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The Lost Art of Homemaking

Updated on February 12, 2010

For thousands of years women made the home their work. They took great pride in cooking good food, keeping the house and clothing clean, growing their own vegetables and fruits, sewing clothing and essentially producing the things their families needed themselves. Yet in the 21st century this is not the case in most parts of the world. In just the past hundred years or so many areas have forgotten the art of homemaking.

So what happened?  To sum it up in one word - technology. Don't get me wrong though, technology is wonderful - most of the time. Technology allowed farmers to have a machine thresh their wheat which saved them weeks of work. Technology produced the sewing machine which allowed women to make the clothing for their families in record time. Entire companies were invented to process foods that would be more convenient for women to cook.

All of these things that made life so much easier started the downfall of making things from scratch. Suddenly it was easier to make a cake from a mix, rather than by hand. It was easier to buy green beans from the store than grow them in the backyard. It became easier to buy sweaters rather than knit your own.

As things became easier on women at home, there was more time to do other things. When World Wars 1 and 2 came and the men were sent overseas the women were needed outside the home in the factories and stores. Now they were getting paid to work, something that never happened when they were working at homemaking. When the men came back women didn't want to give up their salaries and go back to staying at home. They wanted to go to college and maintain jobs along with their homes and families. Technology made this possible.

Keeping your home clean was so much easier in the 1970's than it was in all the centuries before it. You could plug a vacuum into the wall and get rid of dirt instead of ripping the carpets up, carrying them outside and beating the dirt out. Laundry was done by a machine and required very little hands on time. You could buy your clothing and groceries at the store. There didn't seem to be a need to make things by hand and cook from scratch.

As time went on and older generations died the knowledge of how to make things yourself at home died too. The need for knitting, sewing, crocheting, growing vegetables and even cooking was diminished to nothing. In just a few decades we have lost centuries worth of knowledge about homemaking. Yet people don't care so much. They see no need for any of those old ways.

I do though. As a stay at home wife and mother I have the opportunity to take care of my home and family the way women did for thousands of years. I take pride in what I provide for my family here at home. I hope they see the love poured out for them every day as I work at home to make our lives what they are. In my own way I am keeping the art of homemaking alive for at least one more generation (with modern conveniences of course). How about you?


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    • rainsanmartin profile image

      Rain San Martin 

      5 years ago from Fort Wayne

      Ahhh so true! Other benefits of homemaking are it helps children to lead an unrushed life, and husbands can focus on being the very best providers they can be. Homemaking shouldn't be reserved for women with children either.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great woman, where do I find one like you. I loved life back in the 60's. Today there is too much junk

    • profile image

      Nina Pienkowski 

      6 years ago

      Not to be a negative nancy, but regardless of how loving and how much work someone puts into "lost homemaking arts" they were lost for a reason. It's not just the industrial movement, it's cultural and attitudes changing. Anyone who has ever taken a history class shouldn't be surprised or bothered by this, because they would know that since the dawn of man there have always been shifts and changes. It's what sets us apart from everything else on this planet, that we can cause an emotional and cultural evolution.

      There are some people, like the Amish for example, who choose to stay behind the times. They are very much like the primitive living fossils we find dwelling in the ocean, afraid of embracing the change all those millions of years ago to leave the ocean behind and breathe in fresh air. Some caterpillars never leave the cocoon. But what I love so much about our modern society is that those people are no longer the majority. Us, brave and fearless, causing change and embracing it with excitement are now the majority. Those who want to miss out can still choose to miss out, but we won't miss them. They stay behind, and we forget about them because we simply have no need for them and their ways. If we want to learn how to crochet, it wouldn't be so hard to do so. It's not that we can't learn or have forgotten, it's that we don't want to learn. Just like we can't make you want to embrace change, you cannot make us want to reject it and go back to your ways. Instead of sitting around for hours quilting and mending clothes, we'd much rather be online socializing and creating and discovered worlds. Is that so terrible? I suppose for you it is, because it's so much more attractive to so many more people than what you do.

      To tie this in to my first statement, homemaking as an art, crocheting and sewing your own clothes and knitting, is outdated and quite inefficient. Get upset and get offended, but you cannot prove me wrong. It's just the simple facts. If you enjoy it, that's perfectly fine, but don't be so shocked that what you're doing is unpopular or a "lost art". Those things are no longer attractive to modern society, and can you blame us? Like I said, people change. We always change. You were someone different 20 years ago, and you'll be someone different in another 20 years. Change may be difficult, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but always necessary. We need change and we need growth, always have and always will.

