Monday, January 05, 2009

The Gentle Approach to Homemaking

I have great sympathy for people that have to begin their day suddenly by jumping straight into a difficult and unpleasant job. The homemaker has the ability to arrange things a little differently by preparing the workplace so that she can ease into any hard task.

In my opinion there is just not much that is worse than getting up in the morning and heading straight into house chaos, so I am reminded of several techniques of our mothers and grandmothers, and some of our own, that help us ease into a difficult job at home.

Here is a list of things that will help in approaching the job without a big fuss or a panic:

*A set of clean clothes whose colors and style make you feel happy, but are sturdy enough to work in.
*A pretty tea top with a cup, and some of your favorite snacks.
*Bath products that you like: soap, scented spray, etc.
*Your grooming products and makeup, if you wear it.
*A soft scented home candle.
*A nice apron with pockets and a towel attached for quick drying of hands.
*Liquid dish detergent for sink washing
*An attractive and inspiring notepad with a special pen
*Music (free online music of your choice, from classical jazz to baroque can be found by registering at and it is free. You can put as many different kinds of stations on it to listen to while working, if you are within hearing distance of the computer). My favorite station there is "Romantic Piano," on which is featured the piece played by Molly on "Wives and Daughters" called "Nocturne in B" . You can read more about it here
Also add to your equipment
*A comfortable pair of rubber gloves that are also pretty, if you can get them.
*A broom you really like.
*Dish towels and dish cloths that are pretty.

This is what you do with all these things:

Bathe, dress, look in the mirror and smile, fix your hair. Make tea of your choice (I posted how to make berry tea or apple juice tea in a previous article if you do not use black tea or herbal teas). Put on your apron, sit down to sip your tea and eat your favorite snack. Take the fancy pen and write your list in your best writing on the notepad. Turn on the music, light the candle, and start working at the most urgent jobs first. Dishes are essential because of bacteria quickly forming, and so is laundry. If these things are done, at least, you will have the most important things finished before you run out of energy.
Easing into the job means to get prepared to go to work and to gather your equipment up and prepare your space. A man who digs a ditch will have to first get his tools and then clear away the area he is to dig. He will have to have a place to put something and a place to discard things. He will need a container for his tools. A homemaker needs to learn to prepare her area so that she can do her job with ease. Otherwise, she will find her feet hitting the floor and running from this to that all day long without a thought. At the end of the day she will crash into bed exhausted with her mind still whirling, not knowing what in the world she is doing. Planning goes a long way toward reasonable accomplishments.

There are probably other people born in the late 1940's-early 1950's who remember mothers hands in the flour kneading bread. Upon looking out the window and discovering the husband coming home, she reaches up and pats her hair in place. When she goes to the mirror she discovers white flour on her hair. I saw a painting once that showed such a sweet smile on the face of a woman who did thus, and such innocense in it all, that reminded me of this.

Like many women, I spent my life thinking about having a little house where I could sweep and cook and look out the window at the kitchen garden. This would be a cozy place of safety where my husband could have a little luxury and comfort from the rushed and competitive world away from home. My children would love it as the best place on earth. There was no station in life and no accomplishment that could hold a candle to the home.

Many women have wanted just that, and have found that there are institutions and people who want to discourage them from having a happy home as their goal. Instead, they find people urging them to spend a lot of money on college and then get into a career. Their dream of having a family and a little place to live gets further and further away.

Some naysayers think that one of the reasons to avoid full time home life is the very one I have talked about here: the seemingly insurmountable amount of work that a homemaker must tackle on her own. They think it is unfair and unworthy and that she can do much better in career. We find on a national level that home life and houses are deteriorating.

If life was supposed to be so much better when women entered careers and put their children in the care of others, by this reasoning, the families should be stronger, and the houses more orderly and clean. However, you can't go against what is good an natural and expect to have good results.

