The Basics of Homemaking – Revival of an Important Lost Art

The basics of homemaking is often thought to be the act of washing dishes, sweeping a floor, washing clothes, or doing any number of traditional household chores within the home. Some find it mundane and less than enjoyable. Others seem to thrive with homemaking and look forward to the challenges.

For a time, it tried desperately to become a lost art. Homemaking has been making a slow progress towards distinction since the 1960s. Whether women chose to walk away, or just didn’t like the societal attitude where homemaking was considered ‘women’s work’, more and more homemakers left the basics of homemaking behind in favor of corporate jobs. 

a vintage image of a woman doing laundry
Image by: The Everett Collection

We haven’t returned full circle, but many women are seriously reconsidering the idea of staying home to care for their home and family full time. Leaving the work force, caring for family, home, and even possibly pursuing a home-based business, is becoming more and more appealing.

In many cases, the women of today had moms who worked outside the home. Other than a few general chores, not many have been taught the depths of what the basics of homemaking really entail. Before you make the final decision to become a full-time homemaker, it may help to know exactly what it means.

wicker clothes basket filled with clean and folded towels

What is the Basics Homemaking?

The official definition of Homemaking is “the management of a household”.  From cleaning, cooking, finances, health care and more, a successful homemaker manages the home in a way that is similar in nature to running a small business. Managing a home isn’t difficult and can be very satisfying.  But the basics of homemaking is more than just a weekly cleaning. Here are some aspects of homemaking that aren’t readily considered:

  • When we speak of homemaking, we know that a home isn’t limited to four walls. Our kitchen extends right out the back door and into a garden filled with herbs, fruits and vegetables that help us to feed our family.
  • Hospitality is also one of the basics of homemaking. Learning how to make our home warm and welcoming to family, friends and neighbors is something we usually enjoy offering.
  • There is the financial aspect of maintaining the home. Gaining control of your finances by learning wise spending and saving habits helps to keep your home in working order, your family fed, and aids in reducing the stress and anxiety that happens when the finances are in disarray.
  • Teaching our children how to be well-adjusted, productive adults is a priority. This includes not only the basic life lessons, such as responsibility, manners, and how to get along with others, but also encouraging them to follow their dreams, encourage their natural talents, and learn acceptance of others.
  • Another one of the basics of homemaking is spending quality time with our family. Whether it is on a one-on-one basis, such as date nights with a spouse, or spending time with each child, or finding fun activities to do as a group, spending quality time with your family helps to make a happier home life for you and them.
  • And last, but definitely not least, learning how to find and spend Personal Time should be at least one of your priorities. Keep in mind – if you do not take care of yourself, it is much more difficult to take care of your home and family.

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The Importance of Homemaking

Becoming a homemaker may not seem important enough in today’s society. After all, even the basics of homemaking isn’t a high paying position, doesn’t include a well-padded benefit package, and to many, the belief is that homemaking is primarily for ‘unskilled’ labor.

On the contrary! Homemaking is actually one of the most skilled professions out there. Instead of being ‘proficient’ in one area, such as accounting, biology, or even rocket science, a homemaker knows at least a little bit of most every subject. (Ever helped a child with a science project? Yep. A homemaker can explain the propulsion end of that rocket!)

It isn’t just about knowing the basics of homemaking. A homemaker needs to be skilled in many areas. She is fluent in office management, accounting, and accounting; she is fluent in ‘hostage’ negotiation and can be a lawyer one second and the next a medical professional. Just check out the Homemaker’s Resume for everything she is more than capable of doing.

a side table with a white and pink tea set and turquoise blue glass lamp

And her benefit package is better than most. These are some of the best benefits that most corporate employees don’t offer:

  • Extended Family Time
  • Flexible Schedule
  • Vacation Time without Notice
  • Unlimited Sick Leave
  • A Position that Works with her Skills
  • Never dealing with an Unreasonable Boss
  • Hugs and Kisses from ‘co-workers’
  • A happy, contented, joy-filled heart

a butter dish, bowl of eggs, bowl of flour

Characteristics of a Homemaker

Before considering becoming a homemaker, it may help to know some of the characteristics to have or cultivate.

And before we go any further, let it be known that although a ‘homemaker’ is traditionally considered to be a woman’s job, it hasn’t always. Up until the Industrial Revolution, men participated in all aspects of the basics of homemaking, including sweeping floors and washing dishes.

Once it became a necessity to go outside the home in search of jobs, the daily chores began to fall on the women’s shoulders. Today, although still considered rare, some men have elected to take care of the home and family while their spouses maintain full-time positions, and others balance housework with a home-based job.

