10 Reasons You’re Told To Avoid Unmonetized Work.

Many people are unhappy to do unmonetized work. And that’s fine. It’s your choice to only do work you’re paid for and to pay others to do your unpaid work. But some people definitely get defensive and even hostile when you mention your own decision to do unmonetized work.

Whether you’re a home-maker or a community gardener, whether you’re making your own bread or building your own furniture, someone always emerges with a critical eye. Often they just feel the need to counter your points with comments about how they couldn’t possibly do unmonetized work. But sometimes when you defend your choices the critics become hostile. It becomes clear that they’re for some reason unhappy with the fact you’re doing something for yourself.

Which, on the surface, isn’t very sensible. After all, if you don’t care when they hire a gardener or buy a pie, why should they care when you trim the hedge or bake a pie?

Well here are ten reasons why various types of person may feel insulted, cheated or ostracized by your choice to be self-sufficient.

1: Greed.

The biggest one is a personal demon.

Some people are simply too greedy to do anything for free. They can’t see why anyone would or should do anything for free.

These people, deep down, see some benefits from self-sufficiency and know they have some time to put into unmonetized work. But they don’t want to.

And when they see someone work for free, it touches on a negative aspect of their own mentality. So they have to make you doubt yourself, make you admit that for them it would be impossible, anything to justify their own greed.

2: Import, value and sales taxes.

Governments have a vested interest in you not making anything on your own. When you start with simple goods the tax you pay on them is minimal. The real tax money is in luxuries.

When you make your own wine from foraged fruits, the government has no tax power over your drinks, they make no money on them. They would much rather you bought a bottle of wine at the store.

3: Power thirst.

Some people have an amount of control over you through the services they offer.

If the person presenting the critique is asking you to hire them, offering their services for cheap or for free, anything to stop you from doing the job yourself… then they enjoy having power over you.

4: Rat race.

For many everyday people, the concept of the rat race is a sort of comfort. The idea that everyone from the bottom to the top of the 99% is trapped. Nobody has a choice. Taxes are inevitable. You have no way out, even past retirement.

It can trigger a sort of envy and anxiety for some when they see that you can do your own work for free and cut costs that way.

5: Neediness and loneliness.

Similar to the power-hungry, the needy and lonely fear losing you. But they aren’t trying to manipulate you or control you. They simply fear that by changing your habits you are adopting a culture that’s too different to theirs.

These people want reassurance that they will be a part of your life even if you stop shopping for clothes and spend your evenings baking pies.

6: Products to sell.

Obviously, anyone with a finished product to sell doesn’t want you to make your own.

If someone is telling you about the dangers of home-canning or gardening, trying to dissuade you from cooking from scratch or ironing at home, then ask yourself whether they are selling the product you were trying to make.

7: Income taxes.

Of course, another way the government benefits from monetized work is income tax. When you earn money, you pay taxes on it. When you use that money to hire someone, they pay taxes on it. But if you do the work yourself then to tax money is paid on it.

8: Retirement.

Some friends and family may have concern for you if you choose to do unmonetized work. Whether it’s your only work or you also have another job, the fact that you’re dedicating hours to work that doesn’t involve money can make some people concerned for your retirement plans.

Sometimes this comes from a selfish place: they do not want to care for you. But often it just comes from confusion and concern.

9: Welfare.

If you’re doing unmonetized work then welfare becomes a hot topic.

On the one hand, if you’re not on welfare some people come to believe you are entitled to it and believe welfare would be a better option than self-sufficiency.

On the other hand, if you receive any welfare at all, other people will insist that you should spend your time working for money instead.

10: Crab bucket.

Ultimately, if you do unmonetized work you can’t be doing anything right.

We live in a culture where we are encouraged to use and consume, to earn and to spend. By stepping out of the money cycle in any aspect of your life you are defying our culture, our society.

And nobody wants their friends, their subordinates, their family or their coworkers to belong to a different society than them. Be it because of their job, their ideology or their personal demons, there are many crabs in the bucket that want to pull you back.

It’s up to you to decide what you will do.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

FitFriday, something Roman numerals, I need a blog accountabuddy.

Because I have seriously neglected my on-the-day posts again. Boo. 😦 Sorry.

Fitness updates:

I have kept off the fat and water weight I wanted to, but with the rising temperatures exercise has been a drag, so I’ve got lazy. Jon, as my personal trainer, is going to “sort that out”, apparently, so it seems I’m in fro some harsh workouts.

Besides that not much has changed. I’m eating corn again without issue, but the reintroduction may not be forever as Jon is allergic to it and I shouldn’t eat too many carbs anyway.

We’ve restarted work on the garden, have worked out a new plan for babymaking and have a puppy soon to arrive, so all is looking well. Which means I can afford to sit around in my almost-retro housewife dress, drinking coffee and working on books.

There's no such thing as gratuitous pictures of retro dresses. Or of this retro dress, anyway. I love this dress.

There’s no such thing as gratuitous pictures of retro dresses. Or of this retro dress, anyway. I love this dress.

At least until I remember the dusting that needs doing…

How have you been coping with your fitness goals this Summer?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What is your work worth?

Everyone is obsessed with women’s work. Whether a man chooses to work, live off welfare or be a house-husband, the main contention is with his personal identity. But every time a woman makes a choice about what work she does, people everywhere must ask what value her work provides her, her family and society. And, seeing as there are many sorts of value, I’d like to briefly explore them, their upsides and their downsides.

The first value is, apparently, the only value work has to most people, especially feminist women. Monetary value. How much cash you can squeeze out of your every drop of sweat. The rewards of this value are fairly obvious. More money means more of everything you can buy with money, which, in our society, is everything. Most people’s jobs provide stable income or even secondary perks, like discounts, health plans and freebies. The cons are often neglected. The first and most obvious one is that most people dislike their jobs. And the sizable minority who don’t actively dislike them don’t really like every aspect of them. The vast majority of people, for example, would not do overtime that had no potential reward, or take work home. The second con is that when put in a job, you are often stuck in one place, doing one thing, from about 8 until about 6. If you account for preparation and travel time, many people spend from 6 until 7, or 13 hours, working. This leaves little room to enjoy the rewards of your money, such as extra time, entertainment sources, better food and better clothes and vehicles. If you sleep 8 hours and work 13, that leaves three hours a day to enjoy your bigger house, nice clothes, meals out, entertainment products and the likes.

Which is fine, if your work provides another value: enjoyment. Enjoyment isn’t easily quantifiable. It can’t really be measured, only compared. But you know your work provides enjoyment when you look forward to it, rarely think about anything else when doing it and wouldn’t rather do anything else. Seeing as most people don’t like their jobs but still need to do them, it’s fairly easy to see the downside to enjoyable work: it doesn’t always pay. The upside is, your time is being well spent. When you tidy your whole garden because you love gardening, it doesn’t matter that you’re not paid to do it, because it has value in and of itself. On the other hand, doing the dishes and accounts are examples of work that we bear a grudge against because it provides no monetary value and no enjoyment.

