Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Secret to a Happy Home

Library of Congress:  Mr. and Mrs. Charles Herbert on their porch, Maryland, 1942

There are many ideas for having a happy home.  We could always use encouragement in getting along with others, following a housekeeping routine, and of managing money. There are so many good things which will help us have peace and a strong family.  But there is one little piece of advice I want to give you. It is the secret ingredient to a happy home. It is this:  Don't Panic!

When Mom or Dad are moody, things can get difficult. If the children are not listening or are causing trouble, it can be stressful. When sickness or financial trials hit, there can be a sense of fear. But if we have some tools in place to handle a crisis, we will not panic.

Years ago, when I was in CPR training, I was shocked at how slow and peaceful the medical staff was in handling a crisis.  I have also been a patient at the hospital many times and needed specialized care. But everyone was calm through it all.  I have a family member who is a trained Medic and EMT and there is never panic.  The reason is that they know what to do!  Why should they fear when they have training and ways to manage all these troubles?  This is why they do not panic.

I want to transfer this idea to the home.  The wife is the one who most commonly has the training in home economics.  It is more than just cleaning, cooking, baking, and sewing. It also include family dynamics. It teaches how to get along with others, how to manage children, and how to have a happy marriage.  These are the most essential aspects of home economics!  We must constantly be learning how to manage relationships.  People are always going to be moody. There will be moments of anger and of sadness.  There will be mistakes, and there will be regrets. This is life in an imperfect world. No home will be free of trouble.  This is why mothers need tools to manage our days and to remain peaceful and calm through it all.

I would like to share just a few suggestions in getting along with others in the home. I hope some of this will give you some ideas or inspiration for your own situation:

1. Marriage:

When a husband comes home from work, he really needs time to relax and not worry about anything.  My mother used to get off the phone, or stop visiting with neighbors, whenever Dad came home. This was family time!

 They would spend some time sitting at the table with coffee and just visit together and enjoy some peace.  Then Mother would start dinner while Dad went to the recliner to watch a little television.   But consider this - Dad had Mother's full attention at this time. She was not distracted or busy with outside cares.  This showed consideration and respect. They both cared enough about each other to take the time to sit together and just focus on home life.

These days, there are more things taking Mom's attention. There are computers, cell phones, and social media.  Just like my Mother would get off the phone, or stop visiting, at a certain time of day, we might consider doing the same with our modern technology.  When Dad comes home from work, or when the dinner hour is approaching, it is good to just focus on the family.  This will help bring peace and happiness.

2. Teenagers:

When children are young, we expect them to get into trouble, to argue, and to need constant supervision.  This is common and normal. But when they get to be teenagers, we sometimes expect them to have the wisdom and maturity of a 50 year old.  We can often be shocked by their behavior.  This can cause us to panic.  The best tool we can have for this is to set up house rules. Everyone should know what to expect in a household.  It is easier to have peace and happiness if we all know the rules.   But also realize that new rules can be added as situations come up.  Sometimes, we have no idea what is going on in the modern world of teenagers and need to set up boundaries to protect our home life.  We can evaluate and change rules as needed. But always remain firm and kind.  It is so much easier to point to a chart of rules, than to always be in conflict about every little offense. 

As children grow up, they are changing. They are going to have moods and moments of anger.  We should practice the art of patience, grace, and mercy.  My mother had an incredible sense of understanding and she could get along with anyone.  But she was never walked on. Nobody could change her mind about her convictions.  She always had incredible dignity, class, and manners, through every trial.

3. Conflict:

We all have heard the Biblical wisdom, "A soft answer turneth away wrath." (Proverbs 15:1).  When a family member is angry, know that this is an irrational mood.  Anger will pass. It needs time. But a soft and kind answer will help soothe the wrath. This can be simple sentences, such as, "I am sorry this is happening." or "I know this is difficult." Then perhaps go back to whatever you were doing. People need time to calm down.  When the anger has passed, a normal discussion can happen to resolve future difficulties.  I don't know of anybody who can use good manners or think clearly when they are consumed with a bad mood.  When someone is in an irrational mood, they are not reasonable.  There is an old saying that people need time to "cool off."

