11 November 2013

The work of a homemaker

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.



  1. I just love reading your blog, it truly validates how I feel now, in my life. My job is important at home and I think that my husband if finally beginning to realize how much nicer things are that I am home, and how much nicer I am to be around.

    Keep encouraging us Rhonda, it helps.

  2. I went through a stage many years ago where I just hated my Nursing career, everything about it was awful, and this feeling went on for a couple of years, so you can imagine how draining it was emotionally and physically to carry that attitude around with me. I read a book somewhere along the way (I can't even remember which one now, as I went on to read many similar ones) about changing your attitude to change your life. Luckily for me I got it! Right there and then I understood that my work issues were a direct result of my attitude. I changed my approach by making a conscious decision, I had to be at work, so I might as well decide to enjoy it and make the most of it, and guess what, when my attitude changed, work improved, and it's still that way today. To people who are struggling with anything in their life, my advice is to find the positives, and focus on that and that alone, every single day, and pretty soon the negatives lose their power.

  3. You're right Rhonda, housework never ends but I love my role as a homemaker/homeschooler and wouldn't want it any other way. Take care:)

  4. That was so nice to read Rhonda...i could relate to myself, who enjoys every bit of time keeping up the home neat and tidy,decorating my home with my handmades. inviting guest is my husbands interest..now me too love to do it and love to cook for my guest...

  5. Great blog as usual Rhonda, thank you.

    I decided a couple of things a while back. Like you say, housework is never finished (they used to say "a women's work is never done" many years ago). I find some of it fairly enjoyable and some of it tedious and frankly somewhat depressing at times - partly because I think everything should always be "perfect" and "finished" - accepting it never will be has been quite liberating for me.

    These days I put a time limit on it. I'll do an hour's cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, wiping, mopping etc in the morning. That's it. Sure, during the day I might do some 5, 10, 15 minute stints (doing the dishes, wiping down the table etc) but I find the one hour and the short bursts during the rest of the day keep on top of it. That way at least the place is always reasonable! I can live with reasonable. Perfect is too big a burden, but on the other hand I can't stand the place being a mess either!

    Happy mediums are always good and as Tony Robbins says, "so many people spend their life majoring in minor things". A clean, pleasant and well organized home is such a joy - but then I want to get on with other things which matter to me a lot, such as crafts, gardening, writing, photography etc.

    Also, cooking and baking. A while back I realised I was always making things everyone ELSE liked. I rarely made my favourites because I was busy making everyone else's favourites. I do usually like cooking and baking anyway but I like it a lot MORE when I sometimes give myself permission to make MY favourites!

    It might sound a bit silly I guess but I was reared in a generation where women were encouraged to be selfless and put others first, but that doesn't mean we always have to have everyone else's favourite cake right? LOL.

    Like you say WE matter too.....and homemaking and life in general becomes a lot better when we get onboard with that.

    Thanks again Rhonda. I love your blog! Have a great day.

    1. It is interesting your comment Wendy, about women being selfless and putting others first. I was also like that. For example, if there were two steaks, I would give my husband the bigger one and I would take the smaller one.....then one day, I though, "what about me".....don't I count too. It was not so much about dishing up food, but I was entitled to things too. So, I changed. The first time I took the best bit of meat and gave him the other, I felt guilty, but you know, he never noticed. Now, I am happy to make time for me, to do what I want....I am not selfish, but if think more balanced in my approach. And, by the way, I would love a piece of your cake regardless of who's favourite it was.

      I also like your thoughts on reasonable vs perfect......


  6. I agree with you about doing some housework and then something more enjoyable afterwards. I allways feel good when the washing comes off the line the same day and is in the draws that night vs off the line and just in the wash basket in the laundry. Often once the housework is done the feeling that you get is always worth it and makes you feel organized and everything is under control vs out of control. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  7. Hi Rhonda,
    thanks for a lovely, uplifting post. Doing the big tasks first is a great idea, as is giving oneself a reward. I'm going to get the basics done this morning, and my reward is time in the garden before I start work. Actually, sometimes I do it in reverse - I go out and garden before it gets too hot, and then I feel happy to clean up inside because I've done the thing I love and value the most.
    Have a beautiful day, Madeleine.X

  8. You know, I know some women who say that many homemaking activities are "so much work". But they are working very hard for someone else! Work is work wherever you're doing it. I guess for some, working outside the home is necessary in order to have a better life at home, but for others it's a way to get out of the house. A big difference in outlook.

