Be sure to read the introduction to our current series, Homemaking Your Way here.
Let’s start with one painfully honest statement: I don’t like homemaking. I am not really good at it. It does not make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t get goosebumps when I smell a pumpkin-scented candle or see a pot of stew warming on the store. I don’t have the “urge” to nest. I don’t feel connected to nature when I touch dirt.
These truths seem to make me a less-than-ideal candidate for writing a homemaking series. But here’s the thing — I know that I’m not alone. I know that many of you would rather be doing something else, anything else, than cooking and cleaning your homes. But alas, unless we have Alice from the Brady Bunch stashed in an imaginary room in our home, we must do these things.
Seven years after being thrust into the “homemaker” position in our home with the birth of our first child, I feel like I can finally say I have found some sort of workable rhythm to keeping my home. It’s not as much a system as it is a management technique that can be summed up with one guiding principle:
Whatever gets you through the day.
There you go. Absolutely earth-shattering. My home management system is simply what I have figured out to get me through to the next morning. Four small children, two home-based businesses, a junior acre of land and an active social life will do that to a girl.
Applied, this principle has looked different during different seasons (and sub-seasons) of my life. After Matthew, my fourth, was born, I had to post a list on the refrigerator to remind me of what tasks were most important as I went throughout my day:
- Clean — the house and people
- Play & Friends — mostly my friends. I had to make sure my girls were on my list because I simply cannot function without them.
- Everything else
So, according to the list, if one person had a poopy diaper and I was starving, I ate and the diaper was changed after that. If someone wanted to play a board game and the baby needed to sleep, I put the baby to sleep and I then tried to find any reason to not play the board game (who decided board games for preschoolers were a good idea?). During this season, I rarely made it to the “Everything else” category. I had to readjust my expectations to live in the reality of having a newborn and three other small children.
Eighteen months later, life is more settled and I no longer need “the list”, but I am trying to live just as simply. Blogs or Martha Stewart or my baking-loving friends don’t set my family’s routine. I do. I’ve finally realized that while I think color-coded charts printed from a computer printer, all labels facing front and children in coordinating, non-character outfits are really pretty (blog perfect), it’s just not happening in the Davis home.
Considering all of this, here is how I know if I am doing my job well:
:: My husband is happy — I have to force myself to let him be the one whom I aim to please with my homemaking attempts, because, after all, it’s his home as much as it is mine. I can’t care what my friends or my mom or a door-to-door salesman thinks. My husband is who matters. Luckily for me, my sweet husband is a reasonable man and has fairly low expectations.
:: Any room in my home can be picked up in less than 10 minutes — I’ll expand on this in a future post, but I doing my job if I can put any one room back together in less than 10 minutes, no matter how disastrous it is. I’m not talking sanitary — just put-back-together.
:: I am lookin’ good — I have four children and it is now impossible to keep up with the story that they are clean, well-groomed and in Hanna Anderrson clothing all the time. They now wear things that don’t match because they dress themselves. They sometimes have food stuck to their cheek because their tongues can’t reach that spot and I forget to wipe them. They wear blue socks with black shoes (gives me a stomach ache just thinking about it). Most days I look at them and say, “You sure look scrappy today.” The boys just look at me with a proud grin.
I figure as long as I look cute — and I’m not talking “What Not to Wear” cute, just regular “she looks clean” cute — I’m doing well. This means I shower every day and I am working really hard at wearing make-up (no pressure — I’m almost 36 and really should be wearing eye-makeup). I do wear workout gear as everyday clothing, but I make sure it’s clothing made for women. And I will not, under any circumstances, wear a baseball hat. My head is just way too big to pull that look off.
:: Peed-in clothing is stored in the washing machine, not the dirty clothes basket or the floor. Small detail, but it really makes the house smell so much better.
I wish there was more to my system, but there’s not. This is it.
I will expand on how I practically “make it through the day” while having a happy husband, a somewhat decluttered home, clean clothes and a cute mama over the next month. And be sure to come back tomorrow when Emily will share her homemaking priorities, personality and philosophies!
Written by Angela Davis, who much prefers the term “homemaker” to “stay-at-home-mom,” has four children, a husband, a home in the “country” but still within 15 minutes of a Target, and a seasonal allergy sufferer. She is always thankful for a rainy spring so she can actually breathe.
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Oh my word, I soooooo needed to read this today! THANK YOU!
Kim Hayes says
” I don’t feel connected to nature when I touch dirt.” Angela I love you! I so wish we were neighbors!
I cannot tell you how refreshing this is to me. I just had #4 about 4 months ago and am struggling through the day just to keep my home from looking like a tornado tore through it.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
Angela R says
HA!! How refreshing!! I am finally getting around to reading all the posts in this series and worked my way back to this one.
