Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Answering Single Woman's Questions About Homemaking

Q: Can you offer any ideas for incorporating homemaking into my life, even though I am a single woman in my 40's who has to earn her own  living?

A. The following answer is not meant to imply any lack of character or any fault on your part, but is in general, things everyone needs to know.

Order and Atmosphere.
To give your dwelling a more domestic atmosphere, I would suggest that cleaning and putting things in order and making it appear to be occupied.  Too often the home becomes a place where people drop things while they rush away to another appointment or evening entertainment. This results in a house that becomes nothing more than a stop-over for a limited time. However, just cleaning a house is a very utilitarian and materialistic way of living. You cannot be happy with just a clean, orderly house. It has to be arranged in a way that is inviting and it must have elements of beauty and meaning: a favorite photograph, a blanket on the couch, a rug in the entry way, an attractive plant,  a table cloth and things that soften or brighten the house.

 I know several women who spend a certain amount of time outside their homes just to look for things that would make their homes more homey. When they are away from home, it is for the purpose of finding  something that is good for their home life, instead of spending money on office parties or get-togethers with co-workers.   It is certainly better to spend $20.00 on a set of cushions or a coverlet, a new shower curtain or set of glassware, a new broom or set of towels, or even a nicely framed painting on the wall, etc. than to throw it away on a night out with friends.

Remove Things That Remind You of the Work Outside the Home
Make your life more domestic by creating a haven away from the daily work outside the home.  Create a place without career reminders. Hide the uniform or paper work behind a closet door, and display things that make you feel far away from that other world.

Meal Preparation
To make home life better, develop a routine before and after work that will make life at home pleasant. This might involve leaving the home cleaned up, and then doing things in the evening which will make the home a place you really want to be. Although you are living alone, it will be a great advantage to cook a meal and serve yourself on real dinnerware, and will aid in your over-all health.  If all you do is make a sandwich, it is an act of homemaking which today, not everyone knows how to do. Eating at home increases the domestic atmosphere of the home. The beautiful scent of cooking will linger awhile and make you feel more of a homemaker.

Domestic Interests
Besides paying attention to what the house looks like, spend time in it doing homey things: create a writing area so that you can attend to correspondence, personal Bible study or favorite interests.  If you like to sew, set up an area with your sewing maching and ironing board and your supplies, and if you like to cook, leave out a set of mixing bowls or pretty measuring cups.  Supply a special table with tea things.  Find books about the home to put on your coffee table. These things will  reinforce and establish your desire to become more of a homemaker.

I think it is also important to hang pictures or paintings, needlework, and such, on the walls to make the dwelling more homey. It also helps to have curtains, even if you have built-in shades, because they give a more cozy effect.  Turning the heat on when you are home in winter or having a fireplace, even a electric one,  creates a domestic scene. I have seen single women who are trying to eliminate housework completely, so that their accessories and house items are down to the barest minimum, just so they will not have to clean them up. While I agree that too many things can take up too much time to look after, keeping too little just to avoid housework will make the home seem bleak and cold.

Q: What can I do to be more feminine while away from home at work?

A Softer Appearance
 The first and easier thing you can change is your appearance. Where others are looking harsh with their updated hairstyles and edgy-looking clothing and shoes, you can look for something a little more feminine. That does not mean you have to actually get something at an antique store to wear; just opt for the ruffle or embroidered blouse, pretty buttons, longer skirts and pretty shoes, instead of the masculine look that so many women are sporting today.

Modesty Yet Femininity
 There are many more choices out there than denim, black and brown or gray.Always dress modestly; no cleavage, no tight pants or short skirts, no revealing tops with straps showing, or any garment that looks like underwear).Find clothing that is more feminine than the common denim, black and gray that is so often touted as working wear, which is designed to match the grayness of the offices and buildings that women work in.

It will not be difficult to make your hairstyle and makeup and jewelry more soft, sweet, innocent and pretty. There are ways of making hairstyles soft and feminine instead of hard and boyish and edgy. In general, the innocent look will also make you feel younger, and in turn, give you more energy.

Cultivate Softeness in Your Personality and Physical Appearance
Another thing you can do, which will take more thought and time, is improve the softness of your face and eyes. If you are used to giving harsh, critical glances and are constantly business-like and methodical, trying to manage others and bossing people around, you will have to develop a habit of responding with softness.
If you have a troubled complexion, with blemishes, try applying tea-tree oil mixed with lanolin to the affected areas of your skin, or find some thing that is affective.

Develop An Agreeable and Approachable Personality
To illustrate this, I will relate an experience of my friend, who rented a little cottage by the sea in a cold, northern town. Although she was well over the age of 40 and was not  married, she found that after learning a few of these tips, she was able to get along much better with people, rest better, and be more happy and content when she was home.

