Homemaking skills aren’t for the older generations. They’re for every married woman looking to run her home smoothly and effectively. Here are the best ways you can do just that.
I love the awakening that’s happening around homemaking. In today’s world, we are so dependent on outsourcing everything that we have forgotten how to complete some simple tasks. Instead of mending our own clothes, we either purchase new ones or hire a seamstress. Instead of cooking meals from scratch, we pick up a completed main dish and side dishes from the grocery store.
We can learn how to mend our own clothes, cook our own food, and so much more if we simply take the time to learn these new skills! Let these skills influence your homemaking journey for the better. By no means do they need to become daily tasks, but they can be wonderful things to learn and use when you need them.
Here are a few of the skills I always recommend to a new homemaker. I hope you can learn these skills to bless you and your family members.
If you’re like me, the heart of your home is your kitchen. I cook three meals a day, every day. Even if it’s just sandwiches and other snacks for lunch! Just because it’s a simple meal doesn’t make it less meaningful.
Since I spend so much time in my kitchen each week, I want to make sure I’m utilizing my time well. I also want to make sure I’m being a good steward of my grocery money and the resources I already have in my kitchen. Meal planning is how I’m able to do just that. I shop my fridge, freezer and pantry first and find a protein I need to use and two or three sides that will go with that protein. I make sure I have all the necessary spices, marinades and dressings I need. Whatever I need to purchase from the farmer’s market or grocery store, I add to a list. This is the first step in saving yourself so much money!
Once I have a good list of meal ideas, I plug them into what we have going on that week. Sundays are great crockpot days because I’m not home to be in my kitchen. On days where you’re busy at night, keep dinner simple! Think grilled cheese, a pasta salad you prepped earlier in the week, or a cold, snacky-type dinner.
My biggest tip is – write it all down! My meals go in my planner straight away and my grocery list goes in my purse or in the notes section of my phone.
Steward your resources well! On this homestead, there’s no such thing as waste. But it’s up to us to make sure it stays that way.
Cooking from Scratch
I can’t think of a greater homemaking tip than learning how to cook from scratch. Learning this skill, I believe, will truly show you how much you’re capable of doing.
When you learn to cook from scratch, you can rely more closely on the aisles on the outside of the grocery store where you have ingredients instead of shelf-stable, highly processed foods. When you’re using ingredients, you will quickly learn what kind of substitutes you can make, or what flavor profiles mesh well together.
The coolest part of all is that this kind of cooking becomes second nature to you! You’ll be a walking, talking resource of cooking knowledge.
A note of encouragement
If the idea of cooking from scratch is overwhelming to you, start by making simple meals with basic ingredients. Begin working with fresh produce and get a feel for it. Establish practical skills like knife sharpening, properly washing produce, basic food preparation, etc. Learning these basic skills are the best foundation you can lay for yourself and your kitchen.
Hosting a Dinner
I know that hosting a dinner seems like an odd thing to add to your list of homemaking skills. But think about it – what’s the goal of being a homemaker? Encouraging those in your home. As a homemaker, your focus is always beyond yourself. In your community, the same principle remains. By hosting a dinner for a family who needs encouragement, you’re following the same idea.
One of my tips for hosting a dinner is always to ask what food preferences your guests have. Never assume. Some of your guests may have severe allergies, some may dislike a food group in general. Taking that into consideration prior to make a meal will avoid awkward interactions at the dinner table.
Another tip: if hosting a dinner is hard for you, cook a simple meal you’re incredibly familiar with. Don’t invite someone over with the intent of impressing them! You already have a house to clean and extra grocery shopping to do, on top of making sure dinner is edible and on the table on time. Don’t add anxiety by trying to master a new recipe.
Finally, consider having a theme to your dinner! I love working with themes. Instead of wondering what side dishes pair with my protein, or what to serve for our beverage, a theme narrows down a thousand options to few. Whatever region of the world you decide to tour for dinner, that trick has always helped me reduce some of the overwhelm that comes with serving others.
Hosting a Party
In the same vein, hosting a party is a great way to love on others and get to know them better. It’s also a great way to remove some of the self-perceived strain that comes with hosting a dinner! You aren’t responsible for as much small talk when there are others to influence the conversation.
When hosting a party, you can also create stations that will help your guests move through the night and encourage conversation. A buffet with finger foods, a side table with a board game or a card game or a photo booth are all fun touches to add to encourage others to engage with each other.
I am guilty of saying “oh, I wish I could sew,” any time the words “needle and thread” are even whispered. I am a paper crafts gal through and through. But that doesn’t take away the need for pant legs that are too long on my kids or tears that need to be mended in my husband’s clothes.
