Let's talk about the new homemaker

23 July 2013
While most of the comments posted here make great reading, I am very interested in the number that commented on the family, friends and community reaction to us as homemakers. It seems there is quite a bit of negative reaction.  I'm not sure why, but I never have anyone say similar things to me now. Possibly my family and friends don't because, even if they felt it, they'd not want to hurt my feelings. And from those I don't know so well? Who knows. Generally the reaction I get is that people love what I'm doing and they're trying to do the same. But I am a bit of a hermit so maybe I'm not meeting enough people.

No matter what the reason, I'm told that homemakers are looked down on and thought of as a bit lazy; they're at home all day not contributing much to family or community. The comments here confirm it. At best it seems we're seen as quaint and old fashioned, but who wants that. Most of you know how I feel about it. I think homemakers are the backbone of the nation. We are the ones who soothe shattered nerves when our workers and students come home. We make life more comfortable with warm food to fill bellies and clean sheets on the beds. We are the ones who stretch grocery dollars to make sure we get value for money and keep healthy food on the table. We balance the books, make do on little, mend, recycle and work away quietly to create a happy home. But we do a lot more than that. You all know what that is and I'm not going to re-write the sentiments of last week's post.

Maybe we cop this criticism because we don't speak up and let others know what we do in the home.  The type of homemaking we do is not the same as it was in the past; our work is not piecemeal, we have a full and holistic program for our homes. We work to routines and plans, just like a business does. Let your friends and family know there is a new form of homemaking now and it involves not only housekeeping but also choosing healthy food for the family, stretching the dollars, making sustainable choices for our family such as green cleaning, recycling and reducing waste. Explain home production to them. I'd like everyone who hears criticism of their role to defend it and their right to do whatever they want to do.

I am here to proudly say that as an intelligent, educated woman with many choices to do what I want to do, I choose to call myself a homemaker and author. I think I'm fortunate and privileged to do both. But whether you work solely in the home, or you combine outside work and home work, I think we can all stand proud. We stabilise and strengthen home and community life. Who else does that? We help run school P & Cs, we fundraise, we volunteer, we look after parents and children, and each other. And yes, we do the housework so that our husbands, wives, partners and children come home to warmth and comfort. We create safe havens.

When you talk about your role in the home, do it with grace. None of us want to listen to some arrogant so-and-so standing in judgement on us. Don't do that to anyone else either, don't criticise anyone's work. Work is work and whether you work at home or outside the home, no one should criticise how and where you choose to work.

Knowing we have our critics, you have to have a good measure of self-belief to do this but I want us to stand up and be proud of what we do, despite what others think. I want us to publicly talk about our role in the home, what we do, and that what we give to our family and our communities strengthens and sustains them. Make sure you tell your children why you've chosen your role as homemaker and explain to them how you see your work in the home as your job.

Let's start talking out loud. Let's explain to those who don't know, that homemaking has changed significantly. Explain what you love about your work. Explain the satisfaction and the happiness. Tell them you pick fresh greens in your backyard and collect eggs. Tell them about your cooking, sewing and knitting. Tell them you make green cleaners and offer to share your recipes. We might pick up a few converts. Hopefully most of those you talk to will understand what you're doing, and why. But if they still criticise, just walk away. There is no telling some people. Change is often slow but I think a new understanding is coming. It's up to us to help it along.

Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, thats all who ever have.
Margaret Mead.