      FYI, being a homemaker is hard because it's always been hard. And because it's always been hard, it has evolved to become something much less difficult. Any mathematician knows that if there is a simpler way to get to a solution, you make yourself aware of the long way but never become foolish enough to make using it a habit. You don't restrict the use of scientific/graphic calculators when doing college lever honors Calculus. Why would you put yourself through so much pain and struggling to get the same answer with better technology? To say you did it the hard way? Congratulations, you wasted time AND you're a fool. Go ahead and get mad again, but history proves me correct and you know it. My mother started working again when I was 2 and my brother was weaned off breast-milk, and hasn't stopped working since. We could have survived off my Dad's salary, but she worked so we could have comforts and luxuries. Yes, I was put into daycare. No, I am not a cripple because of it. I learned how to make friends from different backgrounds that way. I learned tolerance. I learned how to respect people who weren't my parents or family members. I wasn't taught it, I was forced to learn it. I am grateful for that. I am grateful that my Mom went to work instead of staying home with me all day and trying controlling every aspect of my life. I learned to deal with harsh realities and adapted to them at a young age. I learned to be independent. I learned that my Mom was my Mom who loved me dearly and that I was a priority, but not THE ONLY priority. Other things mattered too. I learned to cherish moments spent with her because they weren't a 24 hour guarantee. I learned to appreciate her for everything she did for our family, and to value her hardwork because it meant that we could have our own house in a nice neighborhood and it meant we could afford to go to a good school. She could've stayed home and homeschooled us, but then I would've never discovered the ugly world of cliques and popular crowds and bullies and all those other types of people I strove to be better than and above. Better to figure out they existed in junior high and learn to deal with them, then to discover them when I'm an adult and not so used to coping. I respect her for realizing that one person cannot do everything properly, and that sometimes good teachers are much more qualified for the job. I learned to respect that profession as well. I love my Mom, and yes, I love her even more that she didn't give up work and that sort of independence. Because of that, I had things I would've never had otherwise. And I have so much respect for other women who do the same, for their struggles to balance both and be great in both fields, successful or not. Whether you like it or not, they are harder workers. They do all that you do, and more. Yes, they make mistakes and no they are not perfect, but neither are you even though I've noticed homemakers have this disproportionate holier-than-though attitude about their life accomplishments. My Mom is an amazing woman BECAUSE she worked outside the home. I mean, isn't that what the woman in Proverbs did as well. Took care of the home, and had her own source of income outside her place of living? Or do people like to conveniently forget that part or distort it so they can justify their own lives and desires. How very unGodly of them, hmm? =/.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Beautiful. Staying at home is a job and an art in and of itself. Many of my cloest friends stay at home and they are the hardest working females I know. Whidbeywriter is right - you are an inspiration.

    • Whidbeywriter profile image

      Mary Gaines 

      8 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

      I love your hub and agree with you 100%. I would have loved to have stayed home when my children needed me the most but our finances couldn't allow that. I respect and appreciate mothers who can like my daughter in laws. You are an inspiration.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Nice hub.

    • daisyjae profile image


      8 years ago from Canada

      I love this hub. I've read it a couple of times now. Well done.

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 

      8 years ago

      Jennifer - Very well written on a very important subject.

      There are programs out there for everything. To this day I still wonder why, there are no programs that support and encourage mothers and/or fathers to stay home and raise their children.

      In my opinion, staying at home and raising children should be valued as one of the most rewarding experiences of our life. As you can tell, I was fortunate to have been able to do this. And my children now grown are managing to do the same.

      And they as young adults, (late twenties) are already questioning why others are not doing the same.

      Great Job!


    • fishtiger58 profile image


      8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      I am a stay at home mom too and I make dinner every night. The kids in the neighborhood come smell what I'm cooking because they eat frozen pizza's and McDonalds every night. Great article.

    • brsmom68 profile image

      Diane Ziomek 

      8 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I agree with your Hub. I do part time bookkeeping, but as much as I try to do it from home, it seems I am always on the road. I like making my own schedule, but I am forced to do some outside work just to make ends meet. This is a year of change for me though, and the Hubs I have written will reflect that.

