The Difference Between Housekeeping and Homemaking

I’m coming up on month 3 of marriage and stay-at-home-wifing. I knew that marriage was going to be a challenge and being a stay-at-home wife wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I must say,


Oh my goodness. Like so many other things in life, you really don’t know until you get there. I knew intellectually how challenging it could be to stay on task, juggle schedules, make sure that order and not chaos rules in my home, etc. But I had no clue about what all that meant emotionally. Even though I’m still a newbie in this realm, I can say that there is definitely a difference between Homemaking and Housekeeping. 

  • Housekeeping is about picking up, wiping down, straightening out. It’s scrubbing toilets, sweeping floors, and running the vacuum again. Homemaking is all that PLUS the understanding that a clean house isn’t just about neat and tidy. It’s about about making a space that is a little piece of heaven on earth. A place where God is welcome and the angels want to stay.
  • Housekeeping is washing, drying, and folding laundry, ironing and putting away clothes, making beds and changing towelsHomemaking is all that PLUS the patience it takes to look at the hamper filling up with dirty laundry again when you just ran 8 loads yesterday. It’s remembering that your family deserves clean clothes and linens. 
  • Housekeeping is buying groceries and remembering to buy toilet paper and dish soap. It’s unloading bags from the car and stocking shelves. It’s cooking meals. It’s planning ahead so your husband’s lunch cooler is packed and ready to go in the morning. Homemaking is all that PLUS remembering that taking care of your family’s well being is your responsibility and they deserve the best of your abilities and knowledge. They also deserve your creativity and learning new things. 
  • Housekeeping is keeping track of work schedules, cleaning schedules, meal plans, project schedules, meetings, and due dates. Homemaking is all that PLUS the knowledge that you serve a God of order and chaos isn’t His will for us. Perfect coordination and communication isn’t possible in this unpredictable life but proactivity and intentionality shows that you care about your home and the lives that live there. 
  • Housekeeping is making sure you’re staying within your weekly/monthly budget. It’s making sure that you know what’s coming in and what’s going out. It’s keeping records for tax season and remembering where your bank account information is. It’s staying on top of bills and making sure everything is paid on time. Homemaking is all that PLUS remembering that money is a gift from God and He expects us to handle it well. It’s about being generous and wise. It’s about not letting debt become a function of your lifestyle. It’s about knowing what your weaknesses are and being honest about them. It’s not splurging recklessly on yourself because your money isn’t just yours anymore. It’s about emergency funds and savings accounts. It’s about self-control, moderation, consideration, and conversation. 

Homemaking is about creating an environment where your family, big or small, can come and escape from the craziness of the outside world. It’s about cultivating honesty, conversation, love, and safety. It’s about learning lessons of patience, self-discipline, stewardship, creativity, industry, and grace. Oh and did I mention patience? It’s about solving problems, facing challenges, taking responsibility, talking things through, saying sorry, and trying again when you’ve failed.

In all honesty, most housekeeping isn’t all that hard for me. I’ve been cooking and cleaning since I was young. Homemaking is hard. It takes an extra dose of self-discipline. Sometimes it’s thankless. And sometimes it gets up under your skin when you feel like you deserve better. 

Homemaking is seriously a ministry.

Unlike any other acts of ministry I’ve been involved in, homemaking is like holding a mirror up everyday and coming face to face with all of my weaknesses, flaws, sharp edges, and weariness. But like any other act of ministry, it’s not about me. Homemaking is not about me. It’s not about me having a spic and span house 24/7. It’s not about making gourmet meals for my husband. It’s not about checking off items on my planner. It’s about letting God serve through me. Just like when I teach a class at church or lead song service or help someone in need, homemaking is giving what God gave me day after day after day after day. And just as Jesus served tirelessly, I’m expected to serve just as faithfully in the realm I serve – in this case, my home. And of everything I’ve ever been called to do, I think homemaking is the most challenging. Because it’s a daily surrender that is different from any other that has compelled me. Never have tests of character been so tied to the mundane chores and tasks of my life. Never has the sanity of someone else (my husband) been so dependent on my self-discipline. Never has the making or breaking of scheduling, planning, and getting things done rested on my ability to be my own boss and focus.

I used to say that working 40 hours and being a full time student at the same time was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and while that was certainly intense, this is a whole other ball game. I’m using different emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical muscles here. Muscles that I barely knew existed.

I hate hearing “oh you just stay at home”. There is no “just” about it. Making a home whether you work outside it or not is a major responsibility. But it’s also an extreme privilege. As women, we’ve been wired to nurture, create, plan, cultivate, and manage in a way men were not. It’s what God said men needed. And homemaking is where so much of our femininity gets exercised, shaped, and refined. That doesn’t mean men don’t get involved or possess an important place in their homes, cause they should and do! But the essence of woman in her realm is something lovely and unique. And when a home has been entrusted to our care, we should feel greatly blessed and challenged.

I write this for the days I can’t wash another dish or want to put off scrubbing the tub. I write this for the days I don’t want to meal plan, or sweep the floor. I write this for when I’m frustrated, weary, or overwhelmed. Cause all of that happens. I write this for when I just want to binge-watch Netflix or curl up with a book instead of going over last weeks expenditures.

I write this cause like anything else worth doing in this life, it’s not easy and it’s not a perfect process. I write this cause the struggle is real and I think, good grief, get it together woman before you think of adding kiddos to the mix! I write it cause I’ve got a hard-working husband who made it a priority to give me the chance to stay at home like I wanted and he deserves my best.

I write because I have so much to learn about so much! I write this because there are days when housekeeping is the best I can do and the thought of homemaking makes me tired.

I write it cause maybe you need it too.

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