visiting your blog, your home reflects your caring dedication.
    ((HUGS)) from WV!

  4. i have to agree, i'm so happy at home, though i'm increasingly working from home as well as running our home. on top of this i homeschool our kids, so i'm at home a lot! i consider it a good day when i needn't go anywhere! it took some time to get used to it, and to get things running like a well-oiled machine - and of course it falls apart now and then! i'm always looking for ways to make it work better, and help everyone to do what they want to do. like you i find it endlessly fascinating, challenging, rewarding. i love it x

  5. I agree. I have waited all my life to retire so I could be free to do what I want. I love being a homemaker, having a garden, finding new ways to cook. It really does help to be organized and after two years of retirement I am still finding my own "system". Your blog is inspiring and helpful - Thank you. Lana www.lifeatwildberrycottage.com

  6. This is an inspirational post, it gives credence to stay at home mums or those who have arranged their lives to be at home. Home skills are so much like a business, if done well all is good but if not it's like walking into a shop where the supervisors are angry and no one knows what isle the papadums are in! The more organised and in routine I am the happier I am and the ease of living is obvious in the family.
    Thanks again Rhonda for another interesting post.

  7. I loved today's post!
    I too am at home and I consider it my job and take it as seriously as I would any other job.
    I am so pleased that my efforts benefit my family rather than someone else's pocketbook.
    There is no end to the creativity that can make this job a true joy.
    Have a blessed week.....Denise

  8. Rhonda, what time do you get up in the morning!!?

  9. Freefalling, I get up around 4am.

  10. Hi Rhonda. I'm in my late 20s and have come to be at home due to poor health leavning me unable to work more than a few hours a week. I am starting on a simlar journey in the home. It was so lovely to read of your journey of discovery and exploring resourceful ideas around the house. I look forward to more of my own adventures and to reading your book.

  11. I truly miss being a full-time homemaker but until the mortgage(s) - (house in city and 10 country acres) and my car is paid off I will have to stick with the job outside the home. OR until my DH can find a new FULL time position with benefits which we are thinking is not a possibility anymore as no one wants to hire someone over 50 and pay them what they are worth when they can hire a fresh out of college person for less than $40,000 a year. I try not to focus on the negative but sometimes it all just stinks - the lay off, the temp work (which I know I should be very thankful he has) and then the rejections it can wear you thing. For now I will continue to do what I can here at home in the hours I am here.

  12. RJ - 4am? sheesh!
    Any particular reason?
    Have you blogged about it before?

  13. Thank you for stating what I have always felt. I like to have friends visit and go out a couple of times a week but for the main time home is where it is for me.

    With our home cooking , garden, craft and animals my days are more than full. I feel sorry for people who have to rush through their days - it would be a nightmare to me. I also feel sorry for people who are at home and don't know how to get contentment out of that opportunity but we are all different. I'm just lucky that I love this life I've been given.

  14. Thanks Rhonda for a great and timely post. I am finishing full time work at the end of the year and am really looking forward to developing my homemaking skills. I do some cooking at the moment but yearn to do more when the time will be there. It strikes me from your post that you would be successful at whatever you turn your hand to, going from a successful businesswoman to a successful blogger/writer/homemaker and I congratulate you on that!
    Cheers Judy

  15. Loved this post :)
    Thanks Rhonda for such encouraging words as always!
    Lusi x

  16. Wonderful, thought provoking and fulfilling post, Rhonda. Thanks for reminding me, yet again, that SAHM's are so important.

  17. I've never thought of myself as a matriarch, but reading your post then just made it click. No wonder my mother-in-law gives me grief, I've kicked her off her throne!

  18. What a lovely post Rhonda. I worked all my life (and was pretty good at it) and had looked forward to having a family and being a SAHM all my life. I had my chldren late in life (40 and 42) and now, at 47, I have it all. Being a SAHM Mum, 2 happy healthy children a part time evening job. Trouble is, the wonderful homemaking skills that I've been blessed with are pushed to the limit most days and I feel like I'm failing all the time in the house. My children are only 6 and 4 at the moment and although they have their chores to do, the house looks like it's never the way I really want it and as for doing crafts/sewing/knitting etc, well they never happen. I do manage still to cook a lot from scratch and bake a lot, which I love.

    What did you do when your children were young?

