Saturday, January 26, 2013

Domestic care of the home - a profession?

I was given these questions to answer, some of which I answered rather briefly, as I'm not sure what anyone expected to learn from me, I am neither an expert nor very professional in the way I keep up my home, but I thought I'd post my answers here anyway.  I did try to be, if nothing else, honest.

Check out From Chore to Job, where housework is taken seriously.

  1. Do you see the domestic care of the home as a profession, and if so, how does one make it "professional"?
I see domestic care of the home not so much as a profession as a vocation.  Even then, it all depends on what we really mean by domestic care of the home.  If by that, we mean caring for our family and making it a good place to be, then it is a vocation.  If by that we mean keeping it neat and tidy and perfect-looking, then it is a chore.

I am not professional in any sense of the word when it comes to my home.  I am disorganized and somewhat inconsistent.  The only real professionalism I may have is the insistence that when you do a thing, you put some effort into it, and you do it properly.  The rest is trying to keep a balance between accommodating school, work and activities outside of the home with time to relax and time to do chores.

  1. When you decided to stay home to take care of your children, were there negative reactions from family, friends or colleagues?
Staying at home was a default choice.  I did not have a career to begin with.  We moved shortly after getting married and I had no job in the city we moved to.  No one said anything to me.

  1. What, in your personal family history, influenced you to make this decision?
My mother was a stay-at-home mom.  We never missed out on anything because she didn’t work outside of the home.  In fact, I think we had a richer childhood because she was consistently there for us.

  1. How do you manage to fit everything in: cleaning, cooking, kids, soccer games and school work, time with husband, friends, your own blog and novel writing?  Does something suffer or do you have a working plan with your husband and kids so that everyone is involved?
I don’t fit everything in.  One week my house may be cleaner than the next.  One week might see more gourmet meals than the next.  The only consistent things are the outside activities, such as soccer, swimming, catechism and mass.  I don’t set a time a part every day for working on a novel, I work on it when I have time.  I don’t keep up with my blog consistently, I write when I really have something to say.  I find that I can always fit in time for activities with friends and family, but then it is the housework that suffers.  Having some kind of routine does help; doing the same thing at the same time, if possible, ensures that the thing does get done.  Saturdays are usually chore days in our house. 

Priorities are important.  There are some things that are more important than a clean, perfect house.  Sometimes, you have to let go of that perfect dream house you had in your mind.  You don’t live alone.  The people you live with have different tastes and priorities.  Letting go of perfection is sometimes the best thing you can do.  This does not mean not insisting on good workmanship, or not making the children do their part.  It just means that sometimes, you do have to lower your standards, or risk going crazy.  I have one room in the house that I usually keep uncluttered.  The children do not bring their toys in there.  It is my space.  If I feel I am about to go insane, I retreat there.  There is at least that one place that is almost always up to my standards.  Any other room might be clean and uncluttered in the morning and by nightfall look like an earthquake hit it.

  1. Do you have hired help?  If not, would you ever consider it?
I do not have hired help.  I do not think I would ever consider it, except in cases where the job is something I can’t do, like electrical wiring, plumbing, construction, things like that.  I would not want to have a maid come in my house, for example and have to scrub my dirt.

  1. Have you ever felt envy for those out in the workplace, bringing home a salary?  Have you ever felt less accomplished as a woman, as a person?
I have never felt envy for women out in the workplace.  I think they should rather envy me.  I have had jobs from time to time, more recently, I had a part-time job, working mornings at a coffee shop.  I was always very tired, as I got up early, and went to bed late.  I would sleep in the afternoon, because I knew I’d be in bed late, because of all the evening activities, and homework.  Even so, I was often tired, and because I was sleeping in the afternoon, I lost out on that time in which to do anything.  My house was a mess.  I lived in horror of anyone visiting, I no longer wished to do birthday parties for the children, I didn’t have the energy, and there was the extra dirty house to be cleaned.  I put a lot of effort as I usually do, into Christmas but was too tired to enjoy it.  I have not looked for a new job since losing my job at the coffee shop.  I continue to do hairdressing at home, as I have always done (even when I was working at the coffee shop) and I have been doing some sewing as well.  I don’t feel less accomplished.  In a way, I feel more accomplished.  My house is much neater.  I don’t dread Christmas and birthday parties anymore.  I have time to repaint rooms and make improvements to the house.  But a part of me always feels guilty that I am not actually bringing in much money at all to pay for the bills.

  1. What, in your opinion, is the greatest obstacle to placing sufficient value on the professional running of a home?
I think the greatest obstacle to placing value on the running of the home, is that it is not a paid job, and in our society, unless you are paid for the work you do, or unless it is volunteer work you are doing for the whole community, then there is no value to it.  Taking care of the home is almost considered a “hobby” or a chore, something you do in your free time, when you are not contributing to society.  It is not considered a contribution to society to have happy, well-balanced kids with a stable atmosphere at home.  It is not considered a contribution to society to have a husband who, when he comes home from work, does not have to do a major part of the housework, homework with the children, and cooking.  He may still do some of it, but most of it will have been done already, if he has an organized and consistent wife capable of planning ahead (which I do not claim to be).  Society is too worried about money and things and not worried enough about well-being.

  1. What advice would you give to a couple starting out on the adventure of family life who are anxious to have one of them stay at home, but who don’t want to suffer financial stress?
Live according to your means.  Live on a budget.  Decide what your priorities are and what you can live without.  Almost everything can be bought second-hand.  There are countless ways of living frugal.  Learn simple things like mending and repairing so you don’t have to hire other people to fix things for you.  Do not be afraid (or embarrassed) to either accept or give charity.  Celebrate small things in small ways.  There is no need for extravagance; it is the people you are with, not the amount you spent on a thing that will make you happy.  Turn the heat down in winter and wear sweaters.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Exchange services with other people.

You can check out the interview on their site here: