Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Matter of Good Housekeeping

This is a frank, undisguised message for young women who look down on housekeeping, or who think of it as a demeaning occupation, beneath the intellect.

When you visit a bed and breakfast inn, or a famous hotel, think of what kinds of comforts you could do without. If you are expecting to really relax and enjoy your vacation, would you appreciate getting a room with no clean sheets or towels? Would you like a room that is in shambles? Maybe you expect to rent a bed and breakfast and not have any food served to you, or , maybe the host points to the pantry and says to make your own breakfast. If you were paying a top price for a hotel, you would not like a room and see it all askew without a fresh smell, and no lights or any comfort of any kind. You would probably walk out, or complain to the manager.

Now let me bring you, in your mind, to the best hotel in the country. Let us suppose it is a cozy place in the mountains. You've saved up for this vacation for a long time and the hotel is one of the most important aspects of this trip. You expect to go to your room at night and really relax in luxury and forget about your worries. You want to rest and get refreshed, away from the cares of the world.

One of the first things you will notice is that the room is orderly. There may even be a tray of food on a table. The bathrooms have fresh bars of soap and clean towels. Everything that you expect and appreciate; everything that is lovely, got there by someone's housekeeping. Would you now say that such nice touches are demeaning? In some swanky places, a fresh pot of tea with scones are delivered to your room where you sit at a pretty table and look out the window at a pleasant view. Can you think for a minute that the service you are getting is a result of a demeaning occupation?

Without good house keeping, the world cannot go around as it does. We would be no better than animals scrounching for food in the trees, or lapping up water from a brook with our tongues. Good housekeeping makes the difference between uncivilized and civilized life.

Even if a student has no time for anything but study, someone has to do the things that makes that student's life smoother: the laundry, the dishes, food preparation, sweeping the floor, and emptying the trash. Some people have said it is more difficult to study and get their thoughts in order, in a disorderly room. Good housekeeping creates the atmosphere for clear thinking. It has been rightly said that "sloppy living leads to sloppy thinking."

A housewife has the time to create a beautiful home by the skill and art of good housekeeping. Good housekeeping is not a demeaning job to lift your nose in arrogance at. Labor and management cannot be separated in a home. The wife must be able to clean and manage the home.This is much different than being a maid, although there is nothing demeaning about being a maid. Prior to the 1900's, before factories or large chain stores existed, many young girls enjoyed working in the homes of rich people. It gave them a luxurious place to live, and it gave them a respectable position in life. Beyond that, marriage created even more respectability for young women.

In the 19th century, many young women prided themselves on their ability to sew, knit, bake, take care of a husband, and manage a home. They also wrote poetry and books. Some of them painted pictures that are famous. Today, there are many young women who think they have too much education to settle down to being a housewife. They feel that housekeeping is demeaning. In disparaging the 19th century women, saying they were not educated enough to be anything but a "housewife, they show a complete lack of research and study; a complete ignorance of the times. In some ways, life was very hard--for example, in certain places during homestead days, we had to carry water up a hill from a lake (we called it "running water" because we ran down the hill and back up again with buckets of water!), and that indeed was not pleasant, but those were only a few moments in the whole picture.

For the most part, women of the past were not miserable in their roles as housewives. These homes, which seem to have faded from the scene sometime in the 60's, had a warmth and a welcome that our homes in our progressive society lack. They were the kind of places where we were happy. They were given caring touches: the freshly pressed table cloth, the folded napkin by the plate, and the fresh towel on the edge of the sink. Housewives sweeping the floor did so because of the pride they took in their houses, and not because it was considered a demeaning drudgery.

There is more to a home than housekeeping. A wife needs to be able to manage her jobs. She has to adjust to the weather, the time of day, the time of the month, the time of the year. She has to be flexible with family needs and unexpected problems. While few people can ever really do it to perfection, at least the housewife knows what is necessary and can aim for that perfection.

This is what the Proverbs 31 model was all about: aiming for a standard. It was saying, in modern language, "It is hard to find a wife that is this good, but if you could, this is what she would be like." And, in being like, her, we are to understand that it is at least a standard to look up to. I will never accomplish the kind of things my grandmother did, but I still look to her as a role model. The Proverbs 31 example is a standard. Though a person may not be able to achieve it, there is comfort in knowing there is a standard to go by. It is a picture of the worth and importance of a wife when she takes her role seriously and guards her time and family carefully. And, all the things that the Proverbs 31 woman was said to have done, come under the role of "housewife," for housewives have a vast responsibility, even beyond housekeeping.

The mammoth amount of labor and the tiniest touches of delicacy that make your stay in a lodge or hotel memorable, are achieved by housekeeping. Think about that fancy resort you want to stay in. If everyone thought housekeeping was demeaning and all the housekeepers quit, and wanted to be in other careers, what kind of place would it be? If good housekeeping is so important to the hotel business, what kind of effect can it have on a marriage and a family? The very touches that mean so much in public places in this world, are housekeeping activities that some young girls call "demeaning." Think of the world without housekeeping. Even your favorite shops and restaurants obtain their ambiance through the careful work of housekeepers. You would not like them so much if this housekeeping was neglected because the proprietors thought housekeeping a demeaning job.

Observe something about many of the online shops on the web. A large proportion of them contain things for the home. Most of the things a woman buys has to do with enhancing her home or making life more pleasant at home. A large amount of the free enterprise that takes place on the web and at home, --everything from plumbing supplies to home decor---is for the home. The economy would certainly suffer without homes to care for.

The structure of a bridge does not look very important. You might not notice it at all. Yet without it, the bridge is worth absolutely nothing. A ship has a small rudder, that passengers don't even see, yet, it is the most important part of the ship. Without it, the ship could not serve in the capacity for which it was made. A realtor selling a house will make sure it is presentable. Housekeeping must take place in order to increase its value. As a young woman, you may have grown up believing that housekeeping is not important, yet, without it, a house depreciates in value.

