Friday, April 23, 2010

The Leisure of Home

One of the many goals of house keeping is to allow time for other interests.  A woman at home can choose the best time for her work, to enable free time when she needs it. One suggestion that I had a few posts ago, was to leave the house fairly neat before retiring at night, allowing more time to relax in the morning.  

Since most people are trying to save money rather than spend it, it is important to make the home a place to relax and enjoy life. It is sad to see people work so hard for their homes and then have to take an expensive vacation to get away from it all.  In the past, women at home took part in many interesting activities. Housework was gotten out of the way in a reasonable amount of time so that they could sew, paint, write letters, read a book, or visit someone. 

Time should be taken each day to have a mini-vacation in the home or the surrounding area, without a great cost.  Instead of spending money on expensive vacations, why not purchase a few things that would bring greater pleasure at home: a new hobby or craft, new bath towels or sheets, a tray and tea set, and other luxuries that you would pay much  more for in a hotel.  This adds to the appeal of the home and to the enjoyment of the family.

Reading by a Window, by Charles James Lewis

(Women always knew how to find a bright corner in which to read, an occupation that is as relaxing as a vacation.)
Today there is a false view of leisure: that it must cost something. Yet, in the 1940's and 50's, even the poorest woman knew the joy of sitting in the shade of a tree, taking tea, sketching, or reading to her children. Knitting, sewing, and other crafts  have always been a relaxing, and women who did not have much in the way of material things, took great pleasure in them, without guilt or shame.

I grew up in the wilderness without the modern distractions, yet we knew how to be comfortable and how to find pleasure in nature and the things around us. Women at home have a better opportunity to find leisure in small ways. It is not something you have to "afford." It is something you make time for because it re-creates and refreshes your spirit.

Painting and different types of needlework, seemed to be common activities in the past.It seems that almost all young ladies in previous centuries  either knew how to paint or draw, write in journals, and sew. Young people became almost art-illiterate in the 20th century, as these courses were not offered any more. It is interesting to see the contentment in the faces depicted in the paintings by the artists of the times. Quiet hand work always brings a sense of serenity, if approached in the right way.

We can learn to relax and enjoy leisure time, even in hard times, by simply enjoying the beauty of life and the love of the family at home.


Tracy said...

I have started doing this very thing and it makes a world of difference in my attitude. Setting aside a little time to do things you enjoy benefits the family, too! :)

Anonymous said...

This post is a very good reminder. For years, I was in a professional career, and was also trying to care for the home. Life was very rushed, everything was done in haste, and there was no time for hobbies or crafts. In fact, like you say, I almost felt guilty being leisurely unless it was prescribed and paid for leisure. Now, after almost 3 years at home, I am gradually learning a new way of being. I'm trying to dismiss the guilt that I feel when I'm not always on the go... And you're so right about home being a much more economical place to recreate. As our home life has flourished, we have started to actually enjoy being here. Thanks for another great post! Rosemary

Anonymous said...

This article speaks to my soul. Lady Lydia, we think so much alike. Last spring my hubby bought me a bed desk. I rise quite early and spend an hour or so studying God's word and writing in my journal. It's a heavenly bed and breakfast each morning. Then I walk for an hour, make breakfast and clean-up, spend time on my current area, read, sew, draw, and so forth. Like you I try to have things spruced up before retiring. Doing the areas allows my house to be Spring Cleaned year around. My newest hobby is indoor square-inch, microgreen gardening. It's delightfully relaxing and provides us with oodles of fresh, organic, veggies daily.

Thanks again for your wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

This is so true Lydia. I also have begun to take staying at home at a more slower pace.

I enjoy cleaning my home but also, I am able to sit for a spell and read, or quilt, or sew garments, or putter around the garden.

There is always time to do all this things when you view your home as a gift to be cherished and nuourished with your attention.

Your family appreciates your efforts, but also there is a calmness about the house that was not there before due to my going here and there.

