Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Traditional Homemaking Skills

*This post contains affiliate links.

Cooking, cleaning, and sewing are homemaking skills that are happily making a resurgence among women-- stay-at-home, single ladies, and working moms alike. Some say that Martha Stewart started it all, but I also think that the cycles of history continue to turn and bring our thoughts back to our ancestors. Our fore-mothers truly had homemaking skills down to an ART, and we can learn so much from their examples!

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!)
We do our daughters-- and ourselves-- a disservice when we dismiss homemaking skills as "easy", "mundane" or "useless." Women are not born knowing what to do to make a home run smoothly. Of course, as females, we do have urges to make our surroundings more comfortable for ourselves, our families, and our guests. But like any skill we want to learn, it takes time, trial and error, and good old practice to be successful in our endeavors.

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!
  • 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/ The Ultimate Career: 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 (Now called "The Ultimate Career") 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!


  • 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.
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!

With love,
Mama Rachel


  1. you are a great pioneer my lady! Keeping the home and mother-hood as positive and most important thing we can do. Love and am grateful for your cheery attitude.

  2. I am inspired, thank you! I SO love the reminder that there is joy in being a home maker, nurturer, wife and mother (not necessarily in that order)! Thank you for the great links and ideas as we choose to be our very best!

  3. I found your site looking for enrichment ideas on homemaking skills, as I now have that calling. I love your site. Thanks!! It is making my Mad Skillz night easier to prepare!
    May I use your quote~
    "We do our daughters-- and ourselves-- a disservice when we dismiss homemaking skills as "easy", "mundane" or "useless." Women are not born knowing what to do to make a home run smoothly. Of course, as females, we do have urges to make our surroundings more comfortable for ourselves, our families, and our guests. But like any skill we want to learn, it takes time, trial and error, and good old practice to be successful in our endeavors."~ Mama Rachel
    When I read that quote I KNEW It had to be on our invitations. Is that okay with YOU??!!!

  4. Chrystina,

    I don't know how I missed your comment! :-( Well, I did have a baby on the 14th on June, so that must be the reason. ;-D

    I'm sorry! I hope you went ahead and quoted me-- what a compliment! And I hope your activity went well!

    Mama Rachel

  5. Hi I just found your blog...so delightful to see other women that are passionate about creating a loving home and blessing their family. I too have a homemaking blog...come on over sometime!

  6. RuthAnn,

    I've added your darling blog to the homemaking website list in the left column here. What a cheerful, happy site you have! Love it! :-)

    Mama Rachel

  7. I recommend craftster.org

  8. All I ever wanted to be, from the day my littlest sister was born when I was ten, was an old-fashioned wife and mother. I have a lot to keep learning and a long way to go, but I love it so deeply. I'm so glad to have found your site!!

  9. I am so excited about this site! I am 63 and just retired. All my life I've dreamed of being a homemaker. Now I have the time, and I don't have the skills! I am eager to learn everything I can while I'm still able to do it. Prayers are appreciated!

  10. Every year as a wife and mom I learn so much. Just starting to get the hang of green cleaning now.

  11. I'm bummed that the Housewife to Home Manager piece is no longer available. In fact, it looks like there are only a couple of articles on that blog now :(

    1. Kristina, THANK YOU so much for letting me know that the link was broken! I found the article again-- it had been moved. Here is the direct link: http://noblechild.com/?page_id=178

      Thank you again! (I will do what I can to fix the other links, too.) HUGS!!!


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