I hear it time and time again: The image of the traditional housewife is unrealistic and unobtainable for any woman on this planet… But simply put? It’s just not true.
The argument is that no woman on the planet is capable of stepping out of the pages of something like The Good Wife’s Guide and being the immaculate traditional Housewife that women are expected to be in our society; that the expectations placed upon Women in this area are not only ridiculously unrealistic, but are also ultimately unobtainable for any single person in existence.
The argument does have some merit, I’ll admit. We do place a lot of pressure on Women in our society to be the perfect Homemaker. More than that, we often face social stigmatization for not wanting to be a Homemaker (or a mother) at all. And all of this can be toxic, because not everyone can do it; ultimately there are disabilities, careers, mental illnesses, finances, and all number of things which may prevent someone from actively taking on a domestic role in the house- including a person’s own desires. And the desire not to be a traditional Housewife is just as valid as the desire to be one.
It’s both unfair and unrealistic to expect (or even demand) that all Women take on such a burden- or worse, tell them that they are unable to do it because they’re simply not trying hard enough. But despite the problems with telling all Women to be primary caretakers, mothers, and homemakers? There are also problems with telling people who legitimately want to be that it’s unobtainable and unrealistic.
I will be the first to admit that I’m far from being the perfect Homemaker. In fact, according to some who believe kids are a requirement for the job, I’m apparently not a Homemaker at all. But when I am able, I can attest to the fact that being a traditional Housewife is genuinely not as difficult as it is cracked up to be.
There certainly are some requirements; there are sacrifices to be made, decisions to attend to, and a number of other things that ultimately make it both difficult and stress inducing. It’s not a lifestyle for everyone, to be certain- and expecting anyone to be perfect at it all of the time is really the unrealistic bit; life happens, Mental Illness happens, and everyone needs a day- or week- to themselves every now and again.
But as a general concept? It’s not near as unobtainable or unrealistic as people think it is; you can actually wear your heels, skirts, and pearls, put on your makeup and do your hair, clean the house, and have supper on the table when your spouse gets home- and you can do that because the reality is that getting everything done in a day is a skill like any other… And like any other skill, it’s one that’s learned through study, trial, and error.
In my own adventures, I’ve found that it’s only a few key things really make or break the traditional Housewife when it comes to learning– and employing– that skill.
The biggest factor in one’s drive to do something, is their want to do actually do it in the first place. And like I’ve said previously, this isn’t a lifestyle that everyone wants or will even find fulfilling. So ask yourself if you want to be a Housewife in the first place.
If you do, then ask yourself what kind of Housewife you want to be; are you ok with just doing basics occasionally? Do you really want to go the extra mile and become that perfect traditional Housewife? Or do you fall into a gray space somewhere between the two?
More importantly, though, when answering these questions you need to be realistic about what you want vs what you are actually capable of; you have to reconcile the want to be the perfect traditional Housewife with the reality that there are mitigating factors outside of your control which mean that you’re stuck simply being “the Housewife that maybe mops the floors once a year if you’re lucky”.
And there’s no shame in this at all. If you simply can’t do it, you’re no less a Housewife, a person, or a spouse because of it. Always strive to be better than you were yesterday, but don’t expect more of yourself than you can actually handle. If you do, you’ll wind up miserable and resentful, and that’s counter productive to going after your dreams.
Whatever you choose, though, throw yourself into it wholeheartedly. Don’t half ass it. And if you don’t want to do it to begin with? Then don’t; if there are other career and life options available to you that you find more appealing or fulfilling, then never be afraid to say no to settling. Because ultimately you have to want to be here, and you have to derive some sort of personal joy and satisfaction from it- otherwise it simply won’t work.
Time Management and Routine
The main key to getting everything done is in how you manage your time- which ties in to creating a routine. Here, however, is where that pesky trial and error comes in.
I could give you my entire routine, sure. You might even find parts of it incredibly helpful. And while there are certainly several options to make it all work, you just have to find the options that work best for you; the most effective routine is always the one that allows you to get everything done efficiently- and gives you plenty of time to invest in your Spouse, your hobbies, your work-from-home opportunities, or anything else that you’d like to do when all the Housekeeping is said and done.
Without good time management skills, though, you cannot create an efficient or effective routine. And without a good routine, you’ll become exhausted and overworked. And if you become exhausted and overworked, you’ll eventually fail at the task you set before yourself… And the whole point of doing all of this is to actually succeed at it- regardless of what you count success as.
Don’t forget Self Care
There’s a phrase i hear quite often that goes something like “A Housewife’s job is never done”.. But our Spouses get time off work, so why shouldn’t we? Simply put, there’s no reason we shouldn’t. So at bare minimum, set aside two days a week where you don’t care about Housework- and if you really want to succeed, then this isn’t negotiable; failing to take time out for yourself will do more damage quicker than anything else.
Of these two days, the first should be set aside to focus solely on you. This means hanging up the Apron, leaving the dishes for another day, burying your nose in a good book, breaking out the bubble bath, digging into the icecream, and binging on your favorite shows all day… Or whatever else “you time” means to you.
The second day, however, should be devoted to you and your Spouse; you both spend the rest of the week working so hard to fulfill your respective responsibilities that sometimes it is hard to find time for each other as a couple. So turn off your cellphones, have a Penny Date, play a card game together, talk about your marriage, or just generally spend some time around each other.
You need a little you time, if you know what I mean- and you and your Spouse need a little you time, too. Without it, becoming overworked and exhausted (and miserable by extension) is almost guaranteed… Yes, even with the most immaculate routine in place and all the drive in the world.
What other tips can you think of? Is there anything you make sure you have in your own routine to keep yourself from experiencing that dreaded Homemaker Burnout? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!