Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just being home

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned how important is the simple presence of the homekeeper in her home. Allow me to clarify and tell that at no point I meant a woman is supposed to spent all her days shut between four walls. Far from it! A healthy amount of exercise, fresh air and sunshine is important for one's physical and emotional well-being, and in that sense, a homemaker is usually better off than the typical office worker.

Hanging the laundry outside, puttering around the garden, walking to the grocery store, to the post office, or to visit with a neighbour all count as exercise in my book. We can organize our day so that when we need to go out, we do that during the most pleasant part of the day, whichever that is for you. And even if there's no specific reason for you to get out of the house, a daily walk outside is highly recommended. If you have little one(s) that are too young to be out on their own, I imagine you will be even more motivated to spend time outside - which is all fine and well.

What I'm warning against is getting caught up in countless distracting activities that would, when combined, eventually take our focus off the home. This includes excessive social commitments - don't get me wrong; volunteering, taking classes and being part of different committees can add a lot of interest to your life and you shouldn't give it up if it's important to you, but keep in mind it can really steal a large chunk of your time if you aren't careful. Visiting, or going out with friends is another example of something that is excellent in moderation but can become a huge drain on your time, especially if your friends believe you have all day, every day to yourself. Then there's shopping, shopping, shopping - never being able to pass on a deal that's just too good to miss.

Of course, there are many distractions at home as well - the phone, the TV, books and magazines, and the internet. But spending much of your time outside the home every day can make you especially frazzled and exhausted. Eventually you might feel just like a woman who works outside the home full-time.

While you are out, work piles up. Dishes, surfaces and floors generally don't wash themselves, and laundry doesn't fold itself either. When you come back home, tired, you are overwhelmed at how much work needs to be done, and how little time you have left. Even worse, when a woman spends a lot of time outside the home on a regular basis, it's easy to lose that special connection to home that helps everything run smoothly. No matter how many lists you compile, you start to overlook things, because your attention is so divided.

Long-term household projects tend to be put on hold, too. Your back yard isn't a "representative" area such as your living room, so it can be left messy. Windows stay unwashed, storage areas unorganized, and drawers cluttered. The longer this goes on, the more difficult it is to roll up your sleeves and get something done.

And of course, there's no time left to do those supposedly non-essential, yet so special and homey things that add a comforting touch for the entire family. What about the delicious scent of freshly baked cookies, or a cozy hour under a blanket with your latest knitting project? Or unhurried reading to the children, or a nap to help you become refreshed before your husband comes home?

A welcoming, cozy home is important for bringing the family together. A good home is a center of relaxation, comfort, support, refreshment and fun. It doesn't mean everything needs to be perfectly clean; it doesn't mean you must serve five-course dinner every night, or sew every item you and your children wear. It simply means our focus should be drawn inside.

It's still raining here, and I'm having another lovely, relaxed day, filled with doing but also with comfort. Laundry was taken off the line and brought home, right before it really started pouring. I just enjoyed a pot of hot soup, and a cup of freshly brewed tea with home-baked peanut butter cookies. My plans for this afternoon include some more baking and learning how to use my new sewing machine.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another good post. I really enjoyed getting aquainted with my sewing maching this year. I am a novice sewer (I can't even bring myself to write seamstress - way too advanced). All but one project dealt with baby stuff - caps sheets, slings, etc. EconomicalBaby.blogspot.com is a fabulous resource, including free patterns. I used her pattern for caps (I made over a dozen for myself and friends - I like to have a fresh cap for the baby each day). She's moving over to http://walterandveronica.wordpress.com/ soon though. The only thing is that her current blog site tends to choke my computer, no matter who's I'm using. But it's worth the hassle. By the way, I thought of a great bonus of your head wraps - protecting your hair from baby fingers. I've lost little fistfulls from the left side of my head! Ouch! - L

KTHunter said...

Ah, the soup, tea and cookies sound just lovely. And a new sewing machine! That's wonderful! I wish you Many Happy Stitches!

Mrs. Anna T said...

L, I don't cover my hair at home, but I do keep it pulled back. :o)

Anonymous said...

Good luck trying out your machine, Anna. I think a sewing machine is a good & thrifty tool to own....so much you can do with one, & even if all you did is mend clothing, I think it pays for itself over time!

Today is a day of being out & about for me. Tomorrow I'm likely to be home more, & the weather promises to be better than the past couple days, so perhaps I'll be able to hang out a load of laundry.

blessings,
Brenda

Kelly said...

Well said Anna, good luck with the new sewing machine. Once you learn how to do just basic sewing with it you can make so many things.

Trinity Mommy said...

Thank you for writing this! I NEEDED to read it, so often I get caught up with "everything else" This was very encouraging and convicting!

Tiffany said...

I am a new reader to your blog and I have been so blessed by your posts.

I think it's so important to be able to make your home your focus. Like you said, it doesn't mean cutting everything else out of your life. Just make sure that your priority (your husband/home) isn't suffering from all the "good" things you do.

Tiffany

Anonymous said...

Just know that things are going to change with a new baby. I was excited at the idea of 4 months off of work to care for my baby. And that's all I do. Unless I want to make dinner with a baby screaming I wait until my husband comes home before starting dinner. And cleaning tends to happen on the weekends when he is home to help watch her.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon,

I realize, of course, that things are going to change with a little one around. That's why right now, I do a lot of long-term projects (such as organizing our storage shed), because I know that in the first months after the baby is born I'll probably be able to do nothing but the basics.

However, just like things won't be the same with a new baby, babies don't stay babies forever... seasons change. Within a few months, most babies will begin to have more regular sleeping/eating/activity patterns, and their Moms can get more done around the house.

