Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Days at home

A comment I received:

"This past week I have been home recovering from surgery; and truthfully, I thought I was going to go insane from being stuck at home this entire time. I was overjoyed to finally get out of the house and return to work tonight!

I do not know how women can find the sanity to stay at home all day but more power to you. I, for one, could not. If after just 4 days I am ready to bang my head against a wall, I can only imagine what doing that every day would do to me."

I certainly understand you; I would also go crazy after a few days without any fresh air and exercise. While I probably spend much more time at home than someone who works outside the home, being inside for days without seeing sunshine is an almost foolproof recipe for depression and frustration. However, I don't think that the only way not to be always stuck at home is to work full-time outside the home.

I doubt that in the past, women were locked up in their homes. Many more people than today lived in the country, and had large gardens that needed to be tended to. Many raised animals. Even in the city, having a house with a garden was much more common than today. Women weren't stuck in a tiny cubicle that is the typical modern apartment. I think that for at least a couple of hours a day, they were out there, pruning the rose bushes or feeding the chickens.

For me, today's morning included hanging the laundry in my back yard, working in the garden, and taking a slow walk to the grocery store and back with my baby. Of course, I'm blessed to live in a beautiful place with lovely scenery and fresh air, which calls for the enjoyment of being out of doors. We belong to a community which encourages spontaneous neighbourly visits. In crowded, polluted cities where people don't know their neighbours, the most common diversion might indeed be going to work and back, and friends are only found at work.

By the way, many employees, like my husband, hardly see the light of day because they work such long hours in polluted urban surroundings. I think that overall, I spend more time out of doors than my husband.

I understand that not all modern homemakers can live in remote rural places with small, close-knit communities. Not everyone can have a garden, however small. But there are always things one can do in order not to feel bored or isolated. Getting to know one's neighbours is a tradition that can and should be restored. Little things like a short trip to the library with your children can provide a pleasant and valuable break that will prevent the feeling of being cooped up.

We all need outlets - friendships, hobbies, activities. It helps to keep us sane. For some people, working outside the home becomes an "outlet" - usually for women, men normally look at their job as the means to earn money. My husband says that, if finances allowed, he would gladly stay home and dedicate most of his time to growing plants or home improvements.

To sum it up, there are more than just two options: either being stuck at home all day long, or working outside the home during most hours of the day. Valuable out of doors time for oursevles and our children includes a multitude of opportunities for learning, exercise, and fellowship.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
I absolutely agree with ‘Everything’ you said.
In the earlier stages of my marriage when all my children were younger I resented the fact that my Husband was able to leave the house and go off and have a good day at work. Have adult conversation. Come home to Tea on the table, a clean house, kids nearly ready for bed then just sit back and rest for the rest of the evening while I carried on working.
'24/7 Ladies.'
It was that resentment that nearly broke my marriage apart and it was that resentment that actually made me understand that my Husbands job is actually very stressful and difficult. Once I realised I started to enjoy my job and I got to see that my job is the best job in the world. Yes it’s stressful, but I wouldn’t trade it for any job offer in the world.

Julie

Gothelittle Rose said...

Of all the things you could compare being permanently at home with, being stuck recovering from surgery is one of the worst! That would drive ME crazy!

I have been both a working woman and a stay-at-home. When you're a working woman, times spent at home, whether for vacation or illness, are not like times spent at home when you are the stay-at-home. You know that once you get into an actual home routine, you'll be going back. You know you can't start any large projects because they'll be abandoned once you return to work. What's left? A much longer version of what your husband gets when he goes home from work each day... hours of having not much to do.

This is written in an attempt to be truthful, not a criticism or put down. Working women, you really don't know what it is truly like for a full-time homemaker from day to day until you not only go home permanently, but really invest yourself in your homemaking and make it your primary vocation. A few days spent recovering from surgery is nowhere near a fair comparison. :)

Persuaded said...

anna, my dear, you are so very kind and gracious. i just wanted to tell you that♥

Beth M. said...

I love being a stay-at-home mom, but being "stuck at home" while recovering from surgery for a week would drive me nuts too! That's a very different scenario from being at home while healthy and active.

