Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Homemaking – or housekeeping?

'OK, raising children is important. It's noble work. But surely you will agree that dusting, mopping floors and cleaning the toilet is nothing but irksome drudgery!'





I enjoy the simple, mundane works of homemaking. Really. Washing the floors, laundry (and especially ironing!), shopping, cooking and baking; and also organization, decoration, budgeting and cleaning tasks I have only once in a while, like polishing the silverware. I think the only job I really dislike is washing the dishes, but of course, it gets done too.

Now, I don't have any special secret. Like I recently said to one lovely lady in a comment thread, to properly enjoy homemaking, you need a vision. As in itself, a load of laundry is an awfully mundane and boring thing. But, when you think those sheets will be hanged out in the fresh air, and then will smell sweetly of grass and sun, and your loved ones will stretch out comfortably in their clean fresh beds after a long day - that's something to give you inspiration! And this, in my opinion, is what makes the difference between homemaking and housekeeping.

Needless to say, I don't look down upon women who have hired help to do cleaning jobs – if you can afford it, good for you! Some have health limitations; some have an especially busy season with lots of little ones, who demand their full attention. But still, I think there is something special in a task that is lovingly performed by diligent hands, for our dearest family. Maybe a professional cleaner could get her floors to be more shiny than mine. Maybe (no, certainly!) someone's cakes and cookies are more fancy than I can make. But while I can pay someone to do housekeeping jobs for me, I can't pay someone to make my house a home.

I remember not long ago, I was listening to the radio, and there was an interview with a woman who is quite well-known as a psychologist and author. She was talking about her challenges of balancing marriage, children, homemaking and a time-consuming, professional career. 'I felt torn apart,' – she said, - 'it was obvious that something had to be compromised: either family, home or work,' – I held my breath – 'so I decided to let the housework go. I hardly do anything around the house anymore, and well, it does feel a bit like a hotel room, but at least the important things in my life didn't suffer!'

We all make choices in life; we all have different priorities. In my eyes, making a house a home is a noble and important task.

Today, I spent quite a lot of time re-organizing our living room furniture, polishing it, and choosing the right decorations to go with each piece. Eventually, as I stepped back and observed my work – which, I assure you, is far from professional – I wondered what I would feel if I just walked in to find my living room perfectly organized. I guess it would be nice, in its own way – but I felt such a satisfaction, knowing I did everything with my own hands.

40 comments:

Candy said...

I love home making. My favorite things to do are: decorate, wash dishes by hand (with lavender dishsoap and a candle), laundry and ironing, washing windows, re arranging things, decorating for holidays..especially Christmas :) and cooking and garnishing the meals, planning menus, adding ribbons to just about everything ..like my hand soaps, cleaners, my treadmill haha, pretty much anything I can add a pretty touch to hee heee
Im not a fan of cleaning the inside of the oven ..but I still do it.
But honestly, being a homemaker is so much fun! I really love it!:)

Jenny said...

There is a quote I love... I've heard it attributed to a sign over Ruth Graham Bells kitchen sink... "Divine service is conducted here three times every day". I think, when you move into the mindset of your 'housework' being a way to glorify God (I always try and think... would I be willing to allow my Lord through the front door and to sit and visit?) it refrains from being a drugery, and something incredibly enjoyable. This has taken a while for me to learn, not being a naturally tidy person. Wait, that isn't correct. I am a tidy person, but I tend to be fanatical about it, so sometimes, if I feel it can't be "Better Homes and Gardens" perfect, I tend to go 'why bother?' and not do anything. It has taken time to realise how to get a home management binder in place (I will be forever grateful for coming across that idea) and relax my standards. I have 5 children!! My house can't always look like a magazine spread.

Mrs Slaq said...

I've enjoyed housekeeping a lot more since I started seeing it as an act of love and respect for my husband. That just took the unpleasantness right out of it! :)

Terry said...

You are so right, Anna. The difference between homemaking and housekeeping is indeed vision. Homemaking is motivated by the desire to love and serve our families. We can be just as passionate and focused about our work at home as we could about an outside vocation. It's unfortunate that our society has lost touch with the idea of home being more than just a place where we eat, sleep, amd change clothes. It is s much more. However, unless there is someone in the home who has had made home a priority, the whole family misses out on the wonderful haven that home can be.