I love your honesty. LOVE. I’ve decided that my philosophy is this: I like a clean and tidy home, but I want someone else to do it for me. But, I don’t want to pay a housecleaner, because that will require me to pick everything up off the floor. So, can you do a post about people like me? 😉
Looking forward to reading the other posts you have planned for this series.
My philosophy on my home and drop in company: If you’re here to see me, come on in! If you’re here for fresh baked goods or to examine my home, make an appointment — I won’t be here.
Our mom’s and our grandmothers had pressure in their homemaking lives, but their outside pressures were limited. These days, we are expected to be the best at everything.
Sorry. I am pretty awesome, but I can’t do it all. If you’re looking for perfect, check the neighbor’s house.
Reading this just made me feel SO much better. I don’t have 4 kids, but I work full-time and have 2 kids and all the usual chores. Since the baby came 7 months ago my house regularly looks like a bomb went off. Just knowing others are struggling with this too takes a little pressure off.
Oh my goodness, this is a Post After My Own Heart. “Blogs or Martha Stewart or my baking-loving friends don’t set my family’s routine. I do. ” Bless you, bless you, bless you!
Woo Hoo! Now to convince my husband that not all wives LIVE to be a SAHM who LIKES homemaking 🙂
You are AWESOME, you always look cute, and that pic of you is GORGEOUS!
I agree 100% This post was so refreshing. And I laughed so hard about the pee clothes in the washing machine. SO TRUE! Keep this coming. I love it!
I didn’t read any of the other comments. A friend posted this on Facebook. Just had to say that I’ve never read your blog before, but I love you. I only have two kids and 1 job and 1 cat and 1 husband, and I shower maybe once every 3 days. It doesn’t feel like a success, ever. I’m sliding into home plate, just barely, at the end of each day and today I’m wearing a knit cap to hide my dirty hair. But I really like your lists. I have one on my fridge too, but it’s overly ambitious. I’m going to replace it with yours and feel a bit better, I think, as a result! Happy Mother’s Day!
Oh, I love her! So sad she’s not my neighbor!
Tiffany Kerns says
Angela, After meeting you in Eugene and reading a few of your posts, can I just say, if I ever move to Portland, you and I would be great friends! I so resonate with you and your philosophy of life 🙂 Hang it there through allergy season 🙂
I love the post. I only have two – 3.5 and almost a year… but I remind myself someday they will be more able to help clean up their messes! Thank you for the reminder that as wives and mothers, our job is to please our husbands and take care of our children… not the other way around!
And I just stumbled upon a new way to clean up last night. Play hide and seek. While they are hiding and you begin searching for them, start chucking stuff in the toy box and delivering objects to their correct home. I cleaned up most of my house in 20 minutes last night while still playing with my 3 year old. 🙂
Thank you for another “awe ha moment.” As I sip my morning coffee at 5:30 am and pray that the youngest child doesn’t have fever today! I sit in silence- LOVE IT! Glance at the family calender and confirm today is Friday and Daddy will be home (airline industry). Amen, we made it another week.
After five years of marriage, two boys later and working full time outside of the home… I am still standing. I have been frugal livings blog fan since Oct. 2008.
The blog has connected me with my sense of reality. Honestly, FLNW is my hobby and I appreciate the connection I have when reading the blog. In truth, I learned three years ago that life was changing fast but wanted to have one hobby- so here I am!
I am not a very good homemaker! I love being a mommy but I stuggle with balance of what that means sometimes? I am not a lego girl, avoid The Candylane game and recently learned Crayola colored bubbles at the dollar tree stain the youngest child so now bubbles are on my list.
In truth, I wish we as women felt like we could talk more open about our daily struggles and victories. This topic has been my soapbox for several years and most recently I decided to not sugar coat it but speak my truth…Some of my girlfriends ask how I managing our family and I reply I am medicated. Their looks are so hilarious but 7 months ago this was my reality. So it is what it is… I am a better wife, mother and friend. Not just because of the happy pill but becuase I freed myself of whatever expectations I felt were a priority and at that time everything seemed like it had to be done now!!!!
So to my friends at FLNW- Have a wonderful day, week and month.
And remember when life keeps crazy- that you have permission to turn up the must and sing American Women real really loud!
Jenn @ I Am Not Superwoman says
Great post! “Whatever works” is my philosophy. It may not be perfect and still needs fine tuning but it works for us and that is all that matters. My house might not be perfect but is is perfect for us. You can probably eat a meal or two off the floor at any given time (not because the floor is that clean) but because of the dropping from the kiddos as they eat. But on the + side that means we have food on the table. My closets they are a hot mess but who sees them anyways? We have clothes to wear (maybe not always clean but we still have clothes on our back). My toilets, don’t even get me going on those. We have indoor plumbing. When I start getting worked up about our imperfect house, I try and take a step back and think how blessed I am to have a house and all the responsiblities that come with it. Can’t wait to read more.
