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Traditional Homemaking Skills

post #1 of 618
Thread Starter 
I thought we could use a thread to discuss this topic but wasn't really sure what forum it should go in.

Ok, I've been doing alot of thinking about homemaking lately. I read a book recently that really spurred my imagination about traditional homemaking skills and how they used to be essential for survival. In today's day and age, most people don't really think about homemaking as being a skill. It is also not valued very much by our society.

I am a SAHM to a 2 year old and consider myself to be the homemaker. I am also teacher and mother to my dd and dog

I know lots of other mamas here on this board are doing the same things and thinking like me.

Maybe we can discuss some of the ways we develop our 'skills' in homemaking and share tips/ideas. We can also discuss how homemaking is viewed in our society and how we view it.

For example, before I was a mother, I thought that being a housewife was boring and didn't allow room for a woman to develop her full potential. Now that I a mother, I cannot imagine my life any other way and wouldn't want it any other way. I love being a SAHM and homemaker and the small, quiet ways it DOES allow us to develop ourselves.

Lately, I have been very interested in learning the traditional crafts of homemaking, like quilting, canning, growing, sewing, making candles and soaps. And also the specific details of housecleaning, cooking, and creating a safe, happy, and fun home for my family.

I was reading on another thread in SAHPing about some moms not knowing if they would consider being a housewife after their kids are grown and gone. To me, I think that I will always be the homemaker even after my dd is gone. If I can learn some more traditional crafting, it would make my work more purposeful to me. To feel like I am contributing more to our household. More like in the old days when the Housewife was something to be respected and considered essential for survival.

I also think that with the way our economy is going, there is going to be more of a need for these traditional skills and crafts as families have to find ways to be more self-sufficient.


So let's hear your thoughts!
post #2 of 618
First of all - subbing!

Secondly, I also consider myself a homemaker/householder (are those two interchangeable?). I would love to know what book you read, as I am in big need of inspiration/motivation these days!
post #3 of 618
I'd also love to know the name of the book!
This is something I have been working on for a few years now. I don't feel like i have made as much progress as I would like but I'm still learning and trying.
post #4 of 618
Thread Starter 
Some of the books I read recently that spurred this were:

Back to Basics: http://www.amazon.com/Back-Basics-Co...3569728&sr=1-1

A handmade life: http://www.amazon.com/Handmade-Life-.../dp/1931498253

Home Ground: http://www.amazon.com/Home-Ground-Co...3381210&sr=1-1
post #5 of 618
I guess I'm a part time homemaker. I love learning new skills and reading homemaking/country books. I work full time right now, but I'm dreaming of working part time. I work at home, which allows me to do more than I could if I was stuck in traffic two hours a day. Growing my own food and possibly preserving some of it are on my to do list for next year.
post #6 of 618
I would love, love, love, love, love love to be a traditional housewife-type and learn everything that comes with it. I want to be like my mom. I do work part-time and I am praying hard that we will be able to make it so I can SAHM in the coming years. I would love to learn how to sew, knit, quilt, grow veggies, organize my home, can/preserve, cook (I can sorta cook...no one has died yet), bake, do crafty stuff and all the things pp mentioned.
In a way, I feel limited by the fact that we live in an apartment and by the fact that I was not born with a single ounce of organizational skill. I would love to learn.
post #7 of 618
I never knew I would enjoy homemaking so much. People around me try to belittle homemaking but it doesn't matter. I agree with you tumblingstar, it is "the small, quiet ways it DOES allow us to develop ourselves" in a way my master's degree did not (not knocking furthering one's education).

Anyway, I just wanted to sub to the thread. Also feeling a little sad because it seems that my homemaking days are drawing to an end as we try to make the ends meet.

Oh, forgot to say what I do. I knit/crochet, do a very little bit of sewing but would like to get better, do all the cooking (we eat out maybe 4 times total in a year), I do most of the housecleaning chores (and have a schedule that I stick to) and we just turned over the land to make a garden next year so I'm going to be learning how to preserve/can. I am constantly decluttering and re-organizing to make the house a more pleasant and peaceful place to be.
post #8 of 618
Subbing.

Next year (I hope) I'll be a SAHM.

I learned a lot from my mom about traditional home skills. She was just old enough to have some of them and use them.

