Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Time Out for Homemakers


A love of homemaking does not always come naturally.  Taking simple steps can keep homemakers from feeling their work is drudgery.  First of all, homemaking requires a few reality checks.  Real life means that keeping house may not always turn out as perfectly as we would like.  Even the best homemakers simply do not have the time to do all that they would like or as well as they would hope for.  When all the children were at home and outside activities and obligations were at an all-time high, I had to learn to delegate as many tasks as possible to the children and my husband. 

My husband’s career was very demanding at the time all the children were in school and with a lot of outside interests, so I asked him to do only a few things that could be done with a child “helper.”  We parents might wish to complete tasks more efficiently than we could with a small child or reluctant teenager, but household tasks can become great bonding experiences where teaching and sharing occurs naturally when we involve our children.  Though tasks done with the family member's help or delegated to family members may not turn out as well as if done yourself, they do get done and time is freed up for the homemaker’s higher priority items.  Through consistent practice, helpers will improve with their assigned tasks.


Assigning tasks to others is a good time to really evaluate whether all tasks are actually necessary, anyway.  Reevaluating daily activities of all kinds and whether they are wasteful could free up time and energy for the homemaker.  For example, time can be wasted just looking at the mail.  Most of the time junk mail gets shredded immediately and catalogs thrown out in our house.  Measures have been taken to prevent most junk mail from ending up in the mailbox in the first place. Answering only essential phone calls is also a real time-saver (you do not have to take a call on your cell phone in the Walmart bathroom stall BTW). 


I have blocked out Mondays as “My Day” to recuperate from the weekend and plan my week.  I relax my standards and just ignore the dirty floors and dishes and cook a simple meal for dinner.  Many times dinner is a meal that was doubled and frozen for later.  If I do any cleaning it’s my own clothes, personal bathroom, and bedroom that get done.  It does not have to be Monday—but at least one day a week is “MY DAY” and I look forward to it!

Become A Homebody

Before running errands, plan them out on paper first to use gas and time efficiently.  I usually reserve Fridays as the errand day and I try not to make any extra trips until then.  Errands can really zap your time, money, and energy but some people like the excuse of “getting out.”  If staying home seems stifling, make your home more inviting for you to be in.  After consulting magazines and the internet, I learned to create a spa retreat getaway in my master bedroom/bath.  It is a place I love to be.  Creating a love for home can be done by creating a special space in the home, garden or yard; taking long walks in the neighborhood and enjoying the beauty of nature; having regular visits with a neighbor who also likes to visit; spending time playing with pets or children; practicing yoga during your children’s “quiet time” or nap time; develop a hobby or learn something new.


Being a homemaker might mean living on a very limited income, but we can still pamper ourselves.  One thing I love is dark chocolate covered dried pomegranate fruit found at my local grocery store.  It tastes like it came from a gourmet shop.  I hide a bag of these in a drawer for when I need a special treat just for me.  I also like to try DIY spa treatments like the ones found in Take Time Out:

·         Steam Clean.  Fill a large ceramic or glass bowl with boiling water and drop in one herbal tea bag for each cup of water.  (Try chamomile, lavender, peppermint, or lemon tea bags).  Cover your head with a towel and hold your face eight to ten inches above the steaming liquid for three to five minutes.
·         Rub on an exfoliater.  Add drops of olive oil, one at a time, to a packet of sugar to make a spreadable paste.  Or mix a packet of instant oatmeal with enough water to make a paste.  Rub onto your face and rinse.
·         Soften your hands.  For the softest hands, slather on rich hand cream and wear cotton gloves overnight to seal in moisture.
·         Keep your feet happy.  To slough dry skin off feet, mix together two tablespoons of each of the following:  Epsom salts, table salt, baking soda, and warm water.  Rub this mixture vigorously over any rough areas.  This rinse.
·         Scent your own lotion.  Shop at a discount store for a bottle of unscented body lotion.  At home, add a few drops or sprays of your favorite cologne and shake well.  Continue to add cologne, a little at a time, until the lotion is lightly scented.
·         Recycle potpourri.  When you’re ready to change potpourri scents, place the old potpourri in an airtight bag or container.  Store the container in a cool, dark place until the following year.  If the scent has diminished add a few drops of scented oil and mix gently.


