“Honey, you’re such a great homemaker” my new husband told me after a long day of unpacking boxes and wiping down baseboards.
When you think of the term “homemaker”, what comes to mind? Is it a title reserved for stay-at-home-moms, a term that seems like it belongs in the 1950’s, or maybe a desirable vocation?
Who Cooks At Home Anymore, Anyways?
Say “homemaker” and automatically one of the first things that comes to mind is amazing all-from-scratch cooking abilities. I am definitely not a food blogger (I just play one in my kitchen – sorry for insisting on talking ALL the food pictures, sweetheart!) but it’s no secret I have a passion for creating tasty meals and treats. I grew up in a family who loves their passed-down Italian recipes and has a borderline unhealthy obsession with pasta sauce. I spent a lot of my childhood in the kitchen: helping my mom shape pierogi for Christmas Eve dinner, rolling out meatballs or cavatelli with my dad, and sometimes being reprimanded by my grandpa for not seasoning the sausage quite right.
So many people eat out for almost every meal simply because they don’t know how to cook. My family included me in the meal making tasks growing up, but I didn’t fully acquire true kitchen “skills” (I hesitate to even call it that – I’m really not fancy, I promise!) when I was on my own in my college years. I had a filet mignon appetite with a hungry piggybank, so I had no choice but to study how to make unique, delicious recipes I was unfamiliar with. Once I had carefully followed the steps several times they became second nature to me, not daunting and stressful.
I made pizza for a late dinner after one of my first dates with my now-husband (outdoor gun range). I was so excited to show off my dad’s homemade dough recipe (that I talked up the whole ride home), but after the first bite I realized I had forgotten the key ingredient: shortening. Talk about a major fail. But from that first meal of cardboard-textured pie we discovered cooking was a hobby we shared. That pizza recipe has changed quite a bit over the past two years, and is truly a work of art that reflects us as a couple.
Maybe your cooking skills are worthy of being on the next season of Chopped, or perhaps you struggle knowing how much food to prepare for guests. The kitchen has always been a place in the home I loved to pour my creative skills into, and will likely forever be my favorite home skill to improve on. But when I became a wife, I learned my passion for whipping up recipes just scratched the surface of what it truly means to be a homemaker.
My Passion for My Home
No one warned me that when you get married your laundry doesn’t double – it most definitely triples. Let’s face it – sometimes house work isn’t fun at all (I’ve never heard anyone say their favorite hobby is cleaning toilets). But how does someone keep going through all the mundane chores and take care of their home with a cheerful attitude? It turns out homemaking really isn’t about the organization of things, the money you plan to spend, or the food you’re preparing.
Homemaking is an art that is not only practical, but one of the best ways to serve your spouse. As a newlywed I quickly found fulfillment in caring for my home because it isn’t about the house itself (although I do desire a clean, organized space to live in) – it is all about serving the person whom I love most. And by utilizing my God-given talents and abilities, I’m living out my calling from Jesus; by stewarding the resources he’s given me, loving my husband, and pouring into my daily chores as an offering to the Lord and the person he’s given me to love! Homemaking doesn’t have to look like the negative stereotypes that circulate throughout our culture. When you have this purpose behind what you’re doing, you’ll find true fulfillment in it all – even if you’re simply picking up shoes or wiping down counter tops.
Whether you hold a vocation outside of the home, or your primary job is taking care of your children, homemaking isn’t just a hobby – it is truly meant to be a lifestyle. It is a place to let your creativity explore and your thoughts come alive. Cooking, keeping a clean house, keeping track of your finances, and decorating your home is only as intriguing as you make it. You don’t have to aspire to become Mrs. Betty Crocker (who isn’t even real, by the way) or have a white-glove-clean living room, but you can find enjoyable ways to serve your family well in the space you life your life in.
Don’t let the title of “homemaker” scare you off. It’s not too early for the single girl to start (you’re reaping the benefits of your work here, too!) and it’s never too late for a mama to begin. Cultivating a home environment is a rewarding experience that will communicate love to your spouse and family and be welcoming to the visitors passing through.