When trouble happens with a small child - they often throw tantrums because they get overtired or do not know what is best.  If we give them a scornful look, they will get more upset. We do not want to provoke our children to wrath.  But we can give them a compassionate, loving look.  They just want Mom to "make up with them."  Mom can make it okay again, with a kiss and a laugh and a letting the moment go.  We cannot hold grudges or expect children to be perfect.  

Teenagers and small children do not need to get in trouble for every single offense. We are all flawed.  Let the little things go with compassion and understanding. Love overlooks imperfection. This is why a set of rules for the home will make it easier to know what is expected.  You also want a household routine, or a schedule, so everyone knows when the meals are served, when the chores are to be done, and when bedtime is to happen.  With order and routine, there is peace.

Make it easy for others to cheer up, to calm down, and to forgive, by your sweet response.  Pride is a powerful thing and can make it very difficult for people to let go of conflict. When Mother makes the effort to restore peace, or give them time to cheer up, she will help restore happiness in the home.

4. Never Make Decisions when you are Emotional:

So many homes have been wrecked or destroyed because someone got so mad or depressed that they gave up in the middle of a crisis.  We have to seek peace. We have to let the emotion calm down.  It is like the raging ocean during a storm.  We do our best to survive through it.  Then when the storm is over, there is a calm and a peace which is restored.  This is the only time to make serious decisions - when the fluctuating emotions have settled down. A family and a home need to seek constant restoration through each trial.  We see problems and we look for ways to prevent them. We repair the holes in a sinking ship, we do not abandon the ship.

5. Don't Be too Busy:

It is essential for Mothers to get rested during the day.  This includes avoiding technology, phones, television programs, and thinking about bills. She needs her mind to rest.  If she is overloaded with too much going on, or too much to think about, or too much drama, she cannot get through the common trials that occur in the home.  She needs to take breaks and to have quiet times for the mind. 

6. "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus":

This is a favorite hymn.  I often sing this song to cheer up and get me through the day.   Our trust and our faith, for all things, is in the Lord. This will bring us the greatest rest and joy that others may never understand.  Keep reading the Bible (especially the Psalms) and praying each day. Keep seeking holiness and the joy of a close walk with the Lord. This peace that you receive will radiate to those in your household and bless your home.

There are many other ideas we can all come up with to keep our homes happy.  But just remember the most important one of all - Do not panic!  Every single person is flawed. Every single home has trouble.  This is why we should constantly learn (and practice) to be peacemakers, to bring cheer, and to provide a haven of rest for our precious families!

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Colonial Wisdom - To Earn and Not to Spend.

Simple and peaceful Home - Standard of Living.

Joyful Moments - Walking the Gardens with Baby.

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book -Mother's Book of Home Economics .  Paperback, 312 pages.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Neglecting the Housework

Library of Congress:  These sweet children are helping with the housework. New York, 1943

I was so tired the other day that I spent most of the time resting.  While it is essential to rest, it is not okay for me to be a slacker.  I enjoyed several hours of reading, watching old black-and-white television programs, and puttering through a few minor homemaking tasks.  This was a much needed day of rest for me.  But sometimes I take resting too far.  If I lounge too much, I forget to do the daily housework.  I suddenly realized that no one was going to make dinner for me. If I wanted some brownies, I had to bake them myself.

 I had to get up the courage to do the work. We all get tired. We all suffer from aches and pains. It is important to rest and take breaks, but we also have to take the time to keep house.   I told myself something I often say when I am giving-in to being tired, "toughen up!"  I already had sufficiently rested.  I needed to do the little tasks of home keeping.

Brownies and dinner do not just appear, someone has to make them.   By late afternoon, I was able to get into my kitchen and do some real work. I baked and then did some cleaning. I also made dinner.  This gave me the strength and energy to get back to normal.  I had rested enough and was so happy to have done some work.

