The first time it happened was when I nestled myself into the seat on the evening train from Paddington to Cheltenham. A mild January day that was anything but normal - I had just appeared on Britain’s largest mid-morning show to discuss my life as a housewife - and as it subsequently turned out, ruffle a few feathers.
As I opened up my Instagram account, enraged comment after enraged comment flooded in singing from the same hymn sheet…
“But she’s not really a housewife”.
Not much to note about the fact that I said I’d rather run my own household full time and please my husband than a boss. Instead, furious women from up and down the country loaded their misinformed comments into my feed, some going so far as to searching for my husband’s company details and declaring they’d spotted me listed as a “Director”.
It was the beginning of being chastised for calling myself a housewife, but not really “being one”, because I had appeared on the TV/written two books/run a blog/am protected legally in our business affairs/had a career before this new life! This hasn’t stopped, nearly two years later.
Through the dark clouds of their judgement and hatred these people cannot see that I self-published and self-funded my books, they could not see that I am listed as a Director in my husband’s company for legal protection should anything happen to him (smart thinking - and also a way pay National Insurance contributions). They cannot see that I sit here on my sofa writing a blog post for pleasure while they swipe right, “Netflix & Chill”, go to the gym/clubbing, or play hours on end of Candy Crush.
Happily for me, my husband works in the web industry so the development of this beautiful website is a gift, because he loves me and believes in my calling (no further pennies have been spent on PR, design, or suchlike). It’s a happy coincidence that may look like an exercise of investment - but for both of us, it has been nothing more than time and passion spent - for people to read, for free! I could pretend that The Darling Academy is this high-and-mighty brand with corporate funding and big budgets, but I’m just a housewife making use of my blessings and knowledge. Never judge a book by its cover.
I also use my spare time to indulge my passion of writing (and making the occasional YouTube video) to share my musings, lessons learned, or lifestyle - it earns a few pennies here and there, and that I realise, is the problem. I’ve seen the same criticism happen to the likes of Caitlin, Cynthia, and Ina too. Ladies who speak on the matters of being a housewife just can’t win!
It would seem, in this day and age of not “liking” labels and doing everything to destroy proper definitions for everyone else, people still want their housewives to be black and white. The want us to be one dimensional, and that my darlings is impossible. Contrary to popular belief, housewives are too talented, diverse, and smart for that!
Can housewives have a job or earn money?
This isn’t a subject I was ever bothered to touch upon, it’s rather silly really (the answer should be obvious, read: of course she can, if she wants), but actually as I’ve explored it with my lovely ladies, it’s a subject that needs clearing up once and for all. I believe these harmful attitudes might be making many women not only confused about their role, it could be holding them back from their dreams!
You see, about a month ago I received an anonymous email from a woman who was infuriated that I blog, write books, and use affiliate links and accept donations for the site. I cannot possibly be a housewife if I earn money… She writes;
“Doesn’t your husband provide you with enough money that you don’t need to pander for contributions? If you want to stay home with your brood, that’s all you but don’t ask for donations or use affiliate links…You’ve chosen your life, so live with it and all that comes with it. I think you’d be well-suited in Utah”. Signed, An Educated Spinster.
Ironically she signed herself off as “An Educated American Spinster”. As to her thoughts on Utah housewives (I know what she’s inferring and that’s just unkind and bigoted).
... Let’s not delve too much deeper on this particular one because I’ll betray my vow to remain dignified and always kind. I’m still baffled as to why an educated woman would spend her precious time getting annoyed at a small blogger on the internet? Let alone write an email to share her important opinion on the matter - yet not quite confident in herself and personal choices to do so under her own name.
You fail to rattle me, Spinster - but instead further my cause! Thank you.
I ask this; why have modern women become so concerned with what her contemporaries are doing, especially if they’re not even sharing her lane?
I use this one-sided interaction to illustrate a point - we really have lost sight of what it truly means to be a housewife, in fact to be a sisterhood! To be “women supporting women”. Ladies like the aforementioned (and I use that term loosely), they want us to lay down in the perceived hardships of what they believe housewifery to be. Boring, dull, a trap. Sitting there with our hands out begging our husbands for scraps. No time or ideas for anything creative, or fulfilling, and certainly nothing other than dusting and servitude…
We must be all or nothing. Work, or don’t - but that in between grey area is a no-go zone. It’s undefinable and therefore taboo. On one hand we fight for freedom of choice and opportunity, and we take it away with another.
What is a housewife anyway?
The Dictionary itself defines her as:
a woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework, while her husband or partner goes out to work.
Emphasis on “main” but not whole.
