"Oh, so you are a housewife!"

It’s a shame that someone actually has to write on the subject to prove that being a housewife is actually a tough managerial task. Ever since I started working as a freelancer and took up a part-time job, I heard the term ‘housewife’ in a way I never expected to.

I realised that many people think that the job profile of a housewife is the simplest in the world. For some strange reason, they assume that a housewife is always free, lazy and all she does throughout the day is sleep and watch the television. And when you are a housewife who is highly educated and has been ‘working’ earlier... God bless you!
A housewife has too many chores to be a kaamchor!
You might say ignore such people. But seriously, these people need to be told that they work much lesser than any Indian housewife... if work is what should define a person’s importance in the world!
When a married woman starts working from home, the actual work she ends up doing multiplies like how! It’s not just restricted to cooking, cleaning and picking groceries. It’s not just restricted to working on paid-projects from home, going for meetings and following up with the clients to receive the payments. If one sits down to elaborate all the tasks she takes up, you’ll end up reading a super long list. I must mention at this point that I don’t have kids yet and hence I am not accounting the mammoth amount of work that a mother of young kids has to take care of.

I presume that people who use the term housewife in a rather undignified way can only understand certain tasks when we categorise them as per the typical work departments. So here you go:

HR and Admin: Ever realised how the plate you have your food served on is so clean? How the clothes you wear to work are neat, ironed and available to wear at any given point? The housewife has recruited the best possible house-help and dhobi after negotiating the payment terms. Trust me it’s a tough task!

You never run out of toothpaste, soap, shaving gel, etc. There’s always drinking water in the bottles, food in the refrigerator, cereal, biscuits, veggies... everything is sufficiently stocked up to ensure that there’s no shortage and no wastage.

Accounts and Finance: So when was the last time you heard a work-from-home housewife saying that there’s no money for the last three days of the month? She manages the budget effectively to minimise expenses and maximise savings. The much-hyped shopping during SALE is her attempt to spend the least on the necessities. How many times have you noticed a woman picking up something at a mall, looking at the price tag and keeping it back? How many times have you seen men looking at price tags?

She does refuse to go on an expensive trip, purchase of a new car or a bigger house her husband might suggest occasionally. She tries her best to serve homemade food so that money is not spent at expensive restaurants. She doesn’t get extra time / appreciation for managing the finance of the house, she does it coz she knows she must. At the same time she struggles to add to the household income by taking up more projects.
A work-from-home woman is also a work-at-home housewife.

Cafeteria or Kitchen + Dining Table: Your office might start at 9 am but she reaches her kitchen before you start brushing your teeth in the morning. Preparing tea might look like a task that doesn’t even deserve a mention but boiling milk, managing breakfast and tiffin in time so that her husband and family members don’t get late for ‘work’ is a great task. In the midst of all the morning chores while the ‘working’ men finish their breakfast, who asks if her tea went cold? Did she have her breakfast? Did you notice she keeps the softest rotis in your dabba while the improper ones for herself? That when the quantity of food turns our lesser after cooking, she manages with bread and butter for her lunch?

By the time people leave for work, it’s time for her to start the washing machine and her paid-work-projects.

Her entire day is spent managing time in and out of kitchen. Coz at around 6-8 pm when office goers complete their work for the day, it’s time for her to enter the kitchen and prepare dinner. Then when everyone at house is done with the dinner, she enters the kitchen again to clean and arrange stuff.
There’s a reason why the term is Housewife and not just Wife.
Field work: In addition to all the above mentioned tasks, she has to step out from home for several things. Grocery and vegetable shopping, client meetings, bill payments, bank visits... few make time for hitting the gym as well. Returning home tired after all the stuff does not mean the end of chores... she needs to get back to the kitchen and her computer as well.

