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Guide to being a good housewife?


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#1
admin

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Touchy subject...

I suspect most have seen the 1950's handbook for the housewife:
http://iws.ccccd.edu...ms/goodwife.htm

My wife has worked as long as we've known each other. Her mom didn't work, although she was a farmer's wife. She was very active as a volunteer, and in their local church. Her mom's remarried now, but jokes that her house and motor home didn't need to include a kitchen, because she doesn't cook. Also, although she's retired, she has her house cleaned.

We've been fortunate in that my day job is going well, and I thought it was important for my wife to be able to stay home and spend time with our daughter, at least until she enters school. So, I suggested that she quit her job and stay home. She used to really enjoy her job, but had come to not enjoy it, so she was quick to accept.

Here's the touchy part. I really don't think she knows the job description of being a homemaker. She's a terrific mom, and I have no complaints there. But, I sometimes feel she thinks she's on vacation, or has retired. Fact is, I'm a very busy guy. However, she expects the same amount of work from me around the house, laundry, dishes, picking up, as when she was working. Yet, we still have a cleaning person come every couple of weeks to clean our house. She cooks only once or twice a weeek. My daughter is going to think food comes from a waitress.

I cut the grass, take care of the yard, painted the house this summer, maintain the cars, etc., and help a great deal with our daughter. I'm not sitting around watching TV (and I'm here less too).

What do you think? Is the ability to be a home maker a dying art? Do women today know how to be a good home economist? If not, how do those without a good role model learn to be a good home maker?
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#2
fleamailman

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Trouble is that society has changed from, one where one had servents to do everything for you in return for your paying for it, to a time where ones wife did everything for you in return for your paying for it, to the present day where a machine should be doing everything for you but doesn't and neither husband nor wife nor the in laws or children quite know where the balance of your responibilities lies. In my family we hold a "largerburger" where the respocibilities of material posession are duely passed with the buck, all leaving the man(though I would prefer to be a goblin at times, most times) of the house wondering if my ansestor's change from nomadic hunter gatherers was a mistake, big.

Edited by fleamailman, 10 August 2006 - 11:52 AM.

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#3
dsenette

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i think whoever's spending the most time at home should be the one that does the cleaning and whatnot's... it's only fair...

when i got relieved from my paycheck a few years ago...i was spending time at home...and obviously unable to help financially so i did all the house stuff...cleaned, dishes, walked dogs all that stuff..but...because i couldn't help with funds i felt very useless...no matter what i did so sometimes i would shirk my duties because i was depressed.. once i got a paycheck back the tasks went back to half and half and i started feeling more important..like i was actually contributing

i wonder if the issue is that she used to be a working lady and now she (even though she hated her job and loves her baby) feels a little less important? and our current american society puts such a stigma on housewives/househusbands because working is the main symbol of empowerment.... what's more important and rewarding than taking care of your children? i can't think of much..
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#4
dsenette

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also...give that guide to your wife at your own risk (leave the site to someone in your will before you do give it to her)
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#5
sari

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admin,

A very interesting topic. I worked for the first 8 years of our marriage, during which time I also completed my Master's Degree and had 2 children (no, that wasn't too stressful :whistling: ). My husband and I split housework pretty equally - I did all of the cooking, but he did the dishes. We both did laundry and housecleaning. When my husband became a small-business owner, working became way too difficult; he traveled frequently, and I worked in network administration, which meant a lot of emergencies and nights and weekends, not to mention I had an hour commute every day. Had we kept it up, we'd be divorced right now.

Once I quit working, I adopted a much more traditional role, which I had never envisioned for myself. I get up every morning and fix my husband's breakfast. I do all of the housecleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking, dishes, bill-paying, dealing with home repairs, etc. (My daughters are now old enough to help out with this as well). I cook almost every night of the week. He does the yardwork, because our lawn is too hilly for me and he doesn't mind doing it. I make sure our daughters have what they need for school, get to extra-curricular activities, do all the school and swimteam volunteering and all the chauffeuring. I do still work part-time - I am the IT department for his company, so I do all the server, desktop, application, ISP, website, and phone system support for his company.

My husband is extremely appreciative, and frequently tells people he couldn't have the successful business he has now if it wasn't for me. He can focus on work, he can travel, he can take clients to dinner, whatever it takes to keep the business running, because he knows he has me at home taking care of things.

This was a very difficult transition for me - having grown up in the era of women's lib, I always felt I should work and be independent, but I came to the realization that it wasn't really the life I wanted to have for us and our children. I'm very fortunate that I can afford to stay home, and I feel it's only right that I should shoulder the burden here while he's shouldering the burden of supporting us. I have some neighbors who don't work who have their groceries delivered, whose husbands get the kids up for school, who have weekly cleaning people, and quite honestly, I look at them and wonder what is wrong with them. I don't feel demeaned by my position, because I recognize that I'm raising good kids and being a good partner. I have my volunteer work here to keep me mentally challenged. I still have plenty of free time to enjoy myself - go out to lunch with friends, play golf, etc., so I certainly don't feel tied down to the house.

