During the last two years, life has been quite uncertain for me. First, two family members, one older and one quite young, were diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. One survived, and one did not. Next, we were locked down at home in March of 2020.
Lockdown at home was not devastating to me because I love being at home and because I was in the process of creating a home where I loved to be. One of the reasons that I was able to make our home a more pleasant place was by listening to audiobooks while I worked. The second reason was the books to which I listened. A friend had introduced me to the author named Isabella Alden, a Presbyterian pastor’s wife who was an amazing Christian and an excellent homemaker. Her books taught me scriptural truths applied to every day living and a love for homemaking. You can learn more about her here.
One such book is Aunt Hannah and Martha and John. John had been raised by his aunt Hannah who had a practical and hardworking young lady chosen for him in her mind. Instead, John married a beautiful young lady named Martha, who had grown up in the city. Adjusting to being a country pastor’s wife was not easy for her, and yet she made the best of it. In case you would like to read the book, I won’t tell you much more of the story but would love to share ten lessons I learned from reading Aunt Hannah and Martha and John.
1. A homemaker must take care not to neglect small details in her work.
Aunt Hannah tells Martha on page 30, “It is in making bread as it is in everything else that goes to ruin; neglect generally makes the trouble. … My experience is that nothing thrives where the lazy jade, neglect, gets a foothold.”
Aunt Hannah’s main application to this was in bread making. Martha had not kept a watchful eye on the bread; and therefore, the bread had not turned out right.
Neglect is unhealthy for a home. Neglecting to cook healthy meals can negatively impact the health of your family. Neglecting weeds in your garden for an extended period of time would ruin your garden. Neglecting to keep an eye on the clock could make you late to an appointment.
2. A homemaker should not be afraid to ask advice regarding something of which she knows little.
The lack of knowledge could be simply due to moving to a new area or working with materials to which you are not accustomed. Martha had baked excellent bread at home and had used a different kind of yeast.
Another noteworthy principle here is not to give up after you have tried one or twice. Martha’s persistence led her to ask advice from her husband’s Aunt Hannah after several failed attempts to make good bread.
3. It is important for a homemaker to know when her work is unsatisfactory.
Aunt Hannah praised Martha for knowing that her bread had not turned out. “I am glad, too, that you kow when bread is sour. Not half the people do.”
Knowing that a project or a meal did not turn out is the first step to correcting the mistake in the future!
4. A homemaker needs to know that her family needs nutrition from the meals she serves them.
“A man who works with his brains ought to be well-nourished.” This is another wise saying of Aunt Hannah. Most jobs require brain power, and even children who are in school must have good nutrition to do well in their classes! You can read this article from Harvard Health Publishing to confirm this point.
5. A homemaker makes sure that her family sleeps in well-ventilated rooms.
Again, Aunt Hannah’s wisdom speaks. “I believe it necessary to health to have fresh air in a sleeping-room.”
Studies have shown that sleeping in a cooler room rather than in a warmer room is better for sleep quality. One way to accomplish this is to air out the room before it is time to retire for the night.
6. A homemaker is industrious.
“Everything was orderly and neat. The elements of a good housekeeper were there without a doubt … There were no cluttered corners where dust and disorder reigned.”
Aunt Hannah came to visit John and Martha and found the home to be well-ordered. Some say that a woman’s work is never done, and in my short married life, I have certainly found this to be true. There is always something to clean, organize, dust, or wash! It is a joy to do it, though!
It’s easy to take care of the main areas of the house but leave the “corners” to fend for themselves. I know for me, decluttering is a constant task.
7. A homemaker needs to be careful of overwork.
Aunt Hannah remarked to John, “She needs looking after, that she doesn’t take extra burdens on herself and overdo.”
A homemaker is often misunderstood. Some think that she does not have enough to keep her occupied. As we saw from the previous point, to keep a house clean and orderly takes significant work. You may ask your husband to look at your schedule to make sure that it is not too full.
Other steps you can take not to overwork yourself are to run most of your errands on one or two days, schedule 2-3 days a week to be at home all day, and have a stopping point in the evening, past which you will not do housework.
8. A homemaker needs to spend time outdoors.
Aunt Hannah advises Martha, ” If I were young again I should try to spend at least a few hours a week amongst plants and birds and trees, learning all that God has for me to know in this book. We shut ourselves in too much.”
One way to spend more time outdoors is to garden.
Go here to learn “Why You Should Spend More Time Outdoors.”
9. A homemaker gives herself plenty of time to accomplish her work.
Again, Aunt Hannah sagely states to Martha after Martha wonders at her efficiency, “Why, anybody can do it who is not in a hurry. I am not hurried, because I give myself plenty of time. I always get up early. That is one secret of getting time by the forelock. If you don’t do that, time gets you, and jerks you about all day without any mercy.”
Sleeping in stresses me out and makes me feel as though I am behind in my work. If you work outside the home, waking up early can ensure that you can soak or even begin a load of laundry and also wash the breakfast dishes before you leave the home. If your primary work is at home, it still takes time to accomplish it, and beginning your housework after dinner is a sure recipe for disaster, or late nights (they are synonymous to me!).
10. Young homemakers need teaching as well as practice on their own.
“Aunt Hannah was too wise a teacher to imagine that one lesson in bread-making would serve the young housekeeper. She arranged that two loaves of bread should be made each day, and, after the first two bakings, left Mattie to herself, being always within hearing to advise, to drop
hints and give bits of lectures on the quantity of flour to be used, the kneading, the rising, the baking.”
Aunt Hannah graciously invited Martha to her home for a few weeks in order to teach her in person, after Martha asked for instructions via letter. After showing Martha a couple of times how to make bread, she made sure that Martha had ample practice in bread making before she returned home to her husband (where her husband’s other aunt was left to take care of John and the parsonage).
What was your favorite homemaking lesson? Have you learned homemaking lessons from reading older books? Please share them below in the comments.
Please share this article with a lady who loves homemaking inspiration!
What a lovely article. We have been very sick here and there is disorder everywhere.
I am just reaching the point where I think I will do one small task every hour, and rest.
During that time this is the perfect book to listen to.
I think it is providential that I missed this article until now, just when needed it.
Joelie, thank you for your kind words. I pray that you feel better soon. 🙂