Friday, January 26, 2007

The Homemaker's Time

In view of the previous article, I thought it would be appropriate to write a little about the time that it takes to really do a satisfactory job at home. Time is not on our side at home, as there are many interruptions and time-absorbers that may not have anything to do with real homemaking. That is why I was telling the young women not to get involved in long, drawn out issues that will detract from concentrating on the more important things of homemaking. I've placed pictures here to show the women with children that time could be better spent with their children than in politics or any other cause. Your cause of marriage, home and family, will be all the politics you can handle as a young homemaker.

Even without children, the work is never ending. If you only did what you had to do, you would still not have time in a day to do it all. All you really are required to do as a homemaker is take care of the home, provide meals, keep up with the laundry and the groceries. However even this can get to be overwhelming if you aren't from a home where it was bred into you by your mother.

While talking to a few young mothers lately, I have discovered that they as homemakers tend to think that because they are at home, they have time to do more than is required of them. They will take in someone else's kids and look after them, or they will take on extra sewing. They might try to sell a product from a company that hires home sellers, such as cosmetics or household products. If these kinds of sales things are not kept in their place, they will take over and your homemaking will suffer.

While there is nothing wrong with these things, they will eat in to your home life and rob you of the time you need to really look after your own home and enjoy it. The word "enjoy" is important because anyone can take on extra jobs and then rush through their housework and make it look like they are coping. However, this kind of living will catch up to you and soon you will hate your housework (because you are in a rush and not really enjoying it) and be more inclined to do the other kind of work. Extra jobs are distracting. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other. Homemaking and having your own husband and children is enough for one woman. Having too much to do at home is the same as running from one job to the next. You will end up exhausted, not doing any jobs well.


Anonymous said...

Such a true and important post!
We have to be very careful what we do with our time. Even with blogging or being on the internet, we can not neglect family or home. We have to do the things we have to do first (family and home) and then blog/internet.
And we have to be careful not to be at every function at Church or volunteer at every thing at school or Church etc. Family and home always come first.
Otherwise we will end up neglecting family or home and our home will be a mess and how would that look when we are trying to be an example of the importance etc of being full time home makers or stay at home Moms.
Its all about being careful and keep our priorites in tact.

Heather @ Marine Corps Nomads said...

A very honest and wise post. I've been there, done that and found my way home, so to speak. I've always been a stay-at-home mom and housewife, but I haven't always focused as I should. I allowed other interests (home-based business) to take up to much of my precious time. I found that I am much happier when I am just focusing on my home and family instead of focusing on outside functions.

Unknown said...

Lady Lydia,

this post speaks to my heart! I have been in communion with the Lord over this very topic. I have exhausted myself chasing what I thought was my dream (a business) and still trying to educate my children and keep house. I was doing none of these things well.

I have been seeking the Lord concerning this matter for a couple of weeks now, searching the scriptures and praying. I have come to the conclusion that, for me, my family is enough. It is enough to take good care of them. I do my hobbies when time allows but if I can only be really good at one thing, I want it to be caring for my family.

I would appreciate a post (or maybe you have written one already) about trusting God when your husband's income is not enough to live on. How exactly do I deal with that issue?

I am printing out this post for my homekeeping binder. Thank you.

--Mrs. Hawthorne

Lydia said...

Mrs. Hawthorne, I think I wrote an article here called "Do What God Says Do and Let Him Take Care of the Rest." Or, I may have written it on the Lady Lydia Section of

wendybirde said...

I appreciated this post very much Lady Lydia. Especially "The word "enjoy" is important because anyone can take on extra jobs and then rush through their housework and make it look like they are coping. However, this kind of living will catch up to you and soon you will hate your housework (because you are in a rush and not really enjoying it) and be more inclined to do the other kind of work." While we may not enjoy every little domestic thing and thats not an excuse to not do them, still there should be a general enjoyment of caring for the home or things will fall. Not just the woman falling but the home in a sense too-- that air of peace and sanctuary so central to things will disappear, because it comes from that very joy and peace. Its not icing or optional, its critical, and most folks dont seem to understand that, they think a harried woman can still create a true home, but she can't. She needs the time and space to find peace as she works in the home, peace in her life, or things will backfire.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lydia, I myself am dealing with this issue right at this moment! I even posted it on my blog because I feel so bad in having to tell the Single Mother that I am not able to watch her children anymore. I really need to pray and stay in prayer, God knows my heart and he knows what I can handle and what I can't. Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Thank you. I just printed that out as well. God bless.

