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Stay-At-Home Job Titles (and a Recipe)

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Posted on : 11:07 AM | By : Nic | In : , , ,

A while ago I read a funny article by a woman who had gotten an education, and then quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom.  The point of the story was that her mother had been the epitome of the 1950's housewife and how the titles of these roles have changed and illustrate the difference in the way we do things.  I wish I could find the article... usually I save these things but I can't seem to find it.

In the 1950's, women called themselves housewives or homemakers.  I found this hilarious clip on YouTube that illustrates this principle pretty well:


Now we call ourselves stay-at-home moms.  The difference is that back then, women were married to the house and husband, and kids were an extension of that job.  Now we have children, and our husband and the home are an extension of that.   I also think we don't feel quite as confident in this role as our housewife ancestors.  We still equate our value on extra contributions that we make on top of our home duties (you can even print out a Mom Check from Salary.com showing how much money you would make if moms got paid).  

I have to admit that I am absolutely fascinated with the 1950's housewife's expertise in running in a home.  I haven't sacrificed how I raise my children, but I have sacrificed the perfection of my home and appearance in a quest for a financial contribution to the family.  This is partly because the term 'stay-at-home mom' is in itself flawed, since it's supposed to distinguish from a 'working mom'.  It's as if a mom isn't considered to be working unless money comes in, which is ridiculous, lol.  During the time that I've been a stay-at-home mom I've written a book, worked as a life coach, graphic designer, brand developer, web designer, etc.  I keep my house pretty clean, which is thanks to a nice routine, but it is still at a marginally acceptable level - just clean enough to feel clean.  The 1950's housewife cleaned it every day... the toilet never got to that uncomfortable level of grime.

Here's a list of advice for new wives from a Home Ec textbook.  I'm sure you've read it before: 
1. Have dinner ready: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal - on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him, and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.

3. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too.

4. Prepare the children: Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces if they are small, comb their hair, and if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

5. Minimize the noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and be glad to see him.

6. Some DON'TS: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he's late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day.

7. Make him comfortable: Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

8. Listen to him: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.

9. Make the evening his: Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment; instead try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his need to be home and relax.

10. The Goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can relax.

Overwhelmingly the female response to this list is revulsion.  But I have to admit that if I did all these things I think our lives would be very much improved.  I have the privilege of staying home all day.  If these 10 things were all I had to do in a day, I think that my life would be 500% better than most women in the world.  If you ignore the reasons behind each thing, the basic principles are good.  For example, #6... when I come home, I know I don't like to hear a bunch of people complaining to me right away.  Why should I do it to someone else?  

Anyway I think we should think of a new title for women who are home.  We are not married to our house, and we are not the polar opposite of a working mom.  I've heard Domestic Engineer and Director of Home Affairs, but I'm leaning towards Domestic Goddess.  Or perhaps I should remember Thoreau's advice:
"Staying inside the house breeds a sort of insanity always. Every house is in this sense a hospital. A night and a forenoon is as much confinement to those wards as I can stand - and then I must go outdoors." -- Thoreau's journal, 1856

Does this make me... the Warden? Or the Inmate?

Also... I happened find a highly recommended recipe for baked artichokes that I plan to try as soon as I find some.  Note to self: Get some artichokes.

Comments (3)

Love that list!

Both my husband and I work. On the days when he works and I am off I spend the whole day cleaning and cooking and running errands because that's is what is expected of me. However when I work and he is home all day he creates messes and still expects me to cook when I come home? It's not the list itself that repulses me it is that we all do this sort of thing and yet a husband would laugh if you even suggested he would do this for his hard working woman...

The horror is that if the house isn't clean and the food nutritious then it is always the wife who is blamed even if the husband does not work at all. Even in 2008 in a liberal society.

Ha ha I know what you mean workinwyfe. :) There was a time when I worked part time when my husband was home, and nothing got done.
The way I like to think of it is that women were made for this work... we were made to keep a home, and it shows because men definitely are not, lol.
BUT, that being said, I think most men can learn to help at home. Mine did not always help, but now on his days off if I ask him he will do so willingly. It definitely seems to be something that is learned though. :)