For this post, I will continue to use the traditional ‘her’, but by all means that is not a slight to those men willing to stay home!

a fireplace mantle topped with a vintage cloth, vase of red and white flowers and candles

A homemaker’s outlook and attitude have a lot to do with her success. A homemaker is a special type of person. She has a deep love for their home, their family, and in most cases, their faith.

(This is not to say that you don’t have a deep love for your home, family, and faith, just because you dislike the idea of cleaning, cooking, and managing a home. There are many who find their talents lie somewhere other than finding a mop in their hands or standing in the laundry room. And that is perfectly okay.)

This list is a culmination of characteristics in women I have met throughout my lifetime. Some of these women have never worked outside the home, some have worked full time, or balanced both. But each of them seems to share these characteristics, and more.

vintage image of woman in an apron holding jars of canned goods; shelves of home canned items in background
Photo by: The Everett Collection

This is a partial list:

  • Has the Attitude of ‘Been there, done that, cleaned up the mess’
  • Frugal
  • Family & Home Oriented
  • Resourceful
  • Discerning
  • Takes Pride in her Work
  • Has Hindsight & Foresight
  • Self-controlled / patient
  • Kind
  • Hospitable
  • Open to Learning – Knows Mistakes are a Learning Curve, NOT Failure
  • Changes what she Can, Accepts what she Cannot
  • Willing to Teach and Share
  • Has an Apron and Knows its many Uses
  • Laughs
  • Can Prepare a Feast with a Little
  • Financially Capable
  • Has a Magic Kiss
  • Excellent Listener

a rack of heart-shaped tea cakes

Where to Go from Here

To be an effective, efficient homemaker, there are a few basics of homemaking skills you need to learn. Some of these include:

planning sheets for monthly, weekly, and daily scheduling

Make a Plan that includes the Basics of Homemaking

The basics of homemaking isn’t something you can learn overnight. Instead, it takes, time, practice and dedication.

One of the best ways to start is with a daily planner. Use a notebook that contains your cleaning schedules, lists, and checklists. In the front of the notebook place a daily planner sheet.

Each Friday, make notations of what needs to be done the following week. From there, transfer them to the Daily sheets, and place the completed sheet into the front of the planner.  (By doing this each Friday morning you can be free of ‘extra work’ on the weekends, and save that time for family, friends and fun!)

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On each given day, pull the sheet out of the notebook and hang it on the refrigerator with a magnet. With just a quick glance, you can see what needs to be done. In the bottom corner write reminders of any appointments or activities that will occur the rest of the week.

Once the week has past, you can transfer all of the daily sheets to a second notebook, or just toss them. By using them, you can stay organized, make sure everything gets done, and still have time left over for coffee with friends, or doing other things you love to do.

gray couch with white knitted throw pillows under a water color seascape

Relax & Enjoy the Basics of Homemaking

The basics of homemaking doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a smart system, you can keep your home clean, have bills paid on time, plan and cook delicious meals, and still have time left over to do the things you enjoy.

The true trick to homemaking is to learn to go with the flow. By maintaining a cleaning schedule, your house will stay neat and clean. With a garden, you can serve your family healthier meals. And by adapting at least some of the characteristics of a homemaker, you may just find yourself smiling and enjoying the basics of homemaking even more.

And from there, you can start with the very basics of homemaking – learning to just Relax & Enjoy!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. Hi Julie! Enjoyed your article, as always. I have been blessed to be a stay at home wife and mom. Let me start out by saying, that because I love staying home and taking care of my family, does not mean that I am a great housekeeper. I need help on that score. But, I was always so thankful that I could be home when the kids got home. If one of the kids got sick, there was no question of what to do with that child for the day. My husband was in the Air Force for all of those years. My job followed us no matter where we were assigned. I have been looked down on because I was “just” a housewife. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. (Let me also add, I am not criticizing those women that did not choose this way of life)

    1. What a blessing to hear from you, Ellen! I get it – I am not always the ‘best’ housekeeper, either. But we try, and that’s what matters most. I have been on both sides of the coin, and a housewife works just as hard as those with jobs outside the home. (And I am proud to be able to say I am one!) Military wives just seem to have it even tougher. My heartfelt thanks go out to your husband for his service – and to you as well, for serving right alongside of him. Both of you are heroes in my mind!

  2. Julie I enjoyed the article and wondered what it would be like to go back and right all my mistakes. I do know I would do it differently and try to see the joy in my job

    1. Hi, Janet! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! It was because I was blessed with the opportunity to observe women like you, Bonnie H, my mom and my aunts that I was able to see the value of homemaking. We all
      make mistakes – but I don’t think you made very many. Thank you for being one of my mentors!!!

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