Learning how to do simple repairs like that could save easily save you time and money. And when you’re comfortable, you can branch into creating things like curtains, napkins, clothes, and more.
A note of encouragement
I may not know a lot about sewing, but someone you know does! Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and get their advice on an easy project to start out with.
You also don’t need to invest in a sewing machine to get started. My sewing experience started when a teacher from high school taught me a few basic stitches before I left for college. And what do you know? I’ve needed every single one of those stitches to mend everything from a business blouse to bed sheets. Starting small is still starting!
As much as I love cooking, I love sweets even more. Which is ironic, because I’m not a great baker!
But when I do know how to bake always brings joy to my family. I have tried and true recipes for bread, cake, cookies and cupcakes. And when I say tried and true, I literally mean I only have four recipes that my family loves. I wasn’t lying when I said I wasn’t a baker!
If you’re family is anything like mine, a cupcake too pretty to eat isn’t going to win you any points. As a homemaker, we want everything to look nice, but sometimes a sweet tooth just needs to be fulfilled.
If you’re more of a specialized dessert person, consider finding a recipe that looks simple and mastering it prior to moving on to other desserts. If you’re looking for a simpler recipe, try a cobbler or a trifle with store-bought pudding or whipped topping. When you become comfortable with whatever dessert you’re making, give decorating a go!
Would you believe it took me until I got married to gain a proper understanding of how to launder everything in my house? That’s right – I’m not just talking shirts and socks.
As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve laundered everything from shoes to stuffed animals. And everything needs to be washed differently! If you’re looking to develop an incredibly useful homemaking skill, you need to learn how to do laundry.
My curtains, for example, are laundered in hot water but dried on a low, tumble dry. Some stuffed animals can be dried, some can not. And don’t get me started on stain removers.
There should be an Olympic sport for stain removal. My husband gets himself in to some pretty messy situations when he’s doing yard work or car repairs. But nothing tops a toddler who had an accident while eating a sweet treat. The messes my kids get in to is incredible. But the fact I can get stains out of their clothes is even more incredible!
I know I try to live a toxin-free lifestyle, but this is truly the only stain remover I’ve tried that works on every clothing item we have in our home. Grease, grass, accidents, brightly colored food, spit up – you name it, this is the stuff I trust the most.
Homemade Cleaning Products
I understand that when you start a homestead, you will eventually find your way into natural living. And understandably so! But if you aren’t on a homestead, making your own cleaning products is a great way to save money and replace quite a few products in your home.
For example, I use castile soap for a few things. It’s my mop solution, my cleaning solution for every day use and my hand soap. This one bottle, for all of those uses, lasts me over a year! Wow!
And when you understand the make up of some products, you can begin to make other cleaning products. Like dish soap, for example.
Homemade Beauty Products
Conventional beauty products aren’t great for us, the ingredients aren’t heavily regulated and the ingredients are in way too many products for us to successfully avoid. But, you can begin to make tiny changes to get them out of your life. One of those changes is simply making them yourself.
I know that this process sounds overwhelming. You look at your lineup and think to yourself, “how am I supposed to change everything over to natural products? That’s going to be expensive!”
My answer? One product at a time. The more we know, the more we care. And it’s easy to let it get to you. But a favorite homesteading saying I’ve picked up in the last year is, “use it up, wear it out. Make it do or do without.” When you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’d encourage you to apply it to your own life! You don’t have to change everything over all at once – just use it up and when you’re ready to buy a new one, buy a better one.
If there’s anything homemaking revolves around, it’s this. Time management is what brings this all together! Being able to forsee when you need to immediately tend to something versus put something on the back burner is going to benefit you greatly when running your own home.
Time management is also going to bleed into things like meal planning, a cleaning routine and caring for others. By no means do I want you to live your life watching a clock. But recognizing what you do on a daily basis and creating a routine can give you a sense of direction that drives what you can accomplish each day!
Are any of us great at time management? No. There’s so much about time management that changes with each season of life. When you’re dating, nothing seems to matter as much as your courtship. When you’re a new mother, nothing matters as much as your precious baby. When you’re in the thick of preservation season, you’re cleaning your kitchen out of necessity, not preference.
I say all that to say – if this is something you struggle with, don’t get discouraged. Zoom out and really examine the season of life you’re in. Doing so may also help you figure out better ways to manage your time – ways that work for you!
I love paper crafts, and just recently, I have found making my own beauty products and digital design are really fulfilling hobbies for me. What’s even better is I’m able to use all of those skills to brighten someone else’s day!
