Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Coming back home

Courtney sent me the following question:

Since right out of highschool I have always worked full time. All I know is commuting, working, lunch, working, commuting, come home and make dinner, say hi to husband, crash, repeat. In a few days, my husband and I are moving to a place where his new job is. He landed an amazing position, and I will never have to work again. So I am wondering, since there are only so many dishes to do, and only so much laundry for 2 people, how do you fill the rest of the time up?? Am I going to be bored out of my mind? We wont have any family or friends around. How do you keep busy?

Dear Courtney,

Congratulations on coming home! What a privilege it is, to be able to dedicate all your time to your home, making it a cozy nest for you and your husband. As you will soon find out, home life is both rewarding and challenging, and not at all like we have been taught by those who would want us to believe there is nothing more boring than a simple day at home.

Even as a single woman, I developed great liking for the domestic life, and didn't feel inclined to move out at all. I enjoyed planning and completing different household projects, I learned to cook and bake, and my mother taught me the basics of knitting and crocheting. In addition, I lived in a busy place, I could hop over and see my friends anytime, and there was my grandmother who lived with us and needed lots of care and attention (mostly in the way of keeping company - I still try to visit Grandma at least once a week or two).

A lot changed when I got married; my husband and I moved to a very remote little place where we didn't know anyone. I was very excited about the prospect of my own home, but like you, I was a bit apprehensive - how is it going to work out, being home alone all day? Won't I feel lonely and depressed? Will I be able to use my time productively?

Far from being bored or having to "fill up my time", I can't stress enough just how important these first few months at home had been so far - as a new, inexperienced wife with a lot to learn, I'm so very thankful for this opportunity to be home before our first baby joins us. This allowed developing and practicing important home-management skills, which I'm sure would be much more difficult to learn if I only came home after the birth of our baby (something pretty much everyone around me - except my husband, of course - expected me to do). Even with only two people in the household, there's still plenty to do!

Being home full-time allows you to dedicate more time and thought to tasks you have previously rushed through. For example, I don't just hurriedly make our bed in the mornings - I take extra time to make it prettily arranged, fluffed up and inviting. I don't take a pile of washed laundry and shove our clothes into their drawers as quickly as possible - I take time to look for stains, tears, and missing or loose buttons; I have time to neatly fold, iron, and mend our clothes. Also, because my attention is dedicated to my home, I notice all the little-but-important things that need to be done in the realm of home improvement, and put them on my to-do list or ask for my husband's help with them (depends on whose skills are best suited for the task).

You will have time to cook wholesome, varied, healthy meals from scratch, and even invest in making side-dishes and home-made desserts and baked goodies - something that is extremely hard to do when working full-time. You will also have more time to plan your meals and compile your shopping list accordingly, which will save you a lot of time and effort (and possibly some money as well).

Since it's only you and your husband, you will also have time to do all the lovely "extras" which often have to be put aside, at least for a while, if you have little ones - such as home decoration; putting up pretty curtains, centerpieces, cushions, paintings, and other items which will make your home lovely; gardening, if you have a garden, or growing potted plants; half-forgotten but very rewarding domestic arts such as canning, preserving and jam-making. If you're on the crafty side, or have always wanted to learn how to sew, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, paint watercolors, make soap or candles, or some or all of the above, now is the time. You will also have time for creative self-development in the form of writing, music, or learning a foreign language, if you are inclined to do that.

It's important to establish a healthy, efficient (though not too rigid or demanding) routine, which will enable you to use your time productively. After working outside the home and being confined to someone else's schedule, it's often difficult to practice self-discipline, and only too easy to lounge around and eventually feel frustrated with boredom. Your routine will vary according to your needs, and your husband's needs - what suits someone else won't necessarily suit you. Some ladies find home-management notebooks or journals very helpful; I have an outline of long-term projects in mine, but my daily routine is usually very simple. First, I complete my morning tasks (such as putting our bedroom in order, doing dishes, laundry and/or grocery shopping), and then go on to whatever project I planned for the day.

Very importantly, you will have time to relax and unwind before your husband comes home - and what man doesn't love to be welcomed by a cheerful, rested wife? I call my husband during the day to know when he plans to come home, and about an hour before his estimated homecoming, I take a shower, put on clean, neat clothes, and curl up with a good book or some crocheting until he arrives. If your husband likes to eat dinner right after he comes home, you can have the table nicely set for the two of you before he arrives, with pretty dishes, candles and a centerpiece.

Good luck to you, and may your coming home be rewarding and inspiring for both you and your husband!


Seraphim said...

Excellent advice as always, Mrs T.

An enjoyable read, too :)

Joanna J. said...

This is a beautiful post, Mrs. T. After managing a career and family for the first 10 years of our marriage, I am now able to stay at home with our young daughter. What a privledge and joy it is to know that I can devote my time and energy solely to making a peaceful home for my family. I have time to pursue my interests of sewing and cooking. I have the joy of spending every minute with our precious daughter. I have time for more reading and studying of the Bible.

I was quite successful at my former career, but I don't miss it at all! My home career is so much more rewarding!

Jessica said...

What a beautiful picture of home making!

Tracy said...

I'm loving all of the advice you've been giving regarding "home". You're right on the money!

Anonymous said...

Volunteering at a church or community center is a good way to meet people with out getting pulled away from all things domestic.