 While other single women in the area were being very pushy and harsh with people, she decided to be kind and loving, smiling tenderly and warmly at everyone she met.  She replaced sharp orders and snappy replies with words like, "Thank you for reminding me, " and instead of saying, "I already know that. Do you think I am stupid?" she replied,  "I know you are right about that." Complimenting others became easy for her and people responded to her in easy manner.  She rooted out every harsh answer and critical remark in her personality by repeating kind responses. She was especially careful to be kind to anyone who had helped her in any way and to always express appreciation for any small gesture of kindness from others.

Spend Spare Time in Domestic Pursuits
On weekends, while her peers were partying, she was taking care of her home and attending worship. Others knew that they could always find her there and found some comfort in her habits.  As her friends faces became more tired and worn from the cares of this world, she seemed to get only younger, more feminine and happier. 

Project Happiness on to Others
One day someone asked one of the single men in the village why he enjoyed being around this woman and why he paid more attention to her than to the other women that vied for his attention. Though she was not seeking attention she was receiving a lot of kindness in response to the way she treated others. Though she was not attractive in the popular sense, this man thought she was beautiful.

"She wears long skirts, which is a lot more feminine than the jeans women are wearing today,  and her hairstyle is soft.She has soft skin and her eyes express kindness. She sends out warmth in her personality and her voice is sweet and melodic."

This woman was always modest and agreeable rather than snappy and disagreeable. Men and women were ready to help her in any thing she needed and instead of encountering resistance to her will and her personality, she found that people were glad to have her in their lives.  

Focus on Things That are Lovely
Your skin and eyes can be soft, as you focus more on things that are lovely. Hardness in the eyes can also be a result of critical thinking. As you get older, it gets easier to think on the negative side of things and to become jaded  and complaining. Think of homey, domestic scenes like your little flower garden and your plans to improve your home and make it beautiful.  Read things that enlighten you and bring bright happiness to your eyes.  Replace the tendency to grimace or frown by relaxing your face and thinking pleasant thoughts. Constantly correcting others can also be a disagreeable habit that you might not even notice you have acquired.

Do not Boss People Around, Even if you are a Manager
The voice is important if you want to be different than the world.  People do not like women who scream at them or order them around. Being pushy might get you somewhere for a time, but eventually people will avoid you. Be careful not to push, manipulate, or try to manage people. Refrain from snappy replies that put others at a disadvantage. Practice bringing out the best in people.

 For young people, there is a tendency sometimes in the home to boss the parents and be critical of them. This is certainly a habit that will cause the perpetrators to be more harsh with others, later on in life. Learn to show deference to others and to respond in kindness, because not only does it neutralize a heated situation and prevents a potential blow-up or argument, it softens your own personality and puts you more in control of yourself. The voice must also be guarded against crude expressions, popular slang and cursing. Especially remember to say "thank you" to anyone who does anything for you." Along with re-creating the voice, be sure to re-create the mind with goodness and sweetness. Even  if you are in a position to manage people, remember not to herd them like animals, but to appeal to them for help. Wives and mothers have known this for generations, and get better results and more love in return.

There are other things you might want to be aware of, such as the sound you make with your shoes when you walk, whether it sounds threatening and authoritative, or whether your movements are gentle; the way you turn your face to listen to someone, and the way you use your hands: your gestures have a lot to do with how you are received and how you will become more feminine both at home and in the public.  In homemaking, you must learn to be gentle with your hands, as things at home are not exactly industrial-strength, and must be treated with care. Especially avoid pushing or slapping with your hands, even if you are just hitting a table.

Practice Hospitality and Everything Else You Would Do if You were a Full Time Homemaker.
Use your home as an opportunity to show hospitality, and share the joy of your home.  When I stayed in a campground for several months, I made sure that before I left, I entertained each woman I met there, with a small tea party. Due to the limited space, only one at a time could be entertained, but I did not let the small place limit my ability to extend hospitality.

I'd Rather Be Home
It might be summed in one thought: Incorporate the way you would like to live as a full time homemaker, into whatever time you have at home and aim to make your home look and feel as though it is cared for by a full-time homemaker. Leave an unwritten message by the way you keep your home, that homemaking is your real priority.

I hope I have answered your questions, but if there is anything further you would like to ask, please leave a comment. Maybe there are others who would be able to give you some ideas about being more domestic while in the position you are in.

In activating all these tenets, use wisdom and discernment. It is also necessary to be firm yet gentle with those types of people who may bring harm to you and your family. Kindness is important and can prevent a lot of problems from others, but one must always be cautious about letting others "in the door" to controlling your life.

