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The “Work Away From Home”-Maker

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Recently I’ve seen some very encouraging post across the internet about the subject of homemaking – people wanting to reclaim the dignity of the vocation and stretch its stereotypical gender roles.  All in all it’s a great movement; people want to be connected to their homes again, they want to be house-proud and able.  However, for every post I see about it there still seems to be one main vein of thinking – that a homemaker, whether man or woman, must make it their sole occupation to have the right to claim that title.

Well, I want to speak up for those of us who feel that they deserve a share of that title even if we find it necessary to work away from the home.

Now, I don’t claim to ignore that there are those who will always choose to work solely because it earns them more money and with more money comes more stuff and with that stuff they seem to find happiness.  I’m not speaking of those who can’t imagine life without thousands of dollars of spare income a month or multiple vacations, cars or homes or even weekly trips to the mall, the movies and restaurants.  I’m speaking up for those of us who work out of necessity, whose families couldn’t live more than hand(out) to mouth without some form of additional income.  Perhaps we have two student loan debts, perhaps we’re young men or women with entry levels jobs, perhaps we choose good honest work over high salaries, perhaps we’ve been sick without insurance, perhaps we have aging family members who rely on us, perhaps the alternative would mean unsafe neighborhoods and bad schools – but no matter the cause we choose to work out of a well thought out realization of necessity.  Many of us see it as a means toward an end – a few years of double incomes to pay off debt and save up – and for some of us it will always be a reality.

No matter our reason we, the “Work Away From Home”-Makers, still have the same goals you do Mr. or Mrs. Career Homemaker – perhaps its to raise children, take care of relatives, avail ourselves to charity and volunteerism or just keep a warm and welcoming home as a haven to others.  We still try to live frugal lives, we still stretch a dollar; in fact, many of us cook from scratch, craft and garden in our spare time.  While we find ourselves in situations out of necessity it is our priorities, not our schedules, that allow us to claim the coveted title of “homemaker”.  I believe that if we still prioritize our homes, families and children above our things, our social lives and other earthly experiences than we are still working toward the same goals.

So if there is someone out there who wishes for the day they can say “I’m a full-time homemaker”, but feel they can’t because they work away from home, to you I say – claim it, tell people that you are a “Full Time Homemaker with a Full Time Job”, a “Working Homemaker”, however you want to claim it, do so.  As long as your priorities are on making your house a home, as long as you strive to manage that home with economy and efficiency and to give your family the most of yourself  that you can than be proud.  Let’s stop the nit-picking over the details of how we do it and focus on our shared priorities in our lives.  We are Homemakers – we are people, men and women of every type, who wish to make a house a home for those we love.

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10 responses »

  1. I used to write for a cooperative blog called “Homemakers who work” It was a great experience but it has gone idle. So sad.

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  2. I like this sentence: “While we find ourselves in situations out of necessity it is our priorities, not our schedules, that allow us to claim the coveted title of “homemaker”.” I have no doubt that you make your house a wonderful home!

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    • I have to admit that it was that sentance that made me decide to publish it – it’s my favorite too. =D One day if I stick to my guns I’m hoping to be able to switch to career homemaker – it’s a noble profession and vocation.

      Reply
  3. I always love your posts! They always help me to reflect on my life… keep up the wonderful posts! 🙂

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  4. This is excellent! Thank you for sharing. I’m willing to bet you’re a better homemaker than I! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Hello, I am also a working homemaker, working becuase I have no option. My son tells me every moring, to “Please don’t go to work today” and it tears me up. It is difficult to make ends meet with one salary. Molly W, how do you stick to your guns and give up work? Do you have a plan? I am also doing all I can to cut back on expenditure like cooking from scratch and shopping at op shops and not using credit cards, etc. But still it is diffcult to save. I would give up my job in a jiffy and stay at home to look after my small family full time. It saddens me greatly that I am not there for my son (2years) from 8-4pm Mondays to Fridays. But I received a small arrears last month and I put it all in a savings account. Maybe if I actively save money I may be able to give up some day. I wonder if you have any tips for someone like me?

    Reply
    • Oh! I understand where you’re coming from completely – we’re about to go on days and put our 8 month old in daycare for the first time and I’d be lieing if I said it doesn’t tear me up inside. I’m going to just cover a few basics and I’m not perfect so I might not have the answers you’re looking for but feel free to email me if you want more than what I put here.