Between money and enjoyment, we work out our third value: time. This is more accurately described as the monetary value of your time (the value you put into it) versus the money and enjoyment it provides (the value you get out of it). Work will either fall into the valuable: something where your time is adequately compensated or rewarded, or the worthless: something where your time yields no tangible reward. The easiest way of balancing your time value is to look at its monetary value, as enjoyment is very variable. So, if you usually get paid £8/h, that’s your time’s base value. If you need to do an hour of unpaid gardening and you enjoy it, it is worthwhile because you enjoy it. If you are doing an hour of gardening for £8 or more, it is worthwhile even if you don’t enjoy it, because that is what your time is worth. If you are getting less than £8 for your hour of gardening and don’t enjoy it, then the activity is worthless to you. On the other hand, let’s assume the gardening needs doing. If you have to pay £12 for it, then it’s more worth your time to do it yourself, as your work is only worth £8/h. If you have to pay £4 for it, then it’s more worth your time to do your own work and pay for the gardening. You will also need to factor how flexible your time is. If you simply don’t have more than 3h a day free to do things and dislike gardening or just don’t feel like it, then maybe it’s worth paying £12 to get it done, because your leisure is worth that extra £4.

Finding that balance between money and enjoyment, the value of your time, is highly important to understanding the value of your everyday work, be it monetized or not. For example, a waitress on 15k who becomes a kept housewife to a man with a salary over 50k may be looked down upon by more “professional” and “liberated” women. But if she enjoys housework more than waitressing and her quality of life has gone up through extra money and enjoyment, her work is actually very valuable to her. On the other hand, a woman who despises housework and has an earning potential of £25/h may not be quite so happy with that arrangement.

The final factor to your work’s value is whether the rewards are something you use up or a reward that creates another reward. So your basic living expenses are used up. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. But all the money you have left after that has some potential. Your enjoyment, on the other hand, is a fleeting thing, even though the things you enjoy might give you a return later. By carefully investing your money and time into things that will give back later, you improve your quality of life without needing to work longer hours.

Bringing that back to women’s work, let’s, for a moment, imagine the home as a community, or a business. When at work, you don’t look at the secretaries, cleaners or apprentices and think “These guys really aren’t pulling their weight.” or “They would be better off as managers.” You understand that they do their job, their job is necessary and they are not ready and may never be ready to become a manager. Likewise, when asking what value someone’s work adds to their life, their family and society, you need to look at what they are capable of. A woman with education up to GCSEs is not a CEO in the making. Unless she has a particular skill she can and will monetize, her work is worth minimum wage, no more. If the cost of cleaners, convenience food, meals out, childcare, etc would work out as more than her hours times minimum wage, she is actually better off doing these jobs than going out and getting a monetized job to pay someone else to do them.

Similarly, we have all seen the effects of someone working a job they dislike. From unmotivating teachers, to bored friends and relatives, to coworkers who just don’t pull their weight. When someone is doing a job they dislike, not much of it gets done. Therefore, regardless of what a woman is doing, she’s probably doing a far better job of it if she likes it, making her work more valuable.

Finally, most of the debate around women’s work concerns women with families, be they just themselves and their partner, kids or even grandkids. Nobody views a single woman’s choice of work any differently to a single man’s. If she’s on welfare, she’s on welfare, if she works, she works, if she lives off her parents, she lives off her parents. Their opinion is likely to be the same for her as for anyone else in her situation. But when a woman is part of a household her work choices become a matter of some sort of gender-loyalty-war, where it is either her responsibility to stay home all day or her responsibility to get a “proper” job. What she actually contributes to her home and what she gets out of her work is not really the matter of the debate, although this topic is often weaponized to prove points. The real matter of the debate is whether she is being “woman enough” by doing whatever she’s doing. Which is a social argument.

And, to be honest, if the debate boils down to that, I have no idea what value your work adds to society.

What I do know is that if your work covers, saves or pays your earning potential, you are happy and your family is well, then whatever you’re doing is clearly valuable.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Embrace Your Inner Tomboy to Be More Feminine?

Often in the West we tend to think of tomboys and feminine as a dichotomy. Either you’re a tomboy or a girly-girl. Whether you’re a child or an adult, those are your choices. If you’re lucky you can be “tomboyish” or “girlish”, rather than in one camp or another, but generally you’re stuck with those choices. Especially so in modern Western countries, but even in old Spanish texts do we find girls being called “Marimacho” (male Mary) and in Japan they call a less delicate girl “otemba” (from the Dutch for “untameable”). Whatever they used to mean and whoever they used to be assigned to, as Americanization advances, slowly these terms come to mean any woman who isn’t girly enough. Either you are feminine and virtuous or butch and unruly.

However, as I explored in “Should Femininity be a Primary Duty?“, femininity isn’t quite that simple. On the one hand, there does seem to be a form of pure Western femininity.

So femininity, in terms of dress, is “somewhere between pretty and beautiful”. I’d say that summary applies to most other aspects of femininity also. Not girlish, but not boyish. Mature, but not sexy. Well-kept, but not overdone. Attractive, delicate, coquette, coy, friendly, open, reserved and polite. Somewhere between a girl and a woman, miles away from a whore or a man.

I’d say that makes good sense, wouldn’t you?

When we look at images of conventionally feminine women, we see skirts and dresses from just above the knee downwards, maybe slightly higher if it’s obviously warm or she’s on a beach. We see long, well-groomed hair and long-ish, well-groomed nails. We see a splash of make-up; not attention-seeking, but pleasing to the eye. We see women who stand with their backs straight and their shoulders back, their chins not too high in the air, their hips and busts not tilted alluringly, no slouch; just a graceful, unabashed, non aggressive woman. We see women who write, who sew, who clean, who care, who cook and talk. We see mothers, secretaries, teachers, nurses and cooks. Examples abound in the pictures I have inserted between these paragraphs. That is what feminine looks like. That is what feminine is. If you seek to be purely, wholly feminine, be everything described, everything portrayed and nothing else.

But this femininity, whilst superficially perfect, is still incomplete. If you strive to be feminine, then you need to also strive for more. A porcelain doll, a Disney princess or a Stepford wife is perfectly feminine. But that sort of femininity is also empty. Porcelain dolls are fragile and purposeless, Disney princesses are infantile, Stepford wives are inhuman and loveless. Which is where the tomboy comes in. You see, tomboys are not, as is often and increasingly assumed, gender-challenging, masculine girl-beasts. A tomboy can be anything from butch to just a girl who’s a little rough around the edges, and the latter is more common than the former. Tomboys are still part of the spectrum of femininity and whilst a butch or masculine girl could learn a lot from porcelain dolls and princesses, princesses could also learn a lot from tomboys.

So what are the benefits of being a tomboy?

Well, the first one is physical and mental resilience. Tomboys grew up falling out of trees, almost drowning, getting bitten by animals and other children, being shoved around by larger, stronger boys, practicing martial arts. Tomboys grew up being called ugly or butch, being insulted for neglecting fashion and celebrity drama, being teased and sworn at by the boys they spent the day with. Everyone eventually builds up some resilience to life as they grow up, but a tomboy specifically builds up that physical toughness, pain endurance, internal fortitude and emotional coolness that so many dramatic princesses could use once in a while.

