What is the least respected job in America? Nope not the garbage man, not the secretary, not the tax collector. In my opinion it's the Housewife! Almost every depiction in modern media of the housewife is derogatory, demeaning, or just plain insulting. Housewives are seen as lazy, unmotivated, bad mothers, immature, and non-productive. Many commentators regularly say that a woman who chooses to be a homemaker is wasting her life or is too stupid to make it in a regular job.
As a homemaker of 16 years I myself have come up against rude comments and dismissive attitudes about my vocation. Most of these people have been women, women who are in the workforce. More than once I have had ladies on the phone tell me that they "Have to get off the phone because they actually work!". The implication of course being that I don't actually work because I work in the home.
I have both worked in the home and at regular 9-5 jobs. I have four children and choose to stay home with them due to several reasons. The first and most important is because it is where I know God want's me. I have prayed constantly about this because the temptation to have a job earning money is so great. My family is what others would call low income. So extra money would be wonderful. But no matter how stressful money problems have gotten the answer is always the same that I am NEEDED at home. The other reasons are much more prosaic. First off having more than one child in daycare would completely take any of the earnings I made. Second I was raised in daycare and would not want my children in one. Daycares can never take the place of a loving mother. They just can't. And you run the very real risk of your children being mistreated and even molested by not just the caregiver, but other children in the day care. I know this from sad experience in my own life.
But what about the less tangible or obvious reasons? Things like how your children will feel much more safe and secure with their mommy in their own home, how staying home helps lessen the stress of balancing work life and family life for a woman. When children get sick there is no panic to find someone to watch the child or making your boss angry when you can't make it to work. No taking off of work for doctors appointments, important meetings with teachers, or attending school functions. You are not serving two masters. Those are all benefits of being a homemaker.
But is it easier than a regular job? I would have to say resoundingly no! And for one very important reason. As a homemaker much of your work is repetitive, underappreciated, and not even noticed most of the time. There is little recognition of a homemakers day to day service.
Here are the ways being Simply a Good Housewife Isn't So Simple
You have no boss, supervisor, or other employees there to motivate you to do your job right every day. There is no accountability except to yourself. If the floors are dirty, dishes undone, dirty clothing scattered everywhere, and meals not prepared there is no one that really notices or cares except YOU. To keep a house clean every day, meals cooked, and children cared for takes a high level of self motivation. If you don't do your job anywhere else there are unpleasant repercussions, but at home the only repercussion is having a filthy house and a feeling of self condemnation. When no one is at home all day the house stays exactly the way you left it with no one making messes.
Uber Organized and Uber Frugal
By and large most families with a stay at home mother are not wealthy. In fact many families make great monetary sacrifices so that mom can stay at home. No more expensive vacations, name brand clothes, high tech electronics. A good housewife HAS to be frugal and find ingenious ways to save money and make her budget stretch. I meal plan for every two weeks around the sales at our stores. I shop at thrift stores for our clothes and furniture, can and preserve, and grow a garden to help supplement our fresh fruits and veggies. I plan around free community events so that our children get to experience art, music, and fun activities at no cost. The library is our movie outlet, and we rarely go out to dinner or buy convenience foods. Most homemakers I know learn to do many old fashioned skill like baking, canning, and sewing to save money. I myself have learned those skills over the years. I find the more organized I am the more money I save.
Teaching and Taking care of children, from one to a dozen, is VERY stressful.
I used to run a daycare in my home and I can't count the number of times moms would drop off their children on Monday and sigh with relief and tell me how happy they were to be going back to work. Yes that is sad that any parent would feel that way, but housewives do not have the luxury to drop their kids off somewhere 5 days a week. You are caring for your children 24 hours a day 365 days a year and burnout occurs. Children, especially those under the age of 5 are in need of constant supervision and teaching. As Michael J. Fox said "Being a parent means being on suicide watch from the time children learn to crawl until they are 18."
Self Sacrifice is the name of the game!
Yep that's right. I sacrifice on a regular basis my own wants to be a stay at home mom. It would be much easier and validating to have a 9 to 5 job. To get paid for the work I do. To get the occasional accolade for a job well done and even maybe have extra money to go out to a movie. To not deal with temper tantrums, poopy diapers, constant cleaning, and lack of money. But the sacrifice isn't just monetary or tangible. It is denying myself things every day. I do not watch any shows that are inappropriate (which is practically everything besides PBS and animal planet), I don't listen to modern music because frankly I wouldn't want my kids repeating the lyrics, I regularly go places and do things I find boring but my kids love. Yep I would rather be doing something else many times but my children need these pursuits. It's not just the sleepless nights or lack of privacy and alone time. It is that suddenly you give up and do many things for the betterment of your family.
A Women's Work Is Never Done
Women are great at multitasking, and frankly to run a home you have to be! To get all the little jobs done that makes the whole house run smoothly you have to have several things going on at once all the time. I'll give you my average Monday which is much easier since for the first time in 18 years all my children are in full time school. Imagine this a hundred times harder for moms who have children still at home all day or have babies.
5 am - wake up, make coffee that lifesaving tonic, start breakfast for family
6 am - wake up children, feed them, make sure they are dressed, have them do their chores and get their school things together, start a load of laundry, pack lunches.
7 am - see children off to school, eat breakfast, change laundry out, start another load, shower, get ready for the day.
8 am - Vacuum upstairs and down, load dishwasher and start it, clean up kitchen, pick up any toys or dishes the children missed
10 am - Change out laundry and start another load (I do three loads a day for six people) Take out frozen foods for dinner, work on my blog
1130 am - make lunch, eat, put clean dishes away load dishwasher, wipe counters table
1230 pm - fold clothes and take a rest by reading
2pm- do outside chores like gardening
3 pm - get ready for children to get home, make snack ready, start prep to have dinner ready at 5
330 pm - children get home, direct them to homework, snack, and playtime, and take time to listen to them
430 pm- finish dinner, have children set table
5pm-7pm outside time for children while I do mending of clothes or knit, eat dinner, load dishwasher and start again, cleanup kitchen, oversee and assist with bathing, teeth brushing, bedroom cleanup and evening chores of the children.
8 pm bedtime for everyone! Cuddle and talk to children about what ever topic is floating around and go to sleep.
This is my average Monday. Tuesday is baking day where instead of vacuuming I bake breads, cookies, and other foods for the week, Wednesday is bathroom clean day, Thursday mopping the floors day, and Friday is dusting, vacuuming, and washing the bed linens day. Saturday is usually either big project day like painting the chicken coop or a day of fun like fishing. Sunday is a day of rest and Church and I try not to have any work to do for anyone in the house. All this is done every week along with doctors appointments, school functions, art lessons, and library visits. Boring is not what I would call the life a of homemaker. Busy is much more accurate.
Looking at my days you would think that it is the life of a drudge. But the funny thing is that I enjoy much of what I do. I love providing a peaceful happy home for my family and try to cultivate a place of peace for everyone who lives there. This of course takes a certain amount of work. There was a time early in my marriage when I was a discontented wife. But then I fell very ill and during that time I learned what a blessing and joy having a home and family is. After I recovered I found true contentment in my work at home. This is not to say that I don't get cranky, tired, or stressed. That happens to everyone no matter what their job. But I will say that through prayer and the peace of God I love being a homemaker.
The rewards much like the work itself is not very tangible and therefore not very understandable to outsiders. But when my children tell me they love me with a big hug as they run in the door after school, when they share their little joys and sorrows, when I get to watch them grow every day and not miss those fleeting moments that are gone forever I know what I am doing is worthwhile. And I am glad that I get to do it.