For brand new homemakers, this homemaking 101 guide explores the basics of home management: your attitude, your schedules, and more.
Your first day as a full time homemaker arrives. And you can see your future stretching out before you. You’ll sleep until the sunshine streams into your bedroom, make waffles for everyone, and have one of those Martha Stewart linen closets with labels.
And then reality sets in. You’re tired. Your kids whine. A lot. And everyone wants dinner… day after day after day.
Everyone seems to expect a lot from you in your new role in life, but you never received the copy of your homemaking job description.
Let’s see if we can go through this together and do a crash course in homemaking 101.
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What is a homemaker exactly?
A homemaker is, quite simply, someone who makes a home. She is dedicated to turning a house into a home through any number of ways. A homemaker’s “job description” would include cooking, cleaning, organizing, and decorating. Many women add homeschooling, child care, gardening, and much more to this.
Homemaking can be something that happens with an outside, paid job, or it can be a woman’s main job and be done by someone who does not work outside the home.
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How is this different from being a stay at home mom?
Homemaking is focused on caring for the home, rather than specifically caring for children. Anyone can be a homemaker, but a being a stay-at-home mom is much more specific: she is someone who has children and does not work outside the home.
But a homemaker can work outside the home and doesn’t necessarily have children.
Of course, many homemakers consider themselves stay at home moms, and vice-versa. There is definitely overlap. But the terms do not mean the same thing!
Homemaking skills for beginners
Okay, so we’ve established what it means to be a homemaker. But if you have found yourself in position for the first time, you might need help understanding how to do all of these things. Or you might feel like you have nothing to do all day and need a little structure. Sometime you’ll feel both of these things at the same time!
Let’s discuss what needs to be done at home and how to do it well.
This is a huge task, both in its importance and the amount of time it takes. Don’t underestimate this job. If you’re used to working full time and picking up take-out meals, you may have forgotten how time consuming it is to cook a full meal every night. (This is not meant to be judgmental at all; I found this to be a huge shock when I stopped working.)
There are three things that all have to go right to get three meals on the table, day after day. It can often feel like a full time job all by itself.
It all starts here. If you know what you are serving your family most days, you at 75% homemaking success already.
The absolute hardest hardest part of cooking every day is deciding what to cook every day. Everything beyond that has easy solutions, like using leftovers wisely and weaving easy meals into your schedule.
But meal planning is a must. It can be as simple at writing down what’s for dinner every day on the back of envelope. It can be as complicated as systems with spreadsheets.
If you are a beginning homemaker, I recommend you start meal planning as your very first task. It is a habit that will serve you throughout your life and will improve your days instantly. Yes, it is a pain and first (and always). But the only thing worse than planning dinner is NOT planning dinner.
The simplest way to meal plan with the least amount of effort is this: have lists of favorite meals to refer to. Set aside a specific time to make a meal plan for the week (Sunday afternoon works well.). Repeat forever. When you get better, stretch it out to monthly meal plans. Just always, always, have a plan.
There can be no eating without groceries. Nothing is more irritating than having your dinner plan made and realizing you’re missing a crucial ingredient at the last minute. It’s the worst.
So as you are making that weekly meal plan, make your grocery list at the same time. If you are counting on pantry stores for some of your ingredients, double check to make sure you actually have them!
As far as the actual grocery shopping, yes this is part of homemaking too.
My number two tips, behind meal planning? Only go to the grocery stores once a week. It wastes a huge amount of time and money. If you are short on both (aren’t we all), you can dive deeper into how to save money at the grocery store and how I save money with Walmart grocery delivery.
You can download free meal planning printables + many other freebies in my subscriber library
Then we have cooking, a topic of its own. You don’t have to be great, you just have to be able to follow instructions. If you aren’t experienced in the kitchen, don’t go substituting ingredients and making up your own creations.
Preparing family meals is a big and tiring job. When you start to feel like cooking is overwhelming and taking too much time and energy, read this post for some practical tips on how to get dinner on the table every night.
There is something romantic about a homemaking routine. It reminds us of Ma Ingalls and churning butter on Wednesday. But it’s practical too. It makes sure you are getting things done, which keeps your spirits high and also…gets things done!
However, it’s easy to get carried away and over schedule yourself. Let’s break this down into two parts and get you set with something that works for homemaking 101
When stay at home, especially if you are a mom, you need a schedule for yourself. (I don’t mean the kids, but for you.) Try to set a bedtime and wake time that gives you some peace and quiet at the beginning and end of each day.
If your day is lacking structure altogether, a great piece of advice I once received in this: get everything hard done in the morning, and keep the evening free for making dinner and taking walks. Start there, and add a bedtime and wake time for yourself.
But for now, just stay busy in the mornings, wind down in the evenings, and have some peace and quiet on each end of your day.
A weekly routine is a great addition to your homemaking as well. When you have a lot to manage, it’s helpful to work ahead so you are being proactive, not reactive (think: freezer meals vs last minute take out, vacuuming your guest room regularly instead of frantically cleaning before guests arrive).