Any time the women are persuaded to leave home for the workforce, the army, ministry, or any other lower institution, the home and the family will suffer. I say "lower" institution, because the home is the basis of all society. Without the home, we cannot have good business, good government, good education or good churches. As goes the home, so goes the nation. The woman must be returned to the home and she must give it the status that it deserves. The above ideas for handling a home in disarray will contribute to this dignity.


Laura Ashley said...

Great post! Maybe this will be the year for me to get married and finally saty-at-home!!! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Just Me said...

Ohhhh...for the day when I will be able to put 'homemaker' on a form I fill out!

I might be gray by the time I get there but I will get there!

Lydia said...

You can still write it on the form. Someone might take note of it and it might lead back home, in some way.

Lydia said...

will try to remove the code corrupted thing when there is time!

Mrs Flam said...

I was taught as a child to take my place at home , but when i was taken in as ward of the state they took that option from me. They told me , no you have no choice . Feminism took away my choice. I had to struggle hard to get it back.

Mrs. M said...

Thank you for the great post. I am that woman you wrote about, the woman who has been convinced from a young age that she needed a career to have the finer things in life. My happiness depended on it. Now, two degrees and a "respectable" teaching career later, I have a nice house that I can't even call a home because it is in utter chaos. I have two beautiful babies whose care is left to others. I would give anything to be home. I still hope I will some day. I really enjoy your posts. You are such an inspiration.

Bek said...

Thankyou for your post, I am feeling God telling me to keep on staying at home and that I did make the right decision. On sunday I had 2 older ladies come up to me and tell me that it is great that I am a stay at home mum and keep it up. I have always wanted to do this and had no probs giving up my job and give us some things I did not need. I am also wondering if he is preparing me for something lol:)

Thankyou so much for all the posts you write I really enjoy them though do not comment all the time.


Anonymous said...

I used to see a little mirror on the back of the door of the kitchen Hoosiers. The women of the house would pull the door open quickly when she heard her husband come up the walk and smooth her hair and look to see if she was as tidy as she could before her husband entered. I took note of that as a child. Later I read stories of other women doing the same. I noticed the glint of a happy smile on their faces in the excitement of him coming home. We are not to just make ourselfs presentable for company but for each other. These women were good mentors even when they did not say a word...and yes I did see the floured hand go to the hair too!! Jody

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. Good tip to get some pretty notepads. I use any old scrap I find around right now, and a pretty notepad would be so much more cheerful!

~ Ann

Anonymous said...

The people that think women are wasting their time taking care of a home have it backwards in another way. That home still needs cleaned and loved if they work outside of the home or not. Just where are they going to find the time let alone the energy to do this if they spend 8 hours working and more to commute there and back? Along the way things get piled up and not done and the children only get attention when the parents are already tired. You feel like you are on an ever spinning mary-go-round...and going no where. They do not have time for the basics let alone creative outlets. No time to refresh their souls. Even when they are alone they have the I-Pod running or music in the background. Their heads are spinning thinking of the next thing that needs to be done. Where is the time to relax and listen to nature or listen for God?Why anyone would ever call this life a life of freedom is beyond me. At home is where we have the freedom. God planed it this way and I am so grateful I have been able to have that freedom. My children are grown but I am still guarding our peaceful home. I thank God each day for allowing me to be here. Jody

candy said...

Brilliant post!


RichFam said...

THANK YOU, Lady Lydia. I always appreciate your posts.

By the Grace of God, who "reprogramed" me from being corrupted by worldly ways, I now stay at home, and am finally able to keep my house clean and cook meals at home instead of eating out all the time.

And I am able to homeschool my children, and have the duty and honor of teaching them how to live in a godly household, and raise virtuous, godly children.

It can be very difficult at times, when ignorant people in worldly society make negative comments about how my children will be unprepared to live in the world.

Most of the time, I do not mind too much. I would much rather them learn to live godly lives than know what the latest (skimpy) fashions are, or who the newest (unglodly) pop star is. Still, after a while, those comments can begin to wear me down at times.

