Why Modern Homemaking Isn’t What You Think
What comes to mind when you hear the word “Homemaker”? This word can have a negative connotation. The 1950’s definition can make women feel like all they’re good for is cooking and cleaning. It insinuates that a woman’s role in the home is less valuable than the man’s role in life. He is encouraged to become successful in his career. Modern homemaking is reshaping this viewpoint for a more healthy approach to home management.
The feminist movement sought to overcome social inequalities. Betty Friedman in her book, The Feminine Mystique, states that “placing women at home limited their possibilities and wasted talent and potential.”
So, then, doesn’t that mean that homemaking is not valuable or important? Women, who choose to be homemakers are wasting their gifts and talents by “just being a homemaker”?
During an interview with First Lady Ford in the Good Housekeeping magazine, August 1976 edition, is quoted as saying, “A woman who is satisfied with her life at home is just as liberated as a woman with a career outside the home.”
I want to focus on this controversial topic and the stigma surrounding homemaking in today’s society. We will explore why it gets a bad rap, how women feel trapped in this role and why that is the case.
Modern Homemaking and the Perceptions that Come with it
Homemaking as a Christian Calling
I am going to go out on a limb and state that as a Christian, I do not always see being a homemaker as a calling. I think it’s important to take care of the things we’ve been given or blessed with, but I also think this can become an unhealthy focus where we put more energy into taking care of our house than we do other people.
I think this also gives Christianity a bad rap. This makes it appear that being a Christian homemaker is superior especially when you do it well. There is certainly a better than thou attitude that pervades which I don’t think is very Christian-like at all.
And since I seem to be throwing caution to the wind and wanting to be transparent, I don’t really honor my husband by cleaning the house (gasp!!). Don’t get me wrong, my husband appreciates an empty sink and a kitchen that is clean so that it’s easy to prepare a meal. He likes when things feel clean but would much rather spend quality time with me and relax.
So, I don’t fit the mold. It’s what makes me question the stereotypical view on homemaking. We also have had friends who the husband was good at the housework and the wife was messier and more disorganized. She would rather focus on her career than worry about putting the dishes in the dishwasher. They didn’t fit the mold either and that’s totally okay!Let's reinvent what modern homemaking looks like by doing what works for each of us by embraceing our unique situation, lifestyle, and family dynamics. Click To Tweet
The Formality of Homemaking of the Older Generation
In some ways, the obsession with a clean and organized home hasn’t changed much over the years. From needing to polish your silver and set the table with stunning accuracy, we’re now enamored with visually pleasing baskets and labeled glass jars in the pantry.
Good Housekeeping is an iconic magazine that has been revered for as long as I can remember. My great aunt always had the latest subscription on her coffee table. When it was founded in 1885, its mission statement was to “produce and perpetuate perfection — or as near unto perfection as may be attained in the household.”
There was a certain level of expectation you needed to live up to a few decades ago. The woman was expected to stay home and maintain an immaculate home. This was a status symbol. A sign of a good wife.
When I was first married, I cared so much about what my home looked like. I was embarrassed if someone came over and my house was a mess. If I had left dishes in the sink and there was dust on the shelves and dirt on the floor. I also felt like if I had someone over, the whole house should be in tip-top shape so they could get the tour and see all of our wonderful décor and design.
Now I realize that this is missing the point. A home is meant to be lived in. Though I do think it’s important to clean and extremely beneficial to reduce clutter and stuff lying around, I also think it’s important to keep this in perspective.
I look back with some regret on how much time I spent cleaning things to perfection and focusing on things that didn’t make too big of a difference. I want to be clear that I still prefer a very clean house. It’s important to me that my home is well maintained. I take care of my belongings, try and wash my car regularly, as I do think it’s the responsible thing to do.Our self-worth is not tied up in the cleanliness of our home. Click To Tweet
Homemaking is the Women’s responsibility
There is still a great disparity between the amount of time spent by women compared to men when it comes to household chores.
Here is an excerpt from the 1950 Home Economics book: “Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.”
I think we’ve moved past this for the most part or are on the way of balancing the time spent by men and women. This is either through men understanding their role in the home. And women are starting to embrace homemaking more by either working for themselves at home or figuring out a way to balance household management and their jobs. But even still, there’s a lot of room for improvement. As a society, putting homemaking in its place and valuing the skills, time, and effort it takes into maintaining a home is crucial.
The Stigma of Being a Housewife
Just because I’m married does not mean that I should carry the brunt of responsibility when it comes to the home. And it’s so outdated to think that you need to be married to take care of a house. Older generations not only defined their self-worth in the cleanliness of their home but also their marital status.
This also doesn’t mean that I need to stay at home to take care of the home. I like cleaning and I obviously love to organize (as I have a blog all about organizing ), so there’s a part of me that would love to just take care of the home. But I also know that I enjoy challenging myself and being creative. I have learned that my abilities go beyond maintaining a clean home.
As more and more people are choosing to not marry or have not found the right person to marry, this does not mean they can’t find fulfillment in or desire to take care of their home.
The stay at home mom is the quintessential homemaker
Kids are very much a blessing and being a mom is a great privilege along with being able to stay at home. But there are a lot of couples that don’t have kids. Whether by choice or due to infertility. I know this also can be a touchy subject, but when homemaking is so wrapped up into having kids, those who don’t feel inferior. Yes, kids create more messes and make homemaking more complicated, but that doesn’t mean you have to have kids to value homemaking.
And moms don’t have to stay home to be great homemakers. Many moms want to or need to work and can balance their obligations. It might feel overwhelming and difficult to maintain as clean as home as they would like. Putting homemaking in its proper place involves letting go of perfection and embracing the mess might just be in order!
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Everyone is a Homemaker
With modern homemaking, we should all value a clean and organized home. Each person is responsible for their belongings and living space. When we align our strengths and natural tendencies with our household chores, we can come up with a system that works for everyone involved.
In short, homemaking is not as much about the home as it is valuing each contributor, creating a system that works for everyone, and each person taking responsibility for their part. When we put the home in perspective of how we want to spend our time, everything falls into place.
I know for me; I cannot function without having structure and routines. It’s important that my belongings to have their place and put away so that keeping my house clean is fairly easy and not time-consuming. But life happens and other things become more of a priority. I do stress out when my home reaches a critical point of disarray but I’m working on accepting that life happens. Especially if this happens because I was building relationships and being there for someone else in need.
In closing, the moral of the story is to do what’s best for you and your circumstances. You don’t need to meet anyone else’s expectations or fit any predetermined molds. You and whoever you live with are unique individuals and it’s so important to embrace this wholeheartedly!
Homemaking by definition, is the creation and management of a home, especially as a pleasant place in which to live. If this looks different than your parents, siblings, neighbors or friends, that’s totally okay! Creating a healthy homemaking routine that fits your lifestyle is key to living intentionally and simply.
The New Era of Homemaking Values the People in the Home
Hi, I’m Shara
I have a passion for organizing. This stems from being naturally drawn to simplicity and structure in my home. Combined with my desire to help women achieve their goals, Simply Renewed Living was born.