Thank you for posting such wonderful thoughts and for all of your encouragements.

May Our Lord bless you & keep you,


Anonymous said...

oh, this post is so relevent to our home!we LOVE to relax at home, years of really small income, and alot of kids, made us use our ingenuity to figure out things that were low cost/free. so now that we are in better circumstances, we still don't feel the need to spend as a form of entertainment. taking care of the home, gardening, and home repairs take up our time, and walks down on the boardwalk, or trips to the playground with a cooler of food and drinks is an awesome day for our family! thanks for reminding us of simple pleasures!

Anonymous said...

I was a stay at home mom and while my children were in school I cleaned house all day. By the time they came home all I wanted was a nap.

It seemed all I was doing was cleaning, the work never ended.
I stressed a lot over cleaning the house all day.

A wise person suggested that I take 30 minute breaks after a few hours of house keeping.

During that time I would read and pray, do something creative like work on a hobby, create menus for dinners, bake, sew, read a good book, garden, or go window shopping and get ideas of things I would like to make for my home.

Those breaks were refreshing and I found that lots more work was accomplished when I was rested and had time to be creative during the day.

I soon realized that I was enjoying my "housekeeping" and didn't feel like a beast of burden anymore. I even felt refreshed and alert when the kids came home from school.

Lydia said...

This is such good advice!! I would also suggest if you are having a lot of anxiety over house work,to read the chapters on home making both in the book and workbook of Helen Andelin's book, Fascinating Womanhood. She makes it sound more like playing house and gives a feeling of fun and beauty to this job. In it she describes house keeping as more than that, because it is a deeply spiritual matter of making your house uniquely your own with the finishing touches she suggests.

Anonymous said...

How on earth do you get the housework DONE?
I have four homeschooled sons and a husband--the oldest boy is seven and the youngest not yet two. If I've finally got the kitchen cleaned, then the small one has dumped the shampoo from the bathroom out in the livingroom! Or if I was cleaning up the living room, then he has gotten the flour out of the pantry to fingerpaint with!
My husband is generally a good guy, but he's not big on picking up after himself, and the boys have learned that from him.
If I don't take breaks to do other things then I never do anything but housework, I get very resentful of all of them, and the homeschool work doesn't get done either. Meanwhile our apartment just gets messier and messier.
I know how to do what needs done--I have Home Comforts, which is an excellent book--I just can't get it all done in a day and still do anything else.

Anonymous said...

You might take a couple of days off and teach your children how to obey you and not to make messes to make more work for you. They can also clean up what they dump, which is a very good lesson for them. They will not be anxious to do it again if they know they will have to spend tedious time cleaning it up, with you supervising.

Lydia said...

The first basic lesson in homeschooling is obedient compliance and respect from the children. Without it, your homeschooling will go down the drain and so will your housework. You are bigger than they are, and smarter, so you cant let them get the better of you and destroy the housework.

Anonymous said...

I think this post has hit the nail on the head about why so many working women are resentimg marriage and motherhood. Having to work 6-12 hours for someone else depending on the line of work, and if part-time, or full-time, commute time, and being the one responsible primarily for housework, cooking, errands, the social life of the family, and childcare. It's also why I think so many working women get feed-up and divorce. With that in mind, most of the women I know that are homemakers like myself had to beg and plead with their husbands to convince him to be allowed to stay-at home in the first place. If the home is not absolutely flawless almost all the time and dinner always some time consuming business that she has to keep a real close eye on my friends and their husbands fight. Any purchase to make the home nice even yardsale and thrift store goods is often argued over. Most husbands I know seem to be jealous and resent their wives at home even the so-called Christian men and are only allowing it temporary because of the high cost of daycare and summercare in today's world. So most women I know are knocking themselves out with the housework just to have some peace in their home and lives. I am lucky in that my husband values my being at home and doesn't mind my taking a moment for myself now and again. However, it is in my experience that most men feel they are indulging their wives by allowing them to stay home, are seething with rage and resentment over the staggering price of daycare and seem to expect neverending labour from their wives. I am always encouraging these friends to have patience and pray about it because I don't want to be a negative influence to anyone. I pray about this issue on my friends behalf as well and I urge everyone that reads this post to pray about it too.