But, I got a boost of encouragement the other day from my 8 year old daughter. She was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up: a doctor, a lawyer, the President, etc.

She just smiled at them and politely shook her head. Then she said, "No. I don't want to be any of those things. What I want to be most in the whole world is to be a mommy."


Lydia said...

You are right: people outside of your home think they know better how you should live. I would never dream of telling someone they should "be home" if I see a bank clerk or a postal worker, yet when they figure out that I am home they are quite verbal about the way they think my life should be run. People also tend to go straight to our children and tell them that the way they are being raised is limited, stifling, isolated, wrong, etc., but it applies to their lives as well. They can't see it. WOrking outside the home can be very controlling and limiting. When you get home you have all kinds of ideas of making a real home but tiredness sets in and things do not get done. We should take a look at the old ways and see how women used to do it. They did not leave home each morning to go work for someone else and they did not put their children in the constant care of others. Families were more available and women were available in the home. Now, many homes sit empty all day long.

Theo-Ann said...

what an awesome post--great glad my husband and I think this way. There are so many blessings that come out of homemaking.:)

Mrs. Anna T said...

I've stayed at home since the beginning of our marriage (admittedly, that was not very long ago!), much to my husband's pleasure. People have told me how "useless" it is to stay home when there aren't even any children yet (due any day now, though :o)), especially as we aren't rich.

But my husband feels I provide a safe haven for him, and that's all that matters. A couple of weeks ago, he told me, "ours is the most special little home, because you tend to it. Thank you for not working outside the home. With all my work stresses, I can't even imagine what our life would look like if you worked too!"

I wrote his words down for encouragement next time someone implies I'm "wasting my time" at home. My husband appreciates what I do, and that makes me a fortunate woman.

Thank you for this wonderful encouragement.

Lydia said...

In writing this I forgot to say that it is a tendency in women to get upset when they see a mess. This causes all kinds of problems for their families because they end up with memories of a screeching woman during housekeeping time. The gentle approach will prevent the kind of panic and resentment a lot of women feel when faced with the challenge of moving in another house or remodelling or just trying to catch up to housework after an illness or a vacation.

Mrs. V. said...

This was a wonderful post and I especially like the part about if you go against what is good and natural you can't expect to have good results. So true!!

I am so glad that I don't have the worry of trying to balance home life and work life as they are both the same. I did work at one time and I remember how stressful it was especially when one of the children was not well. Going to work meant the guilt of leaving a sick child and staying home meant the guilt of not being at work. No matter which direction I turned, there was guilt. That is no way to live.

Anonymous said...

In my neighborhood, there is a couple who is gone for 12 hours a day, who entrusts their children to a nanny, who speaks very little English. The children are ill-behaved and spoiled. One of them, today at the park, swatted my baby, and was much to old to be behaving like that. The nanny said nothing. She's probably scared of the kids. I said something though (gently).

I know another family where the couple is barely on speaking terms due to stress because the old nanny left. The new nanny can't do the things that the old one could (help with homework, drive the children to their many activities), so the whole setup is falling apart. The mother expects the nanny to do the same job that she would do if she was there.

They think they "have it all," but if they could only see what their families look like, objectively, from the outside. So sad.

~ Ann

Jennifer @ Her Southern Charm said...

Amen to you, Lydia. I couldn't have said it better myself. But we're preaching to the choir. I LOVE what I do. I used to teach and yes, I loved that, but I love taking care of my home more.

We need to get out there more and more and preach that this is where we need to be. No, MUST be. We need to counteract the feminists with what we know is right.

I have nothing bad to say about college as I have a degree myself and value learning and education. Heaven forbid anything happen to my sweet husband, I know I will be prepared to make a living for myself.

But yes, home is where we should be. Blogs are a great way to get the word out so I commend you for doing so despite some nasty comments you get on here. I thank God that you are strong enough to withstand them as I know a lot of women probably could not (me included).