To find the titles of the paintings and the artists, right click and save to your files.They will save with the name on it.


Susan said...

This is a wonderful article, not just for single women, but really for anyone trying to improve themselves. I especially need to think about these things with the people I am closest to. I tend to treat them differently and that needs to change. They are the people that matter to me the most. I am also learning that there are so many little things that can be done to make a place homey. I am in a temporary rental right now and it has been a real challenge, but home is in the little things. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I have learned so many great things from your blog.

Lydia said...

I think harshness can become a bad habit in anyone. It robs women of their femininity. I have met many harsh, older women and it repels people rather than draws them closer.

Miss Betsy said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia, for addressing the questions of single women like myself. Your ideas and suggestions are practical and timeless. I am in my sixties, was never blessed with children, and my entire family has passed away. Reading your blog eases my loneliness and lifts my spirits.

Finding Joy said...

I would like to response to this lady's question about being more feminine at work - partly because I work too. I wear skirts to work everyday, they are often brightly coloured (red, pinks, blues, florals) and if I do wear a black skirt - I match it with a pretty top perhaps with a pretty scarf or necklace. I also like to wear brooches and pretty earrings. I vary my hairdo and try to make it look feminine. On my desk at work I have a pot plant, photos of my children and a few other bits and pieces that add prettiness, a nice poster is also a good idea if you are allowed. I take a meal from home to eat at work (its a lot cheaper than buying a lunch everyday). I also take a book to work to read at lunchtime, this gives me a break from work and something enjoyable to do.

We can't all be at home, but there are many things working women can do to create a lovely feminine environment and create a cosy home that is welcoming at the end of the day. With practice, this becomes second nature and not difficult at all. Working women can have lovely pretty homes too - there are many tricks of the trade that can be used to make it simple but lovely. I know, as I have been doing this for years.

sunnyskiesandsweettea said...

I really enjoyed this article. Everything you said is true. Especially about being jaded as you get older. I have to watch myself sometimes with this.

Amy Jo

Lydia said...


This is a fantastic post. For many years while I was single and had to make my own living, I practiced many of these methods; coming home from work or study to a welcoming home lifted the spirits. making the effort to cook a proper dinner both aided my health and was a very effective stress reliever, as was actually taking the time to set a place and enjoy the meal (in my case, with my favourite classical radio station playing in the background). I took up spinning and enjoyed this greatly - the craftsladies at spinning-guild were wonderful exemplars of kindness and hospitality, not to mention generous with help re the sorts of things you've listed. Also arranging the home with items that brightened it and gave it a gentle, welcoming mood e.g. furnishings, a silver teapot on display and ready for use, table=cloth on the table and bowl of fruit or flowers at its centre, neat, well-appointed kitchen all helped. Curtains, cushions, little nicknacks, a vase of flowers or nice indoor plants that give the home personality make all the difference.

My situation also permitted me time to cook for church pot-lucks, invite folk home for lunch after Church, and eventually, as my home was on the commute highway of many folk, people knew that if my door was open, they could drop in for a cup of tea along the way. A clean, welcoming home that is cheerful cannot be underestimated in its ability to lift the spirits, even if one only has a two-room apartment to work with. Dress was and is still important to me. With my work, we had corporate wardrobe; I chose modest attire that was neat and not revealing or too 'power-dressy'; we were lucky enough to have some beautiful skirts, dresses, blouses, nicer slacks and hair accessories as part of the uniform. Keeping clear of nasty office gossip and the mean side of corporate life is also essential; being cheerful, approachable and kind avoiding gossip and harshness went a long way towards setting the tone with others. This applies to those in a study environment also. Take the time to dress well, avoid the drab pants, 'student wear' immodest attire or 'unisex uniform' look. make the effort to wear a nice skirt and top or dress, accessorise to add colour and pleasantness that is gentle and uplifting to the onlooker.

There was a great little cookery book around in the mid '90's called 'cooking for one' (I think it was either a Murdock or Fairfax publication' that not only provided many fantastic recipes, but shopping lists and tips, portion sizes, nutritional information, left-overs recipes and recipes for entertaining. it also provided lovely setting suggestions and would be the perfect accompaniment to this article.

Lydia, this is the best post I have read on this subject on the net. You continue to inspire.


PS: Cultivation of these habits will set a good precedent if one's state in life changes and one marries. The homemaking, hospitality and comportment habits one cultivates while single carry over into married life.

Housewife59 said...

