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 Check out this site for prints and cards--beautiful to hang on the walls of your home.


Stef said...

I'm so excited about this series of articles, Lady Lydia! I am a newlywed, and have only recently gotten up the gumption to start a daily housekeeping regimen while my husband is away. I love it! The first day was hard, because there was a lot of clutter and dust, but it's so easy now to do all my "chores." I'm more excited to have people over, because I'm not ashamed of our apartment. I actually seem to have MORE energy now that I'm getting up and around in the mornings. I can't wait to see what some of your ideas are. Thank you for your blog!

-Stef McCollum

Cherish the Home said...

What an inspirational post! I can't wait to read the others.

As a SAHW I am always looking for inspiration and ideas for keeping my home....reading this made me want to go and clean something! (o;

TheNormalMiddle said...

We have been married 7 years now. That first year of marriage was extra tough for us. I was in college full time and my husband was working full time. I wanted my "rights" and demanded his help about the home. I was unhappy in our little cramped condo of less than 800 square feet.

Thank the Lord I came across teaching such as yours the following year when I became pregnant with our first child. I have been a stay-at-home wife and mother ever since. I prefer the term keeper at home.

I so wish I would have found these true, biblical teachings before marriage. Our marriage would have been vastly different that fist year and would have saved us some pain & heartache.

And now, reading this motivates me to get off the computer and vaccum the floors before dh arrives home from work.

Continue on with this wonderful blog!

Anonymous said...

This is a most wonderful train of thought!! It did bring back one memory of myself as a newlywed, another young wife had come into our small apartment and I had the table set for dinner and she commented to her husband that I actually set the table!! Usually she just handed the utensils as they were needed from the drawer!! Anyway, one word of "warning" if the in-laws have been the working women types, they may express strong disapproval of trying to make it on one income. This happpened to me when my husband got out of the military and we returned to his family area. I faced a lot of pressure from everyone to take a job. So living near relatives might not always be for the best. I was glad we had been away to develop some of our own ideas during that all-important first year or two. Oh, that we all had a Titus 2 upbringing......!

Lydia said...

This is a good point. I'm so glad you brought it up. I heard a woman in a store say, "Yes, my daughter in law is just staying home. I have my doubts about how they will survive if she doesn't have an income." So, even the older women are indoctrinated to believe that the young wives should go to work. We really have our work ahead of us to dispel this myth.

Lydia said...

And the best way to prove that it works is to do it, and do it well.

Cherish the Home said...

For some reason, my comment didn't show up, so I'll try again. (o:

I can't wait for the series of articles.....they sound FANTASTIC! As a SAHW I am always looking for creative ways to manage my home.

'Anyway, one word of "warning" if the in-laws have been the working women types, they may express strong disapproval of trying to make it on one income.'

This is so TRUE, anonymous!

Anonymous said...

What anonymous describes is exactly what happened to us. When I left my job shortly before my second child was born, my husband caught some flack from his parents on more than one occasion about us trying to live on one income. After my husband had to become almost rude to them in response to probing, they *finally* backed off. What hurt the most was the implication that I wasn't "pulling my weight","doing my fair share", or was wasting my college degree by staying at home. Since then I'm happy to say my mother-in-law has become a lot more supportive and has simply dropped the issue; with my father-in-law we just have to avoid bringing the subject up. They are both professing Christians of many years, but she has worked outside the home her whole adult life and I suspect that has greatly colored the way they both see this issue.
Anyway, I am glad this site and LAF exist, and I hope you will keep up the good work you are doing. They have been a source of much inspiration and encouragement to me. :-)

Lydia said...

