One of the mantra’s I’ve been repeating over and over in my head lately is:
I’m a homemaker, not a maid.
I find myself saying it like an affirmation. Like I’m trying to believe it as I say it. As if I’m trying to get my brain to agree with me. If you’re anything like me, you might find it easier just to pick up the shoes, make the bed or any other number of chores. Just do it for them and it’ll be faster, there will be less nagging and, you know, it might actually get done.
On the other hand, I might never actually get done. Yes, if I’m the one doing everything, I’m never going to finish. This house is never going to be clean. Make the home I cannot.
Let’s dive in to this idea by thinking about the differences between a maid and a homemaker.
Because I’m a word nerd, let’s just check out the definition:
maid. /mād/ noun
- a female domestic servant.
Ooh, that doesn’t sit well. No, I don’t like the sound of that at all. I don’t mind working on my servant heart attitude. But I am not a female domestic servant. Nope.
Okay, to be fair, let’s check out the definition of a homemaker.
home·mak·er. /ˈhōmˌmākər/ noun
- a person, especially a housewife, who manages a home.
That sounds better. A little easier to swallow.
Now I want to dig a little deeper. What is the function of a maid? Let’s let Wikipedia tell us:
Maids perform typical domestic chores such as laundry, ironing, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, cooking, and caring for household pets.
Chores! Woohoo. Now, I know I *get to* do all those things. I have managed to find peace and joy in serving my family in this way…eventually. But my job is not just chores. I know it’s bigger. Again we will let Wiki tell us. Instead of just text this time, let’s have a photo instead.
Notice that there is quite a lot going on there. That list scrolls well beyond that screenshot.
The lesson here is while a maid is a tough job, it’s not my job. A maid works at a hotel. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe a maid comes to your home. But the things a maid does are just a part of what a homemaker does.
As a homemaker, I have more work to do than simply pick up after other people. If I spend my best time and energy doing that, the other things will, by default, fall by the wayside. Now, some people choose to concentrate on the other functions of homemaker and ignore the clean home part altogether. “Busy making memories” is a favorite quote for wall art.
On top of that huge list of things to do as a homemaker, we also have modern society which has gone off the rails with other stuff that apparently needs to be done like perfect birthday parties and year-round sports. You don’t have time to be a maid y’all!
What do I mean by that? I mean your best hope is to enable your family to take care of themselves as much as they can so you can get it all done.
In my own case, that means holding my family to a higher standard than I find myself naturally leaning toward.
When I see shoes in the hallway, it is easier to grab them and put them away. But that’s what a maid does. A homemaker teaches kids (or husbands if necessary I suppose, but that is another blog post) to put their own shoes away. My job is not to put shoes away. My job is to make a home the way we want it to be. While that does include shoe-free hallways, it’s more important to me to teach others how to put their own shoes away. It’s a better investment of my time. Once I teach them to do it, I know they know how and I know they can handle that all the times in the future. I know when they’re out on their own, I’ll have done my due diligence. Maybe their shoes will be in the hallway in of their own home, but it won’t be because I didn’t teach them.
Additionally, my time is too valuable to be wasting it putting someone else’s shoes away. If I put those shoes away, I’m trading away time that I could be ____________. Are there more important tasks I want to be doing rather than putting shoes away? Always. For me those are things like cooking nutritious meals, exercising, going to the beach or a museum, preparing a budget or scheduling the day. Now, there are also tasks I have to be doing rather than putting shoes away. These are things the kids and husband can’t really do like cleaning the stove, meal planning, taking apart fans to dust them and scheduling dentist appointments.
Not putting the shoes away is also a boundary I need to set with my family. By putting the shoes away, I’m teaching them that their time is more valuable than mine. I’m teaching them not to value me. It sounds ridiculous, but if we really stop to think about it, that’s the reality.
And that reality is harsh. I see many women lacking the self worth to set proper boundaries. They are showing their family love by doing everything for them. But they aren’t showing themselves any love. While that seems saintly and selfless, it ends up giving society women who are unhappy, stressed, anxious, tired, sick, mean, in need of rehab or wanting a divorce. No, really. Boundaries are a tough part of adulting, especially since we’ve probably jacked them up to begin with. But we can change and so can they.
(By the way ladies, if you do work outside the home, you and I both know you’re still the primary homemaker. This all applies, perhaps even more-so.)
Furthermore, the boundary it’s setting for kids is setting them up to be spoiled (#entitled). Now, I know we’re all going to battle the clean room and what not probably for the duration of our children’s childhood. However, the battle is the point. It’s a journey, a process. We’re teaching and shaping. What kind of adult do we want out there in the world? If we don’t fight for it daily, it’s not going to happen.
So, I am currently checking myself more and more often. I’m a homemaker, not a maid.
- My kids can do their own laundry.
- My kids can clean their own rooms.
- My kids can put their own shoes away.
- My kids can take care of our pet.
- My kids can pack their own lunches (the 3 year old needs supervision. But that’s what the 6 and 9 year old are for!).
- My kids can even cook a little bit!
All the things a maid would typically do, my kids are totally capable of doing. Although they can do things, that doesn’t always mean they do do it. In those cases, I gently remind them. Which may or may not lead to NOT GENTLY reminding them. 😉 (What WOULD happen if anyone listened the first time? Would the earth stop spinning?)
This is less about a kid’s chore chart and more about my own mindset. About really thinking through how I’m showing up in the world. I’m a homemaker, not a maid.
How about you? Do you struggle with this? Do you feel like a maid? Does your family contribute? Do you value yourself? What boundaries have you set? What boundaries do you want to set?
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