Friday, May 25, 2018

Motherly Advice...The conundrum of being a Stay at Home Mum...

The conundrum of being a Stay At Home Mum
I've found that being a stay-at-home Mum draws criticism from a few fronts. Just occasionally, not often. I've been called a Kept Woman (not my capitals!), a Stepford Wife (not really a flattering term either), and accused of not living in the real world. Ahem. What about the 20+ years I spent living in the 'real world' as a single parent with three sons, one with a severe disability, working and studying at the same time? That's pretty darned real, folks.
What about those times when I had to negotiate payment plans for our utilities bill because having two teenaged sons, a tweenaged niece and an out of work brother in the house meant our telephone and electricity useage was off the scale, and I was the only income earning person in the household? Or the times when I only had $25 a week for a number of weeks, to feed us all? Even going back thirty years, that wasn't a lot of money to feed six people. Then there was that time when my 15 year old car blew a head gasket, and I couldn't afford to have it fixed, and had to be up at 4am to get to work by 8am, and didn't arrive home till 8pm? I did that for several months before I'd saved enough for the repairs. Character building stuff ;-)
I've had my tough financial times. I learned from them. They did not kill me. As the saying goes, they made me stronger....or at least fearless. I know, even to this day, that tough financial times pass. You get through them. You keep body and soul together, you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you keep on keeping on. You name a platitude. I've lived!
That said, things have changed for me in the last 20 something years. I met a lovely man. He adopted my disabled son. My older boys were teens by then, and didn't need 'adopting', but they think of him fondly, and refer to us as 'The Parents', thus making my husband 'The Dad' by osmosis.
My Man and I agreed from the outset that he would indeed be The Man, and I would keep the home fires burning. We both knew where our strengths lay. He was a whiz at earning the money, and I was a Homemaker raised by two generations of Homemakers.
After two decades of doing it tough on my own, this was a huge burden lifted from my shoulders. It's worked for us. If it's not your cup of tea, that's fine too. I've done the whole Career Girl thing, and frankly, it wasn't what it was cracked up to be either. I loved it at the time, but I had to. I was on my own. There was only me to earn the money to keep a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies. It was hard splitting myself in half to be Money Earner, and Mum, when there was no Dad.
If you however, find it enormously rewarding and fulfilling, then I respect that too. I liked being a Career Girl for a while. I learned enormously from the experience of those years. I learned too, from working in the Events, Health Care, Media, Retail, and Food Service industries. Many of those lessons, are things that I have successfully carried over into my home life. No experience or education, is ever wasted :)
Finding your passion
I thought I was doing well as a Career Girl, but funnily enough, through being the best Homemaker that I can be, I've really found my passion. Blogging, running menu planning and grocery shopping workshops, and writing for a money saving website, have been just some of the great pleasures born of being a Career Homemaker. Sometimes it's worth trusting that there's a world out there beyond 'paid work'.
I love the challenge of baking a cake to rival a bought one, of creating candles to gift that smell as glorious as the ones with a $65 price tag, of having my family sit down to a restaurant worthy meal. These things bring me joy. I've always loved cooking and crafts of all kinds, and finding a way to craft a beautiful gift without the sensational price tag, has always been a special pleasure.

The Best of Both Worlds
The lessons of two different lifestyles, one the Working Mum, the other the Stay At Home version, have led to a surprising revelation.

I can generate greater financial value by treating Homemaking as a career choice, than by working in an outside paid role.


And not because I didn't have a successful career life. I did. In fact, there are many lessons I learned in my corporate life, that have translated well to my home life. Skills like time management, controlling budgets and rosters, menu planning and costing, and even dealing with the difficult people, are all skills I learned as a Career girl, that have been invaluable in my home life. These skills have enhanced my homemaking potential beyond what I ever believed possible.

What skills do you have, or have you had, in your Corporate existence, that serve you well in your home life?