--Mrs. Hawthorne

Lydia said...

It isn't just the time it takes from homemaking, leaving the homemaker exhausted and in dizzy daze at the end of the day, it is also the effect that it has on the children. Their mother's attention is divided. If they are homeschooling, the time spent in other activities is time that could be spent schooling. Women at home are not obligated to take on extra work or look after other people's kids (OPK). I suspect we glamorize the women of the past, thinking how they sold eggs from their chickens, and sewed, etc., but remember, they also had other people doing things for them that we do not. If you get a chance to check a video out of the library called "The English Home" it does a reenactment of a typical day in a household. Every single thing is done by a person, not a machine. Today, we vacuum, load the dishwasher, cook, and shop, all by ourselves. The Hebrew women did not have to do everything themselves. When they had babies, their only responsibility was to take care of their babies, not do all household work. They had nurses and handmaids as help. Today I don't think anyone has help, so why take on extra work?

Anonymous said...

What about the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31? She did much more than just "take care of the home, provide meals, keep up with the laundry and groceries." In addition to all those things, she also contributed to the household income and still had time to help the poor. You used the word "required". Where do we find these requirements? Wouldn't we find our standards from Scripture?

Lydia said...

Many people have asked if the Prov 31 model was a sample of the seasons of life. For the most part, young mothers have discovered they cannot take on extra burdens and expect to do their homemaking well or homeschool the children adequately. They are training their children in many different things besides school work---for example, manners, roles, responsibility, character, work, obedience, good habits and sanitation, nutrition, and respect. This cannot take place with a lot of other distractions. If the woman had maids and help, it would be a bit different. Having been a young mother and now a grandmothr, I will say for certain that there WILL come a season or time of life that you can start a business or do all that church work or so forth, but if you are a young mother, I think everyone who posts on blogs like this can attest to the fact it is simply not wise.

Lydia said...

If you think you can take on extra responsibilities, as a homemaker, first fill out this list:

laundry done
ironing done
dishes washed
kitchen clean
beds made
bedding clean
floors clean
photos organized
meals on time
groceries stocked
trash taken out
bathroom clean and sanitary
correspondence caught up
house looks nice
house smells nice
children's lessons done
children's baths
childrens prayers
toys put away

you can add to this list as you see the day progressing, things that I did not mention here. But I know that my daughter, with small children, can only manage the essentials and get the rest she needs: meals, laundry, husband, children, and if time runs out, the children are a priority. Taking on extra sewing or selling cosmetics would break down her stamina so bad that she wouldn't be any good to anyone!

Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed reading Home Living Helper and have found it a blessing.

I must however disagree with you in regard to the typical work that women in the past did. Take American frontier women or women in colonial America. Life was hard and full of hard work. Aside from other family members (or unless they were wealthy), they had no help with their work. They raised poultry, butchered the poultry as well as gathered the eggs. They helped milk the cows as needed. Made cheese and butter. Grew large gardens, harvested the produce and stored it away for winter. Men weren't always available to help with these tasks as they were busy with the "hard work" in the fields, felling timber, blacksmithing etc. The women made the families cloths by hand, they washed the laundry by hand. I could go on and on.

Books by Laura Engals Wilder give wonderful examples of a pioneer homemakers life.

I also don't see how all Hebrew women could possibly have had nurses and handmaids. The wealthy yes, but certainly not all.

