Is being a homemaker enough? One of my favorite YouTubers recently asked that question and it struck a chord with me. Is it? I suppose the short answer is…maybe. But let’s delve a little deeper.
Is Being a Homemaker Enough?
There was a time when few questioned whether being a homemaker was “enough”. Men went to work to support their families and women stayed home to take care of the home and children. That’s just the way it was and most accepted it as the norm.
But times have changed. In 2018, 69% of married women with children under the age of 18 were in the labor force. Now that full-time homemakers are in the minority women sometimes find themselves wondering if being a homemaker is enough.
Let’s start by defining what we mean by “homemaker”. Here are a few dictionary definitions:
a person who manages the household of his or her own family, especially as a principal occupation
one who manages a household especially as a spouse and parent
Cambridge Dictionary –
someone who manages a home and family instead of earning money from employment
All of these definitions refer to the act of managing. In the workplace a manager is one whose job is to control or organize something. That’s really a pretty good description of what a homemaker does. The homemaker is in charge of most or all of the following:
- meal planning
- grocery shopping
- preparing meals
- purchasing household goods
- errands and appointments
- child care
- household budgeting
- overseeing health of the family
When done well it actually takes a lot of creativity and hard work to manage a household. Few who have had the opportunity to act as the primary household manager would say it’s an easy job. I’ll never forget the first time I left our first child in the care of my husband for a full day. Chris was about 15 months old at the time.
When I returned, David was still in his robe and the house was utterly destroyed. He was exhausted. After that experience he never asked me that hated question…”What did you do all day?”.
However, the question is not if homemaking can keep you busy all day but whether it is enough. Does it provide sufficient “scope for the imagination”, to borrow a phrase from Anne of Green Gables? Is it mentally challenging? Can it provide women with a sense of satisfaction?
I think it depends on two things – the individual woman and what she brings to the job.
An extrovert who draws energy from interacting with other people might find it lonely at home, particularly if there are no children to care for.
Some women have little interest in the usual day-to-day tasks of homemaking. If you hate to clean and hate to cook, you might find homemaking stifling unless you have the funds to hire help in those areas.
Managing a household well requires hard work, good time management skills and the willingness to learn everything from cooking to stain removal.
If approached with creativity it can be a rewarding job. Heating up a frozen meal in the microwave could technically be considered feeding one’s family but it doesn’t provide the same sense of accomplishment as cooking a delicious meal from scratch. The same is true for all aspects of homemaking. Doing just barely enough to get by isn’t likely to leave you feeling fulfilled in your job whether it’s as a homemaker or in paid employment.
What about the woman who genuinely DOES enjoy her role at home and approaches homemaking with creativity? Is it enough for her? Maybe. It seemed to be for my grandmother. Although she also kept nursery at church so perhaps that served as something extra for her.
I was one of those little girls who loved to play house and looked forward to having my own home and family to care for someday. Other than a few years as a nurse, I have been a homemaker as my primary role in adulthood. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to do this.
Is it enough for me? It was when I had babies or toddlers. It was when I was homeschooling our kids. But at this stage of my life as an empty nester I need other outlets.
That is part of the reason I have this blog. It’s why I volunteer for various organizations. I’ve cleaned enough toilets and made enough beds in close to four decades of marriage that I no longer find any charm in those tasks.
I do, however, still enjoy cooking and decorating my home. I love creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. As an introvert I am grateful that I get to spend most of my days in my cozy and quiet home.
Whether one is employed outside the home or is a full-time homemaker, there are going to be trade-offs. I occasionally miss certain aspects of being a R.N. working as a hospice nurse. I enjoyed the one-on-one care I was able to give my patients and the comfort I provided to grieving families. It was a very rewarding, albeit emotionally challenging, career.
And honestly? I miss the respect I received. Let’s face it; our current society doesn’t always hold homemakers in very high regard.
That’s why it is important for the homemaker to do her job in such a way that she feels good about her role. It’s also important to pursue some other interests, hobbies or volunteer work. The woman who only cares about getting her laundry white and her kitchen floor shiny may be a cliché but the truth is that everyone benefits from cultivating broader interests.
What do you think? If you are a full-time homemaker do you also pursue other interests? If you are employed outside the home what do you think would be the biggest challenges for you if you were to become a homemaker? I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment.
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