Practice makes Perfect-ish 
Of course, I value the heirloom skills I learned at my Nannas and Mothers knee, as much as any of my tertiary or corporate skills, now that I have time to utilise them.
I remember the first celebration cake I made without my Mums help. Mum and Nanna were fabulous cake bakers and decorators, and contributed a cake to many a wedding, 21st and Christening. The first few cakes I made without their input, well...let's just say, there was room for improvement *wink*. I didn't let that defeat me though. I kept trying. I read. I bought magazines and borrowed books from the library. I practised. I failed. I tried again. I got better at Cake-ing.
Over time, I improved my skills in many DIY areas. But it took time. Years in some cases. I've tried my hand at embroidery, sewing, knitting, crochet, card making, candle making, scrapbooking, tie-dyeing, watercolour painting, and dozens of other gift creation or life enhancement skills. I got better at some things like cake decorating, embroidery, sewing and candle making, and never really got the hang of others. But this too, showed me where my strengths lay, and gave me the skills and confidence to create beautiful items that people might pay big money for. You can do it too. 
You. Just. Keep. Practising.
In just the last year, I've perfected my Bullion Rose embroidery. These are also known as Grub Roses, and I have Annabel at The Bluebirds are Nesting to thank for the simple tip of using a Straw Needle for these. Perfection had escaped me for many years for the simple reason that I was using the wrong type of needle!
Obsessed with roses as I am, I only recently found the time to teach myself how to paint Swoosh Roses. I'd admired these for a long, long time, and had no idea how simple they are to replicate until now...
Find the things you love. Learn how to replicate them. You too, may be pleasantly surprised at how simple they are to craft.
My Insourcing Efforts for the Week
This week, my Homemaking, or rather Insourcing efforts, as I prefer to call them these days, led me to stocking my cupboard plentifully, embellishing my home beautifully, and feeding my family abundantly.
I said yes to an offer of home grown oranges and mandarins, as our crops are still small by comparison.
I said yes to baking a historically correct (lol!) Dolly Varden cake. Just because I rather fancied it's pretty pastel colours. A true Dolly Varden cake is nothing to do with dolls. It's fashioned on a character in a Charles Dickens novel, and has to do with the colours and embellishments on the cake, being similar to the frothy dresses worn by that character :)
I said yes to painting some more Swoosh roses. I'd admired these for many years, and in the end, discovered that they were so easy, it's ridiculous!
I added lace to some manilla tags I'd painted with those same roses, and added them to my gift wrapping stash.
My thrift store pretties made my house a home too.
I often shop at a particular thrift store. Last year, I found this table lamp, similar to one I'd been admiring online for $265. I had found two shantung shades weeks before, for just $30 for the pair (brand new and still in the packaging), and knew that if I were patient, the lamp base would find it's way to me. And it did. For just $35. Patience rewarded.
 I still had a lampshade left over so when my friend Annabel, found a similar pretty lamp base, I was able to gift the spare to her.
I made several Furoshiki to use as Grocery shopping bags. Plastic bags are about to be outlawed where I live, so an alternative is important.
I made four large squares from my fabric stash, hemming them on all edges. You then just tie them to form a sort of Hobo style bag, and put a firm base in them and you're off!
I followed the instructions on this video..
Furoshiki Bag
My $2 wicker basket...also thrifted...
...was piled high with green apples too...
I've  always thought that fruit piled into baskets and bowls makes the home feel plentiful :)
I did my own manicure and pedicure with Jamberry heat bonded wraps. No, I don't sell them. I just like them. So economical and long lasting, and no chipping or down time waiting for nail polish to dry!
I got busy in the sewing room too, and snipped a whole roll of white lace trim, left over from costume making a few years ago, into shorter lengths for gift tags. Being a craft junkie sometimes means having just the right bits and pieces ready to go, to entice you to get going on a productive crafting session!

And while I was there, I made accessories for dance costuming, altering and embellishing dozens of other bits and pieces to customise them. No mean feat, let me tell you! This included hand stitching sequins and beads, making hats, making mouse ears and stitching them to headbands, and lots of other little tasks, that all take the sort of time that most parents who work outside the home, do not have. So the task falls to me.
Being a Homemaker generated a retail value this week, of...
5 kgs oranges gifted....value $15
4 kgs mandarins gifted....value $12
Dolly Varden cake...$10 spent...value $55
Fabric turned into Furoshiki bags...value $100
Lace trimmed for use $0 spent....value $10
Home manicure and pedicure...value $60
Costume making....value $950
Total value generated by me this week $1202
Less Total spent $102
My value in the home this week $1100.
And that's conservative, not taking into consideration all that I do each and every day in making meals, acting as counsellor, beauty therapist, shoulder to cry on, and motivator. Of course there's keeping my family well presented and well nourished, cleaning, gardening, washing the dog, gardening, and meal preparation. All of that is worth something too!
I'm worth my weight in gold. Honestly.
What did you do this week that added to your families' enjoyment of life?
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  1. This whole post Mimi - thank you. I can't find better words at the moment, blame lack of sleep lol.

