I am going to quote another author today. Sometimes I find things that are written so well, there’s no choice but to use their words and try not to rewrite it and lose the original meaning, powerful and well-spoken. Today’s quote comes from The Good Housekeeping Guide to Successful Homemaking from 1956. It one piece of the Forward at the beginning of the book.
“In the years that have passed since then, the mechanics, indeed all the conceptions of housekeeping have changed as drastically as many of the products. In 1885 our readers were women whose sole occupation was homemaking. Living was more formal. Servants were more plentiful. Food preparation could (and did) consume many hours and much work. Keeping house was a manual procedure that was done on a strict time schedule – washing on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, upstairs cleaning on Wednesday, and so on through a back-breaking week to baking on Saturday! Truly, in that day, woman’s work was never done.
“Today – how different it is! Homemaking may still be the woman’s chief occupation, but it no longer demands all her time, nor so much manual labor. Modern appliances and methods help her keep her house cleaner with less effort than ever before. Her automatic washer and dryer stand ready to receive clothes as they are soiled, and have banished forever the old ‘blue Monday.'”
What a statement to make in 1956. Seen from the eyes of two thousand and twelve, this homemaker sees things as quite a bit easier than 50, 60 or 100 years ago. Yes, I have a washing machine and dryer; I have a microwave and a stove/oven that heats up on demand. I don’t need to keep the fire hot or “bank the coals” (whatever that means). I don’t beat my clothes on a rock to clean them or have to “darn socks” when they get holes in them. If my babies tear their clothes or ruin their blankets, I can run out to the nearest store and purchase whatever they (or I) need. Things are, indeed, easier.
Or, are they? I get up at 6:30 a.m. and sit quietly with myself for a bit. When the first child stirs, I can get going on cooking whatever they ask me to make them for breakfast. When I’m done, I clean up the kitchen – or sit and write in my blog and then clean the kitchen – and then move about the house doing random things until lunch. The Nanny still does lunch quite a bit. If I have things going on, it’s easier for her to take a break in whatever she’s got going on with them and feed them. And then, all too soon, it’s time to prepare a healthier dinner than the local McDonald’s or Perkins.
Where does my time go? I know I wander quite a bit, looking at things, playing with pictures on my laptop, reading a book or maybe even getting on my sewing machine. As I write this, I see that, perhaps, it is my time management that is not where it should be; life isn’t really all that hectic.
Yes, we do go camping. I find that I actually feel it is more relaxing there than staying home all day. When I am home, my time gets away from me and I end up getting nothing done that I feel I should. Camping, my focus is on providing entertainment for the children, making meals and getting them to sleep at night. Should I shift my focus in my home to the same venue? And, how to do so?
That would be hard. When we are home, we see all the things we want or need to do, right? Like, yesterday. Rendy needed an oil change, so I took it in to Cardon’s. While there, I asked the salon attached to Cardon’s to please file my nails professionally. They are growing long and starting to get annoying. It took her longer to do that than Cardon’s did for an oil change and car wash. When I got home, it was already coming up on 3 p.m. and time to start thinking about dinner. I had in mind to get my pictures all sorted and stored, so I could do a “picture catch up” blog post and start over.
I don’t like a cluttered desktop on my laptop. It drives me insane. Since I am taking a lot more pictures than ever before, I am keeping them in folders – with date and short description. Every few days, I take those and drop them on an external hard drive inside a folder that has simply the month/year. In the future, my babies can look through them and have an idea of time frame on all that they/I have done. Right now, I have 30 folders (labeled, ready for posting and then storage) and one folder called, “To Be Converted” that contains 15 more folders. The “To Be Converted” folder is full of pictures that need to be reduced in size.
My camera takes some pretty high quality pictures but the file size of each is too big for most things I want to do. Rather than shrink the abilities of the camera, I take full size pictures with the camera and then convert/shrink the photos on my computer before posting them and/or storing them. Right now, those 15 folders “To Be Converted” contain a total of 1,022 pictures. But, instead of doing that yesterday, I got my nails painted and wasted an entire afternoon. My nails look great, though! Long and pretty and natural.
At the salon yesterday, I got into a discussion with the manicurist. It’s easy enough – all salon professionals are trained in the art of drawing conversation out of a person. It doesn’t matter who you are; they will engage you in conversation before you know it!
I got to talking about my blog. She asked me what I do for a living. I said, “I’m a homemaker.” From there, I showed her my blog on my phone and actually read her two of the posts while she was doing my nails. I was trying to explain that it is actually quite fun and enjoyable to do so. I reminded her that not everyone can do it. Circumstances allow that I can.
We were talking about cleaning and I said, “I don’t really spend a lot of time cleaning because it is part of my daily routine.” I was explaining how I keep the kitchen clean as I am cooking and thereby, don’t have a lot to do after dinner. I don’t use the dishwasher to “clean” my dishes anymore; it is there to rinse and dry for me.
Picking up the house is a daily routine. There’s no set schedule to it, I (and the Nanny) pick up as we go. The children are taught to clean up what they are playing with before getting something else to play with. In that fashion, I don’t have to make them “clean their room” or fight with them about a living room filled with toys.
So, today is the last day of my deadline to come up with a schedule. At this time, I honestly can’t see how I really need one. My work is done on a daily basis; on an as-needed-routine. Sure, the bathrooms need a scrub now and again; however, I keep the pretty clean as I go (and so do the boys and the Nanny) so, it’s mostly a problem of wiping out the toilet once a week. Do I really need a schedule for that?
No one has ever come to my home and thought it was a mess. No one has ever opened my fridge and freaked at the disgusting mess. Things get cleaned up as they happen (for the most part) and it’s pretty easy to “freshen up” when someone comes over.
So, despite how I felt at the beginning of this post, I think I do have it a lot easier than the homemakers of old. Rather than say I feel like I have no time to get everything done, I need to adjust my thinking. I did get dinner done last night, I did/do keep my house relatively cleaned up and the boys are always active and getting fresh air – not cold TV.
Maybe not spend so much time gabbing away when getting my nails done? That’s not a huge concern – it only happens 2 or 3 times a year. Too expensive and most the time, my nails break off and aren’t long enough to do anything with. Maybe less time reading or wasting time on the computer?
Sounds good to me. How about y’all?
Thank you for listening,