I constantly see articles and messages from conversations on how to be a successful woman; almost always these articles involve a career and I’ve found they almost never mention much beyond maybe how family or home is a burden. At the same time though, I have found that my life feels something lacking when fully centered and revolved on my paper accomplishments and career; the illustrious work/life balance, right? While I know this isn’t true for all women, my first few years of my career I felt a deep sense of void and longing in my life. I loved how much I was learning all of the time and I loved how I could see the application of what I knew, but I want to express something that is not wildly popular. I have an advanced degree, but I want you to know why I believe in homemaking and what homemaking means to me.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed about graduate school, being married, and traveling. I’ve found several lists that I wrote from high school of goals that I would like to accomplish. I wanted to buy a house, but I never once mentioned anything that would happen in it. I’ve been in and out of jobs, I’ve moved several times cross country, and in my twenties I have developed feelings on a topic that never meant to me much before adulthood happened.
The moment when I realized I believe in homemaking
I worked my first year of teaching in Utah and then we moved to Georgia. My paperwork had been done correctly and I had applied for several counties here, but when the time came: I had only one job interview. I spent 8 months unemployed which was devastating to me; normal jobs didn’t want to hire me because “special education teachers always get a job” and schools didn’t want to hire me because I had no job contacts in the area. My husband traveled all of the time. Making friends was hard. I remember spending a lot of time learning how to really cook. I began finding enjoyment in making our home somewhere I wanted to be.
Once my first regular job began though, I quickly forgot about this. This job was abusive and toxic at best and I found myself doubled over in pain anytime I made myself get in my car to go to work. I had one therapist tell me that I had to break my teaching contract, period. I had another therapist tell me that the stuff I was telling her I experienced was impossible and I was severely mentally ill (I broke up with this therapist immediately after this session).
I remember dragging myself out of my car one day and entering my home. The peace I felt when I opened the door enveloped me and I remember literally thinking “this is my sanctuary from everything else.” A lot of times, I think we learn what something is by learning what other things are not. For me, I learned that work wasn’t actually my sanctuary like I was making it out to be; I realized my home, family, and relationship with God could be though. I realized why I believe in homemaking and it has been life changing ever since.
What homemaking means to me
I’m sure everyone will have a different opinion on this, but to me, homemaking is the quality of how I feel and others feel in my home. While I feel washing dishes, sweeping and mopping, and folding clothes are important, I consider them maintenance and a very small part of homemaking. When I come into my house, I want to feel a loss of tension. I want to be in a safe place. I want to feel comfortable. When I’m in my home, I want to be surrounded by the person I love and my creature comforts; I love sitting on the couch with a blanket while I’m doing things and I love having little mementos from growing up and family interspersed in our decor. However, I do think there are several important values that contribute to how I feel in our home that we both actively work towards.
Values we have that contribute to how we feel in our home
- Cleanliness and decluttering
I’ve learned the lesson over and over that for me a messy house is a depressed house.
- We are careful about what we consume in our home
This one is huge and wide encompassing. Recently, I stopped spending as much time on social media because I realized it added little value to my life; I just started video chatting with my friend Selja instead of using Facebook messenger and it was so much more meaningful! We also are careful with the media we watch, listen to, and read. We regularly turn off TV shows or return books to the library when we find the content is something we feel we shouldn’t be consuming. We have several standards that we both agree and value and I do feel that this contributes to how we feel in our home.
- We are mindful of how we talk to each other in our home
People can feel tension and they can feel happiness, we work our best to have the later.
- We value people over things
Stuff gets broken, books get chewed on by your friend’s babies, and many other unpredictable things that comes with living in a home. However, I decided it was a lot better to pick up a dust pan and start cleaning than it was to be upset about it. I would much rather spend the rest of my visit with people to be enjoyable than anyone feel uncomfortable. Alternately, I’ve been in homes where this wasn’t the standard and I know how much shame I felt when I explained something happened to one of their belongings; I never want anyone to feel that way in my house.
- We only spend what we have
My husband doesn’t value aesthetics, but we both value affordability! We have a kitchen floor that is about 10 years past needing to be ripped out and we could definitely use some cosmetic fixes around our house, but we have been spending our money on travel and we just recognize it isn’t a priority yet.
- We respect differences
My husband wouldn’t mind living in an undecorated home, but he does have preferences on some colors when I do. My husband is color blind and it can be very easy for his world to look like brown and dark gray; you’ll notice that I decorate with a lot of blues and part of that is because he can see those colors very well and enjoys them. However, my husband also realizes that the way our home looks does impact me and so he is glad I enjoy decorating.
- We don’t talk poorly about our house
This might sound silly, but we treat our home like a living entity that we are blessed to enjoy. Our house isn’t perfect, but neither are we and we’re gracious for the roof it provides. There have been many times when we were house hunting that we found more extravagant homes, but we love our home because it also let us pursue other dreams. The smaller mortgage of this home allowed us to go to to Europe, it allowed me to go to grad school, and it gives us a place to enjoy each other’s company.
I know the more traditional view of what homemaking is revolves around cooking, cleaning, and often things that are considered maintenance. However, I think there is a a lot more to homemaking than that. In the sense of what I believe a homemaker is, my husband and I both are homemakers in our home; we both contribute to what our house feels. I believe every person in a home is a homemaker regardless of employment, gender, or age and that having a home where people feel at home is a family wide and worthy goal.