The reluctant housewife

I never wanted to be a housewife. I was one of those 20th century girls who believed they could have it all – university education, career, husband and kids. My plans definitely didn’t include being at home on my own hoovering and mopping floors.

I had the university education and the career, although the career probably wasn’t as high-flying as the career my 15 year old self hoped for. I got the husband and the kids.

And I got the house that needed hoovering and mopping. Because you can have a career and kids, but nobody is going to do the hoovering and mopping for you. Well, not unless you can afford a cleaner. And, right now, I can’t.

My career took a turn three years ago. I took voluntary redundancy from the council I’d worked at for 15 years. I’d loved that job, but it had changed and I’d fallen out of love with it. Now, when I see my old workplace, I actually feel sick. I work for myself at home now. I’m a freelance writer. I write articles, educational materials, press releases and web copy. My work is unconnected to my blogging. I don’t make money from blogging. I blog for love, not money.

I love working at home and never want to go back to working in an office. If I didn’t work at home, who would take my son to school and pick him up every day? If I didn’t work at home, would my daughter be able to do panto? (Spoiler alert – she wouldn’t.)

But working at home is up and down. Right now, it’s more down than up. There were days a couple of years ago where I could work for six different clients in a day. There were days when I got up at 5.30 to get half an hour’s work in before breakfast. I haven’t done that for a year now.

I usually have a flurry for about one week a month where I might work for three clients, but for the rest of the month I don’t have a lot to do. And I really wish I did! And I really don’t know where to start looking for more work.

So what to do?

I spend more time on my blog. You know, that thing that doesn’t earn me any money. I enjoy spending time on it. I polish little things I should have been polishing regularly – removing broken links, adding keywords to old posts and alt tags to old photos. Do I optimise my images for Pinterest? No, I don’t. Do I write a load of clickbait posts and hope they might go viral? No, I don’t. I stay true to myself, but just tidy up little bits and pieces you wouldn’t even notice, on the off-chance that more people might read a bit more.

And what else do I tidy up?

The house.

Because I feel guilty about not bringing in enough money, I’ve become a housewife. My husband doesn’t expect it, but I feel I need to ‘earn my keep’. So I’m doing the things I hate, the things I really don’t want to do, just so I feel I’m making a valuable contribution to my family (other than the valuable contribution of parenting three kids). My eldest used to do the hoovering for money, but he can’t be bothered any more. So the hoovering is back with me. Along with the mopping, which I particularly dislike. I dust things. I wipe kitchen cupboards. I weed the garden. I’m looking at the tiles which go from floor to ceiling in my bathroom and considering cleaning them.

Sometimes I hardly even know myself. Because I really, really hate all this stuff. I’m not one of those people who takes any pleasure in cleaning. It’s just a necessary evil.

I didn’t want to be a housewife when I was 15 and I still don’t want to be one at 43, but somehow I have become a reluctant housewife.

Until the next flurry of work comes in.

The reluctant housewife, Housewife, Housework, Mopping, Hoovering

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Ugh housework is so dull and with 3 kids it doesn’t stay done for very long does it?! My house was finally clean yesterday after a week catching up while I am on holiday and a well timed leasing agent inspection due yesterday afternoon meant it really was tidy everywhere. 2 hours later we had had dinner and the kids had been playing and it was a right mess again – asaarrrggghh!!

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    • So true! I enjoy that hour or two a week when it’s clean and tidy, but it really doesn’t last long at all. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth bothering, but I know it has to be done because I actually hate it if it’s too dirty or untidy!

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  2. I see housework as a very important contribution to the family, and once you change your perspective on it (the term ‘housewife’ really doesn’t help) then it can really help. I don’t begrudge others if I can help it, doing housework is as much about loving them as giving them a hug (which most of them don’t want now they are older!). I’ve finally found a way to accept this after years of being a ‘why should I’ person! 🙂

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    • That’s a really good way of looking at it. Maybe I just need to try to change my mindset. I definitely have this feeling of really begrudging doing it and I actually often feel quite angry as I’m cleaning 🙁

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  3. I do the odd bit of writing work but I don’t really think of it as being a real job, I definitely think of myself as being a housewife in the very traditional sense of the word. It works perfectly for us as a family and I think a lot of that is down to the fact that I love it. No honestly I do! I never thought that I would in a million years but I’ve never been so content! I actually think it’s an underrated role these days. Running a home and looking after the children is perhaps the most important thing that we’ll ever do.

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    • It’s great that you love it! I wish I did. I have always worked and earned money and we do actually need the bit of money I bring in. Plus, I really dislike housework, plus, my husband doesn’t value the job of bringing up kids and keeping a house as a job in itself and believes in people working themselves into the ground, just like he does! So he doesn’t see me as making a valuable contribution if I’m ‘just’ looking after the kids as he thinks everyone should work a 16 hour day like he does! He does appreciate that someone needs to be there for the kids before and after school, but not while they’re at school! Then I should be hard at work earning money 🙁

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  4. I think it’s a tough one being at home, like you I do some freelance work too, but I get the guilt too when things are quiet like my husband might come in and think what has she been doing all day. I was the same wanted the career the works and then took redundancy. But I do have to remind myself my husband probably couldn’t do his job with the travel and hours he works if I wasn’t here I guess.

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    • You sound very similar to me! I do worry that my husband will come home and wonder what I’ve been doing, but I know I shouldn’t worry really! It’s so true that husbands couldn’t put the work that they do in without the support of the likes of us to look after the kids!

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  5. Like you I love working from home, but being self employed does mean that you have to hold your nerve sometimes till the work comes in. It can be nailbiting at times though. I hate housework too and long for the day I can have a cleaner (it may never come).

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    • I thought that cleaner day would come one day, but I now realise it probably won’t 🙁 I am currently holding my nerve for the work!

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  6. Oh I totally understand where you’re coming from. I found freelance writing quite unpredictable and it was a bit of a relief when blogging took over earning wise. Whatever you do as a freelancer it is a real rollercoaster and housework is no fun at all!

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    • So very true! It’s good to know someone else has found freelance writing a bit unpredictable, but I’m really hoping things improve soon, for our finances, my feeling of being useful and so I have to stop looking for things to dust! x

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