Secondly, all this rough and tumble has an effect on your body. If you love looking good, having curves and leanness and good skin and lustrous hair, then you may be surprised to know that under the dungarees, dusty hair and makeup-less face, the tomboy has it in spades. Humans are meant to be physically active. Otherwise in the wild we would starve or be eaten, die of cold or drown. We need endurance, muscle and lightness. So it’s not really surprising that the sort of figure we find most attractive in a woman, be we male or female, straight or gay, is a lean one with a bit of muscle for shape and a bit of fat for health. To boot, keeping active and healthy encourages the rest of your body to follow suit, leading to clearer skin, better hair and nails and brighter eyes. In short, playing football, going hiking, gardening or lifting weights is making tomboys primally sexy.

And you best start lifting weights, playing sports, taking apart engines or climbing trees, because all this love of or indifference to mess is beneficial in and of itself. If you plan to be kept by a man, then you need to add something more to the table than what he can get from a doll. If you plan to keep yourself, then you need to be ready to keep your own home and pull your weight at work. Whatever you do, some strength in the face of mud, rain, bleach, drool, dust, paint, oven cleaner, polish, ink, etc will improve your ability to be a functional human being.

And whether you plan on being kept by a man, keeping men, dating men, being one of the guys or just surviving work, some ability to relate also helps. Whilst not everyone fits into their designated “camp Mars” or “camp Venus”, some stereotypes are there because people are clichés. Most men like some sort of sport, either watching, playing or discussing. Most women have a vague idea of some sort of sport and know more athletes’ names than they do rules to any given sport. Most men keep clean and tidy and minimalist. Most women dress up and load down with makeup, jewels, house decoration and accessories. Whilst a tomboy could still dress like a woman and learn the names of famous athletes by heart, the formative years she spent around boys have given her a healthy appreciation for the things that most men like and a deeper understanding of male conversation. The tomboy can discuss the latest scores, throw some insults around, receive some insults with good grace and stay friendly or intimate with a man in a way the princesses can’t even understand.

Finally, where a tomboy’s character can often be too brash, loud or generally rude to attract many romantic partners, when used carefully it can be a lifesaver in everyday situations. Being able to take a parking space without worrying about it, to turn down a guy’s advances loudly and clearly, to eat her meal even if she forgot her fork and its a mess, to carry her own luggage, to get an annoying coworker to shut up… Being able to do all of this makes life much easier for the tomboy and those around her. Provided she knows when to use it and when not to.

As you have probably guessed from all the qualifiers, these tomboy traits have their pros and cons compared to the feminine alternative. In fact, they are actually best combined with more feminine traits. It’s better to be a woman who can relate to men, but still mother and nurture them, than to be a woman who is unreleable to men or who is harsh and masculine. It’s better to be a woman who looks after herself but is happy to get messy when it is vitally necessary, than to be a delicate doll or a scruffy, unwashed kid. However, and I hate to break this to you, but a lot of tomboys seem to naturally find that balance at some point before they hit 25. They learn to do just enough to please their partners, to get taken seriously at work and to have conversation with other women. Some may benefit from being a little more feminine, but there are far fewer tomboys without any feminine traits than there are feminine women without any tomboy traits.

And how does this balance actually work? Well, as mentioned, tomboys aren’t masculine. They’re often more a Farmer’s Wife and less a greasemonkey. Likewise, not all butch behaviours are tomboyish: some are just plain masculine. So this balance is found outside the masculine, but not quite into porcelain-doll-feminine. Expressed as a table, it would look something like this:

Soft Feminine. (Urban Wife.)

Rough Feminine. (Farmer’s Wife.)

Soft Masculine. (White Collar.)

Rough Masculine. (Blue Collar.)

Soft Feminine. (Urban Wife.)

Very feminine.

Mostly feminine.

Mostly feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Rough Feminine. (Farmer’s Wife.)

Mostly feminine.

Mostly of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Soft Masculine. (White Collar.)

Mostly feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Not feminine.

Rough Masculine. (Blue Collar.)

Sort of feminine.

Sort of feminine.

Not feminine.

Not feminine.

Soft Feminine is dominant makeup, dress up, nurturing, pleasantness, very light activity and cleanliness. Stereotypical princess, kept wife, precious daughter, welfare queen.

Rough Feminine is dominant cleaning, washing, playing, mothering, harshness and straight-forwardness. Stereotypical farmer’s wife, professional athlete, working class woman, SAHM.

Soft Masculine is dominant professionalism, elegance, politeness, business, cleanliness and strength. Stereotypical secretary, accountant, programmer, lab tech.

Harsh Masculine is dominant manual labour, frankness, bluntness, strength, pride and honesty. Stereotypical lorry driver, manager, warehouse worker, working with animals.

Of course, there is some overlap of traits, but those are the positives generally found in that personality. Therefore, the girly tomboys lie in the green “Mostly Feminine”. If you seek to be feminine, these are actually the sort of girls you want to emulate. The “Very Feminine” soft girls may be more superficially feminine, but are less humanly feminine, less practical as people. In some situations being very feminine may help, but generally, if you plan on being feminine, it will lead you to hurdle after hurdle. The “Sort of Feminine” girls are the sort that pass as women, but are unrelateable to many other women and unattractive to most men. These are often immature tomboys or cliché tomboys. The “Not Feminine” girls are the only group that is actually properly butch.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each group, so of course it’s up to you which you wish to be. But if you wish to be feminine, confusingly, you actually reap more of the rewards of femininity if you add a touch of tomboy and try and keep in the green zones.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

And you? What are your goals in terms of femininity? What do you expect to get out of them? Where would you put yourself on the scale?

Not quite back to normal. Becoming the main earner.

Well, I’m finally back to blogging after the holidays, but hardly back to normal. Which is because I’m going from post holiday cleanup and crazy earning to becoming the breadwinner. Yes, I’m still me. No, I haven’t gone crazy. Yes, I want to still work towards housekeeping and children. And no, I’m not doing this because I desperately wanted to prove a point of some sort.

The fact of the matter is, Jon didn’t particularly like his previous job and I didn’t particularly like seeing what it did to him. He’s retrained, but there will be an earning gap between leaving the bad job and building the good one. We have enough money to live off for several months without earning a penny, but I hate spending savings and we were thinking of using some of that to afford me a maternity leave of sorts after I’ve had the first baby.

So, instead, I will be bringing the money home to support us and not touch our savings at all.

As someone who is self-employed as a tutor, I am going to set about this a little differently to most people. I can’t just take a paycheck for granted. I have in-person tutoring work which will still take up some of my time, but as it doesn’t pay as well I will be reorganizing my students to the mornings. Instead, I will prioritize online tutoring of American, Japanese and Chinese students, which pays better, but involves afternoon and evening work. I will also, in my spare time, continue writing essays, novels, children’s books and the likes, as well as translating for several companies on my books. I will try my hardest to not turn down any work at all.

Jon has offered to help with some of the more menial housework, like washing up, laundry and the likes. However as the end goal is to get him back to where he was, and not to make me the main earner full time, his work takes priority. If we miss out on an afternoon’s earnings because the cooking and hoovering needed doing and he was at a shift, then the fact he’s getting back into work matters more than thirty or fifty pounds.

