Thursday, July 23, 2015
In Colonial days, girls and young ladies were taught diligence and productivity. Some of the things they were trained to do:
1. Cook all the meals, keep a garden, and preserve food.
2. Wash, dry and iron clothing, and do mending to make everything last.
3. They often had a loom in their homes where they would take wool from the sheep and process it into some usable material to make clothes for the family.
4. They were taught embroidery, and cross stitching. Girls would do their needlework in a "sampler" with sayings, proverbs, and poems that had great meaning.
One of the poems presented diligence and hard work in the home, ending with the words:
"To Earn and Not to Spend." *
This reminded me of the book, "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The mother was incredibly productive and prudent in her homemaking. She made pies and bread and stews. She made sure her children were washed and clean and that they wore carefully kept clothing. If there was a rip in a shirt or in a dress, she would sew it up, as she sat by the fire in the evenings. Mothers, in those days, had work baskets in the parlour. This is where they would do their handwork after the chores were finished for the day. There was a time for everything and a time for each task. There was order in the home. This was the secret to a comfortable, peaceful life.
These Mothers had abundance from their gardens and they would fill the pantry shelves and root cellars with plenty of food. This cost them nothing but labor. This was part of "earning" and not "spending."
Today, there are many ways we mothers are "spending" money that might not be best.
I used to stock up on (many) large cans of coffee when they were marked down in price, thinking I was saving Mister money. But lately, I have come to realize that this excessive inventory was tying up money that was needed for the savings bank. It was needed for "rainy days" and for other needs. It put me into the mode of always stocking up on many different things to the point that money was being spent on a monthly basis to "save" rather than taking all that money and putting it into the bank.
The definition of "saving" used to mean putting it aside, not trading it for goods or services.
Today, we are told that we are "saving money" when we buy things. This is part of the problem of we mothers losing our productivity in the home. We are not as diligent in our work of producing. We are too busy consuming, buying all kinds of things. We are taught to buy all the time.
I love the simple poem from the old days that urges ladies -
"To Earn and Not to Spend."
These are certainly wise words, from just a simple sampler stitched by young ladies from Colonial days.
From the Archives -
Remembering - Memories of Ironing and Other Chores.
Craving - An Old Fashioned Home.
Encouragement - When Mother Feels Unappreciated.
* [Edited - updated note: I originally read the saying mentioned above in a book, but have found it in its entirety and included it below for those who are interested.]
“A Dialogue between a thriving Tradesman and his Wife about the Education of Their Daughter.”
Prithee, good Madam, let her first be able,
To read a Chapter truly, in the Bible,
That she may’nt mispronounce God’s People, Popel,
Nor read Cunstable for Constantinople;
Make her expert and ready at her Prayers,
That God may keep her from the Devil's Snares;
Teach her what’s useful, how to shun deluding,
To roast, to toast, to boil and mix a pudding.
To knit, to spin, to sew, to make or mend,
To scrub, to rub, to earn and not to spend,
I tell thee Wife, once more, I’ll have her bred
To Book’ry, Cook’ry, Thimble, Needle, Thread.
- Boston Evening - Post, December 10, 1744.
Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."
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