Becky K said...

Anna, again what a perfect entry! I will be honest since I still work outside the home for now, when I get home the last thing I want to do is anything on the house. I am trying to make a very hard effort into homemaking and to accept the "divine" with it. My husband will gone this Saturday and that is what I hope to get done, at least have the house organized so I can start the decorating like I want it. Got any great ideas for getting everything done?

Anna S said...

Becky - have you ever tried FlyLady? It has helped me tremendously!

Mrs. Brigham said...

I have always enjoyed homemaking- even the gross tasks of cleaning the bathroom and the like. I regularly would arrive home from school happy to clean all three bathrooms at my parents' house. :P Many tasks help me relax and feel less stressed out when a day has been particularly rough. There is just something renewing about a squeaky clean floor (if only for a minute ;O)) and something baking in the oven.

Elizabeth said...

I have to admit, there are a number of household chores that I do NOT love, but my life as a homemaker is not ALL about doing the dishes and mopping the floors and cleaning the bathrooms. My life is about MAKING a home ... a haven and refuge from the world, where my family is comfortable and happy. NO ONE is comfortable in a house where the dishes need doing, the floor needs mopping and the bathroom needs cleaning. So those household chores are just small parts of a larger picture ... a larger picture that is more important than my feelings of boredom or distaste.

When I imagine a lifetime of these jobs in isolation, it's overwhelming ... when I look at a lifetime of these jobs in the light of creating a haven and a refuge for my parents and siblings (and one day - hopefully! - my husband and children) it's exciting! Dishes and floors and bathrooms are important bits of the larger picture, but there are other parts too ... using beautiful colours and soft fabrics and lovely ornaments and fresh flowers to create a
restful and lovely ... home.

Besides ... on a practical note, once I stop putting the jobs off, doing the dishes is satisfying, mopping the floor is fun ... and cleaning the bathrooms is DEFINITELY better than the alternative!

Tracy said...

I love cleaning my house myself. Actually, I make my children help. Sometimes, I'm busy with other things, and Autumn does most of it, but I never feel quite right unless I am the one to have done it. I don't feel guilty, etc., I just feel like I can relax in the room. There is certainly something about the satisfaction of doing things yourself.

Ashley said...

I agree with Terry that we can be just as passionate about homemaking as we can another vocation!

After 3.5+ years of marriage, I must say I enjoy the seasons of homemaking; there are seasons when there is lots to be done and then seasons of more relaxing, basic work. I am slowly moving into a more relaxing season, with the arrival of this next little one so close upon me! (5-ish weeks!)

I may not get as much done as before, but the tasks I fulfil for my family are all the more rewarding because I accomplish them!

I spent 2.5+ years in retail - there was only a pattern of hectic and more hectic. My theory is that the less you are paid, the more important it is that you are never idle!

Now I actually sleep, eat healthy food, and my stress level has plumeted. Compared to cleaning up dressing rooms and picking up endless boxes of shoes, teaching my son to put his shoes away (even if it takes a dozen reminders - he is only 18mo!) and doing the variety of tasks that make our home a haven - this is FUN.

But I do always ask my darling husband to clean the mircowave. :) He doesn't mind and that's one nasty I enjoy not having to do, lol! Whenever I clean the bathrooms, I always think to myself, 'at least I'm not cleaning the microwave'! Now isn't that silly? Hehehe!

Anonymous said...

My mother loved to clean. It was soothing to her. I remember her saying, in her little Scottish accent, "I think I'm descended from a looong line of scullery maids!"

I didn't inherit quite that same love of some housekeeping tasks. I have my favorites, & I have others that sometimes I'd just as soon skip! But I feel an overall enjoyment in keeping my home, tending to the larger as well as the smaller things, making changes to suit the seasons or needs of my family. These are not tasks that are unworthy of our attention.

I really like when you post on subjects like this, Anna. It puts the spotlight on the need for us, as women who claim to love our homes, to focus our efforts & attitude a little more on all the daily things that make living pleasant.