And we know this is going to be tough. Even in relationships where the woman wants to earn and the man wants to keep house, relationship breakdown can happen after they switch roles. It’s a change of dynamic that just doesn’t feel right to many people.

We do, however, have some fundamental advantages over people who start this expecting to lie back and enjoy the benefits. For example, we both know what we want and what each other wants.

I don’t want to be the main earner. I want to be in charge of things I’m more comfortable doing, bring home the fun money with little obligation besides my minimal £50/week, settle into saving his earnings and having babies and animals.

He doesn’t want to be my dependent. He wants to be in charge of thing’s he’s more comfortable doing, bring home the bread and know where everything is coming from, come home to an orderly house, a good meal and a loving family.

And knowing this helps. Knowing that we both desire to return to the old way ASAP makes it easier. There are no fears that I will decide I want to work and not have children, or that he will decide I earn enough and become a house-husband. Because our desires are out in the open. We like what we’ve done until now and we can’t wait until we get back to it.

On the other hand, not worrying about each other has also made us aware of our and each other’s vulnerabilities. Which isn’t actually a bad thing.

I have never 100% supported myself. I probably could, but I never wanted, had or managed to. From parents, to benefits, to student loans, to Jon, I have always had something I can rely on, a background income that supports me and that I can fall back on if I mess up. Not so here. I must reliably bring in £900/month at least to support us. Which isn’t so awful, but is very scary as a first-time situation, especially as I am going from being supported to doing the supporting.

Jon hasn’t been unemployed since he was 14. He always had the opportunity to choose parental care, benefits and loans over his own blood, sweat and tears, but he never wanted it. He did his very best to rely on as few people as possible. And for the first time in a decade and a half, he is having to rely on someone for financial support. He has to trust me to bring money home without a guaranteed paycheck, to cover our basics and hand him the money he needs without causing a fuss.

We are both going from the known into the unknown, and however much anyone else has worked or not worked, no matter how much our situation is anyone else’s everyday, we are making ourselves vulnerable by walking into an unfamiliar situation.

And all of this makes trust absolutely implicit. You can’t do this without trust. And not the “Sups told me online that trust is vital to financial wellbeing, so you have to just trust me” kind. I mean the actual, observable kind. Think back to when you did that “trust fall” game in school, scouts or even at work. If someone dropped you, caught you and dropped you or refused to let you catch them, people became distant towards them. In principle, it was more of an empathy test than a teamwork test, but the results hold true for anyone. If you fell and someone didn’t catch you, why are you going to throw yourself down when they’re the only one who can break your fall?

We had an incident that briefly scared Jon. I am paranoid about money. Won’t spend a penny if no money’s going in, work on budgeting to save fractions of costs, will deprive myself of things I want if it involves using a card or breaking a large note, won’t trust myself with credit or loans. Paranoid. I’m a person who saves two grand a year on welfare and one grand over Christmas. Which is why I’m writing a money-saving book. But also why I hesitated when it was my turn to get £70 out of the bank to replenish the at-home cash funds. Just for a moment. Just because I hadn’t worked much over the holidays and was wondering how the account was holding up, whether all the students had paid, etc. And he was scared. Because, no matter how normal it is for me to hesitate at the idea of breaking into my account, he was already in a state of concern and he can’t read my mind to divine what the hesitation was. At that moment I, as the soon-to-be-primary-earner was refusing him, in a position of vulnerability, the resources he needed. And that worried him. He was falling and didn’t see how I could catch him. After talking it through, we went to check my account to make sure the money was still doing fine and to get out the notes we needed. Once I had seen the amount, told him how much it had gone up by thanks to December payments and given him the notes, it was on the mend. He had fallen and I had caught him. But that is the sort of trust this requires. Not just promises or hugs: hard, physical evidence of trust in each other.

With all that in mind, am I worried? Absolutely, even if a lot less than when we first discussed this. I’d be crazy if I wasn’t. I feel like when I first moved house. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to mess this up. I need an adult!” But it’ll work out. And at least we know what the hurdles will be when we come to them.

In order to make sure we do well, my goals are:

-make £900/month minimum

-keep the house in order when Jon’s busy

-keep patient with Jon, even if both of us are feeling insecure and neither of us can offer the other proper support at times

-remind myself this is temporary and keep focused on when we’ll be back to normal and able to relax again

Anyway, due to all this the blogging may be hit and miss, but I’ll try my hardest to keep it, like the housework and general socializing, at least at a normal level.

Here’s to a busy New Year and semi-frequent updates on how I do as the main earner!

Two Weeks in the Life of the Rural Housewife.

Two Weeks in the Life of the Rural Housewife.

“So what is it you do all day?”

Two Weeks in the Life of the Rural Housewife.

See Also:

Elspeth’s Week in the Life of a Suburban Housewife.

A Week in the Life of Hearthie.

Introduction.

Inspired by LGR’s extract from “A Lesser Life” and Elspeth’s counterpoint, I decided to actually document what I do over the course of two weeks. Now, I am under no illusions that I work more hours than Jon or that my work is harder. He is by far making the greater sacrifice to keep us in this house and guarantee our happiness. However, I don’t believe I spend all day messing around online either. I predict that this will show that either online time or art time is a bit excessive, if not both, but I am hoping it will be a realistic illustration into the life of a woman who works hard at home to improve the couple’s financial situation, leisure time and independence.

End of Fortnight Review.

[Seeing as the records below are a bit too much to expect anyone with a half-lively mind to read, I’d recommend at least going through one day so that this will make sense.]

So, as predicted I do actually spend most of the day on chores. I don’t whiz through the housework by half eight or nine and sit around blogging all day. But why is it that I kept so busy?

  1. Of course, my main tasks aren’t many more than a 50s housewife’s. And, having no children, they are lessened and made easier. But the more personal jobs and the little jobs around the sides really do add up. Every child, pet and square foot of garden, for example, mean something that needs attending to at least once per day. Having no children means that all I have is the garden and the pets. But that’s still time.
  2. Seeing as Jon is the main earner and has other things to do when he gets home, that means cooking and buying food in fall on me. Shopping economically, foraging, preserving and cooking all take a reasonable amount of time.
  3. Then we have the secretarial tasks. Even without my work, there would still be emails to send, eBay sales to manage, phonecalls to make and research to do. Things Jon doesn’t have the time or means to do when he’s at work. We also have the tasks that just build up, or happen. Tidying is a day-long job, especially  when many other tasks are being done or when it’s more than just yourself in the house. Cooked lunch? Time to tidy. Child/pet emptied a laundry hamper? Time to tidy. Lessons ended? Time to tidy. Putting things back in their right places keeps a house neat and comfortable and saves a whole weekend of organizing, but it does add up over the day. It’s like you’re playing a continual game of tug-o-war against mess and dirt, where letting your guard down for a day or so loses you a disproportionate amount of ground.
  4. And finally, the work doesn’t really end in the morning, or at lunch, or when we go to work or when hubby gets home. It only truly ends when we go to bed or go to sleep.

