Homemaking: So...What Do You Do All Day?

(I wrote this piece as a new mother of one baby, four(!) years ago. I read through it again recently and loved the reminder it gave me to be the best at my job that I possibly can. After reading it, I wanted to add all sorts of new insights, updates, and corrections as a now-mother of three kids, and a full-time homemaker of 5 years...but I decided to mostly just leave it as it was: a piece from a fresh-faced, new mom trying to figure out her new job. Enjoy!)

"What do you do all day?"

The question was posed by my bored-out-of-her-tree, childless Sister-in-Law. She'd been stuck at home for the last three days with pneumonia, forced to stay home from work to relax, recuperate, and....um....what?

It's the question I've seen in my husband's eyes on occasion when he mentally runs through his own personal to-do list of what he thinks I should have accomplished that day and is forfeited the satisfaction of mentally checking it off. I think he even asked it out loud once....and then learned never to ask it again, at least not with that tone of voice...(you know the one I mean).

It's also the question I asked myself when I was home for the last couple months of my pregnancy, fresh from the structure of my post-secondary education and all of its deadlines and expectations. When I couldn't answer that question with any kind of self-satisfying response, I started to dread being a stay-at-home mom...something I had always looked forward to. 

More than a question, it was a plea: Will someone, ANYONE, tell me how this is supposed to be a fulfilling line of work??? 

At the time, my sister-in-law was asking with pleading, too. She was also worried that her bored several days at home meant she was doomed to hate stay-at-home motherhood FOR-EV-ER.

So, we chatted.

These were my thoughts that I shared...though not verbatim, because let's face it: what you should have said is, without fail, always better than what you actually said. So here's the basic idea...(improved by my post-convo elaborations and epiphanies):

I have a job to do. Self-employed, if you will. 

What I do around here is my duty, my responsibility, my art. All wonderfully, stressfully, gloriously mine.
Just like any job, you can show up, breathe the air, and do only as much as you need to earn the paycheck. I used to look at maintaining a house like that: just suffer through it (ugh!) so you can hurry and get on with living, already.
And I suppose that was okay back when I was a student. I had roommates, and we shared housekeeping responsibilities, which got done...um...sometimes...y'know, when someone wanted a distraction break from studying. Maybe. The only thing solely our own responsibility was our room, where no one else really went and the place that could easily hide behind a closed door while we were busy chasing fits of laughter, potential Prince Charmings, and the next mid-term paper...(in that order, I might add). 

And so, keeping a home came SECOND to all of those firsts, a tough spot for a home to be. In fact, come to think of it...home was usually the way we referred to the place where we went on holidays, the place that was well-maintained by a momma who made us warm meals, listened to our woes, and welcomed us with arms thrown wide. Oh, that haven of a place! The place we resided while at school just wasn't the same. 

Since going through the transitions from being a single student, to getting married and being a married student, to becoming a full-time stay-at-home mama, I've discovered that going from partial house-sharer to being THE Home-maker was a pretty big process in my life. It's got a steep learning curve! Or, maybe it's just me: I'm constantly fighting a long-lived attraction to the philosophy that almost everything else...especially having fun.... is so much more important than cleaning a stinkin' house.

I'm also slowly discovering that making a home is much, much more than just 'cleaning a house.' I am learning to take great satisfaction in getting better at my job. 

I take pride in making a meal plan that works, saves money, and is nutritious for my growing little family. 

I feel good about keeping on top of the cleaning, in doing just a little at a time so it's never a gigantic and overwhelming event. 

I feel challenged by considering how best to create systems and routines to keep the flow of our house generally running smoothly, something that doesn't come naturally to me...but is exciting to learn!

I find joy in the moments where I get to just sit and stare at my precious baby, making faces at her and reveling in her smiles...basking in the poetry of the moment. 

I find satisfaction in keeping my home in order so that when my hubby comes home from a day of chaos and confusion, he can breathe and find peace in this safe haven of ours. 

I feel fulfilled as I learn new skills...some directly related to homemaking, and others not....that challenge me and build confidence so that I can continue to grow as an individual, and be a pillar of strength to my family and friends.

And I face the day happy when I invest a small amount of my day to being spiritually renewed so that I can lift others with love and compassion...whether they can feel that in my home, or whether I can take that with me from that same home. 

I am learning that one of the greatest descriptions of my job as homemaker is this:
Home is something that I create.

Creativity at its finest...and in its most crucial setting, I believe.

So...I guess, specifically, there could be lots of varying answers to my sister-in-law's desperate question from homemakers of countlessly different situations around the world, male and female alike. But I think the overarching idea of being a creator is universal: the primary creator of the space and atmosphere where your family comes together to love, grow, live, fight (haha), and learn together. 

And what a beautiful job it is.


What would you add? How would you answer the question if someone asked you what you do all day, full-time homemaker or not?


  1. I love this Laura!

    I used to think I could never be a stay-at-home mama. However, I had children and that changed. I want this job, I love this job, I take great pride in this job. When I can save $20 on groceries this month as opposed to last month... I'm delighted! I like playing with the schedule and streamlining things. Like this homeschool year... it's running so smoothly and I'm so proud that it only took me a year and a summer to figure it out! LOL

    I love this line... "Home is something that I create".

    Yes, indeed... it is.

    Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring. You just... wow.

    1. PS - I shared this on my Deliberate Mom Facebook page because once again, you have blown me away with your writing.

    2. Jennifer, your comments always make my day! Thank you so much for that. And thank you for sharing!

      Also, I am coming to you for advice (again!) and re-reading every one of your blog posts on homeschooling when I venture into it! Seriously, I am so impressed with your skills!

  2. I ditto what Jennifer said. Love that line and feel like maybe it should be on like a print or something. Home is something that I create. LOVE it! Well said! (Leilani)

  3. Amen! Learning curves for sure. It took me a long time to figure out how my "creativity" applied to what at first seemed rather dull. Thanks for inspiring me to continue "creating" my little home. :)

    1. Thank YOU, Chelsea! I'm always inspired by the things you share as a mother and homemaker.


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