Maybe you don't think much of housekeeping because it doesn't make you look important. An opera singer is supported by many other musicians. Can you imagine the clarinet section quitting because they are not noticed or given the high profile that the opera singer is? The singer can surely perform on her own, but the people in the background working to help her--even the one who pulls the curtain, is just as important. Without these people, the performance would not be a success. The same goes for marriage, home and family. Though the man takes the responsibility for his family, his support structure is his wife and children. Housekeeping might not seem very important, because, after all, we can hire someone to do it. Yet, the housewife has a more personal interest in her house. She does it for the people she loves.She is more motivated to make it the best place in the world.

A friend invites you over to her house for afternoon tea. You arrive and see that she has laid out her best china and cleaned up her house, just for you. She wants to do her very best so that you can have a good time. What if she said, "I'm, not going to do any housework. It is just demeaning." You probably would wonder if you had arrived on the wrong day, or if she was not very happy to see you.

Taking all this into consideration, it is undeniable that housework is the support system upon which many business and homes rely. It should be taken seriously. The family can tell a difference between beauty and ugliness; order and chaos. They will spend the most time where they feel the most dignified. I know teenagers who prefer to spend their evenings at home rather than at the houses of friends, or rather than running around to movies and restaurants because of the family taking so much pride in good housekeeping. It is not a small job. It is not insignificant. Without it, daily life would be miserable.

To add a thought, to anyone who thinks housekeeping is a low paying, demeaning job: try hiring a housekeeper for a day. I know a woman who charges quite a bit for housekeeping, by the hour. Her rates are very high, and rightly so, for she is very professional. She chooses a house a day and a customer a day, if she likes and she will work maybe one hour, on one particular task, and then go home. Maid services are expensive, also. So, if you are a housewife and a keeper at home, you are helping your family budget, and if you train your children to pick up after themselves, you are teaching them to be good stewards of money and posessions.

Painting: Once Upon a Winter's Night by Michael Humphries, from Allposters.


Lydia said...

YOu make a very interesting observation: what movies would impress us as much with their glamorous houses if they weren't presented as well-kept. Look at "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." The first thing that Millie did was clean up the pig stye her husband and his brothers were living in. I doubt the story would have had as much value had that part been left out because of the attitude toward housekeeping as demeaning.

Anonymous said...

You're correct as always! I had a friend who worked hard to have a clean house and I loved going there. (Not that I don't clean.)

Also, I enjoy checking into a clean and nice hotel room and it's usally the bathroom that makes me feel refreshed and pampered. When all five of my children were really young I would stay once a year at a hotel near my relatives (my little get away) and I adored the all white, perfectly clean bathroom.

And you're correct on yet another point. Friends ought to be made to feel special when they visit. Knowing that you cared enough to bake some muffins and light some candles really communicates to visitors.

Thanks for writing these articles, I check often and really enjoy coming here.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Lady Lydia,

I heartily agree with what you've stated! For those who think housekeeping is a drudge, think about what impresses you most when you enter the reception of a large company, shop etc; the colour-scheme, lighting, even light-source and texture of floors, walls, desk, furnishings etc add to its professionalism and ambiance. if this same space was dusty, disorganised, messy and unkempt regardless of the expertese of its board of directors and employees, productivity, reliability etc what would you think? Actual cleaning makes up only one portion of housekeeping, the rest coming down to interior decoration, management of resources, hospitality, gardening, cookery and the list goes on and on. Look at the lawyers and professional women out there who've turned their backs on corporate-land to re-enter the home sphere; in fact, pulling it off well ( takes fine-tuning, organisation and so on. Being a confident cook that one needs no longer rely upon a recipe book for every single turn requires practice and a degree of skill and confidence only constant application will provide. managing tight resources again requires prudence, intelligence and penache 0 its not a job for drones; by no means, and is infinately rewarding - I'm only now truly enjoying the absolute freedom I have to work at my own pace, come in and go out when I please, not when an employer tells me I can, take tea or meals at my own pace (not to mention the savings in nutrition and money that are gained from dining at home; to go out to the garden, pick leaves straight from the lettuce plant, take herbs (and soon to be ripe summer salad vegetables) grown without toxins, is truly a joy - it's truly life giving!

My BIL and SIL on my husband's side are both B&B operators and vinierons who take great care with their garden, home, guest rooms, cookery and all the little touches that mean a great deal. it's hard work, but wonderful.

Recently my husband and I took a holiday around Tasmania, staying in B&B, guest houses and a few boutique resorts. Every detail of the places added to the ambiance and enjoyment of the stay, enjoying the log fire in the formal sitting room (complimentary apperatiffs for those who wished on an honesty system), little home made biscuits, decent tea and coffee, lovely soft furnishings, delightful breakfasts - all were excellent! In one place, a fresh loaf of bread was started in the bread-maker upon our arrival - ready for lunch with enough left over for breakfast the next morning. As a tea drinker, the ladies who run the 'Elephant Pass Cafe in the mountains of North East Tasmania (keep them in your prayers as raging forest fires threaten their home and enterprise - road and communications coverage very bad indeed) spent as much loving attention upon the gardens as upon the food, making everything with fresh, quality ingredients - decent leaf tea and lovely no-drip teapots for us lovers of that brew, good coffee for those who love it, WONDERFUL!!!!. it is these touches which differentiate care from indifference, inspiring me to do better in my own home as I sought to capture some of the old fashioned essence in every day life. Lady Lydia is right, if the place is clean, tidy and has even just a few finishing touches, even if the colour scheme is drab and you can't change it, even if the home design is a poor use of space on the part of builders of small properties, even if the furnishings are older and do not match, it is these touches which make it all bearable.