Anonymous said...

One of the best helps for keeping housework from getting out of hand is to purge ones things often, and to really think twice about any incoming purchase. Clutter is the biggest enemy of limited space, limited time, and peace of mind. It will do no good to have a daily cleaning schedule in practice if you spend the majority of each task moving things around. With that in mind-also remember that husbands and children will not always be willing to part with as much of their stuff as you would like and to respect that. I live in a tiny cabin and just living a modern lifestyle with a microwave oven, and a vacuum cleaner makes certain rooms in my home feel cramped at times. Less clutter helps immensely of course but it's still an issue the lack of storage space that most apartments and homes today have that issue. Do what you can and remember to have a Mary Heart while doing the Martha part of daily living.

Anonymous said...

I have a 2 1/2 year old son and most of the time I can do my housework with him "helping" me. Yes, it takes 4 times as long to do it but he is learning to do things eventually on his own. He loves to help Mommy and takes so much pride in it. The more dangerous tasks I do when he is napping or after he goes to bed at night. I have found that picking up his toys is not an issue if I help him as well as give him very detailed instructions such as pick up that yellow ball and put it in this basket. If I just tell him to pick his toys up he just gets confused and overwhelmed. I am also attempting to train him to only take out one thing at a time and to put it back when he is done with it-I am having sucess with his outdoor things but he is a bit more confused about it with the indoor toys and to be fair thats my issue because I didn't teach him that from the start. The truth is when you have toddlers and pre-school aged children less housework will get done and will take longer than you would like.

Anonymous said...

Keep the flour out of reach of children and secure all doors to the pantry. Put shampoos and soaps on higher shelves in the bathroom.Do not make disasters to happen!

Anonymous said...

You are right to remind us to schedule time for hobbies.

Anonymous said...

To the momma with the little ones,
It is hard to "get it all done". Actually it is impossible to get it all done. My youngest graduates from high school next month and I still struggle to "get it all done". My house never has nor will ever win any "clean house awards".
This is what I have learned over the years: Like the other ladies mentioned in this thread--decluttering really helps. Moving anything that can make a "mess" to higher locations or locking it up with child safety locks is also a good idea. You are training your boys to pick up after themselves and I applaud you for that. It also takes time and perserverance. I think you are doing ok. Just keep it up. You are in what I call the "messy years" where the children make messes and are learning to clean those messes up.

At some point I had to decide what was important with the housework and what was not. Did we clean? Yes, I made a schedule and the children helped. I decided that comfy clean was our standard and not white glove clean. Same for homeschooling--did we need to do every math problem in the book? No. Did they learn to clean and become educated? Yes. I raised 5 homeschoolers, 3 of which were boys. They can all cook, run the vacuum, and check the oil in a car and some are better at that than others. They are good to me. They did not learn to become adults overnight. It takes time. You are doing the most important job on the planet. I miss not having a little one to climb into my lap. Now the only one that climbs into my lap is the cat!!!

You will see the benefits to you being home with your children in the character and integrity they will have as adults. It is very rewarding on this end. However, it was exhausting to raise little ones and at times discouraging.

Just keep going. The Lord will give you ideas and encouragement for your own particular situation. I'm proud of you and praying for you. You are a priceless treasure.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12:41 paints such a grim picture! I guess I'm more blessed than I realized that my husband asked me to stay home--he frequently reminds me that he values my presence more than my paycheck (his words). I live in something of a cultural backwater, maybe--in the families around me (not wealthy), moms all stay home with their children at least until grade school is well underway. And being at home is something of a status symbol--probably not the best attitude, but the results at least can be good!

Let's all make sure to raise our sons to think that way.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to have this reminder that "it's ok" to enjoy something of your own....even every day.

