Balancing Balance, Part X: The Home Manager’s Biggest Perk

The other posts in the Balancing Balance series:
Even the humblest of jobs often come with some kind of perk – the factory worker can make purchases at the company store, the fast food employee eats for half-price, the store clerk gets early notification of sales. Home management comes with perks, too, and almost all of them boil down to choice and control. Think about it – the home manager chooses what’s for supper, how to fold the towels, whether/when/how the kids will nap, and how often the bathroom will be cleaned. At first glance it might not seem like much, but to me it is one of the biggest perks in existence for any person doing any job – freedom. FREEDOM!
In corporate hierarchy, moving up the ladder generally means more recognition, more compensation, and more freedom coupled with more responsibility. This is what employees desire and aim for. They want to have more control of how and when they accomplish their work. They want less of somebody peering over their shoulder and dictating how they do every task. They know how much work needs to be done, and they appreciate the ability to come in late on Wednesday so they can attend a child’s school performance and work extra on Thursday to make up for it – no permission needed or time clock to punch, just them taking responsibility for managing their time. Further, they love having power of choice over how to design the campaign or run the event or implement the next move.
Employees in the business world put in lots of time and effort to get to this level of freedom, but the homemaker has it from the first day she starts her job. The only difficulty is that she sometimes doesn’t recognize it for the perk it is for a long while. Actually, the home manager gets all four things paid employees reach for – recognition, compensation, freedom, and responsibility – but freedom and responsibility are immediate, while compensation and recognition are often delayed. For today, though, let’s concentrate on this terrific homemaking perk – freedom.
I will happily trade a good deal of money for freedom. The thing I disliked above all else when I worked at jobs with rigid schedules was not being able to use my time in the way I preferred. As a homemaker, I can choose to make dinner in the morning and heat it up later to free up my afternoon. I can plan to defer doing laundry until tomorrow when I can be home and available to keep processing it rather than today when I want to run errands. I can work with my energy levels, doing concentration-required tasks when I am fit to concentrate. I can take a nap if I need one – I have the power to plan that into my day. If my favorite thing to do is to take my kids to the museum, I can rearrange my week’s work and be gone all day on Friday. Or if the free day is on Tuesday, I can swing that, too. If I sense I need a break, I can plan hot dogs on paper plates for supper and decide to take the day off from all but the most necessary housework and childcare.
And it isn’t just time management freedom homemaking gives me – to a large degree I also have freedom to manage our family’s resources. A good home manager takes into account the preferences of other family members, but still, I pick the brand of just about every item that comes across our threshold. In addition, I choose where those items are stored and how often our belongings are cleaned or moved or rotated. Of course there is only so much money available for groceries, but for nearly our entire marriage it has been possible for me to purchase any ingredient, like salmon or wild mushrooms, if I really wanted it. We might eat beans for the rest of the week, but if I was hankering to make roasted salmon with a wild mushroom cream sauce, I could make that happen with a little effort. I have huge scope for choice in nearly everything I do!
Yes, all this freedom of choice comes with a great deal of responsibility, naturally it does. But isn’t that really a good thing? Life without responsibility makes us feel useless and disconnected from the rest of humanity, but we’ll talk about that another time. For now, think of specific choices you are free to make as the manager of your home. Which do you treasure? Share with the rest of us in the comments section, please.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted February 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Love, love, love this! What a great way to look at our responsibilities and freedoms as a homemaker. It is definitely a perk, and thinking of it this way definitely puts it in a good perspective. Helps to make housework more enjoyable – so thank you! 🙂

    • Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      It does make housework more enjoyable when I can look at it as “I CHOOSE to do this job now.” That’s a great point, April.

  2. Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I totally agree with you. It really does give a sense of freedom to know that each thing we do and when we do it can be decided. Today I’m deciding to do laundry (even though I usually do it on Friday) so that I can hang the clothing out on the line on this beautiful day! 🙂 Thank you again for helping me to see the blessing in my calling today!

    • Posted February 23, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      It is supposed to be beautiful here, too — well, it already it! I’m glad you appreciate your freedom of choice, too. I meet many women who don’t seem to have thought of it, and it makes such a difference to me.

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