I'm looking forward to everyone elses ideas and insights.
post #9 of 618
Thread Starter 
Some things I am looking forward to learning/practicing this fall/winter is cooking more in the crockpot (mmmm, Can you say white chicken chili). Getting a dutch oven and learning how to cook and roast in it. Also I want to bake more bread by hand (no bread machine). I was doing 2 loaves a week early in the summer but then it got too hot. I'm planning to make a roasted chicken, potatoes, and veggies dinner this weekend for us and some friends

Next year I hope to be in a house with more land to grow a small garden. This year I did tomatoes and squash but they didn't turn out that great. My dd picked all cherry tomatoes before they were ready and the squash rotted and died mysteriously.

Back in the olden days, traditional housework included many things. Of course, they did these things without modern conveniences (like washing machines!). Growing food and preserving it was a way of life and a major portion of your daily work. Quilting was done because people needed blankets to keep warm and as an heirloom. Nowadays, we just go to Target and pick up one! It was also done in a communal setting sometimes (like quilting bees). I read recently about women in a small community would all get together on wash day and wash clothing and linens together. They did this to share the work but to also have social interaction.

I can see how so many modern housewives or SAHMs are feeling isolated and I think it is in part a result of us our modern life. We don't participate in quilting bees or wash days with our neighbors and community. Instead we purchase blankets and linens at stores and go home alone. We take our kids to playdates instead of letting them run free in the yard while we wash, or hang clothes on the line. Or help pick the veggies. Ok, this was a long tangent I just went out on......

But I do some sewing, mostly mending items. Sometimes I'll take an old long sleeve tee of mine and cut off the arms, and sew them together with an elastic waist to make pants for my daughter. Or I also sew table linens, like cloth napkins for home use. I have also made cloth diapers and wipes on the sewing machine. I made a wetbag once. But I'm not great with patterns and sewing clothes for me! Well I did recently make a skirt but that was pretty much impossible to mess up

I have done some rag quilting and love it!!!! I still have a rag quilt that I haven't finished on my daughters bed right now. I started it when she was a year old and now she's 2! I used her old flannel receiving blankets. It's so soft and cuddly.

I'm really interested in hearing what things you all are doing or considering doing to bring some of these traditional homemaking crafts and skills back to life!
post #10 of 618
I've been increasingly developing a 'life is what you make it'/'living without excuses' approach to things recently. I'm a SAHM and have always appreciated that role in theory, but I do have a tendency to get stuck in a rut (always have done, whether SAHMing or not). So I have to make a conscious effort to do stuff, and not let 'Oh, I have a small baby, I'm too busy' get in the way. It's tricky, but doable!

Right now I'm trying to learn to sew. DH bought me a sewing machine last Christmas and it hasn't exactly had a lot of use... my sewing skills are appalling, but I was seduced by baby girl's dress patterns the other day and am determined to learn! Mum sewed clothes for us when we were young, and I'd love to do the same for my daughter.

So I'm practicing by constructing fabric gift bags for Christmas and birthdays. They're absurdly simple to make and I take an embarrassingly long time to complete each one... but you know what? They look good! And they'll have paid for themselves in about, um, fifty years... I could have been frugaler with the fabric. Still I bought it months ago, so it's a 'free' hobby now and it makes me feel domestic and productive.

I also have a bunch of sewing projects which have been on the go since forever. A baby quilt top which I need to make into a quilt (which I have no idea how to do, so I'm waiting for a lesson with Mum); a big-sized hand-stitched quilt I've been 'working on' for four years; three bolsters I was gonna cover; a beastie cloth I need to hem; and so on, and so forth.

What else do I do? I'm really getting into my veggie garden this year--hope to freeze a lot of homemade tomato sauce. I do bake bread and cook from scratch--sometimes I get into a rut with that, but I try to keep creative by making goals and challenges. Right now I'm trying to learn Indian cooking, and have made a few increasingly yummy curries and really perfected the art of naan bread.

Things I'd like to be good at include that rather cheesy, but lovely 'make the home a haven' knack, which I completely don't have. And interior decoration--I don't have ghastly taste, I just lack flair or something. Money, perhaps. I'd also like to try sprouting, and use my crockpot more often... and I have a vague desire to can, but probably never will because a) I find the prospect terrifying, and b) I don't really like canned fruits, chutneys, jams and stuff. I mostly just like the idea of the laden pantry shelves.
post #11 of 618
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsMike View Post
In a way, I feel limited by the fact that we live in an apartment and by the fact that I was not born with a single ounce of organizational skill. I would love to learn.

