October 06, 2014

Good Ole Fashioned Homemaking

So, it has been a little over 5 years since I became a stay at home wife.  In that period of time I have tried and failed on different ways to “keep house.”  What I longed for I never seem to be able to attain:  a clean, orderly home that has been refurbished and decorated with the beautiful things that I have collected over the past 10 years or so.  I never seem to be able to keep up on the laundry or make a menu plan and stick with it.  It shouldn’t be that difficult, but I haven’t been able to stick to it. 

In the past 5 years I have gone through 2 major bouts of depression along with anxiety/panic attacks which then ushered in menopause. Those were some interesting years and I am glad they are behind me. 

My dream has kept eluding me because of a flaw:  I am a procrastinator along with having some attention deficit problems.  I can get side tracked easily but if I can sit down and make a plan, I can stick with it until the plan needs to be tweaked.  Then I get frustrated and want to give up. 

Well, about a month ago I started to think about how my mom kept house and how my grandmother kept house.  I was trying to figure out how they did it.  My mom told me how she divided chores and spread them throughout the week.  She made sure the downstairs was kept looking nice, especially the entryway, but didn’t worry so much about the upstairs.  My grandmother, on the other hand, cleaned her house every day.  She lived in a very small farm house which was heated by a coal stove.  She mopped floors everyday along with dusting and cleaning everything.  I think the main reason she did this was due to the fact that when she was a child, she had no home.  She lived on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her siblings and they had nothing.  To get married, have a family and a small house was the world to her so she took very good care of her home and belongings as she wanted them to last. 

My mom brought up a point that is different for my generation and that is that we are sidetracked by technology that interrupts our day.  Wow, this is very, very true.  I am always checking my phone for messages and I always have the t.v. on while I am working which means I stop to listen to something that “invites me in” to stop and listen.  My mom used to clean while listening to the radio.  My grandmother cleaned to listening to herself sing. 

After 5 years of not attaining what I wanted to attain to be as a homemaker, I decided that it was time to really sit down and have a heart to heart with myself as to what I want to be and if it was attainable or not.  I decided that it was attainable and that I really, really wanted to have the kind of warm, clean home that my grandmother had.  I also want the peacefulness that comes from having order in my home, albeit not to the level of scrubbing floors every single day, but finding a happy medium that I can actually do.   I want what my grandmother had:  a routine that led to a peaceful and orderly home.  It brought her happiness and I was always happy in her home and surroundings.

In thinking this over, I realized that I can have what my grandmother had if I am willing to make some changes in my life.  I need to keep a schedule not just for homemaking but for time for friends.  I got into the habit of accepting an invitation to coffee on the spur of the moment when the laundry was piled up and then I would find myself getting side tracked for the rest of the day.  Now I am starting to schedule in those coffee times with friends and that is working so much better.  I am finding out that my friends would prefer to do this too. 

So, how do I attain my vision of being the kind of homemaker that my grandmother was?  Well, grandmother died in 1985 so I can’t ask her, but I can look at homemaking books from her era to get a glimpse into what it was like to be a homemaker in the 1940’s and beyond.  I have started to collect old Home Ec. Books and I have been reading them.  Remember when Home Ec. was considered a science?  I still consider it a science.  Look at a Home Ec. book from the early 1900’s up to the 1960’s and you get an idea of how a woman took care in the keeping of her home.  Being a homemaker is work if you really want to do it right.  It means that you properly clean and keep the home clean all the time.  You serve nutritious meals and you take proper care of clothing and such.  If you look at the time involved in the role of homemaker, it is definitely a full time job.  I am embracing it.  This is my calling.

Here is a picture of my Home Ec. book from 1971 when I was in 7th grade.  I found it on Amazon.  I also purchased Home Ec. books from 1915, 1940’s, 1950’s the 1980’s. 

I am really enjoying the book from 1915 entitled “The Science of Homemaking.”  Homemaking was taken very seriously.   It was important that the housewife not only keep a home clean for presentation, but for sanitation.  There is so much information in this book regarding cooking, nutrition, cleaning and sewing that is relevant today.  

