Professional Homemaking

You puff at a straggling hair and it falls back down across your nose. You reach up to tuck it behind your ear, trying not to let go of the jacket that you clutch tightly around you so that no one will see you're still wearing your pajamas as you drop your kids off at school.

You glance sideways and notice another mother. From her perfect, fashionable hairstyle and elegant, ladylike "power suit" to her clean shaven legs and gorgeous heels, she is a vision of power and beauty. She is obviously a professional, well,  something. You guess at her occupation as you slink back to your car, wishing that you were invisible.

You are a stay-at-home mom. "A noble occupation!" you say out-loud as you drive home, startling yourself as your sharp comment breaks the silence.

Yes it is!

But have you ever thought of Homemaking as a job? Over the years I have encountered many women who stay home with their children and have been surprised how many of them think of it as only that - staying home.

I have been thinking about this for a week or so - ever since I read what one woman wrote about why she does not facebook. She said that she is such a social person that it would consume large amounts of her time. Time that is better spent in her home. She said, "I know working mothers who are better homemakers than stay-at-home moms because when they get home, they are fully engaged."

Shocking, but true. I know some my self. Sometimes I AM one of those dis-engaged women. I have had to learn to see this as a real job and, from time to time, I have had to remind myself to be more professional about it.

I thought about some of the "rules" that would keep a person from getting fired at any other job and wondered how much better our homes would run if the concepts were applied to this job as well!

So. For those of you who consider yourselves Professional Homemakers...

1. Be on time.

Get up in a timely fashion. Just because you don't have to get up, does not mean that you should not get up early! I find that I can accomplish the most in the morning. By the afternoon I feel sleepy and have to make a point of pushing on until I stop feeling tired. By the time I get all six (or seven) children to bed, I am wiped out. Any intentions that I had to get more done, fly out the window.

I also have to force myself to go to bed instead of vegging in the evening, because it does not help to stay up late and start off the next morning tired. Get the rest you need to do your job well!

 If you are not a morning person, you still have a job to do! My husband does not like to be spoken to first thing in the morning and he cannot eat when he first wakes up. He does not want me to get up and make him breakfast! He gets up a little bit early just so that he can get a cup of coffee and watch the news for a 1/2 hour before getting dressed for work. By the time he gets there, he is able to face other people.

You might also need to get up a little bit earlier so that you can face your family and your job in the morning.

Schedule one day each week to sleep in. Snuggle, take it slow, savor the warmth of the comforter and hubby's precious snoring. Welcome the kids into the bed for some cuddle time, too. Or lock the door and enjoy a few moments with just hubby. Having one day each week to savor the moment will make it more special, and give you something to look forward to without sliding into a lifestyle of laziness and lack of prodictivity.

2. Dress the part.

Shlumping around in pajamas until noon is not professional. Pajama day should be a "special occasion" not a daily occurrence, so save that for sick days, snow days or snuggle days. Just make sure that you DO have some pajama days! On ordinary days, staying in your pjs will only make you feel lazy and sleepy.  Getting dressed first thing in the morning sets the day off right!

Don't be sloppy! Get rid of the frumpy sweat pants. I have two types of clothes in my wardrobe - the "leaving the house" clothes (so that they will remain stain-free) and "work clothes" - usually "upgraded" t-shirts and jeans or khakis.

Put shoes on. I feel like I have a burst of energy just by putting on my "exercise shoes" (as my three year old calls them). It's like my mind says,"I am going somewhere today, not staying put."

Wear makeup if you are the kind of woman who wears it when you go out. It does not have to be the whole thing - since that can become an unnecessary expense, but a little bit of mascara, blush or lipstick can do wonders for your mood every time you pass a mirror, and will make you feel more professional.

3. Do your job.

Start out by getting Organized. (See Organize Your Day {the Mary and Martha Way})

Tithe your time. (Spend some time with the Lord.)

Make a schedule that works for you and your family - and stick to it!

