Society today has painted a certain image for the modern woman. Often it involves prioritizing career over family, self over service, and keeping up with the Joneses. And, to each their own. Nowadays, it is a privilege to financially be able to be home full time. Staying home and tending to family and home is now seen as insignificant and beneath the abilities of a woman. And while modern gadgets and conveniences may seem like an advancement to homemaking, it might just be missing some very important old-fashioned skills every homemaker still needs to know. So let’s chat about it.
12 Old-Fashioned Skills Modern Homemakers Still Need to Know
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about my desire to live a simple life and fully embrace my calling to homemaking. This year, I decided to put down my phone, get off of social media, stop binge-watching Netflix during my “free time”, and instead learn one new old-fashioned homemaking skill a month.
1. DIY Cleaning and Personal Care Products
Do you know how many harsh and toxic chemicals are allowed in on-the-shelf cleaning and personal care products? These ingredients are often carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors. Chemicals such as formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine bleach, phenols, and more should be avoided in the products you purchase and replaced with natural ingredients. Read more about the dangers of common household products in a blog post I wrote last spring.
Learning how to make your own cleaning products and personal care items is a skill that is simple and much more cost-effective. Not to mention, DIY natural products are always better for the planet and ecosystem.
2. Fermenting and Canning Foods
Want to know one of many old-fashioned skills I am probably most intimidated by? Fermenting and canning food. I don’t know what it is, but the idea of canning seems so complex. But this summer, I am going to learn. I get excited at the thought of Lacto-fermented pickles from the blog Farmhouse on Boone ( which I get most of my homemaking and blogging business inspiration and guidance from), homemade jams and salsas, and most importantly the health benefits for my family.
Fermenting vegetables provides beneficial probiotics to your gut. Gut health is key to healthy living. Canning also has many benefits, one being you know what is going into your food and it is definitely healthier. Also saves you money.
3. Learn to Make and Maintain a Sourdough Starter
Having a sourdough starter is definitely what I picture when I think, old-fashioned skills in homemaking. I have been fascinated by sourdough for about a year now, and this year is my time to dive in. Check out Lisa, from Farmhouse on Boone, for posts all about sourdough starter and cooking with sourdough.
4. Learn to Use Cast Iron (Cooking and Seasoning)
I grew up watching my grandparents and my dad cooking with cast iron. My grandfather was born in 1918 to give some perspective. I never knew why they preferred that big heavy skillet to cook in all the time but let me tell you, the food was always amazing.
Now, as a homemaker myself, I’ve learned the benefits of cast iron cooking. I have been cooking with cast iron for a few years now but I have not learned how to properly care for and season a cast iron. I mean I was washing the cast iron with soap, letting it air dry, not coating it with oil to store it, and only cooking occasionally with it. Now before you laugh too much at all of my cast iron rookie mistakes, I can say that I knew better than to put my cast iron in the dishwasher, ha.
I also want to really get into cooking most of our food (minus acidic foods) in cast iron. Trying more recipes and baking even. I made honey cornbread from scratch in my cast iron not too long ago and was super impressed. If you have never considered cooking with cast iron and you want a healthier, non-toxic solution for non-stick cooking, then look into the benefits of using cast iron.
5. Grow Food (Gardening and Homesteading)
Growing food is something I also grew up seeing when staying at my grandparent’s house, visiting my other grandparents on the East Coast who had fruit trees, and watching my mom in our garden. My older brother has also taught me so much about gardening and growing food. But the greatest lesson I have learned in the two seasons I have had a garden is that you learn best by doing.
Now, in a new house, I am starting a small garden this season and will learn as I go. I encourage everyone to start with just one or two things to grow and expand slowly over time. One day, I dream of having a small homestead.
6. Basic Sewing: One of Many Old-Fashioned Skills
There are many old-fashioned homemaking skills but sewing is definitely a basic skill that is greatly underrated. Learning to sew basic pieces can come in handy on a variety of occasions. Modern society seems to rely on others to provide the essentials of the household but everyone, in general, should know how to sew.