    Jen in NZ

    1. That you bothered to comment at all with New Mama brain, makes my day

  2. Mimi I love the way you view your place within your household. I am getting there but still feel I am not adding value by being at home.
    Having said that this week I have harvested $20 worth of fruit and veg from the garden. I have turned rozella fruit into jam, $10 and dried more for tea, $5. Sweet potato has become the main inredient in an Asian inspired prawn and sweet potato soup. All the mandarines have been eaten. Lime and Lemon cordialhas been made,$2, as has lemon butter$4.
    Bluey was saying it had been a while since there had been cake in the tin. I asked what he wanted and wizzed up some profiteroles. I used a box mix that was bought on special for 50c. Nine large profiteroles and $3 each, $27. Katie was after some yoghurt so I made some,$4, and she has been having yoghurt with home made toasted muesli and passionfruit from the garden for brekkie.
    I replaced the grotty blinds in the caravan with curtains. All the fabric came from my stash. Some was left over from another project and some had been gifted. I dont know how much custom made curtains cost but I think it might be a good amount saved there.
    I have been following along with Annabel's Vicky challenge which is similar to your insourcing. I do like the way you look at what you provide your family and the value that is placed on it.

    1. Jane, it sounds like you've done so much, and I'm sure there's more you've forgotten. Definitely worth your weight in gold!
      Sometimes I feel the same way xo
      -Kelly B

    2. Dear Jane. My shift in my thinking only happened after I realised that the friends who had called me a Stepford Wife, or a Kept Woman or any number of other derogatory remarks, were actually not my friends. I took heed of that saying 'You become most like the five people with whom you spend the most time', and chose those people accordingly. I think perhaps you are doing the same thing. It takes time. I love that you had such a bountiful week. Home harvests are the best. So rewarding in such a fundamental way. I saw your profiteroles. Absolutely mouthwatering! And I bet they're easy too! Another thing we get duped into paying astounding sums of money for. There is a boutique éclair shop in the big shopping centre near us. The tiny eclairs there are $7 each. I mean finger length. Ridiculous! I think replacing those curtains was a several hundred dollar saving. Great work! Love, Mimi xxx

  3. Dear Mimi, I love your blog so much! It inspires me and makes me feel I can conquer so much around the home. I have been reading your blog for quite a while now and I just want you to know how much I appreciate the time and effort you put into it ! Jean H

    1. Dear Jean, thankyou. That's a lovely compliment :) I love that it makes you feel empowered. That is my intent. Love, Mimi xxx

  4. I truly appreciate your post Mimi!
    Thank you for sharing your heart~

    1. I think it's worth sharing our heart sometimes. We are all only human, with life experiences that are not always pretty, but that make us who we are. Mimi xxx

  5. I love the way you value being a homemaker. I work part time and value my home days just as much as my ' working' days. I worked to make the garden pretty and productive, used home grown herbs in cooking, changed all bed linen and dried in the sunshine, baked a tea loaf and cooked a lovely meal at home when our daughter came to visit rather than going out to eat. I think she valued the quiet happy time at home as much as the meal - she leads a super busy life and needs to recharge sometimes.
    I am longing for retirement and won't ever apologise for being at home.

    1. Penny, its only as we become older and can look back over our own lifetimes and the lives of those we hold dear, and see what an impact we have had. If only we had the wisdom of experience when we're young, eh! Everything you are doing is so very valuable, and it's sad that these days the only 'value' that has worth, is the financial one. I like to write these insourcing posts as a reminder that ALL that we do has value, and much of it by insourcing/outsourcing standards, a very high one. I bet your daughter loved having time with you to recharge heart, mind and soul. So very important. Love, Mimi xxx

  6. A friend asked me what I do all day this week...I always freeze when facing that question! Each day is different and full and I am never bored (I do still have a 4 year old home with me). Even if she were at school with my older kids, I would still be busy with shopping, cleaning, gardening, baking, sewing, and yes, resting so that I will be cheerful and energized for an evening with the family. I love Brandy''s blog, The Prudent Homemaker, and her tagline, Making Life Beautiful for Less. I see that as one of my main jobs, to make our lives beautiful and to set the stage for our family to be creative and happy at home!