When one primarily focuses upon the home, they're able to open their doors for friends and family thus strengthening relationships and making life just that little bit sweeter. For instance, my husband works shift, so yesterday and today were his weekend on this particular roster. Because I'm home, we were able to enjoy a lovely 'Sunday roast' yesterday evening and have a friend of mine over for a barbecue lunch today (she being of very limitd means and appreciative of the gesture. Because I'm home, my father, now retired, is able to drop in for morning tea and catch up in between his post-retirement workload (yes, he went back into the industry). if I worked or studied a majority of the time, I wouldn't be able to enjoy these experiences which join everyone together, strengthening friendships and layng down priceless memories - 9 to 5 slaving for the boss in the office won't do that. this time also opens up opportunities for me to improve my skills, which for me means experimenting in the kitchen withany number of projects or turning my hand to the garden (and even attempting for the thousandth time to reassemble and repair my spinning wheel - getting the better of me at present).

In victorian times, the Housekeeper was held in a position of unique respect in the home, being the only member of staff to possess the keys, have open access to the household books, entrusted with finances, purchasing of all provisions for the home, coordinating staff, consultants such as nurses and doctors plus arrangeing and assisting in the interview of household employees. In small homes, her role was extensive - helpmeet to the helpmeet as it were. This position both historically and as it pertains to the modern homemaker is far from one for 'doormats' 'Stepford Wives' 'mice' or any other negative connetation feminists wish to sling at it. Why does their supposed message of 'choice' only run one way? their way? and why don't girls and older women wake up and see it for what it is?! As one commentator wrote elsewhere on this blog, perhaps pre 1960's women didn't know the value of their position in some cases as the family and society had never experienced life any other way. It is only now we've lost the traditional family, god-ordained Biblical roles etc that we realise what we're in danger of throwing away - as the song goes...

'Don't it always seem to go'
'You don't know what you've got till it's gone'
'They Paved Paradise and put in a parking lot'.

Young women of Gen Y don't know what they're missing because they've never experienced what my generation and those before did and isn't society the poorer for it.

For those detractors that wish to focus upon women achieving, we've always achieved, not out of throwing off the shackles of repression but because we've always been able to - it's just been from a more rock-solid launch-pad, that of home and family.

Evolutionary and humanistic views upon society adopted during the 'age of enlightenment' and folowing years) set in motion skewed, non-Biblical barriers for both genders based on individualism and not the household as an individual unit in its own right.


mrs. E.

Anonymous said...

Thank so much for this. This is my biggest struggle. I was never taught to keep a clean house, so I lack the skills and also I do have that bad attitude toward housework. I pray God cures me of it because I am doing such a disservice to my poor husband and children.

What do reccommend for women who are utterly clueless as to how to keep house?

Musiclover said...

So true. You have really inspired me to work hard at keeping our home beautiful, and cooking nourishing meals, served on a pretty table. My husband has really responded to this, and he is now touchingly excited when he gets home, sniffing the air to see what's cooking!

However, I have found some acquaintances' response rather negative. We invited a single lady of 30 over to supper, and I cooked a tasty pizza, which I know she likes. O set the table just as I do when my husband and I eat alone: i.e. napkins, nice china, a pretty candle. At the start of the meal, hubby and I unfolded our napkins, and our visitor immediately said, in a very sarcastic tone "Oh, we ARE civilised!" I really was quite speechless at this. Maybe she thought we were trying to show off in front of her?

I've had similar responses about my neat and clean home, and have been accused by visitors of being "uptight" or of having too much money (not true, since we live very economically,and it does not cost a penny to tidy up every day!!)

I wonder if other readers have encountered similar responses from visitors?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, yes, I have encountered VERY negative remarks about my home, my family, my self.
I have a (small) but clean house that I enjoy taking care of. I have 3 teenagers who are kind and well-behaved. I have a solid, loving marriage of 18 years. I enjoy taking the time and care to dress decently. You would not BELIEVE some of the negative, snarky, comments that get said to me about any of those things. Mostly from other church members. :(

Lydia said...

Ladies if some comments didn't get posted, please try again.

For those who think housekeeping is a lower paying job, try hiring a housekeeper.

I know one girl who is a housekeeper and she chooses her hours and the places she will go, and the amount per hour she will charge.

Lydia said...

To the lady in Oz: I once travelled around the coast of the island state of Tasmania. It was beautiful!

Lydia said...

To the lady who got the rude sarcastic comments: In our era of super-casual dress and manners, people do their best to ridicule those who want some order in their lives. They want to dumb you down to their level so that they can feel more comfortable. I remember when people dressed up to go shopping. Not in ultra formal clothes, but they would never go in jeans and tennis shoes or tee shirts. You showed respect to the proprietors by dressing as a decent customer. I was getting ready to go shopping and a woman dropped by whom we knew and said, "When I go shopping, I go super-casual." At the time I was a young mother, still in my 20's. I took my children with me and it was important for me not to look like I came out of the woods and I wanted to be treated like an important customer. The remark from this woman seemed to be the point at which I noticed the casual attitude and the reverse snobbery that came with it.

Lydia said...

