keeping the home fires burning - week one


From the time I was a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to be a wife and a fact, I wanted to be the wife of a dairy farmer and have lots of children.  As life has a way of doing, none of that happened as I envisioned.  I married at twenty-two, took a full time job at twenty three and after seven years of infertility, adopted two sisters at the age of twenty nine.

My dreams of being a stay at home wife and mother were replaced with eight hour work days, putting a quick meal on the table, homework, bath time, putting in a load of laundry (that I hopefully remember to throw in the dryer) before turning in at night, five nights a week.  That was of course if there was no soccer practice, girl scouts, choir, band practice, performance or game.

Weekends consisted of a few hours of house cleaning (funny, I could get the house cleaned a lot quicker when I was younger), grocery shopping, activities with the kids, a little gardening and church on Sunday. 

Lest you think I am complaining, I am not.  I loved my life, my kids and my husband.  We were extremely blessed...just very busy!

During those years I bought countless magazines and books that promised to organize my life and house so that I wouldn't always feel rushed and frazzled.  While putting systems in place helped, they didn't change the fact that there are only twenty four hours in a day and only one of me.

I have the utmost respect for those of you who are in the midst of this life right now.  For me, bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan without breaking a sweat was much less attainable than the commercial promised.

I think that's why I am so fascinated with the philosophy of keeping a home, of making a haven for myself and my family. 

As Cheryl Mendelson says in Home Comforts"This sense of being at home is important to everyone's well-being.  If you do not get enough of it, your happiness, resilience, energy, humor and courage will decrease...Coming home is your major restorative in life.

These are formidable good things, which you cannot get merely by finding true love or getting married or having children or landing the best job in the world-or even by moving into the house of your dreams...And going for nostalgic pastimes-canning, potting, sewing, making Christmas wreaths, painting china, decorating cookies-will not work either...Ironically, people are led into the error of playing house instead of keeping house...".

I know this is a hot topic.  Please note that I am not talking about stay at home moms versus working moms.  Home keeping has nothing to do with whether you bring home a paycheck or not.  It is about the running of a household, about knowing how to take care of our homes and everything in them.  I am merely sharing where I am coming from because it is the life I know.

What are your thoughts?  Are we merely playing house?  Or are we keeping house?  What's the difference?  That's what we'll be looking into in the weeks to come.  Hope you'll join me again next Thursday as we begin to break down the nuts and bolts of keeping the home fires burning.

xo, Patty


  1. I think it is about CHERISHING the home you occupy. Caring for it so that you and your family are comfortable and not crowded by clutter and dirt. A HAVEN from this very distracting and loud and often rude world.

  2. Very well put! I never thought about the idyllic "playing house" contrasted with "keeping house." This puts things in a much better perspective for me. In my late 20's I left my career to become a SAHM after the birth of my first child. After 11 years, the 3 kids were in school and I returned to work. For a solid year I struggled with depression and despair, because the house wasn't as tidy as it used to be, and dinner wasn't on the table at 6 every night. I just couldn't do it, even with all the help pitched in by everyone else. Have since made some sdjustments and changed my perspective, and now things are much better. I've even made time to have a little flower garden! Thanks for posting this!!!

  3. Patty, I wrote a book "How to Organize your Home in Seven Easy Steps",(a little book for working mums)because of how hard I know it is for those mums trying to work full time in a job in and outside the home. It's a real juggle of time and energy. I know I did it too. I wrote the book for my daughter,then had it published. I have feedback that it is a life saver. It is available on Amazon.
    Good post too. xx

  4. Hi Patty, what an interesting post. How lucky those two sisters were to be adopted by you and your husband. My mum stayed at home until I was about 11 then she got an afternoon/evening job and we really missed her. My dad looked after us but it was mum we wanted. I stayed at home when my children were small and they say now that they loved coming home from school, knowing I would be there. I've never felt the need for a career outside the home but admire women who work and also have families. It must be very hard. Looking forward to next Thursday for the next discussion xxx

  5. Sometimes I think you read my mind and then write the most insightful posts. I will be following closely on Thursdays.

  6. Yes, there is a difference is playing house and keeping house. Keeping your home running clean & organized
    is the basis of being able to do the fun things that create the memories. I had a friend whose home was always a mess and she wouldn't get the Christmas decorations down till it was her girls. One year the house was decorated on Christmas eve. So sad...

  7. I'm going to be following close. Even though there is only me at my home I still get the guilt feelings if it isn't neat and tidy. And guess what? it isn't and it is my home. I'll be here for the next post for sure!

  8. I have been working hard lately to "keep" house instead of play house. It means saying NO to some things outside of our home. It has meant decluttering, turning off the computer, making a dessert with dinner on a week night. It makes our home and our family run so much smoother. I love my home and my family. Like you, that's all I ever dreamed of being. Working outside of the home has been difficult to balance keeping up the home I want. I am looking forward to reading your insight.

  9. Love the photos, Patty. Yes, life is busy, but we all must try to "smell the roses" as they say. I walk by my roses time and time again, and once in awhile I do stop to admire and smell them :)

  10. How do we grow up with plans that life likes to throw a monkey wrench in? It seems to me that it's all worked out for the best. I'm like you in that I'm always looking for ways to be better organized and keep that lovely sense of home that our grandmothers and great grandmothers had. I'm really enjoying your blog more everyday.


