My Four Favorite Books for Homemaking Self-Education

My Four Favorite Books for Homemaking Self-Education

“A man can work from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done,” quips the humorous adage, and in some ways, today this is true. But prior to the Industrial Revolution, it was true for both man and woman because the work was centered around running and thriving on the family farm. “Before the mid-nineteenth century, the English word housework did not exist, ” explains Margaret Kim Peterson in Keeping House. “What did exist were the words housewifery and husbandry, which since the Middle ages had described the women’s work and the men’s work, respectively, that was required to run an agrarian household.”

“As the historian Ruth Schwarz Cowan observes, the word housework would probably have made no sense to anyone prior to industrialization “since with the exception of seamen, miners, soldiers, and peddlers–almost all people worked in or on the grounds of a house, their own, or someone else’s.”

The idea that real work (aka paid work) takes place off the farm, outside the home, or in the public arena is one of the unfortunate byproducts of the Industrial Revolution.

But here we are in 2021, and this is our moment. We’re blessed with more freedom, time, modern conveniences, and discretionary income than many other women in history and we are accountable with how we steward those gifts.

In our last homemaking post, we noted that God does actually care how we work around our home and differentiated between the homemaking libertine, the homemaking pharisee, and the homemaking legalist.

Now I want to share my favorite four resources for learning to care well for the home.

If you never had a mother who taught you how to make your bed with hospital corners, or which to do first, dusting or vacuuming, without skipping a beat, the first book I would recommend for your self-education is Home Comforts: the Art and Science of Keeping House. This is THE authoritative guide for all things domestic. It’s an interesting read and one I can’t recommend highly enough.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking is a classic must read by Christian author and domesticity-lover Edith Schaeffer. This book will give you a vision for what could be if you used your talents creatively in the home. It will cheer you on to be creative in the sphere you find yourself in today. Maybe you won’t write a best-selling book, but you can still write a personal letter to your grandmother or long-distance friend. Maybe you aren’t commissioning art, but you can paint book marks for the younger girls in your church, add art to your letters, or to Scripture you display around your own home. Edith’s message: creativity doesn’t have to be for mass consumption. Bless the one, even if it’s a little one. Do you love poetry? Share it at your kitchen table. Do you love to discuss ideas? You may not speak to crowds, but your kitchen can become a place of learning and interesting conversation if you just open your door and heart to those within and without. People can discuss theology, politics, homemaking, doubts, fears, etc…when you use your space for loving others and for the sake of the gospel. This book will bless you.

Yankee Home Hints is full of old fashioned know-how and is the go-to book for household problems. Need to know how to remove a stubborn stain from a rug? Get an odor out of your leather boots? Need to know how to treat pewter, brass, or copper? This book reads like your grandfather talking you through the steps.

Mrs. Dunwoody’s Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping is full of old-fashioned instruction written as though your grandmother was giving you all the advice you’d need to run a household. Though some of the advice is dated as the book takes place in the 1800’s and you probably won’t be making your own white paint to whitewash your walls this spring or be collecting your ashes to make lye soap, you’ll enjoy the charming advice like how to carry on a decent conversation, how to write a thank you note, how to care for someone who has been struck by lightening, and caring for a sick person with cheer. This book is full of whimsy, but there is quite a bit to take in. For those of you who prefer Kindle books, this one is currently 99 cents.

Next time I’ll share a few helpful routines and internet resources for homemaking, but until then, let me know your favorite go-to books for homemaking.

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