I've heard other women express this viewpoint ("being stuck at home all the time would drive me nuts") before, and I think a lot of it has to do with your approach and expectations. If you spend all your time at home sitting on the couch watching TV or otherwise engaged in non-productive activities, you probably will go crazy.

Most of us need to feel in some way productive in order to be happy and content with our lives. For someone like your commenter, who probably sees working outside the home as the only way to be productive, that means being stuck at home is a miserable experience. Even occasional trips to the store, library, or a neighbor's house won't relieve the discontent that results from feeling unproductive.

Others of us have found worth and value in the things we do as wives and mothers at home - caring for children, cleaning, laundry, cooking, sewing, etc. In order to be content staying at home, your commenter would need to learn to see value in these things and manage her time in a productive manner.

Thuis en onderweg said...

Yes, being 'at home' and using your time wisely can be learned.

If you were used to going to school or work everyday and having somebody else either plan your day or direct your day (e.g. appointments with clients you made), you might need to learn a how to decide for yourself and how to plan for the goals of your family instead of your company.

Having your own company (as I previously had), going to school (we married during college and decided to have children right away, so I have done that as well) or working for a boss, gives you a routine for your day. Once you are on your own, you'll have to establish your own routine, geared to the needs of your family.

This might take time and it might be necessary to stop self-pity, but over time you will learn a whole new way of living.

I, personally, after having experienced the other options as well (for an extended length of time), would not want to trade the freedom I have now and the value my work has now that I am working in my family and for our family goals, I do not want to trade this for no matter how large a paycheck and the accompanying loss of freedom.

I still have a lot to learn, but I have never in my life (except when I was very young and not yet attending school) felt that my time is used well and my worth is no longer determined by the opinion of a teacher, boss or client, but solely by the Lord, my husband and my child.

EJS

Ways of Zion said...

What a wonderful and thoughtful post! Living in an area of the world where it is covered with snow and bitter freezing temp for at least 4-5 mths of the year, I have felt "cabin fever" but now that it is Spring, one can spend (indeed has to spend) so much time in the gardens preparing it for the family planting.

Thanks Again!

Mrs. Rabe said...

The thing I value about being home is that I set my own schedule...I am never bored, there is not enough time in the day to be bored! I teach my children, we do things together, I sew, cook, blog....this summer we will have a garden, we have horses and dogs, church, friends, we practice hospitality...

Before I married and had children, I worked outside the home, and I was always on someone elses' schedule. I like to plan out my days and find what works for our family from day to day. I am able to be a help to my husband, to run errands for him etc...

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Anna,

May I agree with Diane that your responses are always so gracious?

I also agree with you that this idea is nuts: that there are only two options, to work outside the home or to stay cooped up indoors with wee ones and risk cabin fever. The notion shows bias because it's not even logical.

I am not surrounded by as much natural beauty as you are, but I take my little ones to the park a couple of times a week. Yesterday we met my sister-in-law and her 3 children at a lakeside park in the city for a late morning playtime and picnic lunch. Things I would rarely be able to enjoy if I was really stuck- stuck inside a 3 foot by 3 foot cubicle shuffling papers and staring at a computer screen all day.

Again, very good post, Anna.

Mrs. Mordecai said...

I think that being "stuck" at home is an attitude. Every once in awhile I feel that way, but than I realize just how much freedom I have by staying at home.

Bethany Hudson said...

I live in a suburban area with heavy traffic on the roads surrounding our condo complex, and where it is cold and wet for much of the year. Needless to say, when there is sun, we're in it! But, when there's not (which is often) we tend to stay inside, especially since my little darling refuses to keep a hat on her precious head!

That said, we have many ways to "escape" indoors. We call our out-of-town Grandmas (my mom & MIL) several times a week as well as Sophia's godmother, my best friend. We read books together. Books are an incredible outlet for the mind and, depending on what you're reading, can truly transport you and make you feel completely refreshed. We try to get together with friends. We also make sure we have lots to do. I break up our chores throughout the week with a rhythm so that we aren't working like dogs one day and then have nothing to do on another day. This sense of routine helps me to feel motivated, and I hardly ever feel bored and dejected (which you can sometimes feel after a day at work, anyway; it's not like it only happens at home!).

