Society has grown so 'advanced' that we look down on those of us who choose to be nurturing Household Managers. Somehow this work force is seen as slothful folks who live off the work of others, or are incompetent in the workplace altogether. Society then contradicts itself by acknowledging the growing strain on the medical, policing and financial support systems due to increased stress, pollution and poor nutrition in today's civilized world. Worried politicians view our ever-growing need to import food as a potential disaster in the event of worldly catastrophes - and scientists tell us their numbers indicate we are actually overdue for a catastrophe.
Society will 'tsk-tsk' at the children who have been raised by non-family members (including televisions and computers), because no one has the energy or the time to raise them properly. We have the audacity to be bewildered at the drop out rate in our cold and sterile public schools. We 'tsk-tsk' again at the poorly behaved pets when they are only deprived of proper training and attention.
When itemized like this, there seems to be little to wonder at that our society is as distressed as it is! It is also understandable why so many households have hired help to handle such a workload.
What we need to do is realign society's view on the importance of Household Management positions.
For starters, far from being a drain on the budget, choosing this position can actually save money. Consider the work-related costs such as transportation, which can include tires, increased vehicle maintenance, gas, insurance and perhaps a second vehicle. Then there are supplies, upgrade classes, clothing, childcare, prepared meals, outsourcing yard care and housecleaning services and so on. Many households have evaluated their situation and found that they were getting no further ahead by having a second person work full time. And their days off work were spent in a whirlwind frenzy trying to fit everything in.
Taking on the chore of managing the household budget is often left for the Household Manager, as is the menu planning and meal making. Making meals at home, from 'scratch', (meaning not a prepared meal from a can or a box), is an effective way to cut most food budgets in half. Cut that by up to 1/2 again if you have a home garden. In 2002, our 3000sq.ft. garden brought in over $1600 of a wide variety of organically grown, highly nutritious, fresh foods. And we are ensured that no matter what happens in the employment sector or any disruption in food distribution, our family will not go hungry!
The frugal manager is conscious of menu planning around seasonal produce, (which is fresher and therefore more nutritious), and locally grown crops, (which are environmentally friendly and cheaper due to reduced transport). Sales, bulk foods and coupons can be determinants for the menu plan development, as long as one is buying the item that is normally consumed, rather than just because it is on sale. We have been able to cut anywhere from $10-$40 off every shopping excursion every week simply by considering sales and coupons when planning the menu. That is just one more thing we didn't have time for when we both worked outside of the home.
Far from being slothful, a serious manager can spend over 20 hours a week just cleaning! Nearly 2 hours every day is needed just to keep up to daily tidying and washing, 5 hours a week are spent doing the deeper household cleaning, and another hour to wash the vehicle every couple of weeks. Then tack on at least 3 hours for laundry and clothing care. Wise managers also periodically clean and maintain the home's appliances and machines, prolonging their lives and reducing the need for future repairs.
Pets are not simply a pleasure or a hobby in our home. They are family, companions and protectors. Always a joy, these critters promote relaxation and playfulness. Still, they need someone to groom them, feed and water them, gather their wastes and give them baths. Then there are other pet-related chores like exercise and training. With only 1 cats and 2 dogs, this can involve 2 hours every day - or 14 hours a week. The end result being very content, happy and well-behaved animals.
Outside of cleaning, gardening and yard work, pet care, child care/schooling, shopping, menu planning and meal making, Household Managers are also called upon to handle any required paper work or research, appointments, phone conversations, letter writing, banking and bill paying. Then there are garbage pick up days, recycling trips, and special calendar dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) to manage as well.
It is important to keep in mind that some households operate home-based businesses as well. Having one person at home is ideal for such arrangements as they can, like I do, split their time between running the home and working the business.
It is unfortunate that this position is not held in high regard in this society. Far too often Home Managers are seen as people with a lot of time on their hands and folks tend to assume they are available for them. Badgered by family member who are guilty of continually piling on more and more chores for the Manager to handle, the Household Manager must become a master of mulit-tasking. As a result Household Managers do not work a 9 a.m.-to-5 p.m. shift; but rather more like a 7 a.m-to-11 p.m. shift. A full day off or even a vacation rarely exist in their lives. Understandably many Household Managers become depressed and stressed, often feeling underappreciated.
Yet, Household Managers who take their jobs seriously can take pride in their contribution to society, regardless of whether appreciation is expressed adequately, because their efforts result in healthier, happier people who are less likely to be a drain on society. Doing the many household chores takes quite a load off the working partner, which creates more time for their loved ones to do other things, and family relationships become more loving and people are more willing to do things for one another. So today, at least for this one day, let's celebrate the incredible behind-the-scenes contribution this work force provides in our society.
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