Window Dressing II
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Dressing for the home is important, because it sets the tone for your day. When you aren't feeling well, it helps just to dress well. It seems to improve your mood and even your health. It is important to dress up when things are not going well. When the house is in chaos and the family is full of troubles, it is so debilitating that the homemaker may feel too low to dress up. Dressing up, however, helps you to rise above some of these problems. Even if the problems do not go away instantly, at least anyone who is troubling you, will see that you were not crushed by their remarks or their actions.
When the house is in disarray, it is good to dress up because it helps you approach the problem areas in a professional manner. You feel you are dressed for something important. You may be more careful and more methodical in what you are doing. It makes you less irritable if you will dress up. You can see a sample of feminine dress at http://www.thepleasanttimes.blogspot.com/ It looks on the surface as though we are too dressed up but these are sturdy, cotton clothes and they withstand the rigours of housework, cooking, cleaning, and care of children.
All around you may be things you need to clean up or put in order. You may be making the problem worse by neglecting your appearance. If you have to go somewhere, you'll be prepared, if you are properly dressed. Jeans, racing pants, shorts, leggings or sweats just do not inspire me and do not make me feel ladylike or delicate and feminine, so I wear skirts and dresses even at home. I wear leggings underneath. Even if the day is going to be "ordinary" and no one is coming to tea, I try to dress up. If I don't, those nice clothes hang in the closet and go out of style and just take up room. I like to wear them out and then get something fresh and new. Dressing up for the day really helps me feel more organized.
Aria by Firelight
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The second thing that helps the homemaker is the appearance of the home itself. When it is dark, dreary, messy, unclean, cluttered and lacking in beauty, it puts a damper on her mood. It makes it hard to get motivated and really keep house.
When women wanted to be homemakers full time, and the home was exalted as the most important element of society, the appearance of the house was of utmost importance. The decorator herself was considered even more important. She knew that the house would have an effect on a person's spirit. Life was more than just eating and sleeping. Everything was to be noticed--things in nature and in daily life.
The appearance of the home could ennoble or debilitate those who resided there. The way it is kept has a refining influence on people, and can have a motivating effect on members of the family. We recently visited an Italianate historical home and noticed that you could not go but a few steps before something beautiful or ornate caught your attention: a column, a ledge with carvings on it, a painted scene on a wall, staircase rails with raised work. Even the steps and porch leading up to the doorway--the doorway being embellished with interesting designs, evoked a feeling of importance. One did not just walk into this house. One's senses were prepared on the pathway to this house. The family name was carved into the bricks on the steps. The tree on the front lawn seemed to be reflected in the woodwork in various places on the house.
In the "less is more" culture, I sometimes wondered if I should keep the pretty things that made my home cheerful and evoked the memories of home for my family. A time or two throughout my homemaking career, I tried stripping my home of all the embellishments, but the house didn't feel warm and cozy. It doesn't matter to me that it means I must dust something once in awhile. After all, I am a full time homemaker, and that is part of the job: to decorate and to maintain it. A doll and a teddy bear, a vase of flowers, a few nice pictures on the wall, and a pretty lamp will not over burden me with house work. I remember when I first got married and opened up a wedding gift: a new set of dishes, all my very own. How I enjoyed using them and washing them. As I dried each plate I felt so rich and so excited to have them. They were so beautiful and I was more motivated to have company and serve up a nice meal.
During an upheaval, such as when moving or renovating, there can be little areas set aside that still look good. We have a lot of areas in our home that are just plain grunge, but I try to have one or two rooms that look good, so that I have somewhere to go that will evoke a feeling of rest.
These two things: personal appearance, and the appearance of the home, really help boost the homemaker's energy and raise her mood to a happy level.
I always appreciated the play, "When Queens Ride By," (see sidebar for link) in which a queen dressed in her finest and rode through town in order to reassure her subjects that she was still in control and all was safe in the kingdom. It squelched suspicion and rumors. When things look right, they right themselves more easily. When things are not right, dressing up yourself and dressing up your house lets you have some power and control in at least that part of life that will influence your family
Dressing for yourself and your family is reassuring to them. When there are troubles at home, dressing up can in some way put you in control. When I was growing up I was taught that the first thing to take care of is your appearance. You do not face others until you have put your face on, so to speak. That means to wash up, brush up, dress up, and look up, before appearing to anyone else, if possible. There are exceptions, such as the young mother with a newborn baby, or the woman with very small children, but she can still bathe and put on clean clothes and look refreshed to others. That too, is stabilizing to the children, and gives her some kind of power. Somehow, when you dress up, the day doesn't seem to escape from you as quickly and things do not seem to get out of control.
Sometimes when family members are out of sorts and disagreeable, just tackling a cleaning job, or making the table look nice, or getting the living area orderly, can send a message that something worthwhile can be done, and that you are making progress. The disgruntled people are softened when they observe the homemaker's careful attention to the details of her home.
Women at home just do not realize how these two things can help them and their families and influence outsiders who ridicule their decision to stay home. There is probably much to learn also, from homemakers of the past.