My "problem" is that I LIKE "clutter"....accessories that tend to create a sense of a busy-looking interior. These special things that I have come to me from friends and family (ancestors) are so meaningful to me and I like the visual stimulation of the colors, shapes and designs.

I feel that something is lacking when an interior is very simple. I MUST fill the walls with art and framed photos...I must create arrangements of things pretty on table tops and a hutch and book shelves...I think you might call it country casual or even Victorian a little in the old Victoria magazines. All this 'stuff' does create more work....but the design and art instincts and needs are satisfied.

Far Above Rubies said...

Wonderful post, Lady Lydia. Home is such a wonderful place to be. I love sitting and reading to my children.

We are also journal writing and sketching. It's been a delight.

Thank you for the constant encouragement.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post! I laughed out loud at the post about working very hard and then leaving to get away from it all. Just last October, my husband and I took a quick trip from our home in Central Florida to Charlotte, NC where my father lives. It was only four days, but my children cried for home like our vacation was torture! My father has a very lovely home, but it wasn't "our home" and the kids missed it. I knew they were homesick when we finally crossed back into Florida on the return and my youngest blurted out, "only 119 miles to the house!"

If you create a lovely home, they will cherish it.

And please let me say, my home is not extravagant. We have three children, and it's a 3 bedroom 2 bath home. My two boys share a small room, and it is quite tight in there. We are forever fixing something that breaks. We put in new floors but didn't have enough money to finish the trim, so we're still working on that. Home is so much more than the decorations and the furniture. It's where love abounds.

My daughter is friends with a young lady who lives two doors down. She frequently "escapes" to our house. One afternoon, I found her sitting at my dining room table with a glass of tea and a book. I said, "Kayla, you came over to read a book?" (I was teasing her, of course.) She looked up and said, "Mrs. R, I just wanted some peace, so I came here."

THAT is home.


Anonymous said...

Art on the walls and a more "busy" style of decorating is not clutter in my opinion. You probably have to dust more often and ever be on the look-out for indoor animals or small children to keep them from accidents but if it makes the house more homey feeling that's a good thing in my book. What I personally think of as clutter is things like a kitchen drawer filled with so many gadgets that nobody ever uses that it takes over a minute just to find the measuring spoons. Or a hall closet filled with seasonal coats that are over twenty-five years old and that nobody wears anymore. When you rip your everyday coat just prying it out of the closet that's a problem. That is what I mean when I say clutter not having to be extra careful or take extra time to dust because of having a lived in home. I have the same taste in decorating but with a two year old boy that climbs and 736 square feet my things are packed away at this time that are for decoration.

Anonymous said...

I heard a tape by Joyce Swann years ago. She had many children that she homeschooled year round and she trained them to do the housework. She gave them permanent chores instead of constantly rotating jobs, so the children became well-trained to the daily housecleaning and schooling routine and were efficient at their work. She took time to thoroughly train them too; I think she said it took four months to train one of her daughters to clean the bathrooms. That takes a lot of patience.

It's a mistake to wait to train children. Have them work with you from a very young age as another comment points out, though it takes longer to get work done. Have it be an enjoyable time together, so it's part of relationship building. That relationship will be very important later in their teen years. Let your children know that you delight in them. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." And our joy to our children helps make them strong.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia~
I apoligize that this request is off topic~~but I am desperately searching for your article that references a video that explains the origins of the Federal Reserve and how they have/are stealing the wealth of America. I can't seem to find the article on your website or on LAF~please help! Thanks.

Also, I really love this post, I will be sharing it with my honey and working to make home our special retreat!


Lydia said...