I wrote something about this on my blog as well. I'd love for you to read it. :)

Claudia said...

I am - albeit only for the moment - a stay-at-home wife, as I write my dissertation while my husband works. But what I REALLY want from life is to be a happy stay-at-home wife and mommy, working to and for the happy home you have so beautifully described. Since I'm writing my thesis, most people do not regard me as "wasting my time", but another incredibly hurtful comment I quite often get is that I am living as a "leech" on my husbands income and should contribute to the earnings. I have a little side-job as my husband's starter-salary isn't enough to keep us going (and we're just talking the essentials here), I drive him 60km EVERY DAY to work because he can't drive (yet), take care of all the household, try to make a cheerful home for us, cook nutritious meals every day. On addition to this I lost too of my closest realtives last year which was incredibly painful and learned that I myself am gravely ill. My life is absolutely full at the moment - how can anyone be so spiteful to call me a leech?!
I wish moore people would see and appreciate the value and beauty of staying at home.
Please keep up this inspiring blog!

Adventure Mama Michelle said...

Thank you for this encouragement. Your blog is an inspiration.

Updated by Lila Huggins (grandmother) said...

If only more wives and mothers felt this way. The world would be a better place to live.

Thank you for your uplifing words.

I have been a stay at home mother for 35 years. My daughters are grown and married and are also God fearing, stay at home, moms. They do earn some extra money, but from their homes with the kids surrounding and helping and being homeschooled.

God Bless You,
Miss Lila in Atlanta

Updated by Lila Huggins (grandmother) said...

If only more wives and mothers felt this way. The world would be a better place to live.

Thank you for your uplifing words.

I have been a stay at home mother for 35 years. My daughters are grown and married and are also God fearing, stay at home, moms. They do earn some extra money, but from their homes with the kids surrounding and helping and being homeschooled.

God Bless You,
Miss Lila in Atlanta

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another nice post, Lydia. Your blog is refreshing. It even seems home-like: encouraging, quaint, and instruction-giving :)

I hope young women see writings like those of yours and reconsider their lives before it is too late. I am one of those who grew up career-oriented (partly through a mistaken view of Biblical singleness I held into my twenties and partly simply by thoughtlessly absorbing cultural practices). Now that I'm almost twenty-five, I lament how I wasted my first quarter of my life. I wasn't preparing for a home--learning how to budget, how to save money by sewing basic items and repurposing clothes, studying Biblical childrearing, cooking, etc. And now, eagerly working away to someday have my own family (hopefully!!) and/or use these skills to serve others, there is SO little time. Forget about a forty hour work week; just getting ready for work (in a low-maintenance fashion), being there, and driving takes up about 55 hours/week. There is so little time Mon-Sat for everything else: Bible study, learning how to look nice (something I underrated when I did think of marriage), doing some cooking and exercising to be a good steward of one's body, doing laundry (with much of the ironing being more work for work!), cleaning, organizing, grocery store, fuel, learning, spending time with people.... And while I could have spent years in a people-oriented job saving toward a house and improving my mind and skills at home, instead I'm scrimping to get college paid off by the time I'm 28 or 29 (which only appears it will work IF I'm still unmarried then - or unless the poor man I marry has savings that will be lost to $40,000 in loans I foolishly racked up for a piece of paper I don't care about). I got a degree basically to work spreadsheets and type so much I need pain killers regularly. (I don't say that as a complaint, by the way, about where God has put me. I don't deserve to be where I am, to have any education, to have ever been brought to see the error of my ways as much as I do... I just say it to show more how foolish I have been. It shames me to see how much some young girls raised in Christian families [unlike me] know in comparison to me in skills and how much wisdom they have! I have WASTED my life, first by rejecting Christ, then by not taking more time to learn to be a woman!)