I saw a coffee mug once that read "A clean home is a sign of a sick mind." Ladies, don't believe it! We have a good & honorable calling in homemaking. Your family definitely benefits by your efforts!

Thank you, Anna,
Brenda

Michelle said...

How sad that the common thought is that a career is far more important than keeping the home. I was just thinking to myself yesterday how sad it is that the term "stay at home mom" even has to exsist. May be I'll blog about that next. Thank you for the inspiration!

Re4mdmom said...

I've never understood the "Housework is drudgery" argument. I mean, so what if it is? Somebody needs to do the work. Its often dirty and boring, but it needs to be done. Why not me?

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The God of the Universe washed dirty, stinky feet. And why? To show us how we are to be. Certainly, I can "lower myself" to clean toilets and floors (no pun intended).

I don't expect unbelievers to understand anything about the Christian life, so it really doesn't offend me when I hear statements like "housework is drudgery- you should have a real career". When I don't feel like doing the work, I try to remember Christ.

Anna S said...

Ashley,

I've just been thinking about you today, and of your littlest new blessing - how you both are well, and looking forward to more updates from you.

Brenda,

I also remember once seeing a mug saying, 'a clean home is a sign of a wasted day' - how sad isn't it, that making a haven at home isn't appreciated anymore?

Brenda said...

I need this reminder! I really do enjoy being busy at home. There is always something to do! And I am thankful that I am home now to do it!
I ran into a lady I know at the store yesterday. Her girls are grown and gone, her husband works and she doesn't need to. We were joking about how often we find ourselves at the store. She said, "Well what do I do all day? I clean the house." She said it like it was so boring. She is a good housekeeper and her home looks like a model home. But if I had that much time on my hands---to bless my husband and kids and grandkids!!!???? Oh my goodness I could think of hundreds of things to do!!!
But, I don't have that much time right now...I'm off to clean the bathroom!

Anna Naomi said...

I really enjoy homemaking as well! Sure, some days it seems hard and tiring and I don't feel like doing it, but I just have to remind myself of why I do it and get back on track.

My Dad finds it hard to believe that I really like cooking, cleaning, dishes etc. but I do. It's so fulfilling to have a clean house or good food!

Nicki said...

Our group of young mums at church had a discussion about this a couple of weeks ago. We were considering the verse in Proverbs 31 about managing our households well. Like many young mums I find it difficult to always keep on top of things and find housework a major distraction away from my three young children and husband. At times, the preoccupation with getting things cleaned, cooking and washing and ironing pull me away from the family, who must be my priority. Don't get me wrong, I do think my family would go mad if I failed to keep clean clothes in their wardrobes and food on the table, my trouble is that the task of homemaking can at times lead to distraction. So, I did feel somewhat liberated when we considered the Proverbs 31 woman who "managed" her home, would probably have seen her managing servants (cleaners) even family, appointing tasks for each of them.

In our house we can't afford to employ household help, and that's fine with me, but what I would like to cultivate is a sense of building our home together and if that means managing my three kids and husband to pitch in with a few chores I don't feel at all guilty now.

Thanks for a thoughtful post, and I do agree that making our homes is a noble and important task, one I'm fully committed to, God bless you as you seek to do this.

Anna S said...

Nicki - seasons change, and of course I know that once (God willing) I become a young mom, my floors won't always be squeaky clean and my cupboards perfectly organized; it's all a matter of attitude, of doing your best at this season of your life. Thanks for coming by!

Buffy said...

I think you provided a great way of looking at housework - or should I say 'home'work? I think most women (and men) dislike it because they just don't have time for it because they both have busy jobs.

AnneK said...

Your post made me smile for some reason. Maybe because I am probably like the one you heard on radio. God, husband, kids, career, housecleaning :D Our house is not always tidy, but it has a lived-in look and that's what we both like.

I do have a lady come in every two weeks or so and clean the house from top to bottom. Obviously, I don't let the dishes sit for 2 weeks waiting for her. And of course I do my own laundry. But I do not like vacuuming the whole house and wiping the kitchen floor. It makes me dizzy and tired lugging the heavy vacuum up and down. So every night, I vacuum just the kitchen and when Linda comes, she will wipe it squeaky clean and vacuum the whole house.

