The Ultimate Guide to Homemaking For Beginners

This guide explores the basics of home management for brand-new homemakers: 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 a copy of your job description.

Let’s see if we can go through this together and do a crash course in Homemaking 101.

grid of woman in kitchen, flowers on windowsill, and clothesline

🏡 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 in many ways. A homemaker’s “job description” would include cooking, cleaning, organizing, and decorating. Many women add homeschooling, child care, gardening, and much more.

Homemaking can happen 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.

How is this different from being a stay-at-home mom?

Homemaking focuses on caring for the home rather than specifically for children. Anyone can be a homemaker, but 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 isn’t necessarily a mother.

Of course, many women who are homemakers consider themselves stay-at-home moms and vice-versa. There is overlap. But the terms do not mean the same thing!

Homemaking skills (what you need to do)

Okay, so we’ve established what it means to be a homemaker. But if you have found yourself in this position for the first time, you might need help understanding how to do everything.

Or you might feel like you have nothing to do all day and need a little structure. Sometimes, 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.

🍽 Feeding everyone

red bowl on table

This is a huge task, both in its importance and the 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. Things to do with food (cooking, planning, storing, shopping, and cleaning it up will take up most of your household tasks.)

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.

Meal planning

It all starts here. If you know what you are serving your family most days, you already have 75% homemaking success.

The absolute 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 as writing down what’s for dinner every day on the back of an envelope. It can be as complicated as systems with spreadsheets.

If you are a beginning homemaker, I recommend starting meal planning as your first task. It is a habit that will serve you throughout your life and instantly improve your days. 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 effort is to 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.

Grocery shopping

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.

You can download free meal planning printables + many other freebies in my subscriber library


Then there’s the actual cooking. You don’t have to be great, you have to be able to follow instructions.

If you aren’t experienced in the kitchen, don’t substitute ingredients and make 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.

It’s important to have a healthy relationship with making dinner. Don’t let it overwhelm you; don’t be afraid to serve leftovers and simple meals.

🧺 Housekeeping routines

dining room with staircase

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 ensures you are getting things done, keeping 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

Daily schedules

When you 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.

As you go further into your homemaking career, you can add a structured morning routine and evening routine. You can explore time blocking to be more productive.

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.

Weekly routine

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 to be proactive, not reactive (think: freezer meals vs. last-minute takeout, vacuuming your guest room regularly instead of frantically cleaning before guests arrive).

This goes beyond homemaking 101, but I still wanted to include it here because it’s so helpful.

Try breaking down some of your main tasks (like the ones on this list!) and designating a specific day of the week to work on them. These weekly theme days are at the heart of old-fashioned homemaking routines.

If you want to go more in-depth on this topic, you can read all about making an old fashioned homemaking routine here.

Printable workbook to create your own routine.

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    📘 Planning

    meal plan on fridge
    Yes, a paper on your fridge counts as planning!

    One of the most neglected homemaking skills! We’ve already discussed meal planning, so let’s 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.

    Part of your job as a keeper at home is to keep your 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 help 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.

    Your family

    I think this is part of life for all women, 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 doctor’s appointments all require planning that becomes a part of your role.

    🧹 House Cleaning

    marble counter with cleaning supplies
    Pretty supplies are nice, but what matters is doing the work!

    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 many 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 maintaining a tidy home is a fact of life for everyone.

    If you can build these tasks into daily habits, the house naturally stays neater.

    Deep cleaning

    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 fingerprints and stickiness If details like this get neglected long enough, your home’s overall look is grimy.

    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. Keeping your home neat will feel like a peaceful space, even if it’s not decorated perfectly.

    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.

    People will often want to give you their hand-me-downs when you are young, which is great! I always recommend taking them, but be selective and discard what you can’t use immediately. 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

    cat on quilt

    Your home

    Having a happy home atmosphere is part housekeeping and part intangibles. And for whatever reason, the woman often sets the home atmosphere.

    Make sure that you love your home, and your feelings will spread to everyone.

    I’m a firm believer that getting this right is one of the most important parts of homemaking, and it is hard to 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.

    Your attitude

    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.

    Yes, you have a lot of household tasks and other obligations. But there’s still room in your life for friends, art, time with your husband, learning skills that are interesting to you, and exploring the world.

    Homemaking isn’t just chores and laundry.

    ⌛️ Homemaking tips for beginners.

    This is a list of quick wins for homemakers looking for habits and tips they can apply to their homemaking immediately.

    • 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 as a real job and approach it with self-discipline.
    • Limit your time on social media; it is a time-waster and makes 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 old-fashioned homemaking skills

    I hope you enjoyed this Homemaking 101 guide. If you are just starting with this part of your life, I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy your journey.

    No perfect linen closets required.

    The Ultimate Guide to Homemaking For Beginners

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    1. I just read your Homemaking for Beginners. This is very helpful, fundamental information. I have not ever done the meal planning and I now realize how it can calm my week. I’ll be giving it a try (as well as your many other suggested approaches). Thank you for the great tips and insights.

    2. hello! I love your blog!!!!

      I saw your picture of the weekly meal plan, do you have a printable of that exact one?


    3. This article has brought so much joy to my heart! I am so grateful for how you defined what a homemaker is: as someone who turns a house into a home. It’s really inspired me. You have articulated it well and simply, which is so difficult to do. I love your articles and they are really helping me create structure in my life that I have been longing for. Thank you so much!

    4. Thank you for this! I have been a SHM for 12 years and homemaker. we added homeschooling and urban homesteading in the mix a few years ago. its been wonderful. but ALOT of work!! Balancing all the many duties of homemaking, child rearing and teaching can be overwhelming. There hasnt been alot of personal quiet time or self care. This article was so helpful in gently reminding me how beautiful it was and can still be, no perfectionism required. πŸ’–
      Thank you.

    5. Soooooooo glad this place is NOT just another recipe warehouse. I have got 10,000 recipes (something different every day for the 30 years, so I’m good). But other stuff I’d money management, cleaning tips, rainy day games to keep the kids occupied and stuff like that I’m not so good at.

      1. Hi Phyllis, I don’t sell any books. I do sell some digital downloads but none with that name. Send me an email with your receipt and I’ll see what it was ordered and get it you. 😊

    6. Great post especially the parts about how the idea of homemaking is a loving space for the family, not a competition or an exercise in codependency and approval seeking, loved this blog.

    7. Thank you SO SO much, I’ve been at home as a stay at home mama for almost 3 years now and just really needed to be reminded of these truths, plus your way of communicating these things makes it all feel simply and easy to apply to my life, it is appreciated!