Finally, homemakers need to include spirituality in each day.  Favorite ideas from Take Time Out include:  writing favorite verses on blank business-size cards.  Then place them around the house near places where you often stand--on the bathroom mirror, next to the telephone, or on the refrigerator.  Or write verses on colorful slips of paper, fold the slips in half, and place them in a pretty bowl in the hallway.  Each time you pass the bowl, stop and pull out a verse to read.  These are quick and simple ways to keep a spiritual focus to each day.  My favorite idea was to create a Victory Journal by writing down specific prayers.  Whenever a prayer is answered, write the result down below it.

To be a Happy Homemaker, it is important to consistently take the time to delegate housework and eliminate time-wasters.  Overcome the feeling of being stifled at home by creating a special haven in your home, outdoor space or neighborhood.  Each week block out “Me Time” and enjoy the simple pleasures of pampering oneself.   Most importantly, boost your self-esteem by keeping a spiritual focus each day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"En Bonne Ménagère..."

Photo from Homemaking for Teen-agers, Book 2, McDermott and Nicholas, 1958
Which means "Like A Good Housewife."  I read it in a book recently and just couldn't resist using it.  How often does one use that phrase anymore? For all you "Good Housewives," here is a recipe for "How to Preserve A Husband" from The Saturday Evening Post All American Cookbook (by Charlotte Turgeon and Frederic A. Birmingham).

How to Preserve A Husband

First, take care in selecting one who is not too young, but tender.  Make your selection carefully and let it be final.  Otherwise, they will not keep.

Like wine, they improve with age.  Do not pickle or keep them in hot water.  This makes them sour.

Prepare as follows:  Sweeten with smiles, according to variety.  The sour kind are improved with a pinch of salt of common sense.

Wrap well in a mantle of charity.  Preserve over a good fire of steady devotion.  Serve with peaches and cream.

The poorest varieties may be improved by this process and kept for many years in any climate.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eliminating Closet Clutter

While some would like to convert a whole room into a closet, if I could do away with closets altogether I would.  I personally don't like anything that attracts clutter like closets, garages, basements, and sheds.  However, I don't mind adorable little girls that fall asleep in their closet ;o)  I have a neighbor friend (mother of 14 children-half are now grown) who uses only old-fashioned, small armoires as closets.  They built their home without closets!  Ain't no clutter there, I can tell you!

First Step to Clutter Freedom

Take everything out of the closet and if necessary make any repairs to the space.  Kids can be really hard on closets and they may have to be re-painted every so often.  When cleaning and organizing a closet, you want all storage space to be see-through so you don't have to look for items.  Hang belts, bags, purses and shawls on the wall and put shoes on a rack.  Put sweaters in a box on the shelf at the top of the closet.  Give the closet an overhaul every six months before the next season begins.  I like to take that time to decide what to give to charity and what to store (in a clear box) for the season.  Winter clothes should be stored over the summer and vice versa.  Tuck bay leaves and fabric softeners amongst the clothes to keep bugs away.

Give away clothes that don't fit...

buyer's remorse purchases, or clothes you like but never wear.  Take them to a favorite consignment shop.  Have a closet rule:  "one in, one out."  This will ensure that you buy only what you truly love and your closet isn't overrun with things you don't wear.  I enforce this with the family too.  If my son gets new sneakers, the old ones are used for yard work, etc. and the old-old ones are thrown out (cause they are pretty nasty!)  This applies to all clothing and accessories, however you will probably donate or consign the items that are in good condition rather than throwing them away.

Divide clothes into groups:

work, home and fun, dressy, and repair.  Use different colored hangers.  Hangers are really important!!!  It's worth the expense to buy good hangers and it's important to use them properly and not try to put too much on the hangers or rip pants off of a hanger.  I like the kind that have rubbery surfaces that keep pants neatly folded over and they don't slip.  They hold shirts in place as well.  Camisoles and spaghetti straps stay in place on hooks provided.  I keep the hangers that my skirts come with from the store (the kind that clamp on).  You can buy these at the store as well.  This is what I use for skirts.  You can also hang throws and table clothes with these, which make it easy to remember what linens you have.


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