Confession: No homemaking skills and I slept with a future colleague to get my job

I’m kicking off the New Year on mother.wife.me with a guest post on the perils of trying to be a homemaker from the blogger behind the wonderfully named Cocoa Powered blog. Why is her blog named Cocoa Powered? Because she is a stay-at-home parent who relies on regular doses of 70% cocoa solids to get through most days!

The Cocoa Powered blog is her outlet for grown-up thoughts amidst a sea of domestic chores and the challenges of a stubborn and itchy 3 year old, which leads me on to mention her other blog, My Itchy Boy, where she also blogs about her experiences with her son’s eczema and allergies. Find her for a chat on Twitter @MyItchyBoy.

This post came about as a result of a comment CP left on the Motherhood, Work And My Issue With Self-Worth post I wrote in December. A post where I lamented wrestling with my self-worth since becoming a full-time mum. In her comment she talked about how women are no longer schooled in homemaking and I thought, hmm, there’s a great post around that subject and asked her if she would mind writing it. So here it is. Have a read and do leave her a comment with your views and experiences of homemaking!

Woman taking cherry pie from oven, homemaking skills

Homemaking skills?

What page of the stay-home parent manual are they on?

Starting a new career path was simple.  I had no qualifications for it, no training and very little experience.  But, getting the job was easy: no forms, no interview.  All I had to do was sleep with a future colleague.  Shocked?  Don’t be.  It’s probably the same way you yourself ended up in the role of Mum.

I do spend some days marvelling how I haven’t yet got fired from this job.  Thankfully there is no Balanced Scorecard keeping track of my constant failings on time management, resource planning and general lack of performance.

The days when the washing comes out pink, I spend an hour shouting at my son, am late for nursery pick up, have run out of milk and we watch too much TV, I am sneakily glad that I am (at least in theory) my own boss and there’s no annual review looming.  There are also the days when I realise that being a stay-at-home parent is as much about running a home as it is the parenting and how badly I was prepared for this homemaking role.

No one is going to send me on a development course to improve my cooking or washing sorting skills.  But, just sometimes, I wish they would.  I learned a little about childcare and household management from my mother but as a mum of four herself she actually had very little time to pass on those skills.  She was mostly taught at school where they had a mock-up home on site to gain practical homemaking experience.  It seems outdated now, but back then, they and she knew that she would need parenting and homemaking skills.  My school barely mentioned either.  University certainly never touched on them.

Early on in my role as a new Mum I remember standing at the kitchen sink cursing the one parenting book I had bought and read for not including a practical chapter on how to get blood out of my son’s favourite bear.  It also didn’t mention at what point you designate a particular bowl in the house for catching sick.  Or, how to find NHS resources at 2am on a Sunday morning for an ill child.  Or, how to find the time to regularly vacuum, wash up, cook,  dry laundry in winter, design the perfect train track layout or how many days you should keep a casserole in the fridge for.  Nothing really that is actually useful in daily life as a Mum.

Did my mother’s generation deal both practically and mentally with motherhood because they were better equipped with the tools of the trade?   Are women who love being a mum and seem to have hordes of well-groomed and well-behaved kids just naturals at this homemaking lark?  Or, did they pay more attention when their Mum was trying to teach them how to clean honey porridge off the carpet, instead of rolling their eyes and flouncing off to revise for Economics?  Or are they simply more committed to learning these new skills than me?

Years of academic study are not helping me in what is the hardest and most important job I’ve ever done.  I am someone who believes that UK society should value parenting a lot more than it seems to right now. Yet, it didn’t occur to me to get trained up for this job.  I didn’t prepare myself for this role or research it the way I would have if it was in an office.  I crazily expected to slide by on my ‘mother’s instinct’ and willingness to give it a go.

 

  • http://anyaharris.co.uk/ Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer

    Too true, all of this. I still draw on some of the cooking I learned at school and I remember a bit of financial stuff, but those days are long gone, and, you are right, this is the most important job we’ll ever do.

    • mother.wife.me

      Yes, I did cookery at school for a bit and I suppose maths is a big part of household management, but even so eh!!

  • EmmaK

    My mum taught me a lot of cooking, how to iron, crochet, sewing etc etc which has proved invaluable. I’m still not great at cleaning though because I don’t love it – to have a clean house you have to be a bit OCD I think and worry if you have a pile of dishes in the sink or a sheen of dust on your counter which I don’t. I am not sure if cookery is still taught in schools but it should be – for girls and boys.

    • mother.wife.me

      Wow, my mum is so good at all that stuff, but I never picked up any of it from her – must berate her!!!! Agree on the cleaning front – it sucks. First thing I did once I started earning some £££ again was to hire a cleaner, not that you’d notice within 24 hours of the house looking immaculate, one play-date and it is trashed again! I also agree there is more to life than constantly dusting, I come from a very house proud clan, but I think I skipped the OCD cleaning gene. And yes, cookery should be taught for boys and girls at school if it isn’t still the case, mind you, most men i know my age love cooking, it must be all those celeb chefs, it’s the housework they are curiously less interested in!!

  • http://www.bikelightsinthefruitbowl.typepad.com/blog/ Fiona

    I picked up quite a bit from my very thorough mum, then learnt through many years of looking after myself to do stuff my own way, and now find myself switching back to how she did some things! I struggle to strike the right balance – I’m quite happy to be a bit less thorough than my mum was! Small space living in London is often the spanner in the works – I don’t have the luxury of endless utility space to organise stuff. And my husband went to boarding school…! They definitely didn’t do homemaking there. I find sharing homemaking with him when I’m working quite a challenge!

    • mother.wife.me

      A fellow Londoner – yip, storage space is not plentiful in London pads. I am also the wife of an ex Public Schoolboy, he is prone to hanging his clothes on the floor! I think the reality is for me that I became a full-time mum to be a mum, not a housekeeper, but it turns out that with one comes the other!!

  • http://cocoapowered.blogspot.co.uk/ Cocoapowered

    Pre-baby Husband and I certainly shared the domestic stuff but when we were both working the house didn’t need so much care, we ate out a lot more, and I guess went out (therefore not seeing stack of dishes/empty cupboards). Wish could afford a cleaner here. I am with you on thinking that parenting would be about parenting rather than housework.

    • mother.wife.me

      Yes, our life was like that too, didn’t realise how easy it made things until I was suddenly faced with a growing mountain of household chores, that even with a cleaner, take up a lot of my time! Still, other than good hygiene things which can’t be ignored, I firmly put household chores beneath childcare on my to do list!

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