Anonymous said...

As you don't work, I find it interesting that you seem to know what working women can and cannot do. My husbandd or I make dinner nearly every night. It takes planning and I may make several things in one day and freeze them. My crockpot is also a blessing. I daresay I'm a better cook than my friend who stays home full-time!

Ewokgirl said...

I've been a SAHW (no kids) for over 9 years. I'm never bored. I've found that I like having the time to really do things. Not having to make quickie meals, not having to rush to run errands, taking the time to learn new skills. I've never had a problem finding things to do to fill my time. They're not always housework related, which is just great. I read, write, craft, make gifts, etc.

It also allows me to be more involved with our church's youth group. I can handle tasks that other people don't have the time to do. And I really cherish the times in summer when I just get to hang out with the youth while they're on summer break.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon: bear in mind that I've only been married 8 months. Before that, I tried it all, pretty much - at different periods I worked full-time, part-time, and from home, and also went to university.

That's why, while I certainly don't claim to know what all working women can or cannot do, I know what *I*, as a woman working outside the home, could do. My humble perspective is based on personal experience, and if things are different for you, well, then they are different for you.

Anonymous said...

I think the advice about developing a routine early on is 'right on the money'. As time goes by, I'm sure that different avocations will emerge, but the self-discipline to devote the right amount of time to those new activities without neglecting those tasks that you and your husband have come to depend on accomplishing in the day, will be fulfilling in and of itself. Make the most of the time in objective self-discovery as well. Far too often I've seen the craziness that self-indulgence promotes.

Civilla said...

I worked for several years, and then felt that I should stay at home. It took some time to learn to stay home. I had no children at that time. I had to cultivate learning to be happy at home, but it was worth it. I like to "get out" by blogging on the internet (a new skill for me). I keep up with friends on the phone. I read a lot, and craft. I have a large yard, and do yard work. I do the things I didn't have time to do when I worked. There is time to "thrift" and save money. I cook better meals and my house is cleaner. I also did some in-depth Bible study. I teach a ladies' class at my church. You will find things to do. I used to get bored at work, too. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

Great post as always! Just would like to point out a little somethin'.. remember a long while ago you said something about this comment section being a discussion board of women of like minds? I do not intend to point fingers here or tell you what you should or should not do, but I do find the flamatory comment (such as one above from the Anonymous that judged you of knowing what working women can and can't do) to be quite unsuitable for this board.

I understand that there will always be people who disagree but if your intention for this blog is for women with like minds to come together and share opinions in a graceful manner then I think the comment from Anon. above would be better off disapproved. However if you intend to create some discussion with people of differing opinions even when they can't express themselves gracefully then perhaps you can enlighten me?

I do apologize if this comment comes across to be a little harsh, and I truly don't expect you to approve of it, I just would like to state a bit of my two cents in regard to disrespectful comment(s).

Thank you!


Anonymous said...

I don't get bored at home. I have 2 small children, so there is always one thng ever the other to be done. By the end of the day I am so tired.

Mrs. Anna T said...


I wondered about whether to publish that comment myself. Eventually I decided to do so, just to clarify I *don't* claim to know what works for every woman.

Then again, maybe I've become a little jaded about disrespectful comments in general. Every day, I have to reject comments that are so inflammatory and openly rude, that anon here seems very polite indeed...

Anonymous said...

This is a very beautiful post. You really have the gift of putting the things we all feel in just the right words! I've been following your blog regularly for a while now, and I really enjoy reading it. I gather you must be a couple of years younger than I am, but your posts are always so mature and, well, edifying! The things you write about are things I've also been thinking about lately, and you've given me quite a few invaluable insights and made me reconsider my life. I'm looking forward to reading more from you! With the best wishes,

elena rulli said...

My mother, after 30 years of work outside and at home, can finally stay at home and really enjoy it, and she usually says that she was never happier than now. Since I work from home as a freelance translator we can enjoy our days together in harmony; not that I ever felt her missing in my life - she has always been a great mom - but this time now is special. That was only to share my experience with a working mother and to say that I'm still learning that home can be a wonderful place if family is solid, united and loving.

MarkyMark said...


This is very wise what you did; you made the transition to home life in stages rather than all at once. Before the baby arrives, you have had the time to figure out what needs to be done, when, how, etc.; you have time to work out the kinks that'll arise. Then, when the baby arrives, the changes that come along with that won't be so stressful for you. I can't imagine how any woman would go home after the baby's arrival, then have to figure out EVERYTHING all at once...


Chief Cook and Bottle Washer said...

Your advice is wonderful, Anna.

When I was a young woman, I had no idea that I was preparing to be a wife and a mother to 8 dear children and as a feminist, I didn't give a glancing thought to the domestic arts.

LOL, I think I had 4 children before I finally figured out that I was in this homemaking business for a long time! Consequently, I've always felt I was learning to run my home on the fly. How I wish that I had used my relatively freer time to learn how to run my home so much better.

Today, I wish I had learned to organize and schedule my time efficiently, to sew our clothing and to garden well. I wish I had been a better student when I was in school. I wish I had studied history, math, geography and science so much more seriously than I did, both for my own edification and to have made it easier to teach my children.

I would never have been bored! If I had been bored, I would have taken a nap knowing that once I had my children around me, naps would be a scarce commodity!