Thank you for this article. It is easy to read and full of ideas and wisdom. I would like to pick out one small point to mention. It is true that clothing that shows no cleavage is so feminine. I saw a lady today wearing a round-necked blouse. She stood out because it was so modest. In a strange way, it made her look beautiful - kind of gentle, and elegant. Women of today are not aware of the unattractiveness of putting everything on show. Whether politically correct or not, the truth is that they send the wrong and confusing message to men and it gives them a 'hard' 'aggressive appearance'

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post Lady Lydia. I have been in a kind of "funk" for the last 6 months as I've decided to forgo unhealthy things like makeup and hair color and junk food. Since I don't leave home much, I've degraded into being a very plain looking shabbily dressed middle aged woman. I so want to dress nicely but as money is always a strain and it's so hard to find anything in the stores..and Goodwill is hit and miss...I've been discouraged. My H doesn't seem to care one way or another and that's killed my motivation as well. But I do have some spark left in me and I'd really like to look and feel better. My surroundings too. I, too, know of many examples of many older women who are very unpleasant to look at and be around. It is so sad. I don't want to be that way. Thank you for your beautiful example and inspiring words.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia. This post is marvelous and answers many of my questions. It's great motivation! I especially like your thoughts on offering hospitality. I'll begin to put some of your ideas into action. Thank you again.

Antheia said...

Thank you, thank you so much. I have been reading your blog for seven years and and have always been encouraged. I am single, nearly thirty, and must work to support myself. I have been longing for a post such as this. I am content in my singleness, but not content with my job. I have such a longing to be a homemaker. Resentment has embittered my weekdays at work. Thank you for this uplifting teaching. God bless you.

Antheia said...

Thank you, thank you so much. I have been reading your blog for seven years and and have always been encouraged. I am single, nearly thirty, and must work to support myself. I have been longing for a post such as this. I am content in my singleness, but not content with my job. I have such a longing to be a homemaker. Resentment has embittered my weekdays at work. Thank you for this uplifting teaching. God bless you.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

Thank you for this encouraging post, full of good ideas. I'm a married (for nearly 39 years) full time homemaker, and found suggestions here on some things that I need to look at in my life, too.

Lydia said...

Hello Lydia,
I wanted to comment on this post, but I do not have any of the accounts required!

My comment is below:

Great post, Lydia! I would add that any working woman who wants to develop the spirit of a homemaker also consider bringing elements of homemaking to work with her. In other words, consider the workplace a "home away from home"! A potted plant or cross-stitch sampler to adorn her workspace; soothing music to listen to while working, if permitted, even via ipod if necessary! Bringing knitting or other needlework to refresh the mind during lunch or coffee breaks or even a set of notecards to write quick notes to send to others. Perhaps bringing home-baked treats to share with co-workers? Also, consider the car to be another "home away from home" and keep it clean, neat, and stocked with items that support or encourage you as you spend time behind the wheel, such as your favorite music cd's, mints, hand lotion with a refreshing scent, etc.Activities such as these could help the working woman maintain a homemaker's heart even while away at work.

Take care,

Lydia said...

I am glad you brought that up, because bringing the domestic things to work (sewing, etc) helps to get the home back into focus, even for others. I have heard of women who have worked themselves out of their jobs by getting so many orders for homemade things that they had to quit work so they could go home full time and make things ;-)

Susan said...

I'd like to add that I worked with a woman when I first started office work who took it upon herself to take care of the little office kitchen. She cleaned it and kept flowers on the tables, pretty paper plates and cups stocked, and baked treats for everyone. It was a job no one else wanted but she enjoyed it and now that I am older I understand why. Of course the ability to do this depends on your office but it's a nice way to practice home skills and benefits everyone you work with.

lynn m said...

the ladies' comments here and your teaching us with your post have both been very uplifting to my spirits. It was good of you to write for the single lady who must work away from her home. I am not of that catagory, but I once was and do understand the pull of home.
Lynn M

living from glory to glory said...

Hello, I wanted to tell you this article is excellent! My heart goes out to those women who have never had any training for homemaking. But it is wonderful that there is a hunger and a desire for these women who want their homes to be cozy and filled with what makes a home special. Even if a woman is in college or a missionary or single. It is a lovely art to create a home.
Blessings, Roxy

Michelle said...

Lovely post, thank you for your ever present and highly contagious uplifting positive spirit.
Many blessings x

Unknown said...

Lady Lidia,
This text was so wonderful, well writen and enchanting, I'm printing it entirely (with amazing artwork included!) and puting it into my "Be a lady" binder.

(from http://ruzicastapinkidusica.blogspot.com/)

Lyn said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
Thank you so much for your ministry. I know singleness is not your main focus so bless you for publishing this wonderfully encouraging article for us single ladies who also strive to demonstrate the qualities of the Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 women.