- The Home And Its Management: A Handbook In Homemaking With Three Hundred Cooking Receipts
Old Fashioned Homemaking
I've often been referred to as old fashioned. Some of those comments come from a place of love, such as family members, but I've also received those comments from a place of criticism, as if being old fashioned is something to be looked down upon.
I can only speak from my experience, and everything that I have ever learned about being the homemaker I am today, was extremely influenced by 3 women, one more than the others, and probably because I spent a lot of time at her side. Sitting at her feet when I was just 5 years old, and then later on in life, sitting around the dinner table, sharing a cup of tea and listening to her stories.
The women I'm referring to above, are my stepmother Manuela, my grandmother Odete and my great grandmother Ema. My great grandmother was by far, the most pivotal women in my life, and in molding and forming the woman I am today.
She was born in 1906, right at the turn of the century. She lost her mother to cancer when she was but 4 years old, and then her older brother to a freak lightning accident when she was about 8. From that moment, she became the woman in the house, caring for her father and her younger brother.
She would clean the house, and fix the meals and still go to school. I've always had the utmost respect and admiration for her.
Later in life, as she got married and had my grandmother Odete (her only child), she became the matriarch of our family. She lived with us for many years, took care of my brothers and I while my dad and stepmother worked. Fixed meals for everyone, cleaned, did laundry and always with a smile on her face.
She was the epitome of an old fashioned homemaker and I would only wish that I could turn into, a tenth of the homemaker she was.
Homemaking is homemaking, and I think it's self explanatory. To keep a home, to nurture your family and your belongings, to take time to make sure that there are meals on the table, clean laundry and a clean house to live in.
So what exactly is old fashioned homemaking and how does it apply to our day and age?
I very quickly learned once I become tasked with taking care of my own house, that as much as I loved the modern day conveniences and technologies that make everything so much easier, they also often times remove the joy of doing anything at all.
When you have appliances that cook it all for you in a few minutes, that you hit a button and it vacuums the whole house without you having to lift a finger, that dry your clothes for you without the need to hang the clothes outside to dry and therefore eliminating the need for ironing.....it can all be quite exciting and tempting.
However, being an old fashioned homemaker, to me, means actually taking the time to do these tasks to the best of our ability, in a slower and simpler way.
The biggest thing?
Being intentional in our homemaking. So let me tell you a little of what that means and how you can start incorporating some of that old fashioned homemaking into your life, today.
I call it the shift.
The shift from doing certain things in a modern way, and depending rather on doing it easier, simpler and slower. I know, you may be thinking that the reason modern appliances are needed is to make our tasks faster because we're all so busy, and while I do agree that some days you may just have to depend on that frozen pizza, that Roomba vacuum, or the microwave to defrost dinner, make it a point to have those times be minimal.
Your first step?
Try not to give into the temptation of the fast paced world around you. Slow down, intentionally. Pull back.
I've pulled back from some social media, and nowadays when I have a spare moment, instead of grabbing my phone and scrolling through Facebook, I grab a book and read, or I step outside and mess about in my garden, take photos, bake cookies and so on.
Cooking from scratch
It takes time, but it is also a show of love to your family. You know exactly what you are feeding your family, you can make healthier meals and there really is nothing like a home cooked meal, enjoyed around the dining table.
My children love a good take out, but they great up with meals cooked from scratch, from the moment they could eat solids.
Today, they are the first to say that they would rather eat my food than go out to eat.
Of course it takes some planning, but that is where menus come in. I will talk more about this in a separate post, but trust me when I tell you that if you just take a few moments to plan your meals for the next week or two, it will make your life 100% easier.
- Bake cookies with your children, if they're no longer little, then bake them FOR your children and husband
- Make pizza from scratch, it's a fun family activity that everyone can get involved in
- Bake fresh bread
- Meals don't have to be extravagant, something like a roast chicken and potatoes with a side salad, is often more appreciated than a bucket of chicken from a drive thru
I do all of this, not for anything other than I love being a homemaker and I take the utmost pleasure in preparing a meal or a dessert for my loved ones.
This doesn't mean that you have to do this every day, like I do. If you don't have the time, or the inclination, try starting with just one day a week, maybe on the weekends, before you know it, you will be striving to do it more often than not.
I have a dishwasher and at times when we've had a lot of visitors over, especially over the holidays, it has been a blessing.
Recently it has stopped working, and we have tried to fix it a couple times but it is still not working. At that point my husband and I made the decision to leave it as is for now. For some, it would be an absolutely must fix, but for us, and for me who does the housework, it is not a need and therefore not something I want to spend money on.