This reminded me of how easy it would be to reduce my standards of a tidy and sanitary home. I could easily neglect washing floors, vacuuming, sweeping, and putting away the laundry. Over time, this would cause me to have a neglected and unhappy home. 

An unkempt home may cause sickness and disease throughout the family. This can spread to those in the community.  I have read that many diseases, or illnesses, from the past have been greatly reduced in frequency - some have just about disappeared (such as scarlet fever).  The reason given is that improved living conditions - in the form of clean homes and good nutrition - has helped prevent these types of sicknesses.
This reminds me how essential it is to have an education in home economics.  We should know how to clean and make healthy food.  We should know how to manage a home.  But this takes time to learn. We should be constantly practicing these skills and continuing to learn so our families will have a safe and healthy home.

I used to read cleaning books by Don Aslett. I loved his approach to cleaning. Some of his books had cartoon illustrations that were so amusing.   He even wrote books about getting rid of clutter.  But the sweetest lessons on organizing will always be found in the old books by Emilie Barnes. Her gentleness and faith in the Lord shined through her words and made her readers want a lovely, peaceful home.

I love to see the whole family helping to clean and cook. It is wonderful for them to be involved in all aspects of homemaking.  It is important to involve the children in this.  Some of my grandbabies think cleaning and baking is part of the fun of their visits to our Estate.  I delight in the work and they catch on to this love and want to be involved. 

I appreciate having a routine schedule to follow for days of the week.  This way, the plan is already in place. I don't have to think about what I should be doing each day.   It would be easy to procrastinate, and avoid work, if we did not have a plan or goals for housekeeping.   To stay on track, some keep lists on their refrigerator. Others may use 3 x 5 index cards to stay organized.  Many use a homemaking binder where a careful plan of managing one's home is all written out and easy to follow.

The greatest way I have learned to avoid neglecting housework, is to take many breaks throughout the day. There should be tea times (or coffee breaks) and little walks.  There should be time for reading storybooks to little ones.  A serving of cookies or a fruit plate while reading a pleasant book are wonderful times of rest.

 In the middle of all this time of recreation, we stop and do a chore. We may do the dishes for 10 minutes before we read.  Or perhaps we wash the kitchen floor and then go outside to pick flowers.  Housework is easier to manage when there is much time of peaceful rest.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Is This True?  - Only Rich People Have Clean Houses.

Are You Ready For This? - Beware of Random Kitchen Inspections.

The Precious Joy of Grandchildren - I Hear Angels Crying.

Find Essays and Remembrances of Family and Home,
 in Mrs.White's book -Mother's Book of Home Economics
 Paperback, 312 pages.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Walk to our River and starting a YouTube Channel

Our River at the Border of our Vermont Property - April 2019

We took a walk along the back of the property.  I wanted to get a video of the river so you could listen to the water as it rushes along.  I asked Papa (my husband) if he would help me with his camera.  We walked slowly along the back property and did a short video. This is all very new to us and we still don't know what we are doing, but it was fun.

I put this up on YouTube and started a channel for the blog.  (Be sure to "subscribe" if you would enjoy seeing my future videos.)   Here is the first one:

(If you are receiving this through email and are not able to see the video, just go directly to the blog to view.)

I have no idea how to add text to the video, or how to do much of anything.  Any advice would be much appreciated! 

Also, are you interested in my doing videos?  If so, what kind would you like to see?

 The spring weather here is wonderful.  We were out with some of the grandchildren yesterday. They enjoyed gathering sticks and putting them in piles for us to discard.  We are raking and cleaning up the property.  Most of the snow has melted now.  I noticed, in my little flower garden, that my tulips have started to come up!

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Always Remember - The House Comes First.

Inspired by D.L. Moody's Mother - Poverty in the 1800's.

Old Time Living - Retirement Planning for the Poor.

