In this post: There are some differences between the traditional words “housekeeper” and a “homemaker”. Here’s why homemaking is not necessarily always the same as housekeeping!
What comes to mind when you think of housekeeping? Truthfully for me, it makes me think of someone knocking on my hotel room door at an ungodly hour yelling “housekeeping!” When I manage to scramble out of bed and pull on sweats and let them in, it’s a ten-minute routine of changing the bedsheets and towels, vacuuming, and tidying the room around my stuff before they rush off to the next room.
Of course, I’m not talking about that kind of housekeeping in this conversation though. I’m talking simply about the words we choose to use to describe the act of taking care of our homes. While a homemaker may do all the things a housekeeper would, in my mind, the heart behind homemaking goes far beyond what the word housekeeping describes.
What do housekeeping and homemaking even mean?
I know in reality that both words can be used interchangeably. But what do their definitions say? What do they literally mean? Google defines the two words this way:
Housekeeping: the management of household affairs.
Homemaking: the creation and management of a home, especially as a pleasant place in which to live.
Do you see the nuanced difference there? Both are associated with the management of home. But by definition, the word homemaking goes a step further to include making a home “a pleasant place in which to live.”
Why Homemaking is Not Always the Same as Housekeeping
Here are a few of the differences I see between the two words.
1. You can be a lousy homemaker but an excellent housekeeper
One of the tasks most commonly associated with homemakers is cleaning. However, you can have a spotless house and still be terrible at homemaking. An excellent homemaker will likely have a clean and tidy home (at least most of the time). A housekeeper’s title focuses on keeping the house tidy. A homemaker, on the other hand, goes beyond those duties and focuses on creating a home and taking care of the people within the house.
2. Homemakers and housekeepers have different priorities
A housekeeper’s duties are often focused solely on the house. A housekeeper is focusing on keeping the home in tip-top shape whether that involves cleaning, organizing, fixing things around the home, doing laundry, and so on. A homemaker generally prioritizes her family and the people who live in her home, over a strict cleaning schedule.
3. The values differ between a housekeeper and a homemaker
Housekeeping duties are focused on house chores and routine work, the overall goal here is to make sure the chores of the house are done well. Homemakers value all the emotional and spiritual aspects of the home such as family time and making their family happy. A housekeeper is there to do a job and knows exactly what needs to be done each time they enter the home. A homemaker, on the other hand, maybe cooking one minute and then helping the kids get ready for bed the next.
4. Housekeeping doesn’t leave the four walls of your home
If you were to go on a vacation with your family, housekeeping would make sure that your house was clean and tidy upon your return. If you are the housekeeper of your house, this job will mainly pause when you walk out of the door for your vacation. A homemaker, on the other hand, lives by the motto “home is where my family is,” and when your family goes on that vacation, homemakers will turn wherever you go into a little slice of home.
Homemaking is a skill that can be learned but ultimately comes from the heart. It isn’t just about keeping a tidy house. Homemakers focus on serving their families and creating a happy home first, with all the other home duties being plotted around that main goal.
Of course, this distinction between words is somewhat semantics. Both housekeeping and homemaking can mean the same thing, if you choose for them to. But for me the feeling of each word helps me to focus on what it is I’m actually hoping to accomplish. Housekeeping implies “keeping the house”, while homemaking feels to me like literally making a home. Which is something I genuinely want for myself, my family and our friends.
And that’s why I choose to use the word homemaker when describing this part of what we do (along with all the other hats you and I both wear), instead of housekeeper. To remind my heart what really matters.