  9. Thanks for another validating post for those of us at home. Society unfortunately makes it hard by putting so much emphasis on the value of working for a living. Everyone around me is always complaining how busy they are and how crazy life is. I feel like I have the secret they require but I keep it to myself. I really loved the words about perfection and in particular "Everyone will be happier in a warm and calm home where the house work is not perfect. It's better than be in a perfect home that is tense and sterile." So true! I had been ,for a long time, stuck with this, as I thought thats what my husband would want of me being home all day. But now I see it exactly as you put it. We've never been closer. I went away on the weekend and came home to the house a bit out of sorts, well a lot out of sorts really!. I bit my tongue and instead looked at how much fun and how happy my hubby and daughter were to spend that time together. He is a shift worker and only gets the weekends really with her, and that is what is important.
    Warm regards

    1. I know what you mean by your remark "Society unfortunately makes it hard by putting so much emphasis on the value of working for a living", but in reality you ARE working for a living. It is very much work. You are correct that many people do not value it, however. I keep my own house up and enjoy it.I l also do housekeeping professionally. I'm amazed at how many people do not know how to keep house properly, and are amazed when they get home after I have been there and have it a welcoming,sparkling clean and tidy home.

  10. The main thing i love about being a homemaker is the ability and freedom to take a rest after some busy work. I know for a fact, before i had my girls and worked in the city, I could never say to my boss 'gee i'm tired after that presentation, i'm going to take a nap under my desk...see you in an hour', but nowadays if i've dropped my girls at school, done the groceries, come home to hang out some washing and i'm tired, i have an early lunch and a short nap before school pickup....this is the best life ever!!

    PS what is that lovely pasta dish you've got going on there? Any recipe for that one? looks scrumptious!

    Lauren H x

  11. I love pretty much all housework except dusting. I have been trying to find away to make it enjoyable. I love how the house looks when I get it done and think that wasn't to bad until the next time I see dust starting to appear again. Maybe I should try telling myself I can do something fun after I am done . I love your take on perfection. I have decided I can't do perfection like I did when I was young. I just do what I can now. Loved this post.

    1. I saw an embroidered couch pillow with the phrase "Dust is a protective covering for furniture" and never forgot it! Attitude is everything. (( )) hugs, Lois

  12. I love your mentality Rhonda. I find so much wisdom in your blog and book, and I find myself thinking over little bits and pieces I have read throughout the days as I work (as a homemaker and mother to two littlies), and it always gives me this sense of calm and pride even if the house is looking more chaotic than I would like! It's so validating to read posts like this too, to know I'm not the only one "still" at home full-time. Thank you :)

  13. I've been through many stages in my life regarding housework. Some "seasons" were particularly busy (new babies or husband working out of town), so housework took a back seat (other than the basics). Other seasons in my life allowed the luxury of a bit more time to spend on really KEEPING my home. Yes, there is a difference, isn't there? :)

    I quite enjoy housework now that I have a good solid routine in place. It wasn't always so rosy… there were many years of fumbling and muddling. I would clean like a mad woman when things got really bad, then do nothing until it was a big mess again. I was simply not taught HOW to keep a home. My Mom did it herself (mostly when we were at school), but as I didn't do much in the way of chores other than evening dishes, I didn't really pick up on HOW to do any other housework. Those missed skills took me a LONG time to learn but I'm happy to say that I've got a good handle on it now...

    There are a few tasks that I don't much care for, but I've found a way to make them much more enjoyable. When I iron, I use a homemade linen spray with lavender. I love the scent and it makes ironing much more pleasant. Same with dusting - I spray the room with essential oils in water and it smells lovely - I guess I am motivated by scent! Listening to music, podcasts or interesting talk radio helps me, too. I like to learn new things and when my mind is occupied the time goes very quickly (even when doing the not so pleasant chores). When my husband used to wear dress shirts every day, I would set up the ironing board in the family room and iron when we watched our favourite tv show on Sunday nights. That helped :)

    I am also very mindful of the fact that so many DON'T have homes to keep and that realization has totally changed my attitude. It's a luxury to have a comfortable home to live in and it is a privilege to keep it as I wish. We are lucky to have dirty dishes because it means we have food to eat. Having dirty bathrooms means that we have running water at the turn of a tap to clean ourselves. A pile of dirty laundry means that we have clothing to wear when many don't have more than what's on their back.

