Why Did We Think That Our Ancestors Didn’t Have Useful Skills?

Why Did We Think That Our Ancestors Didn’t Have Useful Skills?

With college starting around the corner, it brought me to a unique thought. I am a college graduate. So this by no means is completely downplaying college. Though I am a firm believer of going to more reasonable schools in price. But that is just me the practical and frugal person.

Getting back to the thought. Three years ago I really started learning homemaking skills. I read every “how to” book on different subjects such as bulk cooking, canning, gardening, some sewing and organization books. I had grown up on a farm, but that was just a place I grew up, not a lifestyle. I didn’t know how to sew or can back then! Some of my friends thought this was crazy. But even farm kids were not taught these useful skills.

So after earning a bachelor’s degree in business, I was learning skills about homemaking that I should have learned as a child. Why as a society did we come to the conclusion that providing for your own food and clothing were not useful skills? Somehow Hamburger Helper and “Made in Bangladesh” were the sophisticated way to live.

I love hearing stories of people and how they made it through the Great Depression. They were strong people that were not removed from how to make things work and to do without.

My father grew up in the 40’s. His parents’s family had both lost farms in the Great Depression. So my father grew up on a farm that was rented. His father absolutely didn’t want to own a farm to lose it like his parents had. I have heard many stories about the farm and I knew my dad was poor. They had a four room house. The bathroom was an outhouse.

Old Family Farm

This summer, I was asking him about if they had a food shortage or how it was to grow up poor. He said we always had enough and there was always food on the table. He never really thought of himself as poor when he was in the moment. His mother was an avid canner. They had a huge garden. His parents both worked on the farm. They made it work. The had their needs met. To this day, my father is a pretty practical guy. He works hard and is appreciative for what he has.

My mother’s family also had a farm when she was growing up. She had ten kids in their family and they grew up in town and they would go out to the farm. They grew up in a middle class family that did well. She was just telling me today how her mother would bake ten loaves of bread. They grew up having sweet rolls often. Her mother had a room in the basement that was called the fruit room. It was where she stored all of her canning for the year after she put it up in the summer. The family worked together and they had two times a year the put up chickens. My mother told me that her mother was able to dress chickens and they ate a lot of them.

Her mother was a happy homemaker. She could work in the kitchen, iron clothes and take care of her family in many ways. Back then, it seemed like people knew their purposes. They seemed more content with having a lot less than we do.

Our ancestors knew what went in their food. They knew how to get a few more months or years out of their clothing by mending or darning socks. For many of us, these simple skills are never known. Somehow chasing more “stuff” is suppose to show how much we are worth. For most it just shows how much they are in debt.

I know how hard it was to get started in learning a whole new way of life. It was overwhelming! It was all encompassing. It would not be just one skill such as how to can. It became a lifestyle. In that lifestyle, it was one step at a time. I am still learning lots of skills, but I also have come a long way.

My goal is to help you hone in on your homemaker skills. Since we are mothers, we are the keeper of the home. These homemaker skills save you a ton of money, help you live healthier and often help you be able to stay at home with your kids if that is your desire.

Homemaking skills are not hard. The hardest part is reading from a book and learning a new skill, since a lot of us will not be able to learn hands on because the generation before us also didn’t practice homemaking skills.

As a mother, I want my house to be warm and welcoming. I want our food to be healthy. I don’t want a lot of gadgets to take away from family time. My husband and I believe that a mother is the best child care giver.

I am also glad that my husband supports me to be a work at home mother. A little bit of freedom to come out and blog. I also love meeting people and hearing their stories of life through my soap making business. Speaking of homemaking skills, soap making definitely came from the years of studying how to be a homemaker.

As a homemaker, I am always striving to learn new things. I have accomplished a lot in small amount of time. Currently my goal is to learn how to make yogurt and cheese. I would also like to work more on my sewing skills.

As a mother and homemaker, what are your current goals? Do you feel you were fully given the right advice and knowledge of your hardest but most rewarding career?

Photo Compliments TMRYDER

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Jill Wilson is a wife, and mother of two. She is an author of One Income Mystery. She has a blog at Called To Be A Mom where she gives practical advice to help you be a mother and homemaker. She started her journey of being more intentional in her living three years ago. She gives advice about frugal living, DIY projects, eating natural foods, and making your life matter. She talks about a multitude of subjects such as multi-generation living, homeschooling and living debt-free.
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  1. I can not tell you how many times I have been called old fashioned and put down for my love of homemaking. My in-laws grew upon fast food and not one of the 7 sisters (hubbys mom and aunts) practice homemaking beyond washing a load of laundry and cook a meal using convenience foods. Right now I am looking to find/come up with more crock pot recipes that can be preped and frozen for easy meals. My hubby loves coming home to fresh hot meals and freezer cooking and the crock pot let me achieve this even with a newborn baby and homeschooling.but it is getting boring now.

  2. Oh I’m right there with you on choosing colleges that are more reasonably priced.

    • It can be frustrating. I have to say though, I did go the cheapest tuition rates. I got out debt free. And when I was working an outside job, I did very well most of the time. I think some has to do with luck and prayer and a lot has to do with attitude. I have heard human resource managers say the reason they like to see degrees is to see a person’s motivation to get something big done.

  3. As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. No kids yet, so no reason to stay at home (since we’re almost done paying off that college education you spoke of! Ha!) But I’m anxious for the time when I can.