However none of this is bad. We seem to associate chores with the stress and pain of being forced to do them as a child, or having to do them after a long day of work, but these are not punishments: they’re jobs that need doing. There’s a reason that suffragette housewives going on strike actually had an effect. When the children aren’t dressed or fed properly, when they miss school or don’t do their homework, that’s abuse. When the house is dirty, moldy and damp, that’s unhygienic. When everything is out of place, that’s stressful. When the animals aren’t properly cared for, that’s cruelty. When the garden grows wild that’s a waste. Your house is where you recharge your batteries after a stressful day, hide from people and things you don’t want to see, raise your children, keep your more precious belongings. All this is what makes it a home to most people. A house in disarray provides no shelter or comfort. And maybe when it’s just the one person you can keep on top of the basics so that it’s at least accommodating after a day at work. But the more you add to a house the more needs taking care of, especially when you add more people. When you want a large home, an attractive garden, good meals, many children, dinner parties and plenty of spare time after work to relax and recharge for the next day, someone needs to keep everything tidy, every room clean, every living being fed and happy, so that everyone else can relax. When there are no housewives, everyone must pull more weight than before, either to pay for someone to do their work or to do their jobs in their own free time.

Of course, it sounds like the fairer option, but it’s arguably the least economically wise. When first thing after coming home you must do the laundry, set the table and feed the cat, you look forward to your home less and less, regardless of whether you’re a CEO or a schoolchild. People are less motivated to do well in their more stressful endeavors when they come home to even more stress. When you hire a nanny, a housekeeper and a gardener and eat out all the time you are costing yourself money, no matter how many extra hours you put in to pay for it. When the house degrades there is nothing pleasant to come home to, so the household dynamics degrade also and everyone spends more time outside the house, making almost everything under the roof unnecessary.

So a good housewife is neither a lazy parasite taking in someone’s hard-earned cash and playing bridge all day, nor an underpaid, overworked maid. A housewife is simply a different beast entirely to an employed or unemployed person. A housewife has more free time between 8 and 5 than an office-worker, but does by far more hours of work than someone who is unemployed. The work-day starts when the eyes open and ends when they close, but is nicely divided up with coffee-breaks, TV shows and bonding time with a healthy, happy family. Of course, a housewife’s work is not directly moneyed, however it can encourage the earners to put in more hours, not take days off for secretarial work and finish their work in good time, which results in more household money, which earns her keep. The results are similar to those of being employed in a well-paid job. A businessperson may earn a lot of money, but spend a large portion of it on house maintenance, travel, meals out, nannies and daycare with a comfortable remainder for leisure. The housewife earns the remainder by proxy, through the extra work the earner can put in, has all the jobs done and saves the money that would have been spent on labour. The only missing variable is tax. Likewise, a housewife’s work is not a back-breaking, dull job nobody would ever enjoy. Many people choose house maintenance, cookery, childcare, animal keeping or gardening as their moneyed jobs. Of course, housekeeping is a job that encompasses many small jobs and there are jobs that we don’t like, but the variety is welcome and every form of work has jobs you would rather not do. Housekeeping is just another job in most ways: you earn your quality of life, you are free to leave and find another job, you can fit in a second job, there are parts you like and dislike, you have work time and downtime. In fact, as a tutor working from home, it’s very similar to being self-employed: you work your own hours, your breaks are longer, you may work two or ten hours a day, you may have a quiet week or a busy one and finally, you’re completely at the mercy of your own prior choices, of other humans with no obligation to pay you, of sheer chance. But many people will likely view the tutoring work as a more noble and valuable pursuit than the housework. And the main reason is that the tutoring provides cold, hard cash. Even if it provides less for me, I am helping strangers to meet their goals for which I will receive nothing but monetary reward, where my earnings are inconsistent and dependent on people to whom it matters nothing whether or not I eat. But I guess money is more important than suck fickle things as stability, home, family, happiness or fulfillment.

My conclusion? Jon definitely does the lion’s share of the work. He puts up with a work environment he doesn’t enjoy, he can’t just cancel a week because he feels a bit unwell, he brings home the consistent and usually the largest paycheck. As such he is the master of the house, he gets more say in what happens over the weekend, he always gets asked about larger expenses before they happen and he even gets a say in whether or not I’m allowed to take time off my tutoring work. He is the financial pillar of the household and that earns him some respect. However I also work hard to pull my weight, not out of some desire to outcompete him, to balm my guilt or to feel like I’m smashing some magical social force. It’s because we’re a team. The work we do should complement each other, so as to better the quality of life shared by the household. He is our financial pillar. His time and energy is dedicated to work that means a stable income that is high enough to support us both even if I weren’t working at all. I am our leakage manager and financial bolster. My time and energy is dedicated to work that saves us money and makes some extra money on the side. Both improve our quality of life. It is not a zero-sum-game where someone wins and someone loses, but a self-regenerating cycle of brilliance: He brings home the paycheck so we can afford a large house with a garden. Having the space, I made a spare room into a classroom so I could work from home and earn us more money. As I can afford to work from home I have eliminated any travel costs and time associated with work. This means I earn more money per hour, which results in more time to invest into housework. This means Jon doesn’t have to do any housework at all. This means he has both more time to put into work and more time to put into leisure. Which means even more money for the household. Which gives me time to forage, tend to chickens, grow our own food, hunt for bargains and plan leisure time. Which allows us to live a very high quality life. We eat largely fresh meat and vegetables. We get home-baked bread, assorted fish, game, berries, nuts and cakes. We have a weights room equipped with barbells, dumbbells and stands as well as other assorted items and we make regular use of it. We have National Trust and RSPB memberships. We go to London from time to time. We have a well-kept, attractive garden that provides us with fruit, vegetables and eggs from our hens as well as a place to sit outside and enjoy a cider in the Summer. We go on long walks, we hold dinner parties, our house is nicely decorated and furnished with everything we need and desire, our wine stand is stocked as is our bookshelf. We’re planning for a child, for some job changes, for a smallholding. We further each other as well as ourselves. It’s a joint endeavour. And whilst that’s not what a housewife necessarily does, it’s what a housekeeper should do.

The Records.

Monday 15th September.

6:30- Alarm went off. Very tired from last night. Woke up, turned it off, dozed.

7:00- Got out of bed. Changed hens’ water, fed hens, opened the coop. Fed cat, put kettle on.

7:20- Returned to bed with Jon.

9:00- Woke up properly, responded to a few emails.

9:15- Blog, started writing this.

9:30- Got up, washed and dressed. Tidied house (make the bed, put away dirty and bed clothes, put some posters up, take cups downstairs, put cat toys away, take everything to its respective room, clean litter tray, put away food in pots), washed dishes, put away laundry, put new load of laundry through. Film in background (Dreamworks Short Stories and The Eye).

11:00- Sent students homework. Ate quick breakfast (2 pre-prepared hard boiled eggs, cream cheese and cucumber on home-made spiced bread) whilst working.

11:25- Prepped Jon’s supplement pillbox for the week. Changed the bins.

11:30- Making jam. Continue with film (The Eye).

12:50- Found spare car keys and WD-40 for Jon as his main set of keys got jammed in the lock. Made tea.

13:00- Heated curry for Jon’s lunch and stew for mine. Had lunch with Jon.

13:30- Continued making jam.