    Finding JOY in housework really can be as simple as a change in attitude (from burdenson drudgery to grateful appreciation). Great post, Rhonda :)

    1. I think that sums it up. "Having dirty dishes means we have eaten"
      Something to always remember.

  14. I couldn't agree more with your comment about rewarding yourself after a particularly unfavourite or heavy chore.

    Another trick I use is similar to the Fly-Lady's 15 minute trick... when I am making a coffee or waiting for something to cook etc, I use that time to whip around the kitchen doing little jobs. I can unpack nearly the entire dishwasher in the time it takes to make a coffee, and then I can enjoy it with one more job done.

    But having a home where people feel comfortable and welcome, to kick their shoes off and curl up for a cozy chat, is so much better than being ashamed of your house, or worse yet, having it like a hospital and empty of all character. Display homes are all very nice, but no-one lives there!

    Fabulous post Rhonda, thankyou :)

  15. It really helps when my husband leaves me little notes saying he appreciates all that I do to make our lives nicer!!

  16. For many years, I have worked a bit on the side - in part, to pay for my twice-a-month housecleaner. I enjoy the work (tutoring), and I still have most of my time to look after my family and home. Whenever I've stopped the outside help, because frankly - we could use the money from the tutoring for other things - I've turned into a nagging shrew. I get so angry when my husband and 4 kids do not do the jobs I ask them to - immediately! perfectly! aaagh! But when money feels tight, as it often does, my cleaning help seems like a luxury that should be first on the list to go. I'm wondering how others might deal with getting family members to really pitch in - but getting them to do so graciously and calmly. I do not like "out-sourcing" work we are fully capable of doing ourselves (though I do love and respect the woman who has cleaned here for years, and often think about her own family in this scenario).

  17. I needed this post today as a reminder. A reminder to change my attitude and learn to love what I do at home. And I also like the reminder that taking breaks and making time for myself is okay. So thank you Rhonda for writing yet another great post.

  18. What a great, encouraging post! I just a read a quote about a housekeeper cooking meals and cleaning house, etc., but a HOMEmaker doing all those things, but with love. That's key for me!

    And sometimes when my children complain about cleaning, I tell them I don't love cleaning either, but I love the results.

  19. I needed this post today. I like staying at home, being with my children who are not yet in school, cooking yummy things for them and being able to structure my day to suit myself and my family. Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility and feeling I needed to do it all myself, as my husband works outside the home to provide for us. I also have an 8 month old, whose schedule changes all the time, so I felt like I would never get things done. This post reminds me that we do what we can do and not worry about the things left undone as there will always be something to do the next day.

    We are all in different times and different seasons and what some people can do with ease isn't the same as others. I am not a natural house cleaner but, I think I am pretty good at making a home. And that is the most important.

    I loved what Margo said "I don't love cleaning either, but I love the results." I am going to have to tell that one to my older kids. That is gold!

  20. You know Rhonda I'm so glad I read your post this morning. Sometimes I feel that I undervalue my role and society too undervalues my role as a (disabled) homemaker. Until I remember to take the pressure off and take some time out for myself doing a spot of knitting or crochet or reading or just sitting and daydreaming with a nice cup of tea. I always remember my Mum saying 'A woman's work is never done' and never a truer word was spoken. Thank you for putting this (sometimes most undervalued ) most important role into perspective. I have saved your post for future reference when once again I feel undervalued by myself and perhaps by society.

  21. Wonderful post Rhonda, I love my role as homemaker and always have, but for anyone who is struggling a change in attitude could do the trick. We need to see our role for truly what it is - to make a safe haven for ourselves and those we love - there's no greater work in my book! Love your blog!

  22. Lovely post, Rhonda.. I love my home and try my best to do it well although my way may not be everyone's.... You are so right that one size fits all and so long as it is warm and welcoming for our family that is what counts..
    Take care..


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