    1. Leigh it is the same for me! Daughter and Husband ask me often, and it sounds like so little. "Oh the washing, cooking, tidying, gardening, know". It's only when they are home and can appreciate what is involved in those tasks that it hits home sometimes I think. I know of The Prudent Homemaker. A woman after our own heart! Yes! That is our 'job'. To raise and support good human beings. Love, Mimi xxx

  7. Love our twin lamps! How god they look! Thank you Mimi!
    I think there is a big con going on. Women have been told to "contribute" and think they are not contributing if they stay home and look after the family. What a big lie this is. Also many have never done the maths and are working to break even or worse working to make an overall loss. My savings are still higher than my working wages would be less tax less all the convenience things I would need plus help I would need to do it and that doenst count if I had kids and needed daycare... Anyway do not believe what the world says... the home is the most important place and we are investing in the generations here!

    1. Lol Annabel yes! This is a con isn't it? This whole thing of 'we can have it all'. Well, what is 'it' exactly. Exhaustion? Separation from our children and loved ones? Rampant consumerism? It bends my brain. It's interesting for us I think. One foot in the 'old world' and one foot in the 'new' according to when we were born. We have seen such changes. Much that is positive, but also much that is questionable. I agree. Home is the place to be and we are doing the right thing. Thankyou for articulating my own thoughts. Love, Mimi xxx

  8. Ladies, NEVER, ever underestimate our role as a wife, mother, single parent. Our value is priceless, and you can't put on a price on the things we achieve for our families. There's more to life than chasing the dollar!

  9. Hi Mimi, I have only recently discovered your blog & I absolutely love the wisdom you share here. It’s taken me a long time in my stay at home mum season to truly see my value. With so much emphasis placed on what women are achieving outside of the home, society can make you feel like you are second rate if you choose to keep going along this path outside of the average window of time. Thankfully my husband recognised my contribution before I did, and reminds me often about how much I do in our everyday lives & how valued it is. Thank you for this post Mimi - Jodie xx

    1. I think it's wonderful that your husband acknowledges what you achieve.Society can make women feel their not valuable if their nor contributing financially to the household!

    2. Jodie, your husband is spot on. What a lovely man he must be. I think it's worth remembering too, that we all make the choices that suit us. Those who choose to work outside of the home do it because it's the right path at this moment in time. They may not always. As I've said before, there are reasons and seasons. I vote we give women everywhere our wholehearted support, no matter their choices. I know from experience that having a career outside of the home is tough. The home stuff invariably still falls to the woman (mostly), and this is the whole contradiction of so called 'having it all'. Having what exactly, is the question that springs to mind. I feel sorry that women feel bad for NOT having a career, and they feel bad for HAVING one. I feel sorry for women that are exhausted trying to 'have it all'. I feel sorry for women who are criticised for choosing to be a stay at home manager, and those who are criticised for being corporate managers. I think we all have to say 'enough', and be kind to one another really. Modern life is all a bit of a conundrum really. Don't you think? Love, Mimi xxx

  10. Wow Mimi, I have never been called a 'kept woman' or anything like that. Fancy saying that to someone. Good on you for working so hard in the workforce when you were a single mum. That is a really hard life and I really don't know how so many young women cope with it as I don't think I would have been capable but I guess if you have to you just get on with it as you did. I can tell you love being home now and are enjoying the challenge of insourcing and you do it so well.

    1. Oh was said in 'jest' by a friends husband. He thought it was funny. I laughed it off. But it stung for sure. People will say the oddest things when you buck the trend! And yes, single Mums do it tough. That's another criticism I grow tired of. Yes, some might think it's all a bit of a lark sitting around on a government benefit with toddlers at your knee. That was not my life. I was not single by choice, and I was determined to show my sons that their only available parent was hard working, motivated and wanted a good life for them. I NEVER accepted a government benefit, and sometimes worked two jobs and studied at the same time. And this was after my youngest son was born prematurely and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. If anyone had a right to fall in a heap and extend the hand for Government benefits, it was me at that moment. But I chose a different path. I chose the Career Girl path for a time. It did help me keep my sanity for a good decade. Being all things to all people is hard to sustain though, that is for sure. So I was glad to take a step back and become the stay-at-home Mum when the opportunity arose. I have nothing if not a wealth of experience and perspective! Mimi xxx

  11. I filled three vases full of chrysanthemums from the garden today - total cost $0. Even the original plants were free. The white and yellow ones taken as plant divisions from my Mum, while the purple ones were taken from a cutting when a student presented me with a bunch over 20 years ago. When the flowers finish, I'll be dividing the plants yet again to provide more colour in the garden and flowers for inside next year. I so admire you saving money by cooking. Sadly, that's not my strength.

