Who is the Modern Domestic Engineer?

When I was redesigning my header a while ago, I created the tagline for Cook Clean Craft “Tools for the Modern Domestic Engineer”. It was a play on the fact that I was previously a chemical engineer and that “domestic engineering” was an in-joke term for housewife. Since I entered the world of homemaking and stay-at-home parenting, I decided to embrace the term and blog about how I engineer a happy home.

But who is the modern domestic engineer?

Traditionally, the domestic engineer was a stay-at-home housewife (and often mother) devoted to household management. That doesn’t really capture me nor most of our the modern lifestyles. There are very few people who purely devote themselves to home management.

The modern domestic engineer may be working full time, part time or not at all (outside the home), balancing outside interests with the requirements of home. More men are taking up the home manager role, whether as a stay-at-home Dad, single until later in life or divorced. The modern domestic engineer is not defined (or judged) by whether they have kids.

Through all that diversity, there are common threads that draw us together. The modern domestic engineer:

  1. Likes order and organisation, trying to keep the chaos at bay, even though it feels futile and overwhelming at times,
  2. Is time poor – not wanting to spend more time cleaning than they have to and always on the lookout for tips and tricks to get the “have to’s” done quickly.
  3. Tries to live within their means – cost control is an important part of engineering and domestic engineering is no exception. Finding the balance between saving and enjoying life is the key.
  4. Tries to live healthily, but needs the occasional decadent treat to get through the day.
  5. Likes meals that are quick to get on the table, but enjoys baking or cooking something more elaborate when there’s time.
  6. Enjoys pursuing their own interests – with a focus here on crafts, such as sewing, crochet, cardboard, creating for the home, for family and occasionally even for themself.

Hopefully you’re here because you identify with at least some of the above. If you do, I hope you find Cook Clean Craft useful, interesting, and/or inspiring.

So how would you describe the modern domestic engineer? Do you fit the characteristics described above? What have I missed?

If you fit the description of the modern domestic engineer, subscribe to regular updates by email (with no spam ever!), or follow on Facebook or Pinterest.


  1. Good morning, Narelle! I love your description of a domestic engineer. I need to memorize it so that I can better explain my “job” to people who question the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom to school-aged children. I’m actually going to work on #3 today when I visit an Aldi for the first time. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  2. Yeah, I’m pretty sure you are right that everyone’s list includes domestic engineer and full-time mom and full-time grocery-getter, laundry-sorter, taxi, etc.

    I love the excuse to pursue my extra interests so that I can make things for the family for Christmas or whatever. I use my photography for that a lot, and I love to get homemade jam or a knitted blanket for a newborn.

  3. Love your list! I think it’s definitely a dying art. I would like to think that all women fulfill this role in some way. Clearly, some are more devoted than others, some are better at it than others. I think there also needs to be something on your list about relationships — maintaining/building friendships and family connections. What do you think?

  4. I love this post! My favorite part is that you acknowledge that the modern domestic engineer may be working full time outside the home. I do. And although I love my career choice, if I could stay home and be a full time domestic engineer I would. Until then, bring on the time saving tips and quick meal ideas! I can use all of those I can get!

  5. Love your the title of your blog – it is the perfect job description for a domestic engineer.
    I am a stay-at-home wife and mother who’s married to an engineer, raising homemakers and engineers — oldest 2 daughters are homemakers, oldest son is an engineer and 2nd son is an engineering student. 4 more children waiting in the wings, so we’ll see what plans God has for them!
    I’m an Eclectic Domestic Engineer, I suppose. A bit old-fashioned, with some modern thrown in for good measure 😉
    I look forward to poking around and learning more from what you offer here. Following on pinterest too!

  6. My hubby is a chemical engineer, and I working at home trying to get my little biz off the ground. In the meantime, the house is a disaster! I look forward to any organization tips you might offer. 🙂

  7. Uh, you just totally described me! What a fun post. Glad to know I can call myself a domestic engineer. I’m a stay home mom of 3 kidlets and I love the domestic engineer name. Thanks for the great post. I look forward to more and I’ll plan on following along. I have a blog about mom stuff too. Love the blogging thing.

  8. I can identify with all of your points! I would love to master how to keep the house manageable…and not get too frustrated when things go astray (like potty training my 5th kid…very current and on-going event!).
    I smiled that cardboard was included in your list of crafts. As a once-architect-now-Mom, I still build quite a bit…and looking at your side bar (felt car mat project), I think I have made some of the same crafts that you have!

  9. I’m a sahm (while working part time in the home as well) so I tend to do all these things without really thinking about it. I don’t know why but homemaker really offends me.

  10. I never thought about that definition, but I think you hit the nail right on the head. It sounds just like me!

  11. It seems as society continues to grow and change that everybody does, indeed, have their fair share of the work. That’s truthfully how it should be, I think.

  12. I am not really the typical. I like to craft but with three boys I tend to only do so after they are in bed. And cooking and cleaning and sewing (for practical purposes) are chores to me. All things that must be endured to do the fun stuff with my family.

  13. Lately I feel I can’t get anything accomplished. With a teething 8 month old, I’m exhausted. Work, cook, clean…all while holding my daughter. LOL I still wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  14. You expressed that so concisely…..it’s good to have an engineer around! Yep, I always feel as though I’m stretching to meet those goals. I’m coming out of a year with two surgeries so (unfortunately) I’m lower on some of these than I’d like to be….but I’m climbing out!