I used to be like your commenter. When I was home from school for more than 1 day I was miserable--because I didn't do ANYTHING! I just sat on my butt and watched movies, and I was too sick to even be comfortable. Now that I have chosen to be home and I am the caretaker of my home and family, there is so much to do most days that I am rarely bored. I love the freedom to do things my way, when I want. I love the freedom to live presently, not having to plan what I'll make for dinner while I'm trying to get work done on the job. I love being home.

One last thing: I really don't like the phrase we so often here (which your commenter used): how do we "stay sane" at home all day? I'm sorry, but home is not a place designed for mental neuroses. Many office cubicles could arguably be, but not home. Home is a sanctuary, it is a place to be fully ourselves, not some neurotic version of ourselves (not saying that work makes you neurotic--just that home doesn't). The most wonderful thing about homes is that they are by nature unique! If you feel like homelife is driving you crazy, then change your homelife! It's meant to help you grow and thrive, not shrivvel up and go nuts.

~Bethany

Cheryl (Copper's Wife) said...

Anna, you are wise beyond your years! This was an excellent response to the comment. We, as women, need to carefully hone our existing domestic skills. We need to branch out, from time to time, and try our hands at a new skill. I'm 52 years old and there are still plenty of domestic skills and arts that I want to learn. For example, this year I am hoping to make my first quilted table topper as well as a flannel patch quilt (using flannel left over from sewing projects) as my first forays into quilting. There is always something to do, some skill to refine and something new (intellectually or skillfully) to be learned.

Wonderful post!

Everybody's Mama said...

Very well said. Some very good comments as well! Thank you for handling this topic head-on in a gracious encouraging way!

The Author said...

It is terrible that people stereotype staying at home and all that. i have had to learn to deal with people assuming that because I am home-schooled and my life is centered around the home , that I am too sheltered and protected, and I don't know anything. I am glad that I have been able, with G-d's help, to prove them wrong. I am glad that my parents love me enough to protect and provide for me. "Home is the real world"

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Great points. I've often thought that one of the reasons some women have difficulty outside of the workforce is the lack of community that exists in so many neighborhoods -- especially for women with extroverted personalities who really thrive on interacting with others. Women in previous generations had much more daily interaction with other women since people tended to live near family and in close-knit, lifelong communities.

Even as an introvert, I've found it to be so important to seek out meaningful connections with other women, otherwise it's easy to feel lonely and isolated sometimes.

Anyway, thanks for another great post!

Tereza said...

So true and most people don't understand this until they take time to smell those roses so to speak....even if just on the weekends!

Allison said...

I live in NYC, have a garden and wonderful neighbors. Close-knit is where you find it, I suppose. Yesterday, two of the guys from upstairs brought down pumpkin cupcakes. I love my little urban box.

Anonymous said...

I admit I've had that "Stuck at home feeling",mostly in the winter time when it's too cold for the little ones to go outside much. In the spring and summer it's so easy to find pleasant outdoor activities. About a month ago I started feeling a little confined and a little grouchy. Then this one mom in my neighborhood suggested that we join a gym to help get us into shape. The plan was that we would work out early enough that our husbands and children would still be asleep until we returned. We have been working out together and encouraging eachother to eat healthier 4 or 5 mornings a week now for about a month and we've both lost a little weight. Also my attitude seems to be alot more positive lately because I get that time for myself early in the day. Some ladies I've heard wake up before their children in the morning to pray or read the Bible. Whatever you do, I believe a woman is better prepared to meet the needs of her family and is less apt to get grouchy if she takes just a little time each day for herself even if it's just a few minutes, it can make all the difference.
Holly

Lindy said...