..but what is confusing about such remarks is that usually these remarks are aimed toward women who aren't really formal at all and are not dressed up. Even when wearing a denim skirt and jacket and low heeled shoes, they are accused of dressing up! It shows how dressed down people are these days. What was underwear 100 years ago is now outer wear. And what is sad is that somewhere along the path of abandoning the Victorian fashions, very little was kept for the new generation who would have loved the blouses and the skirts and hats and boots, etc. Someone decided FOR THEM that they would not have the choice of wearing these clothes. I don't know who it was, but whoever totally trashed the 19th century, robbed the future generations of that elegant style and modesty. Now the young girls who don't sew are at the mercy of whatever fashion is stocked in the department stores. As for homemaking, a former generation of women that abandoned it as a career, decided FOR the girls today that it would be a subject of ridicule if they wanted to be homemakers. The same goes with the tacky contract homes that are shaped like boxes, plain, with no romantic embellishments whatever,--some architects decided for the rest of us that we would have very little chioice but to live in these kinds of houses rather than the older styles. I think those who choose to be housewives are very brave and they are paving the way for their daughters to be able to guard and guide the home.

Anonymous said...

In the late 60's I was young and visiting a relative and wearing slacks and a top...and no shoes!!! They decided all of a sudden that we were all going to the mall. I was horified as they would not let me change or get shoes at least!! I was never so embarassed! I would not have gone to town in slacks let alone shoeless!! We all wore dresses and hose and flats or little heels at least when going out to town or movies etc. We had just stopped wearing hats and gloves a year or so before but some of course still did. Wearing such clothes was not a burden. Yes I believe it did show respect for the shop owners as well as ourselfs and our families. We acted politely and did not ruffle through the merchandise or talk loudly or run through the stores either. We knew our manners as we were brought up with them and they were second nature. We were brought up with do unto others as you would have them do unto you and that was to be done in any situation. It is a good moto to think about as it helps you see things in a different unselfish perspective. Keeping our homes and property tidy was just as important. I would not want to live next to anyone who could care less about their things and I would not want them to see my home a mess either. Likewise I help to keep the shops tidy by not making a mess there. This is our country and towns and we should naturally have pride in our surroundings. So many now do not even think of such things it seems. It makes me very sad that such basics are just not even thought of. It is not just about "me" it is also about "we". Also a smile and a good word while we are out and about is so needed. Tell that bag boy thankyou and with a smile, that produce man you appreciate how beautifully he sets up his stands, your daughters teacher how much you appreciate all their hard work, even the trash person would like a thankyou. How would you feel doing a dreary job every day over and over and all you got from the public was a sour look?
Yes your analogy of the hotel and shops being so clean and orderly was a good one. You come up with so many good examples to illustrate your ideas and make them so clear to us. Thankyou. It Does make such a difference to even our temperment to be in an orderly clean room. You feel kind of nervous when things are all out of place and uncomfortable. I cannot write as beautifully as you have a gift for, but I do heartly agree with your sentiments again.
I am so thankful I have been able to be at home all these years. It was not easy money wise at times but in the end it has been good on our pocketbooks. It was a committment and one I would do over any day. Thank you for spreading the word in such a beautiful way.

Lydia said...

If you do lack housekeeping skills and don't know things about routine or principels of housekeeping, do hire a housekeeper and learn from her!

DonP said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
I am a homeschool mom and spend most of my days at home with my children. I often find inspiration to do my housekeeping in your blog. It is good to read your posts and be refreshed and motivated, and to continue teaching my daughters to do the same.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

As for hiring a housekeeper...I "hired" Marla Cilley (a.k.a. the flylady).

I do NOT subscribe to her "friends". Nor I do read any of her testimonials. I haven't been to her website for quite sometime now.

But...I looked at Marla (flylady) as a mentor who would come into our home and help me throughout the day. Now that I have learned about routines, getting rid of clutter, etc. I have discontinued her "services".

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Sherman, right now I have a little story that ties together the value of housewives, and the problem with clothing.

Being almost five months along with little Elizabeth (we've already named her, but it doesn't seem weird to us), I'm at the stage where I have to "upgrade" my wardrobe. My mother and sister took me "maternity shopping" (why does everyone love to dress me?), and we found plenty of pretty tops. The "bottoms," however...

Do clothiers not believe that WOMEN get pregnant? All we find are pants, pants, jeans, pants, shorts, and pants. The best shop only had two dresses (one of them ugly) and two skirts.

Fortunately, I'm a second-generation homekeeper; my mother has graciously offered to make some skirts and dresses for me, so our next stop was a fabric store. We found five beautiful fabrics and three patterns. Now I will have five new, custom-tailored, machine-washable garments for under $80 that are the best styles and colors for me. (I'm wearing one of them right now.)

This would not be possible but for my mother being at home. If she were out pursuing a career, she wouldn't have had time to learn to sew, nor would she have the time to do it well. (I'd do it myself, but I'm only just getting started. Pillowcases are a bit challenging for me at the moment.)

Oh, side note to the anonymous lady seeking help in housekeeping (if I may?): there's a lady named Candy who runs a blog at myblessedhome.blogspot.org. She has a great system, which I've adapted for myself, for a home management notebook. (This is the one you linked to at LAF, Mrs. Sherman, but she's moved her blog since.) I don't agree with everything the lady says in connection with food/Wal-Mart/mid-trib Rapture, but her ideas are very sound!

There's also flylady.net, but you have to exercise discernment sometimes.

(I've got something apropos of Anna's good-manners story, but I'll save it for later so as not to filibuster!)

Mrs. Bartlett

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Thank you so much for this post. As usual, you are able to succinctly articulate the root of a problem and the solution to it!

Long, long ago I worked as a maid at a motel in our small town. The lady in charge of housekeeping trained me for two days before I was set loose on my own to clean the rooms. Her name was Mrs. Babbitt. She was a war bride from England and had the most delightful accent. She claimed many times during the course of my training that what we were doing was "honest work" even though it could be gruesome at times, cleaning up after strangers. It was work that needed to be done and best done cheerfully!

I will always remember her fondly for she was the first person in my limited experience to show me how to properly make up a bed Without fitted sheets and to check UNDER the beds for debris, etc.