I am fortunate to live in an area where there are alot of women who are homemakers. I am a homemaker or keeper at home myself. I live on a small farm in a rural area. In additon to keeping house, caring for our 3 children and homeschooling, my duties include milking the cow and caring for a large garden. I sell milk to help supliment our grociery bill. I sell surplus produce to help pay for the cost of seeds and water. Our children help tend the cattle and chickens, weed the garden, put up firewood and hay. I consider all of these things to fall under the catagory of "keeping home" as I'm sure women of the past did. Yes, it is alot of hard work and yes, sometimes my house isn't as neat and tidy as I wish it was. But my children are learning good work ethics, we are eat tremendously healthy food, and life is great.

Thanks for your wonderful site. God bless you.

Paula said...

You said: "All you really are required to do as a homemaker is take care of the home, provide meals, keep up with the laundry and the groceries. However even this can get to be overwhelming if you aren't from a home where it was bred into you by your mother."

Can you please expound on this? I know that I have the most difficult time keeping up with (or even KNOWING) what needs to be done around the house to keep it as well as how to make it a HOME. I don't want the same thing for my daughters (I have three). How do I breed (and WHAT do I breed) this into them?

Thank you for your consideration.

And just to say again how much I really do appreciate your site!

Lydia said...

The way you breed something into your children is by being the person you want them to be. When daughters are around mothers that are homemaking, they catch on. That is all I meant by that.

Anonymous said...

This is a very important topic. Society is so competitive, and expectations of what should be simple (but not easy) jobs have become so high. It is not enough to have a clean, attractive home, but one must strive to be Martha Stewart at every meal and every gift-giving occasion. It's not enough to have children to whom one reads every night, but one must also make sure that piano lessons and Gymboree classes are started as soon as possible because otherwise the children are somehow being left behind.

I don't think it's homemakers and mothers themselves who are setting the bar ever higher, but surely some fall into this kind of thinking. I think it's a wise homemaker who resists the "must haves" and focuses on what must be done only in her own home.

I'll admit to having done every single one of my examples above! I am a mother with young children and I do feel pressure to do more with my time than keep the home and raise my children. It is websites like this that help me remember to do right by my family in my home, and let the rest come in its own time.

Anonymous said...

< If you only did what you had to do, you would still not have time in a day to do it all. All you really are required to do as a homemaker is take care of the home, provide meals, keep up with the laundry and the groceries. >

I disagree with this.
I believe a woman, with only a husband at home, who lives in a small house, can be done with her housework with time to spare in her day. Especially with all the modern appliances we have available now.
If this statement was true, it would make a career look desirable! After all, many career women finish their work related tasks each day. Not all of them for sure, but I know many of them do.
There is alot to be done at home but there is definitely an end to it. :)

Anonymous said...

< Homemaking and having your own husband and children is enough for one woman. Having too much to do at home is the same as running from one job to the next. >

Thank you so much for saying this.
While I would love to have some spending money, I have never wanted a home based business. I don't have the time or energy but I've often felt guilty for not trying to do something. But what you said is true-taking care of a home and family is job enough for one woman. Here, here!!!

Lydia said...

If you are happy doing more, and if your house is in order, then go to it. For women with 4 young children, extra things like babysitting, selling Avon, or sewing for the public, will take a type of attention that will result in a loss of attention to their own children, and exhaustion for the mother. Even without children, there is not enough time to do homemaking well, and it is never-ending. I wrote on a previous article that it is never done because it is a cycle and a circle of care and work and love that is never completed. Even when you die, you will not have every single thing in order. But you can get closer to keeping control of the house and family if you eliminate the things that are not necessary. Having a happy family is more important than a tense, hurried homemaker who has too much to do. If it were true that it could all be done and resulted in spare time, (not counting rest and afternoon tea, which are essential building blocks in the homemaker's stamina), it would give women a reason to work outside the home as well. I had a list in one article last year that said, "If you are bored at home and think you should go to work, check off these items 30 times this month. If you have done them all, then I say yes, you have time to go to work, and you must be bored at home."

Are your dishes clean and put away, and are your cupboards organized?

Is your correspondence caught up and your bills, etc. paid?