Jess K says
I love your philosophy… “Whatever gets you through the day.” I’m so with you on that one. The standards I usually find myself failing to meet are my own, so when I can relax enough to realize that the only people I really need to please and focus on are the people that LIVE in my home (myself included) it makes the clutter seem a lot less volatile. 🙂 My standards are now a lot more realistic- the main thing for me is clean kitchen counters. Everything else can be falling to pieces, but if I can just take ten minutes to clear and wipe down my kitchen counters, I feel the strangest sense of calm and balance. Now, when I feel like I’m about to lose my ever lovin’ mind, I load up that dishwasher in a frenzy and hose off my countertops and ahhhh… life is good again. Whatever gets me through the day. 😉
Angela H says
LOOOOOOOOOVE it. Thank you… totally needed to read this. You are my hero.
Krista S. says
I too have had to learn to let things go as we added more people to the family. I managed to maintain my “pre-children house look” after the first and did okay with the second, but when our third came . . . . he threw everything and everyone out of whack! Now I am simply thankful to get a daily shower and at least two decent meals in me – forget scrubbing the floors and dusting weekly! Fortunately I married an amazing husband and all he expects is that the kids are happy and fed and cleaned now and then 🙂 Check, check, and well check tomorrow night on the last one!
Thanks for the encouraging post. I enjoy reading others true to life perspective that embraces non-perfect house, children, and self!
Thanks. This was so great. I work around& 50 hours a week (some from home) as a college instructor. I always had an image of what SAHMs and their kids look like…perfection. I’m suddenly feeling much better about the little I do get done at home!
Love it! Thanks for being REAL! “clothing made for women”…haha! I hear you, girl!
Love this blog and this post. I am a SAHM who loves it…not the title, but the location! 🙂 I love that I have the option of staying home and not having to work…it works (no pun intended) for us and that is all that matters. On the homemaking part though, I don’t like cleaning. Never did even when I was working, but it keeps me sane in the sense that I like a clean place to live, so I take pride in it and enjoy the process. I am a role model for my child too which is a teaching moment. Believe me, compared to my “previous” life, cleaning the toilet or mopping the floor isn’t my favorite, but it sure beats time at my old job any day! 🙂 Plus, my husband was raised by a messy mom, who I love for the record, so any effort that I put into our home on my worst day is a pleasant surprise for him…thank goodness! Love that man! 🙂
I think you saved my life today. Thank you for writing this because I have been having one hell of a week. Still learning how to be at home with a 1 year old and another one due in August. Looking forward to more posts! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel much better after knowing that I’m not the only one that feels overwhelmed at times. Even though most “working” women think it’s easy to stay at home.
Loved this!! And I thought you preferred HOME MANAGER?
Kristin Hallgren says
Nice post Ang. Hope you are doing well!
For anyone interested….I just read a book by Dr. Laura, “In Praise of Stay at Home Moms.” I just happened to find this book on clearance for $1 at Big Lots, and I’m so glad I did because I needed to read it! It’s full of good stuff that I needed to hear, and reinforces my beliefs that staying home with your children is not the easy thing to do, but the right thing to do for them and your marriage.
I prefer “working from home”. I commute about 20 feet every morning. My commute is from my bed to the coffee pot. I take care of most everything so my hubby just gets to come home and relax.
I went from full time job to full time homemaker (without a car!!!) in Feb. This is nice to know that most people end up living like us. There is nothing bad about it, but there are days where I don’t shower, or I forget to eat. I only have one kiddo, but am prego with the second (which has been AWFUL!!! From still having morning sickness to appendix issues to surgery to post-surgery problems), and so when I see other people can’t do it all I don’t feel as bad. I was able to “maintain” my home while working, so anything above that is good. I guess. We have cut our eating out bill in half 😉 guess that is an accomplishment.
I am not a WAHM or a SAHM. However, I sometimes feel like a SHAM (no pun, just that actual definition). I work full-time on top of all the “homemaking” I need to be making. Thank you for this article. I now feel a little less crazy & alone than I did a few hours ago. In my book, that’s a good day!
I love it! You made my day after having a tough afternoon with my middle child!! Thanks!!
I have to admit that my husband is a much better homemaker than me. I have been home almost 6 years and I am still trying to find peace with it!! Although, my house is cleaner now that I have kids. Somehow I became more organized and better at cleaning since practicing at home every day. My cooking is worse, though….If I have a meat dish cooked when my husband is home then I am thrilled (we eat dinner in two shifts, kids first and then my husband since my kids can’t wait that late to eat dinner!!)