14:10- Ran out of jars for jam. Tidied up. Looking for more jars on eBay. Mess around online.

14:30- Hung up washed laundry. Changed hens’ bedding. Let hens range on lawn. Tidied house.
15:00- Messing around online.16:00- Checked hens. Collected peas and beans for dinner.

16:20- Checked tutoring sites for more potential students.

16:25- Started listing eBay items.

16:40- Washed dishes, sorted computer problem.

17:40- Herded hens back to coop.

17:50- Prepared dinner. Messing around online.

19:00- Started weights with Jon.

20:00- Put hens to bed. Had dinner. Watched TV with Jon.

22:30- Went to bed.

Tuesday 16th September.

7:00- Got up. Fed hens and cat. Cleaned litter-tray. Got breakfast ready and put kettle on.

7:10- Had breakfast.

7:45- Let hens out into garden. Saw Jon off. Showered. Cleaned bathroom.

8:05- Tidied bedroom, moved everything to its respective place, washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen surfaces. (Film: Dark Skies.)

9:00- Made stew, messing around online.

9:35- Blogged.

10:30- Tidied the garden.

12:30- Finished stew, blogged, made shopping list.

12:50- Made tea, had lunch.

13:30- Headed into town to do shopping, banking, etc. Gathered hazelnuts on the walk home.

17:25- Got home. Tidied the shopping away. Put the hens in the run.

17:45- Made jam.

19:30- Watching TV with Jon.

20:00- Made dinner. Started shelling hazelnuts.

22:00- To bed.

Wednesday 17th September.

7:00- Got up. Fed hens, fed cat, cleaned litter-tray, had breakfast, let hens out.

8:00- Relaxed a little.

9:00- Got dressed. Tidied laundry away. Tidied everything back into its place.

9:50- Working out lunch recipes.

10:10- Shelling hazelnuts.

11:00- Preparing lunch.

12:00- Lunch in oven, shelling hazelnuts.

12:50- Had lunch.

13:30- Shelling hazelnuts.

14:30- Messing around online.

15:00- Tidying kitchen and washing plates.

15:45- DIY jobs.

16:30- Blogging.

17:25- Put hens into coop, open gate.

17:30- Shave legs, tend to nails. Film in bg (Wilderness).

18:15- Walk dogs, collect pears.

19:00- Weights with Jon. Put hens to bed.

20:15- Dinner.

21:00- Relaxing.

22:30- Bedtime.

Thursday 18th September.

7:00- Woke up, fed cat, fed hens, cleaned litter tray.

7:20- Back to bed. DOMS.

10:00- Got up. Washed patio, let hens out, washed dishes, tidied bedroom.

10:40- Blogging, making list of tasks.

11:10- Breakfast.

11:30- Making bread, pie, roasting hazelnuts.

12:50- Made lunch for Jon. Watched TV.

13:30- Tidying up after lunch.

14:00- Started chutney.

14:30- Tidied garden, put out bins.

14:45- Messing around online.

16:00- Finishing legs and nails.

17:00- Tidied beauty bag away, looking for pullets.

17:25- Tidied kitchen some more.

17:50- Put hens to bed.

18:00- Showered, made fish stew.

18:30- Messing around online.

19:00- Skype Dad.

20:00- Watch TV.

22:00- Bed.

Friday 19th September.

7:00- Got up, fed cat, cleaned litter tray. Got dressed.

7:30- Fed hens, let them out.

7:45- Prepared classroom.

8:10- Sorted emails, blog.

8:30- Lesson started.

10:30- Lesson ended. Coffee break.

10:45- Next lesson started.

11:30- Lesson ended.

11:45- Cleaning kitchen, washing dishes.

12:15- Messing around online.

12:50- Lunch with Jon.

13:30- Messing around online.

14:30- Emails.

15:00- Lesson starts.

17:00- Lesson ends. Tidying up classroom.

17:30- Feed cat. Have tea. Make shopping list.

18:00- Go shopping.

18:45- Walk dogs.

19:00- Mess around online.

20:00- Dinner.

21:00- Put cat and hens to bed. Watch TV,

22:00- Bed.

Saturday 20th September.

6:30- Get up, feed cat, feed hens, let hens out, clean litter tray. Back to bed.

9:15- Get up and dressed.

9:30- Prepare lesson.

10:00- Lesson starts.

12:00- Lesson ended. Tidying classroom.

12:15- Make and have a sandwich.

12:30- Go to post a letter with Jon.

13:00- Blogging.

13:25- Tidy kitchen, start stew and chutney.

13:40- Blogging.

14:30- Weights with Jon.

16:00- Emails and homework. Lesson plans.

18:30- Walk dogs.

19:00- Messing around online.

20:00- Made chutney. Tidied kitchen.

21:00- Blogging. Messing around online.

21:50- Tidying kitchen and living room, photographing selling things for eBay.

22:30- To bed.

Sunday 21st September:

7:15- Got up, fed cat, fed hens, cleaned litter tray, put kettle on, put rubbish out, let hens into garden.

7:45- Back to bed.

9:00- Got up, got dressed, tidied bedroom, made Jon breakfast, had tea.

10:00- Went shopping and foraging.

12:30- Got home, unpacked, tidying kitchen.

13:30- Shelling hazelnuts.

14:30- Make Jon lunch. Shelling hazelnuts.

15:15- Messing around online.

15:30- Hoovering, laundry.

16:35- Put up sign on gate.

16:55- Making Jon tea, weights.

17:30- Dinner at Pat’s.

19:10- Home, drinks and a film.

21:00- Make tea, put the cat to bed.

22:00- Bed, drinks, TV.

Monday 22nd September:

6:45- Got up, started breakfast, fed cat and hens.

7:15- Sat with Jon.

8:00- Emails, eBay, messing around online.

9:00- Got dressed, tidied house.

9:20- Put laundry out.

9:30- Washed dishes, tidied kitchen.

9:50- Prepared lesson.

10:00- Lesson.

12:00- Lesson ended, tidied up.

12:10- Made lunch.

12:50- Lunch with Jon.

13:30- Let hens out.

13:35- Getting changed. Tidied kitchen, did dishes.

14:10- Messing around online.

14:30- Change chicken coop.

15:00- Go to town. Drs, shop, hazelnuts.

18:00- Home. Made stew.

19:00- Shelling hazelnuts.

20:30- Had dinner. Messed around online.

21:20- To bed.

Tuesday 21st September.

7:00- Got up, fed cat and hens, showered, back to bed.

9:45- Got up and dressed, let hens into garden, collected herbs.

10:00- Baking.

12:00- Making lunch.

12:50- Lunch with Jon.

13:30- Preparing for lessons.

14:00- Lessons.

18:00- Lessons over. Tidying classroom, sending homework. Fed cat.

19:00- Cooking.

19:30- Relaxing evening with Jon.

22:30- To bed.

Wednesday 24th September.

7:15- Got up, fed hens, fed cat, sorted breakfast and teas.

7:45- Prepared for lessons.

8:30- Lessons.

11:30- Lessons over. Sent homework, making lunch.

12:50- Lunch with Jon.

13:30- Planning next lesson. Blogging.

14:00- Lesson starts.

15:30- Lesson ends. Tidying classroom, sending homework, checking eBay.