Bethany Hudson said...

Can early pregnancy count as a distraction? My housework has gone to seed these past couple months!
~Bethany

Mrs Bonnie K said...

Thank you for this post, I lately have made the decision that I will not serve others unless I have served those at home first. Even though my heart is drawn towards many ministries at our church If the house is not clean and dinner is not cooked then I just say no, as hard as that may be I know that I must put my husband and children first.

Rose said...

Anna, you've graduated to a sewing machine, well done! Please write a post about how you prepared for the transition from practicing hand sewing to being ready for the machine.

Your-fellow-slow-to-come-to-sewing-pal
Rose

Angela said...

I was just discussing the need to be home more with a friend of mine today. I seem to have overcommitted myself lately and things have been suffering slightly here at home. I just began reading your blog. Congratulations on your little one.

Mrs. B said...

Thank you for your thoughts!
It's so funny, your site was on my mind just a moment ago. I was thinking, "Regardless of today's post, I just need to thank Mrs. Anna for her gentle reminders of what is truly most important about keeping home." I won't bore you with the personal details of what was leading me to say this, but I was amazed to read through your message and feel convicted on several points! (That's a good thing :-)).
As a result of some of the distractions you list, I have managed to get so far off-track! I do have a lot of sewing to do (I love seeing my little girls in the dresses I make for them, and they guys all want cozy pajama bottoms). I had been making my way through Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts. I've also got a lot of holiday knitting to finish as well. Besides that, the weather is becoming cool outside, lovely enough to spend a few hours in the park or at the zoo. You have inspired me to get back on track! Thank you, once again!
Mrs. B

Mrs. Anna T said...

Rose,

I see this more like a combination of hand sewing and machine sewing... I still do much by hand (such as mending). At my Mom's, I practiced a bit on an ancient foot-driven sewing machine, until it went out of order for a while. This one works on electricity so that's an adjustment. Anyway I spent a couple of hours tinkering with it, and haven't quite figured it out yet. For now my goal would be just to practice various stitches and do a couple of very simple projects. Anyway I do love hand sewing too, for its slow nature. I believe it's wonderful for small projects.

Anonymous said...

You are so right on this concept and it only becomes more so the more children that you have. However, there have been times in the past when I have fooled myself into thinking that I was just itching to get out in order to feel refreshed. The truth was that because I hadn't been diligent with my housework, my home wasn't a very nice place to spend time in. It depressed me and I wanted to get out and be in a nice clean pleasing environment and just leave my mess behind. But I found that spending more time indulgently only made the state of my home worse and it turned into a vicious cycle. Now I know that in order to feel refreshed it is best to keep an orderly home.

If I feel the need for a different kind of human interaction, it is better to invite others over for a visit than to leave my home to go to theirs. I live in a cold climate, and the simple act of suiting the children up to go out, brushing off the car from frost and snow, giving it time to warm up, etc is such a drain on one's energy (especially if you're expecting). So we do go out more often in the summer, but even in those months I am longing for Fall and the return to a focus on home.

I think there is a lot of pressure out there for women -even stay at home moms -to be very active outside the home. Our local homeschool group has enough activities going on to make your head spin and I have several friends running around like crazy to get to everything. As for us, we haven't signed up for one thing yet. Between Dr and Dentist appt's, church and shopping, we are still out more than I would like! The gift of a peaceful momma is greater than any outside activity my children could do. They are still very young yet, and when some are older I will make room for more outside activity for them, but even then we will make our choices carefully and selectively.

Great post,
Beth

Mrs. Jacqueline said...

Hi there! I wanted to share a wonderfull blog that I found today, Simple Mom (http://simplemom.net/). She has some great ideas about home management :)

Viv said...

Another lovely post. I so love the days when I spend them at home. We do playcentre 2 days a week and I have to say I really cherish the ones spent at home.

How did you become so wise? I really love your blog:-)

Good luck with the sewing machine, I feel like mine is almost an extension of my arms sometimes. A day for me has a bit of sewing in it.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything you don't like about being a homemaker?

I suppose you will think I'm a horrible person as I'm on leave from my job for 4 months and I hate it. I'm bored being in the house all day, I miss the interaction with others and getting out of the house.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon,

I don't think you are a horrible person, because I know how difficult it is to make the transition of being mostly outside the home, to being mostly at home. Today, women aren't trained how to make the most of their time at home, or to be productive at home.

As for whether there's *anything* I don't like about my job as keeper of my home, why, it's not all a bed of roses and isn't supposed to be. :o) After all, what job is?? If I asked, "is there anything you dislike about being a secretary/doctor/college student?", I'm sure I would get more than a few words in response! But overall, I do like and appreciate this job more than any other job I ever held.

Miss Emily said...

Maybe this is the wrong blog to say this, but can't everyone's husbands help them out? It's unkind and disrespectful for him to not even lift a finger when he gets home from work. You both work in one way ro another all day, so evening chores and things like folding laundry and cleaning up the kitchen can easily be shared. I'm proud to say that my father offered to cook often (my mom hated cooking, did it because she had to, but when Dad realized how much she hated it he took over most of that duty), he always helped clean, and he even started doing some of his own laundry. It's all about balance. If you want to do all of that work, then that's OK. I'd just hate to think that people do it because they think they have to.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

Thank you for the lovely post.

I wanted to thank Beth, who wrote about wanting to leave the house when it was not welcoming, but telling yourself that it's because you are just "itching to get out." I think this can develop into a habit, most definitely! Thanks for that astute observation.

But a pleasant home is my very favorite place to be.