Try clicking on the link on the left side called "Politics." There are a lot of articles there that might have the information you want. "How to Stop Worrying About Politics and Get on With Your Life" has some information about the bankers and their control over the American people.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 9:31 AM:
3 books I wanted to recommend for those (like me!) still trying to work out a schedule, etc. so that leisure time is possible:

Emilie's Creative Home Organizer
By Emilie Barnes

The One Minute Cleaner Plain and Simple
by Donna Smallin

The Messies Manual
By Sandra Felton

They are all easily read in small increments, and PACKED with useful knowledge.
Thanks to the second 2, I had a great system/schedule worked out, that afforded me free moments without feeling guilty; But at nearly 5 months pregnant with my 4th, I am still exhausted all the time, so things have really fallen to the side.

My oldest (5) LOVES to help, and while yes, I could do it faster, letting her do dishes, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, what ever, is A.) sometimes the only way it will get done B.) teaching her valuable skills and C.) teaching her to take pride in doing a job well. She is all smiles after washing breakfast dishes and the counters or the table, or vacuuming the living-room
Part of that is her eager to please personality, but I know that growing up, my mom didn't mind the mess, and cleaning was only necessary when company came, or 10 minutes before my dad came home from work so I never learned the importance of having a schedule, etc. and I want to instill that in my daughter now.

My middle child (3) is much tougher. He is stubborn, and easily distracted. When he sets his mind to it, he can pick up a room with the best of them, but more often, he gets distracted by little things, and nothing happens. Counting to 100 (or 50 or whatever depending on the mess size) and telling him to see if he can get his ________
picked up before I get to that number makes it a game, and he really does well.

My youngest (17 mos.) is still in the "Yay I like to dump!" phase, but (and it ain't easy sometimes) I have started holding her hand to reach down, pick up and put back whatever she has been getting into, mainly dishrags and towels, or the cooking utensil drawer.

It takes practice and patience (lots of it, I'll be honest!) but as I tell my children, part of living on this family means you will help out.

One more thing, depending on the ages and grades of your boys, sometimes it helps to take a week off from school, just to play catch-up. (My daughter has not yet started school. we will begin teaching Kindergarten this fall, but I have been doing pre-K activities with her)
When the house is tidier, its easier to keep that way, and if taking a whole week off isn't possible, sometimes I'll pick up my youngest sister for the day, and she will play with/keep an eye on the children while I clean the upstairs or downstairs.

Do not despair, it can be done, and it is so rewarding once you get a system figured out!

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Lady Lydia! This may be the reason so many homemakers in Christian circles are so taken with the idea of mother's retreats and get-aways. I was just thinking of my dear mother, who never had a 'moms day out' or made us feel that she needed a vacation from us, her work or our home. She loved being home, and loved us being around her. She cultivated interests at home and took joy in her domain.

Margitta said...

I put up a post on norwegian folk costumes on my blog, they get used a lot in Norway and they are very feminine!

Anonymous said...

To anon 9:31am:

I still feel like you do and my oldest is 11! I simple do not get all my work done ever.....and I often find it discouraging. I agree with the comments about trying to keep things out of reach and making life as simple as possible and I do believe that we are to teach our children to obey. But I think that is easier for some women than for others maybe due to what we ourselves were taught. I had many years without a baby and am now priviledged to have a baby in the house again. I don't want to miss any of these precious moments! So I would like to encourage you to enjoy the babies as much as possible and try not to get too uptight about the messies. Please do not try to put everyone's advice in place at the same time. I think it is much better to work on learning ONE new habit at a time....otherwise it is too overwhelming!

Anonymous said...

I have noted two things when parents try to train their children. First they do not instruct them. the child does not understnad how the job is to be done. I think the parent needs to help them with it for a while till they become confortable with as in be there not do it. At first of course the little ones will not do a perfect job but if they are trying that is the thing...they will get better with repitition. Second is that when a child whines or does a job totally sloppy the parent gives up and just does it themself from then on. So the child looses out as they do not develope the skills they need to get along in life and the parent feels like a slave. It does not happen over night but with persaverance they will come to do things almost automatically and they will be on to the next life lesson to learn.

Anonymous said...