  19. I found your blog via the Burkes Backyard magazine January 2010 and have been reading it ever since. I have 2 small kids (7 & 5) 2 chickens and 2 sml veggie plots which has produced some amazing home grown produce. They are only 1.2mt x 1.2mt (bunnings wooden veggie frame). I am a full time mother on my own which is not the life I planned for myself or my kids however we (the 3 of us) have an amazing relationship and they love the veggie garden, chickens and even though I have used my breadmaker to make bread my 7 year old still says home made bread is the best. We are moving house in 2 weeks time with my marital dream home having been sold so I am looking forward to setting up home in our new house and starting our new veggie garden. I am looking at more things to save money and keep things fresh, healthy and organic. I really enjoyed your post today because I know there are a lot of men who think that because we (SAHM) don't earn a living we are not contributing. It is very thought provoking and encouraging. Can't wait for your book. Kathy, Brisbane

  20. This post is much appreciated, Rhonda. I have been running my home like a small business for the last few years. The idea of linking 'home' & 'business' seems so abhorent to others that I stopped discussing this some time ago...
    Some work full time and struggle to make ends meet on what I consider to be a reasonable income (over A$100,000 for a family of four). Many do not seem to have a clue as to where the money goes and use credit to get by. On the other hand, strict budgets, Key Performance Indicators, doing more with less and the expectation of large profit margins are key features of our modern workplace. It occured to me that, by applying the efficiencies of the business world to my home, I could substantially improve my family's and my own quality of life as well as work a lot less outside the home. Although I now work harder at home, the work is satisfying and creative. Also, I am working for myself and my family, we create our own budget and make all decisions regarding expenditure. Our 'profits' become savings for a rainy day or added infrastructure to make our home more efficient (eg solar panels). There is no reason why the business model cannot be applied to the home, minus, of course, the gross exploitation of workers and the environment, and the relentless drive towards perpetual growth!
    But perhaps 'Practicing good home economy' is a nicer, less controversial descriptive!

  21. Rhonda, I forgot to ask, how did you make the little oil (?) lamp in your first photo?

  22. 2002 was a big crossroads in our lives. Both of our daughters got married, my husband retired with the loss of his big pension, and became ill the following year.I was faced with big decisions. I was always a stay at home wife, but ran various businesses over the years from home, and spent many years in the fast lane as a corporate wife. As our daughter was going to live in Australia, I decided I couldn't bear to sell our home for a smaller one. I wanted our grandchildren to come home to the home she grew up in, and that held her treasured memories, so I decided to turn our home into a Bed & Breakfast which would give income and the space to accommodate our whole family when necessary.
    I make all the home furnishings, decorate, re-vamp, care for our pretty garden, enjoy thrifting,cook from scratch,and have never been so contented. I have the joy of sharing our home with our lovely guests from all over the world. I am mistress of myself, my home and my family. The more we simplify our lives, the better it becomes, and a haven of fun,joy and activity for our grandchildren. This is the reason I love your blog so much Rhonda, as I relate to it so well. Thank you.

  23. Love this post. You always help me feel confident on my decision to be a stay at home mom. Thank you.


  24. Beautiful... Love it <3

    Angela @ www.purposefulwomanhood.net

  25. Wow, this was such a wonderful post. I have had nothing but trouble excepting my fate of being "stuck" at home due to my disability. However reading your post i realised i was doing some of the same things and it has brought me to the relisation that i am lucky and i can be content in making my home and days more homely and happy. Thank you.

  26. Wonderful post Rhonda! I can say a very loud Amen to all of it! I have been a stay at home Mom since having my children (they are now 27, 24 and 20 and the middle one got married two weeks ago).

    Motherhood and homemaking are seriously misunderstood in today's society, yet it is the most important job in the world!

    A great leader once said that "the greatest work you will ever do will be in the walls of your own home". He also said "No other success can compensate for failure in the home". I truly believe that and thank you for your post!

  27. I have to admit: I haven't read all the comments above this one. No doubt they are all full of praise, and that's as it should be. But as usual I'm just a bit uneasy. I'm only too aware that what you praise so fulsomely (being a stay-at-home homemaker) is really not quite what you are. I mean, you've an award-winning blog to contribute to your self-esteem, a book about to come out which will probably only add to that well-earned professional image, and a partner alongside who takes on a big share of the heavy labour of being moderately self-sufficient. I don't begrudge you any of that. But I worry that the real stay-at-home wives and mums who don't have all of that to fall back on may end up feeling a bit like failures by comparison. And really, aren't you just as much a professional woman, albeit one who has made home her profession? I am just a bit worried about what I don't think is hypocrisy here, but is nevertheless something a bit misleading. We all need to feel a sense of achievement. But I wonder if your own achievements would feel as sufficient if you hadn't an audience applauding them every day. Please don't take offence, as none is meant. But just be careful about preaching the merits of a life you aren't really living - that of the publicly unrecognised stay-at-home wife and mum.