Hi there....
I really enjoy your blog...very insightful and well written posts! I'm a nanny in Fairfield County, CT and always try to plan 'outings' for my 3 young charges. Just today we spent some time at the beach watching the 'cleaning truck' skim the sand and prepare for the Spring weather that is upon us! Later in the day I took all three to a nearby playground to enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise. While I prepared dinner, the kids played delightfully in the yard! As the saying goes, "Where there is a will, there is a way"...no matter where one lives or what the situation! Oh...and after work, I went for a nice walk myself before I settled in for the evening! 56 degrees today felt WONDERFUL!!

Anonymous said...

I am not one of those who feels cooped up at home on my days off. There are enough errands to run to keep me out and about. And I do think it's important that women who stay home full time carve out some 'adult' time - time with adults other than your husband. It can be a weekly cafe outing with girlfriends, or going to a poetry reading with a pal, or whatever....as one commentator noticed, we lack tight-knit communities these days, and we need to actively create them.

I don't like 'urban boxes' myself, particularly not the small non-descript apartments that fill Israel's major cities. No charm, no balcony, no sunshine. But the alternative - a house with yard in the burbs - is causing major urban sprawl and is a big environmental issue.
Tammy

The Gastronaut said...

In fairness to the commenter, it didn't come across to me that she was being intentionally critical of us ladies who stay at home...she seemed to be expressing amazement at how we do it. I'll take that as a compliment!

I do agree with many responses here, that four days recovering from surgery that are fitted into a life of working outside the home is nothing like living a life you've built around the home. That's how we don't go insane.

Raggedy Girl said...

I too am recovering from surgery.
I have to type left handed but I wanted to stop by and see what you are doing.

from Roberta Anne
The Raggedy Girl

Anonymous said...

I homeschool both of our daughters and we are home almost everyday....and we enjoy it!!

I remind myself everytime we get in the car it will cost us money...and we try to be as frugal as we can be...so don't get out much.

I really think it is a mind set....I would hate to have to go out everyday...I Love being at home!!

Renee

Anonymous said...

I think this post is correct that homemaking need not mean literally being "stuck" at home. It is not really fair to compare homemaking to being stuck during recovery from surgery.

When I was a child, my mother and I took long bike rides, went to the library, were involved in activities like Girl Scouts, and did all sorts of things.

But I also think plenty of women know themselves well enough to know that a lifetime of homemaking is not for them, even if it has pleasant aspects. For me, even if I won the Lottery tomorrow, I would feel obligated to work outside the home in some capacity or another. I will probably be working until the day I die!

-- Pendragon

cbracken said...

I wanted to stop here and say thank you for all your beautiful expressions of your heart and beliefs. I find such peace and joy being a wife and homemaker and stay-at-home mother and appreciate the chance for moments to share this joy with other women through many outlets, including this blog. I too love the freedom to work in the garden, visit the library, and set my own schedule with my children. God Bless you!

Front Porch Society said...

As The Gastronaut pointed out, I was not being critical but rather expressing amazement. Those of you who thought I had an attitude issue on the whole concept were very wrong.

I am not married. I have no children. And I have lived on my own since I graduated from highschool so very long ago!

One person wrote: "In order to be content staying at home, your commenter would need to learn to see value in these things and manage her time in a productive manner."

In response, I manage my time very wisely. I not only am a cop who works fulltime (the night shift), I have a part-time business that I own and have operated for well over 12 years, I am the Vice-Chair of a nonprofit organization, I train my dog and compete her in agility competitions, I workout 6 days a week, I home cook every single meal I eat, I clean my own place, I pay my own bills, and I still have plenty of time to go camping, hiking, fishing, reading, shopping, running errands, and spending time with friends (or whatever I feel like).

So, no, I do not have to work outside the home because I feel unproductive at home. Rather, I manage my time very wisely. And I choose to have a career. Just as many of you choose to stay at home.

I give to society every day by doing my part to keep the community safe so normal citizens can rest in peace at night. I face evil every day that I put on this uniform. Evil that most will never have to deal with and that is how it should be. And it gives me no greater pleasure than to be out there serving & protecting.

To me, my career is not just a job or some drudgery act I must perform every day. Rather, what I do is of value and of importance to me. And I love what I do!

