Letting Go of “Homemaker’s Guilt”
“Homemaker's Guilt” — do you know what that is?
Well, let me put it this way:
Have you ever seen the comic where two ladies are standing there smiling nicely at each other, but inside their heads they are examining the other person's outfit and thinking how dumb it looks?
But you would never do that, right? That's so teenage-girl immature.
I think many homemakers have their grown-up version of it, though. And I think most of the time it's not what you think of the other person, it's what you're afraid she's thinking of you.
- You're afraid the lady with the house that's always spotless is thinking you're a slob.
- You're afraid the professional homeschooling mom thinks you're not doing a good enough job teaching your kids.
- You're afraid the mom who feeds her kids organic food thinks you're a bad mom for feeding your kids junk.
And it begins to set in — “homemaker's guilt”. You suddenly feel guilty for all the things you're NOT as a homemaker.
But what if the lady with the spotless house is actually wondering if you think she's too uptight?
What if the professional homeschooling mom is wondering if she's letting her kids have enough fun?
What if the organic-food mom is wondering if you think she's going a little overboard?
Maybe that other lady is not thinking you're a lousy homemaker at all. And maybe she is.
In either case, the reality is that IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK.
You see, I think a lot of homemakers create this fictional “Proverbs 31 Woman” in their mind. And it looks like a compilation of every other woman's best qualities all rolled into one. And they're afraid that if they are not every single one of those good qualities then they are a failure as a homemaker.
So in your mind, here's the kind of woman you're supposed to be:
A woman with a perfectly clean, organized and beautifully-decorated house, who is so frugal that you got all the decorations at yard sales. But you didn't take any time away from your family to go to the yard sales because “me-time” is selfish you know. You also homeschool your children for 14 hours a day so that they will be well-educated, but you always give them plenty of time to play and express themselves. You bake homemade bread from scratch from the grain you planted in your yard and ground by hand, but you are never obsessive about spending too much time in the kitchen because you need to be spending quality time with your kids. You make homemade gifts to take to the neighbor's house, teach Sunday School with homemade visuals that you created from scratch and posted about on your blog where you earn money to help contribute to the family's income. Your children are obedient, well-mannered, and never look disheveled in spite of the fact that you know how to let “kids be kids” and allow them to make mud pies in the back yard without getting stressed about it. (Their clothes never get stained because you always treat the stains immediately after they're done playing — their clothes don't ever get left in the middle of the bathroom floor.) In the midst of all these activities, you always have dinner on the table as soon as your husband walks in the door. You greet him with a sweet smile, never flustered at the food that's burning on the stove and the children who are running through the house (because you don't burn food and your children don't ever run through the house anyway.) After dinner the children immediately begin helping clean up the kitchen and get ready for bed without being told. When they're safely tucked in, after you've spent one-on-one time with each child (you never get irritated that they keep getting out of bed because you recognize their need for some mama snuggles and graciously comply) you complete your daily exercise routine and check over your shopping list for the next day, which includes a gift for Great Aunt Sally's birthday next month (because you're so organized like that.) Then you finish folding the laundry (that you actually remembered to put in the dryer) and tidying the house before you spend some quality time with your husband and read your Bible before bed. (You never go to bed late — you need to take care of your health you know.)
If that sounds ridiculous, that's because IT IS!
But isn't that what you want other people to think you do? If somebody sees your kid eating Cheetos you feel embarrassed you're afraid they're thinking you really need to get your act together in the health department.
If somebody drops by your house while you're in sweatpants and a ponytail, you're embarrassed because good housewives are supposed to look like June Cleaver. (Dressing nicely helps you be more productive, you know.)
The mom who's up at 5 am every day? Surely she's looking down on you for being such a lazy bones.
The mom with the well-behaved kids has to be thinking that you never discipline your children.
You know what you need to stop doing? You need to stop worrying about what everybody else thinks!
You can never be all of those things! And God doesn't intend for you to be!
Do you want to reduce stress and live a life filled with joy? Seek to please ONE and don't worry about what others are thinking.
And as a homemaker, you please God by respecting your husband and loving your children. (Titus 2:4; Ephesians 5:33)
If your husband doesn't care whether you get the laundry folded every day but you got a good meal into his belly, don't be ashamed about the unfolded laundry! Sure, shoot for getting it done. But if in your busy day it comes down to making a choice between the laundry and a good meal for dinner, choose the one your husband would rather have.
If you have a choice between cleaning or stopping to take care of the emotional needs of one of your children (sometimes many times throughout the day), your child comes first. You don't even owe an explanation for your messy house to the person who drops by. Your job isn't to make everybody else think you're perfect. (Click to tweet that.)
When you narrow your focus to simply 1. pleasing God 2. respecting your husband's needs and wishes and 3. loving your children, you are doing all that you need to do!
When I quit worrying about what other people thought of me and focused on what I should have been focusing on, I found my load of “homemaker's guilt” eliminated and my joy compounded!
I used to apologize every day when my husband came home for all the things I didn't get done that day. I would feel so upset and stressed that I didn't get the laundry done (again) or that supper wasn't all that great. But I wasn't really apologizing to him; I was apologizing to myself for not meeting the unrealistic ideals of who I thought I was supposed to be as a homemaker.
Now I don't have to be stressed. I don't have to apologize. I simply have to love my God, my husband, and my children in the unique way that only I can.
And that's what you should do too.
Let the guilt go. Ignore the judgment – from others and from yourself most of all. And please only those who you're supposed to be pleasing.
In what areas have you been allowing yourself to feel guilty unnecessarily? What are you going to do about it?
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