    1. Pam, I've seen your sewing. You'd save the equivalent of a mortgage payment every couple of months with that! As for your Chrysanthemums, well what a lovely thing they are. I adore them and had them at my wedding. Lucky you to be able to grow them. I do NOT have that particular gene. See? We all have our

  12. Mimi, I absolutely love your writing and way with wise words. Your fill your posts with inspiration and always encouragement! So much to process and I enjoy every one of your posts.❤️
    A highlight for me are your gorgeous tags, so sweet. THANKYOU for always sharing 💕💕💕

    1. Lorraine, you say the loveliest things. I so appreciate your comments. Glad to hear you like my little gift tags. They are pretty aren't they? Mimi xxx

  13. I work part time. I simply "don't do full time" work!!

    I have no idea how women work full time. In no way am I criticizing those who do. It is their choice, or maybe they have little choice. But I can't help think that surely something must have to give? We can't do it all. The media portrays a woman who can, but I consider this is a myth. How can you keep a home, have a good marriage, solid relationships with your kids? I am not superwoman. I hung up my cape years ago - after a bit of a breakdown. Part time works for me. I have the best of both worlds!

    1. Exactly! You simply cannot be all things to all people. Or at least not in the long term. It's exhausting! Media Schmedia. They don't know what they're talking about. We know better, don't we. Part time works for many families. If it works for you, then perfection! That truly is the best of both worlds. Love, Mimi xxx

  14. Thank you for your wisdom Mimi.
    After having quite a number of years of not working to raise our family, I'm entering a stage where work is extremely busy for both hubby and I as we try to build up our savings and plan for our retirement. I often feel like I am drowning and not keeping up with home-making as well as I would like to. By Friday the house is a mess and we are all exhausted. I feel so blessed and I love my career, but those home-making days were wonderful, and important, and I miss them. I also remember being judged by others for not "working" at that time, but I would not trade those years for anything.
    As much as my time permits I still love to cook from scratch, grow at least some of our own food and sew, and I can't wait for work to slow down in the future so I can get back to that stuff. Maybe it's all about finding a balance, and as you have said in previous posts, making the most of what you have, and the stage of life you are in.
    Thanks again,
    love Veronica

    1. Dear Veronica, there is a reason and a season as I have said before. This is your season to provide for your retirement, and that's okay. Your season to be the Earth Mother will return to you in good time. Don't wish this time away. I'm sure it has many rewards. I know my career did. I valued it then, and I value what I learned from it, to this day. Both worlds have their positives and not-so-positive, let's be frank. Some days I yearn for the excitement of the corporate world I left behind, with it's whirlwind days and reward for effort. But then I look at what I have, and I am so very grateful to have experienced both worlds in my lifetime. I am fortunate indeed. Be patient. Give each world your best self so that you can look back with fondness, not regret for having wished things away. Balance is a good word. Find your balance. I like it. A blog post in the making right there. Love Mimi xxx

  15. Dear Mimi, thankyou so much for your empowering post. When I doubt myself now I will think "I am worth my weight in gold". Silly comments can sting for sure, being a stay at home Mum 'outside the accepted window of time' as someone else expressed it, I am still trying to let go of a person close to me saying in front of alot of people "lets call your life what it is - bludging off your husband". I do know my value but comments such as that did not do my confidence any good. I have a lovely husband who does value what I do in our home and blogs such as yours help me feel less alone and help me strive to do better and better. Thankyou again, Clare T

    1. Dear Clare, this comment really makes me sad for you and your 'friend'. What honestly is wrong with some people? You deserve praise for taking this path, not denigration. We all know how much time, energy and effort goes into keeping a nice home and garden, nurturing a family, supporting a working partner, feeding them all well on a budget and generally being the keeper of hearth and home. Really working parents know that too, but have to juggle working outside of the home, and still contending with all that, so I think sometimes these derogatory remarks stem from sheer fatigue and stress. Please know that what you do is so very important, and doing it well, is as rewarding as any career in the corporate world. Sending love, Mimi xxx

    2. I am so very sorry that you were subjected to a remark such as that. Just appauling!!!How you fashion your life is NO business of there's.Take heart, and keep up the great role you carry out.

  16. Great post as always Mimi, you make all us stay at home ladies feel as important as we really are........I read an article in the paper once that
    said husbands could not afford to pay what a stay at home MOM does every
    day. I believe that is true and you pretty much prove that with your
    posts about how much you save your family. Thank you for taking the time to share these things with us.....You are amazing and I could not agree
    more with so much that you say here. You go girl!! Glad you are doing well.
    Love and blessings,


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx