First of all, I’d like to give a quick shout out to the first person to comment on this post on Facebook. His comment really helped to give my revised version a sharper focus. Thank you!
Today’s topic is being a housewife or stay-at-home dad.
I’m curious as to when women getting a job came en vogue. Did it start after women’s lib or did it start with the whole Rosie the Riveter thing? (Or was that during the same few years? History was never my strong suit.)
I also wonder who took care of the household when men were off to war and women were out working. I guess that’s where the decline of “housemaking” as it’s traditionally known started. That’s where we did get the introduction of the whole “want it RIGHT NOW” era, of microwaves, shorter news articles, coffee obsession, and multitasking.
I’d like to go out on a limb and say that “workaholic” is the modern epidemic. People sacrifice sleep, a healthy meal, their sanity, and healthy relationships in order to make ends meet. No wonder there are so many people in the modern world with physical and mental ailments!
Now I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never done overtime because I either needed the money or wanted to avoid my home life. But I truly think that when people start getting paid to stay at home, those reasons for working overtime will disappear, and the families that have become so broken in these past decades might start to be repaired. When people are paid to stay at home, they’ll put that much more effort into making a home as workaholics normally would at their job, simply because they can provide for their household (i.e., bring in money) by…what? Oh yes. Providing for their household (i.e., meals, chores & family caretaking). Wow, what a concept! (insert dripping-with-sarcasm face here)
I have absolutely nothing wrong with women who have jobs; in fact, I very much admire and respect them. Now, to answer the questions you might be thinking: no, I’m not currently employed, but I have been looking. And yes, I’ve had jobs I’ve loved. And, like most of us, I’ve had jobs I didn’t love quite so much. But to keep from going into too much backstory…
I’m one of those “strange” women who actually like doing housewifey things. I don’t mind doing chores during the day because it gives me a routine and a checklist (and y’all know how I love my checklists!). I like interior decorating and figuring out how to sew and all
that. Many of my hobbies and crafts are of the “grandma chic” (I’m totally working on coining that phrase) variety…crafts that I’m sure housewives back in the day enjoyed doing.
I like to experiment with recipes and have a hot dinner for my husband to come home to. He can probably attest to the fact that in most cases I go all out. My meals take at least an hour to make because they’re very homemade, and I’m quite proud of the fact that I make my own breadcrumbs, create sauces, make soups from scratch instead of a can, cook pasta dishes from scratch instead of a box, and leave meat in the oven for roasting instead of microwaving processed, precooked, frozen meat. I enjoy a more involved creation and cooking process, with lots of thoughtful flourishes (though it makes for a very hungry, waiting-too-long-for-dinner hubby sometimes). For example, one of my very favorite meals to make is enchiladas with Spanish rice, where I make the Spanish rice, tortillas, sauce, and filling from scratch before putting the whole thing together and baking it in the oven. I always feel so accomplished when making this meal. (And any other meal that I make from scratch, for that matter.) Now of course I CAN do this because I don’t currently have a job, and it’s really a tragedy that working gets in the way of a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically.
Now, of course having to be a housewife because you don’t have any say or choice in the matter is no fun. I can fully admit that. Women should be free to do what they want. As such, I think that if women want to be housewives, they should. By the same token, they shouldn’t be looked at as being “lesser than” the women that have jobs outside the home, especially when the one staying at home is working just as hard as the one who is working outside of the home.
Like any other job, my humble opinion is that you should be compensated for the amount of work you put in. Those who did the 40s/50s housewife work should get paid more than the housewife of the current era (I’m speaking stereotypically). Those who put a minute and a half of effort making a meal vs. 3 hours should without a doubt get paid less (also because I’d assume that the one who does the minute and a half meal probably already has a job outside of the home and didn’t have the time to do the full-on 3 hours, so she’s already making money).
What do you guys think of this notion? Do you think that all people in a shared household should be required to work, even if the household is living quite comfortably on just one salary? Do you think women being housewives is one step backward for gender equality, even if being a housewife was the woman’s choice? Do you see a housewife/stay-at-home-man as the “slacker” in the relationship, or do you see them as pulling their own weight because they’re working, too?
Also in the spirit of equality, I don’t limit this to just the woman. If the man wants to stay at home and take care of kids and do chores while the woman goes out and makes the money (because the woman wants to of course), by all means he should also be able to do so.