Make a (realistic) list of the things that you need to accomplish, and set out to do them. As you complete each task, cross it off and savor that sense of satisfaction! Remember to factor in interruptions and spur-of-the-moment needs of your small children. Get back to your tasks as soon as you can or, if needed on a particular day, scrap it and start fresh tomorrow!

4. Don't do personal things on company time.

Do what you were "hired" to do.  I've learned that I must not turn the TV on during the day. I easily get caught up in the next program and the next program...  and neglect my work. Don't waste your valuable time on things like TV, internet, romance novels, Netflix or ___________!

My husband told me that they had to ban facebook and other sites at his place of business because so many people were wasting so much time doing those things when they should have been working!

You don't have someone else restricting your time - you have to do it for yourself.

Schedule those things in at nap time or while you are nursing your infant. Set a timer. Stop when your time is up - don't "give your-self permission" to do what you know is not right because then it becomes sin. Think of these "me-time" things as "break-time," or do it for a little while in the evening after you "Clock Out" - (just don't stay up too late and miss out on sleep time or hubby time).

5. Go above and beyond.

This is one area in which my husband excels. He really knows how to see what needs to be done and do it without being asked. He hates being bored at work so he will organize shelves and drawers in common areas, clean things, or invent projects for himself to do during slack times. Last year, he wrote a "procedure manual" for his entire department. His boss was amazed and asked him when he had found the time to do such a large (and much-needed) project. He had simply squeezed it in during all of his spare moments.

As Homemakers, we often feel like our jobs are plagued by re-work. We wash the clothes - and the next week we wash the same clothes. We vacuum the carpet,  and the next day we vacuum the same carpet. We wash the dishes, and three hours later we wash the same dishes... It can become easy to dream about a different job - one with exciting new tasks around every corner - and hard to remember that most jobs are one kind of re-work or another. So change that Stinkin' Thinkin' and remember "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
It reminds me of this poem:
Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell,
While other folks go hungry,
We're eating pretty well.
With home, and health, and happiness
We shouldn't want to fuss;
For by this stack of evidence
God's very good to us!

One way to spice it up is to occasionally do something that will stay done so that months later you can point to it and say "I painted that wall, I sewed that dress, I made that afghan, I took that picture (and framed it and hung it)..."

Look for those extra things that need to be done and do them.


If you are the mother of a newborn, caring for an elderly parent, shuffling a dozen kids to sports and music lessons.... If you are sleep-deprived and holding on by a thread? Find things to NOT do. It might be on your list. You might want to do it. But maybe it simply does not need to be done - or at least not right now, or today, or this week. You do not have to make home-made cinnamon rolls, you can pick some up at the market. You don't have to re-paint that room, just put out a fresh vase of flowers.

You might need to practice some "responsible procrastination."

6. Seek to please your Clientele!

"Who's that?" you ask.

Why, your family, of course!

Don't think of your husband as a "boss," think of him as a client. Pay attention to what he likes. Sometimes he won't really say it, but that does not mean that you don't know..


I heard someone on the radio say that if you pay attention to what people complain about, you can find out what is important to them.


Does he complain about the hasitly prepared TV dinners, the untidiness of the bedroom, or how the dishes never quite seem to be done? AHA! You have just discovered what he values! Now start trying to please your most important client!

If you have children, they are next. What do they need you to do for them? A more structured bed time? Help with their homework? A clean pair of jeans? An extra long hug? Treat them as valued customers, too.

So, professional homemaker, what about you?

Are you simply "staying home"? Or are you "Making Home"?

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Alana of Intentional Womanhood said...

Love this post! Several of my family and friends will tell you that I am business-minded, therefore the idea of being a "professional homemaker" appeals to me. I even like to refer to myself as a "home manager"! :)

joyfully2b4u said...

Appreciated these two parts most:
1) the reminder to listen to the things complained about as clues to how to please "the clientele"

2) the "responsible procrastination"--that's something that I have been learning about as my tiredness has cut the amount of work time I am able to maintain. It's a good lesson to learn . . . and I constantly have to work on it =)

Kasey said...

This post is rich with would do well for me to print this off and post it for the times that I find myself slacking!

Child Anxiety Mom said...