The ‘work’ work: Oh the tasks that fit the traditional ‘work’ category! A client calls up when she is making rotis and asks her to check the file he just sent. Unlike the office goers, she can’t say she’s in a meeting (with the gas stove, pan and dough), she has to find a way out. Just after she’s started the washing machine after two days of heavy rains and collection of a huge pile of clothes that need washing, she gets a call for an urgent meeting! Oh or there is this huge project with tough deadline and the household chores need her attention and time too. She somehow manages and ends up with lack of sleep and stress. Weekends are never an off!

Additional work: Watering the plants, performing the daily puja, booking the cooking gas in time, doctor visits, drying the clothes and arranging the wardrobe, ensuring that the house-help is doing her job well, staying in touch with the relatives, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

One can never match the amount of work (unpaid) a housewife does, especially the one who also tries to earn some money by freelancing / working from home. I wonder why Housewife is not in the dropdown menu in Occupation category in forms!

The least you can do is the next time you call someone a housewife, you rather sound like, “Wow... you are a housewife!”

PS - I am glad my husband is supportive and helps me out a lot!


  1. Only a duffer won't agree with you.

    Weakest Link

  2. anu- i really agree with u. wonderful. fantastic write up. loved this one a lot.

  3. superb dear.....thats why really nice....and i guess thats why i started working. (I could not perform well in this job)

  4. wow....super.....i loved it. I could not perform well in this designation...so decided to work (in office)

  5. this one deserves to be promoted on all social networks and some! I am an old hand at what you are going through and I can empathise though I am a grandmother now.

    btw, men are supportive of a 'working' wife, whether part-time or full time, not of just 'housewife.'

  6. Damn cool and so detailed. Oh yes may be easy now for the understanding of men and some working women too :D, who think they are superior than their homemaker counterpart. Truly, they haven't learnt enough to value. Let wisdom prevail!

    Following you from now :)

  7. A wonderful post. Though my mum is a working woman now, she made sure to be a housewife till I entered my tween years. And I think she did, and still does a wonderful job of taking care of the family.

  8. So True!! Even I have faces the wrath of this term "Housewife".
    Except my husband no guest or far off relatives believes that my house looks clean due to my efforts not due to wall paints. I have never kept any maid even when i was working or looking after my small kid.
    God Bless You.. :)

  9. Hi

    This is an excellent post. I like the way you have mapped house hold chores to Organisational functions.

  10. Compelled me to think..I feel so small of myself..hell with the management we study in topshot institutes..The housewives are the biggest managers..!!

  11. Thank you all so much for appreciating and supporting my views here! This post came very late since I have been busy with the www.mumbai-localtrains.com and http://vegetarianrecipe.blogspot.com blogs.

    Now I am all set to write more out here!

  12. Kudos to all home makers. In fact the new terminology should be house managers as you rightly described the many tasks the courageous and hardworking housewife does. Couldn't agree more with you on this. This post should be a must read for all.
    Following your blog now. You my like to follow mine.
    Barkha Dhar

  13. One can cry oneself hoarse on this issue but this mindset will never go.. not in the near future at least.. or else if the housewives decide to go on a strike or something. Unless you're getting some money home you don't get much respect. Unfortunate but true. I speak from experience as a once working woman now a SAHM to twins.

  14. Hey, the strike idea is cool ;) But know wat, we are so used to doing all the things that we decide to just stop it for a couple of days, two things will happen:
    Firstly we won't be able to sit idle with the thought of 'so much work needs to be done'
    And then after the strike gets over we'll have a hell lot of 'pending' work ;)

  15. Lovely blog. Alas! Money is everything in the world these days, and if non-revenue generators are never given the due they deserve. If all the work done by 'housewives' were outsourced, it would cost so much more!, and would come without the love that accompanies everything. Perhaps people should start equating money saved as money earned and atleast thus respect these wonderful women more.

  16. Very well written. Housewife, unfortunately, has developed a connotation that makes it seem like that. I guess that is why the term 'homemaker' has come up now.