To sum up, your hotel room analogy brought back some sweet memories for me and caused me to remember Mrs. Babbitt's admonitions about attention to detail!

I second your advice to the young lady who commented regarding how to learn housekeeping - by all means hire a housekeeper for a session or two and learn from her.

Kindest regards from Mrs. T.

Milehimama @ Mama Says said...

In high school (10 years ago) whenever I would wear a skirt or even a sweater instead of a tee shirt, I would be asked "What's the special occasion?"
It always made me smile, as I went to a conservative Catholic church where the ladies ALWAYS wear skirts or dresses, the men wear suits, and women cover their heads! If only they could see how I dressed on weekends...LOL
Many times snarky comments are used to deflect the inner critic - the one that whispers to the visitor "your house could look like this too..." Much easier to ridicule those who strive for better than to face challenges and failings. The crabs in the crabpot always pull the one on top down!

Lydia said...

A neighbor at home is invaluable. Working women are of no use to anyone in the family or the neighborhood if they aren't accessible and flexible with their time. This morning I went hurriedly to the Dollar Tree to get some light bulbs. I was rather sleepy and I locked my keys in the car. I called my neighbor who is always home and she brought another set of keys to me. I keep my house and car keys in her house because she will always rescue me!!! I was remembering when she came to the parking lot how many women used to be home, and now I have only one friend at home within a reasonable distance that I can rely on. If she gets lonely she comes to see me. If she needs help, she knows we will help her with her car or anything else. I distinctly remember the day the lights went out in the neighborhood, so to speak. I was just married and no one else in the neighborhood was home. The women were all working. I had not grown up like this and expected my life as a newly married woman to be as nice as my mother's. But, things had changed. It was like living in a twilight zone, with those dark houses on the block! When women do not stay home, they are not available for hospitality or any other service to their fellow man.

Anonymous said...

One more side note to your statement, Lady Lydia, of no women home in the neighborhood. In my neighborhood, there are a couple of families where the men are home most of the day. My neighbors directly next to me have a husband and wife with two kids. The wife is usually gone for many hours during the week. The husband is home until four in the afternoon. He leaves and is usually home at 10:00PM. We think he, at least has an evening part time job. And the house beyond has a man that is usually home during the day, we don't know what his profession is. Something about it, I don't like.
I remember hearing an outdoor argument, where the words were stated "quite loudly," by the wife to her husband that she wished he would have the laundry done when she got home at night.
My daughter and I ran in the house. They argue outdoors sometimes, and it is very disturbing.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, what a beautiful article. I think part of the problem is all those nasty comments. It is wearying to constantly be put down for doing what we love and know is right.

It is also very lonely to be a keeper at home where I live. I am the only one in our neighborhood, so for adult conversation during the day I listen to the radio or read the Internet.

That being said, there is nowhere I would rather be. I love the freedom and the opportunity (gift) to create a home my husband and little ones revel in. Home is sanctuary and although I do not do it perfectly, (far from it), the responsibility and privilege are mine and I am grateful for that.

in His peace,

Lydia said...

Well that shows the results of following a plan other than the biblical plan for the home. It brings strife.

To the woman who needs training: you could join a housekeeping team just for the training. When you bring the lessons home, however, there will be a big difference, as your approach will be more personal in your own home, and your thinking will be entirely different than when you are cleaning someone else's house.

Lydia said...

...just another note on the comment I made in the article about how the lifestyle of the 1800's was denied to future generations. Of course, we must move on with life, and cannot live in the past. I understand that, but in doing so, with our wonderful sanitation systems, and our communication systems, did we have to get rid of ALL the Victorian's did? Why could not the next generations have kept at least some of the good parts of Victorian life: the manners, the clothing, the customs, the family based education and business, the low divorce rate. There is nothing wrong with having new inventions (which Victorians were quite excited about), but must it be at the cost of breaking down the home? I think the only way we can restore the good things of that era is to practice those good things--the letter writing, the women at home, the man being responsible for the outcome of the family, etc. and live them, no matter what the world says.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the beautiful encouraging post. Just go right ahead and ingnore any nasty comments you get!

God Bless you,


Anonymous said...

I went to the my blessed home site mentioned by anonymous and I found it was not .org. The site was myblessedhome.blogspot.com. I just wanted to help other women trying to find the site if they were having trouble finding it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
You have done it again. I would love to stay home and be a homemaker. However, I have a husband who insists I work. I am so tired, you can't imagine how tired I am. I am also so stressed. I don't look down on those of you who have the privelege of being a homemaker and not having an outside job, I envy you. I think the problem a number of people have with your posts is your tone. Rest assured I do not work outside the home because I want to. I work 8-10 hours a day and then go home to begin my "other job". What you have 24 hours a day to do, I have about 8, and that is if I sleep very little. Please be a bit kinder to those of us who work outside the home. Some of us are hanging by a thread.

Lydia said...

