Is there a difference between homemaking and housekeeping? Do you differentiate between the two? Ever since I wrote this blog post about homemaking, I’ve been pondering the question. I also asked this question on the Life With Dee Facebook page and received some interesting comments. The general consensus was that there is a difference. We all basically agreed that the term “housekeeping” seems to refer largely to cleaning while “homemaking” encompasses a much wider variety of activities.
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In my mind, homemaking includes housekeeping but certainly isn’t limited to that. It’s entirely possible to be an excellent housekeeping but a lousy homemaker. And while a good homemaker has a reasonably tidy and sanitary home, she may not be a “perfect” housekeeper. Instead, I think a good homemaker keeps her focus on the people living in the house rather than the house itself.
I’m pretty much one of those naturally neat types (please don’t hate me!) so keeping the house in decent order comes easily to me. And there are certain cleanliness things that are important to me. For instance, I want reasonably clean bathrooms, a kitchen that is sanitary for food prep, and clean sheets every week.
I’m also fussy about my house smelling clean so trash is taken out often, garbage gets composted, and other sources of odors are dealt with promptly. However, I can let the dusting and vacuuming go, and right now my kitchen floor could use a good mopping. While the main living areas are usually tidy, please don’t open my closets expecting to see color-coded perfection.
There’s a limit to how much time I want to spend cleaning so I focus on what is most visible and what matters most to me and my family. That means that before I start actually cleaning, I make sure the house is in order first. Beds made, dishes done, “stuff” put away – that sort of thing. I also throw in a load of laundry and give some thought to the day’s meals.
In my experience, most men are reasonably content if they have clean clothes, good food and can find their things. At least that’s the situation in my household.
The needs of children and pets are a priority for those who have either or both. In fact, the thought “living stuff first” goes through my mind when I start my daily tasks. That also includes houseplants or a garden.
I also make an effort to set aside time at the end of the day, before David comes home, to make things cozy and welcoming for him. Especially during the fall and winter as the days shorten and grow colder, I try to make sure the house is warm and cheery. That means being sure that the porch light is on, as well as the lamp on our entry table and a few other lamps around the house (I think lamp light is much homier than bright, overhead lighting). Oftentimes I’ll have music playing – never the television. And if he can smell something delicious cooking when he walks in, that makes him very happy.
Monday is the day I wash our sheets – and iron the pillow cases (!), water my houseplants (aka: jungle), and generally catch up after the weekend. Today, in addition to these things, I baked a Molasses Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing, made a pitcher of iced tea (I used 4 black tea bags, plus one peach and one green tea), and baked a nice homemade macaroni and cheese with caramelized onions for dinner. David was home for just a bit after work before going to a meeting so I fixed a cup of tea for him to enjoy before he had to go. I also pulled out a puzzle for us to start working on in the evenings. When we go to bed this evening, we will crawl between freshly washed sheets and lay our heads on those ironed pillowcases. And yes, the kitchen floor still needs to be mopped.
One of the women who commented on this topic on my Facebook page said that homemaking is “about people and communicating love through actions”. I think that sums it up beautifully. When I think about the homes where I’ve most felt loved and welcomed, it was not because the house was spotless but because the women in those homes know/knew how to truly make a house a home. That’s the goal I strive for.
I am grateful for the women I’ve known who have shown me what is truly important in being a homemaker. Here is a little bit about couple of them:
You may also enjoy this post by my daughter who blogs at Retro Housewife Goes Green:
I’d love to hear your thoughts about homemaking vs. housekeeping. Leave me a comment and let’s discuss.