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The value added home

How much is a home maker worth to a household, to a community, and to society? Do they earn their keep?

Within a household a home maker provides services that include:

  • house cleaning
  • child care
  • laundry
  • lawn maintenance
  • driving and errands
  • accounting/bookkeeping and related administrative tasks
  • food shopping, meal planning, preparation, service, and cleanup
  • yard maintenance and/or food gardening

Investopedia values these services at $96,261 if they were done in the context of a professional career. All free for the household served by the home maker, who should therefore be highly valued by the other household members and treated accordingly.

Not included but at least as valuable from the perspective of the family unit are:

  • education, training, nurture and emotional support of children before, beside, beyond, because of and/or instead of formal schooling
  • savings in business apparel not needed
  • home security – house is occupied more and at less predictable intervals
  • home organization
  • special skills such as sewing, hair cutting, home repair and improvement, furniture repair and refinishing, interior decorating, financial asset management, landscape design and maintenance
  • food gardening, raising livestock and other forms of production

Home makers also often provide benefits to the community, such as:

  • Keeping an eye on the neighborhood and neighbors
  • Carpooling other children (e.g., of dual income families)
  • Child and pet care for other families
  • Serving and preparing food for neighbors, as well as school, church, team, and other community events
  • Savings in health costs due to healthy food prep
  • Being there for neighbors & friends – someone to talk to, keep an eye on neighborhood during “work” hours, lend and share, help with projects, advice, crisis

Beneficial effects of the role of the home maker on larger society are harder to enumerate, but could include stabilization of communities through the nurture of children, informal social services, lessening demands on government.

However, governments and others tend to view homemaking as a choice of the privileged, nowadays, and not something that should be directly supported by government. In fact, when the services listed above are provided by home makers by choice, the government has very little influence over how these jobs are done and has no mandate in taxation of their services.

  • Lost revenue from employee- and employer-paid taxes
  • Lost business and tax revenue from commercial providers of the services listed above, and from their employees’ paychecks
  • Lost business and tax revenue from the purchase of clothing, products, and services (e.g. hair styling) that create a “professional” image
  • Lost business and tax revenue from sales of ready-made convenience food products from restaurants, delis, and grocery stores
  • Lost business and tax revenue from sales of auto fuel, service, repair and supplies needed for work commute
  • Lost revenue from salaries of government workers in social services, regulation and oversight of industries mentioned above
  • and much more

Billions of dollars in lost revenue, that is. Some of this revenue would go to government social services programs, but the increased need for workers in those services (and the business they generate just by being employed away from home) would provide additional tax revenue.

Home makers can thus be seen as a drain on the economy, part of the unemployed and underemployed. They also generally operate outside of the influence of regulation, so can legally bring up their charges in a variety of ways, to adopt a variety of perspectives, and have a tendency to see the family unit as the main building block of society, and community after that, rather than any -ocracy, protocol, or state mandate. They form cells of like minded people, which interferes at times with the melting of the pot and large scale cultural diffusion (though not with true multiculturalism). They are even allowed to mix religion with the education of their children. Also, ideally, they teach their children skills that keep them equally independent of the various branches of the care giving economy listed above, perpetuating the problem.

Hence the state has very little incentive to support the role of the homemaker. Other important social roles can also be seen this way–the non-professional healer, the friend in need/shoulder to lean on, the folk musician, the elder, the volunteer teacher or mentor, the spiritual or relationship guide.

In other words, homemakers, don’t be surprised at the pull into the work place, the temptation to dislike and devalue your work, the pressure to hand it off and get a paying job at something more “satisfying,” the isolation you feel as others move on out of those community connections. Don’t be surprised when in asking the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” no one will openly aspire to be a home maker. The fact that the role still exists at all, even in industrialized society, is a testament to its inherent value, and maybe that will have to be enough for now.

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2015 in Culture & Society, Economics

 

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This year’s homeschooling resolutions

I’m thrilled to be able to report that I will be keeping my youngest son (ten years old) with me for home-based learning this year. I didn’t push my views as I usually do, just allowed my mate to think it through, and he was the one who expressed his preference for homeschooling first. Just me and kid J at home this time, without siblings during the day, which will be a new experience. I’ll most likely take him to the public school for one or two classes to connect with local kids, have a change of instructor, and practice group social skills. Probably P.E., since I’d like him to have the chance to learn all the sports and participate in more serious running. Grampa (former track and football coach) says he’s got good moves on the run.

