A few days after I handed in my notice at work, at the end of my maternity leave, I was contacted by my car insurance company to take part in some survey or other. When they asked what my occupation was, I'll admit I was stumped. What was I now? Stay at home Mum? Unemployed? Writer-on-hold? Housewife? The lady at the other end of the phone answered my gibbering questioning with a swift "ah, you mean Homemaker." 

Homemaker. I thought a lot about that term after I hung up the phone. And I liked it. While I'd question whether or not I'd been a Homemaker since the day Ben and I moved in together 6 years ago, and whether or not Ben was also a Homemaker and if having a child had anything to do with creating a home, it's an occupation I'm more than happy to claim right now. 

I know how lucky I am to have the choice to stay at home with my daughter full time, and how happy it makes me to know that as our family grows and we have more babies, I will be able to stay at home to care for them 24/7. It may not be the scenario every mother wishes for, but for us, it really is a dream come true. 

My first year as a Mama was tougher in many ways than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing and beautiful and a thousand million times better than I could have ever imagined, but it was also tough. Having a baby who only wanted to sleep for half an hour, twice a day (maximum) left this Mama wondering how she'd ever find the time to do anything but play games, feed and cuddle. I'm not entirely sure the house was properly cleaned for the first six months of Phiney's life. No exaggeration. Just ask Ben. 

But at around six or seven months old, Josephine started to play on her own. She began to distract herself with toys and games and exploring her house with her new found mode of transport, crawling. And suddenly I found time to get things done. To tidy and sort, to do all the washing up in one go, to even to craft a little. And as the months went on, Phiney learnt to play for longer and longer. To occupy herself in her own amazing world of her imagination. Today, if I'm stealthy enough, I love to secretly watch her in this little land of make believe. To hear her chatter to her teddies and dolls, see her feed them and offer them drinks, to walk around her room with authority and intent, melts my heart. I truly think that a child who can so beautifully play by themselves, whilst being so sociable at the same time, is the most wonderful thing. 

And so now, as I enter the second year of being a Mama, I feel like I've got some kind of rhythm sorted. I know what time of day Phiney is at her best when it comes to finding games to play by herself, and so when to tackle the tasks on my To-Do list. I know what Phiney's happy to watch me do (take a shower or do the ironing) and what is best to leave until those precious minutes when she's napping (send emails and clean the bathroom). Mondays have become my day to clean the house and nearly every day, after her nap at 3pm, we meet our lovely friends and head to the park. 

With these little accomplishments under my belt, I feel ready to make this Homemaker title my own. It's a role I take pretty seriously. And so, I'd like to introduce my new project - The Homemaker Series. From cooking and crafting to fashion and finance, I'll be covering it all - sharing our adventures in making the most of what we have as well as tips we pick up along the way and links to other ideas you'll be wanting to check out if you're aiming to save some money, make your money go further or just make getting by a little easier in 2013. And it's not just about money - although now we're living on one income it's a pretty hot topic on conversation round here - it's about making a house a home with what we have. 

I'm excited about this series; to learn more about the way we live right now and how we can learn from the past to live greener, thriftier lives with a little planning and imagination. And of course i'd love to hear your thoughts too. 

Photograph by Tori, who has just launched a beautiful new website by the way. Most definitely worth a visit :) 

FOOTNOTE: My beautiful boy is the coolest and the sweetest. Each morning at work he reads my latest blog post and then sends me emails saying the loveliest things. About how good that picture is or how nicely I've threaded those words together. Like I said, he's the sweetest and the coolest and I love him so. After reading this post, Ben emailed me a little worried. He thought that some of you might think it wasn't my choice to stay at home with Josephine, to be a full-time Mama and a homemaker. That he was making me do the cleaning and the parenting, circa 1954. So I'd just like to clarify. It absolutely is my choice. I can't think of anything more wonderful than being at home with our baby (and future babies). And with regards to the homemaking - Ben and I made an agreement a long (long) time ago that he did the cooking and I did the cleaning. Like about 9 years ago. Way before marriage and children. Put simply, The Boy is a stupendous cook while I could barely make toast, and I am pretty handy with a duster, washing machine and iron. It works for us, always has. We both know where we stand and what our jobs are. As far as we're concerned, it's a recipe that makes for a happy house. Sometimes Ben will wash up, and right now I'm taking steps to learn to be a better cook (more of which will feature in The Homemaking Series). But on the whole, our little set up is pretty harmonious. 

So there we go. I think, whilst I was originally writing this post, I was very aware of not offending anyone by implying that I thought my staying at home was the best choice for every Mama and every family. That what I was doing was right and, if you were doing something else, you were wrong. Because I don't think that at all. I think we're so lucky to live in a world where women have the choice to return to work, part-time or full-time, after we've had children or not, and I realise that I'm blessed to be able to stay at home - that many women out there would love that opportunity but for financial or career reasons, just can't. And with all this worrying of offence (how very English of me) I kind of missed the point. That I ADORE being able to stay at home. That I always HOPED we'd be able to afford for me to, and that, for me and us, it's absolutely the PERFECT choice. The right choice. 

I look forward to your thoughts B ;) xx


  1. Looking forward to this series. My little girl is 4months old and if I manage to get one house thing done per day it's quite the accomplishment. It's good to know it does get easier! As we're on one income too I'm finally putting those costumier sewing skills to use again and making little clothes-so much fun (and a good way to get rid of those size 8 t-shirts I'll never fit into again!)

  2. sounds like a wonderful new series. have you read the book down to earth by rhonda hetzl? it's filled with such great advice on homemaking while being thrifty and green x

  3. fantastic idea Nell, I am looking forward to reading it all. Well done for being a mumma for a whole year. My boys get better everyday and I don't know how I can but I love them more everyday xx natalie

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  5. I am very much looking forward to your upcoming posts! It all sounds brilliant, Jo xx

  6. I love your footnote. So sweet.

  7. Gosh I do the same sometimes; worry about causing offence and then attempt to write a footnote in my head, except it wouldn't be as beautifully written as yours. I got your meaning without the footnote and I think to be a proud mother and homemaker is a wonderful thing. Yes of course it's hard and the days are very long, but like you I feel incredibly blessed that I can be with my children, that I have a few hours each week to be on my own and be creative, to cook, to garden and make a happy home. There's so much joy in that. Really looking forward to your series. x

  8. Such a great post! You hit the nail on the head when you said we are lucky we have the CHOICE as to whether to stay at home or not. I think people confuse the issue nowadays - there is nothing wrong with wanting to be with your children yet people often judge mothers who choose to do that over going back to work immediately and vice versa. I applaud your honesty here and for highlighting the fact that the choices mother's make are personal to their situation and what works for them is all that matters. I look forward to your new series, it sounds great! x

  9. A baby who naps for 20/30 mins twice a day sounds very familiar. Then magically 7 months & we're napping longer and sleeping better & this mama feels like she's getting a little bit if her life back! I have to go back to work, my husband is self employed and money is irregular coming in to say the least. I would love to be a stay at home mum although I count my blessings I'll only be doing 3 days a week. I'm sure for us in the long run this will be the right choice for me and my baby from a social side as much as anything but I'm still dreading the thought. Don't worry about offending people you can only do what's right for you & your family whatever people may think x