It is the homeschooled children in our neighborhood who are readier for a life on their own than the public schooled children. These children I know from many families can cook and clean and know their manners and how to study. They are used to being with many different groups of people since they are schooled at home the parents take them on many field trips and they do volenteer work. They are much wider educated. Thses children are not 'kept at home' they are out and about learning more than just what they do in their own homes. They learn the real history of the United States not the public school version. While they take classes in the home they also take classes on many subjects from other professionals or other homeschooling friends. Different groups have their own skills and the boys learn many skills from the fathers as the fathers are very much involved in the children too. These boys know first hand that the mother in the home full time is an advantage. They grow up seeing it first hand. I am amazed at these special families. They make me feel the America will be in good hands if they would someday help to guide it. I applaud all of you familiies who are right there in the front lines teaching your children the right ways. I want to thank you with all my heart. I know this was not a homeschooling post but I just wanted any homeschoolers who will read these comments to know you are appreciated.

Anonymous said...

It is by reading , sewing, embrodery, painting or whtever around the children that they learn and want to try it too. They learn Mother has talents and wishes too. That each of us has talents and things we like to do for fun. We get our main work done and Then we can have fun. I said main work...I did not say a totally spotless home at all times. As was said, each family needs to understand what is most important in their homes. Father does his work then has time to relax and so does Mother. The children begin to understand what needs to be done before they go onto the extra things. Just as they understand when a parent starts the day in prayer or spiritual reading to get the day off to a good start. We teach by example. Just as we ourselfs learned by the examples of those that we grew up around.

Anonymous said...

You were right about your article "How to Stop Fretting Over Politics..." The video "The Money Masters" was named in it, and I have a link to watch it online. Thank you very much! Also, the above mentioned article is a sure antidote for my current-events induced anxiety!

God Bless and thanks again.

Lydia said...

Current events are distressing and soul-destroying. I believe that you can rule the world from the home, because there is less control over what you do there. I think that the govt can intrude more in the public arena. You can provide the kind of society you need and like, by making your home the place where you find what you need. Your social life can be centered there, and you can have our own library and your own industry. Children need to be raised and educated at home so that they can carry on the values of their parents. I think more people are enjoying their homes because they can keep out the stress of the world. Hobbies and crafts, knitting, sewing, crochet, and keeping house, are very relaxing if a woman will stay home and not be rushed. I think a lot of the panic attacks that people get are from just doing too much too fast and having too much public in their lives. I think a homemaker can regulate just how much public she allows in her life and that is one good reason to stay home. There she can relax and work at her own pace for her own family and help them do well in life.

Anonymous said...

To those who despair of getting their housework done: you have to lower your standards when the children are small. This doesn't mean you let everything go. It means your home doesn't have to pass the white glove test. The main things are: laundry, clean bathrooms and good food on the table. I believe I saw Lady Lydia make a comment like this in one of her posts.
As far as the banks holding sway over Americans: we can withdraw from their control by not being in debt. There are many articles on this and it can be done, even on one salary. My grandparents did it, my parents did it and my husband and I did it without a second paycheck. Lady Lydia's articles on making little go far are excellent and deserve re-reading.
My best wishes and prayers for those who are at home!

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the reader who shared the title of The Money Masters video, and to you, Lady Lydia for including it in your previous article. We used to own a VHS copy of this, and I have been trying to find it for years to use as part of our homeschooling curriculum. I am grateful to have it as my son begins high school. Many, many thanks!

Anonymous said...

When I first read this article, I thought that I had no time for hobbies. Then I realized that many of the things I do throughout the day could be considered hobbies (gardening, interior decorating, canning, couponing, reading). I tend to think of them as projects rather than hobbies. I guess I should slow down and enjoy them more. THanks for the reminder :).


anglow said...

My private little motto for home living is "Every bed should be ready for someone to rest on it and every surface should be ready for someone to work on it." By work on it, I mean lay out a pattern, do homework, write letters, or roll out a pie crust. Just saying "surfaces" to myself reminds me to clear away things to make room for relaxation or creativity.