Is your bathroom clean, sanitary and nice smelling?

Is your floor clean?

Are your meals on time?

Do you make meals from fresh ingredients rather than packages and boxes?

Is your fridge and pantry well-stocked?

Are your children being taught at home?

Do you sew your own clothes or any of the children's?

Do you show hospitality regularly?

Is the bedding clean and the beds made?

Does the living room look nice and is the house free of unnecessary clutter?

Have you washed your windows this year?

Is the front porch swept and attractive from the driveway or street?

Is there junk around the yard?

Are the closets in order, with outgrown clothing discarded?

Is the book shelf orderly?

Can your husband say that he doesn't have to ask for a clean shirt any time this month?

Do you know where things are in your house, or do you have to go out to buy them again when you can't find them?

Are you able to greet your husband when he comes home, looking fresh and happy and having a meal prepared?

I am not saying women HAVE TO do these things. I am just saying that if they think they are bored and they can take on extra responsibilities, maybe they better have another look at what they are accomplishing at home.

Lydia said...

I'm not saying women ought to only do the main housework and care of husband and nothing else, just that the something else's sometimes interefere with the peaceful happy home. The small ebay stores seem reasonable if you want a little shop and want to teach your children about enterprise. You can control what you are doing and the time you spend. Sometimes home selling from a major company puts pressure on you. Your own shop will be controlled by you and you can determine how much time will be spent on it.

Genuine Lustre said...

I am constantly avoiding pressure to participate in church committees, etc.
I am so glad my husband says "he won't let that happen," when a church election is underway.

Lydia said...

had a chuckle when you said this...always thought the men's meetings at church were to find more things for the women to do!

Anonymous said...

I find this topic and the comments that have been left to be very interesting. I consider myself to be both a Titus 2 wife as well as a Proverbs 31 wife. (FYI I posted above about pioneer and colonial women.) I think there can be alot more to being a keeper at home than just caring for the children and the home. Notice I said CAN. Meaning not always and not everyone. We are all given individual talants and out husbands have individual needs.

I think whether a wife does additional work either for money or not depends alot on the motivation for doing it. Is this for personal gratification? Are you doing this just because you don't feel worthwhile unless you are bring in a paycheck etc?? Or are you doing this to be a blessing to your family and a helpmeet to your husband.

My husband and I own and operate a business from your property and our office is in our living room. I constantly have people coming and going and no one is expected to take their shoes off before coming in. (My husband thinks it's rude to ask people to take their shoes off) So my floor is dirty if I don't sweep at least twice a day. If I spend to much time tidying here and tidying there, my husband says "this is a home not a museum, it should look like someone lives here." He doesn't mind clutter as long as it isn't dirty. I agree.

As I said previously, I raise cattle and sell milk and vegies.
I once babysat another child for about year in trade for a fence to put around our garden. I also sell candles and soaps to earn extra money to buy things such as new towels and sheets, and to pay for piano lessons for my daughter. There is no way these things could be afforded otherwise. My kids are involved in all of this work. We do it as a family and are willing to make sacrifices for each other. We use our time working as learning opportunies and time to grow closer to each other.

Where I grew up in a rural mountain area in the NW USA, very few women worked outside the home. Men mostly worked in the timber industry. This meant hard work for men, women and children too. Men often worked away from home for the entire week and returned only on weekends or everyother weekend. Women were responsible for keeping the firewood up, the garden tended, even for putting meat on the table. Most women hunted. I still hunt and am able to be a blessing to both my husband and my family by helping to put some meat on the table. Children all had chores.

One of my older neighbor ladies told me that when she was a young wife, she and here sisters-in-law would get together and put up all the hay for the cows all by themselves while their husdands where working. They operated the tractors and equipment and also did all necessary repairs to the equipment themselves. And all the while, no one really cared if the bathroom smelled nice or not or if the cupboards were organized. I am telling you this because the point is, they did this because they were being true helpmeets to their husbands not because they were on some feminist joy ride.