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book - For The Love of Christian Homemaking.  Paperback, 274 pages.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Good Easter Morning

Library of Congress: April 1943 in Texas - Leaving the Methodist Church After Easter Services

Good morning!  I wanted to write a quick visit. I got up extra early today to get an apple pie in the oven.  I need it to bake and then cool for 2 hours so I can wrap it up before I leave for Church.  We are having some of the family over this afternoon for Easter.  We will have pie and ice cream.  I am also serving easy, buffet style, foods to make things very simple.

Since it is Passover week, I also have to make a very quick batch of unleavened bread. Our local stores, for some reason this year, are not selling anything of the kind.  I have always been able to purchase plenty for many years. But not this year. So I am making a very simple batch and it will only take a few minutes. So we will have the unleavened bread on hand, which is such a precious part of the season. 

I have been very ill off-and-on for several weeks now. But I needed to drag myself out of bed and "Make an Easter for the Family" as Connie Hultquist would say.   I will be okay. My husband (who is disabled) and I learn to live in pain and suffering.  He will say that he is going to suffer whether he is doing something in life, or sitting still and hurting.  He chooses to do things and live, rather than do nothing and suffer. He will suffer no matter what. But we put on a happy face and enjoy the family and our home and all the wonderful blessings we have.

Some of the grandchildren will be here this afternoon. I love when they visit. They require an enormous amount of work, but it is the greatest work there is.  I love their smiles and laughter and their happy visits.

Some of us will be going to church this morning.  I had been home most of the winter and have not been to church from January of this year until the beginning of April.  The bitterly cold, icy, Vermont weather was unbearable and unsafe for me to venture out. So I am extra thankful to be able to attend services.  I may have to bring my cane for extra support when I go to the service today. I am completely exhausted and drained. (Last week I was shaking in church, I was so tired.)  But I do have 2 of my grown sons who will be with me, and they will be dressed in their suits and looking very handsome. I call them my bodyguards.  It will be a joy to go, whether I need a cane or not. And, of course, I can have a good long rest later in the day. 

 For those of you who are not able to attend church, there are so many online options to watch or hear an Easter Service.  I hope you are able to listen.

I was reading about street vendors who sold Easter lilies and I thought how pretty that would be to have some beautiful flowers today.  It is a joyful time!

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

A Picture of some of my grandchildren - Confined to the Nursery.

A "Thank You" from 2013 - Easter in Vermont.

A picture of me outside in 2012 - Attempting a Garden.  (I will try a garden again this year.)

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book -Mother's Book of Home Economics .  Paperback, 312 pages.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Comforting Sick Room

Library of Congress: June 1920 - Homemade Comforts for the sick room, as taught by the Red Cross

One of the most important things to learn in homemaking is how to set up a sick room.  Sometimes a patient is bedridden for a couple of days. This can get dreary and depressing without pleasant care.  The patient may be a young child or an elder.  This family member is receiving special care in their own home.  The housekeeper can do many things to make the sick room a pleasant place for both the patient, and the family.

I was chatting with an elderly relative recently. We were talking about the trials of sickness and also of those in constant pain.  She told me that, years ago, nursing homes were not common. She remembered an Aunt who lived in a "sick room" off the kitchen of the family home.  She said, in those days (before the 1960's), it was common for the sick to be cared for at home. 

I did a brief bit of research on this and found a description of a nursing home (on one of the American government sites) to describe the nursing home as a place for those who need help in daily life but have no one at home to care for them. 

My grandparents lived with us when I was growing up.  Grandmother was in a wheelchair and bedridden.  My mother was in charge of her daily care, as well as the care of our household and family.  When I was very young, my mother would need to go to Grandmother's room, to spend time with her, or to render some service.  Mom would telephone her sister and sit me in a chair. She would hand me the phone.  My Aunt kept me busy talking so Mother could manage the sick room without having me underfoot.  Everyone in the family had a part in helping whenever someone was in need of care. It builds character and gives us all the opportunity to do good deeds.  It helps build strong families when this is done with willing and cheerful hearts.