I do feel that the role of homemaker is somewhat of a lost art - most of us did not grow up with mothers who were traditional homemakers, and old TV shows land Good Housekeeping articles aren't relevant to today's society. Unfortunately, there is no place to learn how to do this, and believe me, it isn't easy to make the transition. To me, it came down to what was fair - if I'm not working outside of the home, then this is my new job - taking care of the home itself. If my husband works 8-12 hours a day outside of the home, it's not fair for me to expect him to come home and do housework.
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#6
admin

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*admin thinks Sari should write a book. :blink:

"Homemaking for Dummies". :help:

Good post Sari, your husband's a lucky man. I really do think there is a lack of good role models, and information. Besides the women that need some help, what about the men? I've known some men that have stayed home while their wives work. One of them had two young children, and then they had triplets. So five children under 5! :whistling: She had the better job, and with the cost of day care, he decided to stay home.
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#7
frantique

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If not, how do those without a good role model learn to be a good home maker?

I truly don't understand why this is a problem other than clear communication. Perhaps because I am older I am not understanding something here.
I have had two marriages in 32 years and been a single Mum twice for a total of 16 of those years (so for 16 years I have had by necessity to be the sole homemaker). During a lot of this time I have worked in Management or owned my own business (3 businesses). My first husband and I shared all the homemaking duties. After our son was born and I worked less in our business (part-time) I did most of the homemaking, though he always chipped in when not working (the analogy from him being that we were both tired at the end of the day and if we shared the load at the end of the day we'd have more time together).
My second husband (in retrospect!) only wanted a Mum and even though we both worked really hard he expected to relax at night while I shopped, cooked, cleaned and washed. We had three children so naturally my time for work outside the home became limited, however, he never raised a finger to help with the homemaking, care of the children or playing with the children - even to the point where if we were going out for the day he would get himself ready and then criticise me for taking so long to get ready (ie getting myself and four children organised).
For the past ten years I have parented and been sole homemaker for myself and four children (though only two have been at home for the past couple of years).
Homemaking to me is just plain common sense. My mother did not work, she was a homemaker (6 children) and to be honest I don't really remember her doing any homemaking other than cooking dinner. She took care of everything (I assume) while we were at school. So I don't really think she was a role model for me.
I have worked in management and run my own businesses and I believe that the skills I have in homemaking are more just logical decisions and actions based on what needs to be done. I truly don't think it's a great science. I do though strongly believe it takes commitment and skill to be a good homemaker, but the skill required I think is just logical, not something that needs to be learnt. That said I have come across many people in my time who have sussed out very clever ways and means of addressing various aspects of homemaking which I have taken on board.
Truth is I do not like doing housework (the nitty gritty stuff) however, it needs to be done so there's no point in thinking too much about it I just do it as quickly as possible so as to free up my time for more interesting and challenging pursuits. And as well I ensure that my children make a contribution.
I should point out that when I have free days I will often spend the time while my children (teenagers) are at school, studying or doing something other than housework and then commencing the housecleaning just before they come home. I believe it's important for them to realise that the house doesn't clean itself so perhaps I have been inadvertently being a role model for them.
I think it's truly sad that homemaking isn't seen as an important contribution in our society, especially when it also involves parenting.
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#8
Johanna

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When the paycheck earner comes home from work, his day is done. He may answer a call or look at emails, but he is leaving his workplace. I am a stay at home mom now after 15 years of retail management. I used to work for 7-Eleven, the store with superfluous locks, and I worked crazy hours and long days. It was a piece of cake compared to this motherhood thing. After awhile, a mom learns to grab time when she has it, because someone will throw up, remember they need cupcakes for the party, drop the sugar bowl, smack their brother, overflow the toilet...it never "ends", just pauses. Stay at home parents know that the relaxing bath may be interrupted by a blood curdling scream (Yes, I have applied BandAids from the bathtub) and that the errands won't get run, the grass won't get cut, etc unless they do it. It has been very hard for me this summer with my broken ribs to communicate to my family what they need to be doing because I simply cannot afford any more broken bones. I have to heal, and that means I can't do many of my regular activities. (I have been tentatively diagnosed with perimenopausal osteoporosis and have had a dozen rib fractures this summer.) This will be the first year in eight years all the kids will be in school a full day (8 more days, but who is counting?) and I am looking forward to cleaning up in the morning, and then having time to have complete thoughts before they come home. I figure with them gone, I won't be spending my day picking up after them, feeding them, driving them around and entertaining them. OOOww-weee! It will be a "break" for me, but that doesn't mean someone won't wet the bed at 3am or have a bad dream, or remember the doggone cupcakes at 6:30am. Like 7-Eleven, pacing oneself is the key. Perhaps what you see as "lazy" is exhaustion or depression. Communication is the key to getting the duties split to something both of you can live with. My husband is considerate and helpful, but he needs told "The trash must be carried outside" (I can't lift it right now) and "there are clothes that need folded" (he can't see through the drier door and wouldn't think to look). If I make him a list (specifying brands and sizes) he will go shopping, which is actually cheaper because he follows the list. However, at my house, when something other than a computer breaks, everyone knows it's dad's problem. Oh, I can fix things, I just won't. He needs to be needed, too.
Johanna
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