There is no "tone" against anyone. It is an article with decisive confidence and firmness. If you got sick you wouldn't be working and I doubt your husband would force you to go to work. If your body and mind got too weak to go to work, you would quit and your husband would adjust to that responsiblity. He is the man and he is supposed to be the provider. the woman manages the money and can even manipulate her spending in such a way as to double his income until it covers more than her share of salary. Women can do anything they make up their minds to do. That is what the feminists always say. So then why do they say they are forced to work? It could be for family debt. It could be they got training in something and the husband knows it and he wants her to use that money making ability. It could be the couple is in over their heads in debt. Even at that, there are still many couples where the husband is the sole provider while the wife stays home and they have climbed out of their debt gradually. Wives have a lot more power than they use, to do what is good.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding to my post. Bless your heart not everyone has a good, reasonable husband. Not every husband is kind and loving and some women have no power at all. I love to read your blog and I was not being critical. For me it is a glimpse into a world I will never have. God Bless You and the other stay at home mothers, please pray for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

To the lady who spoke of her guest saying "Oh we are civilised" as she unfolded her napkin - yes I have similar responses - friends and family (not my husband & sons - they love the feel good factor of a tea tray complete with home baking!) find it very strange that I make a pot of tea for them on a tray with a pretty tray cloth with milk & sugar bowl etc. I just smile and continue though it is upsetting - I know I am not showing off even if they're not sure - perhaps they are a little embarrassed?
To the lady unsure of cleaning/housekeeping skills - look at Flylady or Mrs Catherine (Making it home) blog and then adapt their cleaning routine ideas to suit your home. That is what I did - I then realised that I had simply lost confidence in myself to be able to do these things - so I had a go and found success and now enjoying keeping my home.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I'm sorry about that. Sometimes I substitute the wrong .whatevers. Thanks for the catch.

Anonymous lady forced to work: My heart goes out to you. I wish I knew what causes your husband to be so unforgiving--and I hate to use that word, but it's kind of true. I know I'm blessed in my husband, in many respects, and I truly wish other women were so blessed. I also sympathize with being tired; I only just got away from my job, and no matter how few clients I had, it seemed I still worked full-time. It does take it out of you.

Sister, I will happily pray for you to be bolstered and strengthened as long as it takes, and if you like, I will also pray for a change of heart for your husband. I'm sure we all will. You are strong for having held up this long; God willing, you don't have much longer to go!

Mrs. Bartlett

Lydia said...

It is interesting the route that the feminists took women on. Wasn't the male oppression the big thing with them? The husbands forcing their wives to do this or that--the feminists wanted to liberate women from it and from marriage entirely. Instead we still have the problem, so they didn't help much. Still, it is not always necessary to go out to work. Money can be earned in many ways these days at home. As one writer just posted, there is a stay at home husband on her street, doing his work by computer. If the men can do it, so can the women. And, why would a man want his wife out of the house all day? If it is not a money issue, what is it?

Anonymous said...

To The Anonymous Woman who isn't able to stay home right now. The book Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin may be of great help to you in approaching your husband regarding your staying home. It even has a chapter on the working wife, the harm it brings to the woman, man, children, etc. If you would like a copy, I have one free one left that I would be honoured to mail you, Ma'am. Just e-mail me at waynenikkih@yahoo.com and put something like "Free FW Book Offer" in the subject line.

Most sincerely,
Mrs. Wayne Hunter

Anonymous said...

Dearest lady Lydia,

In your article and subsequent comments, you wondered what on earth happened to the feminine, modest, lovely designs of the pre WW1 world and earlier; you wondered somewhat disconcertedly what changes swept through to sweep away the beautiful design factors in life. Well, there are several answers and none of them are really encouraging.

The overarching principle leading to a decline in decor quality and beauty, architecture, clothing and even motor vehicles can be cut down to a simple factor - produce as many as you can, as functionally as they can be made, for the cheapest possible price.


Pre 1910 or so, no clothes were available 'off the peg' as it were, but purchased through catelogue with intricate measurement systems etc (in the same way one might purchase taylored modest apparrel over the net today). Basic styles, colours and fabrics were offered, but were more often or not made to measure, or at the very least, offered via catelogue in several set size options. Small shops such as miliners, boot-makers, glove retailers etc locally sourced or made to measure - a fashion was decided upon for the season but it'd be made to fit one's needs).

Only during 1905-1910 was the manufacture of clothing for mass retail made available as the golden age of the department store sprang to life.


The car in one form or another has been about since 1885 (available far earlier on mainland Europe than the UK due to express laws passed forbidding their use). The manufacture of these vehicles was considered an artisan's trade - every little part lovingly fashioned and assembled out of quality materials - car makers boasting about how much time was spent on producing each part for each car. Wheelrights would specialise in that area, apulsterers would specialise in their area (seats and trim often in beautiful leather etc) and so on. Same went for ships, trains and so on.

Well, Henry Ford put pay to that with his assembly-line manufacturing methods, maximising efficiency so products could be produced far more quickly and cheaply - enter a new term to the venacular - the 'mass market'. of course, with these changes which swiftly took hold in all areas of production, individual artisans found themselves unwanted and out of a job - the assembly-line in no need of the work of a maticulous craftsman. Same went for clothing and appliances - most appliances already available in their initial incarnation toward the end of the 19th, early 20th century.

Around this time, the first synthetics also made an appearance, changeing the very products themselves - natural fibres and materials in a space of fourty years or so being replaced with inferior, synthetic counterparts. yes, they may wear a little longer, but in clothing, hthey rarely breathe as natural fibre does and do not have the same luxurious feel - also, in fabric at any rate, natural fibres make use of renewable resources of wool hide or plant, whilst synthetics use petrolium or similar substances as their base - the production of synthetics producing carcinagins we're only learning about now.

In architecture, appliance and furniture design, the mantra of function over fashion spread like wild fire in the brief years leading up to WW1 and exploding into prominence post war as a badge of modernity, throwing of the past that supposedly gave us the hipocracy of outmoded religions that could not save us from the carniage of war and the masses craving to surge forward. schools of thought such as the Balhous institute in Germany promoted sterile stripped-down forms for everything supposedly reflecting the new modern age devoid of the shackles of the past or any influence that even suggested harkening to it. These were incidentally far cheaper to mass produce also, not requireing the level of craftsmanship and so on of previous decades.

Also, building methods changed, double-brick high ceilinged, deeply eved places giving way to fibro, plaster-board and brick venere post WW2 due to its cheapness, to provide homes for the burgening suburbs.

