A Woman’s View: the Homemaker

A job that is thankless, never ending, offers bad pay (usually none) that is completely under credited and taken for granted: the Homemaker. This type of profession, women who sacrifice just about everything to provide a home and upkeep for their families, is rarely seen anymore these days. Most females – for many reasons, including necessity – work just as many hours, if not more, than their husbands.

With more women working both in and outside the home, an increase in the demand for daycares and early pre-schools is been at its highest. Fewer women are able to stay home and care for their children as a result of the high cost of living and the dream of accomplishing career goals.

However, there are some women who are still able to remain homemakers and provide an atmosphere for their families that is seldom seen anymore: the “stay-at-home mom.”

It has been said that raising children and being a housewife is one of the hardest jobs, and many of our NEast homemakers would agree.

“I used to be a manager of a bakery and now I am raising three children and a husband,” laughs Terry. “You’d never believe it until you try it, but it is hard work. I miss working only 50 to 60 hours a week. Now I get up about 6 a.m., assuming, of course, that my kids sleep through the night, and don’t finish everything until about 11 or even midnight sometimes.”

One of the main reasons women stay home to raise their children is to give them a family environment and upbringing that suggests togetherness in this fast-paced society. Others are not happy letting strangers raise their children, or even watch them temporarily.

“I wouldn’t trust anyone else with my children what with the way people are today,” Terry said. “It is not saying that all of them are bad, one of my friends runs a daycare, but they would just let the kid fall or cry because there aren’t enough people to watch each kid all the time. Plus I don’t want my kid getting sick all the time.”

On a poll taken of 20 NEast homemakers, 16 said they felt their job at the home was more difficult and demanding than their former careers. Of the same 20 women, 14 said they prefer to raise their children due to lack of trust in daycares or other caregivers.

“I had my kid in daycare for four months when I was trying to work part time and in those four months he came home sick or with some ailment five times,” Andrea said. “Can you believe that? It wasn’t worth it to me to have him get sick all those times and then need tubes in his ears. It’s just not worth it; plus the cost of daycare is so ridiculous that you are basically working just to pay for it. Since I’ve kept my kid home, he has gotten sick once in a year and a half. Once. That’s it.”

Taking care of children is never easy; doing so can try even the most patient person’s nerves. That being said, there are many upsides to being a homemaker and raising your children. Those who are privileged enough to have the option, or those who sacrifice in order to raise their children, find many benefits in staying home and ensuring their children’s upbringing. It can be a rewarding, yet thankless job.

“I raised my children and stayed at home. We had to do without the biggest and best TV, but at least I was always there for them,” said Lynn. “Looking back, I wouldn’t change it. After all, kids are only kids for so long, and I didn’t want to miss their childhood by being too busy working to have time for them or only sparing an hour or two at night. I wanted to be there whenever they needed me.”

Children often appreciate their parents’ sacrifices when they mature, whether it is a mom who stayed home to raise them, a parent who took off work to come to school functions or the parent who worked just to ensure their survival.

“My mom raised us, and I am so glad we didn’t get stuck in daycare,” Ashlie said. “There’s nothing wrong with it, but it meant more to have her there than to have the most expensive shoes. It took me until I was older to realize just how much I should thank her, and we are so close now that I wouldn’t trade that for all the expensive stuff.”

One of the biggest down sides to being a homemaker is that the job doesn’t get the respect it should from many.

“Unless you have walked a mile in the shoes you can’t understand what it entails,” Lynn said. “You need a supportive partner that understands you have a job just like him and that his money is not just ‘his’ money.”

While some men understand the concept and respect it, others feel their working status defines their placement in the household. The old adage of “women’s work” or “that’s what women are for” is often brought up in conversations referring to those who care for the household and children. The truth is, it isn’t an easy job sacrificing your career and hobbies for the home and kids, or working constantly from sun up to sun down, even on vacation.

“No one realizes just how tiring of a job it is, Terry said. “It is exhausting and never ending. While it has a lot of great rewards, it can seem a bit monotonous and it is hard when you interact all day everyday with children. You love them, but like any job, you need a break here and there.”

Like any job, being a homemaker demands respect and – much like any job – it can be very tiring. A better appreciation and understanding for what these (and all) women do, is greatly needed and much overdue. Despite the lack of pay, being a homemaker is a job just like any other and is more demanding of time and energy than most people give it credit for.

A Woman’s View is a column about women’s issues written by Donna Ward. The column appears every other Thursday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here. Read other NEastPhilly columns here.

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