When I married at a young age (Look! I was so cute!), I truly felt that I knew everything I needed to know to run a household. Looking back now, I chuckle at my naivety-- and at the burnt offerings for meals, the multi-colored white laundry, the empty cupboards and subsequent confusing trips to the grocery store, the sewing projects that were cried over only to fall apart at the seams months later!
But in the seventeen years I've been married now, I have learned to:
- Sew quite well: Something I swore as a teenager I did not have any real interest in-- probably because my mom is such an excellent seamstress, and I didn't think I'd ever get to her level of skill. In fact, one of my biggest passions now is to design and sew Elizabethan costumes for the homeschool Shakespeare groups my kids participate in. Who would have ever thought that back when I was a know-it-all seventeen year old?!
- Cook pretty darn good!: (Something beyond the young teenage girl's successful cookie-making, if you know what I mean!) I actually had it relatively easy in this department, since my husband is a talented and willing cook, as well, so I didn't have to cook often when we were first married. But, a few years into our marriage, I decided that I wanted to learn to be a better cook, and I learned what I could from everyone I know. My husband is still better than me at cooking some things, but I can pull off a gorgeous meal and a scrumptious dessert all by myself, and am finding great joy in teaching my daughters the same things.
- Home Management vs. Martyrdom: This skill has been more difficult, time consuming, and complicated than the other two combined, but I have finally learned the difference between "managing" a home and feeling the need to do everything myself. My children do the majority of the cleaning and meal preparation in our home, and with ten of them in our family, there is lots of work to do-- luckily, there's also lots of hands to do it! It took me years to come to this point, but I have realized that every minute my children are in my care, they are being trained how to become independent adults, and righteous men and women. Do I want them to leave my home ready to take on life's challenges themselves, or do I want to get things done MY way, without all the stress, the extra time, and the "imperfection" that comes from children doing household duties? I have chosen the former, and have found that my children are already doing things above and beyond what I could handle when I was a newly wed. *(I will create another post in the near future about the systems for cleaning and cooking assignments I use in my home, so stay tuned!)
In the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, the author talks about people or groups of people who seem to be geniuses, who move above and beyond the "normal" to become vastly successful in their lives. He makes the case that these people, while having talents in many areas, actually have one BIG thing in common: They work extra hard, and give extra time, extra hours, and give extra effort to becoming more excellent in their chosen field of work or study. (They also have extraordinary "luck", or in being raised in the right environment, and the right time and place to make those hours of work possible, but that's another post for another day...) In other words, ANY of us can become "virtuoso" homemakers, simply by working hard to improve and become the home managers that we want to be!
Because of this re-birth of interest in homemaking skills, there are now LOTS of resources available to women who want to learn more about this "forgotten" art. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite sites and blogs that I go to for inspiration in my own homemaking efforts.
- Housewife to Home Manager (Making the Promotion Real): It was this article by amazing mother, Cherie Logan, that helped me to step away from being a "Mother-Martyr" and step into my role as a "Home Manager." She has LOADS of great articles on her website, but this one literally changed my home and life!
- The Homemaking Cottage: While there is a subscription portion of this website, there is also lots of great free information to be found here, as well. There is a little bit of everything here, so check it out!
- The Lazy Organizer: Lots of great organizing ideas are to be found on Lara's blog. She also does seminars on organizing that are humorous and inspiring.
- Organized Home: This is a very clean and, may I say, ORGANIZED, website with lots of great organizing tips for the home and family.
- The Art of Homemaking: Yes, this is THE book that career mothers of the seventies and eighties rolled their eyes at, and that stay-at-home-moms of today can't get enough of. The latest version has been updated quite a bit, but I adore my nineteen-sixty-something edition that I found at a thrift store. (And I still find it almost everytime I scour through the books at the local Goodwill or Deseret Industries!) Loads and loads of fabulous information in this homemaking classic!
- Real Mom Kitchen: This is a great no-frills blog written by a mother who says she wants to "keep things real in the kitchen." I just found this blog, but I have already drooled enough over her posted recipes to know that she's a resource worth using!
- A Year of Slow Cooking: Even though this homemaking blogger's goal of using her slow cooker every day for a year is over, she still has some great recipes for cooking almost anything under the sun in a slow cooker.
- Hillbilly Housewife: I found this site especially helpful during the times when I have had to feed my family from our food storage using the very BASICS of "from scratch" home cooking.
- Picky Palate: The recipes found here always look so good! And having tried some in our family, I can attest to the fact that this blogger has a knack for creating recipes that can please picky kid palates.
- Pioneer Woman Cooks: Even though I know most homemakers who spend any time on-line know about the illustrious and entertaining Pioneer Woman, this list would not be complete without a link to her awesome recipes. EVERY single one I have tried on my family has brought rave reviews, and her step-by-step gorgeous photography and hilarious commentary make figuring out what to make for the next meal a true delight!
SEWING AND CRAFTS:
- Make It and Love It: I especially love her step-by-step instructions complete with pictures, and her ideas for re-purposing old items into something new. Loads of fun ideas to keep you in sewing and craft projects for a very long time.
- Sew, Mama Sew: This site run by five mothers has loads of tutorials for cute and easy projects. You'll be inspired simply by browsing through.
- Happy Things: Sewing, knitting and crafting projects galore!
We CAN improve and become more skilled as homemakers and mothers. All it takes is a more concerted effort and a determination to become the very best we can be. We and our families will be so grateful that we did!