Life in Action: The Social Obligations of a Homemaker

As homemakers there is a bit of a misnomer that we do little more than cleaning house, preparing meals, and using all the free time in between to watch soap operas, read books, or just indulge in leisure time.

That is about as far from the truth as you can imagine. Being a homemaker is actually a full-time position, and any leisure time we may have is carefully scheduled into our calendars.

One thing folks don’t often think about is the social obligations of a homemaker. These can range anywhere from activities with school-aged children to being active within your Village or Community.

Not sure what the social obligations of a homemaker are? Let’s take a look at some of them:

a young girl with a ponytail working on a craft project

Social Obligations of a Homemaker with School-aged Children

Most of us who have school-aged children have done our duty as a Room Mother. This, in and of itself, can often be a full-time job. A Room Mother is basically an Activities Coordinator and needs strong organizational skills. Some of the things they will do are:

  • Organize Class Parties and Functions
  • Chaperone Field Trips
  • Collect money from children (parents) for Teacher Appreciation Days, Birthdays, Christmas
  • Assist the teacher
  • Schedule other parents to assist

You may not be a Room Mother, but you will still be called to assist with fund raising, volunteering, and other school events, such as Field Day. In some cases, you may also be asked to help – or be a board member – for the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or sports groups.

In addition, you may find yourself as a chauffer to after-school activities, or as a participant in carpooling. When my children were young, our home was directly across from the school, so I also acted as a hostess for some days as many as 20+ kids.

That may sound daunting, but in reality? I loved it. I knew where my children were, the names (and parents) of their friends, and could supervise the activities. Our home became the ‘favorite’ place to go – and that added another layer to my goal of having a warm and welcoming home.

an apple bundt cake on a vintage green platter

Faith-Based Social Obligations of a Homemaker

If you attend church on a regular basis, you have more than likely been approached to lead a class. This could be a Sunday school class for the children (even if you don’t have children)  – from preschoolers on up to young adults. If trips are involved, you may also be recruited as a chaperone. You may also be asked to lead Bible Studies for adults.

If your church offers a food bank, taking food baskets to the hungry, or has any other outreach program, you may find yourself helping to organize the program or assembling baskets, boxes, or even stuffing envelopes.

There may be other positions that you are asked to take on. This can range from secretarial duties, serving communion, counting the collections, or even cleaning the building once a week.

In some cases, these duties are assigned permanently – but in other cases there is a rotation schedule. Either way, you may have to step up to the plate and offer a helping hand.

man in a blue shirt cutting a tree with a chainsaw as one type of social obligations of a homemaker

The Social Obligations of a Homemaker within Their Village

As an active member of your Village, you may find yourself pitching in to help your neighbors. There are any number of ways to help out:

  • Prepare a meal for a sick neighbor
  • Assist with a construction project
  • Cleaning the Home of an Elderly Neighbor
  • Offering Babysitting to a Young Couple
  • Preparing a Garden Bed for someone who doesn’t own a tiller
  • Mowing Lawns

a group of people facing an outside pavillion

Social Obligations of a Homemaker within their Community

The same obligations which help you to be a productive member of your Village also apply to living within your Community. A community, however, usually has a larger scope. If you are active within your community, you may be asked to help with other, larger, projects. Some of these may be:

  • Fund Raising
  • Clubs / Groups
  • Sitting on a Board (Library, Planning, etc.)
  • Community Clean Up
  • Adopt a Garden

a picnic basket,plate of fried chicken, coleslaw and biscuits sitting on a blue and white check cloth

Social Obligations of a Homemaker for the Family

In addition to the school, village, community and faith arenas, the social obligations of a homemaker also extend closer to home. These can be even more time consuming, as you may have little help, but quite a bit of preparation – such as cleaning the house, getting a room ready for overnight visitors, decorating (and subsequently putting the home back in order afterwards), baking, cooking, and more.

Some of the social obligations for the homemaker within the family are:

a blue plate holding a buttered roll, an orange bowl filled with corn chowder

Keep It Real

When combined with the daily activities a homemaker needs to do, adding social obligations to the mix can seem daunting. However, there are a few ways to manage your time and keep your schedule under control. Here are a few ways to help with that:

  • When Baking for a Sick Neighbor – either double whatever you are making for dinner, or use freezer meals or home-canned soup
  • Learn to Say No – When you are asked to help, always let the one asking that you have to ‘consult your calendar’, if it is something you truly want to do. If you don’t, just simply say ‘No, thank you.’ If they persist, stay strong, and let them know your plate is already full.
  • Keep a running list – This list needs to consist of parents, neighbors, and community members that are willing volunteers. But before you ask them, be sure that the project fits their personality, ability, and interest. For instance, you wouldn’t ask someone to help install a community garden if they are physically unable or are severely allergic to pollen!
  • Make It a BYO (Bring Your Own) – When organizing festive occasions within the home, ask other family members to contribute – especially for a picnic or family meal. You can also ask other family members or the kids to help you with the decorating, baking, and cooking if a BYO doesn’t work for the occasion.
  • Bake Ahead – For most activities that require food, plan well in advanced and start your baking. If you know there will be a Bake Sale for the school, make cookies, cupcakes and other items that can be made and frozen ahead of time. This also stands true for business dinners you are hosting, your contribution to club and group gatherings, and any time or place where food will be served.
  • Keep a Calendar – Whether you prefer a daily, weekly, or monthly style planner, the best things you can do is to maintain it. When you sit down in the evening for quiet time, take a moment to orient yourself to the next day’s activities. If necessary, keep a small notebook for the times you are out and about to jot down requests, who requested it and their contact information. Then during that quiet time, compare the notes to your calendar to determine if it is something you can do. Then contact the one who asked and let them know what you decided.
  • Set Aside Time – Although we do feel obligated to help whenever possible, be sure that you don’t overschedule yourself. There are still other things a homemaker needs and wants to do. We still need to keep our home maintained, pay bills, cook meals, maintain our gardens and more. And with all of this busyness, we still need to set aside time to just relax and enjoy doing the things we love, such as pursuing crafts and other passions.

a pitcher and glass of freshly made lemonade

The Busy Life of a Homemaker

Many of us pursue the position of a homemaker because we love the flexibility it allows us to maintain our home, spend time with our family, stay active in our Village and Community, and to pursue the things we love to do.

By being mindful of our time and keeping a journal or calendar, we can easily have the best of both worlds. Our homes and families can be well cared for, we can actively participate in the social side of life, and still have time to settle in, relax and enjoy a moment for a delicious and calming afternoon tea!

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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.

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