Insightful post. Dressing for the part is something I guess I have done without thinking about it, but I do consider it important.

Confessions of a Martha said...

It continues to amaze me that anything I have to say can speak to anyone in a significant way! Thank you all so much for letting me know. I am so thankful that God is Living and Real and that He is always teaching things that are relevant to our lives today.

Have a blessed day!

Anonymous said...

I became a stay at home mom only 1 short year ago, my kids are ages 5, 4, & 2. I was high enough in the banking industry to travel and have authority. It has been a HUGE transition for me to be home. While I have always dreamed of being a homemaker reality can be cruel somedays. Thank you for this post! What I do is important! Being at home matters. Now if my brain could just accept that fact! Thank you for this post.
Barb Martin

psalm127mom said...

With all due respect, I don't want to look at being a stay at home mom as a job-ever! It is the BEST job ever, but it's not a job to me, it's a BLESSING. I LOVE and embrace that if I played with my kids so much that I didn't get the laundry done, that I won't be written up or reprimanded for not dressing appropriately for work the next day. I LOVE that I can set my own schedule-I'm a night owl-I get many things done after the kids are in bed, but perhaps that meant I took a nap when my kids napped instead of organized a drawer. I WANT to be the mommy that wears the blazer of the PJ's when she drops her kids off at school because it probably means I made pancakes with them in the morning and let them decorate them like snowmen, and meant I didn't get a chance to change or shower myself where as Power Suit Mom probably drove them through McDonald's but it meant she had time to do her hair and put on make-up.

I want to embrace being a stay at home mom and all of the perks that go with it. I do not miss one moment of the corporate world, with deadlines, rules, legalism, etc.

I agree that we all slack from time to time, but I think it can be take too far the other way too in making the Home too much like an office or business, and most of the time, those places lack love.

I understand where you are coming from, but ultimately, shouldn't we pattern after the Proverbs 31 wife/mother/woman? She takes her 'job' seriously, she works hard, she provides for her husand and family, she burns the midnight oil, she still finds time for the Lord, but it doesn't say that she dresses like a business woman; it says she dresses herself with strength...strength and dignity are her clothing... she opens her hands to the poor and gives to the needy {she finds time to help outside the home, to volunteer and serve instead of organizing yet another drawer or closet or finding yet another thing to clean}. It says she does not eat the bread of idleness, so yes, she is going above and beyond for her household, but I don't think that means that she doesn't take the time for play with her children, or to have teaching moments with them.

My husband recently read of an interview that an author did with a mom who was dying of cancer, and when asked if there was anything she regretted, she said, "Yes. I would have baked less bread and played more with my kids."

psalm127mom said...

One last thought...I noticed that you use the verse from Luke about "...a Martha home and a Mary heart..." If you read through that passage, Jesus talks about how Martha needs to stop the cleaning and be more like Mary.

To be honest, a friend sent me to this post after she read it and it made her feel incredibly inadequate, to the point of wondering if satan was somehow trying to tell her she's a bad mom/wife/stay-at-home-mom, or if God was trying to convict her that she's not working hard enough. This friend is one of the hardest working and most organized women I know, and to see her upset that she's not good enough is hard.

Please know that I am not trying to be completely negative, you do have some good points in your post/blog, but I would worry that some might read it the same way that my friend did and think they are not doing enough, when in fact she is one of the hardest workers I know. I realize you are probably just trying to help some moms/wives out there to get more organized, and tips for better home making, but this one came across that unless it's run like a business, it will not be run well at all. I think each woman has her own style that is God-given in how we manage our households. I think it's great to see woman sharing insights, idea,s thoughts, and tips, but we have to be careful not to make it seem the unless they have it all together in every single area {time management, going above and beyond, no nap time and to trudge through the sleepy part-try that with a newborn ;)} that they are somehow less in God's eyes and in their family's eyes.

Lisa said...

Thank you! I'm going to work now! I've done a few, but not enough of these tips. Tomorrow I'll start on the rest.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post. I agree about the need to treat my home with the same respect I would outside employment. This article has been a good encouragement to get back to it. Thanks

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