Long story short, if a girl/guy is putting in an 8 (plus) hour day like any other full-time employee, then it should be labeled as a job and should be paid accordingly. The only problem is figuring out how to get paid for the upkeep of your own home. I’m not a fan of welfare, mostly because people abuse the system so much and take advantage of what (I hope) started out as a well-meaning program. So no, I don’t believe that government should be paying homemakers at all. At the same time, I don’t think it’s fair that people get paid for doing the housework at other people’s houses. If people are getting paid to do the same chores they would do in their own household, then why is it that they get paid for one and not the other? If one is legitimately doing the same amount and quality of work at either house, there should be payment.
If I were a little gutsier, I’d try to start some sort of movement for these people to get paid. Honestly, I don’t think they get the credit they deserve. I think the recent developments of everyone in a household being pressured to enter the workforce as soon as they’re an adult may be contributing to some of the downfall of society. I’m all for independence and making it on your own, but not at too high a cost. People need to sleep, have time for a healthy meal, and to spend time with their family. I’ve thought so before, but even more so I believe that America is overworked as a society. The inventions that have come about for ease of convenience for a workaholic society is making us all unhealthier as a whole.
I’m not quite sure how to solve this problem unless there is some sort of Residence Owners’ Association that is formed to do checkups on the household to make sure that it is up to cleanliness, familial, and food healthiness standards. Like most jobs, they would get paid twice a month. Also like any job, if the standards are not up to par, they lose their jobs (or in this case, their home). Now, to keep a choice in place in this matter, the ROA would only go around and do checkups on those adults in the household who were otherwise unemployed. If everyone in the household was employed outside the home, then that particular household would not be checked for standards, as it would be implied that this person wouldn’t have the time to keep the house up to standards. In this way, every adult would the choice to either work outside the home or inside the home as a homemaker. As a bonus, if one person wanted to make extra income or take on the challenge, they would have the option of being both a homemaker and someone who worked outside of the home. Personally, I think I’d keel over from exhaustion if I tried to take on both, but there are people out there who can do it.
Of course there would be a lot of resistance to this new system, most especially with invasion of privacy. So in no way do I really think this would ever happen, but I think that if homemaker were to ever become a valid occupation, it should be able to be assessed like any other job.
What I’m wondering is what changed so drastically in society that it wasn’t possible to survive on one income anymore? Was it because prices of goods raised at a disproportionate rate to what we were getting paid? Was it because both sexes had just become used to working and so both think it’s their duty to join the workforce, even though combined household income was more than enough? Was it because back in the day our indulgences were less expensive? Obviously sipping tea on the porch or playing football outside with friends is a lot less expensive than having the latest video game systems and corresponding games.
Perhaps I’m just in denial as to how much a recession can hurt society. A lot of people are working to survive now, not because they actually like their work. It’s sad to see, and the stress that comes from broken families—the children because they never see their parents, the parents because they hate their jobs and work too many hours—has really taken a toll and changed the face of families as we know it. It’s so uncommon to hear about families gathering around a dining table for meals anymore.
I didn’t realize an economic downturn could have such drastic consequences that it takes you away from what’s really important. Wasn’t there a time in the 80s when the economy was good and people bought things right and left and took extravagant vacations? Was that really all because of the advent of credit cards? And when the economy had the illusion of looking better, were more people inclined then to stay at home because they didn’t have to worry about the expenses?
I wonder if it will ever be possible to go back to a one-income household as the norm. I think it will be difficult because 1) it will be awhile before people are comfortable enough with the economy again that they don’t feel the need to work to make ends meet, and 2) I think (and please, especially if you’re a female, let me know if I’m wrong in this thought) the female mindset has evolved so much over the decades to result in them thinking that the best way for them to contribute to a household and to look successful is to have a job outside of the home. This, in my humble opinion, is quite unfortunate.
For what it’s worth, I honestly don’t know where I stand with myself on being a homemaker. As much as I love doing it, I still want to feel like I’m contributing to the household. I’m stubborn in the fact that I want to prove that I can make it on my own, even though I have an extremely supportive husband (I’m so so lucky!) that would never put me in the position to test if I could make it on my own. Also, I do have that whole wanting to be a poetry therapist thing, and that most-certainly is a job that is not homemaking! 😀
Anyways, I’m hoping for a day where the pendulum will swing back to a more home-based society, but I think that’s a lot to ask for. Ah, well. That doesn’t stop me from dreaming!