Keep on encouraging women! The Christian woman can be SUCH a beautiful one and her home so life-giving, lovely, and God-exalting!


Anonymous said...

I really liked this1 I am going to print this one and add it to my homekeeping binder. I have had my eye on a cute pink broom at Tuesday Morning!
Thanks for the comment on my blog and I would love for you to link me! I just adore your blog.
Canaan at

Anonymous said...

Dearest Lydia and Readers,

To those who have had a rough start, or have been in the dark concerning the Biblical model of womanhood, family and the like, take out your bible (or look it up on-line; and turn to Joel 2: 25. This is god's promise to each and every one of us and His word is true.

As for the topic of getting the day off to a good start, Lydia, keep on posting these periodically as the days and months go by, for your words are encouraging and have on more than one occasion, helped me buck up and get on with it, with confidence and a newly found zeal that can so easily become swamped in the chaos of the day to day.


Australia. .

Anonymous said...

It seems like nobody asks themselves "what would our ancestors think if they could see us now?"

I think they would be horrified. Some of the cities they built now stand abandoned, uncivilized, and hellish.

The neighborhoods they built are left to rot, and the new suburban "communities" we've paid someone else to build don't deserve the name.

We have only ourselves to blame. Back to basics!

Lydia said...

Anonymous: that is somewhat the theme here! We need to have some respect for what our forefathers have done. I see the decay all around me, where beautiful farmhouses and Victorian homes are now being trashed by the next generation. Rows of ugly tract homes are not making people feel like human beings with dignity. THe ones who had them built got their money so they do not care what it looks like or what kind of neighborhood it produces. There is a book you can get about this, that is read by some of the students at the school of Architecture here. I can't recall the name of it right now, but was written by a woman who observed the difference in crime in some places and the way the cities and houses were arranged or built. Aside from that, though, there are still some homes that were not built like that, that new owners just let fall apart.

Marie said...

Dearest Lady Lydia-
What would I do without your posts! I am with Sarah from Australia - I need the boost once in a while to keep me on track. I don't know a single soul who stays at home and it gets very discouraging. I recently began visiting another blog of stay at home mothers and every single one of them was just biding her time, waiting for a job outside the home, and complaining about how boring life was at home! I had to quit visiting that site because it was, needless to say, quite disheartening. How do you keep your head above water when everyone around you is sinking into this mindset? I wish I didn't feel so alone in this lifestyle, but at least it helps to have places to visit like this site of yours for encouragement. Keep up the inspiring words and thank you.

Anonymous said...

There is no reason for a person to just bide their time at home and be bored. In previous times, women had days when there might not have been as much to do but they knew how to fill it up. That was when they did all the things they loved to do, from scrapbooking to painting furniture to crafting, gardening, and other hobbies. Houses would be better cared for if women could stay at home.It is best not to get into the trap of being dependent on having an outside job, in the first place. If young women can learn to live on their husband's income and make him prosper because of it, they will adjust to that income and not have a need for going out to work. A lot of people get the erroneous idea that homemakers are home all the time, confined and bored, but it is not true. They are out quite a bit, doing things pertaining to the home and family such as paying bills, purchasing the family food supply, finding things the family needs, and so forth. It is far from being confined, has a lot more freedom than most workplaces, and less peer pressure.

Anonymous said...

"I can't recall the name of it right now, but was written by a woman who observed the difference in crime in some places and the way the cities and houses were arranged or built."


There is a study somewhat like this mentioned in the book Home Comforts. There is mention of a study of how one unkempt building leads to another. I believe the writing was something like that somebody found that one broken window led to the neighborhood degrading, as people felt less need to keep up their own properties once there was a place nearby not as kept up. Things just kept building from a mere window.

And on a side note, but touching on the subject of tract houses. . . though they are often built for money and convenience, they seem to require more decorating work. A house with great architecture--which tends to mean old architecture--looks beautiful with simple embellishments and tweaks. The standard tract house would look ugly, cold, and uninteresting with the same decoration. Therefore it 'needs' more money put into it when it comes to furnishing it and making it seem warm. At least, that's how I see it.