Crafting doesn’t have to be something you reserve for your own personal fulfillment. I know it’s hard to put yourself out there, but I encourage you to take a hobby you enjoy and share it with someone you know. Are you great at paper crafts, too? Make a friend a small scrapbook or a hand-made card! Are you a seamstress? Make someone a decorated kitchen towel or a set of napkins!
Looking at your own home, what are ways you can use your gifts to make it more inviting? Handmade napkins on your kitchen table, a piece of art hanging on your wall or a candle you made burning on your stovetop are all ways to use your gifts inside your own home.
Learning Financial Management
If you’ve been hanging around my blog for any amount of time, you know how passionate my husband and I are about making a dollar stretch. When we found Dave Ramsey, we began applying his principles to our life. After years of faithfully following them, we’ve gained some traction! But not without making a few key changes to our lifestyle first.
The biggest lifestyle change we made was dutifully monitoring where every dollar went. I’ve become the queen of balancing my checkbook. Second, we leave within our means. When we hit our eating out budget, we stop eating out. When we run out of gas money, we don’t go anywhere. Living like this is what lets our family successfully allow me to be a stay-at-home mom!
Finally, I would encourage you to curb impulse spending. It’s easy to see something at the grocery store and think it’s a good deal. But is it? Keep a notes section in your phone and begin paying attention to the prices for everything – clothes, groceries, home goods, etc. Resist the urge to buy something just because its on sale and you will actually end up saving your family money.
Find a Need, Fill a Need
As a homemaker, what’s your goal? To create an inviting home. A home where your loved ones want to be.
There isn’t a day that goes by that someone isn’t asking for a hug, another cup of water, or a kiss for a boo boo. In a home with older children, it may be time to finish school work or a favorite snack. By being the one who fulfills those needs, you’re accomplishing your goal as a homemaker. I would even challenge you to anticipate them! When you notice someone’s cup is empty at the dinner table, offer to fill it for them. When you notice someone needs some encouragement, cook up a favorite treat. Or cook it with them! All of these acts are investments into the lives of your family.
A note of encouragement
Sometimes a little goes a long way. Don’t forget that it’s the little things, like filling a water glass, that matter!
Giving a Good Gift
There’s gift giving and then there’s giving a good gift. I give gifts. My husband gives a good gift. It’s a learned skill! But over the years, I’ve picked up on a few of his secrets.
First, like we just talked about, he sees a need and seeks to fulfill it. Second, he compares options on the market, or explores the idea of making it himself. Finally, he looks for a way to personalize the item to that specific person or need. I have been unable to achieve his standard of excellence in gift giving, but with these notes, I’ve definitely become better.
Establishing a Daily Routine
In our home, we thrive on routines. Every morning, my children can expect the same things. Going from good-morning snuggles to breakfast, to getting ready for the day, to playing is what naturally leads us into lunch and quiet time. As our day progresses, the activities change but the rhythm doesn’t. That’s what I want you to take away from “establishing good routines.” It’s this idea that you’re finding what carries your family through each day to their benefit.
Every season, this changes for us. As spring approaches and we raise animals and grow food, a substantial amount of our time is spent outside tending to those things. During the winter, we are spending more time inside, reading, snuggling and enjoying our time together.
This idea will also change based on how old your children are. My spring 2022 was spent nursing and putting one of my children down for multiple naps a day. My spring 2023 looks totally different, simply because both my children are older!
Gardening is an incredible way to give back to your family and a homemaking skill I highly recommend. But not only is it beneficial for your family, it’s beneficial for you.
As a homemaker, we spend an incredible amount of time indoors. That’s where the work is! There’s laundry to do, rooms to clean, dishes to wash. Someone always needs something to eat, a child may need nap time, etc. Wow! Gardening is a great way to get outside and enjoy all of the benefits that come with being in creation instead of just being a part of it.
As a benefit to your family, gardening is a great way to cut down on food costs. Once you’re garden is established (I talk a little about getting your garden started in this blog post) you can begin crunching the numbers on how much a packet of seeds costs and how much you can grow from those seeds versus how much that might cost from the grocery store. If you’d rather start small, simply try replacing the herbs in your spice cabinet. Fresh herbs are a great thing to grow indoors or in a container garden. Imagine growing your own vegetables and how much money you would save!
I would encourage you to track how much your seeds are, what your yield is and what your family actually eats. Unless gardening is a hobby for you, gardening with the intent of feeding your family should prove useful. Keeping track of those key things will tell you if its serving its purpose or wasting your time.
Time for Self
It took me until my second child was about 6 months old that I realized if I didn’t take time for myself I was a stressed out, irritated, overstimulated mess. That’s not a great example for my children. It’s also not helping me accomplish my goal as a homemaker – give my family a wonderful home!