Modern homemakers, we can fix the rip in a pair of pants ourselves, we can make things like curtains for the house instead of spending money on those things, and we can have a handmade home.
7. Learn to Live More Sustainably
There is a certain advantage and gift homemakers provide their family and society. We contribute to the environment by living more sustainably. Reusing and upcycling. Cooking from scratch, making many of our own products, and much of what I mention in this blog post.
This year, I really want to practice being intentional with our purchases and being a conscious consumer.
8. Cooking From Scratch
Growing up, I had this beautifully painted image of having children and a family, in a cozy home, with my husband coming home from work to the smell of fresh-baked bread and a healthy and tasty meal cooked with love from scratch. Many might call it old-fashioned or cheesy, but hey, I still have this desire and so this year I’m learning to cook more from scratch with whole foods (though I already do this 70 percent of the time).
A huge part of this is looking for a local farm to source our meat, and going to the farmers market more often. My favorite is local honey right now.
9. Old-Fashioned Skills- Learn Home Management
Homemakers are the CEO of their homes. The manager of all the things. Trust me, we are not just sitting on the couch fiddling our thumbs all day. Many of us are homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, tending to a garden or farm, managing finances, doing laundry, etc. So, this year I am focusing on improving my managerial skills in the following areas:
- Minimalism- regular decluttering, keeping only those things that serve our family, and having just what we need
- Finances- budgeting and saving, investments, etc.
- Routines- simple living leads to a life of freedom
- Organization- clutter affects mood and I want to create a home atmosphere of peace and rest
- Homeschooling (unschooling for us)- because legally, you definetly want to manage this well
10. Study the Bible
Biblical homemaking without studying the Bible seems counterintuitive. I notice that society has cast out the teachings of God and Christ so much so that I notice even Christians are forgetting to prioritize studying the bible, myself included. I have been studying the Bible pretty diligently the last few weeks with one of my close friends and fellow homemaker.
Truly studying God’s vision for the home is so important. Not as something to just check off your growing to-do list, but to feed your soul and because we need His word. This is a practice I feel the older generations of homemakers made sure to know.
11. Learn Natural Remedies
Back in the day, you only went to the doctor or a healer when you really needed to. Now, we are so used to going straight to a doctor that we don’t trust our family’s health in our own hands. Now, before you come for me, I am not a medical professional and am not giving medical advice.
I am suggesting you familiarize yourself with some natural ways to stay personally responsible for the health of yourself and your family.
Know the signs of common illnesses, know some at-home things to do to help, and actually study health and nutrition. Learn human biology. For example, a fever (within a certain range) is helpful and the bodied natural way to fight illness, it shouldn’t be reduced with over-the-counter drugs right away.
Again, this is not medical advice and you should do your own research. Think more along the lines of grandma giving you a hot cup of lemon water with raw honey in it for a sore throat. That is actually a real remedy. She didn’t need a doctor to tell her that. I wouldn’t recommend a home remedy for your kid’s broken finger (sorry grandma, but dad’s finger is still crooked).
12. Practice Self-Care
One of the most important tasks of the modern homemaker is to take care of herself. Modern times are different. We don’t have a community mindset anymore and the village our grandparents had doesn’t seem to exist the more career becomes the priority over homemaking. So, with less access to resources, we have to practice self-care in small ways.
For me, it is all about setting boundaries and asking for help when it is available. I make sure to try and have even just 20 minutes for myself each day. Usually in the morning before anyone is up, but that’s because I am an introvert and love quiet alone time.
Anyhow, many of us are doing it all and with our children right underneath us due to the changing times. So modern homemaker, be sure to take care of yourself. It benefits your family, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Old-fashioned homemakers lived in a different time. We have to adapt while still bringing this skill back.
Do you know of any old-fashioned homemaking skills the modern homemaker could use? Did any of these 12 skills inspire you? Share below.