Thanks everybody for sharing your thoughts! There are some very good ones here!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the daily inspiration. You keep me focused on the important things in life. I haven't been feeling very tranquil over the past few weeks. My husband has decided to return to school to pursue an engineering degree and has put his job in jeapardy in the process. He has asked his manager to allow him to leave the office for 8-11 hours per week to attend classes and to make up the lost work time in the evenings. His manager is adamantly opposed to this idea, but my husband has registered for classes and plans to do it anyway. He has an excellent, well-paying job that is as safe as any can be in this economy and I cannot believe he wants to risk losing it (he already has a Bachelor's degree, a master's in accounting and a Juris Doctor). I have been feeling "fussed" as my grandmother would put it--worried he will be laid off and worried about the time pursuing yet another degree will take away from our family (we have two sons who are nearing adolescence and really need their Dad's time and attention). He has suggested I get a job to cover family expenses and insurance while he is in school, but I don't want to leave our home again. Just the other day, my younger son looked at me and said, "Mom, you are the best thing in our family. You are always there for us."

When I read your blog entries, I am reminded that I can be a good wife, mother, and homemaker no matter our circumstances. I don't need to "get fussed" about the "what ifs" in our life. I need to do my job and guard our home and family life. My God-given mission is to create a warm, nurturing home within the budget my husband's income allows. I don't get to dictate how much or how little money he should earn.

My greatest regret is that 7 years ago, I allowed one of my husband's career shifts to disrupt our family life. I was so overwhelmed by the changes in our circumstances that I became deeply depressed and angry at my husband. I will not make that mistake again. My children were very young then and have no memory of our situation, thank God. This time I will do the right thing and stay focused on the things that are fundamentally important--God, my family, and my home. Miss Kris

Elisabeth said...

Dear Friend,
I think of all your posts that I have read over several months, this is my favorite. I've come back and re-read it several times this week. Thank you for inspiring me to keep trying!

Unknown said...

You have done it again. You put into words what we all feel.
I think b/c I am doing what God wants me to do, stay at home, He is blessing us finically. Dh was self employed for 8 yrs & I have worked beside him, but with construction going down the tubes he was able to find work. We are still hanging on to the business but as part time work.
I think that w/this economy hardship we are going to find more one income households. Women are going to go home and take care of their families like God intended.

When dh found work he took a 2nd shift position. I am finding that my schedule has changed. We h/s too. I am doing household chores in the evening and school after dinner. I am able to adjust my days to accordingly. So I can't touch up my hair when he gets home b/c I'm sleeping but I look nice before he leaves for work in the afternoon.

Emmarinda said...

Lydia, regarding the link between architecture and crime, I had the privilege to visit Britain this summer and while touring Scotland, our tour guide and bus driving were telling us about the city of Glasgow. Back in the sixties, the city fathers decided to knock down many old neighborhoods and build these massive high-rise apartment buildings, which they supposed would really make the inhabitants feel good about their homes. After all, these would be new, and have beautiful views.

What followed was a surprise to them. People no longer felt connected to one another or part of a community. People's behavior degenerated, the youth got out of control, and crime rose precipitously.

Now, one by one those buildings are coming down. I don't quite remember what will go in their place but I think it would be interesting to find out.

Thank you for the good post.

Lydia said...

Would it be possible to tell me the name of the housing complex or give me some kind of direction where that could be found in Glasgow? If you have any other information on it, I would appreciate it.

Emmarinda said...

These are a big subject so you can just google Glasgow high rises and read about and see the demolition, but you may have to read between the lines or search down a bit to find out what the problem was. They are being replaced by two and three bedroom homes, I believe.

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

These are some of my favorite posts on homemaking---keep up the excellent work!

Many blessings...