For us, it is money very well spent and Linda can accomplish MUCH BETTER in 4 hrs what would take me 12. My touch is there in the decorations and organization and we certainly do not know any difference between bathrooms cleaned by me or Linda. Well, actually we do, she does a better job!

Oh, and btw I don't think it's drudgery, but for us it is a ROI thing. The 3 hrs of free time I get everyday I can utilize helping hubby with his business/practicing my violin/doing an inductive bible study/gardening, or housecleaning. From my perspective housecleaning would be the one I give the last priority. Well, it helps that my husband thinks the same way.

PhDCow said...

As a working mother, I find that it's even more important to me that I make homemaking a priority. On Sundays, I bake fresh bread for the week's sandwiches and toast. I make cookies from scratch. I crochet blankets for my children. Even the undesirable chores are done with a minimal amount of complaining.

I've read a good portion of your blog over the past few days. While we have some ideological differences, you make a lot of sense.

Interestingly, my mother did not teach me anything about homemaking. Now that my mother is not part of my life, I find myself very close to my dad's mother, who regularly teaches and counsels me on keeping a happy home.

USAincognito said...

I wish I could say I enjoyed the mundane household cleaning chores like you do! ;) Even as a child I hated doing any of it. And still to this day, I prefer to pay someone to do it for me! Terrible, I know, but I really do hate cleaning! lol. At least I manage to do my own dishes and my own laundry, though. ;) The rest is up to my maid - and she is definitely a better cleaner than I am! lol. I do so enjoy conversing with her while she cleans and while I am busy paying bills or catching up on paperwork (which seems to never end around here!).
I am glad that you are able to find satisfaction and joy in doing household chores. I wish I could be more like you in that area, but alas, I am smart enough to know that that ain't happening! ;)

Ways of Zion said...

My husband said that he would rather a happy but messy house then a stressed out wife and a sparkling house. I think that there is a balance. There are toys all over the living room floor but it was vacumed yesterday. I clean the bathrooms each day, toilet training makes it very important!! Monday and Friday are laundry days. Thursday is sisters class, Tuesday is floor day and Wednesday is kitchen/dining room day. I'm not in control of everything but this way I can keep up with the house so that it is clean if not spotless, and we are all happy and cheerful and not stressed when hubby gets home.

Lily said...

This is one area where I had the most trouble adjusting to married domesticity. The reason? I was taught to focus on career and me, me, me. It was incongruous with homemaking and domestic life. I'm still not the best housekeeper, but I'm much better than I was, and can enjoy the pleasures of housekeeping chores.

Great post, Anna.

Karen said...

I do tend to think of it as a drudgery sometimes but you ladies are very inspiring!! I'm so glad to see blogs from women concerning homemaking that aren't all whining whining whining!! We are supposed to lift each other up and encourage each other, and while it's ok to make jokes once in a while about it...I've seen just too much snideness on this topic so this is really refreshing.

My hubby helps with the dishes - also my LEAST favorite chore - once in a while and when he does, oh my, he is my prince charming all over again!

Jordin said...

I love homemaking, too. I find the repetition comforting. For years, I've been at school--and the stress of having papers due, projects to work on, and meetings to attend is almost overwhelming. Being at home, I can set my own routine and work accordingly--knowing that my work is benefitting my family. Not only is it providing us a comfortable place to live, my work also keeps us healthier and even calmer! :)

Kelly said...

Great article again Anna, it is all in how you look at it. If you look at keeping a home as a loving service to God and your family it helps get you through the parts of it that you don't like.
This really comes into play once you have babies. Changing diapers is one of my most disliked things. I'm so eager right now for my daughter to start potty training. But then and even now I look at it as a loving way to care for my daughter who can't take care of herself.
Kelly

Allison said...

Incredibly encouraging post! I agree 100 percent! Thank you for the thoughts...

Wendy WaterBirde said...

Oh WOW do i agree Anna! A couple weeks ago someone had qouted an author who was saying a woman giving up housekeeping was not such a big deal becuase we had appliances making that not such a need anymore, but on the other hand motherhood (and only that really) could never be replaced. ~Totally~ missed the point that homemaking is more than only raising children, it is making a home period...home making.

