What is Homemaking? (And Why You Should Care)

Let’s answer the question: what is homemaking? We’ll discuss how this role stacks up against being a stay-at-home mom or a housekeeper.

We’ll dive into the day-to-day responsibilities, the emotional labor that often goes unnoticed, and even touch on the touchy subject of paid versus unpaid work.

Understanding these roles can help us appreciate the work that goes into homemaking.

clothesline in countryside
beautiful touches like this are the work of a homemaker 😊

Ever heard the term ‘homemaker’ and wondered what it really means? Maybe you’ve heard it used interchangeably with ‘stay-at-home mom’ or ‘housekeeper’ and assumed they’re all the same thing.

Well… they really aren’t.

Knowing these differences is important for a bunch of reasons. It helps everyone better understand and value the work that goes into each role. Plus, if you’re considering stepping into one of these roles, or already are in one, understanding these differences can help you (and others!) set better expectations.

What does a homemaker do?

They focus on creating a welcoming and happy home. When you’re a homemaker, the goal isn’t just to have a clean space; it’s to create a place that feels like home.

There are two layers to homemaking duties. One is stuff that could be hired and is more housekeeping work. You know… without any heart behind it.

  • Cooking meals
  • Cleaning the house
  • Laundry
  • Shopping for groceries
  • Paying bills
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Managing the family budget
  • Handle minor repairs
  • Organizing the home

And then there’s the next level. Cozy, personal things that make a house feel like a home:

  • Making family traditions and rituals
  • Creating a cozy home atmosphere
  • Giving personalized care when family is sick
  • Teaching life skills to kids
  • Building strong family bonds through quality time
  • Making special home-cooked meals that family loves
  • Helping family with personal issues or challenges
  • Offering personalized comfort and care

This means adding personal touches like family photos, comfy pillows, or the smell of fresh-baked cookies.

It’s about setting up the living room in a way that invites family chats, or making sure the dining table is a welcoming spot for meals together. A homemaker thinks about how each room feels and what it says to the people living there.

It’s these extra efforts that transform a living space from just a house to a real home. It’s something that you can’t hire someone else to do.

Homemaker vs housekeeper

cozy porch created by homemaker
a housekeeper sweeps the porch, a homemaker arranges a cozy corner

This role is mainly about keeping the house clean and organized. They’re the pros you hire to get everything spick-and-span. Unlike homemakers and stay-at-home moms, they’re usually not involved in the emotional well-being of the family; their main goal is to keep the place clean.

First of all, no one would probably refer to themselves as a housekeeper (unless it is their job outside the home). The word itself implies outside help with cleaning.

A housekeeper is usually someone you hire, either for a few hours a week or maybe even full-time, depending on your needs. Their main job? Cleaning and maintaining the house. This can include sweeping and mopping floors, dusting furniture, washing dishes, doing laundry, and even some outdoor chores like watering plants. Some housekeepers might also handle grocery shopping and basic meal prep, but that’s something you’d agree upon beforehand.

Now, the big thing to remember is that a housekeeper’s focus is mainly on cleaning and upkeep. They come in, get the job done, and that’s that. They’re not usually involved in making the home “feel” a certain way or caring for family members emotionally. There’s less of an emotional or personal investment in the home compared to a homemaker or a stay-at-home mom. Their primary goal is to make sure the house is clean and can be hired full time or part time.

homemaker vs stay-at-home mom

kitchen scene with cozy homemade touches
the kitchen is important for every home role

Now, stay-at-home moms are often busy with kids. Their day is usually filled with feeding, diaper changes, playdates, and helping with homework. While they do a lot of things that homemakers do, their main focus is on the kiddos. That makes their role a bit different.

A stay-at-home mom’s day is usually packed, but the focus is primarily on the kids. From the moment they wake up until they go to bed, it’s all about feeding them, getting them dressed, helping with schoolwork, and keeping them entertained. Don’t forget the endless cycle of laundry that comes with kids, and possibly shuttling them to after-school activities or playdates. It’s not just physical tasks; a lot of emotional energy goes into making sure the kids are happy and well-adjusted.

While some tasks overlap with what a homemaker does—like cleaning or meal planning—the main difference lies in the focus. It’s a role centered on raising children and making sure they grow up in a nurturing environment. So, while there may be similarities between a stay-at-home mom and a homemaker, the focus on children really sets the role of a stay-at-home mom apart.

A stay at home mom often feels that her kids are her job, and they are. She takes the place of a full-time paid employee like a nanny or a daycare center.

So where do these roles overlap? Well, all three may involve some form of cleaning, organizing, and general upkeep of the living space. But the big difference is in the details and the focus. Homemakers are about making a home feel like, well, home. Stay-at-home moms are all about the kids, and housekeepers are about a clean and organized space.

Understanding these differences helps you appreciate the unique work each role brings to the table.

And of course, many women fill all three of these roles on a daily basis.

typical homemaker duties

comfortable living room with fire and flowers

When people hear the term “homemaker,” the first thing that might pop into their head is cleaning or cooking… typically a woman in an apron baking a pie. But being a homemaker involves a lot more than just keeping things tidy and making food.

A typical day for a homemaker can include a variety of tasks. Here is what it encompasses:

  • meal planning
  • shopping
  • planning
  • decorating
  • budgeting
  • gardening/ other DIYs
  • cooking
  • cleaning and tidying

The key point is, each day is a mix of tasks aimed at making the house a home.

And that brings us to why homemaking isn’t just about cleaning and cooking. While a clean home is part of the picture, the real goal of a homemaker is to create an environment where everyone in the family feels comfortable and supported.

A clean house might look nice, but it doesn’t automatically feel like home. That comes from the other things a homemaker does—adding personal touches to the decor, cooking family-favorite meals, or planning family activities, for instance.

Is a homemaker a job?

Yes, it’s just unpaid.

If you’re a homemaker you know there’s a ton of behind-the-scenes work that goes into caring for a home. We’re talking about the stuff you can’t really put a price tag on:

So remember this, even if you don’t collect a paycheck, you are doing three jobs.

When it comes to homemaking and being a stay-at-home mom, the job description is vast but the pay is, well, usually nonexistent. These roles involve a ton of work—physical, emotional, and even logistical—but most times, there’s no salary attached. And this is a big deal. Because even though the work is ‘unseen,’ it’s super valuable.

This kind of work doesn’t get a paycheck.

managing expectations

When you’re a homemaker, a stay-at-home mom, or a housekeeper, people often have their own ideas about what you should be doing. Homemakers might hear, “The house should be spotless,” while stay-at-home moms get the, “You must spend all day playing with the kids,” kind of comments. Housekeepers usually have a clear-cut list of tasks, but even then, people might expect them to go above and beyond. It’s a lot to deal with, and managing these expectations is a big part of the job.

Setting boundaries not only helps you manage your time and energy but also helps others know what they can reasonably expect.

Help and advice for homemakers:

What is Homemaking? (And Why You Should Care)

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2 Comments

  1. I work full time 4 days a week and am off 3 days. I love homemaking on my days off! I often cook and bake, love decorating (though that is seasonal, not dai!y), taking care of our houseplants, and catching up on housework. I have time to goof off and rest, too. I read a fun novel in our hammock outside for hours yesterday. I am off today, too, and plan to bake a pie. I have laundry to do and need to plan dinner for later. My husband and I do not have children, so I do not have kids’ needs to factor into the day in our home. My work schedule helps a lot with our lifestyle and I get a blend of work and homemaking, both of which I like!