Have We Lost The Art Of Housewifery?

20/12/2010 17:30 | Updated 22 May 2015

I don't know about you, but I never listened much in Home Ec at school. I paid my good friend (with a taped copy of Michael Jackson's Bad) to finish the cullottes I was supposed to be making, and I never did sew on a button or hem anything in the whole 14 years I did the Career Thing. Then, at the age of 33, out popped a baby (I did know she was in there) and just over a year later another one. But it never really occurred to me that by making the choice to procreate, I was also choosing a life of housewifery that was a bigger shock to the system than a snowstorm in September.

With all the choices and experiences we women now have, it's interesting that when it comes to having a family, the vast majority of us still choose to be the one that 'makes house'. Whether that comes from some deep-rooted gender rule, or whether it is actually more about our feminine desire to be the one who cares for the children, who's to say, but according to the Office for National Statistics, there are roughly 207,000 house husbands in the UK. So, there are an awful lot of traditional housewives.

The question is though, how many of us are any good at it? We are generations on from the time that most of us would go straight from our father's house to our husband's, taking all our mothers' good advice and putting it straight into practise. University, travel and building a career come before any of that for many young women. So where does it leave us when we suddenly decide to do the housewife thing? In a bit of a mess if my house is anything to go by, but I can't decide how much it really matters. And anyway, can we really be expected to magic up a perfect household a la 1950 when the decades since have taught us how to do everything but?

I'm winging it. I used to have enough hours in the day to sleep for eight, commute for two, work for eight and spend the other six doing all the fun stuff, like reading, socialising, watching films and, you know, showering. These days it's a question of prioritising - and things that don't get done today are unlikely to get done tomorrow either. High on priority list: cooking for and feeding children, dressing children, making sure children are clean and not in immediate mortal danger. Low on priority list: ironing, dusting, hoovering, removing two-week old veg from back of fridge.

I do not have time to remove stubborn stains or re-attach buttons. I sometimes have dinner planned for Man, sometimes not. And when I leave the house with my top smeared with something indistinguishable (but probably a mix of mashed potato and baby snot) am I letting myself down?

I thought there must surely be some advice out there for hopeless housewives like me (so hopeless I actually looked). The first website I came across was called, promisingly, Happy Housewifery.

On the homepage I read: 'Do you desire and pursue to have a Godly home, but have no idea how to get there?'

Oh god, yes.

'Do you feel as if your marriage is hopeless?'

No, that's okay, that wasn't really why I wa...

'Maybe you have no hope left, but are looking for it.'

Well, yes, I did click on this site after all...

'Connie Hultquist can shine a light on the most difficult path by her life experience of living from miracle to miracle through Jesus.'

Oh no.

By: Pip Jones


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