Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Simplicity of Old Fashioned Homemaking

Library of Congress:  Sitting Room at 121 Henry Street in Detroit Michigan, 1915

We've all seen the busy housewife, who decorates and bakes and throws delightful parties.  She shops and she plans. She is so active in, and out of, the home that many look at her and wonder where she gets her energy.  Most observe her life and despair of trying to mimic her!  She is her own star and she is unreachable!

There is another way.  It is the humble, basic way of simplicity.  It might look meager and poor. It might even look too easy.  But this way can be obtained by far more housewives, if they only realize it is okay to be simple.

There is a slowness to it. . . There is no ambition. . . It is the quiet servant - the meek one, who guides the home.  This housewife putters around the house and yard, cleaning and cooking in her own way. 

In the old days, oatmeal or porridge was the morning meal. Perhaps some bread and butter went with it.  No family was served processed, sugary cereal because it had not yet been invented.  Now today, can you imagine serving morning guests some oatmeal?  How many would balk at it?  But it is healthy and nourishing and warm and comforting!

A simple lunch of baked beans and biscuits with hot tea might be served during the afternoon break from chores.  This isn't a take out meal, or a fast food lunch. It isn't an elaborate planned out menu item.  It was what was available in the pantry.

Domestic occupations were not about planning elaborate events for the home. The simple duties were for the comfort of the family and basic survival. The laundry, the sweeping, the mopping, the cooking, the dusting were all on the normal agenda at home.   The homemaker would put on her housedress and apron and be "on duty" for the day. She was there to tend to the home and family.  She was not the 'event planner' or the one to spoil the children by gratifying their every worldly "want."

There is something very basic and very lovely about an old time home-life.  Bible reading and family prayers were done morning and evening. The family would have afternoon prayers with the noon meal.  They would break from their labor to worship the Lord.  Thoughts of heaven, eternal rest and joy were the ambition.   The focus was on the journey home and the blessed example they could leave to those around them.

Many of us crave this kind of life, but we are often tripped up and confused by what goes on in our culture.  A routine of home-life, the act of ironing or washing floors in the quiet of the morning (while praying or singing old time hymns) can help keep us grounded.  Are we not pilgrims and strangers on this earth?  May the Lord help us to avoid acting like the "stars" of this world.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

What Many of Us Crave - An Ordinary Life at Home.

Training Children - Nobody Wants to Clean a Messy House.

A Precious Time - Walking the Gardens with Baby.

 - To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -

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

Find stories of home life, with photographs of my home, in this encouraging book. 

 Paperback, 200 pages. 


Rebecca said...

Hello! I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have been enjoying the exploration of it. Today's post was especially meaningful for me. I LOVE homemaking; it's my true calling. But my biggest joy-robber, I just realized, is some crazy internal standard of homemaker perfection that disdains the steady, every day doings of the home. Thanks for writing!

Cathy said...

Mrs White, "if they only realize it is okay to be simple. There is a slowness to it. . . There is no ambition. . .This housewife putters around the house and yard, cleaning and cooking in her own way." These words paint a picture of contentment. My husband loves to come home to that. Creating a peaceful atmosphere in the home is a wonderful part of the homemaker's calling. You're right, it is not in the big flashy things, or expensive things, or being busy running around.

Anonymous said...

I burst into tears after reading your post this morning. My home life is very much as you described. It is humble and basic, and does look too easy to others. Even my husband told me this very morning as he left for his job that other women do so much more, especially those who have to work outside the home. I think he just doesn't understand the amount of details a housewife deals with everyday. Yet he put on clean clothes this morning; I cleaned his glasses because he was running late. I fixed a drawer on his dresser that was broken. When he got up he had a homemade breakfast waiting for him, and dinner will be waiting when he gets home. This is not to brag about all the things I do for him. I am a quiet servant, that's all. I love what I do and I am so content. THERE IS NO AMBITION.I am blessed that I am able to stay home and believe it is my calling. I have some health related issues and do not always have the energy as younger women do (I am in my fifties).I am able to look to all the details of our home, cooking breakfast and making home made lunches for my family in the morning, a home cooked meal at night. I am frugal and yes, sometimes it does look meager and poor to others. But I am able to get up in the mornings, sometimes in pain, and read my bible and fellowship with the Lord. It is so good to have that quiet time with Him. I am not rushed because I am already at my work place. Yes, this is an old-time homelife but I would not trade its simplicity for anything. It is very out of step with what is going on in the lives of those family and friends around me, and I am a bit looked down on. Even some in my church think I should "get a job" and become "productive". I felt guilty this morning that I am not like those super energetic housewives. After reading your post,I am thankful that someone else understands, that all.

Blessed Homemaking said...

Mrs. White, we eat oatmeal almost every day for breakfast! And not the "quick oats" kind either, but the good old-fashioned kind :)

Hope you are doing well ♥

suzannah said...

I wish I was able to be a stay at home wife. But the way the economy is I need to be at work to help make ends meet for my husband and I.
I sure do miss the relaxing non stressful enviroment of being home.

Dolores said...

Mrs. White, You've done it again! You've written a post which just filled me with peace and made me want to be a housewife just like the one you described in this post. Dolores

M said...

For many years I struggled with trying to live up to what my home keeping and our life in general was "supposed" to look like. As I have grown older, I see the folly in comparing myself with other women...this is MY home. I keep it in MY way, and that is enough. My family is very well cared for and happy with my work here. That is enough for me...finally!!