Since learning I truly needed to step away, I’ve implemented a few things that have helped me be a better wife and mother for my family.
First, I’m much more diligent in my cleaning routines. Instead of letting a mess sit at the kitchen table after a meal, I clear the table immediately so it’s ready to go for the next meal. To me, delaying a meal because I need to clean the kitchen is worse than just picking up messes as they happen.
Second, I make time for rest. Sundays are for worshipping the Lord – and for rest! I get my chores done during the week specifically with the goal of taking Sunday off. I only do the absolute necessities on Sundays; usually that means a simple load of laundry for dish towels or keeping the kitchen clean. Everything else can wait for the rest of the week.
Thirdly, I stick to a routine and schedule intentional time away. Our home thrives on a routine. I’ve already addressed that. But I don’t thrive when I don’t schedule intentional time away! That’s the other key – it’s intentional. When I’m leaving the house, I’m not running errands or going grocery shopping. Those are things I can do with my family. When I’m leaving the house, I’m having lunch with friends, grabbing a cup of coffee, or perusing a craft store. I’m doing things I enjoy doing. I may be searching for a craft for my children, because let’s be real, as a homemaker that’s my life! But the point is I’m doing something I enjoy. It’s in those stolen moments of intentionality that I can return to my family ready to give my all again.
Caring for Children
I added caring for children as a homemaking skill because no matter what stage of life you’re in, you will encounter children. And as a homemaker, I think it’s important to be prepared. Even if you don’t plan on having children, there are a few things you can do to be ready to accept them into your home.
First, and most importantly, take a children’s CPR class. Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency is always an incredible skill to have. In my area, infant and children’s CPR is taught with every basic CPR class.
Second, you could consider keeping a few activities on hand for children who may come to your home. An infant loves textured books and stuffed animals. A toddler loves stickers and hard-cover books. A preschooler loves to color with crayons and colored pencils. None of these things are extravagant or take up space. My encouragement would be to keep a shoe box full of activities for children in the same place you may keep board games, card games or scrapbooks.
Bonus Idea: Learn Basic First Aid
Becoming a mother was an incredible experience for me. But I quickly realized that my children wouldn’t be able to communicate their needs clearly. By learning basic first aid skills, I was able to rest my own mind and become confident that I could help my children.
Please note that the following isn’t medical advice – just my recommendations.
First, I’d encourage you to understand the difference between a trip to the doctor and a trip to the emergency room. A bandaid after a fall is cured by some antiseptic spray and snuggles. A wound that won’t stop bleeding may mean a trip to the emergency room. Second, I’d encourage you to keep a few things on hand to help when illness strikes. Antihistamines are wonderful to keep on hand during spring. Again, antiseptic spray is another great thing to have on hand. Fill your medicine cabinet with what works for you and your family, and since we’re talking about children, keep it away from them!
If the name of our game is catering to the needs of our family, we can do that one of two ways – disheveled and frustrated or organized and sane. Because let’s face it – we can keep a lot of things in our home!
If you’re ever overwhelmed at the thought of tidying up your home, that’s a great indicator that it’s time for some cleaning up. But don’t let the organization gurus on social media discourage you with the perfect game closets and matching materials. Use what you have, donate what you don’t need and incrementally work up to something that matches your aesthetic. The priority is that it serves your family. The cherry on top is that it matches the interior décor of your home. Don’t think that the extra cost is worth the investment upfront. It might not be!
Invest in your spouse
I saved the best for last.
Your home isn’t a home without your spouse. It’s easy to get wrapped up in everything there is to do to keep a home running, And when children come along, a part of us wakes up to what it means to completely devote your life to someone’s wellbeing. But none of this will truly thrive unless we’re taking the time to invest in our marriage.
That can look different for a lot of people. Weekly date nights are always at the top of anyone’s advice list. But what about texts sent throughout the day letting your husband know you miss him? Or a note in his lunch box? You can also invest in your marriage by spending dedicated time together, after the kids go to bed over a movie or a late, in-home date night.
Speaking your husband’s love language is also a great way to invest in your marriage. Have you ever read the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman? It’s such a good book on this topic!
Final Thoughts from a Modern Homemaker
Somewhere along the line, essential homemaking skills got marked as old-fashioned homemaking skills. Don’t let that deter you from developing these life skills. Even thought we have modern conveniences like dishwashers and cell phones, nothing can replace the important role homemakers fill. Remember that if you ever think household chores and simple meals aren’t a benefit to your family. The art of homemaking is meant to give your family members a place of refuge. Take just a little time each day to make sure you’re accomplishing that goal.