During the 1950's, beauty in dress, appliances, vehicles etc made a brief return but was fast snuffed out in the mass upheaval of the 60's. so there you have it; This is simply a really general overview that will almost certainly have left out many factors, but offers a glimpse anyway. Feminism egged the whole thing on with fashions, arms and legs exposed as they'd never been ever in Christian history! Decency legislation held out only till the 1920's, laws for showing of ankles and immodesty swept away, helped no doubt by cinema etc. Synthetics also had rendered modest attire more stifling as it cannot breathe as its natural fibre counterparts do, and manufacturers, for reasons of cost, produce far more garments in synthetics or synthetic blend than naturals. Chanel led the charge to raise hemlines, introduce slacks for women (first coture examples seen as early as 1911) and so on and so on. On top of this, short hair and boyish styles defeminised fashion as early as 1919.

So, there you have it; Don't be surprised if the leading lights in this charge either had feminist, socialist or marxist ideals even just a little, driving them; or non-biblical evolutionary ecconomic influences imaginings decisions and so on.

There you have it ladies.

We're fighting a tide that's been pushing against us for the better part of the last 100 years.


mrs. E.

Musiclover said...

Oh yes, Anon, the milk-jug!! Now that seems to be like a red rag to a bull to my guests. Listen to this one!

Here in Sweden, most people have their tea and coffee black. So, while I'm making it, I normally ask first if they take milk. If they say "yes" I take out the jug and the milk and proceed to put some milk in the jug over at the kitchen counter. You wouldn't believe the agitated or even angry responses I get at this simple action which takes about 5 seconds."Oh don't be so fussy, just put the carton on the table - what do you need a jug for - is this the Ritz? - don't go to all that trouble - PLEASE just put the carton on the table - you're so overdoing it!" This tirade lasts until I've brought the jug to the table and they have poured their milk. Sometimes it changes at this point to "Wow what a fancy jug - wow this looks like expensive china"...etc etc.

Usually I take no notice, just fix a Stepford Wife smile on my face and calmly continue. However, when Napkin Girl gave me this lecture the other day, I did calmly say "No thank you, I prefer not to put the milk carton on the table. I would rather use the milk jug." She looked dumbfounded at this "rebellion" but it did actually silence her rant!

Musiclover said...

Lady Lydia,

Yes, that remark of yours about a wife possibly having to quit anyway because of illness applies to me.

My husband, being Swedish, is very much geared to the idea of working equality. In Sweden, if a woman doesn't work, she is considered either a lazy drop-out or else just plain weird. I can honestly say I've never known a SAHM in sweden - the babies come straight out of the womb into the creche, it seems. One sees the harassed-looking working wives queuing in the supermarket in lunch-hours, piling their shopping carts with expensive freezer-meals.

Anyway, shortly before we married, I developed cancer, for which my treatment is still ongoing. Well, they say every cloud has a silver lining, and mine was that neither my husband nor society really expects me to work when I'm on weekly chemo, plus additional visits for tests etc. Actually, I feel perfectly all right most of the time, so I'm well able to look after the house etc- I'm far from an invalid.

Anyway, the upshot is that my Swedish husband is a total convert to home-keeping wifehood! He sees that, because we eat only home-cooked food, we also eat so very cheaply that we don't even need 2 incomes! Add the fact that we don't drink or smoke, and we have also gone vegetarian since my illness (with the doctor's full approval) - our grocery bill amounts to hardly anything! The price of 2 of those working wives' freezer meals I mentioned earlier would feed us for a whole week!! We run one very small and economical car, which hubby needs for his job. When I go out during the day, I either walk or cycle. Our main hobby is reading, and we take long walks for exercise.

Quite honestly, if we had a 2nd income we wouldn't know what to spend it on.

A lady at work has a full-time job plus extra work (on top of a good professional salary), 4 children who are dumped at the creche every day, and is now on her 2nd marriage, and beginning a nervous breakdown - she has been advised by her doctor to give up work for 6 months to recover.

In my view (and hubby's too) all this work is just not worth the trouble it causes in one's life. He compares this lady's bad-tempered, hassled face and behaviour with the smiling, relaxed wife he himself comes home to, and he is indeed a convert!!

Anonymous said...

.....the comment on milk and the thought of convience items reminded me of just the other day--- We had a small dinner party and for the month of December, we use our Christmas dishes and red cloth napkins. One of my guest upon sitting at the table asked in reference to the napkins, "Do you expect us to actually use these?" My response was in a cheerful tone and I said, "Yes, absolutly!"

Part of being at home is that my family can experience and enjoy a few finer,inexpencive, lovely home blessig touches! --We do use paper napkins for breakfest and lunch but dinner is family time and when daddy can be home to eat with us. We use dinner time as instruction time for our little ones to learn some of the "loss" table manners. Besides having cloth napkins is fun for them as well as mommy!

Anonymous said...

hopeless homemaker here. Thank you for your advice. I am going to look at the sites posted. I've also checked out some books from the library. I think my biggest obstacle was/is having a bad attitude toward housework as mentioned in the article. I am one of those college educated women who decided to stay home once children came, and I admit that I have to remove the indoctrination that housework is demeaning.

Thank you again for the advice and for your site, I've gained so much from reading it.

Anonymous said...

One of my main concerns, as I begin homelife, is that I live in East Texas. Most "country folks," I've noticed, have a tendency to be less, well, polished, for lack of a more polite term. (Not that I'm trying to be rude; it's just that the thesaurus region of my brain hasn't started functioning today.)