And you said it so well, "I can't pay someone to make my house a home." Its true some of us have limits with the more physical side of that (myself included) so help may be important, but that still doesnt take away the domestic longing...or the deep meaning of home making : )

Peaceful Week,

Wendy

Autumn said...

If you tell yourself while ding all of your chores that you are working for the LORD, it helps a lot. I still don't exactly LOVE it though. I dislike dusting and cleaning bathrooms, but I enjoy sweeping floors and ironing. Ironing is the best.

Ron and Ginny said...

I can't say that I am always passionate about housework, but I do love my job of homemaking in general. And my WORST job is ironing. I don't know why, but I absolutely HATE it. :-(

PandaBean said...

"As in itself, a load of laundry is an awfully mundane and boring thing. But, when you think those sheets will be hanged out in the fresh air, and then will smell sweetly of grass and sun, and your loved ones will stretch out comfortably in their clean fresh beds after a long day - that's something to give you inspiration! And this, in my opinion, is what makes the difference between homemaking and housekeeping."

Wow, this was really inspiring! I ought to print it out and put it in my home management binder.

Kyla said...

I actually really like cleaning and I think that it is great for stress. I sometimes hire people to help me so that it does't control my life but even then I enjoy cleaning my kitchen really good every night before bed.

I think that housework is like any other job in our lives in that we can become so wrapped up in doing it right and perfect that we end up missing the really important little moments.

Mrs.B said...

What a lovely post Anna, thank you!--So inspiring!!

I recently went somewhere and when they found out I was a homemaker they mentioned how 'lucky' I am and how he'd love to be able to stay home all day and be a 'house-husband'. You know, like I don't do anything all day but have fun. I mentioned it to my husband (who by the way the day before out of the blue thanked me for always having his clothes clean.--His comment made me feel so good!) and he said that I should have mentioned all that I do in a day.

I know the guy who said that wasn't trying to be offensive but it saddened me that so many feel that unless you're in the world making money that you aren't really 'working'.

Blessings,
~Mrs.B

Kimber said...

Hi again Anna!

Women in the workplace who pay a hired worker to do their "drudge work" are not being honest abut their work out away from home. I doubt there is any job that doesn't have some aspect that also is drudgery. If someone says that their job is always exciting and never a bit tedious with certain monotonous aspects is not being honest. But why do they do it? They do it because they are being paid to do it. Just as their hired household helper is willing to come into their home to do the "drudge work" for them, but for a price. I look at the parts of housekeeping that have to be repeated as the "chorus" of my day. I have done it so often I don't have to think about it overly much and there is a calming quality to it. I take heart in those aspects of homemaking and mothering because God says that when we do anything to do it as unto the Lord. He knows there are monotonous and repetitive tasks for a home keeper, but he promises us blessing for doing it with a cheerful heart. Then, when I have finished the chorus of my day I can look forward to the more individual and special "verses" which are the tasks that bring me true happiness within the home. My joy is gardening or decorating, arranging flowers, doing crafts for our home. Combining these things with the typical repetitive tasks makes a beautiful song of home. Why would I ever want to have a song where I only would sing the verses and never the chorus? It is the repeated refrain that ties it all together in a memorable way. :)

Thank you for another lovely post!

Susie said...

Anna,
The picture you put with this post made me giggle. =)

Katy-Anne said...

This was a great post Anna! I have several things to do today. I bought some autumn decorations at the dollar store yesterday (only place we could afford to buy them) and I also chose some things that I will buy for winter when I get the money. So I will do something with those, and I will do some laundry and dishes. (Laundry being my favourite). I used to be under so much stress when I was in the workforce, and now I don't have that stress.

Bethanie said...

My favorite thing to do in the whole world is scrub my floors.

Mimi said...

Anna,
you are right about the feeling of accomplishment when you have re done a room yourself.. because it has that special "you" touch that no one else can quite accomplish...
sometimes during the course of our lives... for one reason or another we have someone else to come in and do the cleaning... but when we can give it our own special touch..we feel like it has our signature on it!!!

agodlyhomemaker said...

i think you hit the nail on the head- we homemakers need a vision for our homes! how beautiful!