      1) I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll be able to be solely at home. My greatest goal is to be able to take a couple years off or at least go part time when my kids get to the junior high age.
      2) I looked for, and found, a job that is slightly less than full time (but receives all the benefits) I work 90%, which equates to two extra days off a month – but I don’t get paid for that time either, which is around 2-3,000 dollars less a year. It’s not flashy, I’m a Pharmacy Technician at a hospital, but it helps pay the bills and I actually like it a lot even though it’s never going to bring in the big bucks and it’s a complete 180 from what I went to college for (in fact I could have started this job straight out of highschool and be making about $10,000 more by now with out student loans to pay back). It’s also a job, except for the times I see the sad parts of hospital work, that I can leave at the door – I don’t bring home extra work, I’m covered by the union so there’s only so much they can ask of me schedule wise and my life and work is totally separate – I have a job, I do it, I get paid, I come home and lead a completely separate life and I quite prefer it that way. If you’re in a demanding career, consider looking around for a job, just a regular job that you could do to pay the bills, it might be less money but it could have it’s rewards in a more flexible schedule and less stress.
      3) Save, save, save – we worked actively before and after our first child was born to save and pay off bills – now we got really lucky and have been living with family for the last year and I know this isn’t an option everyone has, but if you do I’d highly recommend it as long as you won’t be putting strain on your marriage or other family relationships; if it’s not take a good long look at your living arrangements. Savings often starts small, but as you learn the ins and outs of it you’ll find ways of increasing what you can.
      4) Cut out the non-essentials. It already sounds like you’re doing this – I was surprised to find out that (without childcare and student loans factored in) we could live quite well in our area for a relatively little amount and we plan on cutting back our work time in the future once these two things are no longer necessary to achieve #1 (sadly childcare is the crux in our arrangement – we don’t make enough to get by on a single income, so we need to make enough with the second to cover those other expenses plus quality childcare…uggh…. sad but true)

      And most importantly
      5) Don’t beat yourself up too much – I try to think of myself as fulfilling my vocation (the call to motherhood and being a wife) first and in my situation the best way to be a great wife and mother, currently, is to have a job. I’ve fought serious anxiety in the past and knowing that we’re in a comfortable financial position makes me more relaxed and better able to enjoy my husband and child than if I was staying at home and constantly worrying about money. So I see it as give and take – for me, personally, I couldn’t fulfill my vocation to the best of my ability without this feeling of stability and as long as your focus is on your loved ones in the time you are home and are making your decisions with them in mind first you are doing the right thing.

      Keep going, don’t be afraid to set goals and re-evaluate them as constantly as life changes and keep the focus on the quality of your time together!

      Reply
      • Dear Molly,
        Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. After reading your response I have reinforced my decision to save as much as possible without compromising on our basic needs. I studied to be a doctor, I completed my training, but then realized I had no love for hospital work. Now I work as a lecturer in the Medical Faculty that I was an undergrad in. It is relatively easier, less stressful but the salaries are low. But still I do manage with what I get. In my country, after receiving a “specialised”training like what I got, there is almost no other option thanto practise it or teach it. I prefer teaching but still I am working 8hrs per day/5days per week. I am tired when I get home, my son is waiting to spend time with me, I have to get meals ready etc etc. I love sewing and crafting and would love to spend some time learning about and doing some gardening, but alas, there are only 24hrs per day. We have no part time options in our Universities and the people and the government have not realized yet the importance of balancing family and work. (I live in Sri Lanka)
        BUt, the good thing is Molly, a few of us who feel this way, have got together and are thinking of proposing to the government to allow us the option to work part time, either in a job sharing or job splitting manner. I will tell you how it progresses 🙂
        We are also lucky to be living with family and to have our son looked after by both sets of grandparents when we are at work.
        I am your newest follower and hope to visit often to see what new things you have done. I think your sensory pillow is great.
        Thanks again for your valuable advice!
        Dhilma

      • You are so very welcome – I’m no guru, but I’m glad when I can pass on my experiences. I hope your lobbying is successful and I’m glad you’re doing something with your training – even if it’s not in practicing medicine. We have a lot of doctors in the US that only practice medicine because of the salary that comes with it and I’d rather see fewer doctors as long as those practicing are doing it out a real desire to help the afflicted.

        I’m so glad you’re able to have family help with the care of your son – it’s a blessing and you should rest easy knowing that you’re time away from him isn’t spent with strangers! Here in the US, multi-generation living is almost frowned on if not completely discouraged. My generation is looked down on if we do something like this because our culture seems to think we should be able to have amazing careers, salaries, homes and possessions by the age of 25 and it’s really a shame.

        It’s a tough road to follow, having to be a working parent, but keeping clear goals and understanding the reasons behind your choices will make it more bearable. We are not doing this, working that is, to keep ourselves from our children or because we wish to be away from them, but we’re doing it for them – it is a sacrifice of love.

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