Don't let living in an apartment stop you. I designed a website about homesteading when I lived in an apartment - much of what you can do in a house you can find a way to do in an apartment!

http://www.motherhoodnaturally.com/homestead/home.htm

Now I have a monthly newsletter tat goes out (in my sig) that deals a lot with these topics. It's been awesome putting it together.
post #12 of 618
Thread Starter 
Wow, StormySar, you have a ton of information on your site! Thanks for the links
post #13 of 618
I love the independence & sense of completion/satisfaction I get when I create things with my own hands. Whether it's a wool soaker, a table runner for a gift or well-organized closet.
post #14 of 618
Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post
I love the independence & sense of completion/satisfaction I get when I create things with my own hands. Whether it's a wool soaker, a table runner for a gift or well-organized closet.
I agree.
post #15 of 618
I love homemaking but I'm not sure about my appitude for it. I can cook, but it's mostly my husband's joy. I am skilled at shopping out of the pantry, jam and jelly making, baking, etc. I've never been able to enjoy sewing, but maybe if I got a machine it wouldn't be so dreadful. I need to learn to crotchet again...I have a bit of skill at it but I always put it down too quickly to really get good. I've been learning how to put food by, and I'd really like a dehydrator sometime soon. I have learned about cleaning with all natural products and I've dabbled with soap and candle making in the past, both of which I enjoy. I need to get my mom to teach me to cold press soap. She's quite good at it, whereas I used to make soap predomitately out of glycerin as a teenager.

I think I'm good at shopping and finances, which may not necessarily be old fashioned but are necessary. I have the patience to research the best buys out there, etc, and how to diy things.
post #16 of 618
Awesome thread!

I have no idea where I learned my homemaking skills. I never even wanted children or to stay at home. I was determined to be a career woman. I was raised by my father and his chain of wives...none of whom exhibited anything resembling homemaking.

It is truly a mystery, but I LOVE being a wife and a mother and being at home for DH & DD!!! : I give DH and his family all the credit because they are so 'normal' and steady and just all-around good people. Before meeting him and falling in love, I had no intentions of every becoming a parent. He didn't mind as he didn't envision himself as a parent, either. Something changed for me and I convinced him and viola! We are a happy family! :

All that to say, I do feel like a successful homemaker and I enjoy my role. I haven't always been perfect at housekeeping (dishes are on the counter right now), but I generally LOVE our home and have gained some valuable skills somewhere along the way. I am apparently passing these along to DD, age 7, as she says she wants to be a mom when she grows up. (I never said that once as a child.)

I have the following homemaking skills: crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, quilting, sewing, cooking (not my fave, DH does more of this than I do, but I do know HOW...LOL), baking, interior design, housekeeping/cleaning, organizing, finances, home improvement projects (DIY and calling professionals when appropriate), growing plants (although this skill seems to be waning a bit since becoming a mother...seems I am focused on growing HER versus the plants...LOL), volunteering, and more I cannot think of right now.

I am in the process of learning some new skills, too. We started a mini garden this past spring with herbs and strawberries and flowers to fill in the unused areas. We've been composting awhile, but still feel like we're learning all this type of stuff. Our outside area is quite tiny, so I have been paying attention to other folks' tiny growing nooks and am inspired to learn more. Being the family healer (for mild issues and for finding appropriate care beyond that scope) is something I associate with homemaking and I am learning more and more about this topic, too. I have a working knowledge of essential oils and some great reference books. I am seeking more info on herbs and homeopathy and other such methods at this time.

I wanted to also comment on "quilting bees". In my area, there are very active quilting guilds and free semester-long quilting classes through the continuing ed programs (daytime and evening). I learned to quilt through the classes and have ALWAYS been the youngest person in each class I have ever attended. I've always looked younger than my age to begin with, but it is commented on at least once per semester about how 'young people' aren't interested in the same skills as 'their generation'. I take no offense and listen avidly. It is amazing what one can learn from these ladies. (I don't necessarily agree with them on the lack of interest, though.)

By contrast...
My DD has been BEGGING me to learn to knit for nearly a year. I know how, but didn't recall the details for teaching purposes. I always preferred crocheting anyway, so I taught her that over the summer. She liked it, but it didn't satisfy her urge to knit. So...I found a free knitting class through the same continuing ed program and emailed the instructor asking if she would allow my DD in the class with me. She was quite willing and shared her personal story when introducing my DD in class the first day. At age 7, and this being an adult class, DD was obviously the very youngest. However, there were MANY young ladies in the knitting classes, which is a strong contrast to the quilting classes. (DD absolutely LOVED learning to knit, btw!)

