Wednesday, January 25, 2006
The First Year Home
We hope to have a series of articles for those who are home for the first time. It is at this early stage of homemaking that many women give up and go to work. They don't like it at work but they don't know what to do at home. We'll be giving you some ideas that other people have discovered that make it worthwhile to be the full time manager of the home and family. Even if you haven't got any children, there is surprisingly a lot to do.
My first days at home had an air of loneliness. I had come from a big family where we were active and noisy, especially in the evenings around the fireplace. I always had plenty of company when cooking or cleaning up the kitchen, or doing the laundry. Now, I was alone with my husband, who was "the strong silent type," as he would be described. (His job required a lot of public speaking, and when he came home, he wasn't much of a conversationalist. He later objected to my description of him as a strong silent type, claiming he wasn't so strong.) It was difficult not to have a talkative companion when he was home, but it was worse when he was away, for I missed my noisy, bustling family. I think a lot of newly married women experience this. For that reason, I strongly advice the newly married couple not to move away from the towns where they grew up, too impulsively. Stay around awhile so that you can have the company of his family or your family, to help with the times when you need fellowship and support.
There is a lot to do, but being absolutely on your own if your husband has to be away, can be de-motivating. I once had a visit from my grandmother when I was a newly-wed. She wondered why I was so sad and lonely. "I can't understand you young people," she said. "When my John was away, I used it as an opportunity to clean the floors and do the laundry, re-arrange things, or write some letters. He didn't like me to be doing housework when he was home, and this was my chance."
I looked around our small apartment and just didn't see much to do. However, we were invited to the apartment next door, which was identical to ours, and had my eyes opened! This woman was my age, and she and her husband were at about the same stage of life as we were. She had transformed that apartment into something totally unrecognizable as an apartment. Although it was the same as ours in layout, she had, by using all her grandmother's linens and things from the fabric store, make it look like a real home.
Her management wasn't just applied to the inside of her small living areas; she paid special attention to the lanai and the front door area that belonged to her apartment, making sure it was neat, set with a beautiful potted plant and a greeting on the door. Their deck area was also kept clean and attractive looking, rather than heaped with storage items or trash, like so many others. Throughout the day she swept her eyes around the rooms of that little place and checked it, corrected things and went about the serious business of her life. She kept a notebook of expenses and was always looking for a bargain. For such a one so young, she must have had good training in her own home.
Most brides I knew at the time kept their wedding gifts and their hope chest items packed away if they were in a temporary residence, packed away until they could move to their real home. This girl had the table spread with an embroidered cloth, two places set with beautiful dishware, candles and other things displayed in attractive containers, and fake velvet drapery she had made herself with yardage and fringe.
Unlike other just-married women, she stayed at home and prepared menus, lists, and meals for her and her husband. They often invited others in to share meals. She kept busy sewing and creating but it wasn't all for pleasure. They lived on one small salary and she worked hard making it stretch so that she wouldn't have to leave her home and get a job, and so that her husband wouldn't have the pressure of debt. She also did a lot of things for her husband, who wasn't always able to do errands because of his schedule of work. She did his banking, picked up things he needed at the store, went to the post office, and took the car in for repairs.
When she got up in the morning she prepared a substantial breakfast, and saw her husband off to work. Later she cleaned it all up and got herself ready to go out to the market. She may have stopped by her husband's work and had lunch with him or left a home made lunch for him. When she returned home, there was laundry and ironing and correspondence to see to. There wasn't an idle moment in her time, yet she found plenty of time to rest and was never stressed.
I like the paragraph from Taylor Caldwell's article about her aunt:
"Aunt Polly...would then come home.... to prepare fragrant tea and bake luscious scones to be eaten with homemade strawberry jam. Though she had no modern washing-machine and used flat irons and hung out her laundry and had no vacuum cleaner and other "aids," she managed to look serene and rested at all times...I would visit Aunt Pollie for the soothing joy of being in a real home, among soft voices and gentle music, among frangrances and graciousness, and topping it off a real British Tea, produced apparently without effort. "
When her husband was away, this woman took a nap so that she could get revived for the evening. While he was worn out and tired, she was still able to provide a home cooked meal for him and still have a little energy left to be good company for him. I did noticed that he helped her quite a bit, but she did not require it.
A lot of women think there is no sense staying home if they can't have a salary, but staying home is like earning another income. It all depends upon how you manage the money and the things that you have. Many of the things that you are doing at home, would have to be hired out to someone else, and that is a big drain on your finances. Staying home and doing it yourself is always more economical, and you can get a feeling for your own home and family that you would not, if others were taking care of it.
We'll have more ideas for your first year at home, whether you are a newlywed or not, to come.
Painting from www.susanrios.inc Check out this site for prints and cards--beautiful to hang on the walls of your home.