Friday, 20 September 2013

Being a 21st Century Housewife

I don't work and I have husband and children. What does that make me? A Home-maker? A Stay at Home Mum? A Housewife? Unemployed? All of the above?

I often come across internet arguments of working mothers versus stay at home mothers. Stay at home mothers will list all the chores they do and liken it to work and reference the sacrifices they have made to be at home with their children. Working mothers will point out they still have to do all those chores in much less time and reference the sacrifices they have made to keep the money coming in. But generally they have all made the decision they have for the same was the best financial decision for their family.

When it comes to whether I work or not the deciding factor was definitely money. If I did go back to work by the time we'd paid for child care and lost child tax credit the difference in our monthly income would be the nothing, or very marginally more. Add on expenses such as food, clothes and travel for me to work and the children to child care and then subtract the savings I can make by being at home and it was clear. If I worked our financial status would go down. Perhaps if I had been in a career job it would have been worth the sacrifice to remain in my job, but my job was only there to pay the bills.

The term housewife always seems very 1950's to me. I think of a domestic goddess subservient to her husband, with a perfect house, cooking up perfect meals. She wants to be at home and lives to please her family. They have good income and want for nothing. Where-as I'm at home because it makes financial sense until the kids are at school. Not exactly the career plan I had in mind when I was younger and when I'm finished having children and they are all at school I'll need to undertake some sort of further training to get back into work.

Don't get me wrong though, I love being at home. I love that I get to spend all day with my children and don't miss out on any of their firsts. I love that I'm there for them when they are poorly and that they know each day Mummy will be there for them. I love that I've been able to make parenting decisions for my children without the bias of work commitments, for example continuing to breastfeed and being able to still loose a bit of sleep without feeling I need to choose sleep training methods. I love going to toddlers groups and watching my children play and grow.

I love that the time I spend with my husband isn't spent catching up on chores we haven't been able to do when at work. My Husband and I are equal within our relationship regardless of employment status, so when he's home he chips in with the chores, but there's never that much left to do as I get on with it during the day. It gives us the luxury that by 7pm everything is done and we can relax together.

I love that I have the time to keep the house a nice environment for the family. I'm not much of a clean freak, our house is presentable, clean and tidy(ish) but its by no means spotless. Still I have plenty of time to keep on top of things. I'm solely in charge of things like the washing and cleaning the bathroom, but some jobs are still shared in the evening. I love being able to shop around for deals on food and plan our meals. I love having time to bake a cake, or cook an elaborate meal if I want to. There is a nice feeling when you create a lovely meal that everyone likes.

In a typical day I will clean, tidy, wash clothes, attend a baby groups, play with the children, drop off and pick up my daughter from nursery, cook meals from scratch and spend time online planning these activities. On paper perhaps I am a typical housewife. I don't feel its my "job" to do this, more that it needs doing and its fair that I do since I'm not the one at work all day.

Not that long ago there was the expectation that a woman would give up work when she got married. I think there is still an expectation that most women will go part time, if not after the first baby then definitely after the second.  I don't think there is much of an expectation that a woman will stop work altogether although I know a lot of women with children who did just that. I certainly never expected that I'd be a "housewife". Perhaps it is this conflict between expectations of a career I had as a young woman and the fact I am now a housewife that means I'm not 100% comfortable in a role I actually quite like. And in all honesty I do like being a housewife, or at least my version of it.


SarahMummy said...

Good for you! I was always happy going to work. I went full-time after my first and part-time after my second. Now all three kids are at school life is actually more stressful at home and my work is being devalued all the time. I'd like to be a stay at home mum now. I'd be a happier and more organised mum, which I'm sure would be good for my kids.

Rhiannon Morkus said...

I share your unease with the term but love doing it! I am on maternity leave from a job which I already feel to be unsustainable working full time with a baby. I also share chores with my husband but don't think that it is work to do the washing, cooking or cleaning. As you said, it needs doing so I do it!

We haven't made a final decision about my role going back to work and how this will work. A lot depends on my employer.

Looks like you have a well trained helper there! X

From the plug you post linky.