I'm sure there are many factors to my observations, not to mention this is just one city (large as it is). However, I have to wonder about the differences in the two crafts/hobbies and why one seems to appeal to different ages/life cycles in modern society. Quilting is soooo much more labor intensive and equipment/supplies intensive and space intensive. Knitting is so much more flexible on when and where and how long, etc. What does this say about current society?

Okay, novel over...for now, at least...
post #17 of 618
I consider myself a homemaker/housewife. I've been a SAHM for almost 10 years, but now that the kids are in full-time school, it doesn't exactly fit (hence my username). I won't continue to SAH once the kids leave for college, though.

I've always loved to decorate. Comfy, warm and beautiful.

I also love to clean, organize, cook/bake, sew and garden.

I was proud to be a SAHM, but feel even more blessed to be a homemaker.
post #18 of 618
Subbing. I'm a homemaker, but not a SAHM or a SAHW. I work full-time outside the home and unfortunately will continue to do so after we have children (I make twice as much money as my partner and will always, since he's a preschool teacher). I don't think that being a homemaker and SAH full-time necessarily go hand-in-hand - there's many different ways to make a home!

I bake bread every other day, do all the cooking/baking/fermenting/etc, have a daily and weekly cleaning schedule, keep up a vegetable and herb garden, and continually work to make our home more peaceful and gentle. I knit, sew, crochet, quilt, and embroidery pretty as well as practical things for my family. I'm currently in the midst of making holiday presents and building up a layette since we're TTC in the spring.

I feel blessed that my mother was/is a wonderful homemaker and that I have learned from her how important traditional homemaking skills are.
post #19 of 618
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by knittinanny View Post
Subbing. I'm a homemaker, but not a SAHM or a SAHW. I work full-time outside the home and unfortunately will continue to do so after we have children (I make twice as much money as my partner and will always, since he's a preschool teacher). I don't think that being a homemaker and SAH full-time necessarily go hand-in-hand - there's many different ways to make a home!

I bake bread every other day, do all the cooking/baking/fermenting/etc, have a daily and weekly cleaning schedule, keep up a vegetable and herb garden, and continually work to make our home more peaceful and gentle. I knit, sew, crochet, quilt, and embroidery pretty as well as practical things for my family. I'm currently in the midst of making holiday presents and building up a layette since we're TTC in the spring.

I feel blessed that my mother was/is a wonderful homemaker and that I have learned from her how important traditional homemaking skills are.

Oh, I totally agree that you don't have to a be a SAHM to be a homemaker! That is amazing that you are able to do the baking as well as keeping a garden! I know before I had a child, when I worked full time, I was still considered the homemaker, I did all the decorating, most cooking, sewing and gardening. But it was only recently, after my dd's birth, that I became interested in things like bread baking, actually cooking from scratch, growing food and putting it up, quilting.

This has all been a such a long process for me. I started out on a natural lifestyle about 10 years ago when my dh and I first got married. I did my yoga, gardened, tried to make a home for us. We didn't have a baby until after we were married for 8 years! It took us and me a long time to come to terms with having a family. I had a tumultuous family life as a child, even though my mother always strove to be the best she could under the circumstances. She always gardened, sewed, and cooked. She also used to make these gigantic cinnamon buns from scratch and they were so good! I need to figure out to make them!
post #20 of 618
I grew up in a rural area, so I learned many "homemaking" skills because they were part of daily life. I was also very active in 4-H, where I further developed many traditional “womanly” skills. I feel fortunate to have so many homemaking skills, because many of the people I know that are my age never even learned how to cook.

I want to agree with knittinany that working and homemaking are not mutually exclusive. I feel very much like a homemaker even though I work full time. I make 90% of our food from scratch, bake bread, make yogurt, keep a garden, knit, crotchet, sew & quilt, keep the house clean and decorated, make my own soap and cleaners, and nearly all of our Christmas gifts are homemade too. I agree that there is SO much satisfaction to homemaking, especially when you have an appreciative spouse! I love being creative to make special things for my family or save us money. It brings me so much :!

I also found a great book recently, but I can’t remember the exact title…something like “1001 ways to make it yourself to save money and the earth”. I’ll have to get back to you. The book has lots of great recipes for foods, home remedies, pet products, bath/beauty products, and cleaning products. I am loving it!

Can’t wait to here what other great things you creative mamas are doing! :
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