LeAnn said...

I really enjoyed this post. I do wish we could go back to simpliar times. People worked hard in the different era's but I think with out all the technology of today's world; they had more family and one on one moments.

Anonymous said...

This is so true! I pray many over-reaching homemakers will be blessed by these encouraging words.

I know that I am-me who seems to have a gift of making simple things quite complicated at times:)

Suanna said...

Thanks! I like simple. Now to convince myself that I should make breakfast every morning for everyone. I know it would greatly help the budget as well. Maybe I could start with once or twice a week.

Mrs. M said...

I've just discovered your blog, And how full it is of inspiration!
I absolutely love this calling of Helpmeet, mother, and homemaker. You are definitely a kindred spirit.
Thankyou for sharing such beautiful thoughts with us.

Anonymous said...

"....if they only realize it is okay to be simple." Wise words, Mrs. White! It's all too true that simplicity is very often overlooked, when it proves itself again & again to be not just a perfectly good way to do things, but an admirable one. Time is what's needed...time that many are not willing to spend, & that's a shame.


Joy said...

This was such a beautiful and encouraging post, Mrs. White. Thank you so much for sharing it!

P.S. We also have plain old-fashioned oatmeal at least once a week for breakfast. If not that, it's simple scrambled eggs and toast, or a mixed-up-the-night-before baked oatmeal.

A Proverbs 31 Wife said...

Excellent post! I am required to work outside the home at this point in our lives and I am usually ok with that. But the two days a week I have a home, I love. A chance to cook and clean and care for this little place we call home.
There is no big show, here, just our home, and I am thankful.
I found you at Titus 2sdays

Mrs. Wetzel said...

Wow, what a wonderful post! I really needed to read this today. I am thankful to be a homemaker and I enjoy the simple things we do in our home as a family like oatmeal for breakfast (which we love!). Thank you for this uplifting post and the inspiration that followed.
I found you through Titus 2sdays
-Hannah Wetzel
Heavenly Homes & Forever Families

Jo said...

This was so encouragung for me! I love taking care of my husband and am excited for a family, but it seems that the expectations have become focused on being the best at everything instead of doing what's best for your family. I'm so thankful for the encouragement that simolicity is a good thing! Thank you!
Jo from

Beverly said...

This is one of my favorite posts and one I've read and meditated on several times.

We don't have a lot in terms of wealth and recently (the last year or so), I've struggled with wanting to work outside the home, or have a home business, or just something to help bring in more income. The Lord kept saying no, I want you home all the time, I want you to allow me to provide for your needs. It was a very difficult time of giving in to the Lord's will, but I'm at a place of peace now.

There is no ambition...exactly correct. I had to give up ambition and it's a good place to be.

Thank you so much for your words of gentle encouragement. I am so blessed by your ministry.


Julie Turner said...

There is no place I would rather be than home.
I loathe going out into this modern world and having to deal with todays things.
I like it best when I can come home and shut my front door, and just be in my own little place in the world.
A place of comfort and calm. A place of warm throw rugs, comfy cushions, pretty lamps and shiny kitchen utensils. This is my home and my favourite place to be.

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

There's a calmness that comes from simplicity that draws me.

Harvest Lane Cottage
...doing what I can with what I've got where I am
on a short shoestring budget!

5webs said...

Thank you for this post. It, in itself, calms me and centers me. I see the moms around me, in my community, neighborhood, at our church, etc. and I see them hustle and bustle to and fro, getting much accomplished, and seemingly unlimited in time and energy and creativity, and I am left feeling so "less than" (for lack of a better term). I question myself constantly, and find myself failing again and again to do what they do and achieve what they are able to achieve. So this post is almost the granting of permission, that I may be just a Mom, just a Wife, just a Homemaker. Nothing more. Just these. Ahhhh.......

TheLoriA said...

Another great post. I am enjoying re-reading many of your posts. They are so encouraging for me. Best blessings, Lori

Shirley said...

Such a good post.

I too want just to be a simple, quiet homemaker and not an "event planner."

Thank you


Gabrielle said...

Amen! I feel saddened for those who just don't seem to be able to relax and enjoy the wonderful gift of just living this life we've been given without bothering with what others will think or see. When we free ourselves from this, we make room for pleasing the ones in our home, and the One who made us, alone. That brings true peace!

Kathy Jackson said...

Mrs. White, I found your blog a few months ago, and subscribed to updates. You are a beautiful, precious soul, and you have encouraged me beyond words. I am a homebody, a homemaker, a home-lover. I recently finished reading ALL your blog posts. I started at the beginning and read each and every one! And what I do each night is pick a month and read them again!! I am so glad that I found your blog, and I hope and pray many more long years for you at your beautiful home in Vermont. In Christ, your friend, Kathy Jackson

Cheyenne said...

Dear Mrs. White, you may never know this side of heaven what an impact you have had in your encouragement of others. Judging from the comments, I know I'm not the only one to find inspiration and gather courage in your words. I frequently reach for one of your books while taking a rest from homemaking duties, only to start again feeling refreshed and ready to do the next thing. I appreciate that you point us back to the Lord over and over again. Thank you for fulfilling your calling not only as a homemaker but also as a Titus 2 woman. Blessings to you and your family.

Sandi said...

It is so true.