Put simply, it is chiefly the job of the Traditional Husband to earn a living, but it’s the responsibility of the Traditional Housewife to be thrifty, industrious, and yes - contribute if and where she can! Sometimes this means saving money and shopping sales, other times it means making sales! If she can do a little extra here and there to manage her household affairs, expand her horizons, and use her talents to well, “grow her talents” (Matthew 25:14–30), why hold that against her? It’s a shame for a woman not to use what is available to her in terms of talent, skill, and ability. If she has gifts, and from that can add to the family coffers, and give something back to the world, while still managing the fine balance of seeing to her family’s needs first and foremost - then amazing! More power to her!
In this respect, the only difference between a housewife with a side gig, and an employed woman is the guaranteed income!
My talents happen to be writing, and marketing. It would be silly of me to forget those skills learned climbing the corporate ladder, and hide my light under a bushel in order to placate strangers on the internet. I am a woman with skill, a brain, and options hard-won. I am going to take them! Being married and a “housewife” doesn’t exclude me from these things. My job title of choice certainly doesn’t mean my ideals and all my ambitions belong in another century. Educate yo’self!
Isn’t this what we fought for for so long??? Choices and opportunity?
Why can’t I grasp them too? Oh, it’s because of that word I choose to define my primary role isn’t it - HOUSEWIFE.
I shall leave you with a few select voices from the thousands of ladies in our community. Just to prove that I am not the only batty housewife in the world who thinks this way.
Can you be a housewife if you have a small business or work part time?
The exact question I posed to thousands of housewives around the world was this;
CAN HOUSEWIVES WORK? Ladies, can we have a side gig such as an at-home small business, childminding, or ironing? Can we help our husbands with their businesses (such as administration, accounting or another specialism), or indulge in hobbies (art, craft, writing, blogging) that bring in extra income? Or, does doing ANY of the above instantly null and void you from being “a housewife”? Are we allowed to call ourselves as such?
I have posted these answers anonymously, and there are many. These woman are so insightful, intelligent, and true keepers of the home. The last two are my personal favourites, and I have highlighted why.
I think if being a housewife is your number one gig then you can have a side gig and still be one. My nan was always a housewife, yet 30 years ago she did Avon for her ‘pin’ money as she called it! I suspect it was for her knitting wool she was always knitting!
Ooooh love this question! For me as someone without children, many people can’t understand why I stay home. They don’t see a “need”. Believe me, there’s still plenty to be done without having children, as I’m sure others in my position will agree! Yes I do work part time- but that is my personal choice as for me it’s a great balance, and brings in a little extra pocket money. Being a housewife is not purely about being at home all the time, it’s a spirit in itself- to dedicate yourself to homemaking and everything that comes with it. Even if you can’t be at home physically 24/7, the spirit of being a homemaker is always there.
I used to think that doing the accounts for Hubby’s business took me out of the Housewife category.. but I’m first & foremost a Housewife, if I didn’t want to do them he’d employ someone else so I didn’t have to anymore. Doing the invoicing & reconciling the books on a Friday morning are a hobby to me. I must also admit I enjoy popping into his offices & having a chat with the girls & guys that work there once a week, keeps me knowing what/who he’s talking about when I ask him how his day has been.
(A point to note here is that she is saving her husband money with accounting skills he would otherwise outsource. Top marks!)
I would say yes you are still a housewife, as that is the primary role. Sometimes you need these small side gigs to facilitate you being a homemaker full time, but then perhaps I’m biased as I also have a small business that I fit in around my family life.
I think until “job” becomes a proportional size of the household income then one could still consider themselves a housewife. But that being said I also think a housewife is as much a state of mind than a specifically defined role, when I worked I also kept the home and cooking with the same diligence I do now and have always considered myself a housewife.
I work two nights a week at a clinic. I’m home before my children wake up, still manage to make their breakfast and set them up for the few hours while I sleep. I still consider myself a stay at home mother, as I do all the cooking, a majority of the cleaning, and homeschool. I’ve only worked a few years, but it’s been helpful in sorting our finances to pay off as much debt as we can and offers amazing health insurance. Hopefully within a year, I’ll be able to quit, and become a full time homemaker again.
I consider being a Housewife a mindset. Irrespective of whether you work part-time, if your ‘priority’ is your family, husband and running the home, and you identify as a home maker or housewife first, doing all the jobs that entails, then you ARE one. If you work full time, the same hours as your husband and then share all the traditional ‘wifely’ chores with him, then that’s I guess where you may not technically be considered a housewife, but a wife - if that makes sense! It’s so subjective isn’t it. But for me, a housewife puts running the house and family first even if doing so alongside paid work. Let’s celebrate all housewives!
