Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Streamlining Your Homemaking

It's easy to feel overwhelmed at home, especially if your normal daily activities are disturbed by things like sickness in the family, travel, unexpected visitors etc. Once you let things go, you'll gradually lose control and your domestic life will deteriorate. It works like a chain reaction, the more dirty dishes accumulate in the sink and the laundry piles grow higher the less energy you will have to deal with it.

The more needs to be done, the more people tend to procrastinate and hide behind things like computer, allowing the house to fall apart. Of course, since the housewife is the caregiver of the family, she will have to keep doing some simple things like feeding the family, doing shopping etc, however, the standards will often drop to the bare minimum.

To avoid crises like this in your homemaking, you need to think ahead and to find the ways to run your household more efficiently. One of the problems of the modern housewife is that she  often takes too many obligations upon herself trying to prove that she is not that lazy lady lolling around on the sofas all day eating bonbons, so she will often try to take additional responsibilities just to prove that she is worthy, which will then interfere with her home life.

Another tendency which affects too many women is perfectionism, the desire to run an ideal household, not taking into consideration that life often interferes with our plans. It's easy to feel frustrated if you are mentally unprepared for emergencies which happen in every house from time to time, especially those with small children.

In order to keep your head above the water you should try to streamline your homemaking and your life. You should always remember that as a homemaker, your first duty is to your own family, not the Joneses, the "economy" or the church. You shouldn't be pressured into things like babysitting or cleaning for someone, not because you wish it or need extra money, but out of misplaced desire to help. Working mothers often are better off financially than you are and can afford professional day care and cleaning services.

The same is true about helping at church and school, it's good to help when you are able, but you shouldn't be made to handle all the responsibility just because you happen to be at home while all the other ladies choose to work, neither you should be made feeling guilty if you refuse. After all, nobody is trying to shame the working ladies so that they can reduce the number of their working hours in order to help clean the church building or organise a camping trip at school, do they?

Volunteering is fine if it doesn't interfere with taking care of the house, husband and children and friends are an essential part of our life, but sometimes you will just have to say "no", as you have more pressing responsibilities. It's quite possible to have a good social life and maintain several friendships while not neglecting your home, it's just the question of achieving a balance.

Don't try to do too many things at once. Find out what is important for you and your family and concentrate on those things and don't crowd your time with too many hobbies. Choose one or two and let the rest go. Don't try at the same time to be a gourmet cook, a professional seamstress and a landscape designer while homeschooling 5 kids. It won't work. Choose one thing which is really very important to you, and try to perform the rest of your duties well, but on an average level.

For instance, through the years I have tried to follow cooking courses which all promised to teach me how to cook on a par with a French restaurant but I had eventually to let it go, because it took too much time and cost me a lot of money, too. I realised I couldn't spend hours in the kitchen while having so many other things to do, even though I like to cook. Nowadays I go for simple nutritious dishes, and if necessary will buy things like bread instead of making them at home.

The society keeps pushing the myth of a Superwoman, who can be all the things at once, and the (conservative) Christians have their own versions of this myth, which are just as unrealistic as those of the secular feminists. Nobody can have it all. You will have to make choices in your life, just like everyone else. There is a finite amount of resources, such as time, energy and money, and if you invest in one thing, there will be less left for others.

You must be able to set up your own set of priorities and to follow your own guidelines, not looking at the neighbours.

Finally, I'd like to point out that there is a certain flexibility in life at home, so that while you should overall strive for a well organised, smoothly run household, where everybody's needs are attended to and meals are served on time, you still have your choice of whether to spend that extra hour gardening, working on a craft project or baking a pie. In this situation, it's up to you to decide and being essentially your own boss is what makes life at home so wonderful, imo.


  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. I Have learned to say no and wish I could keep streamlining my schedule. I am 54 and getting really tired:) Asking the Lord for wisdom in this.
    Blessing to you

  2. You are welcome, Becky! It's true, as we get older our minds and bodies also need more rest, that's why the ideas of Christian feminists about recycling older women in the workplace never made much sense to me:)

  3. I'm 40, with a toddler, and work from home. (Not much longer as I resigned and my last day is the end of the month.) I'm already tired. Having a family AND a job is just exhausting. And bonus: living in a messy house you're just too tired to clean up beyond what absolutely needs to be done for health reasons. You're right, society (secular and Christian) keeps pushing this myth of Superwoman, and it just simply can't be achieved. I've made my choice, and I look forward to getting my house in order and back to focusing on what I can do for my family. Thank you for the post. It reinforced why I made my choice. :-)

  4. You are welcome, Maggie! I'm glad you liked this post. When I watch old sitcoms like I Love Lucy, I notice that the homemakers weren't expected to do a hundred things at once, like now. Lucy, for instance, was a good cook, but she didn't bake her own bread and she didn't make her own clothes. In the beginning of the show, their apartment was really small and not that diffucult to clean, and they regularly ate out so that she didn't always have to cook, yet the show constantly stressed that homemaking was a real job and it was difficult. Nowadays women at home are expected to do all sorts of things like combining working in a successful home business with homeschooling 10 kids while grinding your own flour and growing your own food and what not. Things just don't work that way in real life.

  5. I read or heard something interesting along the lines of this post; that the messages coming from popular society via tv, magazine, etc is get us to be really, really, busy so that we will be so tired that we won't notice or care about the encroaching tyranny being foisted upon us. We'll just do whatever we're told and not take time to consider the implication of a thing. One needs time to concentrate and to take time for the task at hand. Remember the day of the week tea towels? Monday wash day, Tuesday Bake day, etc? Time was taken out to get these things done instead of a zillion errands and todos in a day. Back in the day there was alot to do but there was a steady pace for it.

  6. It's an interesting idea, about keeping people preoccupied, I have never thought about it this way but it does make sense. I think in the times past people used to live in a more simple way, take children's birthdays, for instance. It used to be that children just got some cake and sandwiches and played together, nowadays people will organize elaborate theme parties complete with costumes, structured play time and stuff.