    • My husband wanted me to be a stay at home wife before I became a mother. I told him no, I wanted to work. There are many homemaking skills even before the kids come around. I wish I would have started back then. It would make the learning curve easier now when I am expanding my own homemaking skills.

  4. Great post! Looks like you had an amazing family and have worked hard to be an inspirational homemaker. My current goal is to make a salary from home so that I don’t have to leave the home to work!

    • That is my goal as well. There is a secret. You don’t have to make as much as your current wage. You can make it on less with some amazing savings that homemaking skills bring- along with having a healthier lifestyle

  5. I had a stay-at-home-mom and it was wonderful, I was also lucky enough to be a stay-at-home-mom, and I took care of my niece for my sister–she was my 3rd kid. One summer, when my sister’s family was on vacation, her daughter told her that she wanted to go home…Aunt Lorelai was more fun! LOL

    Life With Lorelai

    • I am in the same shoes. I had a stay at home mom. I have been a work at home mom. That is cute how your niece wanted to be with you. I’m sure you probably worked on a few homemaking skills during that time :)

  6. I’m ALL OVER choosing colleges and even posing the military as a choice. I love to cook for my family especially since this day and age you can’t trust companies with our food choices. I feel we are displaying love for our family when we care for them literally inside and out.

    • What I mean by “ALL OVER” was that our kids will have schools picked for them. I wish my mom chose for me. As well, I don’t want them to be afraid of the military as an option. My brother would have benefited from it greatly.

    • That was well said! Good luck on the college thing. Even though I am very practical and frugal, it was still a hard decision. Though, I have no regrets even though it took me five years to graduate instead of four. I learned more with the extra classes.

  7. I totally agree. I have been a stay at home mom and am now a mom who works, but I can always be a homemaker. I love to bake and cook from scratch and garden and gather mulberries. My husband hunts. We are fairly self sufficient as these things go and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • I love to hear about others out there who are more self-sufficient. There is power in that! You know what you are eating. You live on a leaner budget. And the best thing for me is I have more purpose in my life and I am happier!

  8. I LOVE being a homemaker! I think it takes amazing skill! Not everyone can do it…or wants to do it! I love to make dinner and create something out of nothing.

    • That is a skill in itself! Maybe you can be a chef someday, besides being the chef at home! I am glad I decided to make homemaking skills a priority. I know my family loves it. I also love putting love in the actions that surround them. Cooking this way takes a lot more time and you can put what your own family likes in it more!

  9. I’m not so sure that everyone thinks people didn’t have any skills, but I do believe that people today see homemaking skills as less sophisticated .
    As I read old homemaking books (depression era and older), I’m saddened by the knowledge that’s been lost.
    I grew up with a family that gardened, canned (although I never learned how to do it), made our own applesauce, butchered our own chickens (my parents owned a poultry processing plant), and they still do a lot of those things.
    We are moving more in that direction. My husband hunts, we buy large cuts of meat and make our own ground, sausage, brats, etc, we’ve gardened in the past and put away anything we can get our hands on.
    I hope my boys take this knowledge with them into their future homes.

    • I have married one of those boys. I learned canning from my in laws. I will be forever grateful for that. Even though they all lived in town, the also made gardens. I have watched my husbands grandpa plant a beautiful garden. I love it that he takes the time to teach me things about gardening and was very patient with me when I had no clue about gardening. I agree that it is sad at how much knowledge was lost.

  10. Homemaking is a lost art. My mother is an excellent housekeeper. I didn’t learn any of it. The house was always magically clean when I was home (except for my room). But I can make all the food and bread. There is much much more I need to and want to learn and do.

    Society today loves to tell women they aren’t successful or important if they’re just stay at home moms. We need to go out and be something else. I love to see women remembering those traditional roles and seeing them for what they are — not oppressive, but beautiful and powerful.

    i love that I can stay at home and work at home. I have the best of both worlds. I have my kids with me at school and at play and I can try and leave my mark on society with the other things I do.

    I can’t wait to learn more about just the basic caring and tending to my home that I wish I knew already.

    • Rochelle, that was very well stated. I also love that I am able to work from home and be at home with my kids. I believe that we as moms will make an example. Maybe we can impress society that homemaking is, what you said, “a beautiful skill”.

      This generation is a little different. We have and are still seeing hardships. This will make some people observe a different lifestyle and embrace it!

  11. I had a stay at home mom and I’ve always wanted the same with my children but unfortunately that didn’t happen. To be honest I think that stay at home moms work harder than we do outside the home. I’ve been home with Madison for a few days and by noon I’m ready to go back to work. Kudos to all you stay at home moms!

    • Thanks! I sometimes say I would like to go to work today after a hard day of homemaking and motherhood. So far, I’ve made it :) I love that working moms and stay at home moms can teach each other and learn from each other. Some of my greatest friends were working moms. On the same aspect, I wondered how they did it as well :)

  12. I have to admit I am from a different generation as my kids are grown with kids of their own. But, I agree that we need to go back to the “old” way of life. I plan on starting back to canning next year. Due to a medical condition, gardening is out for me but there are plenty of farmer’s markets. I hope to lead by example for my kids and granddaughters.

    • I am glad you are leading by example! I agree farmer’s markets are a great place to buy produce if you are unable to garden.



  1. Grinding Your Own Flour | CalledToBeAMom.com - […] that our ancestors knew and we don’t know basic skills anymore. If you missed it, click here, it is …

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