I am a homemaker. I am just starting to fully embrace that title and role but it hasn’t always been that way. Today I am sharing my story of becoming a homemaker, why it’s important to me, and how I’m normalizing the care and keeping of home.
While this blog is largely about home renovations, gardening, decor and design, every once in awhile I like to sprinkle in other lessons learned about home. While I believe anyone can design a gorgeous house, it’s a whole other level to create a home. Creating a home is just as important to me as having a beautiful, functional space. In fact, it’s more important. This post is a homemaker post and part of my “Dirt Road Diaries” series. If that’s not your jam, skip today’s post. Check back here on Monday when I share more of our primary bathroom renovation progress.
My Story To Becoming A Homemaker
Like many others my age, a millennial towards the older grand millennial end of the spectrum, I was expected to be successful. In this case, successful meant graduating from high school with good grades, going on to college, earning a degree, and working my way up the corporate ladder. This was my expectation and also the expectation of my friends. I knew very few people who were planning on trade school, starting a business, enlisting, or anything outside of the societal norms of college and working for someone else.
Me being an enneagram 1, I did the classic thing I should do. I worked hard, graduated from college, earned an MBA, fell in love, bought my first house, climbed the corporate ladder, upgraded the starter home, and had children. From a cultural expectations perspective, I had it all. A house, a husband, children, education, and an amazing job. I should have been happy. I should have been fulfilled. I should keep going. Should is a dirty word. I was gloriously unhappy.
Choosing To Stay Home With Our Children
After the birth of our second daughter, I started feeling a shift. The things I loved most in the world, my children, my husband, house projects, gardening, and being creative, started to take a back seat. In it’s place sat busyness and hustle. I loved caring for our children but an hour a day after daycare and before bed wasn’t enough. Sure we had the weekends, but those were filled with catching up on the laundry and chores. We didn’t touch house projects and I felt like our already falling apart circa 1781 farmhouse was heading towards a new level of disrepair. I could normally find solace in spending a day in the vegetable garden, grounding myself in feeding our family, but suddenly it was also on the margins of life.
Enter the epiphany moment stage left. I was chatting with a coworker over coffee and exclaimed, “why am I busting my butt at a job to pay someone else to watch my kids and to grow my food when those are the things that bring me the greatest joy in life?!.” In the end, what was it for? The $500 that I earned that didn’t go to childcare? It just wasn’t worth it to me anymore. We had a family discussion to figure out how to make my becoming a homemaker and stay at home mom work.
If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think I would have made this decision if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Because of sicknesses and staffing issues, we went months where our children were both at their respective schools only six days. That’s alot of strain on two working parents and we couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hate saying that I was grateful for the pandemic because it was grueling and terrible and caused so much pain for so many people. But for our family, it forced us to look at our family values and realize how misaligned we were living. More than anything we value slow living. We love intentional living filled with quality family time and adventures. None of which were present.
Why I Am A Homemaker
I have so many reasons for why I choose to be a homemaker but my number one reason is to create a slower paced life. I am not a person who thrives in an environment of stress, hurry, and hustle. It grates on me. I prefer a slow pace to life, one with intentionality and purpose with our everyday activities. Finding flow in the day to day is important and helps me craft a life well lived.
When I live a life of intention, not only do I thrive but my family thrives. My children don’t need a stressed out, stretched too thin mom. They need a mom who is present, who can take the time they need to be with them. As a working mom, I was not healthy. My mental health suffered and I felt the pull of never being fully there for either my work life or my home life. If one was thriving, the other was suffering. While I was certainly grateful for a flexible employer to allow me the space I needed when we had sick children or an issue at home that needed dealing with, I still felt the tension of being stretched in two different directions.
Now I find peace in caring for our children and our home. Home has my undivided attention and I am forever grateful for that. Being a homemaker is definitely not an easy job, but I find it easier than the hustle of being a working mom. Especially when I didn’t feel aligned with that dual role.
Loss Of Identity
I’ve been home with my children for a year now. For the most part, I am a homemaker who adores her day to day. But there’s also a piece of me that mourns a loss of identity as a working professional. I loved work and I miss it, but I also adore being a homemaker.