Ladies if you are thinking you'll get everyone off your back eventually, regarding your ability to stay and home and make it work, forget it. I am in my late 50's and people still won't leave me alone. My daughter is a 5th generation SAHW&M and it means nothing to people whose only concern is financial survival. One woman my age is just beginning to realize that we believe in this as a way of life is better for the family. She herself lost her children to drugs and other problems and yet she can stand there and tell us we ought to get jobs.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,
On top of the attack to stay at home moms, there are a number of stay at home dads. I deliberately ignore my feelings, but on my street, we have at least two stay at home dads and my sister is married to the stay at home dad, while she works. I have felt very uncomfortable seeing my neighbor home all day this summmer. To me, this also, is a subtle attack on the family. I feel it. We have a serious land dispute. While the land dispute is one subject, there is another subtle one that lurks. The wife, came to our home and told my husband that she wanted to sit down with him and discuss the issue, without his wife (meaning me) and without her husband. I found it so uncomfortable. It was a weird attack on the homemaker, that I had never experienced before. It was as if, I didn't matter, and as if she knew better than her husband...It is hard for me to explain to you in words, but, I heard her say it, and I felt insulted.
This is the world, of course. Then, when I had my last baby, the nurse asked me to sign some papers, while in the middle of contractions. My husband was right there by my side, but, he did not qualify to sign. Wow. That really bothered me. He was seen as a type of ornament, useless. My heart felt so bad for him, I needed him, I was in labor, the hospital sort of took his ability to help me, away. He was treated as if he was not needed, a nobody. His opinion or desire for that baby did not even matter, only mine. The female.
Marriage is really being put to the test these days.
Again, all I can say is, yes indeed, that is why this particular blog, and a very few like it, are so much of a blessing.
It is, indeed, a blessing to read your blogs, even if we don't always even attain the best of what we read and discuss on this blog. But, to dwell on good things and on what God ordained, gives us a model to look at.
I am another anonymous, it is just easier to use anonymous, but I will name myself annie for the sake of continuity in the future, if I should leave a comment again.
I sure appreciate all your comments on this blog.

Anonymous said...

This article actually brought tears to my eyes. How inspiring to read about the apartment that the other young lady had fixed up into a beautiful home. Thank you for the encouragement to do the best with what I have.


Olivia said...

Yes, I've tried to reconcile myself to the fact that at no point will everyone 'be off my back'. Although I'm not a stay at home wife/mother yet, I am a stay at home daughter and have found I get the same responses, if not worse!! It's disheartening sometimes, but I just have to look to the correct sources for encouragement to stay the course.

I was so delighted to run across your blog, Lady Lydia... and have been enjoying reading your previous posts when I get a few moments.

DonnaB said...

Lady Lydia, I couldn't agree more. My biggest objector when I announced I would be staying home to raise my kids was my own father. Turns out he is a feminist. Year after year (almost 13 years now) whenever I see him he harps on how I'm wasting my life. I've had to accept he's not going to change his mind, he has chosen to believe a lie.

Lydia said...

Better that you "waste your life" at home raising good children, than they end up wasting theirs completely without purpose or discipline, which you can give them best. Going to work puts you more at risk for many things, including illness, being imposed upon by other men, and loss of real talent.

Lydia said...

New brides have no idea the good they are doing for their mother-in-laws. It is a lot of work taking care of a man. I still have one son at home and often wish there was a woman to take over his meals and the other things that need to be done for him--errands, bill-paying, ironing a shirt. Not that I mind--after all, he is my own son, and precious to me, but at my stage of life, I think it best to hand over the care of him to someone else and free up my time for grand children and other things that need to be done. He can do his own laundry but I prefer to manage it myself, as he is only good with heavy equipment on the job. He isn't good with household the stay at home newly married woman is really providing a very valuable service...

Anonymous said...

Hello Lady Lydia,

I too am looking forward to these articles. I only lived alone with my husband for two years being having to move in with my husband's mother. I wish I had done more decorating to my liking when I had the chance. I had some lovely ideas for our front door and patio too but never did them.

I piece of advice I would give to newly married women or those who are becoming engaged to be married is to get a written agreement that your husband will not require you to have to live with his mother.

I enjoyed staying home and taking care of my home I worked outside the home for a year and it was hard getting things done I just didn't have the energy to work all I was a cashier at a retail store and then come home and do housework and make wonderful meals.

Also sometime it would be nice if you could address the subject of messy husbands who through paper and and all kinds of mess all over the house. How can we encourage them to clean up after themselves without hurting their feelings. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Mrs. Sherman

As regards to elders no longer in favor of homemaking women, how does one handle the pressure they impose?

To be more specific, my parents are set against my marrying a feminine woman. They would like to see me cohabit with another breadwinner instead of spending my life with a true soulmate. What adds to this problem is our social custom of the joint family, where, as far as possible, the children live with the parents ( the girl leaves her parents home and stays with her husband at her in-laws).