  28. Yes, Rhonda, yes!

    It is the most fulfilling work I have ever done!


  29. This post of yours came at the perfect time for me. I've been feeling run down, over worked, and under appreciated - both at my part time job and at home - I'm a full time stay at home, home schooling mom .. It made me realize that no matter what - I need to appreciate the work I do and I need to put value towards it. And that it does matter! For me and for my Family. Thank you .

  30. This was an excellent post. No surprise there, of course :o) You always inspire and encourage me to become more organized, which is sorely needed. Thank you!

  31. Just loved the pictures you posted! Your home looks so cozy and nice!

  32. Chartreuse, being a stay-at-home homemaker is all that I am. Maybe you should have read the comments because more than praise there was agreement.

  33. A wonderful post Rhonda. You always make me feel so encouraged to continue living this way. When you fill up your day with not only the housework and in my case, childcare and cooking, it is so rewarding. But what makes you look forward to the day each morning is finding some sort of project each day just for your sake whether it be some sewing, knitting, gardening, art etc. Whatever makes you happy. If Mum is happy, everyone is (usually) happy.

  34. What an inspiring post. I am a 42 year old SAHM with 4 small children and have to admit that I 1. Feel guilty about being at home and 2. Feel very under-appreciated. Your blog posts give me courage and boost my self esteem. Thank you! Have you given us a recipe for that beautiful loaf of bread on your blog and if so can you point me in the right direction, please :)

  35. Oh Rhonda, I would love to print this post and hang it on my wall! Wonderful stuff, thank you! xxxx

  36. What an inspiring and uplifting post. Thanks as always Rhonda.

  37. Another great posting - many thanks. Also, that is a beautiful loaf of bread. I have been baking your bread recipe for more than an year now. What is your secret for getting such a lovely high dome? I seem to have difficulty with the timing of the second rise...if I let it rise too much it slumps when I put it in the oven - or I don't let it rise (or is it raise?) quite enough. It always tastes good and I feel so smug when I slice it for our morning toast. Keep up the good work, Rhonda - you are a treasure!

  38. Pat, it's just a matter of watching it. It depends on the temperature in the room on that day. Generally here in summer, it takes about 20 minutes, but it's longer in winter, about 35 minutes. Good luck with your baking. It's good to know your loaves are turning out well.

  39. Rhonda,
    I loved your post! I have been a SAHM for 18 years. I have done seasonal work for 2 of those years, but only for about 2 months of each year.
    For the last 8 months I have subbed-in at my chiropractor's office and they have recently asked me to consider going full-time. I am so torn as to whether to accept or not.
    My girls are 21, 19, 17, 15. My husband thinks I should accept but I'm not sure. I'm so glad that I've been able to be at home for all of them.
    I don't need to work and I don't say that in a smug way. I'm just saying that we've done alright with the Lord's help so far on one income. We're not rich by any means but we've managed. I'm not working for the money but for 'extra'. It would be nice to have 'extra' money but I'm afraid I'll end up needing to work instead. I don't want to have to work to pay a car payment or anything else.
    I've homeschooled our kids.. and, after this May I'll only have one more to homeschool. I've been able to be at home for all of them and I feel like I am still needed even though they're pretty self-sufficient in their own ways. They all still live at home but the oldest 2 have full-time jobs.
    I like the idea of the home as a 'business'. I guess I've never thought of it that way cause we're so busy just living and getting by one day at a time.
    I've always thought that I would go to work after the kids were raised but now when the time is possibly here I'm not sure that's what I want to do after all.
    I like to knit and quilt, preserve, etc. I'd like to bake bread and try my hand at other things.
    We have 8 chickens in the back yard and a garden plot at my parents.
    I guess it's just hard to weigh everything out. It's weighing alot on my mind so when I read your post it struck a nerve. I know I have to do what's best for me so I'm sorry that I've sorta vented here. I'm just looking for advice, I guess... for any similar situations.
    I love your blog and you have great ideas.
    Thanks for listening.


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