I am a very high energy, creative person. This is one of the reasons my husband fell in love with me. He also knew I would be a good helpmeet to him by my being able to use my talents and creativeness, just as he is a great mate for me because of his hardwork and talents.

Just sharing my point of view.

Anonymous said...

I think lady Lydia meant this article for those young housewives with small children who get into a home based bussiness thinking it as an easy way to earn money at home, but to find that it has become a monster which drags them away from the very reason they stay at home in the first place.

When you raise hens and sell the extra eggs or milk in a farm, you already are doing it for the family and it will take maybe only 50% more effort to feed and take care of ten more hens when you already have ten. But selling cosmetics or such a thing is like the person has to put full effort for the business alone.

I hope you understand my Point. If we have three children then taking care of another single mother's child may not be such a strain depending upon the child of course, but if your children are hyper then it is not advisable. It all depends on personal circumstances. If that single mom is your close freind or sister, then you may even choose to suffer a little for her sake so that you can be a candle in the darkness for her.

I am sorry if I offended anybody because I can understand lady lydia's point of view and also others point of view.

Kelli said...

It's really sad that society today makes young wives without children feel they are not doing enough, causing them to feel pressured to take on extra work.

Lydia said...

I did assume that everyone understood that care of your property or yard, or any outdoor activity involving the family, was part of home making and child-rearing. Farming is just an extension of the home, and many who are not farming, still grow gardens and care for their property, which is quite time consuming but has a rewarding purpose that benefits the family without robbing the children of the kind of teaching and training they need. What I am talking about, is from experience. As a young homemaker, I thought I should sell something and got involved with a company that put demands that I sell so much or would lose my membership; also there is delivery problems when takes time. If one wants to sell something, ebay is an excellent choice, since you control your own shop and can use it to train the children in a family business. Other women who were not at home saw me at home and thought I could look after their children, but it was too emotionally draining, and hard on my own children. Sometimes daycare is more costly than you expect. They ruin your furniture, and damage your home in many ways--ways your husband does not appreciate, plus they can be a bad example for your own children if they are not trained in the same values. I always worried about liablity, since they could get hurt, or even die in your own home if they got into something or had an accident. It is safer just to let parents look after their own children. Not many people sew these days so if they find out you can sew, they will ask you to make this or that, and the money is attractive, but oh, the stress of it! I am a person who cannot sit and sew unless my house is in order. It is enough problem sewing for myself, but to sit down and sew with a deadline, for someone else, is very stressful. The husband will not have the same kind of relaxed atmosphere in the home if the young homemaker and mother is trying to take on extra sewing. If the homemaker really does have extra time and wants to do it, I say good for them, but the young homemaker will add only more stress to her life. I am not talking about raising chickens or looking after sheep---we've done all that and those animals are part of the family, and we owned them. It is a lot different when you let other people impose jobs on you. But even then, the farmers wife has to let a lot of her housekeeping go, unless the children are put in charge of it.

wendybirde said...

I feel a real thing to remember in how a keeper at home spends her day is that we are individuals with both different seasons of our lives and different personal temperaments. I would second what Samantha so beautifully said, "To say that this chapter (Proverbs 31) is to be taken 100% literally is to exclude many women who don't fit the description exactly, mostly for reasons that are out of their control. A few examples would include, women who are widows, childless, or physically handicapped. I would say that each woman will likely experience at least one of these situations in their lifetime." And I'd also add...

One's personal temperament is also something intrinsic, not simply under control but part of us. Some are like the anonymous commenter above who said "I am a very high energy, creative person"--and her homekeeping reflects it it seems, with lots of busyness and physicality, a high chaos tolerance, an exuberance, an openness to many people coming and going through the day in her home (and with their shoes on no less). A person like this will keep at home far differently than a more introverted type or also a quieter calmer or lower energy type. That sort of person may truly need far more calm and spaciousness in their day, more peace and stronger boundaries in their home, fewer people coming in and out so much, more neatness and order, and the like. To one home is an adventure, to another a sanctuary, to one a frontier, to another almost a little abbey of sorts, to one a place of joyful motion, to another a place of calm peace, and any combination etc.