What concerns me is that I fear that the "downhome countriness" of my neighbors might make some of my clumsy gestures in the direction of gracious living look pretentious. I should observe that "Keeping Up Appearances" is a show that gets watched in Texas! (It's also one of my favorite shows, partly because Patricia Routledge is just so funny, and partly because no dysfunctional character is whitewashed. But some people think that any kind of fanciness is just putting on airs.)

It'll be a hard balance to strike, between "fancy" and "comfy," but it's worth the effort. Maybe I'll do a neighborhood "open-house coffee" once I get the carpets cleaned and the stinky dogs bathed...

Mrs. Bartlett

Anonymous said...

Amazing how different cultures can take offense, when one honestly believes that they are doing what is right. This can happen in the same state, or same country.
One particular issue that I experienced, which is not directly related to housekeeping, but more with what is considered manners. All my life I was raised in one part of the country, where we were brought up to use Mr. and Mrs. when addressing adults, and married women. Before my children were born we moved. I would address an older women with Mrs, or Miss, and would be chastised..."Oh, call me...you don't have to be formal."
Till finally, I learned to just use first names, with a few exceptions. When my children were born, same thing, they were to address by first name, as well. At first it felt awkward, but, after a while, I realized it even offended people to make my children use Mr. or Mrs. After several years, we moved back to my home state. After a few months, a couple of women set me straight. A couple of women were quite offended. I had made some efforts to change this habit of using first names, But, it took some time to change back. When I tried to explain, I felt my explanation was not accepted.
So, I learned, you just cannot anticipate every possible way one can offend. I just try my best.
But, it does hurt sometimes, when people take such offense.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous lady with the "names" Catch-22...

I guess my "education" gives me an excuse. When I was on mock-trial team, our coach drilled into us that, unless the witness on the stand was a child, you always, ALWAYS called them by titles and surname. I decided to do that as a default. People accept THAT explanation...

I don't know why it is that superficial, professional courtesies are much more accepted than are everyday, "civilian" courtesies. We're becoming a weird society.

Mrs. Bartlett

Anonymous said...

I find your blog an encouragement, thank you so much!

My husband is in Law Enforcement and deals with tragedy and evil everyday. On top of that, he works long hours and different shifts. Since I am home now with our first child and have recently been converted to being a MOTHER and WIFE (capitalized on purpose...they ARE MY CAREER) I have been trying to rectify some horrible mistakes I made in the past.

I owned a thriving business where I worked from home. One time my husband stopped home for lunch and I made him and his partner a quick meal. However, a very busy day he did the same and I gave him a tongue lashing (I am ashamed of this now). I was OFFENDED he would expect me to act like a waitress and wait on him and his co-worker when they could go out and eat somewhere and could have brought me something. I mean, HEY!, I was an important career woman, didn't they understand this!

He didn't bring anyone home for quite a few years.

Several nights ago this was brought to mind and I cried and repented of it. I was rude to my husband and a guest. I was standing up for my rights. I was a FOOL!

My husband called yesterday to inquire if the house was clean (we have just finished a renovation a few days ago and I was putting things back together when he left that morning). I told him yes and would he like to stop by. It was a nasty day and I realized what a blessing it must be to come home and eat safely (cops often have people tamper with their food) and without people staring.

I set the table the best I could, made fresh cookies and heated up leftovers. My baby was very fussy when they came (an hour late and I never said a word, just kept the food warm, I mean, would I like to be screamed at for being late and would I want to be a guest with a wife who was made we were late?). I welcomed them and brought out the cookies and apologized for having to put the baby to bed. My husband's partner looked at the table in amazement, grabbed a cookie and exclaimed "they are still warm!"

Where do we get off treating men as sub-human! If my husband treated me the way I had treated him he would have been arrested for verbal assault. Yet, my kind, forgiving husband just loved me.

I am still trying to get the feminist indoctrination out of my head and just in time...

Please keep writing, your blog is changing my life and my baby will have a loving Mommy and HAPPY Parents!

God Bless!

Abounding Treasures said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I'm just beginning to read some of your previous posts and just had to comment on how encouraging they have been to me!

They are all right on target for situations faced by those of us who are stay-at-home moms or wives with children now grown!

I appreciate all the prayer and thought you take for each and every post you make!

Mrs M

Anonymous said...

you're smoking crack. there's no reason why a woman should have to be the one cleaning up the messes left by men and their children, just because she's a woman. You know it's the 21st century, right? Did someone forget to tell you? You're about two mental clicks away from advocating that we all wear burkas.

And do you want to know why the clarinet players keep on playin' while the opera singer gets all the credit? Because THEY GET PAID. It's a job. DUH. That's an extremely weak comparison.


Lydia said...

Since you signed your name, Moron, I'll address you as Moron.

Dear Moron,

Of course we get paid. But that is not our entire motivation. There is more fulfillment in doing what is best for others in our family, and a selflessness and a sacrificial attitude that in your mental realm you would not understand. My husband makes the money and I spend it. In other words he brings home the bacon and I fry it. He likes it that way and so do I and so did our parents and grandparents and great grandparents and forebearers before us. You accuse me of living in the past. Well, you are the one living in the past. Socialism is the dark ages. It ruined every country it was in, and feminism is an arm of that system. Feminist ideology doesn't make long marriages and strong, loyal families. It buys things. It does not empower anyone but the selfish. It is all about money. That is all you people ever talk about. I never hear you speak of love.

Christine said...

Dear lady lydia,
I loved your last post, I must say. I always wonder how to say things. Prior to this point in my life, I wasn't what you would call very feminine. I would have taken moron out, so to speak...but in a very blunt manner. I want to be able to speak up for what I believe without ruining my testimony as a christian by being crude, your post was a great example.
keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! And, with the coming economic crisis, I believe that there will be many who wished they had paid more attention to blogs like these.

M xx