16:00- Doing some research for Jon.

16:45- Relaxing, painting. Watching Goosebumps.

17:30- Make tea. Sit with Jon.

18:30- Painting. Watching Goosebumps.

20:00- Making dinner. Eating dinner.

22:00- Bed.

Thursday 25th September.

7:05- Fed cat, fed hens, put kettle on, made breakfast.

7:45- Got dressed, did laundry. Watching Goosebumps.

8:25- Did dishes, tidied kitchen, sorted emails.

9:15- Painting, watching Goosebumps.

10:30- Tidying, cooking.

11:47- Blogging, phone calls, cooking.

12:20- Making lunch.

12:50- Lunch with Jon.

13:30- Preparing for lessons.

14:00- Lessons start.

17:45- Lessons end.

18:00- Blogging.

18:40- Laundry.

19:00- Relaxing, watching TV, blogging.

20:05- Heating dinner.

21:00- Attending to hens.

22:00- To bed.

23:00- Shower. Back to bed.

Friday 26th September.

6:45- Got up, fed hens, let hens out, treated injured hen, fed cat.

7:05- Packed Jon’s bag. Having coffee with Jon.

7:45- Let the car out. Blogging.

8:00- Messing around online.

9:00- Depressive peak. Forced crying so as to get it out of the way before work.

9:35- Preparing for lessons.

10:05- Lesson starts.

12:00- Lesson ended. Making lunch.

12:50- Lunch with Jon.

13:30- Relaxing, messing around online.

14:00- Preparing for next lessons.

14:15- Lessons start.

17:10- Lessons over. Tidying up.

17:20- Put hens in coop, fed cat, prepared for shopping.

18:00- Shopping.

19:10- Weights with Jon.

20:30- Making tea and dinner.

21:00- Dinner.

22:00- Drinks, TV.

23:00- To bed.

Saturday 27th September.

7:55- Got up, fed cat, fed hens, cleaned litter tray.

8:15- Measured Jon for weights records.

8:45: Got dressed, having breakfast and coffee.

9:15- Tidying house, did dishes, ready to go out.

9:55- Blogging.

10:20- Headed out to Derby. Opticians, shops, market.

13:45- Home. Unpacked, cooking food.

14:00- Had lunch. Tidied.

14:20- Blogging. TV.

16:00- Tidying kitchen, bins.

16:45- Sitting in with Jon’s weights..

17:30- Tidying house. Preparing for lesson.

18:00- Setting up. Watching TV.

19:00- Lesson started.

20:00- Lesson ended. Tidying up, emails, helped Jon with a form.

21:00- Made dinner. Had dinner with Jon.

22:00- To bed, watching TV

00:00- Very late night.

Sunday 28th September.

7:00- Got up, fed hens, checked injured hen (healing well), closed garden, let hens out.

7:15- Back to bed.

10:30- Got up showered.

11:00- Tidied, made breakfast.

12:00- Cleaned kitchen, did dishes.

12:20- Emails, student hunting, homework.

12:50- Getting ready to go out.

13:00- Setting off to Carsington Waters.

15:40- Home, unpacking shopping.

15:45- Making stew.

16:00- Blogging, relaxing, messing around online.

16:35- Making stew, having coffee and watching TV.

17:00- To Pat’s for dinner and dogs.

19:00- Home. Cleaning bathroom, finishing stew.

20:00- Sorting laundry, packing eBay sales, sending emails.

21:00- Read, watched TV.

22:00- To bed.

Money-Saving Book. Mending Clothes.

Another excerpt from my Money-Saving Book, currently subtitled The Good Housekeeper’s Guide to Economizing”. Still no clue on the main title. Working on a cover picture though.

The previous excerpts were on supermarket grocery shopping and time management. This one is on mending various items of clothing, from the chapter on clothes.

-Holes and tears (cotton, linen and thin synthetics).

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Some jogging trousers suffering from run-in with an unexpected hawthorn bush, a vengeful door taking a bite from your shirt or kids being kids and wrecking every item of clothing they own; we’ve all been here at some point. Usually a thin tear, though sizes and shapes may vary. And you’re unsure how to deal with it. Well, here’s how.

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For formal-wear: If a smart shirt, school shirt, tie, dress, blouse or scarf gets a tear, the first thing to assess is where it is. A torn pocket can be easily sewn back on, but a tear at the ribs is harder to deal with. The best solution for a small hole which is already near a seam is to undo the seam a bit and fold it in. If it’s really quite small, you can often fix it with small, even stitches done from the inside of the item. Some of the best solutions, however, are to customize it, which I shall go into in greater detail below.

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For informal/kids wear: Cut out a piece of fabric into a nice shape and simply patch the item. If that’s a bit adventurous, you can always buy iron-on patches online, that come in pre-made shapes. Iron them on, then stitch them a bit, to secure them. A knee-patch on some baggy trousers or a kids’ blouse covered in cool patches can actually look pretty awesome and individual.

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For practical clothes: If you need the item to be sturdy again, such as with gardening clothes, jiu-jitsu outfits or heavy-duty work gear, the best solution is often to get some thick thread and just stitch it as securely as possible. It may not look as nice, but in these cases a patch may not quite do the job.

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Holes and tears (denim, canvas and wool).

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Heavier, woven materials tend to tear in a different way to lighter ones. It usually involves some rubbing-away of the material, which can make it hard to just stitch back together or patch over. Eventually, the material wears around the stitches and comes undone again. This can happen with scarves, hats, gloves, jumpers, socks, coats, jeans, jackets and cardigans. The solution to this is to darn them. If you don’t know what darning is: no I didn’t just swear and, no I didn’t just suggest giving up. Darning is a process where you replace worn or torn fabric by sort of weaving, sort of knitting, sort of sewing the hole shut.

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A simple darn is suitable for denim, socks and canvas. You usually need nothing more than strong cotton or thin wool thread. Here is where you sew from right to left and left to right, up to down and down to up, weaving the needle in and out of the threads you’ve just sewed. It sounds more difficult than it is, but is easy once you’ve got the hang of it. You’re basically sewing across the hole until your threads are so interwoven and so densely packed that they’ve filled it in. Depending on how big the hole is, this can be a quick task or a very long one.

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Some forms of darning, especially those used on wool jumpers and other Winter-wear, is to follow the pattern created by a knitting-needle to fix the hole almost imperceptibly. For this you usually need wool of an appropriate colour and thickness and a wide-eyed needle. It may take a while to identify the knitting-pattern and get the hang of replicating it, but it is worthwhile to know and, plus, you have your favourite jumper back!

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Holes and tears (plastics, leathers and furs).

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As they are not thread-based materials, a plastic or animal-derived fabric is often hard to fix. This is because most threading would be very obvious. So, here are different approaches for different types of ‘unsewable’ materials. I will list the plastic-based ones first, so that those who wish to escape discussion of leather and fur can do so.

