Being a housewife or a “houseband” is a job, whether or not others would acknowledge it. Most full-time homemakers feel unappreciated, unrecognised, or feel judged because of this choice. But we should also acknowledge the reasons why this setup is a privilege on its own.
You can afford it
In other people’s homes, being a housewife or a houseband is NOT an option. Both partners must go out and find employment to bring in enough money to survive. In most countries, being employed can mean long hours at work, terrible commute, measly pay (I’m looking at you, Philippines), with hardly any breathing time to focus on your home.
But if your partner’s day job can afford it, you have the option to be a full-time homemaker.
Late last year, I asked my husband if I should find a decently-paying entry-level job so I can help him earn money for us. He thought for a moment, and he said that I could go find one if having an office job was what I desired, but not for the money reason. He continued on to point out that some of expenses that we both will incur if we both have jobs: not having home cooked lunches, taking Uber on most days, and takeaway/delivered food at night because nobody cooked.
I did the maths. He was right, we’d probably earn less that way.
Most working parents/husband/wives can get pretty exhausted in their day job, that nobody has enough energy to do household chores, run errands, or attend to a child’s needs. If both of you work very hard at your day jobs, your patience tends to run thin. Simple tasks like tidying up a room after a hard day’s work could even end up in arguments, sometimes with the I-did-it-yesterday or why-do-I-always-do-this-and-you-don’t sentiments.
As a full time homemaker, your partnership has a better delegation of workload: Your partner takes care of making enough money, while you are in charge of taking care of the household (and usually, how money is spent wisely so that you always have enough.)
My daily job includes: meal planning, cleaning, home improvement, paying bills, running errands, doing the laundry, and budgeting. (Also: Arguing endlessly on the phone with utility companies!) On the side, I also monitor our investments, and seek ways to include recreational activities in my husband’s schedule so he doesn’t get burnt out.
Both our jobs end by 6 or 7pm, when we’re having dinner at home. We have the next few hours to relax and talk about our day–instead of coming home and squeezing in chores when all we’d rather really do is put our feet up.
Undeniably the best part of being a full time homemaker is doing things yourself. Knowing where everything is versus domestic cleaning services, home-cooked meals versus takeaway food, being on top of errand versus outsourcing it.
As a housewife, I have enough time to make sure I feed us delicious and healthy meals. It’s terribly easier to buy prepared food, compared to planning it out and making it from scratch. I get to learn what my husband doesn’t like, or how spicy he’d like them prepared. It’s almost a luxury to have food that aren’t loaded with preservatives!
It may seem like a minute thing to others, but essentially my job as a housewife (and of other full time homemakers) is to make sure our partners and/or family has everything they need to go about their day without a hitch, if not easier.
Don’t believe me? Let me tell you about the time I’m so annoyed when he asks me–while I’m still half asleep at 7am–where his white shirt with thin blue stripes are. Or that he took forever to decide what to wear. What’s a homemaker to do? Make his life easier, of course.
Because he would not succumb to the Steve Jobs style of wearing the same thing every day, I made him a 6-week work clothes plan using all the possible combinations of his dress pants and shirts, with notes on which ones go to the laundry on specific weeks. Now he only has to refer to the printout; he knows what he’s supposed to be wearing at any given day. Problem solved.
This is never to say that employed people’s homemaking skills are inferior to full-time ones. I am saying how much of a privilege it is to be able to devote all of your time in making your family’s life easier.
Though I never really dreamed of becoming one, I’d never regret it. Keeping a home is a life skill I wouldn’t trade for anything. I know that there are so many negative comments loosely thrown at full-time homemakers, like how it is a sign of inequality, genderisation, being a burden to your partner, a waste of your education, and so on, but all of those just stem from naivety and the failure to recognise the importance of this job.
I am thankful for my husband who never fails to appreciate and value the work I put in day in and day out.
This post is dedicated to the late Mrs. Linda Reyes, an outstanding housewife from whom I learned the best version of sinigang ever. May you rest in peace.