    Thanks for a great post!

  15. Not sure I fit any of those you listed. I work from home and juggle, homeschooling, dog training, household chores, cooking, and cleaning. Dang I’m tired! 🙂

  16. I spent 6 years in corporate insurance before becoming a “domestic engineer”, I’m totally going to start referring to myself as such rather than “Oh, I work from home”!

  17. I think being a modern domestic engineer is one of the hardest jobs there is. It takes a lot of multitasking and effort on one’s part. I am a part time SAHM and have a part time career, and it is certainly difficult!

  18. Your “time poor” comment definitely hit a cord with me! I feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day and I am really trying to make sure my kids, hubby, and myself don’t get the short end of the stick. It seems that it’s sleep that mostly gets infringed on… If I could just get my 8 month old to sleep through the night and the 2 year old to realise 4:30 am is NOT a good wake up time… Good luck with all your engineering!

  19. Volunteer in the community to stay connected and out of your own “world”. Other than that it’s a wonderful list!

  20. You did a great job defining a domestic engineer. I wish I had that organization thing under control better.

  21. Can’t think of anything to add!

    When I took a career break when our kids were smaller I struggled a bit with my identity – of being “just a housewife” …. now I am a wahm (I get to design jewellery and play with beads, while being there for my kids – win/win!)

  22. Domestic engineer sounds so much better, don’t you think? I think the learning to balance finances but still having fun is an ongoing project. I do love what I do, though and in the kitchen working on cooking projects is where I love to be!

  23. Those are good descriptions and I think most who dedicate themselves to hearth and home and can identify with more than a few of them.

  24. I’m totally putting domestic engineer on the next paper I have to fill out asking my job description!

  25. I like “domestic engineer”! It’s a great description for what all of us do to one extent or another. I think that will be my go to answer for “So what do you do?”

  26. Hi Narelle. Great post. I could relate to each item on the list. At various times in my life, I have worked outside the home, including owning my own company which had 6 offices, in 2 states. Taking care of the home was very difficult. Fortunately, our daughter had already left home when the business expanded. In fact, she, and later her husband, actually worked in the business.

    Today, I have the beauty of my business being my home and in my home. Our home is a Bed and Breakfast, and I craft for my Etsy store, We Are Crafts. So, I am home almost constantly. I can get going here in the house and not leave for two weeks except to go to church or run to the store for a couple of quick items.

    I love having my business here in the home.

    Thanks for sharing.

  27. I detest the term “housewife”, so your terminology is much more friendly to my ears and brain. 🙂 We do all those things on your list and soooooooo much more, don’t we? As a single mom I can attest to how much time and effort go into both managing a home and raising children. Thanks for acknowledging how hard the job is! ~ Bobbi

  28. I love it! I am a Modern Domestic Engineer just trying to make it all happen and be comfortable in my own shoes. I too have made a career change from full time teacher to “MDE” and part-time health coach. Fitting it all in is a struggle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! It is always nice to read about others in the same situation!

  29. Hello…When I was raising my kids #5 was so important to me, “Quick Meals.” What’s interesting since they’re grown with their place, I find myself now loving to cook and try new and exciting recipes.

    Funny how things change once the kids are out the door.

    Great and informative post.

    Kimberly Ann Hawes

  30. A great description. I could totally identify with it. My favourite was #1. Keeping the chaos at bay is a big part of what I do. 🙂

  31. Great explanation of a housewife/stay-at-home mom. This “job description” should be given to first-time expectant mom’s who are planning on not going back to work so that they have a head’s up on what to expect.

  32. I agreed with every single item on that list, so I am definitely a modern domestic engineer according to your standards! 🙂 I would add learning “new-to-me” but “old” techniques for doing things – like handmaking bread, etc. I find joy in connecting to the past and learning how things were done traditionally.

  33. I think you hit it right on the head. I hope to one day be a domestic engineer, and I will strive to be a ‘proverbs wife’. I think they are the ultimate example of being a domestic engineer.


  34. As a modern domestic engineer myself I can relate to every item on your list! It’s not always easy but I love my job!

  35. Great list! I’m not a Wife or Mom yet, but I think I can relate to some things on the list, especially “likes order and organization”. 🙂 Thank you for posting!

  36. I really love this list! I’m not a Mom yet, but I am a wife and I certainly can fit into everything you listed above. I can really relate to them all, in particular “likes order and organize.” I try my best to keep things in order, but it doesn’t always work. I’m also flexible though, which can certainly help!

  37. This is definitely a pretty accurate description of domestic engineer and I’m pretty sure I fit all the points, especially numbers 2 and 3. I’m definitely time poor on some days; in fact, I’m working on a couple of posts on how to combat that exact issue!

    Quick and easy meals are my saving grace most days but I’m starting to become BFFs with my crockpot. That helps more than I can say.

  38. I have been a SAHM for the past 8 years. It gets me upset when people says ohh so you don’t work?!?!?! Just for the records, I work 24/7. sigh…..

  39. I’ve never quite thought of a description. I retired from a full-time job a few months and don’t especially like the label, “retiree.” It sounds like I do nothing. I describe myself as a writer and online editor.

  40. I stay home but my husband and I don’t have kids yet. I am hoping to start making money from home with my blog but I know many people think it is odd that I don’t have a job. I do my best to keep the house clean and take care of dinner and all that. I would say I try to do the things on your list.

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