Just as many of you love staying at home, I love being out there fighting crime and doing my part to protect & serve my community.

Staying at home is not for me. It is not what I, personally, was designed to do. And I am just fine with that. As previously stated in the beginning, I was not being critical of those who choose to stay at home. Because I have no desire to do so nor is it who I am, it just makes me wonder how women can do so. And that was all my comment on the previous post was about.

So I would greatly appreciate if all you stay at home women would be a bit kinder toward those of us women who choose to have a career and who choose not to stay at home fulltime. We are not bad, evil, liberal, feminists that many make us out to be. And we are not better because we have careers. And neither are you for choosing to stay at home. We are women, just like you. And we each have our own purpose in life - whether that be in a career or at home.

It is a personal choice. Plain and simple. And as I have said before, to each their own.

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

I couldn't read all the comments right now; that'll have to wait. That said, I wanted share my thoughts on this, especially about the sense of COMMUNITY that we used to have even in our biggest cities.

Back in the day, the ladies stayed home. When they weren't tending to home projects, they were keeping an eye on the neighborhood with all the other ladies. It's not a stretch to say that mothers and grandmothers ruled the neighborhoods. My now retired doctor told me this, since he grew up in Brooklyn 50-60 years ago.

He said that, if kids misbehaved, that whatever adults were present (i.e. whoever the nearby, neighborhood ladies were) would discipline the miscreant. Then, they'd call his parents, and he'd get it AGAIN when he got home! My doc said that, thanks to the ladies in the neighborhood, the kids didn't misbehave. So, Anna is right; ladies didn't just stay cooped up inside the house all day long. They got out and socialized with neighbors, hung laundry, tended gardens, and kept an eye on things in the neighborhoods. Sounds to me like their days were full, and that life was good for all concerned.

Finally, as a guy who works, I'm lucky if I get outside for a few minutes during break. The rest of the time I'm cooped up inside-yuck! I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that Anna gets outside more than I do...

MarkyMark

Ace said...

Anna, you always amaze me with your grace in your responses. I am not graceful...if I am it is because I am bitting my tongue..but I am learning :)

As someone who comes from a VERY similar background from your commenter and made the GIANT leap to stay at home Mom I understand where she is coming from and I do think she is simply AMAZED...kind of like someone who grew up in New York City would be amazed at visiting their cousins living in the Austrailian outback. It would be alien to them. It was to me.

It has been a HUGE journey from me, I was VERY, VERY like this woman...very similar in my work and pursuits. When you are doing those things and have no children you cannot fathom how it can be worth more than all the gold in the world to sit in a rocking chair in the golden afternoon light and watch your nursling sleep.

It is an alien world..but it called to me and I am so glad I came running.

Many Blessings :)
Ace

Anonymous said...

I wanted to pass on that I appreciate how thankful you are for your gift of time and circumstance as a mother. Being single, I work about 60 hours a week to support myself, and although I am thankful for my job and believe God directs each person's life, I can say that the gift of being "out of the world" and able to be with an innocent child is something truly wonderful. My own stay-at-home mother reminds me of this herself.

How ironic I find it too that as a teacher, I am surrounded by women who give up raising their own children to raise others.

Thank you for your thoughts.

Karen said...

Well, I've been both. But I definitely feel a LOT more free now than I ever did being stuck in an office all day staring at a computer screen. 15 minutes a day in which I could go outside and I thought - are u kidding me?? Me and the girls can spend the whole day outside if we want!

Buffy said...

I thought yours was a very wise response.

Anyone who fails to get some regular sunshine at some point of the day, whatever their occupation, will suffer for it physically and mentally. This is a proven fact. Sadly, with modern offices and apartments it's all too common.

Sarah said...

Dear Anna,

This might not be possible, but I was wondering if your husband might be interested in transitioning to a home-based business in carpentry/home improvement or farming/plant shop. I'm not sure it would be easy (I have no idea how to do it, actually!), or even possible, but if it worked, then he could stay home, too.

Again, I don't really know how feasible this would be for you both, especially with the new baby. It's more of a long-term vision, if you like.

Best wishes!