Housewife to Home Manager – Making the Promotion Real

Happily Home Taught Series

Vol 1 – Becoming a Mother of Noble Children

Housewife to Home Manager – Making the Promotion Real

By Cherie Logan

Housewife, Homemaker, Family Executive…women of our century have struggled with finding a term to suit their home profession. There are humorous, angry, sad and frivolous attempts to find the right label. No matter how we fail in the attempt, every mother knows what she is and what she is not. And what she truly wants to be. And that is the crux of the matter. Knowing and discovering how to model that desire.

How do we do it? How do we DO what we know we want? How do we live so that our lives teach what we wish rather than what we simply fall into? Being promoted to what we want as a homemaker is not accomplished overnight. But it is a rewarding process and with each step family life becomes more…more something…more what we have always hoped it would be.

The first challenge to giving up being what you don’t want, (I’ll call it housewife since that brings out the most rebellious feelings) and becoming what you do want, (this I’ll call Home Manager because it’s a clever term) is to conquer the housework misconception.

What is this? Well, remember when you first had children and they were so little and helpless? And if you didn’t do IT then IT didn’t get done? If your children are school age and you are still living THAT early life….then you are caught up in the misconception that Good Mothering somehow means Housework Required. If you have teens and are still in that old work mode then the promotion has since long passed you by and sadly the work that it would take to make the change might not be worth it. Oh, your teens would benefit but they are probably already wearing you down with their hormones, and for you to add a change in your attitude by increasing their responsibilities might just be the straw that broke that delicate balance of Mother of Teen Survival. Of course, on the flip side, getting tough might add the right type of spice to the family.

A mother has to have a goal in mind as she raises her children. What does being a good mother really mean to her? Is it a woman who fills the house with beautiful music, warm smells from the oven, a sparkling environment, fascinating discussion and mind expanding perfect moment lessons? What a beautiful picture! But that isn’t the real goal. It isn’t all about those things, it is all about what we want for our children, for our young ones and for the adults they will someday be. The things such as playing beautiful music, baking, cleaning and teaching go into what we want for our children, into giving them precious memories, a comforting childhood and an example of home life. But we need to create a specific goal of what we want for our children…what we want our children to BE…what we want to exemplify.

It is a struggle to come up with just the right Mission Statement for what we want for our children. They are our most cherished responsibility, our beloved friends, our angels and we would give our lives for them…and we do…every day. After much prayer and meditation I came up with mine. You can borrow it, refine it and use it as a template for creating your own. Our goal for our children is as follows:

We are raising our children to be independent learners, successful husbands and wives, loving and capable mothers and fathers, good friends, and service oriented, moral adults.

How does this fit in with housework? If I want my children to grow into the adults I have just described I must teach them how to clean their environment, how to work, how to organize, and how to someday manage their adult home. I do believe that my setting the example is vital but there needs to be more. They must put the work into the learning and that means my giving them responsibility and insisting that they follow through.

By the time children are teens they should be able to work at and manage every part of family life chores. That means cleaning, cooking, childcare, laundry, repair, upkeep and pleasant interaction. You name it and it should be an integral part of their living experience. If not, then the day will come that they will leave your training ground and find themselves unprepared.

When I taught childbirth classes I would try to get those first time mothers to understand that the minute the baby arrived nursing would start. Their eyes would glaze over and they would nod but all they were really focused on was getting through the giant unknown called labor. Inevitably, labor would come, baby would arrive and oh my . . . what was it that she told me about the tears and joys of nursing? How? WHY? Our teens are like that, so focused on growing up that they are unaware that suddenly it will happen. Our job is to prepare them as much as possible because once that miracle happens they are finished with our home and instantly in their own.

So, for the nitty-gritty. Children should begin early to pick up. Having them pick up and vacuum their room can easily be expected of them by the time they are five. You, as manager, will find that there are some jobs you will want to do yourself such as going through the drawers and sifting through the clothes for toss-outs and keeps. But they can pick up toys, make beds and clean the floor. Daily. Or nightly. Or even both if you have the energy to supervise it.

Supervise is the important part of early training. They will not get anything done that you don’t oversee to some extent. At first the supervision needs to be a pretty constant, right in their face style. If you walk away then the children will play and you will find that a simple task takes all day and you will feel that you have somehow failed. But you can’t leave the supervision at that level. You must grow out of your constant presence being needed. You do this through clearly defining the tasks and giving reward and consequences. And depending on the age of the child, allowing perfection to be a pleasant dream.

A suggestion for night pick up. The ages of my youngest girls are 2 ½, 5 ½ and 7 ½. They all share the same room. My 2 ½-year-old wants to help of course. It is in their nature. We let her. But the other two are at the point where pick up means work and work isn’t play. But Mommy reading to them at night is and Mommy won’t read in a messy bedroom. The room MUST be done in the morning but if they get it done at night then they also get some Mommy Reading Time! It works like a charm. If they didn’t have to do the job in the morning there isn’t the reasoning power of, “You will have to do this in the morning anyway – if you do it NOW it will be BETTER.”

Also by the time they are five, children can do any household chore as a helper and from there develop into a full-fledged participant in keeping their home a comfortable place to live. Now a five-year-old will not do laundry the way a fifteen-year-old will. A five-year-old will sort and put the laundry away after Mommy washes it. But by the time they are a little older they will have grown into the entire chore. A five-year-old needs help in the kitchen, but with today’s dishwashers they can load and put away. They can put most food away and do a fair job on wiping a counter. By the time they are older they can clean the refrigerator and organize the pantry. The same with meals. At first they can make toast and eggs and toss together a peanut butter sandwich. Before long they can study the cookbooks and make a dinner for the family and a dessert for a neighbor.

Once you have determined that a child is able to do a chore and have taught him how to do it and have clearly established your expectations of quality then you need to let him do it. Let him…I mean require it of him. Insist on it. Not give in to the impulse of taking the easy way out and doing it yourself. Not shuddering over the partial job and rush in to rescue him. Let him do it. Give more instruction, give more reward and consequence or make a specific decision that the requirements need to be altered for a time but don’t just do the job or you will spend the next lifetime always taking over his jobs…and the jobs of any other child watching the process.

Being a Manager rather than a Worker is a matter of mental perception. The job description is different. As a worker you do it all or most of it. As manager you look at the house and determine solutions to problems, how to help things flow from one goal to another, and how to work with the personalities and talents of the people in the home. You discover the schedule and patterns that will get your family from where it is to where you want to be and the habits that will keep you there. Even though you reach the point where you rarely do the ‘work’ of cleaning a home, the work that you do is time-consuming and important.

You see…while you are raising your children to be prepared for their adult life you are LIVING your life as an adult. This is your perfecting ground just as it is your children’s training ground. And managing life, work, talent, interest and relationship is a big chunk of what goes into being an adult. Just ask any child.

Cherie’s Time-wise Note – Today (2011) I now have 7 adult children. I’ve done my part in teaching them and now they have to manage their own discoveries in how to make it all work for their adult lives. I have been amused in watching my oldest raise her three little ones – ages 5, 3, and 1. Even though she was raised as described above, she still has to find her way to her own promotion. She’s already started her journey – she’ll get there. She and I both recommend The Fly Lady as the all around best method for managing a clean home. We highly recommend Organize Clear and Simple for dejunking and organizing your home.

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