What is Homemaking?

I'm switching gears today off the topic of slow living and onto the other topic I feel like I suddenly have a lot to say about - homemaking.

I don't just have a lot to say because I do this homemaking thing full-time now. I was planning on blogging about this topic before and discussing how I look at it as someone who also works outside the home. Since I don't do that anymore, though, I can really embrace being a full-time homemaker and it makes me uniquely qualified to blog about it. Just kidding. I'm not qualified for anything, I just pay for a domain name. Anyway, regardless of your work situation, I think there's a real benefit to embracing homemaking. I lost sight somewhere along the way of just how important it was to me. Cue the 'I hate this house' mood I was in that I talked about, which was an exhausting way to live and was entirely due to my own attitude towards all things domestic.

Like all things I decide I'm interested in, and in true Scorpio fashion, I dove headfirst and obsessively into all things homemaking. It wasn't completely foreign; anyone who's read this blog knows that I like meal planning and keeping a clean and organized home. It's kind of a hallmark of my personality. But homemaking is more than clean dishes and fresh baked cookies. People do tend to think of it as only these most basic components, cooking and cleaning, but it actually entails quite a bit more.

Practical Homemaking

These things are referred to as the practical side of homemaking: the things that make a home run smoothly. It means meal planning and cooking (much) more often than going out, it's keeping the sink clear of dirty dishes and vacuuming the dog hair off the couch, it's knowing where your purse is and paying the electric bill on time. All these things, done semi-successfully and at regular intervals, bring order to a chaotic household. Practical homemaking.

This practical aspect can be as complicated or simple as you want/have the time for. There could be structured day by day cleaning routines and meal plans with 4 side options and a different protein every night or it could be a 'clean it when it looks dirty' and have the ingredients to make similar dinners based on how you feel each night system system. Mine is somewhere in the middle, because I'm embracing living slow and less structured. I'm realizing now that that should probably be a whole separate post.

But there's two additional aspects of homemaking that I hadn't been paying much attention to - relational and personal homemaking. Because the purpose of homemaking isn't to check housework tasks off the list and get as much cleaning and cooking done in the day as possible. It's to create a welcoming haven for the people that live there or come to visit. Self included.

Relational Homemaking

Practical homemaking focuses a lot on the physical aspects within the home and the day to day logistics, but what about the other people that live in it or are invited into it? It starts with a peaceful relationship with the person you live with, spouse or otherwise. No one can feel truly at ease in a home if there's tension between the main inhabitants, so there has to be a relational aspect to homemaking as well. A willingness to both correct and connect.

All relationships take work, so John and I have always viewed our relationship as something that requires give and take and constant nurturing. For the most part, we're pretty good at that. But I think I forget about it when things are going well. If we argue, then I have something to work on but when everything's smooth sailing, I don't go the extra mile. I should. I tend to just think 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' but it's not about fixing anything. It's about showing John how much I love and appreciate him, even (especially) when everything's great. And you know who else I need to pay more attention to and spend quality time with? Hawkeye. Of course. She lives here too.

Another aspect of relational homemaking is the idea of hospitality. Homemaking and hospitality have always been deeply connected because homemakers aren't just making it a haven for its inhabitants, but also for the people who stop by. Everyone can sense when they're welcome as a guest. It's not about having a perfectly clean home or 5 course meal set out, but about offering a place of real respite from the world, full of good friends and fun conversation and yes, snacks. Not fancy, just inviting.

Obviously there's no hospitality happening at the moment but once we're unquarantined, I'd like to extend my homemaking skills to people we invite in. Cheese straws and iced tea, anyone?

Personal Homemaking

Really, it's another term for that buzzword 'self care'. When someone is a homemaker and putting effort towards those other two aspects, it's incredibly easy to drop the personal care side. But you have to meet your own needs too, physical, mental, and spiritual. The 'put your oxygen mask on before helping others' idea - you have so much more to offer others and can face all of your other responsibilities with a sense of peace if you work on personal homemaking.

Full-time homemakers can lose sight of this in particular because it's easy to stay in loungewear all day. Lord knows I love to. But there's such a sense of pride and accomplishment in getting dressed, exercising, and eating well, even when no one else is forcing you to.

I've had a lot of fun wallowing the last week by staying in pjs and not wearing makeup but that also means I've done nothing with my day. I need to turn that around. Take the time to get up in the morning at a decent hour, walk on the treadmill a bit, dress myself for the day and then set about my other tasks like cooking, cleaning, bill paying, blogging, etc. These tasks are so much easier for me, mentally, when I take better care of myself. There are certainly days where the best thing I can do for myself is embrace the sweatpants and binge watching, but those days cannot be every day.

And for the love of god, I need to drink something this week that's not coffee.

Why Bother?

At some point, the dishes will need to get done and the bills will be paid. Does it really matter to consciously think about these things? What's the point of being a homemaker? Why bother adding in all the extras to make it a 'home' when, technically, just a 'house' runs efficiently enough?

Because homemaking provides stability. Housewives and homemakers get a bad rap for being lazy but when you look at that list of what it actually entails, you can see how important it really is to providing stability in an otherwise chaotic and uncontrollable world. I firmly believe that home should be a haven from that outside chaos, and that when you work on loving the people (and pets) in your home, it's easier to show kindness and patience to the people outside it too. And the world could use a lot of that right now.

To be honest, doing this full time is very different place for me to be in. I went from home with my parents to college, then law school, then straight into working for the last 10 years - I've cared for my home during all of those things, but obviously homemaking wasn't the top task on the list, let alone the only one. So home related tasks tended to get pushed to the wayside until they piled up and felt overwhelming. It all felt like more work I should outsource rather than embrace and enjoy. For awhile, I did just that. But I noticed that I really suffered, not loving this place I lived in. It still felt stressful and overwhelming, even when I hired someone else to clean the house. Because it's clearly not just about a clean house. So for the past few months, I've been working on changing my attitude and committing to at least part-time homemaking.

And, unsurprisingly, it's exactly what I need. It was a good change and made me feel much lighter. The house looks better too, of course. I'm happiest at home - I never wanted to work until retirement age, that was never my goal. I planned on being a homemaker eventually, though I was eyeing 42 and not 35 but hey, here we are. And I actually really enjoy it.