I know the topic of staying home might not be received so well right now after having the shelter in place drama, but I’ve been getting so many notes and letters from many of you that have decided that being home absolutely works for them and they will do what ever it takes to not go back to work.
I get this. The day I had my goodbye office party I felt like I was retiring from over two decades of work that always bored me. Now, I did love many jobs, I made so many friends, some of which are family now, and I have very fond memories of my last job on the coast, but I was becoming a housewife and I was thrilled!! I couldn’t believe I had married a man that was very much into having a housewife…as a matter of fact, it was how his culture worked, and that worked for me.
I could now rise naturally with the morning sun! I could sip my coffee in pajama’s alone in my kitchen day after day after day! I didn’t have to answer to anyone! No bosses! No managers! No deadlines or quotas! I could clean my house and listen to music. I could talk on the phone for a long time without getting in trouble, I could plan my day as I pleased, create my own schedules and goals. I was the boss, the madame of the house. I nested with enthusiasm.
Sure it got a bit lonely and boring at times. I was used to working a lot and being surrounded by people all the time so it was an adjustment. I had a couple dogs but the first child was still being created in my body and I was a simple cook back then. Our house was a rental and in nice shape so we didn’t have to work on it. I will be honest, I was restless at first. How does one go from a schedule and full days of working and socializing, being out in the world with all the living, to being at home. Alone. Just me and dogs that don’t talk. One can only vacuum so many times.
I walked to my old job all the time to ‘visit’ much to the bosses irritation. I was very close with my coworkers so people would take turns taking breaks to gossip with me. Soon I was bringing a little person with me as well to ‘visit’.
It was when we moved for work to a quiet fruit farm on the river far, far away from friends, family, and community, that I made peace with being home and settled. We had only one car and lived in the country were you couldn’t just walk to town…the nearest substantial town was 30 miles away. I had one little boy and a year later another wee one. My days were at home sitting out in the backyard under a huge 100 year old olive tree reading and watching over the little ones as they waddled and rolled about the yard or on the blanket I’d spread out.
I learned to spend days in solitude and silence since Arjan and Sam could only goo and gah. I started doing more old fashioned task such as cooking all the time, baking more often, hanging clothes outside, making laundry soap, and reading stacks of Amish fiction.
And what are the Amish about? Communing and serving God so they keep life simple, slow paced, and quiet because they feel it keeps them connected to the Father.
Those two years were very beneficial. These days of being sheltered in did not phase me for weeks. Hanging out with my boys and self entertaining is old hat.
But so much has changed since I was first introduced to the world of homemaking. We have moved many times, gone through unemployment of the bread winner, children have grown from babies to boys, I’ve learned to homestead on many levels, we’ve purchased two properties, I started a YouTube channel and wrote books which spurned me onward to years of research, learning, reading, and becoming a part of a large community of homemakers and homesteaders.
Today I bake our bread weekly without a thought, I cook from scratch 85% to 95% of the time and I make things I never thought I would make. We find free horse manure for huge kitchen gardens that we plant everywhere we live, we paint and build and fix things ourselves, we learn ways to save money and thrive everyday.
Today I’m so busy I don’t have time for that fat Stephen King novel I ordered from the library. I have no time to feel restless or bored or lonely…now I just want a nap!
But I was reading Rhonda Hetzels’ The Simple Life and she talked of setting up her house for efficiency and to be more productive in making everything they needed.
What I want to impart to the person new to staying home, anyone that has decided to not return to the wild world of work and commuting, is that there is a time of adjustment and some setting up of the house and your world to accommodate the new ways.
For example: the kitchen. If you are now home for good, cooking will be your new job. One of them. You may want to start out simple but over time if you feel bored, perhaps make some berry jam from those Farmer Market blackberries? Might want to try out bread making…at least some biscuit making? The more you get into your cooking and baking the more you will find that setting up the kitchen to suit you is a must. I used to have a baking section, a coffee station, organized pantry, and I had all my tools and pots set up how I used them frequently.
I used to love the book Dump Dinners and used a lot of packaged and convenience foods, or I cooked simple dishes like burritos, spaghetti with meat sauce, baked chicken, stir fry rice with vegetables. I bought sliced bread.
Oh boy is it a different scene now. My kitchen is an organized mess with counters full of fruits and vegetables that don’t go in the fridge, oils, flours, plant based butters. My shelves are full of all sorts of dried beans, flours, grains, powdered things. I have seasonings and coffees on side shelves by the stove. I have a half stocked pantry and 5 gallon containers stacked against the wall with lentils, soy beans, oats.
My kitchen always looks busy. For the most part the dishes are done, the table and counters are washed down, and the floors are swept. I like clean floors and counters and I have no dishwasher so I don’t let the plates pile up, but the kitchen looks busy, always in the middle of a baking or cooking task. I will admit that the shelves of my pantry look a mess with this and that shoved here and there.
It is a well loved and deeply worked kitchen. It is not the pride of the minimalism community. I would be shamed and kicked out. But it is a kitchen were there are always loaves of bread coming and going from the oven and the stove top is always sizzling, simmering and boiling pots and pans of things. I’m always learning a new recipe with the laptop playing a cooking vlog from YouTube, coffee is always brewing and music is always in the background. I prefer the mess and plates of good, nutritious, hot food to a sterile kitchen. I will admit I need to put some attention to organizing and stocking, but we eat well.
Your pantry will be your little grocery store. Make sure it is stocked with all the things you use to cook and bake. Over time my pantry and seasoning cupboard has filled up because I cook from scratch often. You collect much over time.
With the rest of the house you’ll want to set it up so it’s cozy, charming, a home you want to hang out in. You’ll want to make it easy to clean. That means different things to different homemakers. Some like very little in the house…and that does make it easy to clean, some like color and lots of stuff. But a clean and tidy house is good for the soul.
You may want a kitchen garden and will need to set up the back yard or front yard for that.
You may decide that one car is plenty and you can walk about town or to the grocery store. If you do walk to the store, let me suggest a wagon. We have a nice, sturdy canvas wagon and can load it with bags of groceries.
If you aren’t signed up with the local library, do so and find out how to order from other counties or if they have programs for downloading movies or Zip books.
As you settle into being at home, be you a man or woman, and for what ever reason you have made this decision, over time you will find the routines and ways that suit your style. You may be the type to schedule everything; laundry, baking, cleaning. Or you wake up each day and just see what needs doing. You may be super organized like Marie Kondo style or you may just declutter until there isn’t much to organize to keep it simple.
Hopefully, you will grow to adore your life at home as much as I have and use it for all sorts of creativity and hobbies. So many things that are done at home are considered hobbies; baking, knitting, sewing, decorating, gardening. But these hobbies save money, create warm homes, and feed our families well.
Jump in and go for it.