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Pleather: Often, the thin upper layer of pleather breaks and lifts away from its backing, looking like something has been peeling it like an orange. Not a good look. The best way to fix this is to insert fabric glue beneath every side of the tear and press it down. Start at one end and be sure not only to glue the part that lifts up, but also the main fabric. This is so the pieces can’t be pulled apart again. As fabric glue dries slowly, you can adjust the lay of the tear until it’s just right and looks like a natural fold in the material. Hang it up away from other clothing, dust and damp for a few days. After this, find a polish suitable for pleather (make sure it’s colourless or in the right colour) and gently polish around the area with small dabs. This should re-blend the colours and lessen any scuffing. When scuffing is severe, it’s best to dilute fabric glue with suitable polish and “brush” it in, making sure to keep strokes going in one direction. This minimizes the damage.

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Meltable plastics: The best solution is usually to use fabric glue on the tear. If you can warm the tear area so the fabric is more pliable and likely to bond with the glue, then do so. Just be EXTREMELY careful not to overheat it or use a naked flame, as it will melt and some can catch fire. Holding it to a radiator or using a hair-drier on it for a minute or so would do the trick. Avoid using irons, candles, matches…etc Once the area is warmed, add the fabric glue and press both sides together.

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Non-meltable plastics: Trim a small, ½mm-deep fray along both edges of the tear. Apply glue and press them together. Flatten with your fingers, a spatula, a butter-knife or a similar heavy, flat-edge instrument. Leave to dry.

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From here until the next material category I am discussing animal-derived materials.

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Smooth leather: Use the pleather trick, except, as leather doesn’t have a “backing”, insert some strong fabric beneath it to glue it onto. Make the fabric as close to the leather colour as possible, but a shade darker is better than a shade lighter. Gluing so it overlaps is also fine, but remember to polish out the marks around the edges once the glue is dry.

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Thick leather: This is your biker leathers, your leather shoes and your heavy-duty bags. Things you don’t want to just lightly glue back down. First step is to peel back the backing a little. Unstitch it as near to the area as possible and peel it back until you can comfortably work around the hole. Use the strongest super-adhesive you can find and some solid leather. Glue the leather firmly behind the hole, skin-side-up. Turn it over and glue the edges of the tear onto the under-patch. If you’re more bothered about function than cosmetic value, get a leather patch (maybe something plain, maybe something cool, whatever suits you) and stitch it firmly down over the hole. Next, apply leather polish to the top and a hardening mixture to the underside. Hang up to dry. A few days later, get it down and apply waterproof paint to both sides of the patching. Make sure to get it around the edges and under the upper-patch seams. Hang it up to dry. It ought to be good to use again after that. If the item in question is a shoe, consider waterproofing the entire inside of the shoe, in case of leaks. Water inside a leather shoe can spell disaster as, when damp, leather wears easily.

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Suede: Suede is basically inside-out leather. If you’re going through this step-by-step and have fixed a couple of smooth or thick leather items, you’ll have noticed how weird the backing looks once its been fixed. This is why suede shouldn’t be fixed with stitches, overpatches or anything stronger than normal fabric glue. Follow the same steps as with normal leather: insert an underpatch, glue the back of your suede down to it with fabric glue and press. As you’ll have to use very little glue, to avoid making stains on the visible parts, get a hair-drier and heat the area after the glue has been applied. This will make it stickier, so it will soak into the patch and the back of the suede and hold them more firmly together. Hang up to dry. Buff with leather protector and, if necessary, re-dye.

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Long-hair fur: Fairly easy to fix if the area won’t be seen. Simply get tapestry thread or leather-based thread, part the fur around the area and stitch the tear together. Be careful not to catch any furs or pull them out, as it may make a larger repair look more noticeable. Treat the tear with a tiny amount of vaseline to make it soft whilst the stitching beds in. Brush the fur back down over it with a soft-bristled hairbrush.

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Short-hair fur: Slightly harder to fix, as the fur parts more easily. This means you risk your needlework being exposed. To avoid this, follow the steps for long fur: part the fur, don’t pull any out. Next, overlap the tear so that the part that’s on top is coming from the direction the fur grows in. This should stop the fur from parting and exposing the stitches. Sew in a straight line (rather than from one side of the tear to the other) going through the upper and lower layer every time. Treat the stitching with a tiny amount of vaseline and brush the fur back into position with a soft-bristled hairbrush.

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Bust seams and scuffed edges.

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An open seam or a scuffed edge may seem unfixeable. But, with the right technique, this job can be made easy. For open seams, cut the broken thread out, sew any loose thread back down and stitch together from the back. If you can’t easily access the back, sew in a zig-zag line from one side of the seam to the other. Find the fold created by the seam. Put the needle into it, then straight back out a few mms up. Move to the other side and do the same. When you draw the thread tight, the stitches should be invisible.

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Broken jewellery (hooks, hoops, chains and wire).

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If you wear a lot of designer jewellery or are forced to wear largely gold because of metal allergies, it can be pretty annoying to find the hook or a link has bent out of shape or broken. Fortunately, a chain or connection hoop that has been bent out of shape or split open is easily fixed. It is worthwhile to invest in some jewellery pliers, as they do the job best and are often useful for many other tasks; but, if you’d rather not, hunt through your toolkit and find the smallest round-nosed pliers you have. They’re the ones that look like cones and end in points: no flat sides at all. You can use them to open, re-shape and close broken links. You can also use them to replace ornaments that used to be attached to the jewellery.

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Broken jewellery (rethreading).

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It’s best to catch something that needs rethreading before it’s too late and it falls apart. Many jewellers offer the service when you buy a more expensive item off them or when you pay to have it done, but, for your everyday jewellery, here’s a step-by-step: take an appropriate thread (metal-based threads are always preferable) and measure out twice the length you need it to be, add two inches and cut; thread it through a needle; even out the thread so it folds in half at the eye of the needle, tie the loose ends together tightly; unthread your beads carefully onto some fabric (the beads ought to weigh it down and the roughness of the fabric ought to stop them from rolling out of order); if you’re particularly worried about losing the order, then remove and thread one by one; save the original clasps if possible; rethread the beads; once rethreaded, tie off the end by the needle’s eye and cut it free; firmly attach the thread to the clasp. The best replacement clasps are the ones that pinch down on the ends of the thread, but remember to wrap the thread tightly in leather or faux suede before clasping, so it will be held more firmly. Another option is to add glue before compressing the clasp.

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Broken jewellery (earrings).

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Most earring involve some beads or charms strung onto something. This something can be a fine chain with a stopper, a hoop or a stem with a stopper. These parts are known as being in the category of “findings” and the ones with stoppers are called “headpins”. To fix a broken earring, you must first work out what part is broken. Is it the hook that goes through your ear, the clasp that locks onto your earlobe, the pin that goes through your ear, the backer for the pin or hook, the hoop that the pieces are strung on, the headpin the pieces are strung on, the pieces themselves or any chain involved? Usually the broken part needs replacing, but most DIY and sewing stores and any jewellery store that sells beads will be able to sell you replacements – sometimes these are sold in bulk and sometimes piece-by-piece.

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Once you’ve bought a replacement, then take apart the earring. Normally there are bent “eyes”, chain links and hoops that you can bend open with round-nosed pliers. Open all of them you have to until you reach the broken piece. Swap it for the replacement and reassemble.

You can apply this method to whenever anything fully breaks, but it’s usually necessary with earrings.