Does Everything Need to Be Fair? A Homemaker’s Thoughts

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This question: Does everything need to be fair? has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. And not only that but what is fair? Today I’m sharing some thoughts on homemaking, being a stay-at-home mom or wife, and whether or not your husband contributes enough.

Does Homemaking Need to Be Fair? @AVirtuousWoman.org

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for over 32 years. During that time I have raised 5 children of my own, had three of my four stepchildren live with me including their spouses and children, and even cared for my ailing mother-in-law, father-in-law, and uncle, as well as my husband’s brother (all of whom have since passed away).

I homeschooled my five kids, ran a blog full-time, and I am a pastor’s wife (if you know, you know). My five children have now grown but as soon as my youngest daughter left, my husband and I were given custody of four of my step-daughter’s kids two years ago.

Was it hard? Without a doubt. Did I manage, yes I did.

When I first became a homemaker, I was just 15 years old, newly married, and raising my firstborn son. I was a terrible homemaker. I wasn’t a patient mom. I was unhappy, overwhelmed, and struggling. But I didn’t stay there – I made a decision to learn how to be a good wife, mom, and homemaker.

Melissa and James
Me, at age 17, with my son, James

Is Homemaking Fair? Is it oppressive?

When we think in terms of what’s fair, I think it often boils down to “self” rising it’s ugly head again. Like, I can’t be happy if I’m possibly doing more than my fair share or if I have to serve the people in my family.

Most women who stay at home with their children full-time choose to do so because they understand there is value in raising the next generation and investing time in their family and home. So I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here to some extent.

But from the things I often see and read, it’s not uncommon for stay-at-home moms to begin to resent their jobs as homemakers or to feel like they’ve lost their purpose. That’s so sad to me!

I think of homemakers from eras gone by and how they took so much pride in their clean homes and signature recipes and I wonder what has happened to our modern-day homemaking that we have such low standards for the care and keeping of our homes.

I know I’ve mentioned this sentiment before on A Virtuous Woman, but I’m not sure where right now. I saw this quote on Instagram the other day and I wanted to share it with you:

“if you are a full-time stay-at-home mom, you are perfectly capable of managing the housework and caring for your children on your own.” – Isa Ryan from @a.homemakers.manifesto

The thing is, our society perpetuates the idea that life should be easy and that if it isn’t easy, something is wrong. That we shouldn’t have to work hard. That we shouldn’t fall into bed at night worn out from a day’s work.

But that’s simply not true. Hard does not equal bad.

I never asked my husband to change diapers. I never expected him to prepare a meal, I never expected him to clean the house or even wash dishes (although sometimes he does). Doing those things didn’t bother me. I never resented having to change a diaper. I chose to change my baby’s diapers because I wanted to be the kind of mom who takes care of her baby well.

A look inside my mudroom.

Homemaking is Hard Work

Proverbs 31:27 ESV says: “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

Now before you get your feathers ruffled or feel defensive, I’m not saying your husband should never help out at home. I am saying that if your husband works full-time and you are a full-time homemaker, your husband shouldn’t be obligated to come home from his job and do housework too. Not only is homemaking a ministry, but it’s a job that keeps the home economy running for the benefit of the entire family.

When we approach homemaking as a job, we take it more seriously. My husband goes to work and I stay home and work. We’re both working. If he comes home and wants to rest and watch television or doing something else he enjoys, it doesn’t bother me in the least.

I don’t feel resentment. I don’t wish he would get up and do something around the house although he does sometimes. In fact, just the opposite. I’m much more likely to tell him he should go rest. I cook his meals. I even prepare his plate for him most of the time. I don’t begrudge doing it.

I have moments during the day when I do things I’d like to do. Some days are busier than others. Some days I’m really on top of my chores. Some days I’m more tired or busier than usual and I get behind on things. But I never expect my husband to pick up the slack.

The thing is, homemaking isn’t about having a perfectly neat home – it’s about creating a space that feels warm and loving. And it’s about creating an atmosphere where feelings of peace, calm, and joy abound. It’s about creating traditions and good food and memories that will last a lifetime.

You don’t have to work all the time at chores around your house to create a home where everyone is well cared for, where the laundry is done when you need it, and where the kitchen is clean after meals.

In fact, the idea that homemakers have a job that never ends and have no time to rest isn’t really true. It’s a fallacy that you cannot rest. Rest is a choice. You can choose to rest when you need to.

If you have a good system for keeping up with your household chores, cooking meals, running errands, and attending extra-curricular activities, you will have time to rest. And if you’re struggling to find time to rest and enjoy life, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. You’re either too busy and are trying to do do much or you need a better system and less stuff in your house. Either way, the lack of time to rest is born out of a unbalanced life of excess abundanc.

I don’t believe household chores need to be fairly divided between a husband and wife – especially if the wife stays home full time.

The idea that it’s too much for a wife to keep the house clean, manage the family, and care for the children during the time that her husband is away at work is rather demeaning.

Think about how much harder homemaking was in generations passed. Our household chores have never been so easy. Removing stains, cleaning floors, washing the laundry, and even washing the dishes are made so much easier with appliances that do the bulk of the work for us.

And it’s not that I don’t know how overwhelming homemaking can feel – I’ve been there! But I also know that when we feel overwhelmed by household chores and motherhood it’s likely because we need to learn to manage our time better or have a calmer presence.

One of my favorite podcasters is Tessa Romero. She talks about mindset in motherhood and she’s amazing! I’ve learned so much from her about mindset over the last couple of years since I started listening to her and my kids are already grown – but I still find the mindset shifts beneficial.

If you are struggling with certain aspects of homemaking or mothering, you can learn and improve and gain new skills to make it easier. You are capable! I truly believe you can be a good homemaker and learn new homemaking skills to bless your family.

Solie (@Solie on Instagram) from Homemaker’s Striving for Excellence said, “Women back in the day: “worked non-stop, ran homes, tended children, farmed, made their own clothes, killed, grew and preserved their own foods, made everything from scratch, washed laundry by hand”

Women today: “act like it’s utterly impossible to do all the cooking, cleaning, and child-care.” I know that homemaking and caring for children can be hard and overwhelming. But societal standards truly are low for the modern-day homemaker.

I can’t count the times I have posted on social media posts to encourage women in their homemaking duties and women have come out of the woodwork to attack the idea. And one thing that stands out to me repeatedly is how bitter and selfish these women sound.

Titus 2:5 admonishes the older women to teach the younger women to be keepers at home. Somehow I think we’ve failed in this commission.

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5 ESV

I believe with all of my heart that the Word of God is still relevant today. I just want to encourage you today in your efforts at home. Homemaking is hard but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There are things you can do to create a home you love without feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to do.

A few things that have worked for me:

If you were not taught homemaking skills as a girl growing up – maybe your mother didn’t even know as much about homemaking as did your grandmother or great-grandmother – it’s never too late to learn new domestic skills that will benefit and bless your home.

I can help you get to a place of peace and contentment at home if you let me! Let me know in the comments below!

Action Steps to Take Today

  1. Pray and ask God to help you see your role as a full-time homemaker as a real job.
  2. Make a list of tasks or things about homemaking that you would like to improve on.
  3. Make the decision to work on at least one of those skills this week until it becomes a habit or you feel like you’ve mastered that skill.
  4. Remember that you are capable of more than you realize – but also remember to give yourself lots of grace as you grow and learn.

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