Many working people mistakenly thought that a homemaker, caregiver or a home based person have a lot of free time. A friend of mine who gave up her career in order to raise her boys the best of her ability shared with me that it is annoying when she repeatedly got asked this question:
“So you are a housewife… you must be very free. What do you do with your free time?”
If you have been asked that and get a little annoyed, I want to tell you that I understand how you feel. You do not have it easy. If you want to take care of your home well, you will not have time to sit down and put up your legs and watch daytime soap or drama series. Each day, even you feel up to it or not, you still need to get up early, get things done and then drop to bed each day dead tired that you would be asleep within a few minutes.
Seriously, running a household ain’t easy. There are a thousand and one thing that you need to do most of the time. You would have to be in their shoes to understand.
For a mother with young children, here are the things she has to spend a lot of time to do:
- preparing the husband and kids’ breakfast- that means waking up before they do
- marketing for groceries and things that is required. Often they have to take their kids along if there is no one to care for their kids. Preparing their kids such as bathing them, getting them to change and packing their bags (you need to take along stuff like diapers, wipes, water and snacks) would take at least an hour before and after
- food preparation… gosh… it is what takes up the most time. Food, especially seafood and meat have to be cleaned and marinated. Vegetables have to be cut and washed.
- washing up before, during and after cooking- you need to wash in between or else you would end up with a huge pile of overflowing pots and pans
- drying the pots, pans, plates and bowls…. then putting them away
- wiping off surfaces
- it is repeated again if there are additional baking projects
- sweeping and mopping- a kitchen where cooking is done needs to be mopped
- laundry- the entire family
- ironing clothes
- certain task days such as washing bed sheets, curtains, cleaning out rooms and scrubbing toilets
- sort out mails and pay the bills
- dinner- repeat the entire process of food preparation, washing, cooking, washing, serving, eating then washing up, wiping surfaces, sweeping and mopping
- help kids with homework
It is not easy and the role of a stay-at-home mom is truly awesome. Especially a fully capable, educated and intelligent woman who is willing to give up it all to care for her spouse, kids and take care of the house full time.
Don’t ever think they have it easy. It is tough and a thankless job. Appreciate them and do not take them for granted. Give them a break and relief them of their duties from time to time. It is not too much to ask if they just wish to skip cooking or have you send the kids on weekends.
Confession: I was once one of those who did not understand
In the past, I must confess that I was one of them who did not understand the overwhelming responsibility of keeping a house together.
After my mom retired, she used to comment that she is quite busy doing all the cooking and cleaning. I would look at our messy house and wondered what she meant by that. In the past, she was too stingy to pay a worker to come and trim the weeds of our garden using a weed trimmer. She would try to pull the weeds on her own by hand. And after spending a few hours in the garden, she would tell me that it looked as if nothing is being done.
My mom loved to cook and bake but cleaning and organizing were not her forte. I had to learn a lot of proper ways to clean and to figure out organization methods on my own.
Eventually my mom got more forgetful and weaker and she did less and less housework. I started to take over more and more housework. Till she had a fall last year, I took one month unpaid leave to manage the house and keep things in order. Eventually I resigned from my job to care for my mom full time.
Then the full extend of the work requires finally hit me. It hit me hard.
If I were to take care of cooking and cleaning, literally from time I get up to the time I go to sleep I hardly have time to rest. There is endless things to be done in the house plus taking care of my mom who is getting more childlike from the affects of Alzheimer.
At the same time, I also continue to blog. I guess the writer in me never stop even after I left the corporate world. I manage every aspect of my site on my own- from the layout and design to the content. Things got more sane after I buy dishes instead of cooking, outsource the garden weeding and kept my pets outdoors. I devote most of the spare time I got aside from cleaning and caregiving to my blog…writing in between pockets of time or at night (stretching often past midnight) and my TV watching time become almost non existent.
I got asked that question that “you must be very free. So what do you do with your free time” a few times. Each time, I just take a deep breath….
Therefore, next time when you feel that your stay at home wife or house husband, retired parents or caregiver have things easy, please think again. Really, we do not have much spare time.