    However that, IMHO, just shows our own weakness that we are so dependent on the terms or packaging a concept comes in in order to judge it. Why do we need to judge it anyway?

  17. Ahh... Tell me about it.
    Been working from home for two years, am Mother to a five a year old and... you know how it is. I stopped telling people that I work from home. They just don't hear it - the words seem to fly past their ears. I was looking for a couple of posts from my own archives where I vent out that frustration. Here they are:
    Theory of relativity
    Working from home

  18. Very correct. Your observations are very sharp.

  19. very well said... I have a high respect for housewives... especially since they face such unwarranted criticisms from all over which are pretty stupid.

  20. thts quite a description! have to agree with Richa as well! nice write up

  21. There is no retirement for a housewife, got to be always indebted for the yeomen service they render to mankind

  22. I have taken up different jobs through my life span of 44 years but nothing has been as tough as managing a house ... and I make sure I am appreciated for it.LOL. You have made a good point there and most of the women are going to love you for this..
    I was a science student long ago once upon a time and at present I am doing freelance work ... Feel connected to you in a little way there ;)

  23. @guide - no retirement, so true!
    @farila - hey science and freelance... nice to connect wit u!

  24. This one is for mom :) A definite read for her


  25. yes there is a very imp thread between and housewife and the otehr members who are working. She is the basically also the power behind them :)
    I too have heard statements like this from many people, they all need to read this !

  26. I am a housewife right now searching for job. Just two words. Truely awesome :)

    Good work! Happy writing..


  27. hey Anu...Housewife is re-christened to Homemaker.....
    I feel,this features on top of my wish-list.Am tired juggling bwtn being a professional,a wife & a mother of 2 kids ......wonder what will it be to be a homemaker for a change..just a homemaker!!!!

  28. Congrats on a very apt post. I need to come back and read it at leisure. Bookmarking it for now.

  29. Hi Anuradha,
    I was surprised that I had written on the same topic in my blog too. I appreciate your effor to write on this subject, when people have misinterpretations regarding home-makers.

  30. actually housekeeping is itself a big job sometimes more hectic than a guys work....our indian housewives are best examples of housekeeping...but unfortunately some of us underestimate them....only a woman can do that job perfectly....glory to womanhood.

  31. cant agree more with you.loved the article :)

  32. Lol my mom is a doctor but she does everything u mentioned.

    Not everybody is industrious like you. Too bad you are married. ;)

    Loved the post... Will show it to everybody I think who will like it. Will share your link in my blog :)

  33. Heya...
    Woaaa...liked it.I could see all the frustration coming through and why not, for it is relevant. When I was studying Economics at school, and even in my last Sem, when we were talking Marx, one thing which emerged was why is a housewife's job not paid? For if counted, the amount of work she does, which well is considered more often than not as 'granted' and something which she is supposed to do, then the income she will generate will not less than be a few millions ( on avg, for all the stay at home women)...
    perhaps u like this link...

  34. tell me about it! 2 years back i quit my full time job (9 years of working outside) to be around for my little baby & lo & behold, i m suddenly this "housewife" who does "nothin". arrgghh!

    i've been freelancing (m a trainer) since d past 2 years but dat somehow doesnt count as work for ppl coz they dont c me running to catch a bus to work at 8a.m!!

    the amount of work @ home! u r so bang on! i know the feeling!

    this post needs to be circulated as Issued in Public Interest leaflet. seriously

    great post dear

  35. My mom's a housewife and I dont remember her swinging in the jhoola we have here. Just like you work from home, my mom stitches and no doubt my friends find me at my best all the time :D To mom and housewives!

  36. Well said! I can so much relate it to myself.I had to leave my job and be a house wife and finding very difficult to come to terms...

  37. awesome....i m not a housewife yet ..still i have my frds ....hats off to housewifes

  38. you also need to understand that some girls are not that good tooo....at times husbands also do the same thing

  39. Thanks everyone for the lovely comments!
    @vishal - i agree with you.


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