So, here is what I am doing.  I am gleaning as much information as I can from these books and I will be implementing these homemaking guidelines in my own home.  I am homeschooling myself in the proper way to keep a home.  If I were to tell some people this, they would laugh and think I was crazy.  But, for me, it is like choosing being at teacher or an accountant for a career – this is my career – this is what I want to do.

I want to be a better homemaker.  I have goals and dreams and yes, they are centered around my home and family.  In order to be better, I need more education.  I truly believe that I am going to be able to settle down, read and glean as much as possible from these books.  Change does not happen overnight, but I am motivated and most of all, I want this.  More than anything I want to be successful as a homemaker and I want to make this house more of a home than a house.

I’ve had the career outside of the home and I was successful.  I was known for being a great employee and hard worker.  I would rather be known for being a great homemaker, wife, mother and grandmother.  I want to be known for my hospitality and for being happy and fulfilled.  I am on my way.  


Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are back! I've been checking in often and was pleasantly surprised today to see you are returning.

Homemaking is exactly that, isn't it? It is an art form, just like cooking, quilting, and other branches of homemaking that have now become more appreciated.

I need to study up on homemaking skills too: weekly menu planning, cleaning schedule, and so on. I look forward to your upcoming posts on this!

Sandy said...

So glad to see you back blogging. I read your posts about homemaking previously and understood your thoughts exactly. I worked outside the home for 31 years as a teacher and looked so forward to retirement. I loved my job and was extremely fortunate, but all I ever wanted to do was keep house. Funny, I was a home economics major, but it died a quick death and I only taught it three years. I retired in June and have found it very hard to get those routines down, but I am punching away at it. Maybe we will get this thing figured out. I am loving being home either way.

Paula said...

Martha, I agree that a neat, clean home is a pleasure. I grew up with a mother who was both employed outside the home and disorganized. I was fascinated by other peoples' homes that were orderly and clean all the time.

I was born organized, I think, and pretty much taught myself to clean. For many years I was a fanatic. Age and a retired husband have mellowed me somewhat. I'm no longer physically able to deep clean both spring and summer, so I choose fall and just finished not long ago. It's harder every year.

I still do as I've always done, making Thursday the day I do my heavy weekly cleaning and laundry. By keeping this day free for that purpose and sticking to it, I know I can count on always having things nice for the weekend.

I am strict about the bed being made and bathrooms straightened up as soon as we're dressed in the morning. Ditto the kitchen promptly cleaned after meals and the trash out daily.

These things, plus just always putting things where they belong keeps the house tidy enough to satisfy me at this stage of life. Just don't look in my closets!

Mrs. Miano said...

I love the older homemaking books too!! There are some good newer ones also...Check out some older Emilie Barnes books or Home Comforts form the Library- all good!I am glad to see you back blogging and look forward to reading new posts! I haven't blogged in may years as life got "busy" Take care...you will do it I know...because you WANT to! that is the only place to start. What has helped me a ton is to not complicate things too much to focus on simple/basic ways. I have also been affected a lot over the last year about possessions in my home- I realise the connection between things....and having to maintain those things. I am by no means a minimalist....but have recently packed up a lot of decorations- lessened the furniture, sold some extras- and dtiched the too many pillows, rugs, blankets- stuff that stuffed my home. And guess what?? It is so much easier to clean!!! I mean like 50-80% easier!!! I am amazed....but really when you think about it..our grannies had so much less than us to maintain...even the size of their homes was much more humble. Their clothes were more simple, their food less complex...anyway it has given me inspiration to not get all caught up in all that. I still have a lot to learn about what a simple life really means...but I have found so much more time and space with just the few things I have started. It is a journey! you will do great!!

Lynn said...

Have you tried the book Sink Reflections by the Flylady, Marla Cilley? It changed my life. It deals with the self defeating tendencies of perfectionism and poor time management (i.e. I have all day syndrome - what do you mean it is 5:00 p.m.). PS - I am very glad you are back blogging. I enjoy your blog very much.

Martha said...

@Lynn: Yes I have that book also and am working my way through it. I will have to post about my journeys through different books that I have collected over the years. I am a definite flybaby.

Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy, you sure have hit the nail on the head. I want a clean home too, but hate the time that it takes to do it. I am looking forward to any handy hints that you have.