I stumbled across this post on Apartment Therapy while drinking my coffee. I am sure there are as many different ways to answer this question as there are homemakers in this world. I thought it would be interesting to answer these questions and see how I compare with my Homemaking colleagues.
My Homemaker Scenario: Married with 1 kid still at home (he’s 18) – no pets, 3BR 2B home with a full basement (3,000 sq. ft. of glorious cleaning space! No carpet = No vacuuming but it also means 3,000 sq. ft. of sweeping & mopping!)
- Do you have a set list of tasks to complete every day/week/month? Did you come up with it on your own or did you and your partner decide together?I created a cleaning schedule to fit my home, my cleaning style and my schedule. Yes, I have a schedule. I do a version of the FlyLady Zone cleaning system. I don’t do everything on her website, it’s just a bit overwhelming for me. Every week, I deep clean a different area of my home. My schedule is set up so that in roughly 7-8 weeks the entire house is deep cleaned. Just because I don’t punch a clock doesn’t mean I don’t have deadlines for some of the things I do. Granted it is a bit more relaxed deadline than those in the corporate world, but stuff still has to get done! I’ve also noticed that since I started Zone Cleaning, the deep cleanings have become easier to deal with on a weekly basis and it’s not that bad – freeing up more time to do other things that I enjoy.
- Has your partner ever added items to your to-do list? And if you’re the employed partner, have you ever wished/requested that your stay-at-home partner would take care of something they don’t?My husband adds things to my list all the time. Honey, can you take the car in and have the tires rotated? Can you change the oil in the truck? Can we work organizing the storage room this weekend? Those kinds of things. Lately, I’ve just incorporated them into my monthly/annual schedule, where they fit best. I try really hard to keep most household chores off his plate unless I need brute strength to get it accomplished.
- What do you do if you feel there’s too much on your plate? And what do employed partners do if the basics are consistently being neglected (dishes/laundry not done)? How do you handle such situations? Is there a boss/employee feel to the discussions?I don’t know what happens in this situation. Sometimes I feel like there is too much to do and that I will never get it all done. My husband hasn’t ever said much about what does/does not get done around the house. I don’t tell him how to do his job, he doesn’t tell me how to do mine.
- Does the employed partner express preferences- “I like my clothes hung like this and the table set like this”- and does the homemaker ignore them, take them as friendly suggestions, or always adhere to them?I don’t think my husband has ever expressed a preference for anything like this… He likes cold cold water, so I always keep the water pitcher filled in the refrigerator. I cook dinner according to his schedule. Mondays and Fridays I don’t usually cook at all since he isn’t home until really late on Monday & Friday we usually go out or go meet with friends.
- How do you decide when you’re done working for the day? When your partner is done? When your list of tasks is complete? If your partner has a long, grueling week at work, do you take it upon yourself to complete additional projects, or do you stick to your usual workload?One of the big reasons I quit my corporate job was because we had no quality time together. When he gets home from work, I am done with my work day other than cleaning up the supper dishes. I mean, really, if you think about it… My husband is Ward Cleaver. LOL. A lot of women might find it demeaning to wait on their husband hand and foot when he comes home, but I don’t. It’s part of what I like to do for him. He works outside the home, pays the bills & eats my cooking without complaint. The least I can do for him not requiring me to “get a job” is get a beer out of the fridge once or twice a week.
- How did your household determine that you would be able to afford for one of you to stay home? Do you have annual meetings to reevaluate your budget?We are probably a little nuts-o with the money and budget. We talk about it all the time, like the weather. We pay the bills together so we both know the money coming in and the money going out. We plan our purchases for the most part, but I don’t nickel or dime him over a soda or candy bar from the convenience store and he doesn’t do that to me, either.
- Do you make-do with less because it’s worth it to both of you for one of you to stay home, or are you able to live and save comfortably- or even luxuriously- on just one income?I don’t get my nails done on a bi-weekly basis anymore. It’s frivolous to me. We don’t eat out as much because I cook most of the time. When we do eat out, it’s now a treat. In the couple of years before I quit my job, we paid off all our debt and bought a newer car to replace one that was 11 years old. We don’t live luxuriously, but we do live comfortably. We still have our membership to the club to play golf and swim in the summer.
- Do you have a way to make money sporadically, whether to be able to afford emergencies, occasional expenses like holiday gifts, treats for your family, and/or treats for yourself?I do cleaning and organization for friends and family occasionally. It’s so sporadic it can only be what my mother-in-law calls Mad Money. If I depended on it for emergencies or gifts, we would be in a world of hurt.
- Do you have your finances set up in such a way that you are financially independent? (I feel like there are probably some worst-case-scenario stories out there..)My husband has a 401K and a retirement package through work. I worked at the same company & will receive a spouse retirement benefit package when he retires as well. I also had a 401K that I converted to an IRA when I left the company. Although I am no longer contributing to it monthly, we do occasionally throw a few dollars at it around refund season.
- If the stay-at-home partner starts pursuing non-paying interests such as volunteering, training for a triathlon, or learning an instrument, does everyone agree that certain household tasks can be set aside? Or does the employed partner pitch in?I figure my home and husband come first. Any free time I have after that can go to extracurricular activities. I volunteer with my mother-in-law at our local food pantry on Fridays. We stuff boxes with food and unload trucks. My volunteer work is incorporated into my schedule.
- Homemakers, what aspect of staying at home is most challenging to you? I could imagine that monotony, cabin fever, feeling unappreciated, potential lack of financial independence, and other people’s judgmental attitudes might all pose challenges.I think with the invention of the internet, boredom is a state of laziness. There is always something to read, learn or watch. There are plenty of other people out there to connect with in some way to pass the time. Being at home today is not like being at home even 40 years ago. You have to try really hard to be “disconnected” from society now. I don’t get cabin fever in the sense that I “GOT TO GET AWAY!” so much, but rather itching for spring & summer to do some of the activities I’ve missed doing all winter. Feeling unappreciated? I’ve had paying jobs with that feeling. I prefer being a homemaker on my own terms. I don’t think my efforts are unappreciated at all.I would say that the biggest drawback I have experienced being a housewife is the judgement I receive from other women. It’s like I am not good enough or the work that I do is menial.
- But let’s end on a high note: homemakers, what’s your absolute favorite aspect of working in the home? And employed partners, what’s the best part of your arrangement?Best part of my day: Kissing my husband the minute he walks through the door. Having a home I can be proud of, cooking healthy meals for my family, and be available to my family when they need me.
Upon finishing this questionnaire I read the comments from other readers. A common note that was touched on was the notion that the husband rules the roost. That isn’t so much in our family. We are more of a Co-Op. We both have our strengths and weaknesses. And we both know our boundaries. Since I have been home, I have heard more “Honey, the house is so nice!” than I have ever heard in my life. I don’t think the man has said a cross word to me since I became a HomeMaker. We both have so much less stress now that I am home full-time and I am taking care of my family the way I always wanted.