      My grandma was at home ever since I can remember. I know she did work outside the home at times, but I remember her always being there. She is the one who taught me the valuable skills I have, cleaning, crocheting, gardening. My only regret is she got ill and passed away before she could teach me all she knew.

      I encourage any women who are able to stay home with their children to do so. I love when I am able to stay home, and not have to go anywhere. As I've said before, it is my goal. My extra income is going to come from the vegetables I grow and the quilts I make...and of course the Hubs I write.

    • lctodd1947 profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      You are unfortunately correct. I think it is from some of this that family has lost some of its meaning and even though it make life easier in some ways, it takes away from the special life "from scratch".

      Well written

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Great hub. I managed to be a stay at home mum and loved every minute of it. From baking my own bread to knitting all the sweaters, but I do feel for some women who have no choice but to earn money to make ends meet.

      Gardening is wonderful therapy too. I suppose anything creative is. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

      Cedar Cove Farm 

      8 years ago from Southern Missouri

      Ahhh, the industrial revolution. I don't think it was all it was cracked up to be. I thank God for my wife who sacrifices daily to be at home with her children. She strives to be a Proverbs 31 woman, a keeper of the home, and I am grateful. Thank you for sharing this, I hope many young women will be inspired by it.

    • Jane@CM profile image


      8 years ago

      I love being a stay at home mom. I love taking care of my home. Very nice hub! We mom's need to stick together so the art does not get lost!

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Wonderful hub. Every word true. Thank you.

    • babyching profile image


      8 years ago from Beijing, China

      Someday, I hope I can grow my own food like you Jennifer. I bet your children are very healthy.

    • Jane Grey profile image

      Ann Leavitt 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Beautifully said! To answer your question, yes, I am! I am a single young woman living at home and working at home and teaching part-time, but I believe the home is where God has made me to thrive and produce. I look forward to one day having my own husband and family to keep a home for and spend my time on, because that is what's important to me and to God.

      Have you read or heard of Edith Schaeffer's book "The Hidden Art of Homemaking"? I love it because she writes about a thousand creative ways to do things artistically, while supporting her main premise that the home should be the greatest place of encouragement, growing, learning, and joy that the people of the family can go to.

      Thank you for your lovely article! I was blessed by it.


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub. It IS a lost art & I'm glad to see somebody else agrees!

    • christryon profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Jennifer, I agree with the comments already made. Homemaking skills are a lost art.

      I enjoy cooking meals from scratch. It is cheaper and healthier than eating out. My 2 oldest sons have recently moved out and because of the skills they learned while helping me cook dinner on Sundays, they are now quite self-sufficient. They are going to be great husbands some day.

      I will probably not win any awards for keeping my home spotless, but at least it is clean.

      Excellent hub.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Wow, very, very good hub, Jennifer! I can't wait to share this with my mom and all the other hard working moms and stay at home women who have lost respect because others think it is an easy job at home. Well I know I could NEVER keep up with my mom in a million years so two thumbs up to you Jennifer and all other women/homemakers like you!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      I taught myself to crochet as a hobby, and my daughters wanted to learn. I'm sure many of us do learn and pass down some skills from the past. Now, though, they're crafts, not necessities, and that's not so bad. I agree with what you wrote, we don't want to lose the skills, but it's good if we appreciate them more now.

    • PaulaK profile image

      Paula Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Austin. Texas

      I enjoyed your hub! There is a lot of truth in your hub! With the economy changes, we may see more traditional households in the coming years because there is a need to do things differently!

    • mod2vint profile image


      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I only wish I could be the stay at home Mom. I love gardening and crafts. One of my favorites things to do is home improvement projects. I just have no time any more. But someday.................

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      What a lovely and honest hub. I too love taking care of my home and I take great pride in how it looks and how it welcomes people in.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Your hubs exude what a loving and dedicated mother you are. I am sure your family realizes how fortunate they are.

      For the past 30 years I have maintained a library of Foxfire books (about how all kinds of things used to be done) and from time to time I try to do some project the way it used to be done. When I carve wood objects I like to use only hand tools. I love the feel of a good hand tool working the wood. Thanks for a wonderful hub. NEIL

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      A lovely and well written hub. Thank you for joyful read.


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