The work of a homemaker

11 November 2013
As I wander around the web, I sometimes find homemakers who aren't really at peace with their role. From what I can see, these are all kinds of homemakers. I don't think that homemaking is only a women's role. I know of women and men who call themselves homemakers, I know career women and men who are part-time homemakers, and I know of girls and boys who help care for disabled parents and that places them in the role of the homemaker.

When I was working for a living, I hated house work. I saw it as a burden and I did it as quickly as I could. When I gave up paid work and started full time housework, I had to think about my place in our home and how I could work there and make it a place I was happy to spend time in. I didn't just want to be there because I had to; I wanted to love it. That was the key for me. If I could work at home and feel comfortable there, then that was my gift … to me, and to everyone who lives here or visits. 

My mission was to create a place where we all felt protected, relaxed and comfortable. I wanted to learn as much as I could about traditional homemaking and to make that fit into my modern life. I identified the work I needed to do and along with the work I added time in for relaxation, learning, knitting, research and self-improvement. I thought that if I was to work in my home and be fulfilled doing that, I needed to give myself points of interest and rest throughout the day so that I would enjoy what I was doing. There were a number of chores I did love. I love baking, cooking, gardening, mending, recycling, knitting, sewing and some cleaning, although not all of it.

In those early years, I structured my day so that I always did my heavy work in the morning. When I came to something I didn't like doing, I would follow it up with either something I loved doing, or a rest break. I was always rewarding myself with tiny things. I know it's much more difficult doing that when you have children to look after but when we're looking after Jamie now, I've found it works well but it takes more time.

I get a lot of emails from people who ask me what the secret is - how can they enjoy being at home when it means doing housework? Like me, you have to first change your attitude about what housework is. If you see it as something you must do for everyone else, stop and think about what you get out of it. Do you feel good about inviting family and friends over? Do you like extending hospitality to guests? Do you factor YOU into your day? Doing that is not selfish, if you're struggling with housework, it's a survival technique.

Include yourself in the housework-homemaking mix. Nurture your family and friends, but nurture yourself too. Ask for help when you need it. Nothing needs to be perfect. Remember to teach your children how to do age appropriate chores such as cleaning their room, taking dirty clothes to the laundry, putting away clean clothes, picking up toys. Everyone will be happier in a warm and calm home where the house work is not perfect. It's better than being in a perfect home that is tense and sterile.

Homemaking isn't just about the home - it's about the homemaker too. Take the pressure off yourself to deliver perfection. It's an over-rated and out-dated concept. Create a warm and nurturing home for your family but make it something you want as well. Do it in your own time and never expect it to all be done in one day. We are here working at home full time and I've never been able to finish everything in one day. Housework never ends, it's a continuing ribbon. Think about that because when you understand it, it makes taking breaks easier.

Be kind to yourself and recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to housework. How you work is your choice, do your work so you get things done without feeling miserable. And above all, stop thinking that house work as a form of punishment. I'm sure you love it when everything is clean and tidy and how you want it to be. Take responsibility for your home, the work you do there, the time in which it is done and factor in those all important breaks. When you create a relaxed and safe place, your home will be the solid foundation on which to build your life.