A Housewife’s Work Is Never Done; That Must Be Why We Don’t Get Paid

14 Feb
1957 - Ouch!

Image by clotho98 via Flickr

If you could go back in time and have a 5 minute conversation with yourself ten years ago, what would you say?

‘Don’t wait to get a degree before applying for jobs.  Trust me: it will only help if you’re already in work.  And think again before eating every Malteser on the planet: a billion past the lips means inches on the hips…heart disease…diabetes…a crane hoist.’

Why is it only work if it’s paid?  Cooking and cleaning and tidying and child care and child minding and child ferrying about from school to club to friends’ to doctor/dentist/hospital, the decorating, the shopping, the clearing out, the nursing, the ironing, all of it: why is it ‘work’ if I pay someone else to do it; but not if I do it myself?  The twenty years I’ve spent looking after my family and all the volunteer work, is not really ‘work’ because I never thought to ask for payment.  Silly me.

According to a study in 2008, I should be on £30,000 a year for my ‘nine-hour days’ (nine hours – I wish).  Okay, I might not quite make the regulation 71 minutes of cleaning and tidying – or even 7.1 minutes, if I’m honest – and if a chambermaid takes fourteen minutes to make a bed then I should be on a bonus for my 1.4 minutes per bed (mine; the kids make their own); but I should be good for at least £25,000.

I don’t mind that I don’t get paid for it (that’s why God gave me kisses from my children, after all); I mind that it’s not considered work.

It doesn’t matter anyway, because I don’t need a degree for the job I really want: this one, advertised on the Arts Council’s website.  Imagine the look of consternation on the face of everyone who ever asked me what I do for a living, and I could reply: Freelance Didgeridoo Artist.

If I’m going to make that happen I’d better get back to my carpentry; the roof extension won’t build itself.

17 Responses to “A Housewife’s Work Is Never Done; That Must Be Why We Don’t Get Paid”

  1. Leeswammes February 14, 2011 at 09:18 #

    I’m also a housewife at the moment although I’m thinking of finding a job, as I start resenting every bill that comes through the postbox more and more.

    Your blog post is absolutely right, but it’s worse: we blog so we are “blogging Mommies” – no credit to be gained in the blogging world either!


    • Tilly Bud February 15, 2011 at 12:09 #

      I didn’t know that. I could be miffed but then it comes back to us being worthless in the world’s eyes, and by being miffed, I agree. Think I’m going to keep on thinking the job I do is wonderful and that bunch of ignorami who don’t appreciate us can get stuffed.



  2. granny1947 February 14, 2011 at 10:13 #

    Going back ten years wouldn’t help…the damage had already been done!!!


  3. earlybird February 14, 2011 at 11:56 #

    I started writing a comment but realised I had too much to say! so one of these days, I’ll do my own post about it! I agree though (obviously).


  4. earlybird February 14, 2011 at 11:57 #

    forgot to say – I think you might have a great future as a digeridoo artist. Possibly.


  5. Pseu February 14, 2011 at 15:46 #




  6. sunshineinlondon February 14, 2011 at 15:51 #

    So would you tell yourself to study the didgeridoo? What a cool job that would be!
    I am with you on the “work” story; our society seems to revolve around “what do you do?” And that usually means “what do you get paid to do?” I don’t think it was such an issue for my mom’s generation, but it certainly prevails in ours and it drives me mad.
    Sunshine xx


    • Tilly Bud February 15, 2011 at 12:11 #

      You and Leeswammes and I should start a club.


  7. alienhippy February 14, 2011 at 18:27 #

    LMHO…I just loved this post Tilly.
    A 5 minute conversation with myself 10 years ago…giggle, OMGOODNESS, it just doesn’t bare thinking about.
    Well after this week’s hard work, the first thing would be. Stop bloody hoarding Lisa….lol
    Get rid of all this crap!!
    No more baltis, and lay off the larger.
    Love and hugs. xx 🙂


    • Tilly Bud February 15, 2011 at 12:11 #

      Good advice! And it’s never too late.


  8. Cindy February 14, 2011 at 18:48 #

    hehehe … you would have taken no notice of the advice!


    • Tilly Bud February 15, 2011 at 12:11 #

      You think you know me so well…umm, you do 🙂


  9. slpmartin February 14, 2011 at 20:01 #

    As always a joy to read…and I too failed to listen to myself so many years ago…and yes I still talk to myself and continue to refuse to listen. 🙂


    • Tilly Bud February 15, 2011 at 12:12 #

      That must be an interesting conversation 🙂


  10. Dark Star April 14, 2013 at 23:57 #

    As an IT director, I’m thinking that my job is the modern analog, in one respect, of the traditional housewife’s. That has to do with the never-ending nature of the task. I just finished correcting the credentials of a user on my network. Which interrupted some studying I was doing about a product I’m implementing on said network; on a warm (for Northern California, anyway) bright, sunny Sunday afternoon.

    Gotta hand it to all the diligent, hard-working mothers of the world, though. You ladies have one of the most important jobs in the world, and it’s sad to see that you’re not given the recognition you deserve. I hope that doesn’t get in the way of a feeling of quiet satisfaction, however fleeting, that graces you every now and then. Stay strong.


I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

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