This goes a bit beyond homemaking 101 but I still wanted to include it here because its so helpful.
Try braking down some of your main tasks (like the ones on this list!) and designating a specific day of the week to work on them.
If you want to go more in-depth on this topic, you can read all about making an old fashioned homemaking routine here.
One of the most neglected homemaking skills! We’ve already discussed meal planning, so let’s take a look at those aspects of life that don’t involve dinner.
Women who are leaving a high-power career often find staying at home unfulfilling. There are a lot of expectations, none of them are made perfectly clear to you, and there is little to no praise.
Their solution becomes to work ever-harder and martyr themselves on the altar of perfectionism.
Don’t do this.
Instead, part of your job as keeper at home is to keep your own sanity. Spend a little time setting realistic goals for yourself and give yourself a little reward when you achieve them. You might find that goal setting and self discipline actually helps your mood a lot!
If you are the type who has a complicated day management system and already and you love using a planner, that is great! You’re ahead of the game. Just make sure it’s actually helping you.
Looking for a simple and compact way to make a weekly plan? Pick up a copy of my bullet-journal inspired weekly layout here.
This is part of life for all women, I think, not just homemakers. The weekend begins and your husband asks “so what are we doing this weekend?”.
This is one of those tasks that goes beyond the house: planning things for your family.
Everything from weekend excursions, birthday parties, gifts for other people, and little things like doctors appointments all require planning that becomes a part of your role.
I think cleaning is what most people think of when they hear the word homemaker. And it truly is a big part of managing the home. Keeping your house clean is another big job with a lot of moving parts. Let’s go into some of them.
Maintenance cleaning routine
There are little things to keep a house looking nice that have to be done every day. Sweeping the kitchen floor, cleaning the counters, doing the dishes, and tidying up are a fact of life for everyone.
If you can build these tasks into daily habits you’ll find that the house naturally stays neater.
Deep cleaning your home is a pain. However, it is a part of homemaking that can’t be ignored. Over time, your windows get dirty, your bathtubs get stained, and your appliances build up grime. If details like this get neglected long enough, the overall effect on your home is griminess.
You can devote a daily per week to this task, do it seasonally, or break it down into daily bite-sized tasks. Just make sure it gets done, one way or the other.
Organizing and decluttering
These are the last two elements of having a tidy home. And again, as the homemaker, dealing with them will fall to you.
If you are just getting started with homemaking, you have the advantage of a fresh start. You probably haven’t accumulated years of clutter. Keeping your house clutter free from the beginning will make the rest of your life much easier. When you are young, people will often want to give you their hand-me-downs, which is great! I always recommend taking them, but be selective and right away throw out what you can’t use. If you just keeping adding more and more stuff, you will have a cluttered house.
It requires self discipline, but it’s better than having a mess on your hands years later.
It’s a fact of life. And staying on top of the laundry is part of homemaking 101. Building good laundry habits now will pay off in years to come. You have a specific day to tackle this chore, or do a load of two a day. (Or a blend of these methods!)
As your family grows and you have more children, this will require a lot of tweaking.
Setting the atmosphere
Having a happy home atmosphere is part housekeeping, and part intangibles. And for whatever reason, the home atmosphere is often set by the woman.
Make sure that you love your home, and your feelings will spread to everyone.
Getting this right is one of the most important parts of homemaking and it is hard define. But if you want your family to have a happy place to come home to, keep these tips in mind.
- Decorate in a way that feels personal to you and your children, not in a trendy or cookie cutter style. Don’t be shy about your likes and dislikes
- Stick to your cleaning schedule and keep things tidy. It keeps spirits high and makes your home beautiful.
- Be at home as much as possible. Just being there adds so much to the home atmosphere.
So perhaps this just read like a list of housework and chores and it doesn’t feel all that exciting. But it’s a huge, exciting opportunity for you. If you are brand new to home management, it’s time to understand that you get to do all these things your way.
Try to see your new homemaking life as an adventure. You can be a crunchy homemaker and make all your own cleaning products and eat organic. You can go over to the homesteading side and start canning and baking bread. It’s whatever path you want to take.
Homemaking tips for beginners
This is a list of quick wins for homemakers looking for habits and tips they can apply to their homemaking right away.
- Get up before your kids
- Get dressed in real clothes, put on makeup, and do your hair every day
- Approach each day as a fresh start. One bad day is just one bad day.
- Treat homemaking like a real job from the beginning and approach it with self discipline.
- Limit your time on social media, it is a time waster and make you compare yourself to others.
- Put aside the idea that you should be perfect.
- If you need help, ask your husband or children. Be nice.
- Work on new skills one at a time.
- Remember that many people would love to be in your shoes and act accordingly.
Going deeper into caring for our homes
I hope you enjoyed this Homemaking 101 guide. If you are just getting started with this part of your life, I wish you the very best of luck and I hope you enjoy your journey. No perfect linen closets required.