Homemakers in Retirement

Do we ever really retire?

Recently, a post in my retirement-journey email group made me think about this topic.... Homemakers in Retirement. Whether you worked or not, you kept the household duties up, right? Ok, so now you retire.. what now?

Doreen Wrote: " I met a lady, Mary, who was trying to buy a bra. She didn’t know where to find a clerk. She told me that she needed one without under wire and made of cotton so I suggest she try a sports bra. That confused her so I offered to help her locate some. After she found what she needed she said she had to go home to prepare supper as it takes her a long time to get it underway. Then, she must have read my mind, because she said; “It is hard for women they have to prepare the meals for their families and when a husband and wife retires it is still their job. How come it continues to be their responsibility?” I guess the role of women and food is historic – unless of course it pays well and then it is bound to be a male chef! (ha) "

Interesting.... and I bet Mary continues all the homemaker duties, the household chores like laundry, housekeeping, and cooking too! So when does she, if ever, get to "retire" ?

Elinor from OR wrote: When I first met my second husband, Herman, He lived next door and I visited him often. He prepared meals, did the dishes - everything. LOL. He thought I couldn't cook and here I had been a frugal cook for 8 kids. Later, as I began cooking, I had a good idea of what he liked.

We had a corner store where he shopped and I would go to Safeway to stock up on things we needed. I never did drive so I took the bus. When I started going to college, and then working, I'd get off one bus, rush thru the store and catch the next bus home.

They were 30 minutes apart. I started to write lists for Herman but while shopping for my "specials," he would invariably bring back boxes of doughnuts or other treats from the Bake Shop. One of the girls would see him coming and call "Yoo hoo, Herman . . " and soon we would have more goodies to give to my daughter Tina's family next door.

I didn't mind doing the dishes and other chores. Tina brought our laundry to the laundromat when she did hers. Herman went fishing with his brother nearly every weekend and I cooked the fish. I canned the extra tomatoes from his garden and put up fruit from his peach tree in freezer packs.

He kept his cars running and helped the kids with their jalopies. He did the repairs and, when he found out I was a vegetarian, he grew a vegetable garden. So I never felt he wasn't helping enough at home. It just seemed natural for me to do household chores.

Sandi from CA wrote: NO! I don't think homemakers ever retire - but I also think that our busy-ness and activity, from planning to preparing meals, keeping the house tidy, shopping for groceries or whatever else--running errands like going to the post office (which I did this morning) to the dry cleaners (need to do that tomorrow) - may also be what keeps us both physically and mentally fit, and it might account for why women live longer than men (or at least one of the reasons...no offense to the guys out there).

I have a companion who shares my life - and he does very little of the indoor work - but I have to say, he works very hard at keeping up with a tremendous load of yard work - and he WILL do anything I ask him to. About once a week I will say "You do the dishes, I don't feel like it". He DOES but I don't like the way he finishes up (or doesn't finish up). He never cleans out the sink, and he doesn't make his bed unless I remind him, because we have company coming. I was taught to make a bed as soon as you are up and I still make my bed every morning.

He usually mops the floors, too, because that is a problem for my back (no carpeting - we have hardwood floors--so there isn't any vacuuming).

Sharon wrote: I agree with Sandy... I don't believe homemakers ever retire. Homemakers will always have those jobs around the house to do and if they don't do them today, (like me) those jobs will be there tomorrow to do! I truly believe that this is what keeps us younger and fitter than our spouses. I know that for myself, I am much more concerned about a healthy lifestyle than my husband. It's an awful thing to say, but mine seems to whine and moan more than I do.

Wendy: So, do our housekeeping chores keep us younger and fitter? I like to think so! Great answer, Gals!

Finally, recently I was in a Leadership Class at work (mandatory)... one of the guys said something like: "well, you can concentrate on a work life when you have a strong person behind you in the home taking care of that part of life."

I'm usually listening, not speaking much, playing the introvert... but I burst out with "Hey, that's correct - if you are man. I've worked 33 years and don't have much of a life as I do the cooking and cleaning after work and on weekends to keep it all up..." everyone started laughing.

Later I told them, I don't. My husband cooks and has for 25 years, I toss dishes in the dishwasher. I have housekeepers every other week, so I only need to tidy up - but I said it for all the women out there.

I'm lucky, my husband cooks... wonder if HE has to continue cooking in retirement?

Hmmm.. interesting thought... Wendy

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