I consider the 30 hours a week I work in a hospital, a ‘side gig’. The other 138 hours of the week my family and home making are my priority. I know housewives that don’t work at all, and they do less than me. Out all the time, don’t make their husbands lunches when they are out working 80 hour week, out for ‘girls weekends’ and hen dos abroad all the time. A housewife is about the way you conduct yourself, not just your income status.
For me I see a difference between the terms housewife and homemaker. I think a housewife is a woman who is home at least half of the time. But I think a homemaker can be literally anyone who has a passion for making their home ‘on purpose’. And frankly, it bothers me when people are excluded from the labels of traditional or homemaker simply because they bring in some form of income.
So if you substitute another profession for housewife then the sentence would look something like this: I am a teacher (housewife) but I have a side gig selling widgets on a website. Nobody would accuse the teacher of not being a teacher just because she had a side gig. Therefore I am of the opinion that we are housewives even if we earn money doing something other than that. And said with a firm nod of my head too!
In my really old books for the housewife (between the wars) there are chapters about bringing a little extra money into the home (sewing for example) I’d say there is a lot of “tradition” of taking in a little extra work.
A housewife is someone who’s main occupation is caring for the home and those who dwell in it. There’s nothing stopping a housewife from having a “second”, 40 hr a week, paying, side job. ;)
Someone once said to me that I can’t call myself a full time homemaker if I’m also doing Birth Doula work and my YouTube channel. I looked at them and said:“Ok…. How’s your Makeup business going?” And they got all excited and started telling me how they do side work on the weekends selling makeup from this MLM company and that it’s doing really well. I then said: “So does that make you less of a Nurse, since you sell makeup in your spare time?” They looked at me puzzled and I explained “You consider yourself a full time nurse, but in your free time you have a small side business. Same as me.” That clarified things up for that person. It was a very civil conversation and I am close enough with this person that I can be blunt with them like that.
Yes. I believe having a side interest helps to keep you refreshed and focus anew on your house tasks. For me as a creative, if I can step away to create briefly, it helps me look at my housework a whole lot more creatively and objectively instead of getting bogged down. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with supplementing the family income as a housewife and as another member said, the Proverbs 31 woman in the Bible also ran a business, as did Lydia. It just shouldn’t be the main focus as that can hugely take from our time and ability to focus on house tasks.
I think stay at home mums have always had little side businesses. I think it depends on how much time that takes up. Ma in Little House on the Prairie sold eggs, and many mothers had “egg money” that they would use for little extras or material for family clothing. I think the thing with a side business or very part time work, is trying to not let it suck you in to full time or demanding work, that really takes you away from the home.
Pin Money, side hustles, and the Proverbs 31 woman.
So dear Spinster, and readers who aren’t quite sure what housewives are - to clarify; We are industrious, and if we choose to, we will spot an opportunity to earn a little pin money here and there.
It’s your choice as to whether you click that affiliate link or not (on this blog, or on the millions of others out there). It’s your decision as to whether you show appreciation for content by purchasing a book or homemaking manual, or contributing to a website you like to read, that is essentially written for free.
I’d bet my bottom dollar on the fact that if our Proverbs 31 woman was supplanted in this day and age, she would spot an opportunity like blogging, or selling her crochet on Etsy from a mile away and still be entirely invested in her role as a Housewife all the same. Her husband would definitely be proud of her achievements, her contributions, and her inventiveness. They are a team.
I implore you to think a little differently about what a modern but traditionally-minded housewife really is, but I shall not force your hand either way, this is a space for friends after all.
Commission and kindness
Affiliate links ARE used throughout this blog and will continue to be. When you click these links, there is no additional cost to you, but I may make pennies and pin money here and there. I used to be paid to write, it was my trade - so this is nothing new, only the dynamic is different. However I am not ‘employed’, or guaranteed success.
Friends of The Darling Academy often like to contribute by buying the Author a one-off cup of tea and I am so very thankful! It doesn’t actually pay for tea - but instead keep this website hosted online, and pays the fees so emails can be sent to your inbox. It’s not all glamour and Earl Grey!
What does cost money is buying my books, but I hope they give you so much more value in the long term than the immediate equivalent cost of a sandwich and takeout coffee! I hope they’ll sit on your shelves for years to come, and give you the encouragement you need. I hope they feed your spirit and warm your heart.
It’s my sole aim to uplift women the world-over and help them realise they aren’t alone in their dreams, thoughts, and passions in this harsh and modern age. This place is a home for us all that I shall continue to nurture as well as my own, whether paid to or not.