I support the joint family system - it allows me to personally support my parents in loving gratitude for the years they spent bringing me up. While the fact that sharing a home may make good financial sense as well, I would rather build a house with my own money, and move my folks right in, so the economic factor has little to do with my preference.

But how am I to handle such a situation where my parents will have to share a roof with a person they do not approve? They themselves support the joint family system too - they want to be close to their children after all. If I had to make a choice between parents and wife, I would certainly choose my wife, because our bond woould be one of 'chosen' responsibility. But I'd like to avoid such a future situation from occurring.

What would you suggest?

Lydia said...

I would be ideal if the woman could be someone who really liked your parents a lot and craved their company, and whom your parents appreciate so much that even if you didn't marry her, they would want to adopt her into their family. That would solve it for everyone. To find such a one is not impossible, I think. It has happened. Maybe it could happen this way for you.

Anonymous said...

Kapil, please excuse me for answering as well, but it might be better to discuss with your parents ahead of time the kind of home you want. Perhaps it would help if you first wrote a letter to your parents explaining your views about the kind of woman you desire to marry, and why, and the kind of home you would like to have, and asking them if they will respect your wife for being the kind of woman whom you desire to marry. Maybe you could explain that you desire a harmonious home of love and respect with your wife and parents together, therefore you are making these things plain ahead of time to help avoid hurt and misunderstanding.

If then it comes to an unresolved disagreement, I would think that if they know that you desire (or even expect, if a firmer word is needed) them to respect your decisions and your wife, then they are more likely to do so, and that if they are unwilling to do so then there will have to be separate homes for the sake of harmony for everyone.

"A house divided will not stand" and it would be devastating if parents living in the home are constantly disrepecting the wife (and indirectly the husband as well) and undermining her in the eyes of the children.

I pray you find God's best for you.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia. I am so excited that you will be addressing the issue of "what to do in the home..." I know for me it took a good year or more to re-program my brain from career woman to a home-women and I never really stepped foot into the Career Working mentality!
This subject so needs to be talked about! I have noticed that among the people that I have know those who have tried to stay at home after being so saturated with "career" mentality that it takes them awhile to figure out what their "new" role is because of the lack of mentors! If they stick it out more than a year they seem to do alright but those who only give it a few months get restless!
I worked a little when I first got married to help with the tuition of my last couple of semesters in college. After I finished my degrees, I stayed at home and was a home-wife! I had seven years (approx) of keeping busy in the home without Children. Done Right, --you will not be bored! It wasn't until just recently that we have had children. I have two Children under the age of two. I have my hands full with such young ones and my heart delights in thinking of all the little things that I want to teach my daughter and son! Now-I wish that I had taken time to learn the "arts" that I want to pass on to my children. Although, I was busy in the home...I wish I had known the strong desire that I would experience of "teaching them to be the best they can be in their proper roles"....I wish I had taken some of the time to learn the things that I dream that my son and daughter will pass on to their children: knitting, smocking, ulpholestry and wood working! --Not that I can't learn these! Now, I just get to learn along side them. What a fun experience we shall have but it will be something that I will have to keep one step a head of them!
Looking forward to reading your articles!

shannon said...


I have been trying to decide if I have the courage to stay at home. I enjoy working outside the home but I am worried that I will not be able to give my child the atttention or family life I would like to provide. My first child is due in July and both my husband and I think a better home life would be possible if I stay home. My health is an issue and I am home right now due to long term health problems which are making the pregnancy difficult. Working in the past has been a living nightmare due to never feeling well and being overly stressed but having to do it all. Most people feel I should work outside the home no matter what because they have negative views of women who stay home. Some of these views have been terribly hurtful and have greatly saddened me. I really don't know what is so bad about a woman wanting to stay home, or choosing to stay home in order to have a happy home life. Is this not what many women did until recently?. I could understand if finances were a major issue or you were lazy and did not want to do your duties at home but personally I find that in some ways there is less to do at work and most jobs are not overly challenging, they are simply required to bring home the bacon. I read that only 20% of people actually like their jobs anyway. Well, I am really scared to stay home because I am sensitive to comments that make me feel useless or like I am doing something improper by being a "parasite". It is nice to know that I am not completely alone though. I really thought I would be one of the last women to ever stay at home because quite honestly I do not know any women today who have chosen this path.