Seven Secrets to Success
The only hard-and-fast rules of homemaking are the ones you set in place for yourself, however there are a few practical, basic tips I’ve found to be incredibly helpful. Just remember, you get to personalize your process – you’re in charge, here!
- Get in the word first. Investing in your spirituality by prioritizing time for God isn’t a luxury – it’s absolutely essential. No matter how important your duties of the day are, it will be futile if you fail to approach housework with a humble, grateful, servant-minded heart; and you can’t achieve that without God. One of my favorite ways to ensure time in the word is to play the Bible audibly as I get ready for the day, wash dishes, or fold laundry!
- Make a plan for your money. My husband and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University before the wedding, which helped us start our marriage on the same page regarding our finances! Creating a budget doesn’t have to be restrictive, it’s truly all about your perspective. At its core, a budget is simply managing your money with purpose and good stewardship, for God’s glory. Friends, if God has been faithful to provide for you, the least we can do is be faithful in planning to use it intentionally. Budgeting is essential because you just can’t operate a home that’s on the verge of bankruptcy, and taking care of your finances ensures your family’s well-being during financially stressful situations. Bonus: it truly helps you learn how to communicate better with your spouse!
- Make a plan for your cooking. What recipes are you constantly making? Write out the ingredients you use for those recipes (and snacks, drinks, etc), decide on additional recipes you want to make this week, and make a grocery list with all the ingredients you’ll need week. I like finding meals that use overlapping ingredients (we eat a lot of Mexican and chicken, so I always have chips and fresh salsa veggies and chicken seasonings/marinades!) Get in the habit of checking your pantry/fridge before shopping to avoid buying more than you need on hand.
- Make your process a pattern. Maybe you’re not a structured “on Tuesday I dust the blinds and wash the sheets” kind of person. But if you create a prioritized pattern of chores you’ll give yourself flexibility to get it done when you can, and you won’t be stressed out if you didn’t complete the least important thing as long as you’ve done what is essential that day! I like to have an ongoing pattern of chores I do weekly without pinning them to a specific day, because when something comes up I don’t feel behind and stressed if I have to push back my schedule one day.
- Clean a little every day. Maybe you’re not breaking out the mop every day, but definitely don’t sit around waiting until you have a big party before you deep clean your house. If you break the tasks up and do a little each day then you’ll break it all up into manageable chunks that won’t make you feel like you’re wasting away your free days cleaning. (If you do it all in one day it will quickly lead you to burnout!)
- Split up the tasks with your spouse. Maybe there is one thing you really don’t enjoy doing, and your spouse doesn’t mind it as much. Communicate these things, as your spouse might appreciate the opportunity to serve you by taking on a task that helps you! In turn, take into consideration what is important to your spouse and love them by doing that thing. My husband enjoys mowing the lawn, and frees up my time by taking responsibility for that job. He hates when dishes are left dirty in the sink, so I make sure to start cleaning up as soon as we’re finished at the table. Just remember to communicate your appreciation to them for serving you in love!
- Set yourself up for success with appliances. I may have a slight obsession with collecting appliances, but they can seriously be such a time-saver! Utilizing the slow cooker has been the best thing I’ve learned how to do (I didn’t have my own Crock-Pot until I was married!) because I can get supper started while I’m working from home. I love rice, but I always hated making it until I invested in a rice cooker – now I get perfectly cooked rice every time with minimal effort! Don’t go overboard and clutter up your kitchen with things you’ll only use once per year, but do evaluate if a product is worth it if it makes your day-to-day life easier.
Bonus Tip: Let go of your expectations for a perfectly run home. Naturally, the more experience you have, the smoother things will run. Don’t expect to have it all figured out right away – like all parts of life, homemaking is a process that you need to constantly be learning well about, in order to love your family better.
Do you have more homemaking tips? I’d love for you to share them below in the comments!
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All photos by Melissa Couture Photography.