  11. Wonderful post! I'm looking forward to reading more about your thoughts on keeping a home.

    I've always strived to make our home a refuge from lifes storms. A haven, and I've always felt blessed to have a home and have strived to have a grateful heart for our home.

    Home is a bit of heaven on earth :)

  12. Wow- This has been a "hot topic" lately, hasn't it? I think that what is right for one person is not always right for another. I wish I could have stayed home full time when my kids were in those middle years. I was home when they were really little...but hubby's brain surgery meant I went back into the work force and I always felt like I got a bit robbed...if you know what I mean.

    Blessings to those full time homemakers-they have the best job on earth. xo Diana

  13. Hi Patty,
    Your photos are all so pretty. I can't wait for my tomatoes and basil to ripen!
    This is an interesting series you are starting. My kids are grown now and I think I tend to play house as I keep house. It makes the mundane tasks a bit more fun.
    Thanks so much for your recent visit and kind comments.

  14. Although I've been a stay-at-home mom for most of the past 20 years - while also homeschooling my kids and taking care of my parents in our home until they died - I have never been what I would call a home-maker. I am hoping to learn along with you, and I was able to get the book from the library. Thanks for sharing, Hugs ~ Mary

  15. This is such an interesting series and I am so glad that I just started to follow your blog and caught it! Great writing and great reading.

    I have been so blessed to have been SAHM for most of my marriage. I do believe it is the best and hardest thing I will ever do. I try my best to have a comfortable, cozy home that everyone loves to live in or visit. That is not my top priority, giving time to my family is. I loved playing house with my little baby dolls when I was little but when I married and became a mother, I knew it was the real deal. No playing house here! :)


  16. First let me say that those tomatoes, peaches and strawberries look wonderful..As for playing house..keeping house , I think we do what's necessary to be comfortable and provide for our lives as best we can..create's not always what we planned or how we planned it but it can still be rewarding and fulfilling.

  17. Tending to our homes is so wonderful if we keep it, play in it and just cherish it. I am interested to follow this topic.

    Amy Jo

  18. We have 3 girls. Ages this year will be 32,28 & 26. Two have boys. One lost her son at birth. The 28 year old is still at home with our oldest grandson (7). She is going to school to be a nurse. To the point... I lived my life of a stay at home wife and mom. I enjoyed letting the girls play and not help in keeping house. Big mistake. Only one enjoys to tend to the house. She has my youngest grandson and living outside our house. I dreamed of the "empty nest". Not too sure if we will ever get that dream. LOL. The fact that I am so busy I haven't had the time to keep up with deep cleaning and purging. I need time alone to tear the house apart and put it back together. I've lost that "younger energy". Scratching the top and keeping it "look" in order is how I live. And at my age I want to dig down and start over.
    Having my own business I haven't had any time off for so long. If I don't work I don't get payed. Anyway...enough. We do what works with our life style and blog what we find are still in our dreams to come. Before I am too old to enjoy it, I hope I get my empty nest. Live in Grace and Smile.

  19. This is such a lovely post Patty, to tell the truth I think most of the time I muddle through, sounds heartwarming eh!!!!! But I guess its fine we seem to squeeze happiness & lots of laughs in along the way, I think the laughs are real essential.
    The veg garden is going to have to wait till I get home from vacation
    Lots of love Karen xxxxx

  20. I adore this topic! Im like you..always wanted to stay home and cook and clean and make a house a home...but alas...I had to work...and I always envied the moms who stayed home and baked cookies! Now Im able to stay are long gone...but Im so enjoying staying home and making things cozy...baking..and playing with my grandkids. I appreciate so much being able to not have to work right now...I dont take it for granted. I cant wait to see what else you discuss on this subject. Theres nothing else in life right now than makes me happier than to stay home and clean house!!!!! lol

  21. Thank you for the reminder..the importance of keeping a home. A place where we welcome family and friends. What precious memories are made in our homes.
    blessings to you.

  22. I really loved this post and it's given me a lot to think about .. Thank you for sharing this.

  23. I am brand new to your blog and I just love it. I got the book at the library and have starting reading it as well. I think women try to be so much to so many that we loose sight of whats most important. Keeping our home and ourselves happy and healthy, makes it a haven for our families. I cannot focus when there is too much clutter about.

  24. Interesting. I'm like Erika. I don't think I've really thought about playing vs keeping house even though I think we are all 'guilty' of it at different times whether we work outside the home or work in the home as a SAHM. I have been blessed at being a SAHM mom for most of our married 39 years and even having businesses working from home.
    I think keeping a home is what makes it worth coming home to. A happy balance between having a home that runs somewhat smoothly (such as organization, routine, respect for the home and each other)and time for each time with the kiddos, making dessert during the week, game night, Bible/prayer time, etc.
    I would say playing house is giving TOO much detail to making a home perfect and beautiful and the importance of family becoming secondary.
    Makes for great discussion, doesn't it?


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