It's always struck me how the Bible gives us examples of all sorts of people and temperaments in the women shared there, from confident Deborah to vulnerable Tamar, and how God meets them individually. And I feel our keeping at home should meet us individually as well, taking into account both the season of our life and our temperament...

Anonymous said...

It also depends on your husband's personality and what he likes. My husband does not like clutter and is very introverted. He would not be stressed to come home to a house full of noise, dirt, and clutter.

I am more extroverted and don't mind clutter-however I try to keep on top of clutter because he does not like it.

Even our blessing, who has more of my personality than my husbands, likes to be home more than being out-unless it's to go swim, of course.

Lydia said...

I'm glad to read these perspectives on home living. I think I have been through many stages. When first married I liked lots of company and staying up late. As the children came along, I needed less distraction and more time for meals and bed time rituals and could not have too much commotion in my life.
As my husband's life became different, which included some shift work, my home was even less open to the public. I go to bed very early and get up very early, quite the opposite of my 20's. There are splurges ofvery large batches company, inbetween very silent times.

Lydia said...

To answer the lady who wanted to know where it said what was "required" of the woman, I'll point her to Titus 2, and to I Timothy 5:14 (it may have been 11 Timothy but haven't time to look)--where it says that the younger women are to "marry, bear children, and keep house."

Lydia said...

Click on Kelleigh's name on the comments above and check out her beautiful blog.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Sherman, you're right; it IS I Tim. 5:14. It doesn't take me long to find things...*grin*

I didn't do the "home business" routine, but as I know I've said time and again, I DID try to run a part-time law practice. That was a mistake. Nobody ever tells you that there is no such thing as a "part-time" law practice. For me, even just one case turned into a full-time proposition, taking up 80% of my energy, if not my time.

One of my husband's assistants is married to a lady who sells candles from her home. I ordered some--and they're very nice--and she gave me some catalogs for future reference. I noticed something about the booklets, though: there's usually some push not only to try it for oneself, but also to take it up as a primary occupation.

For instance, on the back of one catalog, it shows the "success stories"--one woman who bought her dream home, for instance, and another who apparently worked so hard that her husband could retire early (I wonder if she now supports him?). Ah, but no pressure...just work at your own pace, right? Never mind that you could make your family fabulously wealthy...

My friend is a very strong person, so she doesn't seem to have a problem with setting limits on her activities. But I wonder how many women are apt to get sucked into the "guilt" of "Why aren't you working harder to make more money and help your husband?"

Mrs. Bartlett

Anonymous said...

This post was very important for me as I am struggling to be a mother/wife/homemaker and also a translator and I'm always exhausted and not doing any of these things well. I know fulltime homemakers are not the majority but in Portugal, where I am from and where I live, I think it is worse than in your country. Here, more than 90 per cent of women work outside the home. I'm used to all sort of comments but I don't mind. I just want to see my family happy and to know that I'm doing God's will. And as I am going to homeschool my 5 year old daughter (another strange thing around here but fortunately, legal)I am really thinking about stopping with my translation work. I frequently read your site and blog (though I never write to you) and other blogs where I can find women who think like me. I have not yet met any woman (not even through Internet) who shares theses ideas, so it is very important for me to «keep in touch» with you.

Tessa said...

A friend gave this poem to me not long ago. This seems to fit the discussion so well. Perhaps some of you have seen it before.

Excuse This House
(author unknown)

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there-
Ours boasts of it quite openly,
The signs are everywhere.

For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors;
I should apologize, I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.

But I sat down with the children
And we played and laughed and read;
And if the doorbell doesn't shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.

Just thought I would share

Mrs. Tessa

Marie N. said...

oh no! I was feeling pretty good about myself until I read the "photos organized" item on the list. I think that one may be hopeless for me.

Anonymous said...

This is so true for me. I thought God was leading me to take care of my mother-in-law but now I am having such a tough time at home. It's rare that I'm not grumpy with my children.