I thought storing dirty clothes in the washer was brilliant. We just started that recently. (Although, we run about 3 loads of clothes a day so they don’t sit too long!!)
Thank you for this. Seriously. I am a fairly new homemaker (quit my job in February to stay at home with my two year old and newborn sons) and am still trying to figure out what our life is supposed to look like. I can relate to what you’ve said and it helps me to put things into perspective. I just may print this out and keep it on my fridge as a reminder. Thanks again.
Um…I think I’m in love with you! Haha!! Great post:) On my kids school registration under Occupation I always put “Domestic Goddess” – my mom put “Happy Homemaker” on ours!
This is awesome. I have twin 2 year olds and need a reminder now and again that this house is going to have the “lived in” look for the next 17 years…or longer! And thats OK!
Hey, I have twin 2 year olds too! Maybe we should meet at McDonalds (one of MY coping strategies!) Do you live near Clackamas?
Twin Mom says
For those with a Christian perspective, I love Margaret Kim Peterson’s book “Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life.” She is a theologian as well as a wife and mother. Interlibrary loan may be needed. She focuses on WHY we care for others by doing housekeeping chores, not exactly which chores we do or not.
I’m glad I’m not the only one soaking peed in underwear and pants in my washer. I loved reading your “real” homemaking post.
I think after my 3rd was born I relaxed and let the house be more “lived in”, so gee 4 kids wow. My youngest now is in preK and am so thankful her school has a drive-thru line for those mornings that I don’t get myself all together after getting everyone out the door smiling.
My challenge about being a SAHM is challenging myself in something besides kids activities and keeping the house up.
I too can put a room back together in 10 minutes. Of course just becasue I can doesn’t mean my kids can or that I always do. I swaer it thake the kids 10 minutes to tear there bedrooms apart and about and hour to clean it up. But they need to learn so I make them do it even thought it would be faster and easier if I just did it.
Tiffany S. says
On a recent mortgage application, I was described as a Home Engineer. Fine by me. Beats “Unemployed.”
Hannah Tuck says
Thank you so much for this! I definitely needed a reality check as to what “real life” entails. Although I only have one child (6 months), I can relate to much of what you shared. I found myself relaxing a bit as I read your post. I also needed a good giggle. Thanks so much!
Love the peed in clothing thing.. my husband and I had a little disagreement over this a few days ago when he went to put some soiled clothes in my sons hamper and I told him to just throw it in the wash. A few hours later, he asked..”Well, aren’t you going to wash it?” I replied, “I’m not going to wash ONE pair of pants. I’ll get to it next time I do the laundry!” And he stared at me as if I was an alien..but dropped it.
Karen K says
Uh, best post I’ve read on “homemaking”. Which I don’t like as a word. I’m a SAHM. Lousy at “homemaking”. But I love your guidlines! Maybe it will help me go easier on myself. Now back to cleaning… =)
Steph Winningham says
Love this! You have such a gift communicating via the written (or typed:)) word.
Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs says
Aw, I love this!! I like to think I can pick up a room in 10 minutes, too! That’s about as good as it gets. I do find that if I make the 7 year old vacuum the floor every so often, that simple act will make the whole house feel more relaxed.
Thanks for being so REAL! Love this!
Love it! Your blog is my favorite and the only one I read nearly every day. Every time I read one of your more personal posts I just nod and laugh! Also, I sort of cringe a little whenever I hear myself referred to as “stay-at-home mom,” but I don’t really know why.
Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs says
That is so interesting!! I actually hate the term “homemaker” because I suck at it. I’m a much better SAHM! Of course, I run businesses too, so that gets a little complicated. Perhaps I’m a WAHM.
Kelleigh: I have moved to homemaker so I am motivated to actually make my home! It also helps me from falling into our generation’s total obsession with children — caring for my kids is one part of my occupation, not the whole thing. Perhaps I would like “Stay at home wife” better — I think we all need to be lovin’ our husbands a bit more!
Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs says
Ooh! I like SAHW a lot better. Sexy! 🙂
Oh man, seriously. I hesitate to put my husband on the to-do list, but sometimes it’s just necessary. I have learned that as long as he and I have a happy, easy-going marriage, everything else just seems to fall into place. Little things don’t get us down, we help each other out more because we’re not nitpicking each other’s faults, the kids are more relaxed and so on and so on.
LOVE this post. LOVE. I don’t necessarily enjoy doing most of these “homemaking” tasks, but I do enjoy the peace it brings and knowing that this is part of my contribution to the family.
Okay, I didn’t mean “to-do” my husband in the literal sense. 🙂
Short, sweet, to the point, FREE-exactly as information suhlod be!