"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!