Indirectly, I was forced to start washing all the dishes by hand. When it first happened I was frustrated because I felt that no matter how many dishes I washed, there was always more waiting in the sink.
But with some planning, it is now one of my most treasured moments.
I keep the dishes clean, wash as I go, and don't let them accumulate in the sink. I think back on my great grandmother and the times I would see her standing at the sink, soapy suds flying all over, the tap running with hot water and her hands red, wrinkled and wet just scrubbing, washing, rinsing and methodically placing the dishes in the drying rack.
It is but a simple memory, but it is also a way that I now incorporate that old fashioned homemaking into my own routine. I often find it the perfect time to pray, talk to God, think, plan, or even watching something on the phone or laptop while I'm working away at the sink.
I love my washer, I really do and I am thankful and blessed to have one. I grew up learning how to wash clothes by hand.
I remember our old laundry area had one of those sinks with a washboard, and I spent many weekend afternoons, scrubbing away at kitchen towels. We had those big soap bars and the brushes to really give that fabric a good scrubbing.
I don't know why but I really enjoyed that, I'll be honest when I tell you that I still want to get a sink like that for my laundry room, and you better believe that I will use it.
But going back to laundry and old fashioned homemaking. My great grandmother and grandmother would wash clothes by hand, it would be an all day affair before they even got to hang them out to dry, and then iron the huge pile that resulted from all those hours of work.
I'm not asking you to ditch your washers and dryers and start scrubbing all the clothes by hand, but instead, choose to hang your clothes out to dry.
Not everyone has a clothesline or the ability to hang one in their backyard, but you can buy an inexpensive drying rack which can be placed anywhere. Out on the back deck or patio, on a veranda, even inside.
I love summer time, my dryer is given a really good clean, covered and sat aside for months. My clothes are dried outside, and if for some reason it is raining or something didn't get dry completely, I bring in my drying rack and leave it in the corner of my living room.
Back in the day, a home garden was an absolute must. Homemakers spent many hours tending to their vegetable gardens and therefore being rewarded with the freshest of ingredients to provide meals for their family.
This was one of those areas that I struggled with. The main reason being that we lived on military bases for the first 15 or so years of our married life.
The other reason and perhaps the biggest for me, was that I did not have a green thumb and as much as I wanted to grow my own fruit, veg and herbs, it was just not something I was ever able to do. That is until I took the time to research, learn and really devote some effort to that part of homemaking
Nowadays I can not go without a spring/summer garden. My next hurdle will be to learn fall/winter gardening, but that will come.
No matter where you live, you can have a little home garden going, even if you mainly grown in pots, near a bright window in your home, or on a small veranda or porch area. It can be done.
It is a part of old fashioned homemaking that I feel needs to be brought back. We live in a time where every other month, we are being told there is a food recall, or new scientific research has determined that the food we consume is filled with horrible chemicals that are not good for our health.
If that is not something you are wanting to do, then consider bringing cut flowers inside and placing in small vases or mason jars. It's a simple touch that brightens any room.
Consider keeping a compost pile, if you have the room for it in your back yard. It is a great way to get rid of food waste and giving back to the earth. Not to mention, it is a wonderful way to create the best soil for your garden.
Start simple by planting a few herbs, those that you use the most, and as you get comfortable you can add more herbs and even start growing some vegetables.
The minute you get to enjoy your first homegrown vegetable, you will never go back.
This is one of those old fashioned skills that I am extremely thankful to have learned. So often I see woman nowadays, who don't even know how to sew a simple button.
I'm not saying that you need to learn how to sew and make your own clothes, although, I will tell you that once you know how to do that, it is a very liberating feeling as well.
What I am saying is that you need to learn how to sew a simple button back on a shirt, or a simple hem on a skirt, dress or pants. Knowing also how to mend a hole in a pair of socks, can go a long way instead of ditching the socks for a new pack which can cost anywhere from $6 dollars to $15.
Invest in a small sewing kit, and if you've never sewed before, look up some tutorials online to learn the basic sewing skills
Some great tutorials for beginner sewers, are available for free, I'm listing them below:
Tilly and the Buttons
Crazy Little Projects
Additionally, you can look up some free sewing lessons on Youtube, there are a ton of available tutorials.
These are just a few examples of how you can start living the old fashioned way.
Look around your house, take note of the housework tasks you are doing every single day, and think about how you can put more effort, more love into it.
If you can do it without relying on modern appliances, then strive to do so.
More importantly, make a conscious effort to show your children what it is to have love for your home, and teach them, especially the girls, the skills that they will need to take with them into their future as mothers and homemakers.