Do you know how often when you meet someone new they ask, “what do you do?!” You start to notice when your response is “homemaking” and you feel a sense of shame that you adore this new role. Working on that thanks to a plethora of Brene Brown books!
Why do we do this? Is it because culturally we identify people in terms of their profession? Why don’t we ask “who are you?” or “what do you like?.” This was the hardest part of embracing life as a homemaker. I felt like I had lost a giant piece of me. That my life no longer held the same value that it did when I was working full time.
I was grappling with the idea of going back to work and discussing this with a friend. One of my biggest reasons for wanting a new job was because I didn’t feel like I was contributing to our family. While yes, I knew I was contributing to our family in terms of caring for our home and children, but I felt like dead weight financially. She, being a wise woman, told me to sit with that statement for awhile.
I started thinking about monetizing the work I was doing. How much would I be paid as a child caregiver? How much does growing crops and farming bring in? What would it cost if I were replaced with a house cleaning service? Or laundry service? Suddenly I could attach a number to my value and it was significant. According to Investopedia I am worth $178,201 as a stay at home parent.
Creating content, blogging, and working towards monetizing this work has been a huge boost to my feelings of identity. I feel like I’m putting my former marketing self to work but doing it in a way that it’s on my terms and timeline.
It wasn’t long ago that homemaking was a valued set of skills and a profession. Now, these skills aren’t even taught in schools. Seriously, raise your hand if you took honors classes in high school but didn’t learn how to cook, budget, or care for children. It’s me! No wonder I fought deep beliefs that being a homemaker held little value! While technology and industrialization has vastly changed how we care for our homes and families, homemaking skills are still needed.
To me, homemaking is more than just the chores and taking care of our kids. While learning how to do laundry and cook meals at home are essential skills, there’s more to it than that. It’s about instilling family values and rhythms in our days. It’s raising children in a way so they have the time and space to explore their interests. Most importantly, it’s about creating a culture and space for our family to feel safe and loved.
Becoming a full-time homemaker has been one of the most rewarding moves I’ve ever made. Although somedays I feel like I’ve ruined my life by making such a radical shift against how society believes I should live. But then I watch my six year old grab the radish seeds and ask if we can plant her favorite variety, or my one year old prefer hanging laundry out to dry with mom than playing with her toys, and I feel the intrinsic value of a life well lived. It’s definitely not for everyone but it is for me and that’s okay.
Normalize Caring For Home
Sometimes I think about the legacy I’ll leave behind and I want it to include normalizing the care and keeping of home. Cultivating home is important work. Raising children, caring for home, instilling family values, connecting with nature and our land are all important. I vow to teach my children life skills to help them launch. While these things aren’t necessarily formal lessons, they learn as I include them in the tasks of the day. Both my children help prepare dinner, clean the home, and grow our food.
While I love learning “old fashioned” skills like canning and baking bread, they aren’t essential for a modern homemaker. To me a modern homemaker manages a home in a way that creates less stress on the family. This can mean different things to different families.
I love that the workforce has been shifting to embrace a gig economy. Masses are balking at the traditional work-life balance and making employment work for them. I’m seeing people run successful businesses for five years and then shut it down for a year to travel the world. Others are working contract jobs when time allows.
Being a homemaker doesn’t have to look like the old 19th century traditional style with the husband working full-time and the wife staying home to cook, clean, and take care of the children. These days, it could look like that but it also may look like the primary caregiver working a part time job according to family needs. For others, like me, it’s starting a side business that can be done while the children nap or at school.
I Am A Homemaker
I remember reading an article awhile back about how it was impossible for a woman to feel fulfilled and enjoy her days home full time with children. I beg to differ. At first, yes, it was a hard transition. I often felt very unfulfilled compared to my former job as a marketer.
Then a shift started taking root. I no longer was rushing through the tasks and started to value the work I was doing. Laundry wasn’t a chore to “get through.” I was finding value in the task and how it related to caring for our family. Louisa May Alcott says it best, “The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.” Lately, I find beauty and joy in the smallest things. From helping tiny hands mix the salad dressing to hanging laundry on the line. These are beautiful tasks that show my love for my family.
If anything, becoming a full-time homemaker has helped me live a life in gratitude. I’m there for the daily moments with my children. I live a much less hurried life that enables me to see the beauty in the day to day. I am honored to make homemaking my work.