I’ve been thinking of the successes and failures of my past home ed practices, and have come up with some working resolutions:

  • Read more unschooling and Lifestyle of Learning literature so I can get unschooled myself (again), and keep my plans loose, natural, and Spirit-directed. Kid J is already dynamite at learning, and every time it becomes too “schoolish,” we both get frustrated.
  • Have kid J make a list of, and keep listening to him tell me, what he’d love to learn and try. Be a “yes” mom whenever possible.
  • Pass on my special skills and enthusiasms whenever possible. Write, read, draw, and make stuff together.
  • Read good literature together every day.
  • Write every day, both he and I. J loves to write, so I just have to gently expand his experience in various genres. Grampa and others could help with feedback.
  • Memorize Scripture, prayers, poetry, historic speeches, and great literature together.
  • Start going to homeschool association meetings and special events again. We’ve lost touch with all but a few other homeschooling families.
  • Remember that plans, schedules and curricula are our servants, not our masters.
  • Find a piano teacher that fits J.
  • Set up a sturdy work table for woodworking and other crafts.
  • Co-op with some other homeschoolers in seasonal projects, a 4-H club, or specific topics of interest (or necessity, such as traffic safety or bike maintenance).
  • Schedule in some cool field trips.

 

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Education, Parenting & Family

 

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A new kind of personal training program

A new kind of personal training program

To keep fit and maintain my energy, I run a few miles as many days as I can. I was never much of a runner, never pushed myself to the point of the second wind, the rush of endorphins others report as being so addictive. But I’ve been inspired by others to push a bit harder, and I love the sense of growth that comes, as well as the satisfaction of consistency. In the summer I try to swim several times a week, and have discovered some fast twitch muscles I didn’t know I had. Makes me hope I might enjoy training for a triathlon in the next year or so, even though I’ve never enjoyed races (I prefer contests of strength and skill).

This last month I had to save my physical energy for a big floor refinishing project, and that, grueling a physical as it turned out to be, also brought additional strength and a sense of accomplishment. I hope that strength and endurance will transfer to swimming and running as I return to those forms of training. As, I am sure, and more properly so, the running and swimming gave me strength for useful labor.

But perhaps it’s time for some work in an area in which my habits have been slack, my motivation weak and easily quashed, and my metaphorical abs not supportive. This time, it won’t be mainly for myself. Yes, I mean, I am going into a training routine in homemaking.

The floor is done, the furnishings mostly back in place, and I am determined now, first of all, to prepare decent and regular meals. Not to say cook, since some of the best meals don’t require it. I’m starting with supper. We can coast at the other meals a while longer and have (whole grain) cereal, fruit, yoghurt and instant oatmeal for breakfast, and leftovers or self-prep sandwiches for lunch. Plus three of my children enjoy making waffles or pancakes occasionally, so we’re good there. A sit-down supper, on the other hand, we need, in order to to improve our protein and vegetable intake as well as reconnect and enjoy each other’s company. And review mealtime etiquette, I’ve already noticed. When possible, I’ll even try to make (or delegate) dessert. At least once a week, I’ll bake bread or something similar like I used to. All that requires planning, at least when the garden slows down and I have to rely on groceries more.

Second, I am determined to work harder to train and engage everyone in sharing household duties and responsibilities. On the fly at first, catching people at leaving dishes around, eating in their rooms, failing to put things away, leaving work for others. Nabbing helpers for meal prep, cleanup, fetch and carry, laundry and other necessary tasks.Then, back to attempting to organize specific responsibilities and keep everyone accountable. I will do my best to be encouraging but firm, appealing to the best in each family member.I regret to say that I was a poor household helper when I was young, but I think my parents should have taken me in hand on that account. I mightn’t have become such a housekeeping slacker and taken less time to adjust to my new life as a housewife. I hope I can do my children (and their future housemates) a service by this training and preparation.

Third, and here’s where I’ll need all the inspirational literature and motivational RSS feeds I can get, I will try to keep the house clean and orderly, even if others don’t care or aren’t willing or able to pitch in. Which is occasionally the case, you may be surprised to know. I have found that my mood and creativity are negatively impacted when things are in disarray. Since it looks like I will have the most time this season, and because I care about order and beauty, I’ll have to take responsibility for those in the main. In some ways I’m looking forward to that, as it means a few sewing, painting and furniture refinishing projects. At least projects, unlike general housecleaning, stay done. And part of this work will involve selling or giving away stuff we don’t need any more, which is liberating.

Finally, I will try to be more of a “yes” mom whenever I can. Mom, can we go shopping? Mom, will you help me make this? Mom, will you look over my essay? Can I play a computer game? Can we do something special? I’ll even try to surprise the children and my husband more often with something they enjoy or appreciate–a treat, a special time, an outing, a gift.

You see, it’s new year’s resolution time for me, which, I just realized, is appropriate. The Jewish new year is coming up (Sept 5-6, sunset to sunset). I’m not Jewish, but I do think fall is a better time for the new year to begin. I’ve always felt a new energy then. So l’Shanah Tovah, Good Year, to you.

 
 

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