Perhaps there are many, these days, who did not grow up seeing the labor of tending an old - fashioned sick room. It can be a work of cheerful benevolence. I wanted to share some ideas on providing a pleasant room for those with a brief illness.

  For the comfort of the patient, it is nice to offer such amusements as word search puzzles, books, and even old fashioned television programs to make one laugh. 

My mother was a wonderful nurse, even though she had no formal training.   She would take gentle care of  a sick child, settling him in bed during an illness. She would bring in a tray for meals.  There would be a little table or desk, beside the bed, for the thermometer. There was even a little bell for the patient to ring for help.  Lots of pillows and cozy blankets were brought into the room.

 Mother kept a supply of essentials for sickness in a bedroom closet. This consisted of bottles of ginger ale and boxes of jello-mix, hidden away where the family could not use them as common treats.  She never had to run to the store when an emergency suddenly occurred.  There was always chicken in the freezer. She would start to defrost this and make homemade soup the next day.  The patient would be served delicious, nourishing chicken soup for days.  She would add a little rice, carrots, or delicate pasta to this as the patient began to improve.

Mother also kept anti-nausea medicine and pain relievers in a cabinet, along with bandages, and hydrogen peroxide for first - aid treatments.  She had an ice pack  in the freezer to handle bumps or sprains. There was an ace bandage stored away if it was needed.

For the patient who is contagious - with the flu or a terrible cold - they would not be allowed visitors in the room. They would be given a wet cloth to cool a feverish forehead.   If they are not able to get up each day, Mother would bring in a basin of warm water and soap. She would take a cloth and wash the face and hands.  This would help the patient to feel neat and comfortable. 

 For those suffering for a time of pain, an injury, or from weariness, when a patient must be in bed, it is so nice to have the family stop in for short visits throughout the illness.  The room should be kept as pleasant as possible.  The room could be aired by opening widows for a short time, while the patient is in another room.  The sheets should be freshly washed.  A neat and clean room will help bring happiness.

  When Mother is the sick one, she could do her hair and makeup and put on a clean nightgown.  This boosts her mood and makes it pleasant for those who visit her.  During the times I have been bedridden from an illness, I have often had my children come in to read the Bible, sing hymns, make me laugh, and just tell me about their day.  I enjoy using the telephone for short visits with grown children, especially during a sickness.  Older children will stop in to see me, for a cheerful visit, before they head off to work or to some errand.  I recently suffered from an illness that was exhausting and required a great deal of rest.  It was such a blessing to have a pleasant room to enjoy during recovery.  

The sick room could be one's own room,  a guest room, or whatever bedroom is most convenient to the kitchen.  It should have cheerful curtains, soft lamplight, and peaceful decorations to help one recover from one's suffering.  There ought to be a chair for guests and a handy tray - table for meals and tea.  Fresh sheets ought to be available, both before a patient enters, and after they have recovered.  After the occupant is well, the room needs to be thoroughly cleaned, aired, and disinfected, and put back "to rights."

Sickness and injury comes to all homes, in all generations.  This is a precious time for prayer and ministry.  It can draw our hearts near to God.  Our gentle service in caring for our family during these difficult times can be accomplished with grace, patience, and love.

Mrs. White

"We have no right to murmur at sickness, and repine at its presence in the world. We ought rather to thank God for it. It is God's witness. It is the soul's adviser. It is an awakener to the conscience. It is a purifier to the heart. Surely I have a right to tell you that sickness is a blessing and not a curse, a help and not an injury, a gain and not a loss, a friend and not a foe to mankind. So long as we have a world wherein there is sin, it is a mercy that it is a world wherein there is sickness."— J. C. Ryle, 1800's.

From the Archives -

Four Generations Living in One House - Gracious Homemaking.

Homemade Lessons from My Aunt - Manners Learned at the Finishing School.

Every Home Should Have one - Housewife on Duty.

Mrs. White's special book for homemakers:"Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking." Paperback, 200 pages. 

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email.